After these packed three days of meeting in Kenya, we had a free half-day on Sunday morning, enabling us to visit the Nairobi National Park where we met hundreds of beautiful zebras, hundreds of magnificent giraffes, a rhinoceros, and few other interesting animals.
Quite a nice break before moving to five more days in Uganda. However, after the park visit, the last few hours in Kenya were stressful. The good job of Kenya Airways made us part of the overbooked people! We had to fight one by one for our three seats to get a boarding pass! Tim and I got ours quite rapidly… but Rosemary was out for a long time! Hopefully, everything eventually went well, and we all boarded the plane!
The arrival in Uganda was quite different compared to the leaving of Kenya. We received the royal treatment. Not only the Minister of Trade and Tourism came to the airport to welcome us, but he offered Tim his personal car (including the drive but also the body guard and the police escort!!) plus a car for Rosemary and me, and a very nice protocol officer, Lydia, for our visit. We ended up leaving the airport in a convoy of 5 cars, with the police opening the road. Impressive!!
The visit in Uganda has three parts: the first 2 days, Monday and Tuesday in Kampala (for those who missed their geography lessons, this is the capital of Uganda) where we met government representatives including the prime minister, the minister of Trade and Tourism, and the president ICT advisor. We had also a press conference, a live radio interview, attended the Uganda Linux User Group meeting, met UNICEF Innovation Team in Uganda, and participated in an event at Makerere University gathering teachers and students from all over the country to hear and interact with Tim.
The second part of the meeting was in Bushenyi, at a 7 hours drive from Kampala, where we met Grameen Foundation team working in the field on their projects.
The third and last part was dedicated to visit CTPH (Conservation Through Public Health), particularly their telecenter in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and their facilities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. We had also the great opportunity to meet with John Silco, running a very interesting e-government project in the Kasese district. Like in Kenya, lots of interesting stories, some funny ones too!
I will summarize the meeting in the next post, but focus here on the funny stories!
Among the most popular questions Tim almost always receives, one is about the difference between Internet and the Web. One very funny form of this question came during the Linux User Group meeting: “Sir, I’m a bit surprised. I thought the Web has been invented by the US army. When I read that the Inventor of the Web will come to the meeting, I was expecting a 5 stars US general, in his normal dressing. You are here today in a suit, why that? You don’t look like a general.” Another comment, during another meeting: “Sir, this is an honor to meet you. I never thought i would have a chance to meet the inventor of the Web, mostly because I never thought he was still alive”.
The last one, when we met the Prime Minister of Uganda. He recognized the importance of the Web and ICT for the future of Uganda, but honestly admitted that for his personal case, even if the Minister of ICT taught him few times, he cannot got used to use it. At the end of this meeting, he gave us his card which had an email address and a website… and the Prime Minister discovered it!
Finally, as I mentioned in in my post about our visit in Kenya, we had the feeling that everybody is waiting for the new sea cables and fiber optic to come and realize its promise. For me, despite the fact that we had lots of information and presentation about this fiber optic, it was not really real. It becomes reality when we effectively met it! Indeed, we drove probably more than 14 hours from Kampala till Bwindi, and during most of the time, we saw people digging on the side of the road.
Eventually in Queen National Elizabeth National Park, we saw people putting the fiber in the hole!! So this fiber is real, and it is deploying VERY quickly. The team was quite impressive: Some people walking with the fiber, one guy to drive the team, and a Chinese guy monitoring the whole operation.
So for all we can’t believe it, we did encounter the fiber, and I’m sure it will be alive before our next visit!
btw, we didn’t have a chance to buy/read the different newspapers that covered Tim’s visit, particularly the papers written by those who attended the press conference. If you have such articles available, we will be grateful to get a e-copy or a link ! Same for the interview Tim gave to Sanyu FM and NTV.