Tag Archives: ICT4D Professional

Professional Profile: Jon Camfield

I found Jon Camfield via a blog post from ICTworks.org by Wayan Vota, in which the subject was, “What are the best practices in ICT4D?” The post was sparked by this tweet from Jon Camfield:

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Clearly, that sparked my interest given the subject of our lecture Thursday with our guest, Wayan Vota himself.

Upon checking out Camfield’s LinkedIn, I was able to get a lot of info on the guy, and it’s fair to say he has a pretty impressive background. So I will just give a brief overview of his work history/education and what he describes as his interests and how that relates to the paths that I believe many of us will soon be finding ourselves on in the next couple of years.

Education:

  • finished undergrad 1999 from University of Texas at Austin with Plan II Honors, degree in Technology/Literacy/Culture, Philosophy and Spanish
  • grad school: George Washington University – completed in 2005 in International Science and Technology Policy

Work Experience: 

  • IT Manager at CrisisLink from 2005-2007
  • ICT and Social Media Director at Youth Service America from 2007-2009
  • Technology Strategist at Ashoka Changemakers from 2009-2012
  • Technologist, Internet Initiatives Program at Internews from November 2012-present

In addition to his education and formal work experience, Camfield was a Peace Corps “ICT” volunteer in Jamaica, has been working since 2008 on the Changmakers.com platform, has published a number of articles such as “It’s Time to Start Judging Nonprofits Like For-Profits” and the presentation, “Scaling Social Enterprise.”

In his summary on LinkedIn, Jon says: “I believe in the power of social networks — both off- and on-line — to empower communities. Technology is an enabling force that can strengthen these networks as well as connect them globally to peers, partners, knowledge resources, as well as social innovations and development opportunities. I am interested in ICT projects that further international empowerment / development projects.”

thoughts . . .

One of the questions the class asked Wayan Vota was what kinds of things we needed to do to really get into the field of International Development or ICT4D. He pointed out a few key things like getting a LinkedIn, for starters, as well as a Twitter, and really working on establishing our networks. I now realize that in our world of such fast-paced technology and change, the only real way to keep up and stay involved is by moving with the direction of the current trends. Reading Jon Camfield’s profile on LinkedIn was not just eye-opening for the amount of experience he has that is surely ahead of all of us, but was also indicative of how important social networking is for all aspects of peoples lives today–as exemplified by his 500+ connections on LinkedIn.


ICT4D Professional Profile: Paul Currion

Paul Currion is a very influential man in the field of ICT4D. Although he does a lot of things, he mainly focuses on working towards post-conflict and disaster relief by incorporating ICTs into response efforts. He believes that they have the ability to strengthen response efforts when a disaster strikes by collaborating efforts and information. He has a very broad educational background with degrees in both African Studies and Architecture as well as training in Cluster coordination and information management, Logical Framework Analysis, International Humanitarian Law and Media Relations.

Being a disaster relief professional, Mr. Currion does not have a particular geographic area of focus. Thus, he works wherever he is needed during a time of conflict or disaster. He has a very impressive resume working in the field all over the world. He managed Humanitarian Information Centres (HICs) in Liberia, Cyprus, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Kosovo in order to deliver ICT products and services in these post-conflict regions. He also worked in Georgia and Bangladesh as information manager for the WASH Cluster, a UNICEF project to improve the efficiency of water, sanitation and hygiene. When he is not abroad, Mr. Currion still continues to improve ICT4D in disaster and post-conflict relief. His ICT work specializes in the use of social media and networking because he believes that the sharing of ideas is essential for the most effective implementation of relief efforts. Some of his most impressive social media work has been helping to create the Aid Workers Network which is one of the first social networking sites for aid workers used to share ideas, advice and resources with each other. He also helped to create ISCRAM, which is a social platform used in the academic community focusing on technology in disaster response.

Paul Currion represents a true thought leader and user of everything he promotes, as he uses social media as a way to share many of his ideas. His main thought platform is one of his blogs.  He blogs about many things concerning the humanitarian sector of ICT4D and gives his opinions as well as advice on how organizations can better their tactics in order to implement projects more efficiently, sustainably, and in a more dignified manner. Mr. Currion is also a vivid user of twitter. He uses his twitter to tweet about his personal take on music and popular culture but also tweets about things relating to his blog as well as re-tweeting other important ICT4D professionals. All in all, Paul Currion is a great man who has done amazing things in the use of ICTs with disaster and post-conflict relief. Judging by the amount of work he has done in the past, there is no doubt that he will continue to do amazing things in the future.


ICT4D Professional Profile: Ory Okolloh

Ory Okolloh is a Kenyan activist, lawyer, and blogger who is currently employed with Google as the Policy Manager for Africa. In addition, Okolloh has also been known to create a number of websites (engaging in mobile phones, social media, and Google Maps) in order to increase the use of communication and information practices in underdeveloped nations, specifically within the region of Africa where her geographical area of focus is. I chose to write about Ory Okolloh because I feel as though she is an incredible example of applying ICTs to underdeveloped nations by identifying a need and then applying that need to practices of communication and information.

Okolloh’s first ICT4D endeavor was during the year of 2006, where she had co-founded the parliamentary watchdog site Mzalendo, defined as Patriot in Swahili. The website’s mission is to “keep an eye on the Kenyan government” (www.mzalendo.com).  In addition to Mzalendo, Okolloh had also assisted in creating the website Ushahidi, defined as testimony in Swahili. Ushahidi collects and records witness reports of violence by using technological resources such as text messages and Google Maps.

Furthermore, although Okolloh has worked with underdeveloped nations through a number of ICT4D practices, she also has her own individual online blog that is called Kenyan Pundit. Kenyan Pundit was created in result of Okolloh’s  website Ushahidi. Reporting on happenings in Kenya and also referencing other Kenyan blogs of similarity, it acts as an outlet of information and communication for individuals that reside in Kenya and within other nations around the world. However, Okolloh has decided to resign as Ushahidi’s executive director, leaving a good-bye post on Kenyan Pundit. Okolloh states that since the beginning of the creation of Ushahidi “it has been a crazy ride…from producing an incredible open source platform and working towards scale, to building and working with an incredibly talented team, to seeing multiple uses of Ushahidi around the world, to numerous awards and press mentions.” 
For me, what has always been the most important aspect of the work we do has remained simple, building a tool that makes it easy for individuals and groups to tell their stories, and making it easy for these stories to be mapped/visualized. Ushahidi has grown to be that and much more, thanks especially to the wider community, which saw potential uses beyond crisis reporting and who largely shaped our growth and direction to date be it through translation efforts (Ushahidi now available in 10 languages!), or custom themes, or pushing for a hosted version (Crowdmap), or challenging us to address the shortcomings of the platform (through tools like Swift River and our community resource page) (Okolloh, www.kenyanpundit.com). Nevertheless, what Okolloh is most proud of, is the fact that Ushahidi’s platform has extended to underdeveloped nations around the world, each attempting to diminish the digital divide and continue to strive for increased accessibility of communication and information practices.

www.mzalendo.com

www.kenyanpundit.com


ICT4D Professional Profile: Erik Hersman

It’s all a matter of perspective, and Erik Hersman (aka WhiteAfrican) is fortunate enough to possess a truly unique one. Born in Kenya and raised in both Kenya and Sudan, Hersman feels truly connected to his African roots. Despite having the opportunity to go elsewhere and being educated in the United States, Hersman returned to Kenya after getting his B.S. in Business Management from Florida State University where he splits time when he cannot be with his wife and three kids in Orlando, FL.

Hersman is the leading voice behind popular blogs such as AfriGadget and WhiteAfrican, and he has also co-founded Ushahidi and iHub. As a result of Ushahidi’s success in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, Hersman became an important voice in the discussion of cyber security and subsequently weighed in on “The Subtle Condescension of ‘ICT4D’.” He was also one of the first members of the TED organization, and today enjoys the title of senior fellow.

His advice to young professionals entering the ICT4D field really stood out to me as an indicator of his way of thinking. “It’s easy to talk about things,” Hersman says “and funders know this. You know, make sure you build it, get some use cases, hear back from people who are actually using it, and then go to the funders and you’ll have a much better chance of furthering that project.” With this pragmatic approach to issues, and scientific method for making changes, Erik Hersmean has built a reputation for himself as a practical problem solver and an important voice in the definition and progression of ICT4D.


ICT4D Professional Profile: Daniel Duke Odongo

Daniel Duke Odongo got his start in the ICT4D field when he was an intern for Google between July and September of 2011. He was responsible for many initiatives within Uganda and had several lead roles on some projects. One of these activities was that he built the ground for relevant products to cater to local content and needs. Another project he worked on while with Google was that he engaged Uganda’s prospective users and supported the Google Uganda office in a number of tasks relevant to Google and its mission within Africa. He is a frequent user of twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ as well as several other sites which are moving Uganda towards the future of ICT4D capabilities.

After completing this internship, Odongo started working for Code Sync as a Strategic Partnerships Lead. He started working there in September 2011 and currently still holds this position. His main responsibilities are “identifying areas and priority business level interests that the team could venture and invest in mobile and web application development to satisfy user needs.” As he has been doing this for 8 months or so, he has definitely begun to gain some very valuable knowledge and experience in the field of ICT4D and technology know-how in general. Code Sync is a 5-man team of tech-savvy developers looking to revolutionize the mobile application industry in Uganda. While they may have a long way to go in order to accomplish all their lofty goals, the passion and commitment these 5 men, chiefly led by Odongo, have shown is the first and most important step towards changing the mobile phone world within Uganda.

In addition to this job at Code Sync, Odongo is also currently an intern for Google Africa and has been since January 2012. Before accomplishing all this, however, Odongo studied at Makerere University receiving a degree in Software Engineering. Makerere University is the oldest and one of the most prestigious universities in all of East Africa. Because of this experience, he is currently one of the leaders for something called Google Technology User Group (GTUG) Kampala Chapter. On the group’s website they describe themselves as “Google Technology User Groups (GTUGs) are user groups for people who  are interested in Google’s developer technology; everything from the Android and App Engine platforms, to product APIs like the YouTube API and the Google Calendar API, to initiatives like OpenSocial.” Odongo is the University Relations Lead on this particular project. Odongo brings a wealth of passion and knowledge to this team through his experience working with Google as an intern on two separate occasions. He provides strategy and developer support to a number of project teams.


ICT4D Professional Profile: Tim Unwin

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Born in England in 1955, Tim Unwin is an ICT4D professional who has done an incredible amount in the field. He spent 20 years doing research and teaching about development, and spent six months working for a bilateral donor agency. This past year, he received the “Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, UK-China Fellowship for Excellence”, became a visiting scholar at Peking University, became an honorary professor at Lanzhou University, and received an “apple for the teacher award” from the Student Union at Royal Holloway. He has written and edited fifteen books and over 200 papers and other publications, including his most recent book “Simply ICT4D” which was published by the Cambridge Press in 2009. His work has taken him to over 25 countries, and impressively, this is just the short version of his professional training. Tim Unwin is currently the Chief Executive officer of Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO), the Chair of Commonwealth Scholarship Commissions in the UK, an Emeritus Professor of Geography and director of the ICT4D Collective and UNESCO Chair in ICT4D at Royal Holloway, University of London. Unwin is also currently on the Steering Committee “Online Educa Berlin,” a Fellow of the Education Impact, on the advisory committee of eLearning Africa, and on the editorial boards of Third World Quarterly, Children’s Geographies, Aurora Geographical Journal, and Triple-C.

Within his ICT4D work and research, “in recent years, his research has focused especially on the uses of ICT’s by poor people in Africa and Asia, especially those with disabilities and young people at risk of living and working on the streets”7. He has written many papers and done much research on education and poverty alleviation in the developing world. Unwin explains that, “for me, development is about addressing the appalling inequalities that exist in our societies, and this is something very, very different from the hegemonic view that development is actually mainly about economic growth”. Based on various comments he has made on ICT4D this seems to be one of the reasons he chose to get into the field. Furthermore, he believes strongly in giving the people in developing areas a voice when implementing projects. He suggests that when implementing a development project, “really discover what would… make a difference in the lives of poor people, and then work with them to develop technologies that can really serve their interests”1. He also suggests that it is “much better to contribute to expanding and existing successful initiatives, rather than starting up something from scratch”1 and that “those who determine our research agendas should be the world’s poor and marginalized,”1 which is something I strongly agree with.

Tim Unwin has done an incredible job of sharing his ideas in a widespread and accessible way, and uses ICT very effectively to do so. Most formally, he shares his ideas through countless publications he has written. He also uses social media and has both a blog and a twitter account. Through these more informal ways of sharing his ideas, the reader really gets a sense of how personable he is, and he seems rather down to earth as well. In his social media pages he talks about projects he has worked on, comments on books that he has read, shares discussions that he has been a part of, talks about personal experiences he has had, especially about his travels, and much more. In taking the time to write blog posts on topics that he thinks a wider audience should hear about, it is clear that he truly believes in a wider access to communication and information that is available to all who wish to access it. Not only is he someone that talks about being a proponent for giving everyone in the world, including those in developing countries, access to technology and information, but he puts his beliefs into practice by sharing information on blogs and twitter, with links to other videos and websites with even more information, rather than just sharing his knowledge via publications that are only available to a limited audience. Furthermore, he shares many of his ideas through other special projects, debates, interviews, and keynote speeches.

1. http://unwin.wordpress.com/about/

2. http://www.educationimpact.net/fellows/tim-unwin,-uk

3. http://www.wise-qatar.org/node/1383

4. http://cscuk.dfid.gov.uk/about-us/roles-and-functions/

5. http://twitter.com/#!/timunwin

6. http://pure.rhul.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/tim-unwin_bfad958b-8f3b-410a-9073-9645be169a85.html


ICT4D Professional Profile: David Kobia

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I chose David Kobia, co-founder of Ushahidi, http://ushahidi.com ,for my Thought Leader Profile because of his unique story and tremendous, ongoing contributions to the development world. Born and raised in Kenya, Kobia came to the United States to study computer science at the University of Alabama in 1988. After some time, however, Kobia dropped out to pursue a career in web developing. Soon enough, Kobia was employed by several top companies, including Reader’s Digest, Times, Inc. and Southern Progress as a web designer. Kobia always has been, and still is very involved online. He frequently tweets, @dkobia, and updates his blog, www.dkfactor.com, with useful information relating to development. It was this constant Internet activity, which lead to his involvement with Ushahidi.

After shutting down one of his online forums which had begun to take a radical, uncontrollable turn, enabling insensitive information and communication pertaining to violent events in his own homeland, Kobia was keen to make up for this mistake. It was at this time that Erik Hersman approached David about creating Ushahidi. Kobia immediately joined the team, and still holds an important position, as Director of Technology and Development. Kobia has created and owns several other online companies and resources (www.kobia.net), in addition to his ongoing work to improve Ushahidi.

David Kobia has received international accolades for his work with Ushahidi, including Humanitarian of the Year, and has been included on multiple prestigious lists highlighting accomplished innovators in the ICT4D field. What I find most remarkable about this admirable leader in development is his loyalty to Kenya, his first home, despite his decades spent in America. Kobia firmly believes in the ability of the African people, not the white Westerners, to achieve better levels of development. In support of this belief, Kobia has constructed a technology innovation center in his hometown of Nairobi to stimulate the development potential of the area. Kobia believes the African people will soon live up to their potential, confirming, “There’s a pool of mind-blowing talent just waiting to be tapped” (http://www.technologyreview.com/TR35/Profile.aspx?TRID=947).