Idlelo is Africa's leading conference for all matters open source, and with its focus this year on "development with ownership," Sourcefabric just had to be there. African experts such as Nnenna Nwakanma (Chairperson for FOSSFA, organizers of Idlelo 4) spoke alongside global partners such as Jon Hall (Executive Director, Linux International) from 17th to 21st of May in Accra, Ghana in order to expand awareness of the open source philosophy and the creation and use of open technologies for the benefit of African people.
Sourcefabric, represented by Sahr Gborie, was featured in a two day training course in audio editing and radio broadcasting. Sahr is from the Sierra eRiders, a Sierra Leone based non-profit organization that provides technology support, and helps others initiate technology support programs within the development community of Sierra Leone.
Sixteen West African journalists from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leon, Mali, Togo and Benin attended the session on free, libre and open source applications organized by the FOSSWAY project in collaboration with Sierra eRiders. The participants took the opportunity to learn how to work with applications like Audacity and Campcaster, Sourcefabric's free and open radio management software which provides live studio broadcast capabilities as well as remote automation in one integrated system.
Dividing their time between theoretical training and practical exercises, the journalists focused on strengthening skills and proficiency in the production and editing digital radio broadcasts. Many of them were encountering free and open source software for the first time and as participant A.O. Olayani told us, the training will be of real practical use in the future:
"I am very hopeful that all the knowledge gained would be put to viable use, especially as my institution is pursuing to acquire equipment for a community radio in our rural development site. I am very optimistic that my contact with your organisation will be more beneficial to my career as a communication specialist."
Photographs from the session can be seen on Sourcefabric's Facebook page. The group were given free copies of Ubuntu 10.04 and extensive training in Campcaster's Web and Studio applications, investigating Campcaster's network and removable media functions, which enable stations to share content either online or via removable storage devices such as hard drives. Workshop leader Sahr Gborie explained the wide potential for journalists and open source software: M
"Most of the participants didn't know about free and open source software before the training and showed sincere enthusiasm and interest in adopting FOSS [free and open source] applications in their work and free time. All the participants showed great interest to have Campcaster running on their computer."
Sourcefabric, the developers of Campcaster, are also currently implementing projects alongside West Africa Democracy Radio located in Dakar, Senegal and reaching all of West Africa on shortwave on 17875Hz. Sourcefabric's Director of Clients and Services, Douglas Arellanes, who has been in Senegal and Liberia working alongside implementors and radio stations to set up hardware and software solutions, explained how these radio networks will be used in the region:
"We've worked with WADR on a couple of projects over the years, and the project we jointly proposed for Liberia has two goals: To let the rest of West Africa know what people in rural Liberia are talking about - especially in the context of the war crimes tribunal of Charles Taylor - and to create a mechanism by which Liberian community radios can network themselves together to share program content."
You can also read Douglas' travel diary on our Facebook page. To easily find out more about Sourcefabric's work in West Africa, stay updated on Facebook and Twitter, join our mailing list, or subscribe to sourcefabric.org RSS feed. To get in touch with us about your project, please contact us via email.
Sahr Gborie is a multi-disciplined technology consultant working on the ground with communities and non-profit organisations throughout West Africa. He is the Co-ordinator for Sierra eRiders and can be contacted for training and other opportunities.