Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Horrible Driving, Rain

Last Monday evening I counted at least 5 minor accidents over a stretch of about 5 km.

Today evening, there was a pileup on valley road, while I encountered a couple of accidents as well.

Most of these accidents, if not all were preventable. A little patience, a little road courtesy, and at least trying to adhere to traffic regulations.

I'm actually shocked that the incidents of road rage are this low, considering how inconsiderate we are about other motorists, and pedestrians. With the current rain, it's just polite to avoid splashing water on pedestrians. Going back home to change clothes thirty minutes after dressing up for work is NOT fun.

The road carnage is avoidable:

  • by keeping to the speed limits (it saves fuel too) - I suppose that the people who came up with these limits were not picking the figures arbitrarily. Even in developed countries with wider roads, the road speed limit is rarely more than 120 KPH.
  • Not overtaking at junctions - it is illegal and dangerous - the number of times I've seen guys do this is amazing. And with the narrow roads that are most Kenyan roads... Of course overtaking at bends, hills is dangerous .. but most people at least don't do that.
  • Avoiding getting emotional when driving, it's not worth holding a grudge against a driver who'll probably end up on a different road.

I've no words for matatu drivers (City Hoppa, Kenya Bus are not any better). They are arguably the most skilled drivers on the road, but they have no semblance of road etiquette. The day we get an urban rail system.....

Another thing I remember from the highway code - overtaking at bumps is illegal.. I wonder when cops will start harassing guys..

The only problem with traffic enforcement is that it is not consistent - always a crackdown here and there.. and there's the whole corruption issue....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Government spending on IT

Things should be looking up for local software developers in Kenya after new guidelines for IT software were released by the government. 50% of software used in Government should be local. This is great news for local developers, considering that the Government is the largest consumer in the country, and with the increasing automation of Government processes, more and more software will be required. This initiative would also result in more jobs and opportunities for Kenyans.

If we want to be able to export software, we'd better start by developing it and using it ourselves.

Have a look at the Business Daily Story here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day

Today, 15th October is Blog Action Day.

Fuel in most parts of Nairobi, Kenya is still at around 96.5 - 104 /- per litre band, yet the price of crude oil is still falling. This, couple with the current financial crunch globally, and as a result, possible reduction in aid to developing nations could mean that development projects could stall.
Thus the world's poorest countries remain at the bottom of the food chain.

One wonders whether it maybe better for debt in Kenya to be wiped out, as a large chunk of the GDP is used to service debts to other countries (some of which it is said are as a result of shady deals). Perhaps that would be more useful than giving aid.

At the end of the day, perhaps it's better for help to 'come from within'. I came across a request on the Skunkworks mailing list by a University studies asking for ideas of how to enable NGO's locate areas of greatest poverty globally using Microsoft Virtual Earth or Google Earth/Maps. Using technology to solve problems in Africa (problems which are mainly poverty related) is something I am passionate about.

Perhaps something similar to Ushahidi.com might work.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Build and Edit your maps of Kenya (and Africa too)


Now with Google's MapMaker, you can edit Google Maps, build your own maps. Fun, fun, fun!

I've spent a few minutes playing around, adding a few places I know that are not on the map, and its pretty easy to use. Its kind of a open approach to building the map since changes any user makes will be moderated by other users so as to improve accuracy.

I'm still not sure ( I haven't checked) whether locations have been geotagged for direction finding, but if not, I guess it will be happening at some point, so the more the locations and sites on the map the better.

Check out the Official Google Africa blog for more details.