I got into Maputo (capital of Mozambique) around 3 on Friday and stopped by the Plan Mozambique office to meet the staff on the way to my hotel. The office here is small. Plan’s only been working in Mozambique since 2007 and in one province only so far. Maputo is absolutely gorgeous. It’s calm, not at all crowded, and on the coast.
I’ll be here for about 3 weeks working on the Youth Empowerment through Arts and Media (YETAM) project in a community near Maxixe, which is a 50 minute plane trip north. The coordinator for the project in Mozambique is Pedro, the IT Director, and we had a nice discussion today over lunch.
Pedro is from the IT sector and used to work for a government ministry and came to Plan right when we opened here. He’s convinced that “Plan is not in the IT business. We’re in the business of community development, so our IT has to be in service of community development, not just the office.” So ICT4D is high up on his list of interests, and he’s hoping that over the next few weeks we can share lots of ideas. We discussed how just like media, ICTs are becoming more easily accessible for people, so a good ICT person should know how to support and train other people, to take the mystery out of ICT. He or she also has to know how to see the trends coming down the line to stay ahead of the game.
Aside from lunch, we spent most of the day installing software on the computers that we’ll be using in the media project. We got the anti-virus going on all of them – a lesson learned and never forgotten on my part. We also got the Nokia phones and laptops synced so we can use them for mobile internet while in the community. Pedro said that mobile internet is a huge eye opener. “If it works there, communities will know that if they can get the phone, they don’t need to go all the way to the city to access the internet.” I’m crossing my fingers that the signal will be strong enough to make this a reality. We shall see…. That social media session I have planned will not make much of an impact if we can’t get online. Which reminds me how great it always is to get your feet back on the ground and adjust ideas to reality.