Writer: Inès Joëlle NIRAGIRA
ICTDEVers is a group of local ICT for DEVelopment practitioners and academics (students and their supervisors). They meet monthly to link up ICT4D projects and the people behind them. Through these get-togethers members get the opportunity to showcase what they are doing at their institutions and receive/offer help. Most attendees are currently postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town, University of Western Cape and Cape Peninsula University of Technology whose research area and interest are in ICT4D. There was also an academic from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who flew to Cape Town to attend the event.
ICTDEVers get-togethers take place once a month and meeting venues rotate amongst the three institutions (UCT, UWC and CPUT).
The October Get-together
The October get-together took place at Cape Peninsula University of Technology and was chaired by Dr. Michael Adeyeye. A crowd of over a forty enthusiastic people were gathered in the CENCRA room, like the previous ICTDevers meeting at CPUT
Attendees were given a chance to introduce themselves and briefly talk about their research projects and research interests.
On the Agenda
Dr Michael briefed everyone about an event that had recently taken place at CPUT: the Free Open Source and Hardware Symposium (FOSHS’13). Topics from the FOSHS’13 were to be discussed during the ICTDEVers meeting and members were invited to engage in discussions about the various topics namely:
- Mozilla: The Firefox OS Tools and Apps
- ZeroReserve: The Bitcoin Reserve Bank
Mozilla: The Firefox OS Tools and Apps
Brand new features recently implemented in Mozilla Firefox were presented, including an overview of the Firefox web developer tools, overview of the Firefox OS concept and design, the Firefox OS phone simulator (currently an add-on to the browser) and a physical demonstration of the phone. Discussion on how to deploy apps to the Firefox phone and the features included in it closed the presentation sessions.
Attendees got a chance to ask various questions about the gadget’s features and make comments on how well they think the phone fits in the smartphones’ current tight competition.
ZeroReserve: The Bitcoin Reserve Bank
“Very first time I hear of the word ‘Bitcoin’, am I the only one here? I wonder” exclaimed one of the supervisors as soon as the topic slide was displayed on the screen.
“I think having heard of ’Bitcoin’ before but I’m just wondering how is it related to the reason why we are here tonight” said another attendee.
“A completely new framework for understanding money, trade and financial management is embodied within the proposal of the ZeroReserve” Dr M Adeyeye presented. Whether Bitcoins are “open source money”, “soft money” or a virtual monetary representation of trade remains an open issue. Emphasis was placed on the possibility of using Bitcoins and setting up an organized ZeroReserve as to gain financial independence for African nations, especially from Western countries controlling the main monetary organizations in the world and from excessive dependence upon the strongest currencies in the world, such as the United States dollar and the European euro. “Currently, ZeroReserve is a prototype Linux application which does not require a banking gateway and implemented as a plug-in for Retroshare (an open source cross-platform, peer-to-peer, secure and decentralised communication platform)” he added.
Attendees were pretty intrigued by the topic and spent good amount of time discussing about it and asking questions on how known is the virtual currency on the African continent.
Closing and Socialising
Various matters including the ICTDEVers following meeting venue and the upcoming International Conference on ICT and Development to be held at UCT in December were discussed. Attendees were offered finger supper and drinks.