Tag Archives: Kenya

App of the Week – Life Pocket

Inspiration is a powerful force. Understanding a problem and how it impacts you and those you love is even more inspirational. One teenager from Kenya possessed this inpiration and understanding and used it to make a change in the world. That is why Life Pocket is the App of the Week.

The Kenyan teenager we speak of is Caroline Wambui. Wambui was deeply affected by the loss of her uncle to kidney failure. No one in Carolines’s family was a match for a donation. There is also a cultural taboo against organ donation in Kenya. The country, like so many other African nations, does not have a national organ donor program.

Caroline Wambui with smartphone

Kenyan’s and other Africans die needlessly because of the lack or a donor database. Many others are forced into extremely dangerous organ markets.

But fortunately Kenya has a robust technology program that is bringing technology education to schools. The Kenyan government has instituted a laptops for schools policy. Contributions from numerous multi-nationals and local startups are working to improve Kenya’s educational system by introducing technology.

Caroline, because of this effort, used her education in technology to find a solution to the problem that led to her uncle’s death. It took two years but this young lady created the app Life Pocket.

The Life Pocket app registers and links patients with organ donors, doctors and hospitals for the purpose of making life saving organ donations possible.

Damaris and Caroline working on the app in a computer lab at the Embakasi Girls School.  (Photo by Guillaume Bonn/ Getty Images Assignment for intel)

Life Pocket  was just a dream until Damaris Mutati, Caroline’s teacher at the Embakasi Girls Secondary School became involved. Mutati introduced technology to her students. She understands that technology education is vital to the young people of the African continent.

Caroline enlisted the help of her fellow students to develop Life Pocket. Mutati demonstrated a burning passion for tech education. She participated in two programs run by U.S. chipmaker Intel in Kenya. Intel’s programs, Teach, and She Will Connect, assisted teachers seeking to introduce IT knowledge to African children.

But Intel did not stop there. The company’s staff volunteered to teach a coding workshop at Caroline’s school introducing the students to Intel XDK a unified development environment that enabled the students to design, create, test and deploy HTML5 apps.

Because of the efforts of Mutati and the involvement of multi-national corporations like Intel technology education has taken hold in Kenya and across Africa. One student, Caroline Wambui, has already changed the world because of it.

Ime Archibong Hooking Up Facebook

Ime

Ime Archibong

Facebook, the world’s biggest and most powerful social network, hooks up people with people.  Ime Archibong hooks up Facebook with the world. As Facebook’s director of product partnerships Archibong has a dual mission, one, making sure Internet access is affordable and two, raising awareness of the benefits of being online.

Mark Zuckerberg launched Internet.org two and half years ago in a Herculean effort to connect everyone in the world to the web. Zuckerberg calculates that nearly 4.9 billion people are not connected. Roughly 10 to 15 percent of these people live in hard-to-reach places completely without access. Another major obstacle is Internet affordability. Many impoverished people simply have a hard enough time eating every day.

Archibong is leading the effort to change this. “If your mission is to create a world where people are more connected and people have the power to share, and you’re aiming to connect everyone, you can’t just stop at the folks that are here in North America or the folks that are on the Internet right now, because we are actually in the minority worldwide,” said Archibong. “The question is how do you get those next 4 billion people, who have never been connected, online and make sure they can get the same benefits, tools and experience that you and I are privy to, as a result of having connectivity.”

Internet.org has a varied strategy to get everyone online. Facebook has cut deals with phone carriers in various countries to make over 300 basic web services available for free; Facebook included. Through a research and development  group called the Connectivity Lab, Facebook is developing futuristic methods to deliver the net, including lasers, drones, and new artificial intelligence enhanced software. The technology, once perfected, will be open source allowing others to commercialize it.

Connectivity Lab’s work is a top priority for Zuckerberg.  Among his plan is to launch a satellite above sub-Saharan Africa by year’s end. Drone testing is also scheduled to begin soon. Facebook’s artificial intelligence mapping software will help determine where people need their phones to work. Facebook has deployed a team of developers to inland villages in an effort to hack together methods for getting people online.

Zuckerberg has been roundly criticized for his effort. Critics have accused him of an attempt to colonize the Internet believing he can do a better job than governments and major corporations of connecting people to the Internet.

Among Archibong’s responsibilities is traveling the world meeting with Facebook’s community of 9,000 developers spread out across 136 companies.

“One of the things we spend a lot of time doing is trying to think about the platforms we can build that ultimately will serve global entrepreneurs and developers, because we do think that they are the ones, they have the context, they understand the nuances, they understand what they should be building that’s going to best serve the local communities,” said Archibong.

“Meeting and talking with a lot of these folks trying to get context about what’s special to them, what’s special about their region … and what we can do from a Facebook perspective to arm them with the tools, the data, with the information to help serve their community a little better.”

Archibong is optimistic about Facebook’s  efforts to give billions more people access to the Internet. “I have this notion that people create special things when they’re able to connect with each other and understand each other,” said Archibong. “Some of these future platforms that we’re leaning into are truly going to unlock that value for people around the world, and change the way that we interact with each other, change the way that we interact with devices and actually change the way that devices connect with devices.”

Ime Archibong was born the child of Nigerian immigrants in Kansas and raised in North Carolina. Both his parents are professors. He graduated from Yale where he played on the basketball team and double majored in electrical engineering and computer science.

Archibong previously worked at IBM as a software engineer.