Sunday, 19 July 2009

Enough to bowl a maiden over

I’m desperately trying to think of something to write for this blog: I’m sitting at my desk on a Sunday afternoon, having actually polished all my work off yesterday and this morning, but determined to stay glued to the internet to see whether English manage to polish off the Aussies in the latest Ashes test.

Apart from the fact that there is a serious chance that England will win (unless the Australians can pull off something substantially more impressive than England did at the 1981 Headingly test), I have now been quoted TWICE on the BBC’s test match commentary site, and feel slightly obliged to be on hand to attend to my adoring public again should an opportunity arise.

For those of you who have not enjoyed the BBC’s Live Action commentary – you don’t know what you’re missing. Don’t worry if you don’t like cricket. The web takes the place of Brian Johnstone and Jonathan Agnew’s (amongst others) wonderful radio commentary that I remember my mother trying to find on the World Service when in foreign climes or listening to whilst watching the UK TV coverage with the sound turned down.

Tom Fordyce’s hilarious written commentary is interspersed with contributions via text message and email from around the world: so far today we have had (mainly Brits) from Brighton, Dublin, Napa Valley, Charlotte (North Carolina), yachts off Lopud (Croatia) and Turkey, Kalkaringi (Northern Territories), Sydney, Cornwall, Connecticut, New York and of course, Kafanchan (Nigeria).

I was compelled to contribute yesterday after reading a comment from someone in a survey ship off the Angolan coast who was bemoaning the lack of chastened Aussies to gloat over. I had to show this amazing example of world-wide connectivity to a colleague who has recently joined Fantsuam who has not yet been introduced to the internet. His amazement and delight prompted me to share his wonder with the online cricket audience.

Max, offshore Angola, TMS inbox: "I'm on a survey vessel and there is only one Aussie on the ship but he doesn't follow cricket. I feel cheated."

From Cicely, Nigeria, TMS inbox: "To Max in Angola - at least you've got one. Here in Kafanchan, centre of Nigeria, we haven't seen an Australian for months. However I have overawed my cashier colleague at work, who (like the majority of people here) has never been online, by showing him how you can have live scores from a match (he'd never heard of cricket), online voting (clearly an extremely optimistic online audience) and comments from someone in the middle of the ocean, via the power of the internet."

From Jeff Robbins in Melbourne, TMS inbox: "Re Cicely, Nigeria - I don't believe the claim that your cashier colleague has not been online before. I have several emails from him telling me that I can make a fortune if I only send my bank details to him immediately."

In the 30 minutes that it took this conversation to travel around the world, Australia scored 33 runs whilst England took two wickets...

As the local ISP, Fantsuam has fantastic internet service which enables us to connect with just about anyone anywhere around the world, at any time. Last Wednesday we had an online Skype meeting with participants in Buenos Aires, London and Kafanchan and Abuja. The Abuja contribution was from a colleague sent there to represent Fantsuam at a Digital Bridge Institute conference from where he was online via wireless access.

Initially when preparing his presentation for the event, we’d focused on using ICT in development, however with less than 24 hours to spare, we realised that Fantsuam was to be a case study on how ICT supports the operations of a development NGO. We had a short brainstorming session with the Foundation's general secretary and one of the founders. It became clear that one of the key operational benefits is being able to connect with stakeholders (OK... well donors mainly). We can search for funding opportunities, submit proposals in double-quick time, conduct research to make proposals more informed and in-tune with donors’ needs and, at the end of the day submit and execute projects with less expense (phone calls, visits etc.).

On arrival at the Abuja conference, my colleague discovered that Fantsuam was really to be the star of the show. This small-ish NGO in the rural (or as we say – peri-urban) backwater of Bayan Loco, Kafanchan – making ripples on the Nigerian and international stages. I reckon if we had to put this success down to one thing – it would be the decision taken early on to invest in ICT and to keep up that investment over the years.

Our next step is to harness ICT to really drive economic development in the communities that we work in. We have recently scored several successes: our computer school’s reputation has students coming from over 30km away to enrol for bulging classes. We are now running Computer Certificate Classes from 8.00 in the morning until 8.00 in the evening. One of our ISP ‘cyber cafe’ clients has just applied for a microfinance loan to fund opening a second internet cafe and soon we will be setting up a satellite training school and cyber cafe in nearby Ungwa Rimi.

However, with the exception of the money Fantsuam's cyber cafe clients are making, it’s difficult to see how ICT is actually bringing $$$ into the community. We are now looking to change all that by using the internet, mobile phones and possibly radio to help the local markets work more efficiently. I’ll let you know how we get on!

More importantly as Ian Walker in Douala, Cameroon lets us all know that he is: "Putting off my crocodile with termite sauce dinner, stuck to the cricket text updates. The hunger for an Australian defeat is greater”, another wicket falls and Australia 120/4 chasing 500 and something.

I wonder if Fantsuam’s hotspot wireless access extends anywhere nearby serving beer?

Thanks to my colleague, co-incidentally head of our Zittnet ISP, for taking this celebratory photo. I Skyped him in his office to ask if he had time.

Well - you weren't expecting me to leave the computer and walk the 20 metres to get him were you? Another great benefit of the internet.


Anonymous said...

Hi Cicely,
What a great blog.....AND you'll be glad to hear the England kicked some Aussie butt today. Pretty much all over by lunchtime....woo-who!!!
Thanks for your birthday wishes for yesterday - i had a great day.
Lots of love.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cicely,
Always good to read your blog!
Do send us an email as we do not have your email address as old computer went to computer heaven.
All is well in the land of down under.
Chat soon
LOL V & B xx