We dived into Nairobi morning traffic once more, this time to meet Evans and James of FIT Resources. FIT are building a business model around Freedom Fone to complement their work providing capacity building skills to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME's). The idea is to use Freedom Fone to provide audio content in the vernacular and to use it as a feedback channel to evaluate products or services via the Leave-a-Message function (LAM).
Freedom Fone trainers, Bren & Tich, traveled up by road this month to run user training in Lilongwe, Malawi. It’s a day’s drive that takes you through Nyamapanda, Zimbabwe’s north east border post with Mozambique, then through Tete province and later through the Dedza border post with Malawi. Much of the road through Tete is littered with potholes and besides the city of Tete, there’s not a lot in the way of service stations to help you out if you hit trouble. The good news is that the border posts are well managed and the traffic fairly light.
It's been 5 years since I last visited the Dadaab refugee camps, in the remote desert region of north-eastern Kenya, to report on the influx of new arrivals fleeing from yet another cycle of violence and conflict in southern Somalia. Already then the camps were home to 180,000+ refugees and were struggling to accommodate the growing numbers still crossing the porous border on foot in search of asylum and better livelihoods.
There is a slight inaccuracy in the name "Somalia Speaks" given to the Al-Jazeera initiative that is collecting and publishing unheard "voices" from inside Somalia. Mainly, that there is nothing "spoken" about it. In other words, the project is unilaterally dependant on respondents sending SMS text messages.