One down two to go

Today marks the first month that I’ve been in Uganda. I’ve been able to achieve some of my goals at the university and explore the country with awesome people.
Two more months to go and I’ve still got plenty to do here, no time to get bored!

Progress for MMU

At the university I’ve made some good progress but it hasn’t been easy.
Some things make work more difficult around here compared to Belgium; Power cuts occur regularly which make me lose a lot of time, it can take 30 minutes or more until I’m able to resume my work.
I also think some monkeys or elephants don’t like the fibre connection because we’ve had at least one fibre break every week. Depending on the location and severity it can take up to two days to mend these breaks.

Nonetheless I’ve been able to make some good progress. I’ve been able to restore the network and (most) services at the main building. The new building now has internet connection via the fibre link. People were really happy when they got their Wi-Fi over there.

The fibre link to the agriculture and health department still isn’t working which irks me a lot. We’ve spent a lot of time troubleshooting this connection. I suspect there might be a (physical) problem with the fibre connection. Troubleshooting this requires equipment that I don’t have and documentation of the installation which is non-existent…
After a lot of complaining I’ve been put in touch with the right people at the companies who installed and manage the fibre. I’m confident that with this joint effort we’ll be able to fix the issues.

African life

I’m getting used to the Ugandan lifestyle. At noon I eat at a hostel nearby the university. They prepare local food for only 2500 UGX, that’s about €0.65. It took some time to get used to this food but I found some that I like.

For transport around town we use a boda boda. A boda boda is a motorcycle taxi which are really common here, finding one doesn’t take long. The price is something you have to negotiate fiercely, most of the times you have to divide their given price by 2 to get the real price.

Exploring Uganda

At weekends I explore the beautiful Uganda with some good company. Please view the pictures because words can’t describe the wonderful nature.

Ambare Caves

We departed on a hike from the University at lake Saaka with Ambare Caves as our destination. My colleague Peter joined us on the hike. Thanks to him we were able to get the right directions to the caves. A guide took us through some jungle to the caves. The caves aren’t really caves but more like notches in the mountain. The beauty of the Ambare caves is the small waterfall in the jungle.

Kyaninga Lodge

The Kyaninga lodge is located at a crater lake and is really stunning! On our hike there we spotted some monkeys that live there. Lake Kyaninga is one of the few lakes around here that’s really safe to swim in. It’s really refreshing on such a hot day.

Roadtrip

We met Dennis and Eline, two really great Belgians who stayed here for 6 months to research the tourism in Uganda. They really know a lot about Uganda! On their last day here in Fort-Portal they took us in their jeep to see some beautiful places. We got to see some more monkeys, birds and beautiful views.

Budnibugyo

Bundibugyo is a town located near the Rwenzori mountains, only 50km from Congo. It’s about an 2 and a half hour’s drive but this trip was about the journey, not the destination. The views along the windy road were really amazing. We saw mountains, plains, tropical forests and I could add baboons to my list of monkeys I’ve spotted!

Plans for the following weeks

I want to get MMU fully operational asap. When everything is working as it should be I can start improving the network and more importantly teaching the IT staff. They’ve got to learn a lot but are very eager to get started.


Hello from Uganda!

I’ve now been in Uganda for about a week and a half, so it’s about time to make a blog post 🙂

First week in Uganda

The first week very busy, getting familiar with the MMU network, connecting the fibre, lots of troubleshooting and meeting many friendly people.

Arriving

After about 8 hours of flying we arrived in Uganda. Getting through immigration took about 1 and a half hours for the whole group. Then we drove to Kampala where we spent our first night.

The following morning we left for Fort-Portal. The road to Fort-Portal is in a good condition but the amount of speed bumps is insane! After a 6 hour drive through the beautiful scenery we arrived at Fort-Portal.

Introduction to MMU

We’ve got a very warm welcome at Mountains of the Moon University.
After some speeches I got introduced to the local systems administrator Madjid. Wannes and Madjid introduced me to the infrastructure and setup and then we got started right away with troubleshooting (the Wi-Fi wasn’t working).

At noon we got some lunch, this was my first experience with the local food. The names are hard to recall but they do make a lot of dishes with bananas.

In the afternoon someone from RENU came by with a new router and to help to connect MMU to the fibre backbone. We weren’t able to get the link up using the router, but the L3 switch worked fine.

Fixing the fibre

On Tuesday we successfully configured the L3 switch and made the necessary changes to the firewall to get the maximum capacity out of the line. Thanks to the fibre MMU can now surf at 5 times the speed they used to get. They went from about 2 Mbps to 10 Mbps, which still isn’t fast compared to Belgian standards or what the fibre line is capable of but, it’s still a nice improvement.

Now that we’ve got the internet line established we can start connecting the other buildings on the campus with our LAN fibre. It turns out to be a bit more tricky than I thought.
The Wi-Fi still wasn’t working so that was also a priority on our list.

In the evening we got treated to a very nice and festive dinner at the Mountains of the Moon Hotel. The entire north team and MMU staff was invited to celebrate the successful project.

Fibre inauguration

Wednesday was the big day of the fibre inauguration by Frederik D’hulster. We spent the day preparing everything for this big moment. About an hour before the start of the ceremony our internet connection suddenly dropped. We frantically started troubleshooting what could’ve gone wrong. When the ceremony was about to start we’ve got the unfortunate news that there was a break in the fibre cable, something that sadly can’t be mended in 30 minutes.
Nonetheless the fibre inauguration went smoothly and everyone was very happy and proud with the achievement.

In the evening  we went to a restaurant where I tried some crocodile. I expected something special but it just tastes like chicken with a different texture. 🙂

Closing ceremony

On Thursday we went to the public health department and connected the fibre there. We spent the rest of the day troubleshooting.
At the end of the day there was the closing ceremony. Students got their certificates for participating the workshops and the north team got thanked with a gift from MMU. I got a nice dress shirt from the university which I still have to exchange for a different size because even an XXL is super tiny for me.

TGIF

On Friday morning I went into town with Abid (our very helpful and friendly local guide) to get myself a local sim card. I also visited the town campus, in Kabundaire.
The afternoon was (again) spent troubleshooting, we made some good progress tough.

At night we went to the Africana bar to celebrate the end of the week and say goodbye to the rest of the north team.

Finally weekend!

I spent my first weekend relaxing and recovering. I slept in, did some shopping and took a nice refreshing swim in the pool of the nearby hotel. It’s very hot there, during the day it’s around 25 °C and even late at night you barely need a sweater. 🙂

I’m on my own now

The north team left on Saturday and they took Madjid (the systems administrator of MMU) with them. He will stay in Belgium for a semester and take some courses at Howest to up his skill level 🙂

That means I’m the most skilled IT-guy at the university now. Luckily I can still count on support from the north 🙂
I’ll have to divide my time between fixing, maintain and expanding the network and training the IT-staff so they can take over when I leave. There is a lot for them to learn but I’ll do my very best to be a good teacher.

This internship will be a big challenge but one I’m more than willing to take on. 🙂

 

Enjoy some pictures 🙂


Off to Uganda

Tomorrow at 10:55 my adventure in Uganda begins!
I’ll depart together with my fellow Howest experts Simon and Koen and the VLIRUOS mission team (Howest, UGent, VUB,..) to Uganda.

My mission

My destination is Fort-Portal, located in western Uganda. I’ll be staying there for 3 months and work at the Mountains of the Moon University.

I’ll be working there as the system administrator, being responsible for the computer network at MMU. In short, my job will be to maintain and improve the network.

This blog

On this blog I’ll try to keep you updated on what I’m doing there and my experiences in Uganda. For some shorter updates, follow me on Twitter.
I’ll make sure the next post will contain some pretty pictures of the Pearl of Africa. 🙂