Africa Camp Graz – Part 2

Notes from Africa Camp Graz 2011, 26.11.2011 in Graz. List of topics here. As there were parallel sessions I could only attend half of them.


Teeth for Africa –

“Dentist family project”, started in 2006

1 hour from Arusha, in the Kilimanjaro region (Tanzania) there was a lack of dental health care

They took all dental care and other medical equipment they could get in Austria, put it in a container and shipped it to the local dispensary in Uchira

Worked together with local people to build up dentist surgery

Taught local technician to build tooth-protheses

Surgeries initially done by specialists from Austria – 3 family members are dentists – but since October 2011 there’s a local dentist

Several sponsors – university clinic, other dentists, dental companies

Cooperation with Med-Uni Graz

  • students can have an internship in Uchira

Local dentist & technician are working together in the mean time and everyday dental care is working ok

Treatment is not for free because people have to get a salary, rent for rooms, …

  • depending on salary of patients

Supporting the project – on the homepage


ICT4D – (what to do with) IT and mobile phones in “developing countries”

View more presentations from


Laafi – rural hospitals in Burkina Faso –

Since 1994, 14 members, financing health projects in Burkina Faso

Costs are covered by donations and

Usually 1 hospital for an area with 10.000-20.000 people

Many duties

  • medical care in the hospital
  • awareness about hygiene in the villages
  • family planning
  • pharmacy

Burkina Faso has a national initiative to supply all areas in the country with hospitals – but there is no state budget for it; but the personnel is sent to hospitals which are built by other initiatives


  • looking for projects
  • working with village community and medical personnel
  • co-financing by the village community (20-30%)
  • local companies, local resources
  • control and evaluation on the spot
  • sticking to reliable project partners

Several projects in Burkina Faso

General medical situation very basic


  • 1/3 Laafi calendar
  • 1/3 private supporters
  • 1/3 institutional donations


Social Media for NGOs

Prezi-presentation at


Further material online

Resources at the Afrika-Camp site:

Arabian Spring – a social media revolution – Prezi:

Social Media in Africa – Prezi:

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Africa Camp Graz – Part 2
was published on 26.11.2011 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Africa Camp Graz – Part 1

Notes from Africa Camp Graz 2011, 26.11.2011 in Graz. List of topics here. As there were parallel sessions I could only attend half of them.


Micro Credits as a measure to extend capitalist production

In the mean time more than 100 million people received micro-credits; counting all members of the family there are soon 1 billion people affected by microcredits

More and more institutions are entering the market (becuase they see the possibility for profit) which results into competition and more focus on profit than on information and assistance

Interest rates become higher and more and more people are not able to pay back the microcredits

  • many cases for this (India, suicide of farmers)
  • social pressure to pay back loans
  • sometimes physical force is used to pay back loans

People receiving microcredits often don’t make the step to become independent entrepreneurs and therefore become workers who have no option, only to sell their work force

–> Extension of the capitalist production circumstances

–> People become dependent on private companies/NGOs/institutions and not the state anymore (social system)

–> Makes situation of the people worse, not better

–> The assumption that “social capitalism” works is wrong, as soon as there is competition, the companies who don’t care about social standards win – in general and in our current system


Mojoproject –

Started as building project TU Graz – connected with ITHUBA
– Mojo fullscale stodio – not for profit
– Mojo architectural studio – for profit

Trying to improve the situation by providing education

Active in South Africa & Tanzania – 2 schools each

Building schools in townships & rural areas

  • Also important who runs the school
  • Focusing on educating women
  • Integrating young local men in the building of the schools – teaching them crafting skills on the job

Planning, building and also raising money themselves

  • student project as initial kickstart – half year of a lot of work
  • need project partners – universities, NGOs, companies, many sponsors

Open for additional projects from other organisations

Final aim – local people learn building skills and can act independently


Learning from the slum Kibera – from a land use planning perspective

Taking lessons from Kibera to architectural planning projects in the West

  • slum in Nairobi
  • ~1 million inhabitants

Hierarchy of space

  • 1. public spaces for all
  • 2. public spaces for private activities
  • 3. spaces for reaching other places
  • core elements – living space and courtyard

System that emerged without architects

  • Partition between public and private spaces much more logical & natural than in the west
  • clear borders between private and public – also athmospherical
  • small clusters of private spaces gathering around public spaces
  • spaces spiraling from public to private spaces

Systemic approach – inside vs. outside

  • clear “rules” that distinguish places inside and outside these different spaces structures
  • addition of structures from North to South
  • Kibera as an “island”

Public space as more flexible entity – created and changed based on community input

No strict partitions as in the West – no more fighting fore public space

Learning from “slum cultures”

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Africa Camp Graz – Part 1
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AfrikaCamp Graz November 2011

Just a small pointer to an interesting event in Graz, Austria on November 26:

AfrikaCamp Graz will bring together people interested in Africa and IT to talk about projects, ideas and generally to network. We’ll definitely be there and maybe present lessons learned from our Zanzicode project or our upcoming project in Ghana.

It’s the second AfrikaCamp in Austria, the first took place in Vienna in 2009 and we did some coverage here on our blog – AfrikaCamp Vienna Aftermath.

So, if you’re in Austria at that time, make sure to join the AfrikaCamp.

What: AfrikaCamp Graz 2011

When: 26. November 2011

Where: Graz, exact location will be announced at the AfrikaCamp page

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AfrikaCamp Graz November 2011
was published on 14.09.2011 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Thoughts from M4Change Nairobi

In reflecting on M4Change Nairobi, it occurred to me that ideas largely cluster around other ideas. It was difficult to decide whether this is because ideas emerge as responses to felt needs or because a dominant idea creates a sort of tunnel of vision, sucking other ideas into itself. I would say it was a little bit of both.

Whatever the case, the dominant topic at M4Change in Nairobi convened by Strathmore University and, headlined by two talented and energetic young ladies, Jessica Colaco and Juliana Rotich and held at Strathmore University on 27th June, 2009 was that of Mobile money transmissions, with Safaricom’s MPesa clearly at the back of everyone’s mind.

That said, it was not surprising that the first session was on the topic of Mobile banking. It’s clear mobile money has significantly impacted society and commerce in Kenya. Landing into the country, you encounter its effect almost immediately. If you ask your Taxi driver, he’ll likely tell you he is willing to receive his payment via the dominant mobile money transfer system, MPesa. 

If you penetrate Kenyan society you will find other innovative, original uses.  There was a report of how investment clubs, known locally as Chamas, a very popular savings unit in the country, use MPesa to collate and save their funds. This is done either done on a dedicated phone or on the Treasurer’s phone. The officials spread risk and share joint responsibility for the funds thus collated by each keeping one digit of the account’s pin number so that they can only access the funds together.

Koome from Clean Air Action shared how the organisation has used MPesa as a cheap, convenient and timely way to disburse money to farmers in the Mt Kenya region to incentivise farmers to plant trees.

Other examples of use mobile payments abound including but not limited to paying bills, paying rent, paying casual workers and paying school fees. The critical question of the Mobile Banking session at M4Change Nairobi and indeed of the day therefore became, “where do we go from here? What’s the next thing for mobile money beyond facilitating remittances?

The techies and developers in the house expressed a strong interest in seeing the MPESA API (Application Programming Interface) ‘set free’ to enable them develop new and innovative uses for mobile money. Per one of the participants who also attended the Mobile Banking Conference held in Nairobi earlier, MPesa is owned by Vodafone so that is where the decision to release the API would be made. (Aside: In thinking about this I came to the conclusion that this is a plus rather than a minus. Especially if reports are true that international development funds were invested in MPesa’s for initial development, it should make the service more susceptible to lobbying to be more open and accessible.)

There were a couple of side discussions of note: should (independent) developers for the mobile platform develop services targeted at specific uses and users or develop services and give them to users who will find uses for them according to their needs? And, should companies be driven by a desire to deliver specific benefits to the end user or simply by a direct profit motive that then yields the benefit? The back and forth on this was not so much conclusive as thought-provoking.

The challenges that came to the fore included the lack of interoperability between Kenya’s existing mobile money services. On the surface this makes sense on account of the services having been initially designed not so much as profit centres but as a “retention factor”, to significantly increase switching costs for users. As long as they ably serve this purpose especially for the dominant market player, Safaricom, there is little impetus on the part of the mobile operator to allow transfer across networks. As I see it, this would typically be an area where relative newcomers into the fray (Zap versus Safaricom for example) would have an opportunity to lead in being reactionary and providing cross-network transfer capability. I imagine however that in this case, both technical and security considerations would necessitate proactive participation of both parties. (Is this a space that the CCK is justified in occupying as arbiter?)

The response of banks to MPesa was also a subject of interest. It took a while, methinks, to understand what impact the entry of mobile money solutions into the financial services space meant. When at last they did, they initially responded somewhat defensively, with calls to the Central Bank of Kenya to regulate (code for rein in) MPesa. Now however, they’ve made significant progress and are proactively involved in introducing their own mobile money remittance platforms such as Hello Money by Barclays, or working in tandem with MPesa such as Consolidated Bank which it was reported enables transfers between its accounts and MPesa.

Along a like theme, the highlight of the afternoon was a presentation about a mobile payment solution from Rwanda. The service, Smsmedia, enables Rwandese to purchase prepaid electricity via scratchcard and pay for its use via text message. What was particularly interesting to me about the Smsmedia presentation by Jeff Gasana who flew in from Kigali just to participate in M4Change Nairobi (Now that’s dedication!) was that when efforts to collaborate with the dominant local mobile operator to facilitate the payments they envisaged failed, they went ahead and created their own solution, a scratchcard system which cost a little more the customers but still delivered the value that they needed, both for the consumer and for the principal utility partner, the Electrogaz company. Now that they have the critical mass on their database, organisations that want to deliver messages to their network of customers are subsidising the cost of the service. Currently, they sell 40% of Electrogaz’s prepaid electricity. A simple, effective sustainable solution which has deservedly won numerous awards. The possibilities for scaling ‘across’ their experience with scratchcard payments seem endless. Smsmedia is definitely a company whose genesis it would be interesting to follow. Look it up at Kudos to Gasana and team.

On a slightly different but no less interesting note, the afternoon discussion ended with a lively discussion about good vs ‘bad’ uses of technology sparked by a presentation about Bluetooth stumbling, a viral way to bypass normal mobile phone transmission channels to transmit messages using a knock-on effect centred on a mobile phone’s unique IMEI number as identification.

Good things are happening in Nairobi, for certain, looking forward to more!

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Thoughts from M4Change Nairobi
was published on 06.07.2009 by Wambura Kimunyu. It files under east africa, sub saharan africa
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Next event – Africa Gathering London

While still reflecting on AfrikaCamp Vienna and the interesting talks and experiences we had there, we stumbled upon the next promising event which perfectly fits to our approach of ICT4D.

Africa Gathering in London on 25th April is

A day for thinkers, supporters, sponsors, doers, geeks, dreamers – and everybody else to come and share, promote, highlight, progress and evolve issues related to ICT, social networking and technology in Africa.

It is organized by Edward Scotcher and Mark Simpkins (geekyoto) and on the speakers list there are:

So this appears to be a really exciting event – and will be present. We’re already looking forward to it!

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Next event – Africa Gathering London
was published on 04.02.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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AfrikaCamp Vienna – Interviews

(cc) Walter Krivanek,

(cc) Walter Krivanek,

Just a list of the people interviewed at AfrikaCamp – the interviews will be on the youtube channel soon.

PS: We won’t upload all the material, partly because people didn’t want the interviews to be online, partly because the interviews were too short.

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AfrikaCamp Vienna – Interviews
was published on 03.02.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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AfrikaCamp Vienna – Sessions 2

(cc) Walter Krivanek,

(cc) Walter Krivanek,

Notes from Saturdays AfrikaCamp Vienna. Overview of the sessions can be viewed at the AfrikaCamp wiki.

Session 4 and 5 were our presentations, so I didn’t note down anything.

The platform – who we are, what we do – Martin Konzett, Florian Sturm – UZI, the movie – Anders Bolin


Business driven Philantropy – Business development platform

Big problem: poverty – can it be eliminated?

Businesses have to help

  • philantropy is not the same as charity


  • social entrepreneurship
  • philantro-capitalism – business driven philosophy
  • microfinancing – really works

Example: Maya One

  • network of partners
  • spending 3% of profit to an NGO
  • school projects for child laborers
  • reward: partners help each other
  • cyclic

I have to admit that I didn’t really get the concept of this business driven philantropy – how is it different than just donating a certain percentage of the profit for a good cause just for marketing reasons? Maybe somebody can comment on that?


OpenStreetMap – Helge Fahrnberger

There is no proper street map of Burkina Faso. The ones that exist are not accurate and quite expensive.


  • crowd-sourcing mapping of the world
  • OpenStreetMap
  • CC licensed version of Google Maps
  • these maps can also be used for commercial reasons

Helges plan:

  • creation of a digital street map of Ouagadougou (capital)
  • donation to printing services there

Ouagadougou is currently not really present in Google Maps, but almost fully covered in OSM


  • it is very easy to create maps for any country
  • these maps are available for free
  • local people can map their city


HandyÖkonomie in Afrika – Christoph Chorherr

How is money on mobile phones created?

At the ITHUBA project:

  • until now there is no internet because the cables are always stolen
  • but everybody has a mobile phone

Here there are ATMs all around, but how do you pay when there are no ATMs?

-> Mobile Banking

Mobile phone companies see a business there and support this development

  • a virtual currency is created
  • prepaid airtime
  • without interest
  • it is not possible to accumulate money, it would lose its value
  • economic theory: Schwundgeld

Money is transferred over wide distances this way

  • e.g. in Tanzania parents transfer money to their children this way
  • Kenya: M-Pesa

What would happen if a mobile phone company stopped its business?

  • all the airtime would lose its value
  • lacking trust

Nokia has a strong focus on driving forward these development

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AfrikaCamp Vienna – Sessions 2
was published on 02.02.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under middle east and north africa, sub saharan africa
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AfrikaCamp Vienna – Sessions 1

(cc) Walter Krivanek,

(cc) Walter Krivanek,

After attending AfrikaCamp Vienna yesterday, I want to share my notes on some of the sessions. As there were parallel sessions and we had two presentations, I couldn’t attend all of them. There is also the AfrikaCamp wiki on where the sessions are listed.


HIV AIDS und Human Rights AdvocacyFlorian Schirg

Florian talked about his experiences when doing his civil service in Cameroon at a hospital.

Although the work there was quite rewarding and interesting for him, generally it is hard to motivate local people want to work there, as the connectivity in the area is quite bad and it is hard to get access to a mobile phone network or the internet. The only doctor working there right now is Austrian. The next internet connection is a one day travel away.

Now an Northern American church organization wants to install an ERP system there, to make processes more efficient.

Florian raised the question if this project would make any sense taking into account that

  • there are not enough employees
  • there are no local people capable of maintaining the system
  • electricity is not constantly available

and asked for input from the audience.

The subsequent comments from the audience were mainly critical towards the lacking communication between the Northern American sponsors and the local church and hospital. Most people agreed that the project was bound to fail and the approach not to involve local people was ignorant and antiquated.

Another remark was that enhanced connectivity would motivate more people to go there. With mobile network coverage and internet connection people wouldn’t feel as far away any more.

Organization in Vorarlberg:


Peak oil und Afrika – Michael Cerveny

Peak oil: the climax in oil production followed by a constant decline and a sharp raise of the oil price – what are the effects on Africa?

Energy is the most important resource in the world, especially oil can cover the worldwide consumption. The production of oil will have its peak some time between 2010 and 2030 which will cause a sudden scarceness and result in a price explosion. This will definitely change the world, how will it affect different societies?

Consequences in Austria:

  • everything will become more expensive, especially energy-intense products and food
  • standard family:
  • about 3000€ additional costs for heating per year
  • 700€ more for fuel per year

How will it affect Africa?

Comments from the audience:

Agriculture in Africa is not that energy-intensive, it’s more labour-intensive. That’s why maybe the peak-oil will affect Africa less than other regions of the world.

Most of the African countries would have enough production to sustain themselves without imports. If the countries manage to organize the work efficiently and build up an active market, they would not be dependent on foreign countries so much any more. Inner-African trade is also important.

Right now the agricultural market in many countries of Africa is destroayed through subsidized imports from Western countries. Raising costs for industrial agriculture could correct this imbalance.

In many African countries the Western lifestyle serves as an ideal for a lot of people. So people here have the obligation to change their behaviour before demanding changes from others.

It is substantial to foster education, but on the other hand also production in these countries. NGOs often don’t invest, but donate. This does not help to develop a healthy economy.

Video cast from Christoph Chorherr interviewing Michael Cerveny.


Web 2.0 für große NGOs – Björn Stockleben

New donation-platforms such as Betterplace or Kiva offer their users a very personal connection to development assistance projects. For big NGOs this project-based approach is not practical as projects are organized at different levels of the organization. So the existing platforms are not used by big NGOs. How can they overcome this dilemma?

Björn suggested a cetral approach for a donations-platform, where all the organizations can upload their projects. To offer an enhanced persoalization, the project desctiptions could be accessed through an API and made visible depending on where they are integrated.

Comments from the audience:

Do NGOs even want that? Is there a demand for this type of platform?

It is important to identify oneself with the NGO and the project as donator. There is no sense for NGOs to compete with 1000 others for donators, if they cannot offer a personal connection to the projects.

Decentralization is vital, every NGO can create their own network with the tools which are already there (e.g. Facebook, …).

NGOs do not have the interest to create a network, when it comes to surviving, the aims are put behind.
-> This is not true, there are a lot of networks such as Globale Verantwortung or Ökobüro. Networking takes place in the exchange of experience, when it comes to donations every NGO works on its own.

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AfrikaCamp Vienna – Sessions 1
was published on 01.02.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under middle east and north africa, sub saharan africa
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SocialBar Wien

Picture taken by Christian Lendl

Picture taken by Christian Lendl

Yesterday (20.1.) I was at the first SocialBar Wien at the Skydome of the Wiener Hilfswerk.

The event should facilitate a knowledge exchange between IT specialists, voluntary workers, NGOs and even donors and scientists in the area of social work in general.

The Austrian version is closely affiliated to the German SocialBar movement and also uses the same infrastructure. The organizer (picture to the right) was Peter Jedlicka.

There were around 30 people from different NGOs and platforms as diverse as CARE, Südwind, Rotes Kreuz, Wohnungslosenhilfe… but also interested individuals.

There were five presentations about topics ranging from social entrepreneurship to platforms for the coordination of voluntary work (more details here).

Picture taken by Christian Lendl

Picture taken by Christian Lendl

I like the general idea of creating this kind of a platform for networking and exchange of experience – and to get to know people with similar interests. The meeting yesterday was a good start, but I have some suggestions for next time to improve the “social experience”.

  • Less formal setting – the spacial setting was quite strict and prevented interactions beneath the audience of the presentations to some extent
  • Broader time frame – the schedule was quite narrow, maybe plan some time for informal interaction at the same place (maybe there were interesting talks at the restaurant afterwards – but I didn’t go there)
  • Agree on one specific topic – in my opinion the presentations were to diverse to lead a coherent discussion, maybe agree on one specific topic in the forefront of the next SocialBar

However, I enjoyed taking part in this event and I’m looking forward to see it evolve in the future. Also, I really liked the mixture of people attending. The next meeting will be held in February – check it out!

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SocialBar Wien
was published on 21.01.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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AfrikaCamp 2009 announced

After the first Barcamp on Africa this year in California and some exchang of ideas at Barcamp Vienna 2008, the date and place for AfrikaCamp Vienna 2009 is now officially set. It will take place on the 31 January 2009 at the W@lz in the 14th district of Vienna.

Helge Fahrnberger and Christoph Chorherr are the main organizers, and will help as good as we can. If there’s any designer reading this – at Helge’s site they’re searching for a logo design.

Though it’s still a while to go, I am already looking forward to interesting debates and innovative ideas. I think it’s a great opportunity to bring together people from the IT sphere as well as from the traditional development assistence field and I will try to motivate people from both areas to come.

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AfrikaCamp 2009 announced
was published on 24.11.2008 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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