Category: IT in Africa

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The road to where is paved with good intentions?

Why am I only now discovering the ICT4D Jester? Oh, lost hero, how well you express my doubts and fears about ICTs and development. One of the reasons I no longer actively blog about technology for development and in developing contexts is because I feel like an asshole when I criticize some of the big movers and shakers in the sector. There are occasionally other critical voices, but many (and...

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3.1 Mb downloads in Benin? For 15 000 FCFA/mo? Are you out of your mind?

‘ Somebody must have put Benin Telecom’s feet to the fire because they’ve launched a series of impressive initiatives to lower the price of bandwidth for Beninese consumers. They have: doubled the bandwidth for all DSL consumers. That means users who were paying 25 000 FCFA ($50) for 256 kbs are now getting 512. Users who were paying 80 000 FCFA ($160) for 512 now get 1Mbs. Pretty impressive. repaired...

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8 ways to create an inclusive work environment for women

Last week, I gave some concrete suggestions for improving participation by women in technology. Among them were exhortations to create an empowering environment to get work done. All of the mentoring and social networks in the world won’t help you if the atmosphere sucks. If men are actively silencing women during discussions you facilitate, you have failed these women. You have not lived up to your responsibility to create a...

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Concrete steps to make your ICT(4D) projects more gender inclusive and woman-friendly

Are you looking for a woman working in IT? Someone who’s bright, innovative, and ready to take risks? Someone who’s already trained in the basics and is excited to learn more? Have you talked to a secretary lately? People Online works with a lot of secretaries. It’s all well and good to sell the boss a shiny new website, but when it comes to maintenance and content, he (and it’s...

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Browser statistics and Commentary for Benin (or, IE6 isn’t going anywhere fast, so we might as well stop complaining and get back to work)

People Online still guarantees IE6 compatibility for almost 100% of the sites we develop. We don’t even charge extra for it! And this is why: We’ve spent an awful lot of time in cybercafés in West Africa, and an awful lot of these cybercafés are still running Windows XP (or Windows 2000! Or Windows 98!) and IE6. Anecdotal evidence aside, the default install for Windows XP is IE6, and most...

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Facts, lies, and conjecture: Benin Telecoms’ latest blow up

What we know (facts): Our Internet connection has been out since last Friday. So have those of all other WiMax clients. Non-WiMax clients of Benin Telecoms have been having problems since Friday for certain types of downloads and have experienced unusual bandwidth shaping. Connections from other ISPs sometimes work, and sometimes don’t. There is probably a pattern, but we don’t yet know it. .bj domains are up and down and...

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On Internet in Benin and the lack thereof

Last Thursday, we woke up to no Internet. At 8:00, we called Benin Telecoms to signal the problem. “We’ll send a team right away,” they said. “Are you sure you need to send a team out here? We just can’t log in, so the problem’s probably on your end.” “What could you possibly know about our servers? We’ll send a team over right away,” they responded. At 10:30, still no...

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On why language is important when talking about women in tech

This is the second in a series of posts where I address technology, women in technology, and women in technology in Benin. * Accompanying the recent spate of questions about how to find more and better women speakers for tech conferences, the general lack of women in technology, and a lot of comments about women’s capabilities and skills, has been a dreadful abuse of the English language hinting that women...

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On women in tech, in Benin and back home in the States

This is the first of a series of posts in which I’ll discuss technology, women in technology, and women in technology in Benin. My clients are all businessmen. Accent on men. After over two years of developing websites and web applications in Cotonou, we have a lot of clients (what can I say, we’re good at what we do!). Of these clients, two are women. Less than 5% of all...