On Wednesday afternoon I participated in a panel on non-profit administration moderated by Milton Aineruhanga, the IT Program Manager at Women of Uganda Network. Since the topic was a bit vague, I used my time slot to talk about how we organize ourselves in the GNOME community and gave a brief overview of the GNOME Foundation governance structure. Pierros Papadeas, a Fedora Ambassador, was also on the panel and gave a similar talk about the Fedora Project. In the spirit of cooperation, Isaac Sanni-Thomas, the local Fedora Ambassador in Accra, presented Fedora’s four foundations. Alex Gakuru, Chair of the ICT Consumers Association of Kenya, spoke about the use of free and open source software in Kenya. We had some good discussions on the challenges people face when trying to contribute to or develop free and open source software in this region.
After the panel, Dorothy K. Gordon, Director General of the Advanced Information Technology Institute (the place the conference was being held) helped us arrange a meeting / training session for interested people in the Ghanaian software developer scene.
When we were done with the booth on Thursday evening, about 12 local software developers gathered into one of the rooms for the training session. I presented an overview of the GNOME development platform and tried to walk everybody through fixing a small bug in Caribou. (Yeah, I know I’m not really working on Caribou any more but it’s a small program that I know well so I thought it would provide a good real world example).
I was able to walk everybody through cloning Caribou and started building it when hit a snag. The 12 people all trying to pull down the dependencies from the Ubuntu mirror crushed the internet connection. I spent the remaining portion of my allocated time trying to get Caribou to build instead of working through any actual software development. As much as I was frustrated with the situation, this is the reality of trying to develop software in Ghana. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get farther with the bug fix but at the same time, I’m glad that I was able to have this experience so that I can relate a little bit about how slow the internet connections are in Ghana.
Pierros used his time slot to give a technical presentation on the latest developments in Fedora and Mozilla Labs.
Friday proved to be a slow day at the booth. The Fedora side of the booth had been taken down because Pierros had another conference to attend. I still had the occasional person drop by and ask me to burn them one of the distros that I had on my hard drive. I guess some of the attendees had already left too because this was the first day I was able to reliably connect to the internet with my GSM modem and write a blog post.
The conference ended at around 1pm so I arranged to meet with Jojoo Imbeah, a developer with the Kasahorow project, Henry Addo, a Ushahidi developer, and one of their friends (sorry I forget his name). We were able to spend about 3 more hours hacking on the Caribou bug we had started trying to fix on Thursday night. I’m hoping to help these guys get a patch submitted to bugzilla so that they can have their first piece of code contributed to GNOME.
The mini-hackfest was cut a little short by my poor planning. At 6:40pm I told them I was flying out that evening and was quickly whisked to my hotel on the back Henry’s motorcycle. I endured a tense 40 minute shuttle to Kotoka International Airport in some pretty heavy traffic but I made it to the airport just in time to catch my flight home.
I’ll post some final thoughts about the conference in the next couple of days. It was a pretty hectic 12 days so I’m going to take some time out for a little R&R.