African Media Lab

  1. Born in MIT and Northern Norway, the Fab Lab concept seems to be blossoming. I think it works because you can clearly make just about anything in a Fablab and what happens is relevant to local circumstances. At school one of the reasons for not liking Physics was that all the experiments had been worked out by others, and I couldn't see the practical application of what was being taught. These public access science labs work the other way round - you share an idea and they look to see what's possible. It is a great place to prototype. Check and this list for one of the nearly 50 labs near you. Ton Zijlstra, also in this video, blogs in English about Fablabs at

    Thanks too to Fing for featuring this at their conference in Marseilles this year Videos of the presentations from this years' conference are here

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  2. There was quite a bit of reaction to the interview segments I posted with David Smith, Director of Okapi Consulting. I first met David when he worked as a current affairs producer at Radio Netherlands. An earlier video talks about how he got involved in the re-launch of Capital Radio, Transkei in the mid-nineties.

    In this segment, he recalls how he ended up with UN Radio and how he developed radio networks in conflict areas. Though a series of fascinating anecdotes, he explains what works in the field - and what doesn't. I have a lot of respect for David and how he seems to get things going under difficult conditions. A true radio professional. His company, Okapi Consulting, is named after the Okapi - a close relative to the giraffe. . I'm sure those with an understanding of radio - and what it can do, will find this interesting.

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  3. I have been amazed at how some banks in Africa have adopted mobile banking to such an extent that you can walk around Nairobi without the need for cash. if you want to pay, you use your mobile phone at the check-out. Many people in Africa don't have a bank account because they don't have a legal address and so need to keep a deposit in an account to use it. ATMs are few and far between in rural areas, and the journey to the nearest one may take several hours.

    Dan Armstrong is a brilliant thought-leader and practitioner on the subject of new services for the mobile phone, especially in the work he has done on mobile banking for the Rabobank in the Netherlands and in East Africa.

    Following his presentation for the XMediaLab in Amsterdam last year (2009), I asked him about the challenges for the banks in Africa and to explain the revolution the mobile is making. Why didn't mobile banking catch on in Europe? What is his preferred future for mobile banking in developing countries? How can banks really start providing more of a coaching service to customers rather than acting a controller?

    Dan has since been in Rwanda and Tanzania doing exactly what he describes here. He's a man with a plan!

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  4. This interview profiles the pioneering work being done by Professor Eric Brewer at University of California at Berkeley. He and and his team have been modifiying wifi routers to connect buildings 50 kms or so apart. No extra power is needed, only a special antenna and modifications to the router software. Experiments in Venezuela, India, Uganda, Ghana and Guinea Bissau have proved this technology to work well. If you need to connect buildings, this is a much cheaper alternative to satellite. I see this as being an excellent way to connect local radio stations in Africa who want to share content. It can also be used to connect rural radio stations to Internet Service Providers in urban areas.

    Was delighted to see Brewer has been given an award for this work. The Association for Computing Machinery announced on March 15 2010 that the Berkeley computer-science professor is the winner of the latest ACM-Infosys Foundation award. More info:

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  5. I enjoyed revisiting with Michael Bosse, who runs a network of media projects from a basement suite of offices in The Presido, the former military base near the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. Michael's organisation, Equal Access, has built an international reputation for improving communication in society, especially in areas where there is still ethnic or political tension. Their training schemes are focussed, and their technical knowledge is really tuned in to local needs. Michael is a great believer in relevant techology. This interview wiil interest those looking at ways radio needs to change in rural areas of Africa or Asia.

    The FM mapping software Michael refers to was developed in Nepal by Pawan Upreti - who runs a website at Pawan has done a remarkable job in taking complex data and displaying it in a way that is easy for station staff to understand, and their advertisers.

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African Media Lab

Jonathan Marks Plus

These are interviews which I think are relevant to community media projects in Africa. They are moving from purely FM projects to playing a much greater role in the success of society. I post one or two new videos a week on my main Vimeo site.

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Shout Box

  • Kris Haamer

    Some great content here. Thanks for sharing!

    by Kris Haamer

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