Experts online!

 Another ICT course for the ladies!…”Mastering the Internet”, part of the Google RISE program- Girls in ICT this summer (June – August). Over eighty ladies registered for the course but only 15 (fifteen) were selected for the training based on their scores in the pretest given. The training will last two hours everyday for five days (24th June – 28th June), after which they will be certified. Having Luther Jeke as the trainer, they are taught how to use the Internet like professionals; How to determine site credibility, Web browser vocabularies, ways to refine a search, tips for searching on line, and so much more.

 

 Training the ladies on how to be “Experts On line”.

iLab helps bridge the divide between Liberian women in ICT

Information and communication technologies (ICT) are fast accelerating productivity across the globe. The ICT sector not only drives innovation, but fuels competition through job creation. Understanding the Internet and having proper access to it are therefore crucial for the growth of the Liberian economy, particularly for the professional development of its women.

 

With the help of iLab’s ICT for Girls (ICT4G) Mastering the Internet course, which is exclusively for women and girls as young as high-school aged, Liberian females are now learning about the Internet, various search techniques, and exploring how to use the web to solve real, everyday problems.

 

The training is a week-long course that introduces its participants to the wonders of the Internet as an educational and research tool, and it encourages women to explore what they are passionate about. In the past few months, iLab has taught more than three(3) ICT4G trainings with over 60 participants.

 

We at iLab know that Liberian women are significantly under-represented across the board in ICT-from education and training programs to the higher level careers in the sector. The shortage of ICT-oriented women also impact future generation significantly.

 

This course serve as a stepping stone to encourage Liberian women to learn about the Internet and its many ingredients as they gain more exposure to the opportunities before them in the field of ICT.

 

Luther D. Jeke

Training Director

*iLab_Liberia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Via iLab, Liberian Journalist Presents at New York Film Festival on Global Human Rights

Tetee Gebro is a Liberian Journalist reporting for New Narratives and working with SkyFm, a local radio station here in Monrovia.

 

Recently, Tetee reported on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on her radio show. This report brought about a huge outcry in Liberia among both the traditional people and human rights activists with diverse opinions on the topic.

 

Because of her coverage, Tetee was asked to appear on a panel at New York Film Festival on Global Human Rights. This was a glorious opportunity for Tetee and Liberia’s entire journalism community.

 

In order to participate in the panel, Tetee was to appear virtually via Internet, but because of Liberia’s lacking telecommunication infrastructure and slow Internet connection, it appeared almost impossible for this opportunity to become a reality.

 

As Tetee’s organizers tried to find a place with reliable internet service and an evironment that could afford her to appear by video over Skype, iLab Liberia was the only public resource center in Liberia that could provide Tetee with the resources to participate in the panel discussion.

We were immediately contacted and as usual, we invited Tetee and her local organizers to a meeting to understand the nature of the event and to ensure that all Tetee could required to make this event possible could be available..

 

 

iLab prepared a computer running Skype and a projector with and adequate bandwidth just sufficient to ensure uninterrupted video and voice transmissions. With the help of iLab, Tetee was able to successfully attend and presented at the Firm Festival. See more about Tetee’s presentation at the Film Festival here.

 

iLab is the only technology hub in Liberia that offers free technological opportunities that could not otherwise be found in this country. With the lab’s popularity spreading, we are moving to a larger space this month so we can better accommodate users’ needs and interests. We are always looking for potential funders who would like to see Tetee and other Liberians given the resources that iLab has to offer; contact us if you would like to contribute to iLab’s future and that of Liberia!

 

Thanks

 

Carter

Developer Training in Liberia

At the heart of all the technological advances in Africa is the hope that African people will use these technologies to their gain. Fiber-optic cables surround Africa’s coasts; mobile operators are investing in wireless technologies like WiMax in preparation for a flood of data that could break existing networks. Mobile devices and computer manufacturers are selling low-cost superphones, tablets, and netbooks, hoping that these devices will integrate well with the African lifestyle whilst platform developers scout the continent in search of developers to build apps for Africans on their systems and networks.

 

At this point it is quite obvious that the focus of these market players is the people—because it is the people who will spend their money on these technologies. A huge “side-opportunity” is created as a result of this new focus—the demand for developers of these Africa-relevant applications. At the moment, a few African countries have woken up to this new reality and are striving to meet this huge demand.

Liberia is not one of those countries awake to this new reality. For public and private sectors alike, the primary focus is on rebuilding systems and infrastructure destroyed by the two civil wars, as well as dealing with international debt accumulated over the years. Instead of technology being the means by which these reconstruction efforts are undertaken, it has become a project of the future. With our education system still weaker than its pre-war status, technical training has still not matured for even the best institutions.

 

At the moment, there are no Computer Science (CS) programs in any of our universities. The closest and only program we have is an e-Learning program for BSc. Information Technology from Amity University in Uttar Pradesh, India, offered through the Pan African e-Network with the University of Liberia[1]. This program primarily focuses on infrastructure setup and management, with little programming. This stands opposed to the programming-rich B.Tech program in Computer Science and Engineering offered in India by the same university[2].

 

Other institutions that offer courses in programming include the Starz Institute of Technology[3] and Silicon Pro. These courses are mainly introductory courses to languages like Visual Basic and PHP/MySQL. Furthermore, training in web development is more concentrated around tools like Dreamweaver than on the underlying programming/markup/scripting languages. These institutions are relatively new and the programming courses are not as popular with students as courses like networking and hardware. Courses in popular languages like Java, C++, and Python which are relevant to mobile application development are non-existent in these training institutions. Furthermore the high cost of these trainings makes them inaccessible to most would-be programmers.

 

Liberia’s small developer community is comprised mainly of people who studied outside Liberia, self-taught, and those who learned on the job. As a result, programmers are in short supply which causes programming jobs to go to foreign firms. There are a handful of tech firms in Liberia that are involved in software development that often have to train their recruited staff to program on the job. This is on a very small scale and benefits very few people.

 

Due to the limited number of programming languages taught in Liberia, developers are often not prepared to build applications on platforms that are language-biased like iOS. Since this is the case mainly for mobile devices, Liberian developers are cut off from harnessing the potentials of mobile applications. To date, it is still difficult to find mobile applications for Android, Apple or Symbian that have been built by Liberians.

This situation leaves us woefully unprepared to tap into the vast opportunities the mobile and Internet revolutions bring to the continent. Without mobile and web developers, Liberia will be left voiceless on these emerging platforms. Mobile and web applications relevant to Liberia need to be built by Liberians but, without effective training in modern languages, this will be impossible to accomplish. It is hard to imagine Liberia playing a pivotal role in the tech industry without a growing developer community. As important as computer networking and hardware are to Liberia’s technological advancement, these skills are inadequate to spur maximum Liberian participation in the global tech arena. They also do not promote innovation as programming skills do.

 

Until our tertiary institutions start offering relevant CS programs, Liberia will remain a consumer of information technology and may never grow to be a provider. Until Liberian students get early exposure to programming, they will be unable to compete with their regional and global counterparts in the technology race. And until we get a shift in our thinking about science and technology education, we will never get free from foreign technological domination.

 

Kpetermeni Siakor

IT Director

*iLab_ Liberia
 

Sources:
[1] Pan African e-Network - http://www.panafricanenetwork.com