About free and open source software

I have spoken with at least three people about what we could do with Open Source in Africa, and each time I had an answer based on their experience that it is a challenge to have these ideas work, in particular in subsaharian african contexts.

It seems one of the main reasons to the problem is that most people in Africa want to monetize their work (their energy, expertise and resources, etc).

Let’s take this reality into account, and it might be useful to (re-)explain it: Free and Open Source does not mean you can’t monetize !

FOSS does mean that as a software/service provider, you can sell value added service (such as training, technical support, and custom development) to customers that want that type of service. It does mean, that as a consumer/user organization, you are not locked-in by one provider.

FOSS allows building a type of ecosystem/community/economy where you can re-use the work of others to improve your business and operations, and there is emulation that makes innovation happen.

Adopting the “open” models of production could in long term produce many improvements in the economy (think startups, research, improving administrations systems, etc), and I am urging people/companies to invest in that, with a pragmatic approach.

My personal first step in actively contributing is through training. I am proposing a sponsorship-based program that will help train young people to the current best programming technologies in the Open Source world. If you want to help, just do it ! Open Source also means trying ideas, getting feedback and improving as you go.


The illegal African migrants issue

The situation is really bad. Many young African people keep trying to illegally enter in Europe, at the cost of their life.

Remember in 2006 and 2007, all those reports of groups being drowned in the seas, while they were travelling in small boats, in an attempt to emigrate via the Canary Islands.

When trying to analyse, at least in the case of West Africa which I know, you find that in most of those countries today:

  • Life (mostly in urban locations) is tough. There is no more that legendary african solidarity (at least it is less and less a reality). It is frequent to see an african individual indifferent when seeing another african individual suffering…
  • There is no job for the young people. Or at least the society has not been capable of finding and creating the jobs.
  • There is a belief among the young people that migrating to Europe, or other rich places in the world, is better than staying in their countries. This belief is reinforced by the attitude from some people within the diapora who – when they are visiting home for example – send them the message “it is better for you to go abroad… there is nothing for you here !”

I won’t ask if the affected African countries governments are doing something about the issue. You guess the answer !

We must stop finding excuses for our leaders, our societies, and ourselves !

What should we do ?

We should deeply re-think our societies in terms of what it means to live together in an African country, as a community, creating wealth, educating our children, etc…
At the same time, we should take action ! But it takes hard work to change things…

I am not saying I have solutions.
I think it is more a question of attitude. With the right attitude, people use their brain, and they find the solutions.
More, we must stop thinking that there are pre-packaged or pre-tested solutions that would come from other regions for us. Please, please, enough of that behaviour !

Regardless of the problem you are trying to solve, any solution come from trying ideas and approaches that make sense to you, making mistakes, and adjusting your action as you go.

African professionals radar: Emergence

Got the link from my brother.

Ami N’Diaye has launched her company based in Mali, Emergence, whose mission is to offer Marketing services to African businesses.

I found the website professional and well thought. Which is a good sign.

If you are a company in West Africa in need of developing your products or services, or an investor looking for opportunities there, you might need their help. Value-added brand building requires skilled and passionate professionals !

BiMod 228, first international fashion event in Togo

Bamondi, the togolese female fashion designer, is initiating the BIMOD 228, a biennial event whose goal is to promote West African fashion and cultural talents. For those wondering, 228 is the country phone code.

Some renowned designers and artists have been invited to participate to the event.
The official website mentions TIMOTHEE (Togo), KARIM (Ghana), ZEN BILADY (Morocco), COLLE SOW (Senegal), PATHE’O (Côte d’Ivoire), PEPITA D. (Benin), Gilles TOURE (Côte d’Ivoire), Clara LAWSON (Burkina Faso), SADJI Abdoulaye (Nigeria), AFIA MALA (Togo) and MOKOBE (France).

The initiative will also reward, with the “Trophés Bamondi”, a selection of talents and personalities for their work and social engagement.

This event definitely wants to celebrate and encourage African artistic and social values through its talents and entrepreneurs.

Good luck to the BiMod 228 !

AfroDeeJayz present “Music Only”

My friends, the AfroDeeJayz crew, just announced their next show in Paris entitled “Music Only” for Saturday April 12.

In less than 3 or 4 years, DJ Blasio and his accolites have confirmed their reputation in organizing great parties, featuring top young afropop artists “de la place”, in both France and Togo in West Africa.

For more information, check their website: http://www.afrodeejayz.com

Mesdemoiselles & Messieurs, venez profiter de l’ambiance et vous éclater. Le show demeure ! 😉

AfroDeeJayz Music Only party

The “Produce something in 30 days” challenge

After observing a lot how things work around me, these last years (with projects where I was involved as well as others), I am not really satisfied with what I see.

Here are some of my feelings:

  • I spend a lot of my time listening to and interacting with people/projects without a pragmatic approach to getting things done. Fortunately, I also have some examples of great stuff having been accomplished with pragmatism in mind.
  • My agenda has many items, and it is difficult to complete an item, in a smart way, so I can reuse or leverage that completed item for the others.
  • We don’t reuse enough what already exists. This is important ! I think, by reusing, you can learn from others, and progress more quickly.

I want to do something about those concerns. My idea is reusing the best tools and techniques available to do something useful for me and others. (Being productive also means that !)

Being in the computing world, I have re-learned some interesting ways of thinking about problems, and solutions that work. The main idea, related to the so-called “Unix philosophy“, is in using small tools that allow you to get more productive, since you use the right tool for a given problem, instead of one big tool for many different problems.

Now let’s move on and start applying these ideas… “Act instead of talking too much, and then show something”!

So I am putting a challenge for me and other people interested:

  • Building something useful, if possible collaboratively (ideas could be a website, a web service, a piece of sofware, a video, etc…)
  • Doing that in 30 days.

Why 30 days ? Because I think it gives you the time to think about your project, build a team with the people you could collaborate with – for more impact, and organize yourself to meet the deadline. It also forces you to keep with that pattern of “doing small things that can have big impact”.

At the end of the day, it is a learning practice. It’s about learning how to move quicker in our projects and personal lives !

If you are interested, contact me so we can team together, or take this challenge with your own team, see how it goes and share your experiences.

More importantly, let’s start that kind of conversation !

The Cheetah Generation

In our projects or reflexions about Africa’s future, we all need frequent exposure to inspirational and insightful content. And the web is good for helping that.

Recently, via a friend’s twitter page, I came across the TED website, and there I found videos of the first TED conference that was held in Africa (Tanzania) in 2007 : “Africa, The Next Chapter”.

The first of those talks I would recommend is the one by George Ayittey, a Ghanaian economist : Cheetahs vs. Hippos for Africa’s future. He calls “Hippos”, the old generation of leaders who have ruined postcolonial Africa, and “Cheetah” a “new breed of Africans” taking their futures into their own hands.

Nothing to add ! Enjoy it !