Mobile Tech at the Africa Bar Camp

I’m currently sitting in on a breakout session Bar Camp Africa with a group of people including Terry VanBelle with Google who is helping to increase usage of mobile applications in Africa. Interesting stuff. I’ve already been turned on to Open Rosa which Google is doing a bit of things with.
There are a number of people who really want to push mobile for outreach to the population, which is great since just about everybody in Africa has one (if not two) mobiles. AppAfrica is here as well with Jean Gosier in the crowd. Other Google folks in the audience include one from Google.org which I honestly wasn’t even that aware of. Need to dig more in to that as well. Terry has thankfully taken the lead in the group as it got much, much bigger than the room was supposed to fit. Correction, it’s actually a bit out of control as some late stragglers came wandering in. Ah, the BarCamp format!
The Baobab folks are interesting as they’re attempting to merge health care with technology, which is a field that the US could learn a great deal from as we currently suck at it. I believe that they will say more shortly as they’re just talking in introductions currently.
Gautam Gandhi brought up the point that he wants to learn more about mobile technology in Africa as he pointed out that rural India shares a lot in common with the majority of Africa. There is some truth in this, although I think from a perception point, most of the West doesn’t view India in the way it views Africa. People see hope in developing India (on a general society level, not on a corporate level) whereas many folks find Africa to be beyond hope and development pointless.
While in the general population of this BarCamp, there were a great many more Africans in the crowd, in the particular group of 25, there is only one African. Unfortunately all of we Americans are dominating the conversation as is typical. I’ll have to make sure to talk to everyone after this is over as the time limit for the session is ridiculous and we’re not going to get to anything in depth. We’re still just working on use cases, which while limited is taking up a great deal of time because many people in the crowd want to know what’s going on. The one main consensus, which all of us knew coming in to this is that SMS is critical. Much more so than voice. It is amusing to hear and others have commented on the fact that we’re all developing mobile applications to our projects. Obviously the future is in your phone when it comes how everything is playing out on the continent of Africa.
Ah, the African fellow chimed in at the end once we started talking about football. Everyone got a lot more excited about that. So correction, the future is in football and your phone. That’s probably true everywhere, not just Africa, unless of course you’re the United States.
Need to look up a bit on ZebraJobs as well. Apparently it’s a successful job placement system that’s running