November 24 2009: The second day in Uganda was supposed to be a bit lighter… but it was not really! We started with a meeting with the Prime Minister at 8:30. Quite interesting. Like in Kenya, there is a huge expectation from the fiber optic being deployed. Like in Kenya too, Tim promoted transparency, and open government data. I believe we had a positive echo from the Prime Minister.
Honestly, I realized here, and in Kenya also, how ideas conveyed and discussed by the inventor of the Web can have a greater impact than anything else. I’m convinced that the concept of open government data, and release of these data on the web will be given more attention by Governments in Kenya and Uganda in the future. At least, the seeds have been planted now !
The second meeting was at UNICEF, with Sharap Sapra and part of his team. Very inspiring meeting! Sharad has a vision for Uganda and a plan. This includes the connection of schools to the Internet through the deployment of the Digital Doorway made by our friends from Meraka Institute in South-Africa. The most exciting part for me was the discussion around crowd-sourced transparency and accountability. We share the view that the availability and government data, and then the tracking by local people and organizations, is the most scalable way to identify problems, ensure that promises are met, and commitments are realized. This is also a way to develop expertise and capacity among people, and help them to find or create their jobs. We also discussed the potential of mobiles, and things like audio book to spread information and knowledge to students. All in one, a very interesting discussion, and some good ideas for the foundation to build on.
The afternoon was dedicated to visit Makere University. I want to thank Idris Rai, Michael Niyitegeka, Daniel Stern for their work in organizing the event. It was a great success, lots of students, lots of teachers, from different universities. Lots of interest, particularly in Web Science. Also lots of interest to know about the most promising technologies for the future of Uganda. A very good meeting!
The rest of the day was quiet, except few glitches for me to fix, like finding a car for the rest of the trip, or finding a way to come back to Entebbe the same day as our planned gorilla tracking in Bwindi. For those who know the geography of Uganda, this is a challenge. Every single person I discussed this with told me it was just impossible! But we made it thanks to God, Jesus, Allah and others, and thanks above all to Lawrence !