Introduction to ICT4D at TU Wien

Tomorrow I will give a shot introduction to ICT4D at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien). I got invited by the Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation to contribute to a round of guest lectures of TU researches who implemented in the past related “Projects in Development Aid”. I will talk about our ICT4DMZ project, a current project in India and as well as give an overall introduction to ICT4D.

I will also not be alone, since I invited Christoph Derndorfer to take over the part about OLPC. He is the editor of OLPC News and will share with us his lessons learnt from over a decade of OLPC. You shouldn’t miss that!

Venue: Freihausgebäude (Wiedner Hauptstr. 8) – grüner Bereich, 2. OG, Raumnummer: DA02F16
Date & Time: 17.12 2019, 18:00

Everyone is invited to join the discussion.

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Introduction to ICT4D at TU Wien
was published on 16.12.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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Fight for your home

We were on time! I swear! We even arrived way ahead of time. But nonetheless, we were not prepared for the masses that would follow the call of the Viennese chamber of labour and the weekly newspaper “Falter” for the so called “Wiener Stadtgespräch” (Vienna city talk) of Shoshana Zuboff.

Even with a valid registration, we were not able to enter the packed hall were the speech and interview took place. Gladly, there was a live stream of the conversation right next to it across the corridor and we were able to follow the discussion live. And what a bliss that was.

The Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff coined the term “surveillance capitalism”. In her work she calls upon political and public action against the overwhelming power of surveillance that internet giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. accumulate.

In her captivating speech she stressed the importance of our democracy, our freedom and our society, which she compared to our home and our home being on fire right now. If the planet is on fire like Greta Thurnberg says, it is fair to call our society our home and the current state that it is in – “on fire”.

We are on the brink of the transition to an information civilization. How we want to shape our future is still in our hands – but we have to fight for it.

Find more information here:

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Fight for your home
was published on 22.11.2019 by Sanja Cancar. It files under global
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2019 Vision Meeting

Two weeks ago we had our 2019 Vision Meeting and General Assembly in Linz. We sat down for two days to re-shift the direction of our NGO and reflect on the past year. Many new challenges arose in the past and new opportunities are ahead. After 10 years, we decided to revamp our legal framework, since we would like to update it to our changed needs and visions. We will do so in an internal and open discussion to all members. We are very happy to welcome Sanja as our newest member. Current and past project were put on the agenda and we used the time to work on some pressuring tasks. Sometimes working physically in the same room has some benefits overall. It was an intensive work-weekend, besides all the fun, discussions, drinks and, lets just call it “team building”.

We also covered the legal requirements for an Austrian NGO and I presented the 2019 budget, which was accepted by all the attending members. Furthermore, Georg was re-elected as the vice-chairman and myself was re-elected as the chairman of ICT4D.at (6 in favour, 0 against, 2 abstain). We both would like to express our gratitude for the trust they put in us and we hope that we will be able to live up to their expectations. Bella and Florian were accepted by all attending members as the new internal financial accountants/auditors.

We are planning new projects and are looking forward to continue working together. If you would like to be part of our small group of engaged people, then please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are open to anyone with any skills and you can simple tune-in to one of our calls.

Members of ICT4D.at at the Vision Meeting
Left to right: Álvaro, Florian, Bella, Georg, Sanja, Paul & Chloé

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2019 Vision Meeting
was published on 15.10.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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Capturing The First Pycon Africa

The inaugural pan-African meeting of the Python programming community (Pycon Africa) took place on the 6 – 10 August 2019 in Accra, Ghana at the Bank of Ghana Auditorium, University of Ghana premises which had 323 attendees mainly from all parts of Africa and beyond.

Bank of Ghana Auditorium Credit: Noah Alorwu

The conference had attendees coming from Madagascar, Namibia, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Italy, Senegal, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ethiopia, Zambia, US, Netherland, Zimbabwe, Germany, Brazil etc.

The conference kicked off with an International visitors’ tour of Accra, where guests were taking round to experience the way of life and also visit tourist sites within Accra. Some places of the visit include; Independence Square, Makola Market, Cultural Centre, National Theatre just to mention a few. 

Arrival at the National Theatre Credit: Chuma Umenze

Aside that, there was a beginners day session at the conference venue led by Joey Darko to introduce newbies to the Python programming language.

The opening ceremony started with a cultural display of Ghanaian dances such as Adowa, Agbadza, Damba Takai and many more.

Adowa Dance Credit: Khophi Photography
Here is a video of me dancing with Django Girls attendees who also served as volunteers
#pyDance #DjangoGirls

After the opening dance, Marlene Mhangami the chair for the conference mounted the stage to welcome everyone officially and also introduce the executive team behind the organization of the conference.

Meet the team. From left Marlene > Noah > Mannie > Michael > Daniele >Aaron > Abigail

Moustapha Cisse took over to present a keynote on ‘AI : The potential for Positive Impact‘.

Moustapha Keynoting Credit: Khophi Photography

Afterward, talks scheduled for the day started and runs till mid-afternoon, where a plenary discussion was held on ‘The role African technology communities play in the global technology ecosystem, and how the growth of these communities can be nurtured‘ on the panel were: Solomon Apenya – Andela, Daniel Roy Greenfeld – Britecore, James Yankah – Brompton group and Marlene Mhamani – Pycon Africa Chair

Anna Makarudze the Vice President of the Django Software Foundation then concluded day 1 with a keynote on ’Diversity in tech: An African’s Perspective’ 

Anna Makarudze keynoting

Day 2 started with an energized keynote by Ewa Jodlowska the executive director of the Python Software Foundation on ’Our Stories’ where she spoke about the PSF and what they are doing including grants for the 1st Python in Education.  She ended her keynote speech by saying “Help one another, talk to one another, code together and work together”.

Ewa Jodlowska Keynoting Credit: Khophi Photography

After her speech followed by other interesting talks of which one captivating talk was that of Anthony Shaw: Standing out in a world of 20 million developers of which he touched on: setting small goals, picking your skillset, having two specialities, focusing because that makes you faster, timeboxing, learning to learn, imposter syndrome, & how to have successful interviews

Kojo Idrissa finalized the conference with another epic keynote on: “Kojo, #Python, and You”

Kojo Idrissa Keynoting

After Kojo’s keynote, there was lightning talks presentation and guess what? Well since you didn’t make it I am not gonna tell you. Keep reading

Lightning Talk by Edison Abahurie J

The conference was a huge success all because of the amazing sponsors: Python Software Foundation, Britcore, Andela, Django Society UK, Django Software Foundation, Django Danmark, Nexmo, Django Events Foundation North America, GoFundme, Python Academy, Real Python, Aktech Labs, SikiLabs, Torchbox, Read the docs, Wildfish, Caktus Group, Weekly Python Exercise, ICT4D.at, Khophi Photography and to all GoFundMe and Sharing ticket donors thanks for the kind support.

Pycon Africa Group Photo Credit: Khophi Photography

For others, Pycon Africa was a place to connect with coworkers they never met in person for the first time while for some an avenue to meet their mentors in the Python ecosystem.

The conference also provided networking opportunities, collaboration on open source projects, remote jobs, and so much fun😎

Thanks to all who helped one way or the other to make Pycon Africa a memorable one.

If you’re reading this, you don’t want to miss Pycon Africa 2020 in August at Accra, Ghana.

Start making preparations ASAP.

More pictures of the conference can be viewed here:
1. https://photos.app.goo.gl/nJV519frPtwPvFmP8
2. https://photos.app.goo.gl/eJsTYitHRSTgQsFVA
3. https://photos.app.goo.gl/3zyT4WcAWjsoPtBG6

I promised right, the conference ended with sprints, tutorial session, and a lightning #PyDance to avoid burnout.

Lightning #PyDance

>>>End()

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Capturing The First Pycon Africa
was published on 18.08.2019 by Noah Alorwu. It files under sub saharan africa
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The Whitsun Dialogues: Digital Europe. No borders, no limits?

Source: http://www.pfingstdialog-steiermark.at/en/

In the beginning of June at the picturesque Seggau Castle in Austria over 400 experts, academics and professionals attended the “Geist & Gegenwart” Whitsun Dialogue to talk about digital Europe. Our partner organization “European Youth Award” was also invited within the scholarship programme.

The various presentations, panel discussions and workshops dealt with a broad range of topics and tried to address the most pressing questions of our times – how to deal with ethical, philosophical, democratic, economic, social… achievements in times of digitalization. Does the idea of a boundless society threaten our humanistic ideal? Can Europe compete with the American monopolistic private companies and how to loosen our dependency on them? Will we be able to use the countless opportunities digitalization and artificial intelligence offer us in a responsible way?

The prestigious event started on the first day, 5th of June, with interactive workshops for the scholars. As you can imagine a broad range of interdisciplinary and international exchange of experience and knowledge happened. My personal highlight was a presentation by the digital pioneer Tim Cole, who compared the big four (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) and their market dominating, seemingly endless power to the four horsemen of the apocalypse. His call for action included everybody, because “if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem“.

The second day began with forums about Europe’s competitiveness and artificial intelligence, followed by workshops about current and future developments:

  • Mobility of the future
  • Digitalisation in healthcare
  • Security in a digital Europe
  • Information and manipulation in the democratic discourse
  • Culture and media – digital and analogue worlds
  • Transformation of job profiles and the economy
  • Digitalisation in production – killing jobs or safeguarding employment locations?
  • Trust in technology

Charlotte Stix, an expert on artificial intelligence, emphasised the necessity for ethical principles and a global perspective since AI and digitalisation know no national borders.

“The concept of Europe entails addressing and preserving fundamental rights and values. These should also influence the digitalisation of our world and the development of artificial intelligence (AI). If that happens, Europe can develop into a leading force: AI with people at the centre.”

Source: http://www.pfingstdialog-steiermark.at/en/charlotte-stix-01-2/

The evening was crowned by a interview of Peter Sloterdijk, who basically stated that we live in the “best of all times” and that people tend to confuse potential risks with real dangers. He gave valuable insights, but ended on a slightly controversial note at the end where he stated that the rising of anti-semitism was due to alarmism. In protest several people left the room. You could argue that his claim for the need of discussion and nowadays “non-willingness” to debate were proven to be right, but I also recommend to read the reaction by the Jewish newspaper Jüdische Allgemeine.

The last day was finished with keynote speeches about the ethics of the digital discourse (and by a last jump in to the pool at the hotel).

Overall my impression is mixed. While a „high-caliber interdisciplinary and international sharing of experience“ with „new insights and perspectives, knowledge“ was promised, I would have welcomed more diversity on the stage – especially with that topic in mind. The event was driven by a kind of technic and future pessimistic view, bearing a lot of fears and possible threats. Only a minority of the speakers shared an inspiring atmosphere when they focused on the chances, hopes and necessities.

You could see there was a big “digital divide” between the old and the young – or to be more accurate the “old worldviews” vs. the “new worldviews”. That is probably the reason why I enjoyed the first day the most where the students and young academics debated in interactive workshops.

Also the topic of ethics in digital era is crucial, the catholic church representing those values not so much. Again – a more diverse approach would have been much appreciated.

The event turned out to be a great networking opportunity though. We even got to meet the Regional Governor of Styria Hermann Schützenhofer:

The prestigious biennially event is hosted by the Styrian Government in cooperation with the Diocese Graz-Seckau and the Club Alpbach Styria.

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The Whitsun Dialogues: Digital Europe. No borders, no limits?
was published on 23.07.2019 by Sanja Cancar. It files under Europe
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YES We Care 2! Kick-Off and first Study Trip

We recently started to work with mladiinfo from Macedonia, Risky Businesses from Romania and YoungAfrica from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia on our YES We Care 2 – Youth Empowerment through Social Entrepreneurship. We support our partners with our ICT know-how and contribute with our experiences from the field. The overall goal is to map social entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia and offer them trainings, networking and guidance to further grow their businesses. ICT plays a vial role in establishing a successful business and needs to take local realities such as limited resources and different interface into consideration. Read more here about the current project and find here more information about the past first project implementation.

Yes We Care 2 Banner

Kick-Off in Harare

We started the project with a kick-off event in Harare, Zimbabwe where the consortium met for the first time in person. We discussed and planned the upcoming studies visits in the three African countries and how we will succeed in the implementation. The meeting was a lot of fun, surfaced many challenges within our planning and brought us all closer together.

First Study Trip to Beira in Mozambique

For the last few days the city of Beira in Mozambique was our working place. Although “working” is not quite the right term. It was a mix of study visits, cultural networking and enjoying the country. In total it was quite intense, we were visiting a lot of places, met a lot of interesting people and promising NGOs – even the mayor of the town gave us an official welcome.

Our goal within the project was to find local social entrepreneurs to invite them to a training session in Macedonia next year. Our project “YES We Care 2” aims to give those motivated people and their ideas an educational boost and a network to reach out to potential sponsors.

Yet it was not easy to find social entrepreneurs in the local scene since the term is relatively unknown in Mozambique. There might be already several well running businesses which fulfil the criteria of a social entrepreneurship but they are not on the radar of our local partner. Speaking of which: Our study visits and trips around Beira were organised by Young Africa Mozambique. They run a training centre in Beira and in Dondo, a nearby spot in the country side, where they provide education, vocational trainings and many other courses with very practical aspects for young students. In different franchises the students learn to become bike mechanics, farmers, electricians, cooks etc.

Young Africa introduced us to those franchises and we got more than a glimpse on the social impact of the organisation. They also arranged visits with local government officials and businesses and other NGOs. One of the first meetings was with the mayor of the town. Sitting in the mayor’s office, presenting our project, taking pictures – all that gave our trip a very official start and we felt honoured to be invited. The mayor mentioned that we need to try prawns and that supporting young citizens might be even more important after the big cyclone earlier this year.

We were very impressed by the rather quick recovery of the city. The damage of the cyclone is still visible in many places (e.g. many of the roofs are still gone) although the citizens did a great job in rebuilding the structures. As always, the ones who suffer the most are the poor inhabitants. And there are a lot. We passed by many slums when we were going around by car and it gave us yet another reminder how privileged we are to travel around the globe, sleeping in clean beds and having regular meals.

Our discussion cycled daily around the circumstances these people are living in. The question is: How can we help the motivated entrepreneurs and project leaders in the most sustainable way? We cannot solve their problems, but only support them in helping themselves. For us, it is obvious that we can achieve that by establishing strong networks which last longer than our short trips and most importantly providing tools to them to help themselves. Start a business, create jobs and rebuild the city.

The diverse members of our group were also quite colourful and it was a pleasure to work with all of them: Mhlonipeni from Zimbabwe, Constance from Mozambique, Shemo and Lulesa from Macedonia, Robert from Romania, Eric from Belgium, Paul and Georg from Austria. Finding topics to talk about wasn’t hard. Politics, cultural habits, sharing ideas and telling jokes only scratch the surface. There were always funny cultural differences and language barriers. We spent hours trying to bridge those gaps. Trying to count in the different languages was maybe the most hilarious part.

In the end, we shook a lot of hands, built up networks, led very interesting conversations and discussions about social entrepreneurship and how to improve the situation for young entrepreneurs in Beira.

One good example was 3R Mozambique. They create a clean environment for current and future generations through the transformation of the waste. Furthermore, 3R provide integrated waste management services for medium and large organizations and build waste treatment infrastructure across Mozambique.

We also met Baisikeli who import second-hand bikes from Denmark supported by their sponsor. They repair the bikes, sell them in local shops and promote eco-friendly transport in Beira. If this wasn’t already enough, they work with Young Africa in Beira to train young students to become bike mechanics and also create bikes for handicapped people. Many still loose their ability to walk due to a still existing mine problem in the surrounding area. Recently they also built bikes with a pizza oven included, they plan start new businesses with mobile pizza bikes!

We also used the opportunity to connect with local universities. Paul met colleague from the Universidade Zambeze. The local public university which suffered badly from the cyclone. Almost all of their computers were destroyed and they now face the challenge to teach computer science for 500 students with only 20 computers. We talked about how we can support them and explored possible collaborations.

Overall, we simply had a lot of fun. Mozambicans are very friendly people and we are very grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the Mozambican culture. Therefore, we want to thank Young Africa and our project partners for the wonderful collaboration: Mladiinfo and Risky Business.

Written by: Paul Spiesberger and Georg Steinfelder

Yes We Care 2 Partners

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YES We Care 2! Kick-Off and first Study Trip
was published on 16.07.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under sub saharan africa
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Guest Lecture at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Maputo, Mozambique

I got lucky to be part of the delegation we sent to Mozambique to participate in the YES We Care 2 project. We implemented our project in Beira and a blog post will soon be published about our work there.

Several years ago, I was teaching in Maputo at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) within our ICT4DMZ project. I worked with students from the DMI and gave a one semester course about Android development. I managed to add a few days to my stay here in Mozambique and stopped by the UEM to visit old friends and connect again with the department. I offered to give a guest lecture at the DMI for Master students and I chose to give them once again an introduction to Android programming. Five years have passed since my last Android lecture at the DMI and the way I would now implement a modern Android application fundamentally changed since then.

I am big fan of practical teaching. So I only had 11 slides prepared, which were mostly about who I am, what I do and why I was here. I prefer to simply programmed live in front of the students and explain the code and why I implement it in a certain way. That might be a bit risky, but also gives me the chance to fix bugs and errors in front of the students, since they will probably also encounter the same in the future. I tried to cover the latest standards and illustrate how I would now start a new Android project. I covered the following in my lecture:

  • GIT and GitHub – because I would never start a project without it
  • Project setup and overall architecture of an Android Studio project
  • Jetpack Navigation – single Activity architecture and Fragments
  • Data Binding – Interaction with UI Elements
  • ViewModel and LifeCycle Handling

The lecture was well accepted, although hard to follow, since I only scratched the surface of all these topics in only 2,5 hours. This was intended, since I wanted to show them the tools they should use, give them a direction where to look and then at the end simply remember what is out there. So if they start a new Android project in the future, they then should think: “oh yeah right, there is something called Jetpack Navigation, ViewModels and Databinding… and I should probably use GIT to organize my work”. For the rest, they will have to teach it themselves, which is in my opinion the best way to learn programming anyway.

You can find my Android project I created during the lecture here on GitHub. Feedback is more than welcome.

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Guest Lecture at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Maputo, Mozambique
was published on 09.07.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under sub saharan africa
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Special Sponsor of PyCon Africa 2019

Last year we celebrated our 10th year anniversary with a party at Schikaneder in Vienna. It was a wonderful evening and we used the opportunity to collect donations for Noah and his engagement in Ghana. He recently joined the team who is organizing this year’s PyCon Africa 2019. The organising team of PyCon Africa 2019 includes experienced Python community conference organisers from Africa and Europe. Between them they have run multiple international conferences, including PyCons in Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, United Kingdom as well as several editions of DjangoCon Europe. The conference will happen 6th-10th August 2019 in Accra and will be the first-ever pan-African meeting of the Python programming community. Get your tickets here!

We are proud to be listed a Special Sponsor of the PyCon Africa 2019 and are happy to support their great work with our humble contribution. They are still looking for support, so please do not hesitate to donate as well.

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Special Sponsor of PyCon Africa 2019
was published on 22.06.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under sub saharan africa
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ICT4D Guest Lecture at TU Wien

I am a member of the research group INSO at the TU Wien (Vienna University of Technologies). The research group for Industrial Software (INSO) deals with the study of development and maintenance of software systems in practice. I got invited as a guest lecturer next week as part of their Beyond the Desktop lecture. I will give an introduction to ICT4D, discuss projects and past research with the students and I will give them an overview of our activities and projects at ICT4D.at. We are currently looking for students who are interested in participating in our projects or start writing a thesis in the field of ICT4D at the TU Wien. Everyone is welcome to pass by and join in:

Thursday, 13th June 2019, 16:00 – 18:00 at GM 4 Knoller Hörsaal (1060 Wien, Getreidemarkt 9, Hoftrakt, Stiege IV, 2. Obergeschoß).

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ICT4D Guest Lecture at TU Wien
was published on 07.06.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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Android ICT4D News Application – for You from Us

ICT4D News App Icon
ICT4D News Logo designed by Chloé Zimmermann

We are software engineers, open source enthusiasts, programmers, designers, geeks and simply love to make the life of others easier with ICTs. We are happy to announce our Android ICT4D News Application. ICT4D News combines 29 blogs and news sources (complete list on GitHub) around the topic of ICT4D and Digital Development. The goal is to offer an easy way to stay tuned and receive the latest ICT4D updates. All blogs and sources are combined into one handy list and provide offline reading capabilities. The blogs and sources can be deactivated to customize your reading. Please download it and do not hesitate to send us your feedback at news.app@ict4d.at

Get it on Google Play
Download now!

The latest version hit 1.1.0 and is solely for you, the ICT4D community, made by us, ICT4D.at. But we hope this will not stay this way, the application is Open Source and just waiting for you to reports bugs, discuss new features and contribute to the code base. So if you recently fell in love with Kotlin (as I did) and want to bring in your ideas, then don’t hesitate to contribute.

We also strongly believe in diversity and the benefits coming with it. We are proud of being an international team from 3 different continents (Africa, Asia and Europe) and 4 different countries: The core team consist of three members: Noah Alorwu, who is active in Ghana, Raja Saboor Ali is strongly committed in Pakistan and myself is involved from Austria. We also have support from Chloé Zimmermann a designer from France. We develop, work, share and take decisions equally.

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Android ICT4D News Application – for You from Us
was published on 13.05.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under global
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