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eKhaya ICT Honours Project at Rhodes University

In addition to cooperations with the Freie Universitaet Berlin, eKhaya ICT now also has two Honours Projects at Rhodes University. The projects are on "Real e-Services for Rural Development": the idea is to piece together exisiting e-commerce and m-commerce B2C solutions which can easily be stitched together for simple use by a rural telecentre operator. The projects will be tested within the framework of the Siyakhula Living Lab, at Nkwalini. Hopefully by Siphiwo (see previous blog).
By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: March 15th 2009 08:30

Siphiwo Msindwana

Siphiwo Msindwana is a born and bred inhabitant of Nkwalini, he worked for many years in the interim in Johannesburg. A softly spoken intelligent guy, Siphiwo has been training community members in typing and computer operations at the Zweenqaba school as part of the ECSPIRT project's community component. An amazing volunteer, Siphiwo is the embodiment of an entrepreneur. I just hope that we will soon be able to get funding to change his status to actual entrepreneur.

L-R: N.N, Mvelile Ngonyama, Ron Wertlen, Siphiwo Msindwana
By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: February 25th 2009 09:01

SAFIPA and mini-Marshall plans.

SAFIPA - South Africa Finland Knowledge Partnership on ICT Programme

SAFIPA is the sister programme of COFISA - a part of the Finnish South african cCooperation Framework on innovation in South Africa. I think this is a kind of mini-Marshall plan and brilliant. The developed world is helping the developing world come online, which benefits everyone. And that is a reward in itself. In a knowledge based world everyone benefits. This is a huge difference to the imperialistically based models that we have seen previously and perhaps the way of the future. It is definitely the way to a better future.

eKhaya ICT and Rhodes University recently attended a workshop on making a proposal for the programme in East London. eKhaya ICT is definitely looking at shaping a better future, through knowledge.

This links to an article in the Weekly Guardian about Cuba and a new Latin-American rennaissance (despite falling oil costs). Latin America seems to be putting faith in a new kind of socialism, based on education, poverty reduction, controlled nationalisation of resources. African citizens, citizens of arguably the richest region in the world, could take note of these changes and demand some of them from their governments. If only they knew.

By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: February 23rd 2009 09:18

Wishing Zimbabwe a great 2009

At eKhaya ICT we are very optimistic about 2009. We had an excellent trip to Europe which will be reported on in our next Village Scribe Association newsletter. We have made very meaningful contacts in Europe and have pledges to support our ECSPIRT project (on which eKhaya is performing major work).

Please visit: http://www.villagescribe.org/

The actual trigger for this message is the fact that things are getting even worse in Zimbabwe (who could have thought it possible). Rhodes University endorses the following mass campaign. SADC countries need popular pressure now to act. While I am not very optimistic about online campaigns, this one might just give the Zimbabwean people the support to become a great country once again!

By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: January 21st 2009 01:29

Village Scribe Association Founded!

On the evening of the 3rd of December at "Huis van Rooi" in St-Agatha-Rode, Belgium, the Village Scribe Association was founded. The official registration will follow in January. The association has its home in Boortmeerbeek in Belgium.

Founding honorary members are:
  • Christoph Fl├╝gge, The Hague, Lawyer, Judge in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

  • Prof. Robert Tolksdorf, Berlin, IT Specialist, Professor for Computer Science and Head of the Group on Networked Informationsystems, Free University of Berlin

  • Dr. Antonino Gulli', Pisa, IT Specialist, CTO Ask.com Europe and UK
Founding members are:
  • Ronald Wertlen, Grahamstown, IT Specialist, CEO of eKhaya ICT, Centre of Excellence (CoE) Coordinator at the Computer Science Department, Rhodes University

  • Dr. Anna Wertlen, Grahamstown, Biologist, COO of eKhaya ICT

  • Amanda McPhail, Boortmeerbeek (Belgium), Biologist, Research Database Specialist

  • Dr. Jan Baekelandt, Boortmeerbeek (Belgium), Gynaecologic Oncologic Surgeon
We are looking forward to increased cooperation between the cultures of Europe and Africa with the founding of the association.

By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: December 8th 2008 10:57

Google Tracking User Behaviour, Eliminating Bots and Baddies

"We're sorry... Your query looks like an automated

I first got blocked by Google on the 31st of July 2008. I only found another
By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: November 18th 2008 01:45

Grant Awarded to eKhaya ICT!

The South African Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Cooperation Framework on Innovation Systems between Finland and South (COFISA) have awarded eKhaya ICT a travel grant for the upcoming trip to Germany, Switzerland and Finland. The purpose of the trip is threefold:
  1. To found the Village Scribe Association which will organise an international support network for the deployment of the awareNet technology;

  2. To meet software innovation organisations to improve innovation production of the awareNet technology;

  3. To research how awareNet and the ECSPIRT project as a whole can be includedin activities with specific living labs in the European Network of Living Labs' (ENoLL) project portfolio.
You can find out more about ECSPIRT and the awareNet at the pages of the Village Scribe Association.
By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: November 17th 2008 12:28

LearnThings Workshop II

The second LearnThings workshop is taking place this week. Content was delivered to the teachers on USB Flash Drives which they got to keep. The drives were donated by Intel, resulting in the following image:


By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: November 11th 2008 08:06

The Kliptown Youth Project

As an East Cape person, visiting Johannesburg is something I like to avoid like the plague. I ask my relatives who live there why they are still there. Especially after they have recounted the latest displeasures of living in Johannesburg. The displeasures range from drug using youth scenes, to muggings, to traffic congestion. All the more worrying it is to get in a car and head to Soweto - a good thing to liven up a conference!


A good thing that Neo is on the end of line - guiding a nervous Soweto-first-timer to Freedom Square in Kliptown. The place that the Freedom Charter was signed at on the 26th of June 1955. Now it is a huge brick edifice - a freedom mall apparently - taxis and traffic mill with music blaring... Just down a side-road here is Neo's place.

From there we head of West accross the railway tracks to the Kliptown Youth Project. This is a really squalid township scene, and I would not go in here without Neo. And definitely not at night. In the rural areas, people tend to smile more, and the poverty is somehow easier to bear. But just half an hour walk from this desperately poor place, sports cars and limousines worth millions of rands each (Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, etc.) ferry impatient business people around. They don't make the traffic jams move any faster.



The Kliptown Youth Project is about hands, minds and hearts. It is about winning the youth over to hope! By occupying the minds and hands with useful activites the hearts of these youth are filled with hope, confidence and a will to achieve more. A group of youth are in the yard kicking a ball around. Another couple are stting in the office working on their CVs. During school, there are 100 children with OLPC laptops creating digital artefacts in a classroom which is also used for remedial work. Teachers come to give after hours assistance to learners - mainly matrics to help them go further. They have a great role model in Thulani Madondo. Quietly confident, he has travelled far afield to gain experience and he knows that there is something important about what he is doing here at KYP. It is a real pleasure to speak to him and I hope to go on a Kliptown tour with him one day soon.

The great thing about KYP is that the momentum of this project comes from the participants. What a lesson this is to other projects, that aim for the same hands, minds and hearts effect but bring in impetus from outside (see my next blog post about Andrew Summer's project at St Matthews school near Keiskammahoek).

This is a very worthy project for the OLPC and it is great to see them using the technology so ably.


By now Neo has taken another 150 OLPCs to an installation in Natal at a rural school (Esibonisweni Primary School). I see some photos of the school and it looks quite well off compared to the schools we are working at. I am sure that they will also make good use of the laptops under Neo's tutelage. And what a good export product for KYP. Performing OLPC training and installs. I hope that all goes well with that and that the DoE and Municipality finally pay this project the attention it deserves.

By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: October 20th 2008 09:05

ITU-R - Harmonising the World's Vibrations

I recently attended an ITU-R feedback meeting on the World Radiotelecommunications Conference of 2007 (WRC-07). The WRC is where all the wireless regulators get together and bash out a consensual position for world wireless and satellite usage of spectra and satellite orbitals (so they don't crash) for 4 weeks.

It seems a little strange: An organisation that sets its agenda 6 years in advance, that requires its final agenda to be ratified 2 years in advance of the ratifying meting, must surely be a dinosaur in the these times. Everyone in the Internet industry and other hi-tech branches seems to be intoxicated by the dizzying speed with which developments are occuring.

Add to that a conservative seemingly bureaucratic heart of the ITU, the motto being something like "waste not, want not" as regards radio frequencies, is a questionable thing. People want free radiowaves. Technology allows an ever finer slicing of the airwaves - is this just not enforcing the monopolies and what about deregulating worldwide that is going on in the local-loops.

So, what possible use can such a body have, one might ask?

Quite simply there are some critical aspects of radiotelecommunication, like emergency bands that need to be kept clear of "harmful interference". Also regulations that affect international disaster relief are becoming a priority in the ITU-R. It also regulates things like satellite orbits and is a forum for countries and industries to make known their intentions as far as radiotelecommunication is concerned.

The ITU organisational model is sound, it brings nations together and works on voluntary consensus. While that means, that it has very few means to enforce regulations or to act as adjudicator in feuds between mismatched rivals such as Cuba and the USA. It is a lot like it's cousin - the UN - in that respect.

Also as a virtual organisation it sees itself critically and is in the process of reviewing what regulations are going to be needed in future as most technologies converge to IP.

About the ITU-R: http://www.itu.int/ITU-R

The sibling organisation the ITU-D is on the other hand much more interesting to eKhaya ICT and our venture... but it's good to get to know the whole family!
By: Ron Wertlen [permalink]
Posted: October 3rd 2008 09:37
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Tablet Face Recognition Login
New technologies are solving common denominator problems, so of course they are also applicable in developing countries.  awarenet's picture login [1] is a fairly low security but effective way of allowing school children with low levels of literacy to log in and use the csocial network...
by: Ron Wertlen
Node.js stays close to its roots: Ultra-fast.
Recently one of the big node.js community stars, creator of the express middleware framework, the jade templating language and koa -- TJ Holowaychuk -- announced that he was no longer going to be using node.js [1]. The main reason that he cited is the reason why we find node.js so compelling...
by: Ron Wertlen
Javascript Platforms for Development
Node.js is a new-comer on the Internet Web Server block. It is programmed in Javascript, and it is something worth watching in the ICT4D arena for these reasons: It runs on light-weight hardware, like the Raspberry Pi and requires much fewer hardware resources than traditional systems like apache, ...
by: Ron Wertlen
Innovation Made in the Eastern Cape, South Africa
A brand new 2012 CSIR research project into Technologies for Rural Education will make use of awareNet technology. The CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) is South Africa's first and largest technology innovation institution and very active in the development and rural development ...
by: Ron Wertlen
eKhaya ICT - Recalibration
eKhaya ICT has unveiled a new direction - as reflected in our current web site changes. What's changing?ICT for development -- our research over the past 5 years shows that this topic belongs firmly in the sociological and anthropological drawer and has nothing to do with software development! ...
by: Ron Wertlen
screen shot 2011-09-01 at 09.59.35 ICT, economic empowerment and job creation, by the DoC
This blog post reports on a meeting with the DoC on the 19 August 2011. The title of the meeting was:"Connecting the ICT Sector for economic empowerment and job creation"Most interestingly, the Vision of the DoC was given as:"South Africa as a global leader in the development and use of Information ...
by: Ron Wertlen
Wertlen and Chole at ELA2011 Youth Problems Exposed At eLearning Africa 2011
The Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (SPIDER) hosted an Umoja session at e-Learning Africa 2011. Sitting around a big round table, young and old Africans gathered to discuss first the problems that face the youth, and then organically, the solutions that that these problems might have. ...
by: Ron Wertlen
screen shot 2011-06-07 at 21.40.05 Learning From Experience
The school of life is full of fantastic lessons, and there is nothing more challenging today than working in the ICT industry as an entrepreneur, and within that industry, there is probably no more challenging space than Africa. Because, although ICT practitioners always have recourse to escape in a...
by: Ron Wertlen
screen shot 2011-05-26 at 13.20.26 eLearning Africa 2011 - Plenary Session
I have to blog this event, rather than twittering, because there is no open WiFi at the conference, nor can I use the Tanzanian data services on my mobile phone (although SMS and voice work). That's a pity, because I really like the immediacy and connecting power of Twitter.The highlights of the...
by: Ron Wertlen
siphiwo-ron-2011-may WIZZIT Banking
Last week, Siphiwo Msindwana, our community co-ordinator in Nkwalini made the trip up to Grahamstown, so that we could attend a course on WIZZIT banking and being Wizz-kids (the course was in PE).   What could be better than this: drive down through some of the prettiest countryside in the...
by: Ron Wertlen

Changing Perspectives
From this height, the Eastern Cape province is a frothy milky white plain, it is a convuluted dark ridged surface, hilly green and olive region bounded by the blue of the ocean, which stretches away to vanish into a wall of tall white clouds - clouds which seem to live here above the warmer waters o...
by: Ron Wertlen
Google Tracking User Behaviour, Eliminating Bots and Baddies
"We're sorry... Your query looks like an automated I first got blocked by Google on the 31st of July 2008. I only found another ...
by: Ron Wertlen
Blogging At Last
Finally eKhaya ICT has a blog. At the moment that's not saying much, but our hopes keep us looking forward. To say that I believe in Africa is to say much more than that I believe in this blog. And I have great hopes for this blog....
by: Ron Wertlen
groupphotompume2 Travels with Bob
From the 26th of February until the 1st of March, I had the great experience of going to deep rural schools in the OR Thambo district of the Eastern Cape, South Africa, together with Bob Freling. I had planned us a tough schedule, with a lot of driving, and very little buffer time for bad weather et...
by: Ron Wertlen
Road to Baleni
Building a road is good thing, people earn money as unskilled labour is employed locally. Once the road is usable (even partially) the lives of those along the road are made much simpler, they become mobile, they have access to goods from outside and their goods can reach the outside world.If we cre...
by: Ron Wertlen
A challenge for everyone - change your perspective
This morning I had the good fortune to read an enlightened letter to the editor of the Daily Dispatch. It juxtaposes wonderfully the difference between emotional and rational thinking. We can't feel like others, but we should try to see through their eyes.The challenge Mthethe throws down is that we...
by: Ron Wertlen
Internet infrastructure for a global democratic community
Darfur is just one of the examples why the digital divide is doubly damaging to Africa. It's not just the lack of incoming information - information that could save lives - it's also the lack of an ability to share one's problem. Imagine having a life-threatening problem which you know will bring de...
by: Ron Wertlen
1303378580_dsc00222-ed_2 Photos on eLearning Africa 2011 competition
If you have a chance, please have a look at our photos on the eLearning Africa page:The Village Scribe Association submitted 5 images (with very cool descriptions!!) for the eLearning Africa Photo Competition. Please, help us to win the competition by voting for us now online! Some of the photos are...
by: Ron Wertlen
Why did we start eKhaya ICT?!
Some people just shake their head when they hear what we are trying to do. I know what they mean I sometimes catch myself thinking similar thoughts: how can this work at all? Poor persons living in so-called developing rural regions don't have enough to eat, clean water to drink, western medical fac...
by: Ron Wertlen
Web 2.0 for rural communities
The following comes from a mail I recently wrote, I thought it might well illustrate our goals to a wider community.The possibilities that WIMAX and broadband offer are very exciting to me. These technologies also offer significantly different financing concepts. Especially in SA, urban and peri-urb...
by: Ron Wertlen

eKhaya ICT is an Eastern Cape based software company, specialising in quality solutions and software components of ICT4D.

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