Managing to successfully thwart an international scheduling conflict, Jon Gossier of AppAfrica synchronized schedules with Leila Chirayath Janar, founder of Samasource to host the first ever Facebook Developer Garage in Kampala. Trekking all the way from Silicon Valley in California, Leila brought along Charlie Cheever (pictured, center), a senior engineer on Facebook’s Platform Team. Charlie spent the afternoon session guiding the nearly 100 attendees here Makerere University in Kampala, through the simple process of creating a simple application on the Facebook platform. Running through example API calls, Charlie explained how to use the custom Facebook Markup Language (FBML) to display user information in conjunction with external code from one’s application. He also highlighted real-world applications that have been successfully deployed on the platform from big-name companies including TechCrunch, Flixter, Prolific, iLike, and more.
After Cheever’s post-lunch walk-through session, I had a brief sit-down (more like a standing up in a corner) Q&A session with Leila C., who according to Gossier, was instrumental in bringing the Garage to Kampala. Leila has an incredible background in African Development along with a passion for “democratizing access” in Africa and developing regions. We also talked about how Samasource plans on utilizing Africa’s Diaspora specializing in the IT sectors as a collective pool of talent she can tap into. If you are a firm looking to affordably outsource some of your IT chores, or if you are in the Diaspora and would like to find out how to put your resources to better use for Africa’s growing ICT future, Samasource would like to talk to you. Leila was happy to shed some light on the impact of hosting not one, but two Facebook Developer Garages in Africa (the first one was held in Ghana).
As a side note, I spent my lunch-hour in a mini-conference with my table mates about PD and the general state of ICT in Uganda and what a platform like Facebook could offer them. I was really more interested in what kinds of apps they could put together on the FB platform as a stepping stone to attracting working partnerships with companies in the West. One attendee put it this way, “Basically, we are here to find out what’s out there, what tools do we have available to us. Once we know that, then we can put something together.”
Also, apparently, Alcatel is laying fiber across the country and now has a presence in Kampala. If you remember, Alcatel is/was in-contract with several of the initiatives aiming at landing high speed undersea fibre cables on the East African coast. It’s evidence at least, that broadband-strength fibre is coming to East Africa, and this, is a good thing for all.