My brief whilst I am out here is to spend time setting up a computer network for the office staff in Kola. The office manages the operational functions of EDK (Excellent Development Kenya), they are broadly split into Finance, Admin, Logistics, and Training. Here’s most of the EDK team, John wore his shades especially to look cool, I reeled out my cheesiest grin and strangely Mbutu stared at the tree; good job the others knew how to behave on camera.
Left to right – Kyalo, Christine, John, Esther, Peter, Mbutu, Me
Right, if you are at all bored by IT talk I advise you to stop here.
The challenges to IT work in Kenya are based around getting quick access to the right hardware and software. The nearest place with a choice of IT equipment to purchase is in Nairobi, which is a good 2 hour drive. Being prepared is important as you can’t just pop down the shops to get another network cable. Also I am used to downloading the software I need from the internet, whether it is Windows Updates or new applications. You need a speedy and reliable internet link for downloading large files and this isn’t always the case in Kenya.
In remote areas such as Kola the only possible way to get internet access is by using mobile broadband (the USB sticks that are getting popular in the UK) which the mobile companies are rolling out across the country. Unfortunately the service can be unpredictable. However it is very impressive how the mobile companies are using a technology like mobile broadband to reach customers and bring the internet to such remote places. If you consider that there is no mains electricity or running water where I am staying.
It will be great if the mobile companies can get to the level of coverage and reliability they have with voice calls as an improved service will mean better communication and hopefully benefit Kenya’s communities and economy. Every man and his cow in Kenya have a mobile and the advertising for the mobile companies is everywhere. I heard a story from a visitor to EDK saying that she was out in the Maasai Mara with one of the warriors in his full ceremonial dress when his mobile went off. It’s good to talk.