BarCamp Swaziland 2009: A Technology Community on Fire

In the verdant Ezulwini Valley, where you’ll often pass King Mswati III’s motorcade zooming down the road, Swaziland’s first technology conference, BarCamp Swaziland, was held on Saturday, June 27th. It took place at the House on Fire venue, a fanciful, mosaic-encrusted amphitheatre which often hosts local performances. About sixty people attended, including local engineers, ISP’s, artists, music promoters, software developers, and non-profits including SangoNet and the Grameen Foundation. BarCamp Swaziland was sponsored by, which empowers youths heading households in Swaziland. Other sponsors included Real Image Internet (Swaziland’s leading ISP), Swazis Rock, i.t. solutions, PoeTree, and Comparatio USA. Several rural youth who head households due to the loss of their parents attended and helped document the conference with Flip video cameras.

The IT guru at House on Fire, Mark Fulton, although he found out about the barcamp just the night before (suitably enough, in the actual bar where he was nursing a Windhoek), did a fantastic job of taking care of the attendees’ wireless connectivity needs and managing the conference multimedia presentations. In addition, he gave Swazis a window into the truly geeky world of computer gaming – especially inspiring the youth. American video blogger Katrina Heppler and I helped document the conference.

Key takeaways from BarCamp Swaziland:

1. There is a vibrant group of very smart geeks and creatives in Swaziland who want to form a technology community.
2. There is lots of interest in blogging tools such as Twitter. Prediction: a year from now Africa watchers will have heard of some Swazi bloggers (maybe some will attend Kelele?).
3. Local developers are developing software for the local business market – Wandile Nxumalo of Maestro IT showed off his new accounting software.
4. Technology coming soon to Swaziland includes WiMax, mobile banking, and local mobile search – Ali Resting of Real Image Internet was a great resource for what’s coming next.
5. There was interest in using social media to promote local artists and musicians.
6. There is a strong interest in using technology for social good – especially to help the many children orphaned because of HIV/AIDS.

What people learned:
“How important is technology in our community and to the world at large.”

” There is a community out here of especially young people interested or involved in IT – I need to network with these people.”

“How to use Facebook and Twitter.”

“About open source software and online community development.”

“That programming is not a joke and I’m into it!”

“That there are other IT folks around.”

“There is a lot happening in the mobile development sector in Swaziland.”

“There is more happening in technology than what meets the eye!”

“Women in Swaziland or around the world can contribute in technology.’

What was your favorite part of BarCamp Swaziland?
“Learning how we can develop IT in our community. The discussions were very informative, everyone giving input was great.”

How would you make the next conference better?
“I would try to bring something that I have made myself – like my own program.”

“Introduce barcamp to the community (friends and relatives).”

If you would like to help organize future technology conferences in Swaziland, join the BarCamp Swaziland Facebook page.

Category: Africa, Swaziland | Tags: , , , 2 comments »

2 Responses to “BarCamp Swaziland 2009: A Technology Community on Fire”

  1. Jennifer Sly

    Awesome summary of BarCamp Swaziland – thanks for sharing – looking forward to BarCamp Swaziland 2010 – all are welcome!

  2. Posting on BarCamp Swaziland at «

    […] Karasic at on her post summarizing BarCamp Swaziland.  Check out the post HERE…..appreciate the  post….and your involvement in BarCamp […]

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