Fact Check: Akon Lighting Africa

Saw a friend posted a photo claiming Akon had provided solar power to 600 million Africans, but the media was not going to tell you about it. It also questioned what is it the NGOs are doing.

This was an amazing claim, so I went looking into it. “Akon solar power” led me to his company Akon Lighting Africa. The key figures on the home page look much more modest with 100K street lamps, 1,200 micro-grids, and 102K domestic kits. The initial claim was that there were 600M without access to electricity. It does not look like it has put a dent in that number, much less the goal of 80 million people. The company was founded in 2014.

In 2015 they claimed to have provided solar power to about 8 million people (using the average household size of 8.7 people in Senegal rounded down; used average household size for Senegal as that is where Akon is from and started).

As of 2016, they claimed to have helped 1.5M lives.

Source: Twitter search for “from:AkonLighting million

Hopefully 1 million households in the first one should have been lives to make it consistent. Otherwise, in 2016 there was a huge backslide.

Let’s unpack the current numbers on the website.

  • 102K domestic kits = 887.4K lives
  • It is not clear what the micro-grid means, but the website has photos of charging stations attached to a set of solar cells. That could mean about 600K additional people counted not with power in their home, but able to visit a charging station to charge up a device to bring home.
    • My interpretation of micro-grid would be a network of homes connected to a grid. It would also power the street lamps.

IT Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow proposed a theory in A Theory of Human MotivationPsychological Review, motivation works to fulfill baser needs before addressing loftier needs. In a discussion the other day, I mentioned we have to have a rock solid infrastructure and stability of services to the point they are a utility and no users think about them causing them problems before we can focus well on innovation.

It occurred today maybe this would be an information technology equivalent to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The IT Value Hierarchy proposes something that looks like what I was thinking.

    • Paradigm Shift at the top
    • Competitive Differentiation
    • Integrated Information
    • Security and Stability
    • Infrastructure at the base

Once the infrastructure issues are solved such that the foundation is solid, then organizational focus can turn to security and stability. Without a solid infrastructure, security and stability are undermined. People fight fires that distract them from what they should be doing. The investments in equipment and time should be prioritized to ensure these.  The message from leadership should recognize the infrastructure foundation as more of a priority to get right than innovation at the time. Signalling the paradigm shift is most important means we should neglect the foundation. Not that we really can neglect the foundation, it just becomes a constant barrage of emergencies such that the paradigm shift becomes painful.

MH Operations

We have been getting these messages for months. Some good folks at Blackboard have caused them to stop for a while, but they just resume. Probably it is multiple cases of the same issue.

LDAP Issues: Dear Valued Customer, The MH Operations team has determined that your MH application server(s) are not able to communicate with your local LDAP server infrastructure. Please notify your TSM when LDAP service is available so that we can confirm that there are no other issues with your hosted Blackboard environment.

The last time, alerts for Valdosta State’s Transaction System (a different product than we run) were being sent to us. A DBA for Vista was listed as a technical contact for TS which she doesn’t run or even know she was considered a technical contact. No one working with TS at Valdosta State had been getting these alerts. So they were excited at the prospect of knowing when there was a problem! I put Blackboard in touch with the people at Valdosta.

In a way, I understand my organization is involved in purchasing the licensing. However, Blackboard needs to do a better job of making sure their customers are informed.

  1. Put the name of the affected product in the notice.
  2. Put the name of the affected URL or IP in the notice.
  3. Put the name of the customer’s organization in the notice.

RE 2007: Top Ten Disruptive Trends

Rock Eagle 2007

Keynote – David Cearley, Gartner

Way too many unfamiliar acronyms an terminology. It moved really fast without spending much time to explain anything.

Disruptive trends selected by timing, speed, and likelihood.

  1. Multricore to fabric – Core on processors will double every two years through 2015. Applications will have to adapt to multi-cores. Software licensing around cores, influences purchasing. Sets the stage for hybrid systems where power core and cell processor cores integrated. 3D chip (cube of cores) is coming. Next evolution in blade technology is to have shared memory. Fabric allows dynamic allocation and partioning of memory and processors and I/O for servers.
  2. Tera-Archicture Compute Element – Self-assembling and self-managing applications.
  3. Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) – Developers will create modularized applications for a dynamic, flexible environment. They will need new tools, training, vizualization. Way platforms are built change. Vendors will not off the components, instead, we will need to create these ourselves. Pervasive… It will hit every level of the enterprise.
  4. Open Source – Development tools, Application Servers, Security, Operating Systems currently hold the most maturity. It will have viable alternatives for 80% of software choices.
  5. Web 2.0 – Biggest disruption over next 10 years as it has been the last 10 years. Web 2-.0 – applications built on web tech and design prin that may exploit community based development and social networking and/or new web-based business models. Long-term journey for increasing community, business involvement. Web Oriented Architecture = SOA + WWW+ REST. WOA replaces complex public API calls in current SOA model in favor in simple interfaces.
    1. Mashups – Composite applications on the web. Classic portal model built complex APIs. Mashups use WOA using RSS and Atom to provide feeds of info. Typically used in simple, high value applications.
    2. Web Platform – Everything as a service. Service providers offering infrastructure. Google and IBM offering a service to universities to build applications using the Googleplex infrastructure and IBM support.
    3. Symantic Web – Microformats – Simple way offering metadata.
  6. Social software – RS, podcasts, folksonomies, blogs, wiki, social bookmarks, content rating, prediction parket, taste sharing, social networks. The Participatory Web. Threadless makes user designed teeshirts sold back to users. How can we create communities and harness the power of the collective. Start with a purpose. Nuture the community. Open socially mediated spaces work better than technically managed systems. Have a tipping point plan.
  7. Netowrk Virtual Worlds – Games – People are 3D, have a profound impact on people.
  8. Displays – UIs are changing.
  9. Video – Counterfeit reality – how are you sure video has not changed?

A Blogosphere Ecology

This is an article a former coworker, Bernie Gunder, helped me write for Focus On, a guest topic section of Portico, a Valdosta State University paper.

A Blogosphere Ecology

My name is Ezra Freelove, ‘99, and I’m a 29-year-old self-professed computer geek and technology professional who spends more hours in front of a computer than I care to admit. So what could possibly compel me to still sit in front of a computer when I go home? No, it is not only to do more work when I get home. I am also a blogger. Blogging took the world by storm a few years ago, me included. You may even know a blogger or two.

About five years ago a friend at UGA, Lacey Gerard, ’01, started me on this time consuming hobby. She showed me a web page she started at Pitas.com. I started a site there as well out of sheer curiosity. It was a good way to keep up with a friend 4 hours away in another city. Soon I found myself spending 10-20 hours a week blogging—reading friends’ blogs, posting on my own site and consuming all the blogosphere had to offer. My pastime has developed in to a mini obsession; at last count my blog subscriptions totaled more than 300. I relish reading blogs about the technology industry, science and geekdom in general. For instance, Mike McBride at http://mikemcbrideonline.com/ writes about his daily trials in “Life of a one-man IT department”. Just as in everyday life, my online interests vary. My armchair coaching of Manchester United is encouraged by http://fcmanu.blogspot.com/. Some wonder why I am not an attorney in copyright law based on how excited I get from reading Ernie the Attorney at http://www.ernietheattorney.net/ or http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/. I watch for the wonderful photos posted at http://fiftymillimeter.com/ and http://wvs.topleftpixel.com/. At one point I even frequented a blog about conversations someone overheard while riding the bus every day. The one constant in my blogging experience has been maintaining and developing friendships.

My friends and I have found blogging to be a great way to keep in touch. Over the years we have consistently read and commented about each others’ entries. We have shared the changing events of our lives and provided eclectic insights on various topics. We both post tons of photos, share funny stories and post random thoughts. Leading up to their wedding, Lacey at http://lay-c.com/log/ http://gerards.tumblr.com/ and Myk (no longer active) both wrote extensively regarding all the work involved and excitement they felt. Another friend, George at http://lay-c.com/george/ http://www.toastforbrekkie.com/, works for NASA and provides great food for thought. Two recent alumna of VSU, Michelle and Sarah, both ’05, wrote about their struggles to find a good job after graduation and entering the real world. The majority of my friends who have blogs post about the every day things: going to class or work, redecorating their houses, taking a great trip somewhere, or attending a fun party the previous night. We are not alone. Every day millions of people make entries about the events going on in their lives.

Millions of people saying exactly what they want can some times create trouble. The Internet provides a false sense of anonymity or freedom that often we lack offline. In everyday life, we typically censor ourselves. This is not always the case online; sometimes people say things that get them into trouble. Mark Jen, author of http://99zeros.blogspot.com/, made national headlines for his getting fired from Google for the content of his blog. Some of my blogging friends and I have discussed the concepts of Freedom of Speech and how it applies to blogging. In the end, I believe the trick is really to not write anything you would not be happy for your mother or boss or child to read. Google saves a cache of web pages. So even should you delete a web page, others could possibly still read it. While everyone should be responsible about the personal and professional information they place on blogs, the benefits outweigh the risks.

Many non-bloggers think of blogs as only public diaries with entries about personal events but they often transition from online diaries into communication tools for the masses. Individuals in the center of major events often report on their experiences. I have read personal accounts of the towers falling on 9/11, bombs falling near homes in Baghdad, and flood waters rising in New Orleans. These accounts of important events provide a perspective otherwise difficult for traditional news media to provide. Blogs have made it possible for the average person to help shape society’s understanding of worldwide events.

Extremely popular blogs have evolved into online editorials on news events. These are run by professional bloggers who started off as regular bloggers but found they could make money by placing ads on their sites. They draw millions of readers by being an information resource. Popular sources of political commentary are http://wonkette.com/, http://dailykos.com/, and http://instapundit.com/. Blog style postings and polls of supporters have even become political or commercial marketing tools such as the Howard Dean campaign for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States popularized in early 2003. Even VSU uses blog technologies such as the news RSS feed at http://feeds.feedburner.com/ValdostaStateUniversity to inform others about events on campus.

Many blogs are much more specialized. As an information technology and higher education professional, I read a number of k-logs or knowledge logs. Other professionals describe their experiences creating, implementing, or using programs (whether software or educational). Important figures of the IT world, like Robert Scoble at http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/, post regarding where they see the industry headed. We not so important figures of the IT world often hang upon these gleanings as important revelations regarding where the industry is headed. As blogs penetrate every industry, they are becoming more and more valuable resources. They are quietly replacing magazines and journals for professionals to keep up in their industry.

The great theme of the Internet is bringing the world together through easier communication. Friends living at great distances often stay in touch by email. Blogs fit perfectly into this theme. Writers now have simple tools to publish their thoughts, syndication allows readers to keep track of favorite sites, and readers provide back comments. As with other Internet technologies, at first it was just the techies like me which embraced them. Next, the commercial companies embraced the use. This dispersed use of blogs widely and encouraged standardization so now the tools are widely available to anyone. So now is the best time to join the blogosphere. I hope to see you out there either as a reader or a writer.

About the Author

Ezra Freelove works for Valdosta State University in Enterprise Infrastructure Systems as a System Support Specialist. For the past 6 years he has managed various VSU web systems and applications such as the main web site, WebCT, and BlazeNet. On occasion he has even created web applications such as the election system used by Student Life for Homecoming.

In addition to work, he maintains a list of his various blogs at his personal web site located at http://ezrasf.com/. Please email < > with questions regarding this story.

About Focus On

Focus On is a forum in which guest writers examine various topics in their profession and/or field of study. The ideas conveyed in this essay do not necessarily express the views of Valdosta State University. Those interested in contributing an article or essay should e-mail with the subject line Focus On.

Sidebars/pullouts

  1. What’s a blog? A blog (weB LOG) is basically a journal that is available on the web. The activity of updating a blog is “blogging” and someone who keeps a blog is a “blogger.” Blogs are typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog. The Blogosphere is the current state of all information available on blogs and/or the sub-culture of those who create and use blogs. http://www.matisse.net/files/glossary.html#B
  2. Supporting stats from Pew Internet
    By the end of 2004 blogs had established themselves as a key part of online culture. Two surveys by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in November established new contours for the blogosphere: 8 million American adults say they have created blogs; blog readership jumped 58% in 2004 and now stands at 27% of internet users; 5% of internet users say they use RSS aggregators or XML readers to get the news and other information delivered from blogs and content-rich Web sites as it is posted online; and 12% of internet users have posted comments or other material on blogs. Still, 62% of internet users do not know what a blog is. http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/144/report_display.asp
  3. Blogging 101
    You could start a blog of your own in less time than it took to finish reading this article. Simply use the Blogger.com service at http://blogger.com/ and follow the instruction on the main page. If more control is your style but do not want to go through the trouble of installing and maintaining the blog software, then consider the free LiveJournal at http://www.livejournal.com/ or inexpensive TypePad at http://www.typepad.com/. If you lean towards true geekiness and want to install your own software, then turn to WordPress at http://www.wordpress.org/ and Movable Type at http://www.sixapart.com/movabletype/.
  4. Blogger Profile [Ezra]:
    My blog: http://www.livejournal.com/users/sneezypb/
    Years spent blogging: 5
    Top five favorite blogs
    http://lay-c.com/log/ http://gerards.tumblr.com/
    http://lay-c.com/george/ http://www.toastforbrekkie.com/
    http://fiftymillimeter.com/
    http://mikemcbrideonline.com/blogger.html
    http://www.scienceblog.com/cms

 

Democracy Matters

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The first grand democratic experiment in Athens was drivem by a movement of the demos–citizen-peasants–organizing to make the Greek oligarchs who were abusing their power accountable. Democracy is always a movement of an energized public to make elites responsible–it is at its core and most basic foundation the taking back of one’s powers in the fave of the misuse of elite power.
Cornel West in Democracy Matters, p. 68

I read this at lunch and have thought about it a bit. Something that strikes me about this quote is that I keep wanting to equate the Republican Party with the Greek oligarchs. Too much power centralized in one point makes one a target. This is the problem Windows and Internet Explorer enjoy.

Only a truly robust infrastructure can withstand the attacks from below. Many like to think they are robust. In actuality, very little can withstand such attacks.