The stories and Articles from 8tech consults

What informs the choice of programming language taught in an institution or the choice of programming language for a project?

There are many programming languages used by developers and taught in school around the world and some being high level and others being low level programming languages. There are a number of categorizations which drill them down to different preference choices depending on the field of practice and programing style like object oriented or not. Languages like python get a lot of hype these days due to “data science regime” while forgetting some of the legends like LISP and COBOL that have over 60 years of life and very much still run our financial application infrastructure with millions of developers worldwide.

The question here is what informs the choice of programming language taught in an institution over the other or the choice of programming language for a project. From experience university professors and lecturers all teach the languages they were taught in school when they were students or those languages they feel comfortable with irrespective of whether there is value addition to the students or based on any research.

Research needs to be done comparing the advantages and disadvantages different of the programming languages. This may include mastery of the language, complexity of the project and language support by the number of libraries available including the support groups and platforms where help can be gotten in very short time. The fact that we do not know what to measure brings about another problem whereby it is hard to account for development time, total cost of the project, number of bugs and degree of fitness for the purpose.

A lot of computer scientist’s and software engineers do not actually believe that programming languages matter. It is a very common belief that programming languages are a matter of personal preference. Knowing that learning a second programming language is harder than learning the first one; students or practitioners tend not to try at all or if they do; they will limit themselves to closely related or similar languages and thus conclude that choice of language does not matter.

The choice of programming language taught in higher institutions of learning and by practitioners leads to a position where:

  • Institutions choose a programming language to be taught based on industry demand for example python since data science is the in thing at the moment but why not PHP since it runs on over 80% of the websites or Java that is widely used a lot of desktop applications.
  • Tech teams choosing a programming language and framework based on the very limited skills, preference, knowledge and personal experience of the team composition.

The self-study people tend to go for the in-demand programming languages which will earn them a good salary in the shortest time possible or allow them get employment easily

In conclusion; my thoughts are such that all programming languages are great but there is need for using the right tool for the job and also more research should be done on programming languages before they are chosen to be taught in higher institutions of learning since this has a bearing on the quality of student produced and whether they actually have what it takes to be a programmer.

Overall to be a good programmer you have to know algorithms, data structures, memory management and pointers and also the need to be knowledgeable enough to bring off of this together in a project. Many of the current Computer science / Software engineering graduates are working harder every day to be code monkeys as opposed to great programmers.

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Reflection on ‘Made in Africa Evaluation’ Trajectory: It is time to make Evaluations in Africa More Relevant for Africa

Looking at the history of evaluation in Africa, the practice of ‘systematic’ evaluation was first imported into Africa from North America and Europe through the colonial occupation of Africa in the 19th and 20th century. These colonial influence did not end with the independence of most of African countries, but extended even after independence as a result of the continued economic and political reliance of those countries for different reasons on their former colonial rulers for development assistance and support. These continued colonial influences also included the systematic evaluation of development assistance programmes

Secondly, the current dominant global evaluation approaches, theories and practices largely originates from western world (USA, Canada and Britain), and to a less extent on the rest of the western European continents. This is illustrated by the current most influential global evaluation scholars like Scriven, Stake, Weis, Patton etc. Their ideas and approaches still dominate the training of the professional evaluation scholars and practitioners across the globe.

Thirdly, the dominance of western influence is reinforced  by current international development assistance agencies like the UNDP, The World Bank, IMF, The African Development Bank, and other international as well as national development agencies like those in European union, the OECD, DFID, USAID, SDA, GIZ and many others, all largely based on western paradigm.

These international agencies are highly influenced by the philosophy of evaluation practitioners like Bamberger, Rist, Picciotto, Segone and others who have come through the western academic evaluation ranks and directly influence professional evaluation and practice.

However, the current involvement of china in Africa has opened up a new source of assistance. Thus it’s only recently that more independent African voices articulating different routes to develop more explicit African approaches and practice in evaluation

There is a need for African transformation of the current western evaluation culture and practices in order to decolonize and indigenize evaluation of western theory and practice on evaluation to serve the needs of Africans. A second change is that is needed is a development of a relational evaluation or evaluation tree that draws from the concept of ‘wellness’ as personified in African greetings and the south African concept of ‘I am because we are’. The wellness reflected in the relationship between people and domestic, birds, animals and non-living things, emphasizing that evaluation from African perspective should include a holistic approach that links an intervention to the sustainability of the ecosystem and environment around it.

The emergence of Africa-rooted Evaluation

The concept, ‘Made in Africa Evaluation’, seeks to identify and develop a unique African approach to evaluation. It emphasizes the context, culture, history and beliefs that shape the nature of evaluations, specifically in the diverse, often complex African reality. The concept supports efforts to encourage home-grown innovations and evaluation tailored to local purpose, cultures and context. It intends to give voice to the many people who contribute to development and to evaluation on the African continent- evaluators, evaluation participants and users, managers, commissioners, funders, scholars, students and others.

Africa-rootedness can be viewed not only as the development of internal African capacity or the initiation or driving force behind systematic evaluations of African development programmes, but rather on more appropriate evaluation values, practices and paradigms that originated on the African continent instead of elsewhere outside of Africa and imported or imposed on the continent.

The main assumption behind made in Africa evaluation is that they could be more appropriate because they are home-grown and not foreign to African values, practices and institutions.

In 1999, African Evaluation Association (AfEA) was formed with the aim of among others; to promote Africa-rooted evaluation theories and practices, to promote and strengthen real and sustained development in Africa, promote Africa rooted and Africa led evaluation, to encourage the development and documentation of high quality evaluation practice and theory, establish and support national evaluation associations and special evaluation, interest groups, to facilitate capacity building, networking and information sharing on evaluation among evaluators, policy makers, researchers, and development specialists and to share African evaluation perspectives and expertise at relevant forums.

For evaluation to have a greater contribution to development in Africa, it needs to address African challenges including those related to country ownership, attribution, ethics, and values, and power relations.

Challenges and way forward

Unfortunately, evaluations in Africa are largely commissioned by non-African stakeholders who are mostly comprise international donors or development agencies who run or fund development programmes on the continent.

There is also lack of motivation among heads of Africa states to commit their governments to self-evaluation and promote the concept ‘For Africa Evaluation’. This further complicates progress on the continent.

Lack of international visibility: there is need for public and international profiles of African evaluation practices to be improved. African evaluators are still not as visible on the international evaluation platform as they ought to be.

Limited competitiveness: There is a perception within Africa and outside the continent that African evaluators have to improve their international competitiveness as compared to their northern hemisphere counter parts since the profession in Africa though not very new is in young adult stage and there is much room for improvement. More African evaluation studies need to be written and disseminated globally through publications.

There is also a scarcity of qualified and experienced professional African evaluation scholars as compared to their northern hemisphere counter parts.

However, the situation is slowly changing and more opportunities are being created for African evaluators to become increasingly internationally exposed and competitive through publication of AfEA’s African Evaluation Journal.

In conclusion, the following questions are food for thought; “Is it possible to identify a uniquely different evaluation paradigm for Africa? “Or are the prevailing ‘western’ evaluation approaches culturally or contextually generic and only needs fine-tuning?” “What changes should be brought about to the prevailing ‘western’ model of evaluation to be more appropriate in Africa?” and finally “what should change to make evaluation in Africa more relevant, appropriate and internationally more competitive?”

If the above questions are not addressed, evaluation in Africa will not be able to take its deserved place on the global evaluation trajectory, and we will continue to debate and lament on the need for ‘Made in Africa Evaluation’.

 

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Leveraging ICT and Digital Innovation to Achieve Sustainable Development Goal No.1: End Poverty in all its forms everywhere- #ICT4SDG1

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), otherwise known as the global goals, are universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The 2030 Agenda requires that all governments take ownership and establish national frameworks for the implementation and achievement of the 17 Goals.

Our networked society is changing the way we live. The impact of digital revolution are becoming more evident with each passing day. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes the great potential of global connectivity to spur human progress and development. It presents a challenge for us to ensure universal and affordable internet access for all.

This article offers insight into the opportunities in using information and communication technologies to achieve sustainable development goals. It outlines how the future is dawning before us in the use of big data to improve policy and decision making. It outlines the difference mobile phones can make in the lives of human across the globe. We occasionally see how for instance farmers can monitor prices, refugees can let their relatives know they are safe and how governments respond to emergences

SDG1 sets out to eradicate extreme poverty and cut in half the numbers of people living in all dimensions of poverty. It seeks to ensure that all people have equal rights to economic resources and are covered by social protection schemes. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have the potential to enable new poverty solutions and amplify the positive results of the existing intervention to end poverty.

ICTs are contributing to sustainable development by powering economies, improving disaster preparedness, advancing health, education and strengthening civil participation and accountability. Mobile phones and internet services are enabling people from all parts of the world to benefit from development.

However, about 1 billion people worldwide lack the digital literacy and skills necessary to fully enjoy the benefits of ICTs and about less than half of the world’s population use the internet. As if that is not bad enough, globally there are about 200 million fewer women online than men; and the gender digital gap is the highest in developing countries including Uganda. The cost of internet access is higher than in developed countries.

Thus the potential of ICTs will only be maximized when all women and men have equitable, reliable and affordable access to the technologies available. However, access alone is not enough, there is need for policies and interventions put in place to ensure that those left behind are also empowered to benefit from ICTs.

How ICTs Are Enabling Poverty Reduction

Making needs visible and actionable: The SDGs make equity and explicit, cross-cutting objective, with a clear commitment to “leave no one behind”. New data mined from social media and geospatial data sensors is likely to plug SDG data gaps and deliver timely targeted and more effective poverty- reduction interventions. For instance in Uganda, the UN Global Pulse found that mobile phones credit purchases (I.e. Sim cards) correspond closely to household consumption.

However, many disparities that divide people remain hidden due to lack of data which in turn complicates efforts to target those at risk of being left behind. Thus big data solutions can enable countries to take aim at gender gaps in health, education, labour market etc. Hence, improving the well-being and prospects of women is a proven driver of poverty reduction. In Uganda, people frequently raise concerns and express their perspectiveness through talk shows on community radio stations.

Expanding voice and empowerment: ICTs can strengthen the core capacities of governments to extend and improve public service delivery and information in hard-to-reach, poor and marginalized communities. Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), for example is implementing a project focusing on the use of ICT in promoting accountability and transparency and women socio-economic empowerment in Eastern and Northern Uganda. The project is conceived on the understanding that, institutional inconsistencies in government characterized by; limited citizenry participation, unchecked bureaucratic, corruption, and information gaps has resulted to inappropriate implementation of national development plans resulting into poor service delivery to the citizens.

ICTs are more powerful where there are investments in peoples’ capacities to use and understand data and information, and where governments make data freely accessible. The online system builds evidence about what works and what does not work and enables citizens, civil society to see results and holds governments accountable.

Economic Empowerment and inclusive Growth: ICTs are transforming economies at every level, overcoming infrastructure bottlenecks; lifting productivity and enabling innovation that boosts incomes. In Uganda, farmers are using mobile phones to check on food prices in market. Across sub-Saharan Africa, UNDP helps farmers and small and medium enterprises use ICTs for training, expert advice and agricultural inputs with the aim of raising agricultural productivity and enable small producers build agricultural value chains and meet quality standards.

Accelerating and sustaining progress: ICTs help overcome bottlenecks to progress so as to promote and sustain development gains. ICTs are increasingly facilitating efforts to prevent and recover from setbacks that disproportionately affect the marginalized and poor communities. For example, during disease outbreak, mobile phones help track the movement of people, helping to prevent and contain the spread of deadly diseases as was the case of Ebola in Uganda and West Africa. Finally, mobile phones have the potential to enable real time tracking and guide recovery measures in crisis-affected countries, to ensure crisis-response interventions are more effective.

Conclusion and way forward

To harness ICTs for poverty eradication, governments, civil society, the private sector and development partners will need to work together to create an enabling environment and invest in ICTs to expand the infrastructure that enables access. In the developing countries, a growing number of educated young people are seeking new technology solutions to solve problems. ICTs are enabling them start new businesses and link to global value chains.

Therefore, to generate inclusive growth and achieve SDG1, initiatives that work in practice need to be scaled up. World over, policy makers need to work together to identify technologies vital to SDG achievement and take steps to remove obstacles to their adoption. More work is needed, including in research and development to unleash the potential of big data.

SDGs will not be met without significantly expanding access to the benefits of ICTs and overcoming a digital divide that sends the already deprived further behind within and across countries. Countries must take full advantage of ICTs to strengthen partnerships and connect the networks and groups with greatest potential for impact. Without action, the digital divide will continue to drive the inequalities that separate people, groups, and countries drawing new form of exclusion; designed by varying access to broadband, computers and smart phones.

In Africa we have a saying that, “if you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents” and “the ears that do not listen to advice, accompany the head when it is chopped off”. I rest my case

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The Role of ICT in Africa’s Evolving Higher Education Sector

In the past ten years Africa has seen tremendous growth in the demand for higher education and this can be witnessed by the ever-growing numbers of Higher Education Institutions (HEI) both private and public. This situation has been fueled by several factors which include free secondary education from various governments propelling a surge in the numbers that qualify for higher education, improved society and emergence of the knowledge economy. There are also clear signs of the demand for higher education that is ubiquitous, there are more people on the move within the continent, lifelong learning is more sought after, employees’ skills becoming outdated after 3-5 years at the job which calls for retooling, the emergence of both digital natives and digital migrants. These factors are propelling the evolution that is happening in the HEI in order to certify the demand which is higher than the supply. Questions like; how to cope with the ever-increasing numbers with minimal expenditure but still providing the quality education are constantly being raised. Therefore, there has been a paradigm shift in many African HEI in both educational delivery and its management. This paradigm shift has focused on the ability to deliver education effectively, efficiently and ubiquitously with minimum costs possible.

In order to take care of the paradigm shift and its demands, African HEI have adopted innovative ideas to sustain their supply for quality education. These innovative ways include the adoption of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to enable educational provision and its effective management. Billy Gates has once asked Universities and colleges “How can we use technology as a tool to recreate the entire college experience? How can we provide a better education to more people for less money?”. Other organizations such as UNESCO have also stated that African education status requires innovative ways to support it in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Further, the CISCO system Chief Executive Officer once said that the next bigger killer application of the internet will be education. These clearly signify the potential of ICT in solving the current dilemma brought about by African demands for higher education but with less supply of it.

Integration of ICT within HEI in Africa is slowly taking shape with several institutions appreciating its potential to offer a ubiquitous teaching and learning to both teachers and students. The integration has taken a form of use of computers and internet, TV, radio, video conferencing and mobile learning. This integration of ICT within the educational sector depends on several things such as activity to be undertaken, processes involved, target audience, availability and accessibility of resources. However, it should be noted that integration of ICT in education is not only about educational delivery but includes education management, administration, communication, finance and security. It is therefore important to understand the requirements under which a particular service needs to be enabled using ICT if there is going to be returns on investments.

Why integrate ICT in Education?

This pertinent question demonstrates that for African HEI to integrate ICT in their education institutions, there should be clear reasons that stimulate the adoption. Several reasons have been identified as those that have fueled integration of ICT in the African HEI. These include: effective collaboration, effective networking, easy sharing of resources, effective accessibility to educational resources, ubiquitous education and empowering of learners. Integration ICT in education teaching and learning has evolved in HEI leading to a new method of educational delivery called e-learning. E-Learning has been defined by several people to mean the use of ICT to support formal or non-formal knowledge acquisition. This form of learning is one that should support enthusiasm to happen in class, be engaging, allow exchange of educational resources, enriching, enhancing, allows being extended beyond geographical boarders, that is entertaining, that allows embedding and empowers learners to become better.  HEI in Africa are starting to realize that education has evolved and what used to be a traditional classroom is now a flipped classroom. This inversion allows students-teachers to collaborate and engage from anywhere, at their wish and at any time they wish.

 

E-learning world trend indicate that it is annually growing at rate of $0.4 Billion from 2015 and expected to rise by 2020. Statistics also indicate that there is an increasing expenditure on e-learning in several HEI across the world as compared the traditional education. However, as compared to the entire world Africa still lags behind in the integration of ICT in teaching and learning with just $512 Million revenue against USA’s $27 Billion revenue. The advancement in technology, reduced costs of hardware, software and internet connection in the world market is affecting greatly the adoption of e-learning. This is creating several opportunities for the HEI as described below.

Opportunities for E-Learning in HEI

Several opportunities have emerged due to adoption of e-learning within HEI and these include: immerging partnerships among institutions in terms of research and training, empowered learners, real-time supervision and share of resources is possible despite of the geographical barrier, reach out to more training opportunities, intercontinental educational markets for institutional courses, increased need for lifelong and work place learning and massive education through ubiquitous means. It is obvious today that the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are taking the world by storm and are being more recognized within the HEI. African HEI have to tap into the opportunity of the MOOCs to contribute to the localization and authoring of content that is suitable for the African setting.

 

Challenges for E-learning in HEI

Despite that several opportunities exist, there are challenges that are serious impediments to the full integration of ICT in HEI. These include unavailability of adequate ICT resources by the institutions, uncoordinated ICT integration projects funded by different bodies with own interests, student to ICT ratio is still very high, indiscriminate learning within educational institutions, ICT illiteracy amongst the population in some of the communities (attitude and cultural change within the population), curriculum development to suit the e-learning teaching and learning model (focus being done on technology rather than pedagogy). The lack of appropriate ICT skills by the education stakeholders, the limited or no access to power in some areas, the internet access is still costly and has fueled plagiarism within HEI, preparation, planning and maintaining of quality is always an issue if not well monitored, and standardizing locally developed content

Interventions required in African HEI

Adoption of ICT in African HEI can be better implemented once the following interventions are undertaken. These include; waivers on ICTs for Education, conducting ICT Integration in Education sensitization and awareness workshops for institutional heads and teachers; strengthening inter sector linkages and collaborations to create synergies for effective integration of ICT in education, encouraging institutions to collaborate while purchasing things like internet, collaboratively procure e-subscription to e-resources, develop more localized content within the African setting, improving access and provision of ICT integrated education to special needs people and institutions of learning and adopting open source learning management system for costs saving purposes.

Jude T. Lubega holds a PhD in Computer Science with a specialization in E-Learning. He is currently a Professor of Information Technology who has vast experience in Information Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D). He is currently the Deputy Vice Chancellor and a professor within the School of Computing and Engineering of Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU). He has a vast experience in ICT integration in teaching and learning spread across 15 years plus. He is a distinguished scholar who has published widely in international fora.

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ICT Enabling University Engagement with Smallholder Farmers

Many African countries especially those in sub-Sahara Africa are endowed with abundant natural resources, ideal for the development of sustainable agriculture.  It is worth noting that nearly 80% of populations in sub-Sahara Africa depends on agriculture as the main source of livelihood of which, over 70% of these farmers are smallholder farmers. On top of abundant natural resources, African higher education sector is rapidly expanding providing platforms for creating new knowledge and technologies which are vital in enhancing smallholder agriculture. Despite the abundance of natural resources, favorable climatic conditions, and a vibrant higher education sector many of these countries continue to suffer from food and nutrition insecurity.

Smallholder agriculture continues to suffer from adverse effects of climate change, pests and diseases outbreaks, and limited access to quality farming knowledge, limited access to market information, unreliable wealth information, and poor extension services, among others.  African higher education institutions continue to boast about cutting edge research on challenges facing farmers. However most of the research outputs from these institutions has had little impact on lives of smallholder farmers due to constrains in the current models of engagement between higher education institutions and smallholder farmers.

Majority of the African Higher Education Institution (HEI) especially those engaged in agriculture are part of their National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS). These institutions run active community outreach programs aimed at disseminating agricultural technologies, information and knowledge to farmers. The programs are mainly implemented through student internships, publications, engagement with extension officers and on-farm demonstration. Studies indicate that over 50% of knowledge dissemination done by HEI is through publications, yet majority of the farmers are illiterate, rendering the knowledge inaccessible to farmers who need it most. While other approaches of knowledge and information dissemination like on- farm demonstrations, student internships and extension officers provide an enriched engagement with the farmers, they are too expensive to conduct by the university in a sustainable way in terms of staff time and associated logistical costs. Besides, these approaches do not provide farmers with opportunities to raise specific information needs on demand, as activities are preprogrammed based on the university research agenda. Current HEI outreach models are characterized by weak stakeholder linkages, inappropriate knowledge packaging, intricate technical language and limited interaction with end-users of information among other constraints. Seeking for more relevance and impact, HEI including universities across the global are exploring innovative ways of enhancing engagement between researchers and farmers.

A number of studies across the globe continue to demonstrate that appropriate application of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) can enhance engagement of HEI with smallholder farmers, resulting into increased uptake of agricultural knowledge. The enhancement in engagement is in terms of improved knowledge packaging and visualization, timely availability of information, interactive collaboration, mutual learning, and impact assessment of knowledge shared, reduced costs of engagement, among others.

How Can HEI integrate ICT into their Community Engagement Programme?

Successful integration of ICT’s into any business process requires systematic planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. It is common in many African enterprises and organizations to hear of stories about failed ICT initiatives and most blames are placed on the technology. Yet, ICT integration requires realignment of business processes, orientation of staff to work in the new operating context, updating of management and governance framework to reflect the new institutional operating context, and availability of appropriate ICT infrastructure and associated utilities. Therefore, any HEI which intends to establish an ICT mediated engagement with smallholder farmers should consider the following;

A Community engagement Policy: The policy should clearly describe how community engagement is undertaken through the use of ICT. The policy should prescribe the intended services to be delivered to stakeholder such as farmers, the technology platforms upon which engagement is to be conducted, models of staff performance monitoring and reward, profile of stakeholders to be engaged, and measure of successful engagement, among others.

Appropriate ICT Infrastructure: HEI should invest in appropriate ICT infrastructure to support community engagement ubiquitously. The focus should be on platforms which provide self-service on the concept of anywhere, anytime and at the wish of the stakeholder. Opportunities to exploit open source systems and applications should be considered as these generally have lower total cost of technology ownership and have a wider user support base.

Monitoring and evaluation Mechanism:  HEI should establish systems that can easily monitor and evaluate community engagement action implementation among stakeholders in real or near real-time. Technologies such as mobile applications which provide location services and GIS can be tapped into.

Establishment of Innovation Hubs with HEI:  Most HEI especially those running engineering and ICT programmes can tap into the potential of their students to develop the relevant applications and technologies to support the community engagement. HEI should consider options of establishing internal innovation and incubation hubs to address their internal ICT needs in general.

Establishment of Collaboration and Partnerships: Successful implementation of ICT mediated community engagement largely depends on existence of effective collaboration between HEI and other stakeholders. Therefore, HEI should invest efforts to establish viable collaborations with stakeholders like government agencies focus is on agriculture, community leaders, telecom operators, and civil society organizations, among others.

Information Communication Technologies have the potential of transforming community engagement function of HEI in Africa if a systematic integration process is done as briefly highlighted in the forgoing text. The focus should be to exploit open source technologies and harnessing the expertise within HEI.

 

From Ruforum Blog – https://blog.ruforum.org/2017/10/31/ict-enabling-university-engagement-with-smallholder-farmers/

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Diversity of Business Development

Business has taken great comfort from the fact that successful business is like a well-designed ship. The market is its ocean, with all the currents, Hurricanes, tides and occasionally the Bermuda triangles. A well-Organized ship will have everything on board fastened and functioning at the best of its capabilities. It will navigate satisfactorily to take advantage of the winds and all the elements can offer it. Like a successful business it will sail, with the wind, its crew all-knowing their function and their duties.

Each person crew member is an individual, yet they will pull together knowing that their similarities and goals are far more important than their differences. Their pride in their quest, their skill, their destination and even their journey they will tell with relish. They will listen to and learn from each other. They know they are not here through luck, but through skill and determination. They understand that any ship not taking full advantage of the winds will traipse and even perish. The backers know this too, they a lead by astute professional director who knows how to get the best from his or her team. This will be a director and a captain that on a long voyage is open to the new. They will be able to improvise and appoint. That team will by its nature be diverse. Its skills will be different yet complimentary. They will understand and even look upon their quest of different ways. When no one doubts the value of such diversity. It is what life is made of. We must act as coordinators to allow this diversity to happen to our own particular company/ business. The surprise is that we have avoided the situation for so long. Diversity is one way a company is going to sail the waters of the coming decades and probably for centuries ahead of it.

Diversity must be understood and embraced. It must become an intrinsic and ineradicable part of our philosophy. True success is given by Team work, Planning, Research, Innovativeness, Financial management, Sales and marketing, as these skills will illuminate diversity in a company and the remarkable thing is that such diversity is really far more than a matter of survival.

By : WIINNIE ADENGERO

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Why institutions and organizations are embracing E-Learning

E-Learning is the simplest way of utilizing electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside traditional classroom which is usually conducted via electronic media typically on the internet.  Today, most institutions and organizations are embracing and incorporating e-learning as a tool for educating/training students and employees because of the existing e-learning solutions for both computers and internet.

It varies across a long spectrum because of the different contexts that require different requirements. For example; some situations may just need a basic course while others may need something with an advanced, interactive module of presenting content.

Types of E-Learning

  • Synchronous; this involves interaction of participants with an instructor via the Web in real time. Participants are able to interact with each other as well as the instructor through instant messaging, audios, video conferencing and the sessions can be recorded and played back. This type of e-learning is used in soft-skill training in concept-based training of students to help with their regular studies interpersonal skills, diversity and teaching foreign languages.
  • Asynchronous; this involves participants to use the web based training platform without live interaction with the instructor. One can be able to access information 24/7 at their own convenience with interactions through message boards, discussion forums and bulletin boards. This type is used in generic business topics like financial and time management which organizations don’t understand because it’s cost effective, projects that need extensive simulation, training material that is static, training of organization content that has a long shelf like profile and introduction and lastly process-based training.

Benefits of using E-Learning as a medium of training/educating people

To Organizations

Improves employee performance; employees can overcome their immediate skills and training barriers (Just-In-Time solution)

Aligns training to an organization’s needs; this is so because e-learning is a powerful tool in ensuring that new initiatives like new operating procedures are delivered effectively and consistently across the organization and impact readily accessed.

E-learning delivers to a targeted group of employees without a live instructor; employees can continue learning on the job or when it is convenient to them thus it is cost effective and saves time.

Employee growth and awareness; when employees are sponsored for a training in your organization, they are morale boosted, increasing their motivation to complete the training. An organization should know that e-learning that cross trains your employees enables them to become more adept at handling situations and encourages them to grow their career path with you.

To Institutions

Class work can be scheduled around personal and professional work, resulting in flexible learning.

Learners may have the option to select learning materials that meets their level of knowledge and interests and also self-paced learning modules allow learners to work at their own pace

Learners can study wherever they have access to a computer and Internet thus reduces travel costs and time to and from the institution.

Flexibility to join discussions in the bulletin board threaded discussion areas at any hour or visit with classmates and instructors remotely in chat rooms

Different learning styles are addressed and facilitation of learning occurs through varied activities.

Successfully completing online or computer-based courses builds self-knowledge and self-confidence and encourages students to take responsibility for their learning. It also develops their computer and internet skills that are transferable to other facets of learner’s lives.

More and more organizations/institutions mostly in Uganda are embracing e-learning as a medium of teaching and training because it is flexible, cost effective, helps one meet their organization needs and so many other benefits that have not been exhausted. Kindly contact me on how to acquire the E-learning services/solutions for your institution or organization.

 

 

 

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How to Accelerate Innovation in Private Sectors

Innovation is one of the most important slices of the business pie in Uganda. If you are trying to launch a business, you need to think about how to innovate in your business.

Events like ACIA are trying to spur on innovation in Uganda and they are instilling a new way of thinking about innovation and entrepreneurship. Startup conferences and tech hubs play an important role in accelerating innovation

1) Fund tech hubs

Entrepreneurs and tech hubs can definitely accelerate innovation by funding them more. It should be up to us to help tech hubs and conferences find new ways of generating revenue so the next class of entrepreneurs can be inspired by innovation.

2) Create an open door policy for new ideas

Business owners should create an open door policy for new ideas for their employees and investors. Allow employees to feel empowered to share their ideas with you so that your company can be the best that it can possibly be.

3) Create an R&D lab within your company

Depending on what your company produces, you should create an innovation R&D (research and development) laboratory within your business so that the best ideas can come to the surface.

4) Test, measure and analyze

Innovation should not just be a buzzword. You should measure its success in terms of a return on investment based on the capital that you have spent on innovation. Make sure that you do innovation tests and you measure whether your initiatives are working for your business definitely benefit from analysis in order to reap the benefits from innovation.

Innovation should be embraced in Uganda by the business community. Do your part today so Innovation can flourish. Contact me for ideas on how to create innovation in your business.

 

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Corporate cyberattacks will continue to rise

Cyberattacks targeted at the corporate world continue to be on the increase. Terms like cyber espionage and corporate hacktivists are being thrown around over many boardroom tables these days, with decision makers expressing massive concern. The reality is that the cyber criminal world is evolving at a fast pace, however businesses are struggling to keep up.

While the boardroom has become aware of the importance of strong cyber approaches, often (and painfully) more effective cyber strategies are only looked into after an event has already occurred. In fact, the 2015 KPMG Global CEO Outlook study noted that nearly a third of CEOs list cyber security as the issue that has the biggest impact on their company today, yet only half feel prepared for a cyber-attack.

It has become evident that at a time when attackers are moving swiftly, the traditional approaches to IT security is no longer sufficient. A new way of thinking is needed. In fact, a change in approach and mind-set to effective IT security for today’s business is both necessary and long overdue.

The first step in developing a changed mind-set as a business owner is to understand the mind of the cybercriminal and of course, how they operate. The cybercriminal operating in this century can be considered a ruthless and resourceful entrepreneur with an end goal of financial gain. These cybercriminals are not just your ‘average Joe’ operating underground who can cause minimal damage. These criminals work off clearly defined and effective business models – aimed at causing damage.

This has resulted in the need for businesses to not only protect company data and network infrastructures, but to develop cyber defense strategies that extend beyond the prevention of systems breaches only, to incorporate a wider range of IT security measures aimed at making it much harder and more expensive for the criminals to use the information they procure or trade. Businesses should hold this view: the more precious the data – whether it’s retail customers’ payment details or customers’ intellectual property – the more urgent the need to protect it.

Furthermore, businesses need their cyber security divisions to be as creative and agile as the cyber attackers. This means not only using technology and software together for effective protection, but to also remain aware of the cyber criminal landscape, the movements and changes in this industry and trends at any given time. Given the pace of research and development in the cyber economy, businesses today need to place a focus on harnessing innovative technologies and approaches to effective IT security – to ensure that the approaches implemented today are as effective against the cyber criminal tactics used tomorrow and in the future.

Lastly, while most businesses are riding the technology and innovation train, considering the opportunities being digital creates (driving efficiencies, serving customers better and increasing profits), it must be noted that with the use of innovative technology comes the element of digital risk. Businesses need to consider the risk the digital world brings, when looking at a cyber defense strategy, and  must develop a digital business model that is resilient to cyber-attacks and that can evolve with the business overtime, to remain relevant and of course, effective in the prevention of future cyber-attacks.

Considering all these important elements within cyber that need business attention, perhaps soon we will be seeing more organizations bring together a variety of cyber security functions to better serve an organization and its cyber needs as a whole. Moreover, also putting an end to treating cyber security as just being about the protection of corporate IT systems in a world where boundaries are clearly vanishing. Effective protection today is about understanding what a cyber defense strategy needs to look like and what it should be made up of – to not only react to cyber threats, but more importantly to predict and prevent them.

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How to prevent Ransomware Attacks such as Cryotowall, Reventon, Cryptolocker

Ransomware: Type of malware (malicious software) that locks your computer screen and prevents you from accessing your files and asks you to pay a certain fee (ransom) for you to get back and control over your computer.

These malware sometimes come in the form of a fake antivirus installer which when clicked into the computer then accesses your files and sends details to another server used by the criminals. It is also possible to download ransomware unknowingly by opening infected attachments in emails or unsecure websites.

WHAT TO DO TO PREVENT ATTACKS FROM RANSOMWARE

  • First and foremost the best on can do to avoid any data loss not only from ransomware attacks but any other form of attack is to back up your data regularly preferably using a backup plan such as the 3-2-1 plan which entails that you make 3 copies of the data, store it in 2 separate storage from where it is initially stored and 1 in a separate location.
  • Scrutinize emails and embedded links/attachments found in emails or unsecure websites before clicking on them to avoid any unnecessary installations into your computer that may be the ransomware itself.
  • Regularly update software, programs and applications as these updates tend to add an added layer of protection and also patching up backdoors that could be used by criminals and other online threats to gain access to your computer.
  • Disconnect computer from Wi-Fi or unplug from internet immediately you open an attachment and it starts installing unnecessarily being that it’s not an executable file or the website isn’t secure or the email comes from a source you don’t trust. If you act fast before the characteristic ransomware screen pops up, you can stop communication between the ransomware and the server used to send the encryption key to your computer. This might reduce the number of files that will be encrypted by the ransomware and also buy you some time to back up your data just in case you hadn’t done so.
  • Use system restore which might help you restore your computer to a former known clean state. This however may not really work since the ransomware have newer versions which are able to delete ‘shadow files’ which are vital for the system restore but it’s worth a try.

NB: The most common ransomware today is one called CryptoLocker

The chances of data recovery in cases of ransomware attacks are very minimal thus we advise prevention of these attacks as there is no known solution for these attacks at the moment. The only known way is to pay the ransom which is the advisable also as the decryption key might not be sent to your computer to decrypt the files or it might not even work and the criminals might even try extort more money from you and it becomes a repeating cycle. Secondly it also encourages such criminal acts.

ZAINAB NAMUDDU

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE

EIGHT TECH CONSULTS LTD

 

 

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