Category Archives: Technology

Articles on Technology with a bias towards Communication and Agriculture

Launch of Uganda’s first Satellite, PearlAfricaSat-1

On the 7th of November 2022 , Uganda made history by claiming its first piece of real estate in space by launching the PPearlAfricaSat-1. This move while being very remarkable for our nation has been greeted with alot of cynicism by a number of e-literates who I choose to respectfully refer to as ignorant in space and technology matters.

In a two part article, I am going to share with you more about this satellite and why we need to have it. Let us start with the basics of Satellite Technology.

What is a Satellite?
A satellite is a moon, planet or machine that orbits a planet or star. For example, Earth is a satellite because it orbits the sun. Likewise, the moon is a satellite because it orbits Earth.
Usually, the word “satellite” refers to a machine that is launched into space and moves around Earth or another body in space.

Importance of Satellites
They play a key role in our day to day lives and there is so much we lately take for granted that is attributed to their presence. They are very useful when it comes to earth observation, communication, navigation and science.
Through the data they collect, satellites support;

  • National Economies
  • Manage emergency situations
  • Monitor the Environment
  • Protect public health
  • Ensure public safety and national defence

How do they help us in our day to day lives?

Satellite data for farming can help farmers overcome challenges that impact upon their yields. Land yields in Uganda are some of the lowest around the world despite our very well endowed soils. Why is this the case? Should we only attribute it to poor/unpredictable rains? Isn’t there a way we can utilise satellite data to have a micro understanding of our farmlands?

We could use the satellite for getting a unique perspective of our famlands through moisture detection, insect infestations, plant health, drainage network, flooding and droughts.

As a nation we lack basic and accurate crop inventory information like acreage of various crops nationwide, the condition of the crops as well as anticipated production outcomes.

All this information and much more can be availed to the various stakeholders hence helping them make better decisions regarding their agribusiness initiatives. It helps a farmer in production and a value addition processor in sourcing of raw material.

Satellites can help improve on the already struggling health situation in Uganda.

They can monitor the environment and support the development of information on risk factors associated with environmentally linked infectious diseases, water contamination as well as chronic conditions.
They can identify and monitor risk locations for mosquito and tick-borne diseases.
We currently have an Ebola breakout in the country and satellite data can help guide ground interventions. Field epidemiologists and medical staff can use this data to locate infrastructure to support the deployment of services such as temporary hospitals, or mobile laboratories to support the investigation and diagnosis of diseases as well as database development. They also help us react and timely respond to pandemics.

E-Health, Telehealth and Telemedicine applications are all beneficiaries of satellite technology.

Today alone, this is how a satellite is helping you without your knowledge;

  • Using that Safe Boda App: If you hail a boda boda (bike) service that uses an app, your position is traced through the Global Position System that is heavily reliant on satellites for accuracy.
  • Eating that Weetabix cereal in the morning is a result of a farmer who used satellite technology to determine the best time to irrigate the gardens as well as harvest time.
  • The internet service you use as one of its infrastructure relies on satellites.
  • The weather update you got on your phone in the morning prior to leaving home relies on satellite activity.
  • The Google Pin that you got showing the venue of the meeting you have is a result of satellite activity.
    Safety. You may be moving around carelessly taking so much for granted but through satellite activity, alot is done to monitor various national security installations and public resources.

Now that we are in the know of how Satellites are of importance, in the next article, I shall dwell on the Ugandan Satellite that was launched barely a week ago and is ready for action.

  • Is it our Government behind it?
  • Did Ugandans design it?
  • Will it be worth the money spent?
    and more, based on your feedback to this article.

Do you now realise why having a satellite is likely to help Uganda as a nation ?
Do you believe that Uganda is ready to participate in the space age?

See you in Part 2.

James Wire
Agribusiness & Technology Consultant
Twitter – @wirejames

The Metaverse – What is it?

Talk is making the rounds of something called the Metaverse. This was fuelled further when Facebook rebranded to Meta as its new identity.

Many that have heard of the Metaverse hardly know about it and are filled with scattered illusions of what it is. In this article, I take time to introduce you to the Metaverse.

Communication has evolved among humans and if one goes down memory lane, we started off with merely shouting and talking to one another, then got to using drums to convey messages across villages with different sounds denoting different expectations. The beat on the drum calling for celebration was different from one calling for war. We graduated through various modes until computers came into being.

The entry of computers led to the creation of the internet. This started off with basic exchange of text which with the entry of phones and cameras led to a more visual internet. The improvements in connectivity propelled video to the forefront. I recall at the turn of this century connectivity was such a luxury that one could hardly watch a video online. Today, it is the norm. We have migrated from Desktop to Web to Phones and from Text to Photos to Video. If you thought we had reached the end of the line, you are wrong.

Already the digital space is becoming a crucial piece of our lives than ever before. Many wake up to read Whatsapp messages, check out Twitter and Facebook or even pass their free time on Instagram and Pinterest. Teenagers are mad with Discord (I know you are wondering what this is), online meetings and studies through Zoom have become the norm. Contracts are being sealed online. Work is being done remotely but delivered in real time, entertainment has gone online etc.

Human as we are, we always want more. We can be able to experience the internet much more than it offers us currently and this has defined the next generation which is being called the Metaverse.

The Metaverse is a digital space inhabited by digital representations of people, places and things. It is a new version or vision of the internet. The metaverse is a place that eventually we are able to get into in order to work, communicate and share with others. It is an internet we can interact with like we do physically.

Simply put, a Metaverse is a digital space represented by digital representations of people, places, and things. In other words, it’s a “digital world” with real people represented by digital objects.

Imagine the following being done remotely within a 3D environment:
1 – Attending a class with students from all over the world where you interact with them the way you have always done in your physical classrooms. You sit together, turn and chat and even check out what your colleague is writing in their notebook while the lecture is ongoing.
2 – Gathering with your long time buddies to watch a premier league match of your favourite teams at midnight without leaving your homes.
3 – Creating your online house or office and designing it the way you feel best. You even have the ability to protect it from illegal intrusion and only invited people access it.
4 – You dress the ideal way you like from head to toe.
5 – You plan to import a car from Japan and want to first have a feel of it or inspect it inside out before paying for it.
6 – Your child is presenting a very important paper at a university miles away and you get to be part of the audience attending with the possibility of giving him/her a pep talk just before they kick off.
7 – You want to monitor your farm and be sure work is going on as planned hence the need to walk through with the farm manager
8 – You are a tour operator and offer visits to the game parks to check out the rare animals like the Mountain Gorillas.
9 – You set up a shop that sells your merchandise and interested clients can even touch and feel the products.
10 – You want to run your own TV show without having to rely on the traditional media companies.
11 – You want to check on your parents that are far distanced from you and establish how they are actually doing.
12 – A company holds job interviews
13 – Innovation hubs having online offices for their innovators

On this list, add all the things you engage in currently physically and I guarantee you as sure as night follows day, the metaverse is leading us there to do the same digitally. You won’t only stare at the screen like you do now but also be inside all your online experiences like shopping, playing games, chatting, fighting, debating, pursuing your documentation from a government agency etc.

Then you ask, what equipment do I need to access the metaverse?
You already have the internet.
You already have data connections
You already have a computer or phone
Add Virtual Reality headsets or Augmented Reality glasses depending on what you plan to engage in.

The full range of what you need is likely to keep changing as new uses of the metaverse are implemented. Take the example of the need to exercise sensory feelings. You might want to buy a particular shirt online but want to be sure that it has the kind of texture you desire. Using additional gadgets like specialised hand gloves that are Augmented Reality compliant, you will be able to achieve your need.

Still confused? Fear not. The journey of comprehending the metaverse has just begun. We do not even know the full extent of its possibilities. In subsequent articles, I hope to shed light on more areas like your digital personality called an Avatar, how you will purchase real estate in the metaverse, the emergence of crypto-currencies as the preferred choice for trade on the metaverse and many more.

What questions or propositions do you have? Feel free to share

James Wire
Business and Technology Consultant