Carl's First Day at the Unconference

Today is the first day of the workshop. I have already met several people that I have only talked to online. I am also excited to meet many new people interested in what we are doing.

Dorothy Gordon, the Director-General of the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence (KACE) in ICT, opened the session with a great speech. Tomorrow is a national holiday for Ghana's first President, who was a Pan-African and the conference is Pan-African. Open source is needed for African countries to meet the MDG, which are being talked about today in the TEDx Accra . Open source HIS are on the forefront of these goals.

Next, the Acting Chief Director from MOH Ghana dicussed the importance of this conference. Paraphrasing and pulling out some important points, he said that "Updating HR data such as salary increases is a major problem. We have problems with planning in HR. We have inequitably distributed resources that we need to fix. iHRIS Pilot in Ghana brought lots of information and there is tremendous potential as the pilot is extended. We have seen how easy it is to track the health workers. With this software, there is no reason to leave with these problems in HR Management. This will help us reduce the wage bill, as those who should be excluded from paybill will be cut out easily. The long days before people come on aboard and start drawing on salary will be a thing of the past."

Dykki Settle discussed some of the main aims and goals of the unconference, in particular, on building ICT Capacity:

Video of Dykki on ICT Capacity

Following this was an engaging discussion of propriety and open-source software. Very good questions on how to support and modify open source software were raised. Consensus emerged that we really need to build ICT capacity locally so that we are not dependent on someone from the US. Part of the solution is to build a local network of open source developers....they are out there (for example with KACE) but they have a difficulty in connecting with implementation of open source projects.

Jørn Braa from the University of Oslo and HISP talked about the multi-faceted definitions of interoperability from getting the particular pieces of software working togeter, the data sharing standard (SDMX-HD), and how the involvement of the different stakeholders will define the systems needs. He also discussed interoperability in terms of the needed granuality of data, with more specific data needed at the districts and facilities, to more aggergate data at the national level. Dr. Peter Mbondji from the WHO discussed eHealth in the region. In particular, he discussed the fragementation of eHealth and eLearning projects. He advised that countries should have a defined eHealth Strategy including interoperability and raised several important issues, such as the digiital divide, the cost, and weak ICT capacity, as well as the disorganization and multiplicity of projects and partners with limited capability for interoperablity and communication.

Now I need to get ready for our Ubuntu Installfest.