I’m currently in Liberia, doing a technology assessment of the country with a focus on mobile phones, internet and radio. There have been a lot of interesting meetings, but today I had one that was really a lot of fun.
Matteo from UNIDO and Daniel from Crabgrass have been doing a training program with Youth Crime Watch of Liberia (though there were reps from Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Guinea also present). I was invited out to give a demo of Ushahidi. I did this by setting up a Liberian demo site, and then running through the FrontlineSMS install and sync to create what we call our “local tech hub“. It worked like a charm.
[One takeaway: Ushahidi's main page loads like a fat pig on these connections, the guys have already cut that down by half, thank goodness! Can't wait to try the new build.]
One of the guys present was Alie, a local ASP and .NET developer who does a lot of front-end development. When he saw what Ushahidi could do he got very emotional, saying, “we have needed a tool like this in Liberia for so long.”
That quickly led me to handing over an instance of Ushahidi to him, loading up FrontlineSMS on his laptop, and showing him where to get started with the wiki and code repository. Over the next 30-minutes he was invited to the Ushahidi Dev Skype channel, and everyone there started pitching in to get him started on his new PHP learning path and into the development community. It was truly amazing to see devs from Kenya, Ghana and the US all chatting to him at once.
So, welcome Alie to the Ushahidi team, and the rest of the Youth Crime Watch in Liberia. I hope to see great things out of them!