Freedom Fone Project Status

Hi Everyone..

So, an update on where we're at with the Freedom Fone project.

As you can imagine with a new project, development on the code base was pretty much non stop 2009-2014. Slowly but surely we built out a free, open source Do It Yourself IVR/SMS solution that was phone agnostic and independent of the Internet. It dramatically reduced (but did not entirely remove) the computer and telephony skills required to set up an information service comprising voice menus, voicemail & SMS services.

The Kenyan elections - views from a taxi cab

Visiting Kenya a few weeks before their March 2013 elections I took advantage of the long delays on Nairobi's congested roads to chat to our taxi drivers about their opinions regarding preparations for the elections and the presidential candidates contesting it. They shared their thoughts willingly and not unsurprisingly had different perspectives.

Freedom Fone takes off in Nairobi

Today Tina and I were scheduled to fly back to Harare from Nairobi. We’d had a busy, productive few days: interviewed staff at 3 organisations currently deploying Freedom Fone, visited communities in the field and installed v2.S.4 with a Huawei dongle for a user whose service had gone down due to a damaged MobiGater.

Things started well enough this morning, getting up in good time to catch our 6.15am taxi to the airport. Only it didn’t arrive as expected…

Our head in The Cloud, our heart in the community

Freedom Fone faces a number of challenges in 2013 as it transitions from a donor funded development model to a community supported software project.

Historically, Freedom Fone was developed to help activists quickly set up automated voice menu, voicemail and SMS information services independent of the Internet and with a minimum of reliance on mobile network operators.

Malawi training goes well

Freedom Fone trainers, Bren & Tich, traveled up by road this month to run user training in Lilongwe, Malawi. It’s a day’s drive that takes you through Nyamapanda, Zimbabwe’s north east border post with Mozambique, then through Tete province and later through the Dedza border post with Malawi. Much of the road through Tete is littered with potholes and besides the city of Tete, there’s not a lot in the way of service stations to help you out if you hit trouble. The good news is that the border posts are well managed and the traffic fairly light.

Of charcoal and potholes – the road from Harare to Lilongwe via Tete

2 borders, 2 temporary import permits, 2 car insurance licences, 3 currencies, 10-12 hours and countless bags of charcoal lie between Harare and Lilongwe if you travel by road. Tich and I are on this road trip because Air Malawi have canceled their flights between Harare & Lilongwe and we have a training workshop to run before the end of the month.


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