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A road trip to a ‘mysterious’ place called Molo in Search of Knowledge!!

How it all started.
When The Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural cooperation ACP EU (CTA) announced a web 2.0 Learning Opportunity in Molo, Kenya through it’s mailing lists, I was excited and very enthusiastic. I quickly but accurately read through with a focus on the requirements for the training which all seemed perfect for me except one “YOU MUST BE A KENYAN”.  This would have made me give up easily since I am UGANDAN  but being the curious and daring kind of person, this did not deter me from applying for the one week training. I said to myself that I needed the skills just like the Kenyan’s did.

A few weeks Later, I received a call from the Coordinator “ICT and Innovations”, CTA who wanted to know if I really needed the training . My answer was definitely affirmative. I also had an opportunity to ask him why the training was being restricted to Kenyan Citizens yet we call ourselves ‘East Africans’, He told me that CTA did not have enough finances to cater for transport of participants from Outside Kenya but added that a similar training will be conducted early 2011 in Uganda [Not sure about how the political situation will be then]. He added that if I was lucky enough to be shortlisted, I would cater for my own transport to Molo. As I write this blog post, I am seated in a room with 23 Kenyans[Excuse me: Fellow EastAfricans] attending the Web2.0 Learning Opportunity at Baraka Agricultural College in Molo, Kenya.
View Molo on Google Maps

My Journey to Molo.
On the 26th Sept 2010, heeding to a friend’s advice not to board a bus, I headed for the Old Taxi park in Kampala to begin my journey to a mysterious place called MOLO. I was lucky to find the taxi with a small Card board almost half way full having the words TORORO/MALABA inscribed on it. I took up the front seat just next to the driver’s. When it filled up, it was about 9:37am and it took us another 13 minutes to find our way out of the disorganized Taxi park. Once we were out of the park, I estimated 3hours of non-stop driving to reach Malaba boarder. And indeed we were at Malaba at about 1:00pm with delays that  resulted of a few stop overs in Tororo and some time that got wasted when some of the language[also known as “muzigo” in swahilli] fell out of the boot and had to be put back.
At Malaba, the immigration process on the Ugandan side was less of a hustle, I had my passport stamped in  less than 5 mins and straight away headed for  Immigration at the Kenyan side. I nearly shed tears when I saw the long queue. [I later on learnt that the queues were long because the Arrival/Departure forms had gotten finished]. I had to join the queue until I had my passport stamped. I  then rushed to the stage to board the “Eldoret|Nakuru|Nairobi” taxi also known as ‘matatu’ in Kenya. I had to start using Kenya Shillings and start speaking Swahili………………..the money bit was easy but the speech……..

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Conclusion
To cut the long story short, I left malaba after about 2hrs of waiting for the matatu to feel up, reached Eldoret at around 5:47 and left for Nakuru at 7:25. Now MOLO my destination is located between Eldoret and Nakuru but I had to go straight to Nakuru to be on a safer side then board a Matatu on 26th Sept to Molo for the training. I had to speak all the little swahilli I knew because nobody gave a  ‘damn’ about English.  I managed to reach my destination at round 8:00am on the morning of 27th Sept 2010 and was warmly welcomed. I MUST say that despite all the stress and Tension I went through, I am so happy to be at Baraka Agricultural College. It is totally awesome Read more about Baraka 
Please do not ask me how I managed to pay my transport fares!!!
That will be told verbally

Maureen Agena: CTA’s FIRST Remote Intern

In 2009, The Technical centre for Agricultural and Rural cooperations  ACP-EU introduced CTA’s Internship and Young professional officers programmes. The Centre offers the beneficiaries of the program the opportunity to acquire practical experience related to their professional backgrounds and aspirations.

How it all began
During CTA’s 2009 annual seminar which was also her 25th anniversary, I was privilledged to meet the biggest percentage of the CTA team in Brussels-Belgium including Mr. Giacomo Rambaldi my current Remote trainer and Mentor. Being a trained Citizen journalist, I did not waste any precious time but decided to join the various web 2.0 platforms that were being used to share information about the seminar and anniversary. Twitter was my favorite platform. I spent most of my time tweeting and re-tweeting until the day I was set to make a presentation on behalf of WOUGNET entitled “Use of web 2.0 tools for sustainable
argriculture: A case of small scale farmers in Uganda”.
The entire idea of web 2.0 tools was “News” to majority of the participants. After the presentation, I had the privilege to share my passion for web 2.0 tools and new media with CTA’s Senior programme Coordinator/ICT and Innovation Mr Giacomo Rambaldi.
After a discussion with WOUGNET coordinator Dr. Dorothy Okello during the CTA observatory Workshop in Netherlads in 2009, it was agreed that I should be recruited as a remote CTA intern.

What the Distance Mentorship Covers.
During the internship period, it is believed that Knowledge and skills will be acquired via remote coaching and hands-on practice. The distance mentorship programme covers the following topics:
Use of SharePoint remote collaboration platform to store and exchange data related to this programme (Microsoft Office environment)
• Use of Joomla (CMS); e.g. publish ready edited content
• Monitor and improve visibility and ranking of websites. This includes SEO assessments, registration on search engines and online directories, planned crawling, establishment of reciprocating links, use of WebRings and other
• Improve dissemination of online products. This involves the posting of short announcements on selected portals, social tagging and tweeting. Content will be provided by CTA.
Moderate and animate the exchanges on the Web2forDev DGroup
• Transcribing and translating videos on dotsub.
My experience.
Being a remote intern had never occurred to me. I did not know that such a “thing” existed, being trained and mentored online using a number of tools. When CTA offered me this opportunity, I was so eager to find out what “remote” internship entailed. I must say that, six months into the internship, I have no regrets at all. The benefits are overwhelming and opportunities keep increasing.
Ø I have understood the power of the internet and the benefits it can offer when properly used.
Ø I have learnt about many more web 2.0 tools and how they work. This has made it possible for me to use the skills for WOUGNET.
Ø Being a trained citizen Journalsit, I am putting into use the practical skills like blogging, tweeting , skyping among others.
Thanks to The Technical centre for Agricultural and Rural cooperations ,CTA’s Internship and Young professional officers programme for giving the youth like me an opportunity to maximize on the potential I have in relation to new and digital Media.

Maureen Agena
Remote Intern
Affiliated to the CTA Distance Mentorship Programme
Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation ACP-EU
P.O. Box 380, NL 6700AJ Wageningen, The Netherlands

Citizen Journalists: The “Watchdogs” during the 2010 FIFA World cup.

Technological innovation is taking place at a breath-taking pace. Simple, open source internet-based applications and services designed to enhance on-line collaboration are now available to the wider public at little or no cost at all. These new online services known as Web 2.0 applications have enabled people, especially citizen Journalists to collaborate remotely in creating, sharing, networking, lobbying and publishing information about the FIFA 2010 worldcup . The 2010 FIFA world cup which is currently taking place in South Africa comes at a point when the use and application of web 2.0 tools has been adapted by many African people.
Globally, technological development has taken the place of face-to-face interaction; with an increasing range of devices for communicating and disseminating information. It is evident that the world is changing rapidly and African Media needs to catch up with the technological revolution. Africa cannot oppose the rise of this technology and the investment in “new and digital media”. But because of the low literacy levels, limited skills and high costs, it seems to be a fantasy than a reality to promote a larger use of online media in Africa. Never the less, this has not kept those who can access and use the technologies/web applications from making the best use of them during this 2010 FIFA worldcup.
Twitter an interactive micro blogging platform based on open publication of 140 character messages is one of the most popular web 2.0 tool being used to share information across the globe about the world cup. Being the largest sporting event in the world, twitter introduced the idea of having a picture of a ball after every tweet that bears the hush tag for the worldcup (#worldcup).
Facebook a privately owned social online networking website having users who can request for or add friends and send them messages as well as update their personal profiles in a chronological order to notify friends about themselves is another powerful tool being used by thousands of both soccer and non-soccer lovers during this 2010 FIFA world cup . It’s on these platforms that you find the latest updates about the different games in terms of the fixture, the winning teams, the “avoidable mistakes ” made during the different games, the online links to follow and watch the games, the vuvuzela discussions and people’s personal opinion about game.
We cannot ignore the blog, a type of website usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Many bloggers worldwide are having their blogs populated with the world cup event from all spheres; socially, politically and from an economic point of view.
A number of other tools like Youtube for sharing videos, flickr for photos and RSS for syndication are also being used. However, how are Africans benefiting from this worldcup and the various technologies?
The need to invest in citizen journalism and involve citizens in policies that affect them is now evident with the ongoing 2010 FIFA worldcup. The use of web 2.0 tools has enhanced real time communication, improved information sharing and networking. It is very important for different African governments to take advantage of these platforms to improve on key sectors electronically like health, education, governance and business. Each one of us can be a watch dog in our own societies or localities by reporting and sharing information on issues that affect us but have been left out by mainstream media. We are all citizen Journalist in one way or another.

The writer is a trained Citizen journalist