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Nigeria PostgreSQL Training: Day 1

I am in Lagos, Nigeria this morning, preparing for a half-day car ride to Akure in Ondo State. I'll be spending the next seven days with programmers from Ondo state, who are six months or so away from deploying a system to provide government-provided services using a centralized card system. They are designing their database using PostgreSQL!

Ondo state has a little over 3 million people, and plans to integrate a half-dozen government services under the centralized data system. They conducted a census in 2006, and will be using their new system to gather data yearly going forward.

Their plan is extremely ambitious, given obstacles like lack of power in most of the rural areas, and social issues like people not wanting to give accurate information about themselves to the government. Some biometric information, like finger prints, will be gathered electronically using special machines that they will primarily lease (instead of buying - significant cost savings), and these machines require power. They have been specially outfitted with dry-cell batteries, that operate for about 8 hours before needing to be recharged.

For the social problems around data collection, a marketing campaign to explain exactly what benefits those who provide accurate information are entitled to. After I mentioned to my host the American aversion to centralized government identification cards, he explained that in Nigeria they had the same issue. In addition to the marketing on TV, radio, newspapers and even leaflets, data collection volunteers will be trained on exactly how to collect accurate information. I am looking forward to having a look at the surveys and data collection strategy.

Otherwise, I've had a lot of fun talking with people. My car trip from the airport and remaining evening was mostly spent with me making funny vocabulary errors (tshirt == vest - who knew?), and explaining that Americans were mourning and in shock just like Nigerians because of Michael Jackson's death. I made an offhand comment about the number of people walking around outside at dusk because a friend had said a similar thing about Portland, OR's nightlife, and my escort commented on how peaceful and free people are in Lagos.


Grzegorz J said...

nice to see pgsql to be used by gov, but so sad - that it will be used to spy on people.

dapxin said...

Akure is 2-3hrs max from Lagos, depending on the state of our road @ d mo -hardly halfday :wink!

would you be providing reports on how things go ?

Have you got a twitter feed(cant beleive I am asking for that).

+ I'd like to ask a few Qs about your role in the mix.

Daniel Cristian said...

Who don't sin, don't fear.

Selena Deckelmann said...

Gzegorz: The data won't be used to spy on people! It will be used to help forecast health care needs, to purchase medicine, to determine whether children are in school, and to provide economic aid to small businesses.

dapxin: I will be providing ongoing reports! My twitter feed is I'm providing some updates as I travel around.

dapxin said...

I hope you
carried a camera..
lots of cool scenes out there.
Enjoy it.

Kirsten said...

Great to hear of your trip Selena!

Words are funny. In the British-influenced countries I've been to, pants == underwear. :)

Paul S said...

Selena, those folks out there are lucky to have such a great trainer. Have a great trip.

Stephen said...

Hmm, Selena have you seen these 8-hour usuage mobile Devices ???.

I have a project in Congo Africa in November. I would love to see a picture of these units.

Some Pictures of your training Session will be Nice. Let see your Students

Beauty said...

The social side of systems take X. Great effort must have gone into this. Would love to see that "8-hour usuage mobile Device". Following you on Tw, Good luck and will re-visit this in 24months.