Entries tagged with “kano”.


Kids in the old city, Kano, NigeriaFirst order of business is to let you all know that Eugene has photos on his flickr site which you should all check out.  It’s very difficult to live up to his consistency and quality of photography but Scott and I are trying very hard.  Eugene also posted various videos from the week he was here.  The only one I can load on this connection was from our tour of COBTAK. I’ll link to more when I can find them or you can click on “more from user” to see his other videos from the trip.

Second since I’m only here for 9 more days panic has set in about being able to finish what we set out to do.  Scott and I are going to wrap up our web design training tomorrow afternoon with a open session on html/css and WordPress for content management.  We will also do a morning session tomorrow possibly on databases or data analysis with spreadsheets (TBD from our review this evening).  In the meantime I’m cranking away on Insaan (the RH Leaders DB tool built in rails).  Also we have plans to develop 2 additional sites for partner groups the Mumbayya House (Center for Democratic Research and Training) and possibly the Health Tech Institute in Makarfi.  If that’s not enough we still need to spend time at dRPC to go over computer maintenance, the website and their email situation.

Lastly we spent more time at Spice Foods and met a friend from Jos who is originally from the Philippines .  It was an fun an educational night the ended up with Scott and I sharing ONE bike home in the rain after midnight.  It also turns out there are police road blocks everywhere after midnight in Kano (so be careful).

update: more videos from Eugene

  1. Hiking Dala Hill
  2. Indigo Dye Pits
  3. COBTAK Tour

CITAD Kano NigeriaDay 2 of the 3 day (maybe 4) web design and content management training at CITAD and GIIP is now complete. The review and evaluations for day 1 are available on our training resource site http://citad.org/trainings.

The materials above provide the main breakdown and detail of how everything went.  Mostly day 1 was challenging because we were trying to gauge where we were all stood and make it fun and interactive.  This goal to make it user driven really worked and then the generator blew up and caught on fire (not kidding).  This shortened the training partly because the computers were out and we only had a few laptops but mostly because with no electricity to power the fans it was way too hot to be there.

Day 2 we picked up where we left off and a few folks had completed there homework even (side note: I think I need to figure out homework for the end of every class, it’s not mandatory but everyone liked the idea).  Everyone is really eager to learn and wanted to spend even more time than allocated.  Today we reviewed poorly designed sites, and spent the rest of the time building an html/css template (using heavily materials from maxdesign).

Other things we noticed: viruses and spyware are pervasive and have crippled a lot of the available computers.  So we are going to fit in a short MS Windows maintenance and security training and perhaps even and Intro to Linux session.  Simple free AV software (clam, avg) could have a significant impact on reducing this problem if we can get people access to it (the web here is too slow to download it).  Other trainings up coming this next week are introduction to databases and data analysis using spreadsheets.

Also today we took a ride on “achabas” (sp?) or motorbike taxis, a very popular and cheap mode of transportation.  We went over to Spice Foods for really great food and beer (shhh!).  We got some great time in with the restaurant owner talking about the deteriorating situation in Kano amongst other things and then we took the “achabas” back home.  The motorbike ride is not nearly as scary as I thought even at night.  Whether I’m up to it during daily traffic is another story.

Sai anjima!

Kano ICT ParkScott and I were invited to attend a day long summit or “interactive meeting” organized by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Eduction and Information Technology, Dr Bashir Galadanci, on the Kano ICT Park.  This summit gathered members of the business community to educate them on the investment opportunities and benefits.  The interactive part was the later half that I attended which allowed the community to voice there opinions and critiques.  The critiques centered around several core challenges: infrastructure, education/skills of workforce, funding/management.

What is an ICT Park and why would Kano want one?

An ICT Park is a strategy where a state can provide resources, infrastructure and other incentives to encourage the development of ICT-related businesses.  These businesses typically focus around call centers, outsourcing, software development, data processing and related services.  The goal is to provide and entry point into a global information-based economy and drive economic development.

Kano State appears to also think this ICT Park will create a ripple effect into the rest of the economy to improve education, job opportunities and infrastructure.  Given Kano’s current conditions it faces huge challenges in not just opening the park, getting the resources it needs to run successfully but also finding a business community and workforce to fill it.  Additionally this building was not originally designed as an ICT Park.  It was built during one governorship and renovated during another with no utilization plan and a lot of money in contracts and little oversight.

Core Challenges:

1) Funding and management – The ICT Park seems to be funded and managed complete by the Kano State government.  This strategy for management and funding is almost certainly not sustainable.  One person said that the current investment by Kano State is 1 billion Naira (~ $8,547,000).  As a side note the maternal and child health hospital that the Katsina State government cost only 400 million Naira (~ $3,418,800).  I’ll leave it up to the readers to decide which has greater benefits.  Some of suggestions from the meeting include finding private ownership and selling public shares.

2) Infrastructure – This building already completed for years and renovated once is still not open because there is no power, water and telecommunications.  The plan for the building (10 stories and with space for 300 businesses) will be powered on diesel generators 24 hours each day.  All other challenges aside this is the most dramatic and show stopping.  The pollution impact, cost of diesel, and inconsistency of power is going to present series challenges to overcome.  It appears already a lot of businesses can not stay open because of the cost of power and generators.  The representative from UBN (a large bank in Nigeria) claimed that they had difficulty investing/loaning any money because they did not think businesses could overcome the cost of energy.  The task of providing water to the building is a serious task as well in a city where most do not have running water.

3) Education and workforce – The focus group that I participated in dealt with training and skills.  First off the question that is evasive is that nobody can define what skills are necessary.  Obviously this is going to vary depending on the types of businesses.  Second the skilled workers needed just to maintain the technology in the building do not seem readily available.  A lot of the suggestions involved getting the government to develop guidelines and monitor training centers.  Regardless there is a serious need for investment in universities, technical schools and training centers.  One problem is that this component (education) is usually a precursor to ICT parks in other countries.

What Next?

This is a good question.  It’s very unclear what the next steps are by government, business, or NGOs.  Whatever the outcome is the discussion about what Kano needs in order to promote economic development is something that needs to continue.  Pervasive issues of power, water, education need to be addressed now.

See also:

It’s been quite a week in Kano (well 9 days really). I’ll summarize some of the work and experiences that I’ve had so far. Let me just say there are tons of great photos from the folks that have been in Kano this week but there is no point that we will have enough of an Internet connection to upload many of them (Eugene Kim of Blue Oxen Associates will be in the US soon and will most likely have a lot of pictures/videos online).

First off Sunday concluded the IIE/LDM meeting of country managers.  Represented was India, Pakistan, Phillipines, Ethiopia, and Nigeria (dRPC).  In addition Scott and I along with Eugene participated in some of the discussions involving especially technology strategies.  I gathered a lot of information to contribute back into the database application that I am finishing for IIE/LDM called “Insaan” (the urdu word for human).

Second Scott, Eugene and I visited with two organizations affiliated with dRPC to interview with regards to information technology capacity.  The first group the Community Health Research Initiative led by Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba specializes in health research to influence public policy in Nigeria.  Dr. Magashi was mostly concerned with capacity around data collection and analysis but also interested in developing there web precense so they could control and update in-house.  The second organization was the Coalition of Budget Advocates in Kano (COBTAK).  This coalition of about 20 Kano-based NGOs was interested in developing the ICT capacity of its member organizations as well as further supporting promoting its work on good governance.  With some funds from the European Union they acquired space and a set of computers (none of which have been put to use yet).  This coalition has plans for an computer training center to support the work of NGOs in Kano. Lastly we were able to visit the British Council where we toured the facilities and interviewed staff about the programs.  In general these are the best facilities I’ve seen anywhere in Kano.  There are new computers, high speed access and high security.  While they offer trainings on Internet use their focus is young professionals and do not focus much on the NGO or community organizations in Kano.  However I think there may be room to negotiate use of their facilities on off-days to offer trainings… we’ll have to follow up on this.

Next we went with the IIE country managers on a study tour of Katsina which is several hours north of Kano.  In short this trip was next to mind-blowing… the main critique was that nobody had enough time to take it all in.  Our first stop was in Katsina to meet with members (and LDM fellows) of the Sharia Commision of Katsina state.  We then picked up Alhaji Magagi Zandam (sp?) the traditional leader of a group of remote villages bordering Niger.  We had a tour of a village medical center and learned about Magagi’s or maternal health related projects.  This is a major example of the success of the LDM program especially since Magagi told me that he did not even believe in HIV/AIDS before his first LDM sponsored training on maternal health.  We left the village to pay a courtesy visit to the Emir of Katsina (the top rank of the traditional royalty whom apparently were “absorbed” by Islam during the Jihads led by Usman dan Fodio against the Hausa, see wikipedia). The visit with the Emir was also a unique experience that is difficult to explain.  The last part of this trip involved a tour of the minisitry of health facilities in Katsina State.  The Katsina State government is building an impressive hospital dedicated to maternal health!!!  And there are using only government funds to do it!!  This is quite amazing undertaking and is very close to opening (inshallah).

The rest of the week we worked on technology planning and training and finally got a visit with CITAD to discuss trainings we are going to carry out starting July 3 on website design and development.  I’ll write about that outcome after this Thursday.  It should be a great learning experience for Scott and I.  Additional we’re going to work with dRPC and IIE/LDM on developing their websites.  We met also with LDM fellows that came to a training on Facilitative Leadership.  These health fellows we hope to visit to discuss technology issues. Especially a group in Kaduna that has a computer literacy center and focuses on health education for youth.

Today (July 1) we went with YZ Yau of CITAD to the Kano ICT Park “interactive meeting”.  This was an interesting couple of hours that again probably deserves its own post.

Now I’m continuing development of Insaan (rh leaders database), planning for the upcoming web design trainings, developing a plan to upgrade the website and IT skills of dRPC, developing a plan for the IIE/LDM website and finally working out the details of a continuing GIIP-IIE/LDM partnership (the main goal of my trip here).

If I haven’t emailed or called yet to check-in I apologize.  The inconsistent connection and power make this difficult and slightly annoying.  I can send my Nigerian cell phone number (shared with Scott) to you if you email me or send me a message.

Sai Anjima!

kano nigeria mapI’m departing for Kano, Nigeria this Friday (June 20)…  I have no idea how this happened so fast.  I’m going to arrive and work with the Institute for International Education (http://iiesf.org/), dRPC (http://www.drpc-ng.org/), and CITAD (http://www.citad.interconnection.org/).  The goals are to improve the “database” application that I’ve been developing over the last couple years to keep track of Reproductive Health Leaders in several countries around the globe.  In addition Scott (see Scott’s Notes) and I are going to work with local organizations to perform information technology trainings and assessments.  The end goal of the assessements is increased organizational capacity through more effective use it ICTs and potentially a body of knowledge we can use in GIIP to further develop projects and internships in Nigeria and other parts of the world.

I’m hoping everyone can stay in contact with me while I’m away (only until July 15).  You can always use Skype to contact me (email me for my info) and my location in Kano will be at the Tahir Guest Palace:

Tahir Guest Palace, No. 4 Ibrahim Natsugune Rd, Off Ahmadu Bellow Way, Nassarawa GRA, Kano State, Nigeria. Tel:234-064-632057, 646988, 649710 Website: http://www.tahirguestpalace.com.

Lastly if you haven’t seen the early California Voices release check it out and let me know your feedback.  A LOT more work will go into this when I return.

Check back in for pictures, videos and notes from the trip.  Hopefully I’ll keep up blogging when I return.