Thesis

Bangkok Blood - Erik Winther 2014
51 weeks have passed since I graduated from university and started working. It has truly been amazing weeks, and I am really humble and thankful for all the persons I’ve gotten to know and everything the year has taught me.

As you know, the typical student economy is rather slim. I had several friends who were counting their 20 SEK-bills in the end of the month. Thus I went from discussing microeconomics in modest private economy-measures, to corporate economy in macro-class. In just 51 weeks. Hence there are certainly times when it all feels unrealistic; such as last week when a colleague of mine explained that “I always round off order intake and business case-values into whole multiples of 1’000’000’000 SEK, there’s no point in being more specific”.

Picture of Bangkok’s pulsating traffic, shot a few weeks ago from Sirocco; the world’s highest open-air bar.

Quick shifts

| | | |

Korean Army guarding a military museum in Changwon - Erik Winther 2012
It is now a full month since I quit calling myself a student and started working. Therefore I thought it would be appropriate to share with you what I’ve been doing so far as I’ve barely written any blog posts at all since then. But the matter in fact, I may not do that; most of what I see, hear and do at work is classified in one or another way.

Hence, any explanatory blog posts will not be written. What I can tell, however, is that I’m filling my days meeting lots of cool people, getting excited about the business processes and that I have spent half the days until now at hotels to enable those meetings and to see the company´s facilities. Apart from that: *silence*.

Secrecy

| | | |

Ljungbyhed Airport
A few minutes ago, I uploaded the fulltext version of the master thesis report that wraps up Wille’s and my work during the last six months. Feels good to finally get to share it to you!

Access the project-webpage dareafrica.com and read our report ”Seizing the ICT Opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa – Implications from Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana”. Please share the report to your network if you appreciate it, direct links are supplied for Facebook or Twitter.

Thesis report publicized!

| | | | | | | |

Interest in Amsterdam - photo and retouch Erik Winther 2013
We have received lots of interest for our work from all types of actors since the academic presentation. It feels good, as we’ve been frustrated so many times – both by the many business opportunities that are just waiting for westerners, and because of the unnecessary inefficiencies in development aid. I’ll tell you about the spin-offs when we get closer to practical details.

Beside the leverage on our message, I think the best kudos came from Swedfund themselves, as they have requested us to continue on the same track on part-time as consultants. Feels like an indirect “well done”.

Interest

| | | | | | | | | |

Reaching for more, shot at UN memorial in Busan, South Korea - Erik Winther 2011
With the formal presentation approved, few things remain before I get my MSc-diploma. We are giving the report a final touch, and we will do the peer-review on Raoul and Fredrik’s thesis when they are ready. But far more interesting is that we get to present the project several times more, in varying forums and for several types of actors.

This completes the circle we were aiming for when the two of us stared to discuss this project two years ago; to do a fun and interesting project in Africa that would contribute and add actual insights and value to at least some part of the society. Hence, I am proud to say that we’ve got to do just that, and that our findings from the seven weeks long research trip across Sub-Saharan Africa will be spread and publicised in multiple forums.

Wrap-up

| | | | | | | | |

Framläggning, photo by Anna 2013
Last Friday, the 25th of January, Wille and I presented our project and conclusions for the audience in C2 on Linköping University’s campus Valla. Our colleagues Raoul and Fredrik were back from Geneva and presented their peer-review before the open discussion started. We got many good questions and were happy to find that the audience was really interested and participated actively, thanks!

When our examiner Anna and supervisor Ya had given us their approval, and compliments I must say, we walked with friends and family to Fredagspuben for sparkling wine before we headed to Stångs Magasin for a really nice dinner. Several hours later, I rounded off the evening over some drinks with my beloved family – love you all.

Thesis defence presentation

| | | | | | |


To all my friends out there, may you have a joyful and merry Christmas with your near and dear!

Love from a snowy Skåne, Sweden, with a warming photo from the canopy walk in Kakum National Park, Ghana.

Merry Christmas!

| | | | | |


What Africa wants, in short, is business and trade with foreign companies to help their economies grow and skills develop.

This is what Wille and I conclude from speaking with a range of persons all hierarchical levels in the three countries we’ve visited. They do not ask for ‘aid’ (Of course excluding emergencies and catastrophes, but that goes for any country including Sweden.); no matter how good the intentions are. Worth a thought, I think.

Real help

| | | | | | |


Eleven hours after I said goodbye to Lisa in Amsterdam, my Finnish Korea-colleague Lena arrive in Linköping. Great to meet her again! She came to visit Jonas, Mattias and me since it will take time before the four of us will be on the same continent again.

Because of the guys’ upcoming exams and my thesis not getting completed on it’s own (strange, isn’t it?); time was sparse. But with restaurant-lunches and Lena cooking dinners for us, we all managed to share tons of laughs and have a great time. Welcome back any time, and see you in Österbotten this summer :)

Moomin-Lena

| | | | | | |


Travelled distance
33 000 kilometers.

Privacy
The two of us have spent around 99,7% of the last six weeks in the same place or room as the other (excluding showers and restroom-visits).

Interview-notes
Approximately 140 typed pages of bullet point-summaries. That no one but the two of us will ever see because of secrecy.

Taxi
Roughly 200 trips, out of which we had to write our own receipts in all but three cases in Ghana; apparently nothing they are used to…

Ghanaian ice-cream
The cheapest we had cost 0,5USD, and the most expensive portion-packed (think Nogger) we found was 10USD. No, we did not buy the latter.

Our relation
Was mistaken as a gay couple roughly as often as we were thought of as twins; despite being (only) friends & colleagues.

Conflicts between us
None. Thank you Wille for an unforgettable tour! :)

The trip: Hard facts

| | | | | | |


The transfer in Schiphol was eight hours, so we took the metro to Amsterdam Central where my good-old friend Lisa studies this semester. She showed us around in the beautiful city, and made it more than obvious how great the new-years weekend there will become. Thanks and good to see you!

6h in Amsterdam

| | | |


We used the last day to get new perspectives on the impact of ICT in Sub-Saharan Africa; a visit at the huge landfill ‘Abublushi’ next to Abose-Okai road in Accra. Nowadays the place that used to be a scenic freshwater lagoon is the end station for US and Europe’s electronic waste. Computers alone: 3 millions per year; a truly dirty business.

The water is worse polluted that anything I’ve heard of, with oils, car paint, acids, and other chemicals being poured in daily. But also the air is heavily affected: homeless gangs set fire on car tires and fridge-insulation to burn away the cable-insulation and separate copper, aluminium and lead which is sold to Tema Steelworks for 50EUR á kilo.

We went there and discussed life with those teenagers that disappear in the thick smoke (zoom in and you’ll see some of them); which made us cough by just being near it. That is the kind of thing that is truly dangerous and an ethical slap in the face, but still totally worth it. The kind of thing that makes one grow as a person, in experience and humbleness.

Last day in Africa

| | | | |


Wow, how time flies! Our 48 days in Africa feels more like 4,8 or something. I will miss the bustling street life, the amazing countryside, the friendly people & all new friends, and -of course- the warm climate.

With tons of experiences and more than thirty 1-2 hour long formal interviews in the baggage are there loads of hard facts, tips & trix, dos & don’ts, and concrete business opportunities to process and explain in our upcoming report.

Apart from some samples shared here, the complete set of findings and the full-text report will be published on a separate page. The address isn’t yet decided and I am still working on the design, so it remains a secret. Until we reveal it: Happy Lucia Day and sleep well; I’m off for one last good night in the air condition’s cooling 26°C breeze. Sleep well!

Last night in Africa

| | | | | | |


We have visited and helped out as much as possible during our visits at the Ghanaian grass-root NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) called Solid Rock Association. They are teaching slum-children how to play on and manufacture instruments, stitch/make clothes, and to become familiar with computers.

Our contributions, beside the monetary aspect, were IT-support and especially help with the structure and design of their Volunteer program. If you yourself or anyone you know might be interested: check out the site and/or drop some questions to me at erik@ewco.se, or Kofi & William at info@solidrockassoc.org.

Thanks for caring & sharing!

Volunteer at an NGO

| | | | |

With only three more nights in Africa (for this time!), and a constant inflow of snowstorms to Sweden and Europe is it not possible to ignore anymore: we are facing a temperature drop of 50°C (as of last weekend).

Okay, you might not agree, but I kind of pity us a bit. Especially since I just got a cold from the air-condition despite having it set on 26 degrees, and because of our sightseeing in Amsterdam on Friday, which we are totally not dressed for.

Photo from a short and unexpected rain-cloud, shot from our hotel room with the ocean to the left.

The weather is changing

| | | | |


We have our drive and source of energy sorted out, made -rather- obvious by the picture. Are you aware of your(s)?

Photo form last weekend’s visit in Krokobite. Just found out that the ‘chilly’ water held more than 28°C; I will most certainly die promptly in Sweden.

What’s your drive?

| | | | |


As it turned out, I hadn’t attached any payment proof regarding the application-fee with my application. Hence, the räksmörgås is still just a sandwich. One can say it was my fault, but despite the help-buttons and their texts is the interface’s user-friendliness low. Low enough to accept my application in the validation; without both payment and proof of it.

Guess RDB has a thing or two to learn from Sweden, the country with the world’s second fastest internet, but far more user-friendly homepages that speed-winning South Korea.

Räksmörgås Trading: the verdict

| | | | | | |


Two 4×4-cars; one illustrating monetary wealth and satisfaction, and the other representing unused labour and hunger for progress. How far will the convergence reach within our lifetimes?

To me, a great leap forward would be to find a more positivistic term than the conclusive and definitive word ‘developed’. Because mustn’t also rich countries be able to advance?

Developed & Developing

| | | | |


This picture represents something positive to me.
The man is a Kenyan, living his life in conjunction with the ancient traditions of his tribe the Maasai, but he declares his great openness and willingness to learn by adding a western jacket; and the red cap shows which political party he just represented in the political meeting at which I shot the photo. A meeting that had three hundred visitors, yet took place in the bushes of Rift Valley with a hundred kilometres to the closest town.

Lovely cultural mix

| | | | |


This is the Telecom House in Rwanda, situated on one of the boulevards, and within a stone’s throw from the Swedish and European Union’s embassies (same building). We held several of our interviews on the top floor balcony (right side), which is the office of the soon-officially-opened incubator kLab. In the basement is the government’s datacentre, which was partially built by a Swedish company. *Proud that they get some help from back home*

When we interviewed the founder of Rwanda’s first academic Master’s program; MSc in Information Technology, he told us that it was started, and is still running, on aid from Sweden; via SIDA. Hence, with aid and academics in place; the only things needed are ICT companies. Interested? Call Wille or me to hear about the golden opportunities.

Telecom House

| | | | |


Woke up with ocean view, had Tribes’s famous ginger jam on the breakfast pancakes, sunbathed until lunch, walked within the presidential palace’s restricted area, and met up with some random -but super nice- rasta-guys in a cemetery.

Ended up in a nice discussion about the upcoming election (6 days left) with them over some beers at a sidewalk of bustling Oxford street; the place to be. Right now we’re back on a quick stop at the hotel (of course still on Oxford st.) before we head back out to the 28°C-evening air with them to Independence Square; where the party won’t stop before 2pm.

But first: shower and opening of the first slots in the chocolate-calendars I’ve brought along from Linköping :)

December 1st; 1st day off in Ghana

| | | | | |


At last we got to Ghana, one day after schedule. One day after that, also our luggage got here. Beside these issues, Ghana and Accra got a tough start; extremely expensive accommodation (damn you diamond, gold and oil…) and the past awesome weeks in Kenya and Rwanda. The West Coast will have to struggle to level up to the standards.

But the weather forecasts promise sunny blue skies with 30-32°C at daytime and 26-29°C at night, thus the sometimes chilly nights of Kigali are no longer an issue. In fact, Sweden is experiencing snowfall and storms these days, which helps Accra’s temperature make up for a lot of the initial complications.

Photo from the beach just outside our hotel, showing the strong (=fun) waves and a glimpse of the presidential palace.

Struggling start for Ghana

| | | | | |


Now, it isn’t like we have found something unknown or unexpected. But the there is a problem: most westerners do not know, which is why there is a need to shed light over the continent. Let me share a quote:

“There’s actually development here. There’s actually projects that need funding and could be really amazing if you actually take those seriously and realize that there’s actually potential here”
– Breezy V, an African rapper who recently made a song about Africans giving aid to freezing Norwegians by donating radiators.

Others’ perspective

| | | | | |


We see a lot of potential, and it is more than clear that today’s Africa is what China was 30 years ago: the place to be for fast economic growth and help-to-self-help. Which, in the end of the day, is what really matters – to me.

A few examples of what we have seen ourselves in Kenya:
• IBM recently opened their office in Nairobi, their first R&D department in the developing world, 9th in total
• MIT-students start their companies in Kenya’s Nairobi because of the buzzing creativity and potential on Ngong Road.
• Google’s grand office opening-party in Nairobi took place when we were there.
• We’ve met traditional Maasai men that lived far, far out in the bushes without electricity; yet greeted us “Hey, give me your mobile and I’ll send you some nice tribe-songs via Bluetooth”, and did it.

..and in Rwanda:
• Rwanda’s backbone of optical fibre for broadband is better than many others’, e.g. France’s.
• Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, is just as clean as Singapore, and their roads are equal in standard.
• Carnegie Mellon University has a campus in Rwanda, their first in the developing world. “Things are too slow in US and Europe”, their director told us.

Our findings, so-far: Africa is on the move

| | | | | | | | | |


Beside the academic aspects, the outcome our project creates is at best a decent report with reasonable findings, which we ourselves own the immaterial rights to. So really, why is someone else paying for all expenses during our weeks in Africa?

Just as most other westerners, Swedes are -sorry to say- still considering Africa as a homogenous piece of land, from which the everyday headlines contains the words war/death/poverty/HIV/unemployment/rebels/pirates, but rarely opportunities/economic growth/skills/stability. Hence, most companies are of the same opinion.

But this is not the case. It is actually far from the truth; a result of the negative signals that meet media’s short-term incentives easiest. So the objective of our project is to get an idea of the business climate and opportunities (if any), findings that are to be shared amongst Swedes and Swedish companies in order to raise awareness. Hence, we’re hired as messengers.

Infographics by Kai Krause, which needs to be shown frequently.

Our project

| | | | | | | | |


So we didn’t actually reach Ghana today. The flight got cancelled and we were eventually driven to a hotel, paid by Kenyan Airways. So despite that I only got half an hour sleep last night, the extra day in Nairobi was a quite nice break; meeting up with Malin and Frida again, and swimming in the five-star hotel’s rooftop-pool. A significant standard increase compared to what we pay for with Swedfund’s money.

Oh, if you doubted; the picture shows my room, Wille stays in his own next-door.

Country 1: revisited

| | | | | |


Wille, multitasking at the hotel’s restaurant after eight intense but fun and successful days in Rwanda. Having conducted twelve additional formal interviews, country number two is considered visited. Cheers!

2/3 countries: done

| | | | | |


Rwanda claims to have the easiest and fastest procedure for starting a business; an online one-stop-shop solution that requires no paperwork at all, and can be completed on a mobile phone in order to serve also computerless entrepreneurs. And it takes justsix hours.

Hence, I sent my application instead of reading fiction before I shut my eyes. To make the test more interesting (ok, it was primarily a childish outburst), I named the company to ‘Räksmörgås Trading’ since räksmörgås is one of the few words that contain all three Swedish special letters.

I really hope they complete and confirm in time, because we have an appointment with the COO of the issuing authority tomorrow at 11am and I would not want to complain…

Räksmörgås Trading

| | | | |


After an exciting day exploring north and east Rwanda’s splendour, we paused at Gisenyi beach and took a lovely swim in lake Kivu, with the Congolese villas watching our back (picture).

This was the first time I was flexible enough to swim butterfly since my clavicle-injury two months ago; sooo good to be able to stretch out and feel free again :)

My international driving license and an improvised lecture in useful usage of handbrakes made Nepo step aside from the steering wheel, so now I can check another box on my to-do list: African serpentine roads in the dark, with occasional monsoon rain and oncoming traffic with non-stop high beam. Check.

Water, for better and worse

| | | | | |


Yes, we went there. Booyah. No, it wasn’t a big deal. To give you some perspective on the frightening articles in media: The border at Goma between DRC and Rwanda was closed by UN for 12 hours, before they understood what happened, when M23 came to secure Goma’s citizen from the brutal Congolese National Army. Then it reopened, and now are things fine; with M23 still securing the city. At least that is the story we got told by Gisenyi-residents.

Indeed, you can bring an automatic rifle across the border to Congo for a 100RWF-bribe (€0.1), but it is really hard to get it back to Rwanda. Just take a look at the US-propaganda video ‘Kony 2012’ and the anarchy should be clarified; they want, they create a reason to place troops there, and they will take.

But life in the border cities Gisenyi and Goma are not at all as bad as media implies. In fact, both Wille and I kind of fell in love with the place; a lost pearl in the middle of Africa with great potential and smiling people.

My eyes on Goma

| | | | | |


What a day! We took off early in the morning and drove north to the Volcanoes National Park (the famous Silverback Gorillas’ habitat), never stopped since searching for them costs >800USD/person & day, but continued west until we reached Gisenyi on the shore of lake Kivu.

While enjoying the beautiful and never-ending hills, several of the differences we’ve observed compared to Kenya got confirmed; more structure and organised processes, lower crime and corruption levels, but also lower economic maturity and lower national confidence. Which in total seems reasonable and good for a landlocked country that is still just a teenager.

Rwanda is Africa’s most densely populated country, which is why their fields and plantations cover the landscape; no matter the altitude or steepness, as exemplified in the picture by tea-plantations.

Pays des Mille Collines

| | | | | |


Last weekend, when we stayed at Simon’s place, he told us that a 12 year old Maasai boy killed a lion on his own to protect his herd of cows. Same issue as with wolves and sheep in Sweden, but it isn’t children who have to take action there – especially not as in this case with a herd-stick as only weapon…

It’s hard to imagine that Simon’s youngest would take down a wild lion alone within nine years.

Lion-boy

| | | | |


Considering Comgolese Goma, real estate recently became a buyer’s market.

Goma was united with Rwandan Gisenyi until the colonisation, but in distinction from Berlin, the wall still stands and the city is still divided. And since we are “in the neighbourhood” (I’m mentally wearing those famous Seven-league boots), there is an urge to check it out; at least from the Rwandan side of the fence.

Regardless of our findings, what I really hope is that UN steps up and makes not just bad decisions now that they get a chance to rebuild a somewhat positive reputation of themselves in Rwanda.

DRC’s Goma

| | | | | | |


The last five days have been spent here in Kigali, Rwanda, full of exciting meetings for our research. My good Rwandan friend Charmant that I met in Korea is unfortunately not here (still studying at Kyung Hee University), but connected us to his brother Nepo and friend Emmy (see picture). They have shown Wille and me around in Kigali today, Saturday, and will join us tomorrow when we are heading northeast for the scenic nature and lake Kivu.

In Rwanda!

| | | | | | |


Our empirical studies in Kenya witness on extensive efficiency issues in facilities and infrastructure that produce and provide power, water etc. Sweden is in the frontline regarding “smart grids”; knowledge that will make the bold one very rich here.

So don’t be that darn Swedish – get down here and make both yourself and Africa a favour by helping the last Zebra sync his tail-swing!

75% synchronized

| | | | |


The last Kenya-weekend was just as exciting as the first ones, but much more touching.

Our new friend Simon, an indigenous Maasai warrior of Christian beliefs, has done more than most for Kenya’s and Tanzania’s rural population: building numerous churches, schools and drilling water wells, beside spreading wisdom in his role as bishop.

The funding comes from American churches, via Derrick who actually also linked me to Simon. I find it fascinating to hear Simon explain how it makes sense that they train their warriors to never fear or doubt. A parallel society with very different values than ours, which include much tighter bonds within families than average western citizens have.

Wille and I got to stay the weekend in his house in a remote Maasai village. We got to meet and talk to so many nice persons from his tribe and were shown a school he built, visited one of the water wells, shared a meal with a Chief at a big political meeting, spoke to his friend John who works at the president’s office, and waived to the gazelles and giraffes that walked past us. An unforgettable memory; thank you for showing us all everything Simon!

Picture showing John, Simon, me and the driver Joshua at the rand of the Rift Valley close to Ngong and with their village and the volcano Suswa in the background.

Simon the Bishop

| | | | | | |


I spotted a barbershop when Wille and I were walking around in Kibera (Nairobi’s huge slum). Decided that it was time to cut my hair a little shorter and got a seat in front of the owner’s mirror right away.

It was the first time a mzungu (=white person) had been there, despite that they had had four barbers working non-stop there for 15 years. Just when I found out about that, I witnessed the 2mm “around-your-ear-trimmer” make a highway over my scalp. “There goes my business-look”, I thought to myself, and laughed at the situation while Wille looked anxious.

As it turned out, the shop had no scissors at all; and my haircut -that was carried out with perfection- became just as short as on all Kenyan men with self-respect. Smiling about the situation, I (looking like a heartless American soldier) asked Wille to write them a recommendation letter for me to sign. After all, the memorable haircut costed me nothing but €1 and a laugh.

There goes my business-look

| | | |


“Nä, nu är f*n sympatin för gnuerna slut! Kan de inte bara börja hoppa i och dö??”
– Wille, som fått lätt solsting efter att i timmar ha väntat på lite action vid flodbädden där de otaliga gruerna ängsligt kikar ner mot floden de måste korsa; vars vatten hyser tjogvis av tålmodiga krokodiler som i sin tur sällskapas av luggslitna gamar i de kringliggande träden.

Sorry about the temporary change into Swedish.

Wille, dejected

| | | | |


I convinced two vegetarians and two vegans (the volunteers Anna, Kajsa, Frida & Malin) to join Wille and me to Kenya’s most famous restaurant: Carnivore. As the name suggests; it’s all about meat.

No one fully believed it until we all sat there around the table, with speared meat surrounding us; including delicacies such as crocodile tail, ostrich fillet and bull testicles.

A superb dinner with lots of laughs and grimacing that we rounded off with some homebrew at Brew, accompanied by Alice and Mark.

Carnivores

| | | |


Criminal responsibility starts from the age of eight here, and just being homosexual can give you 14 years in prison. I was reading a local newspaper the other day in which they wrote about a secondary school-student that had gotten caught cheating at an exam, and the verdict was devastating: two years behind the bars. Rather hard judgement, I’d say, considering what we hear about the African prisons… But our interviewees also tell us that the tough rule of law here is fair and predictable, which in the end of the day is what really matters.

Nonetheless, our excellent chef Moses (picture) takes it all with a pinch of salt and serves us Nairobi’s best Ugali.

Kenyan citizen

| | | |


Once arrived, we got an offer we couldn’t refuse: a 160sqm luxurious villa with huge garden, swimming pool, gardener and housekeeper for $40. That was for both of us, for two nights.

Despite that, and having wild monkeys and turtles in the garden, the best thing was one of the garden’s trees: the Baobab tree. If you look closely (or click to enlarge) on the picture, you’ll see Wille relaxing in the centre of the photo. Now that’s a huge tree!

Baobab tree

| | | | |


This weekend we decided to get a glimpse of the Indian Ocean, and got on the Friday’s night bus to Mombasa. Strolled around in town, visited Fort Jesus, and got surprised by the extent of the Arabic influences. A few hours later were we in having lunch on Diani beach, a truly nice break from the hectic (but lovely) environment in Nairobi.

The morning-hours of the second day were spent under water, scuba diving. Octopuses, stingrays, frog fishes and a beautiful leopard moray eel greeted us before we were (almost) attacked by a spear gun-fisherman. Lazy afternoon on the endless beach and at the pool area, before dinner at Forty thieves.
Pure awesomeness.

2nd weekend

| | | | | |


Today is Father’s day (at least in Sweden) and since I cannot be there, I’ll dedicate him a post here instead :)
Thank you for being the best of fathers! Kramar

Picture from April, when he took the detour from Russia to visit me in Korea. I brought him to a traditional restaurant and tricked him to order iced noodle soup with the traditional swimming egg in it; probably the hardest thing to eat with slippery Korean (=stainless steel) chopsticks. Great days!

Father’s day

| | | | | | |


The wildebeest migration is one of the highlights in Maasai Mara/Serengeti’s calendar. That is when 1.5 million wildebeests (also called gnus) move north or south just like birds do. We thought we’d come a month too late and that all of them had already gotten far into Tanzania, luckily were there thousands and thousands of idlers.


We saw them march across the savannah; until they devastated reached rivers they had to cross. The brown waters were filled with crocodiles and all-over trees around sat vultures waiting patiently. Apparently, the wildebeests behave like lemmings, and 10% of them die at each passage. Thus it was not hard to imagine why they hesitated to be the first one getting into the water as the number of colleagues behind them grew. Tough life.

Wildebeest migration

| | | | |


Today we held an interview in a café in Westlands, which is the district where most embassies are located and where their personnel lives. Thus it is probably the town’s finest area with swanky shopping malls as in any developed country and lots of security guards.

We had heard of the new movie Nairobi Half Life, and decided to see it there as they had a cinema in the mall. The context and message are closely related to India’s Slumdog Millionaire’s, and the result was really gripping; a must-see. An extra spice was that the film crew happened to watch it with us, so we could say hello to the main actors and thank them for doing this. We walked therefrom on the mall’s shiny marble-floors, still captivated by the movie, but at least feeling better by having our bags filled with school material that we bought earlier for the kids in the Maasai village where we are spending next weekend.

Pain and frustration visualised by one of last weekend’s lions.

Nairobi Half Life

| | | | |


Having spent almost two out of our three weeks here in Nairobi already, it is evident that time flies. The fascinating people we meet are all making me want to stay longer and get involved in all the visionary projects they run and physically implement.

I guess we will experience similarities in Kigali and Accra, but this is a place to which I probably will return. But time will tell whether that’ll be as a volunteer, employee, entrepreneur, employer or just an ordinary tourist.

Picture of two Grant’s-gazelles chasing each other on the savannah.

Time flies

| | | | | |


The Kibera-evening was rounded off at a local pub in the slum. The facility was combined with butchery; the efficient floor usage is good, but it took a few minutes to forget about the stench. Being there on November 7th was great fun; we hoorayed along with the locals’ happiness for Obama’s victory. Cheers mates and meat!

Picture of a happy student; beer and sunshine next to a mud pit in Linköping.

Cheers meat

| | | | |


Nairobi’s Kibera is Africa’s second largest slum, housing inhabitants that practically live on nothing and share toilets up to hundreds of others. Last week they had a fire that burnt down everything for 400 uninsured households. Yesterday they experienced some heavy rains, and the electricity got cut off. A great evening to pay them a visiting!

Hence, Wille and I went there just before it got dark to see our safari-friends in their environment. They showed us their housing (not a shack though) and the facilities of the NGO they work for; Wayo Wayo (means footprints). The organisation provides a place to hang out at and a range of creative activities to stimulate kids from the area. The girls volunteer here for seven weeks and blog about their many sub-projects on motenikenya.blogspot.se (which is supposed to be read out as Möten i Kenya or Meetings in Kenya, but gets kind of fun without the dots over the o).

I do not have any pictures from the visit; supposedly really dangerous areas for a white “Mzungu” as me, especially if “showing off” with a DSLR, but it was an exciting experience with a surprisingly warm feeling. Then again, who wouldn’t smile a bit when I walked past in the sewage-mud, wearing pink flip-flops? I’ll give you a picture of a muddy Hyena from Maasai Mara instead.

Kibera

| | | |


Maasai Mara is cut of by the Tanzanian-Kenyan border, where the national park Serengeti continues. Because of this, we reached the country border when we drove around in the park. Not that I consider a few minutes across the border without legal permits as visiting the country, but it still felt quite nice.

Tanzania

| | | | |


At last! A post presenting my superb companion and friend out here: Wilhelm. We have the same background; both of us were born and raised in Lund and moved to Linköping for university studies. The project we are here for makes most people surprised since it is our master thesis; often written individually elsewhere. But writing in pairs of two is the common way for Linköping’s IEM students and we both really appreciate it because of the benefits from discussing ideas in-between.

The Rift Valley’s volcano Suswa covers most of the picture’s horizon, which is close to the village we will live in before leaving for Rwanda. Far more important is the foreground with Wilhelm, who is he called Wille by Swedes (including me), but presents himself as William in English by linguistic reasons. Follow him and our journey via twitter: @HenrikssonW.

Wille

| | | | |


Next to the national park was a traditional Maasai Village that we visited; their income comes practically solely from tourism, which might make it all a thin façade. But they are the most conservative civilization I’ve ever heard of, and they still live their lives just as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago which made us learn lots despite their shift of primary income.

When we got back to the guesthouse yesterday evening, Simon (the Maasai with 56 churches that I’ve mentioned earlier) invited us to stay with him in his village; a “real one” that never takes tourists. So the last weekend in Kenya will Wille and I spend in a house made of cow-dung and sticks, far away from what we would call civilizations. I feel very honoured and really look forward to get there and meet all -real- Maasai.

Picture: Me showing an unconvinced smile wearing a hat made of the mane from a male lion that was killed by some of the villagers as part of the ritual that turns boys into men.

Maasai Village

| | | | |


The safari in Maasai Mara was awesome, Wille and I went there in a shared 4×4-van (those Nissans are driven without hesitation as if they were tanks!). So when the car picked us up there were four Swedish volunteers inside; originally belonging in Linköping. Sometimes the Earth feels tiny as a pea.

The six of us were all stunned by the wealth of amazing animals, and we had great fun throughout the three days :) Now we are back downtown interviewing people, and they’re back in the giant slum of Kibera where they help those in need. I’ll tell you more about their project when we have visited them there.

I shot the picture above in the wilderness this Saturday.

Safari

| | | | |


The picture I linked to in the post “Hello?..!” repeats what needs to be repeated. Despite our beloved “information society”, objective and complete information is still unavailable.

Not convinced? I’ll give you the phone number to any of my current neighbours so they can explain the real Somalia-story that started years before their fishermen became pirates. Then you’ll understand why residents in Kenya’s northern costal cities celebrates on September 11…

Information & incentives

| | | | | | |


The picture was shot last January when I just had reached the top of my second mountain in Asia and realized that the visibility was as good as on the first: 5 meters. Behind the fog in the photo you can see the sun rise over the active volcano Bromo on Java, Indonesia; a sight I had travelled 30h straight in an insane tempo to admire, and the 4°C fog that soaked me on the motorbike ride thereto made the feeling last longer…

Kind of the same thing, just opposite, happened today: the travel agency offered us to stay in Masai Mara an extra day with all expenses covered for $60. Now I feel sorry for myself ;)

Oh no ;)

| | | | | | |


As mentioned in the post “Progress”, our Thursday was all about planning and arranging meetings. But no matter how exciting the project is, are business meetings on weekends not an option. So today’s biggest issue was ‘What to do during the weekend?’

Thus, our driver for the weekend will pick us up on early Saturday morning, and we’re off for Safari in Maasai Mara; the national park that is called Serengeti on the other side of the Tanzanian border. Looking forward!

Off for Safari

| | | | | |


Just received a call from number 501. Answered sceptically since it is midnight. Heard Johan & John in the other end! A happy surprise from my friends in Stockholm :)

An hour earlier I got a confirmation from Ali (entrepreneur in NYC) that he is well and happened to be in Miami during the storm; good! Too bad everyone wasn’t as lucky; inside US and outside.

Picture showing one of Indonesia’s volcanoes with me and a local travel-mate in eastern Java.

Hello?…!

| | | | | | | | |


Today we’ve been booking meetings and arranged things all day.
We scheduled the meeting with Paul Kukubo, the CEO of Kenya’s ICT Board, and his colleague Lawrence Nduva. That is one of the most exciting meetings possible for our project, so it feels great to have it in the calendar :)

Arranged a couple of other meetings with local entrepreneurs and used our connections to get in touch with Rwanda’s Development Board during our stay there. Also set up the meetings for tomorrow; with the former ICT-strategist of PwC Africa and a key person at Ericsson.

A meeting with the sharp and friendly entrepreneur; and Sandbox-ambassador, Mark rounded off the day. Nice!

Picture from Januari, showing Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Progress

| | | | | | |


After a wandering around looking at things and a quick visit at the Swedish School of Nairobi, Wille and I had supper at a Korean restaurant. I wasn’t expecting myself to eat Kimchi when I woke up this morning, that’s for sure :)

Back at Sandavy Guesthouse I met Derrick (American NGO-worker, monitoring development projects) and his friend Simon who is of Maasai origin and still lives as a true Maasai even though he is comfortable in the western society as well.
I sat down and listened to his life story for four hours; from him being sent out to the hyenas at the age of ten to kill or get killed; to the life he lives today: counting assets in number of cows and rather killing his son than allowing him to divorce (luckily not an issue), but at the same time working via a laptop and owning several schools, freshwater wells and 56 churches (and investing heavily to reach 200 soon).

This kind of experiences and insights from remote societies and parallel cultures are very valuable to me, and I wish that more people got -and took- the opportunities to do the same!

Maasai

| | | | | | |


Today we acted opponents to Fredrik and Raoul, who have the same background as we do but write their thesis for and at UN’s International Telecommunications Union in Geneva, Switzerland. Appropriate for our common field (ICT), we held the six-person meeting via Skype form four different cities in three countries. Feels good that it was we, and not the others, who got tanned during the 2h seminar; as we sat on iHub’s 4th floor balcony with the endless savannah and a few mountains in the horizon.

Picture showing the place where I grew up from above; Stångby / Lund / Sweden, surrounded with nice wheat fields. Shot this summer during a trip with Martin.

Seminar

| | | | | |


Sat down here with a Tusker beer after the dinner, and found a letter from Sweden’s Minister of Trade. Feels good to find her values and perspectives of business with Africa being very sound!

The first picture from Africa shows Wille on one a walk in our neighbourhood, fascinated by the business concept of M-Pesa (the revolutionary SMS-like money transfer system) recharge-services combined with a beauty salon.

Email from Sweden

| | | |


Our first day started with a good breakfast in company with the hotels other guests. Then most of the day went past as a combination of sunbathing and reading the opponent’s report; seminar tomorrow. At lunch we got company with a manager from an NGO who provides long-term aid in several Sub-Saharan countries. Exciting to hear how they work with the dependency issues that are unavoidable; as for instance SIDA experiences largely in Tanzania right now.

But the most important update for you is probably that I’ve replaced my Swedish SIM-card to a Kenyan one, thus we are reached via +254 (0) 739 679 549 onwards. Consequently, I cannot answer any calls to my regular number.

Picture from Shanghai last December.

Call me maybe

| | | | | |


We grabbed our luggage at Nairobi’s airport and walked out in the Kenyan night smiling; the gentle and fresh breeze that met us held around 20 degrees.

Picture from Cebu, Philippines.

A comfortable breeze

| | | |


The last two days in Linköping have meant temperatures below zero, icy winds and even snowfall. So getting into that plane this morning was not a hard choice! After all, last year made me used to far warmer climates.

KLM flies from Linköping to Nairobi via Schiphol, with the latter route served by 747s. First time I fly in a Jumbo-jet, which despite its size, reputation and individual entertainment-systems has a hard time competing with the much more recent A380-800 that brought me from Seoul to Dubai.

This sunrise was captured in China, but today we saw kind of the same. After which Wille spotted Öresundsbron from an unusual perspective, while we cruised south along Denmark’s east coast.

Departure!

| | | | | | | | | |


So, yesterday became 23h of work, but really fun and inspiring hours!

Today has been kind of the same; going through the inbox and physiotherapy in the morning, lunch with my mentor and interviewing Axis’ global sales director; before getting interviewed twice myself. Got back home and started to arrange for renting out my flat during the trip, found a person and we signed the contract after a meeting here. She had been commuting from Stockholm on a daily basis the whole semester and was just about to throw in the towel regarding LiU; ‘check’ on today’s good deed.

A good day, just as the ones we spent in Tokyo and Shibuya. Anyways, now it’s probably time check the inbox again…

An intense Wednesday

| | | | |


Yesterday Wille and I participated on our thesis’ behalf at Innovation in Action, a symposium in Stockholm. The fifteen-hour conference with roughly 200 exciting profiles seemed to have just started when it was time to sit down and dine in the evening. Amazing codfish as main course!

We are now closing in to Linköping again, after two hours spent typing today’s notes and ideas. Looking forward to get home and loosen the shoelaces. But first; Emre: really nice to meet you in person, and Anders: thank you for the tickets.

Picture from one of the restaurants in Seoul’s fish market, showing a worried fish realising he will become sushi.

15 hours in Stockholm

| | | |


I’m back in Linköping after a really nice all-inclusive week at my parents’ house in Lund.

This morning they removed the sutures and the plastic cover from the surgery, such a relief! Thread- and drug-free, I am now studying and planning for New Year’s (Liv will join us!) before taking the 6AM train to Stockholm.

Out of the 41h in Linköping, 3.5 were spent at the hospital. That is waaaay too long, but included good service and coffee; free of charge. Thank you Sweden!

41 hours in Linköping

| | | |


We had lunch with Johanna and Emma yesterday at IKDC (Ingvar Kamprad Design Centre), thus it was unavoidable to discuss IEM-logos while dining in such design-oriented environment. At LiTH, we have two simplistic rectangles, and at LTH is the logo supposed to look like an ice bear (but everyone agrees that it is an ugly albino-anteater). Both are shown at industriellekonomi.se.

As expected, no conclusions were reached, but it was really nice to meet up :)

Design

| | |


Yesterday we succeeded to get locked out, inside the M building. We have also learnt that the students in Lund only drink coffee between 9AM and 2PM; because the building’s only café is closed all other hours and the coffee vending machines are all broken.

Our representation with the LiTH-IEM-flag here at LTH continues…

Observations from LTH

| | |


Week 41 (now)
Linköping – Thesis work, Korean evening and rehab

Week 42
Lund – Thesis work, hello to mom & dad and representation at LTH

Week 43
Stockholm – “Innovation in Action” symposium for the thesis
Linköping, thesis wrap-up, exam and removal of sutures

Week 44-46
Nairobi – Interviewing entrepreneurs/CXOs/governmental officers and safari

Week 47-48
Kigali – Interviewing entrepreneurs/CXOs/governmental officers and look-around

Week 49-50
Accra – Interviewing entrepreneurs/CXOs/governmental officers and water sports
Amsterdam – Hello Lisa!

Week 51
Linköping – Thesis writing

Week 52-1
Lund– Christmas
Amsterdam – New Years Eve

Exciting schedule!

| | | | | | | | |


I’ll head south on Friday. Not to Africa, but back to Lund to stay at my parents place for a little while. Nice and kind of convenient now that most things are a bit harder to do on my own.

Wille was also up for going down, so we will study from the campus of Lund University instead of Linköping University next week. Thereby we can meet some old friends, perhaps get new perspectives and, of course, test the quality of their IEM-program ;)

LiTH & LiU becomes LTH & LU

| | | |


Yesterday was Jonas birthday and he got celebrated in his flat by a multinational party crew. Since several of them were from Korea, and both me and Mattias also joined; we had Korean BBQ for dinner. Of course, Jonas also got the exclusive Korean Birthday-soup…and the less tasty drink. Anyhow, the best part of it all: they had brought genuine 쌈장 [Ssamjang] -sauce! My oh my, I’ve missed that taste.

Hence, definitely the best kimchi-reminder since I left. And to share the joy: the picture shows how the Ajumas prepare the Napa cabbage for fermentation, on the sidewalk during a sunny October day.

Kimchi

| | |


Rigid, thought-thru processes and support systems, versus the agility and flexibility of flat organisations that offer lots of trust and freedom.

Too bad Karush-Kuhn-Tucker’s optimisation conditions do not apply.

Firm size

| | | | |


I want to share an advice, which is not my own and one that you’ve probably already heard before. Even though “fake it” is a very charged word, the speech is masterly formulated and argued well with hard science; and the topic cannot be stressed enough.

So watch this month’s TED video by Harvard’s Amy Cuddy: ‘Your body language shapes who you are’.

A golden advice

| | | | |


I don’t know anything about hospitals, and not too much about logistics either. But spending time there makes me realise how inefficient the flows of persons, medications, and information are; compared to similar flows in private, producing, industries. Now, don’t be mad at me for not understanding or having the full picture; instead, please inform me on how the dynamics really work! Because from my perspective, tiny changes that can improve things radically.

For instance, my surgery was delayed a full hour, leaving seven persons more less rolling their thumbs, as the bolts weren’t sterilised in time. But what is really frightening, is the response from bringing the flow-issue to a discussion. The emergency’s chief medical doctor gave me and Wille nothing but an icy gaze in response when we brought it up. And my sleepless nights at the department hints on how bureaucracy is used as a reason for making progress slow, oftentimes just for that convenient single purpose.

So, now I feel like a gaging old fart, pissed of everything in life; which is not the case. I am very humble and thankful to Sweden’s medical service. But it itches that it is so wrong and tasteless to see a hospital’s flows as flows in any input-output process. Why can we not objectify just a little where it can help so much, when everyone is doing it on their own already; building a “reality” about themselves on Facebook, buying the “R-design package” to their car or commenting on SvD.se with a “thoughtful nickname” instead of their given name?

Until it starts to get accepted to (e.g.) compare hospital’s logistics with logistic theories; I’m sorry – the public sector cannot be an attractive workplace for me. Just like Taj Mahal (picture) is looking quite dull when seen from an altered perspective.

Feeling like a gaging old fart

| | |


Since I may not carry even a pocket camera in my left hand the upcoming two months, my plan to cross Africa with a backpack had to be reconsidered and revised. And as the Indians in the picture have realised, in some cases are four wheels better than none. Thus, I will employ my turquoise Samsonite instead.

Revised: Suitcase

| | | | |


Despite the unfavourable statistics, I got very good treatment by the soon-to-be doctors and sisters that ran LIO’s orthopaedic department 30: Thank you!

After a lovely walk this sunny autumn afternoon, Mattias and Jonas came over for a pizza date. After a few days isolated from friends and internet was it pure awesomeness to spend some time with good friends!

Home sweet home

| | |


The surgery was completed successfully, resulting in one titanium plate and ten bolts as seen in the low-contrast-and-bad-quality-x-ray-printout I was handed afterwards.

Although the plan was to send me home right away, my response to the morphine they gave me was limited and I had to stay hospitalised for two nights. During this time I was rejected pain handling four times: “Statistically, you will stop breathing if we give you more medicine. Hence, you will have to cope with the pain.”.

Feeling treated as a drug addict, I want to share something with the engineering-freshmen: Sometimes averages and generalisations are good, but also other statistical properties might be of interest – not only when you argue with MAI, but also in the practical world out there..

Status II: Surgery

| | |


I have a few friends out there, who just like me are thesis writers and blog about it. Say Hola to Malin in the Caribbean, हैलो to Rasmus & Kajsa in India and Hai! to Erik & Viktor in Malaysia.

Unfortunately, Erik & Viktor’s blog is more of a photo album on facebook, so you probably need to be fb friends for you to see them. Please notice me if I forgot to add someone.

To you guys mentioned: Enjoy!
And for the rest of you; stop reading and get out there you too! :)

Bloggers

| | | | | | |


An important quality measure on our thesis is reliability; whether the conclusions would be the same if another team would test the same things once more.

The tension on the skin from the bone pipe seemed higher when I woke up today, so I called the hospital when the shoulder area started to get swollen. They asked me to come in, and after a new round of x-raying and examinations was the conclusion that nothing had happened, but the verdict was different. Hence, I will get expensive bling-bling metals inserted, probably already tomorrow.

It will unfortunately delay our trip further, but to what extent is not clear at this time. So on one hand: feels good to get it done; and on the other: what about reliability..?

Reliability

| | | | |


It would have been easier to shower if the arm was amputated instead, and I hate that the collar bone-parts move independently. But my recovery is in general working well. And now I’ve got an arsenal of pills to build my meals around, which makes me think of the Korean way of treating a cold: 12 pills a day for a week. Bon Appetit!

New Diet

| | | |


So, lots of things have happened since last posting, even though it has passed only two days. Jetpak delivered the passports in time, but another issue occurred; for some reason was it my turn to go for an ambulance ride this Thursday. Wille got to start the vehicle and I was given morphine intravenously.

We’d never tried those things before, so that part was kind of interesting, but the reason got depicted in the x-ray as shown above: my left clavicle was fractured. The “square” that you can see used to be one straight bone, still, the picture shows the corrected positioning; when I got there was the bone pipe making a tent of my skin. (“Sin” is shortened from Latin’s “Sinistra” that means left side)

So after three visits to the emergency am I now an invalid stacked up on pills to chew until and during our trip, which we postponed until the 10th. But it could have been so much worse (e.g. if it was my right arm or if I wouldn’t have gotten my sight back…) and now I get to learn new things, such as one handed dish-washing.

Status

| | |


The passports have been found, the visas have been approved and attached, a courier has been hired, and now are they finally on their way to us. Though the cost of bringing then here went up a bit from the scheduled postal fee, we’re still on schedule and couldn’t have gotten it solved cheaper under the given circumstances. I might just devote more time to the mighty embassy-holiness in the future :)

Picture of a cabdriver making a gamble at Madison Ave: success through determination and, of course, by staying cool.

Passports cont’d II

| | | |


We had our half-time seminar today. Okay, it’s a bit too early compared to the generic outline, but still. Got great feedback from both Fredrik & Raoul and Ya & Anna, but are we already halfway thru? Yaiks.

I rounded off the day participating at a leadership (UGL) session hosted by Gozinto and renting out my flat for the upcoming weeks. Niceu, as they spell it in Korea.

Picture from Stora Alvaret, Öland’s limestone barren plain.

½ way?

| | | | | |


So, we localized the passports: inside Ghana’s embassy in Cph. But. They hang up on us when asked what day they are sending them back…

We are currently evaluating the best choice of Plan B, and as Wille stays over in Stockholm might four capitals in four days just be it. So while keeping it cool, am I hoping for the best; one has to have faith, no matter if one prays to God or embassies.

Photo from Chamonix, shot from Brévent, on a ski trip with 720.

Passports cont’d

| | | | | | | |


My parents sent me LP Africa, probably the worst thing they could have done to support my proofreading. Thanks! :)

Priorities

| | | |


I called Ghana’s embassy in Copenhagen today, and was told that they didn’t know where our passports are.

Less than 100 hours left until departure: perhaps time to find the passports (or get new ones), get the visas and get them back to Linköping. Living on the edge.

Passports

| | | | |


To what extent is a backpacker defined by the explicit fact that he or she is carrying his or her belongings in a backpack instead of in a suitcase? Or flashpackers for that matter, the more ‘luxurious’ way of doing it?

I don’t know. I just know that I will be traveling across Africa with a rucksack on my back, and two suits cased in it.

Suitcase

| | | | |


Today is it Thursday, departure is on next Saturday. *wee!* …but on Tuesday is it half-time seminar, which means that the half-time report is to be submitted by tomorrow. *wee..*

I mean, it is truly interesting and we are really into the project with full workdays and so on, but the wide scope and so many (new) interesting details being pointed out by each and every one we speak to have made us happily rewrite the analysis model numerous times. Just one problem; all other chapters.

No, it’s not that bad, but I think the pigeons in the picture are sort of expressing the feeling about tomorrow.
Life in a rollercoaster named Thesis.

Friday

| | | |

Got an interesting meeting booked yesterday afternoon, so Wille and I dressed up this Tuesday and took the morning train to Stockholm. Wrote about validity and reliability on the way up, waived to(wards) Hanna and Frida when we passed Scania and finalized the interview preparations while having second breakfast at Wayne’s Coffee.

Found the contact person to have called in sick; but he got replaced by the firm’s super nice founder and managing director. Finished my second coffee in the break when we summed up the answers and prepared new questions before firing again. Our intense questioning of the former investment banker gave results; tons of new input, contacts and leads further, but also a confirmation of our methodology and analysis model. Great!

Went to TGI Fridays to digest their suggestions to read up on at least the last fifty years of economic development in the benchmarking markets they identified, which we got listed as Malaysia, Brazil, Thailand, Bangalore, Silicon Valley, China and Gotland. Had an extra coffee after the burger.

Caught the train back in time to enjoy the sun set in Linköping after rewriting the section about power relationship and receiving a meeting request from an ICT guru in “Silicon Savannah” (Nairobi). Smiled while thinking about the guy we met earlier; lives in a mountain village next to Monaco (guess he just don’t want a Monaco-address for some reason), has his primary office in London and happened to be in their Stockholm office when we came. Showed us a (presently) secret trade agreement they’ve written, which got signed by ministers from Sweden and Kenya in Nairobi yesterday.

Sat down and had a beer with Joel, discussing the issues with knowledge economies and the upcoming weekend, before watching an episode of Newsroom. Washed up after dinner and fell asleep dreaming about tomorrow, another day at work.

Another day at work

| | | | |


The last weekend included high-class student partying, with CM’s event Dra´t I Spa´t on the schedule; a team competition in rope-pulling where the losing team get to swim in muddy water. As a member of the IEM program is my joy not complete; we lost the final and did it because of a back-injury that probably resulted in a herniated disc. I feel you bro’! But the weather was amazing and the winners, the Mechanical engineers, were as happy as can be.

Picture with representation from two CM generations, of which Stina acted judge this year.

Dra´t i Spa´t

| |


There’s pros and cons with everything. They usually stay balanced; like taking a swim (pro: refreshing, con: cold the first seconds, pro>con=nice in total), but then eventually they rebalance; the temperature falls and the inequality is turned around.

As most other thesis writers have concluded; being this left out to strangers (for interviews etc) is really to expose oneself for such rebalancing acts. Often.

Luckily, the pros have so far been restabilising things quickly each time there’s been movements, and I recall the days of 2011 when I shot this photo of Manhattan. High life!

On top of things

| | | |


An early question that had to be addressed was where we were going to call ‘home’ this semester. The decision wasn’t obvious, considering we have our university and supervisor in Linköping, Swedfund’s central office in Stockholm, our opponents in Geneva and most interview subjects spread out all over Africa.

The solution we chose was to stay in Linköping during the pre-study and the finalization of the report, in-between which we conduct six weeks of field studies in the three most interesting regions; Nairobi in Kenya, Kigali in Rwanda and Accra in Ghana.

The tickets just got booked, and since we are flying with KLM is the transit in Amsterdam enabling me to stop by and say hello to my good-old friend Lisa. Nice!

Picture of the volcano Sundoro-Sumbing, shot from the 9th-century monument of Borobudur, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Location

| | | | | | | | | | |


So what are we doing? Well, hopefully can I provide a good answer to that in December… But a rough description is given by the preliminary name; “Swedish companies’ position on the ICT market in Sub-Saharan Africa – A field study of key success factors and strategies”.

So by interviewing politicians, company managers and other trade related stakeholders from both Sweden and African countries are we going to make statements of what, where and how the local ICT demands in SSA can be fulfilled by Swedish companies. High-tech products, international business and developing economies on the same time; score!

Thesis subject

| | |


As concluded in last post, I wanted to remember the period of thesis writing as something fun but also as something that made a -if ever so small- positive improvement. So after teaming up with Wilhelm (will be presented later), we concluded that our primary goal was to find a company that would fund a research trip to Africa for us; since we wanted to go there and gather empirical data for the study. This of course limits the thesis’ topic and subject largely if such data is to be of any use, but there were still numerous potential companies/organisations to contact.

A good mix of arguing and luck enabled us to seal a favourable deal with the only organisation we contacted. They are a Swedish, state-owned, FDI called Swedfund International who (quote) “provides risk capital, expertise and financial support for investments in the emerging markets”. A ‘good’ organisation that does not believe in just handing just portions of warm food to poor people, but tries to assist them with self-help.

Thesis client

| |

For those of you that don’t know, but still care, am I rounding off my years here at Uni with the mandatory 30 ECTS thesis (equals one semester). Some, actually lots of people, think of it as the horrible thing that one moves from one to-do-list to the next, not dealt with.

“Isn’t that a shame?” I thought to myself, and decided to make good use of the freedom of choice all thesis writers are given.

Thesis Writing

| |


So, this is in fact the 100th post here on this blog. I thought it should be a fresh restart and represent something special; and that thing ended up being the distinction between my former life as exchange student at KHU in Korea and the beginning of my life as thesis writer.

Now the design is updated, some functions added and the categories (the buttons Africa/Korea in the menu above) are separated, so I guess that´s it then. Voilá!

Post no. 100

| | |


As a part of my master thesis-preparations, I take the class Development and Governance in Africa. Really interesting and eye-opening course as the (two) professors have decades of hands-on experience, and often compares with South Korea that is just as amazing as Botswana or Mauritius.

Today I participated in a seminar at Korean Development Institution, together with Rajiv Shah, the panjandrum of US AID and therefore of lots of resources. An impressive man that seems to be just the right man for the job. Nice!
Co-participants were Mark Tokola, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US embassy in Korea; Oh-Seok Hyun, president of KDI; and fortysomething others.

While Shah’s speech is hard to share, I truly recommend the enlightening TED-speech Charter cities by Paul Romer. And for those of you who are Swedes; Cheetahs vs Hippos by George Ayittey. Watch them!

Africa

| |