Back from Kenya with 860 GB of film data

Filming for the CEMEREM in Kenya Filming for the CEMEREM in Kenya

The zazudesign – die Schwarzwald Werbeagentur in Berlin film team is back in Germany with a hard drive full of data. Thank you to everyone who participated and supported us to do our work!

As we know from the quantum mechanics is the influence from an observer on the observed subject growing with the intensity of the observation (more here: Filming without disturbing is therefore a very sensitive process and I hope we didn’t disturb too much and everyone will be happy to have left some traces for future scientists who will research how African Excellence made his steps to a strong scientific organisation.

During preparation and the filming I have to deal with a lot of organisational demands on the countries legal level, as well as structures directly around the Centre. Therefor I made some observations that I would like to share:

  • With some Centres I had difficulties to find the physical location of the Centre on the campus and where in town the campus is located (different branches). That means it is also hard for interested students to find the real location. A map or a little graphic of the campus could help here a lot.
  • A direct phone number to call, an email address, opening hours and a contact persons name would also make it more easy to get into touch with the Centre.
  • Many scientists still use free email services like “gmail” or “yahoo”. Since we all know that these services are paid by analysing and selling your data and content of your mails, it would be preferable that there is a address for the Centers representatives.

My impressions of Kenya:

Kenya is getting more and more advanced. As a film crew we face some special procedures entering a country. In the first place we have to go through customs with a lot of electronic equipment and in the second place we need working and filming permits. Both has to be handled in Kenya by a Kenyan film company. This means it is decoupled from corruption and a regular process. Applications for a normal visa are handled online and processed in a few-hour, this is an amazing development for an African country. Entering a national park needs also an entrance fee (54 USD per person per day) that can only be paid by credit card – no more cash/corruption in this area too.

The only still existing problem are the police road blocks. Self-driving mzungu (white man) seem not to be so common in Kenya, so we had always been the one getting stopped. On our first roadblock, coming from Mombasa, we had been accompanied by an Kenyan driver from the university who finally solved the police issue with a “gift” of 500 KSE. Before that they had been desperately searching for something that could be wrong with our rental car, to get a reason for a fine. The police women at the road block before Voi asked straight forward what we can give to them. We solved the situation by offering a pack of biscuits. From that day onwards every filling up with petrol in Voi implicated bringing the police women at the road block some biscuits. That was ok with us and gave us even a nice chat every time we passed.


Summing it up:

Kenya is developing, but every step you do demands a decent amount of money for permits, entrance fees and expensive car rental prices (almost 6.000 USD in total for our short trip).


An impression from an outside observer about the Centres:

The idea of Prof. Jan Bongaerts, to put expertise together, so that the sum of all parts is more than the individual outcome, for me was a good idea for further development:

To invite the law specialists from Dar es Salaam to teach about mining law in the EAC, to cooperate with the Centre for Microfinance in Congo in the field of artisanal (small) mining and involving Namibians Centre logistic knowledge in teaching how a future mining adviser for an African government should incorporate logistics in his expertise.

One more thought:

By all enthusiasm for application-orientated knowledge, we still need people who make innovations and they must be educated and allowed to think beside the tracks.



And in the end it was a pleasure to see you all again!









Discussion: “…!”

blog graphic discuss, network and publish

Is this blog good and sufficient?

To make the videos about the centres and to accompany the network meeting in Ghana 2016 gave me a brief insight into the academic world of African-Excellence.

Since my daily business is to think about digital media in the modern world and how they can be effectively used, I started to think about what this German-African cooperation would need to be a vital academic discussion ground, a source of knowledge, a instrument to reach the world out there, a tool to publish, a knot to stay in contact and a place to be found if someone else needs the expertise of a colleague.

What I learned at the network meeting is, that it is not so easy to publish in the major well-known science magazines, since they are mostly America based and not really interested in African themes. Dr. Kenneth Odero from the Logistics Centre in Namibia countered:

” If we can not publish in their magazines, so let them come to the place where we publish, if they want to hear about our knowledge.”

Since the blog is now out and alive this is my first question:


1. Can this blog be a place for scientists to publish?

Please comment below and make your suggestions, what could be better and what is missing or why this is perhaps the wrong tool.


Prof. Paul Webb from the East and South African-German Centre talks about his work approach:

“In all of our research … that it is useable and makes an impact …”

2. Can this blog make an impact in the real world?

What would it need? How do you think could this be accomplished?


Life is moving on, so does people. Some of the well-educated alumni of the Centres vanish into their daily business. There is nothing bad about it, but their creative ideas and their rich knowledge base is lost for the academic discussion.

“Do you remember, there was a master thesis about this topic, do you remember the title of the thesis or the name of the student?” “Yes, I remember, he did some good research, but I just can not remember his name.” “Which year?” “Oh, quite a while ago.” …

3. Can this blog help to stay in contact, not to loose the tie to the academic discussion?


If a group of students wants to meet from time to time, they build a  “WhatsApp group”. For mail people use Google Mail, Yahoo or AOL, we search with Google, phone with Skype, send our theses files with Dropbox and try to find the love of our life with Facebook.  And now, while everyone is talking about the digital university, Microsoft is so kind to give us the perfect digital university tool – just for free.

All these services are more or less easy to use, everywhere available and the best of all, they are free. The only price we pay is that we have to send big loads of data to the American companies who offer the services.

In the private world this could perhaps be accepted, but what about science, knowledge, research and publications. Do you really want to give Google the power to decide whose ideas reach the world and who is banned from public. If Microsoft and their new cloud is getting all your lectures manuscripts in the new digital cloud university, who will then decide whose idea is whose and under which name the theses will finally be published? And is it then Google’s turn to help with the decision which scientist will reach a bigger audience?

What do you think? Will science in a digital world be more and more driven by economic interests of American internet companies? Do we need a tool which could give back the scientists the control over their ideas, their research outcome, their theses and the decision about, who is listening when they are engaged in an academic discussion with their colleagues. Or, do you think I’m to suspicious, this is all fine and we should be thankful for getting such wonderful tools which make our lives much easier?


4. Do we need to worry about data control in science? In case we have to worry, how should an all in one digital tool be, that covers the whole academic life and keeps the data under the control of the individual that uses it? Could this blog be seen as a small breadboard model for this?




Looking forward to read your comments!