Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

The Grand Opening!

Friday, July 6th, 2007

The setup

Today is the big day. We got to InterConnection Uganda under little sleep very early in the morning to make last minute preparations. Three ministers were going to be here today, including Johnorable. The guest of honor is the Minister of Education and Trade.

Riding my first Boda-Boda

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Rudi left for Kenya today. Since he’s with the CFU team he had scheduled his vacation (a three day safari trip in maisa mara) ahead of time because this was the week that the students were going to take two days out of to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park. Unfortunately the original schedule was completely blown to bits due to the late arrival of the container. And unfortunately he is going to miss the grand opening tomorrow because of it. Don’t worry, Rudi…I’ll take a lot of photos!

In other news…I rode my first boda-boda today!


Catching Up

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

We’re almost two days behind with all of the doctor visits, so today we played extreme catch-up. InterConnection’s Grand Opening is going to be on Friday, so this place has to be uber clean and organized by that time. We need to make a good first impression.

I set to work organizing all the internal components on the parts shelf, the keyboards, and mice. In the meantime, M.T.A.C., the management and technical educational institution that’s allowing us to use the warehouse space, came today for their share of computers (our barter for the warehouse).

At one point the power went out, and we attempted to get the generator hooked up.

Starting the Generator

…but we failed miserably.

Later, Fredrik, Rudi, and I had dinner with the Katahoire family at a very nice Indian resturant. Dr. Katahoire is the Chairman of the Ugandan Communications Commission. We discussed our plans for InterConnection Uganda and then about Fredrik’s idea of intergrating Microsoft SmartPhones with PCs to collect data from SMS messages sent from normal “dumb” phones. But we’ll talk more about that in time.

A Mini Tour of InterConnection

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

So what does the inside of InterConnection Uganda actually look like? Well, that’s for you to visit and find out.

InterConnection Uganda!

Just kidding, here’s a little mini tour for all the curious souls out there…

The work begins.

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Now that the computers are finally at ICU, the CFU team is quickly getting their machines together and loading them on the truck for Masaka (the town south of Kampala).


The container is coming! The container is coming!

Monday, June 25th, 2007

It’s already Monday, and no computers have reached InterConnection Uganda. The CFU team is getting nervous. How can they install 10 labs now? Time is running out.

We spent the day making minor preparations.

Oh my goodness...

Or rather, watching with our fingers crossed as the carpenter put up the foam-covered boards to block the very intense sound coming from the metal shop next door.

Work, work, and…ambassador?

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

So this morning I woke up to the sound of the car running outside my window. Oh, right, we were going to the American Embassy today.

I jumped out of bed, put on something decent to wear and nearly tripped over myself as I scrambled outside the door and hopped into John’s car.


Today we met the American Ambassador for Uganda Steven A. Browning. The meeting was basically a question and answer session where we got to prod Ambassador Browning with questions about what exactly the U.S. was doing in Uganda. He was quick to mention that most of the help was coming from the private sector, and he also pointed out that Uganda was one of the most welcoming African countries. We also had a little discussion about their relationships with other foreign presences in Uganda (like China), which is quite interesting considering the Chinese are helping to install the new National Internet Backbone.



Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Walking Around InterConnection

It was certainly an interesting day today. Brenda, Nicholas, and I met with four people from UNIDO to talk about InterConnection Uganda. They have been communicating with Fredrik Winsnes, CFU’s team leader who works at Microsoft, for the past few months, getting the scoop about setting up a refurbishing center in Uganda. UNIDO was quite thorough, asking questions about how we decided on our price for the computers, how our setup will work in the warehouse, our annual sales target, and whether we were providing other services in addition to selling refurbished computers (among many other questions).


Amazing changes

Monday, June 11th, 2007

We have been making a lot of progress on the refurbishing center during the past week. If you remember, the place was bare when I arrived there.

But look at how far we’ve come!



Update on the Internet Access Troubles…

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

So I received a quote from one of the satellite companies…eh, no thanks. I figured the equipment prices would be insane, and they were. I guess we’ll have to go with U.S. $100/month for 64kbps. It’s a start, no? And most of the equipment they require is something I already have, or I can at least ask the CFU team to bring it from the U.S. at a cheaper price.

But there is good news because this insane price is temporary. Very temporary.

John informed me today that the Chinese were actually close to finishing the National Internet Backbone. I thought they had just started recently, but apparently they’re working very quickly. Not all things are on African time here. Anyway, the backbone should be finished in about two months! The prices for Internet access should go down dramatically within the next year now that companies outside of MTN and UTL aren’t forced to use those privately-owned backbones. MTN saw this coming. They were crying foul at the Ugandan government for putting together this project—”It’s a waste of money, we already have a backbone!” Oooh, I just want to smack the CEO in the face for taking advantage of the Ugandan people. I won’t really—I’m not that violent…but, sheesh. Anyway, MTN will get their retribution.

So let’s focus on what’s ahead!

John has some excellent plans for this country. First, I’m very glad that he pushed hard for the National Backbone. Infrastructure is number one, then you can address the rest of the issues. I really like his idea of opening up free wireless access points for people—perhaps that will spark a greater interest in IT. He should also open up a very cheap Internet cafe as soon as the backbone is installed for people who don’t have laptops, as the cafes now are much too expensive for the average Ugandan to visit at any sort of regular basis. Oh, this is getting exciting (as if it isn’t so already). The computer refurbishment center, the first of its kind here, will be an excellent addition to what will soon emerge in this country.