The much anticipated Barcamp Africa (made in Africa) which was scheduled for June 4 – 7 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire has been cancelled until further notice. It is not the first time that an African organized event has been cancelled.
When the announcement about Barcamp Africa came in March, there seemed to be a lot of excitement for the event. Before now, there have been BarCamps with an African focus in Silicon Valley and United Kingdom (UK), so a pan-African BarCamp taking place on the continent seemed like a great idea.
But what the organizers failed to realize was that putting together an event of this kind in less than three months, in a politically unstable government and regular power outages would be just a mirage.
According to Africamp’s announcement, “Abidjan shares land borders (and thus easy and cheap transportation) with five countries, it has an excellent international airport and is a cosmopolitan world capital that can provide the necessary facilities.” [Italics added]
But did Abidjan, the “cosmopolitan world capital” provide the necessary facilities? The answer lies within the reasons why the event was cancelled.
Why Barcamp Africa Was Cancelled?
According to the organizers:
We are sad to inform everyone that the BarCamp Africa 2010 that was set to take place in Abidjan has been cancelled. This is due to many reasons, but the primary one has been locating a proper venue to hold the event. There have been ongoing power blackouts that are set to increase in the coming months. These are unpredictable and have made it impossible to find a venue that will absolutely be able to provide power and internet for the event, not to mention allow for visitors to have a degree of comfort during their stay.
Additionally, the security situation in Côte d’Ivoire continues to deteriorate due to elections that have been stalled for half a decade and a power sharing government that is not sharing the power well. This has in turn created an air of uncertainy which has been echoed in the newspapers declaring that any number of unfortunate things will happen the next day.
So currently, the BarCamp Africa must be called off. We hope that at a later date, a pan-African event such as this can indeed happen in the region.
These reasons leave little to be desired from Africa’s capability and competence in organizing world-class events. In fact, I was disappointed not because of the cancellation, but because there was no apology for the cancellation.
As challenging as organizing even a simple event could be, I’m hoping that the local African organizers would learn from this experience, get proactive and give Africans a pan-African Barcamp to be proud of.
With Barcamp Nigeria and Barcamp Cameroon scheduled for May 22 and June 12 respectively, we’d expect that a new date for the Barcamp Africa event will be suggested and proposed to the local African organizers (Akendewa and GhanaThink). I’ll suggest that a new venue should be selected this time and perhaps a September/October date would be good to allow time for adequate planning.
By the way, if you’re looking to attending Tech4Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa in August 12 – 13, 2010, I think it would be worth your while.