Titanium Mobile: java.net.UnknownHostException error when using the AVD emulator

Doing some local development with Titanium and I noticed that when using the xhr object to hit my localhost server (idxdot.dev), and testing using the emulator, I got this error:

(TiHttpClient-1) [7,236164] HTTP Error (java.net.UnknownHostException): idxdot.dev
E/TiHttpClient( 417): java.net.UnknownHostException: idxdot.dev
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at java.net.InetAddress.lookupHostByName(InetAddress.java:513)
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at java.net.InetAddress.getAllByNameImpl(InetAddress.java:278)
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at java.net.InetAddress.getAllByName(InetAddress.java:242)
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at org.apache.http.impl.conn.DefaultClientConnectionOperator.openConnection(DefaultClientConnectionOperator.java:136)
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at org.apache.http.impl.conn.AbstractPoolEntry.open(AbstractPoolEntry.java:164)
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at org.apache.http.impl.conn.AbstractPooledConnAdapter.open(AbstractPooledConnAdapter.java:119)
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at org.apache.http.impl.client.DefaultRequestDirector.execute(DefaultRequestDirector.java:348)
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at org.apache.http.impl.client.AbstractHttpClient.execute(AbstractHttpClient.java:555)
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at org.apache.http.impl.client.AbstractHttpClient.execute(AbstractHttpClient.java:653)
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at org.apache.http.impl.client.AbstractHttpClient.execute(AbstractHttpClient.java:637)
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at ti.modules.titanium.network.TiHTTPClient$ClientRunnable.run(TiHTTPClient.java:1017)
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at java.lang.Thread.run(Thread.java:1096)
I/TiHttpClient( 417): (TiHttpClient-1) [24,236188] Sending error idxdot.dev

I have idxdot.dev set up as a virtual host on my machine, and I can hit it fine doing my local development but not just from within the AVD and it hinted to me that it must be that the network setup in the AVD is not able to access my hosts file and apparently it’s because the address is used internally by Linux. A workaround is to use 10.0.2.2 if you are using Linux or your local WAN/LAN address if you are on Windows (192.168.1.x).

“Driving a Rolls Royce on a dirt road”: How not to create African software

HermanChinery-Hesse
Herman Chinery-Hesse - Copyright KernelMag

Herman Chinery-Hesse is Ghanian and runs SOFTtribe, one of Africa’s largest software companies, and he is not a happy camper. In a must read interview with Kernel Mag if you are interested in African software, he details the woes that his business is facing in winning government contracts. Highlights:

All too often, the Ghananian software entrepreneur says, key public sector contracts go not to local African companies, but to first-world suppliers recommended by development agencies or their Western government backers. Even African governments are turning their back on local firms, in favour of the established multinationals, he says. And the results are stifling African enterprise.

SOFTtribe makes heavy duty software, workaday tools, think POS systems, payrolls, ERP and capital management systems and they have done well in the private industry but not in government because

African governments are, he suggests, more likely to place technology contracts with firms in Germany, France, the UK or the US, than with one in Accra.

The problem as Herman put it, is that what works for Paul definitely does not work for Peter:

“Our area of expertise is Land Rovers, not the Rolls Royce,” he says. “We make Third World stuff, and most people don’t know how to do that,” he says. “The [aid] organisations keep getting our governments to buy Rolls Royces, but they are not suited to our environment. They are vulnerable to our environment. I’m not saying that Africans are sharper than anyone else, but we know our market.”

This brings about in its wake another issue:

Local African companies are also losing contracts they held with the local operations of multi-nationals, as those companies try to consolidate their software around global standards. These companies often waste their money, Chinery-Hesse argues, on trying to install complex software on top of more basic African infrastructure – trying to drive the Rolls Royce down a dirt road. They would be better off integrating local software with their global back-office systems, or using a version of international software customised to environments where bandwidth, and sometimes power, are uncertain commodities.

Herman argues that, kind of counterintuitively to modern perception, that the Internet is actually driving business away from local companies because when there was no Internet, local business had to deal with the local software companies, which will make the field tougher for upcoming startups. This has transformed Chinery-Hesse into an African entrepreneurship advocate with a slogan of:

Enterprise, not Aid

I like. And Chinery-Hesse knows where the problem is coming from, both large companies making good profits, and aid agencies being satisfied with the status quo:

“Large companies around the world, in conjunction with the aid agencies, are creating debt,” he says. “They are selling us stuff they can’t sell in Europe… it stifles local industry.”

Aid agencies and donor organisations are too comfortable with the status quo, reluctant to take risks, and reluctant to bring about change […]

Chinery -Hess just wants a level playing field, and I definitely agree.

Read the entire article here.

 

West Africa and the push for E-Government

E-Governance in Africa
Cover for E-Governance in Africa by Gianluca Misuraca

Slowly but surely, West African countries are following the lead set in East Africa in pushing E-Government. In Ivory Coast, a seminar was held last week (December 14th to the 18th 2011) on the topic of e-government moderated by Mr Georges M’bra, of the government’s scientific committee. The Ivorian government wants to modernize the administration and develop a numeric economy operating within a well defined legal and institutional context. The seminar focused on validating the roadmap the government has established so far and plan out the implementation of a series of projects scheduled for 2012 through 2017. The e-government initiative in Ivory Coast was launched in 2004 with the Center for Government Information and Communication (CICG) with a website offering downloadable documents and content on Ivorian Immigration law.

Other countries are further along the path of e-government as illustrated in this article (in French):

Cap Vert:

You might not have heard of this little island nation off the coast of Senegal but they have been at the forefront of e-government in West Africa. Soon after the arrival of the Internet in the country, the government created an intranet (NOSI) or Operational Center for the Information Society whose role is to mobilize society, the private and public sector into bringing about a real information society by leading initiatives leading to e-government.

Burkina Faso:

E-government in Burkina Faso is aimed at bettering good governance policies and fighting against poverty. The Delegation Generale a l’Informatique (General Delegation for Computer Science) is in charge of making administrative and political information available to the general population and government workers have access to an intranet. E-Government is also used as a way for citizens to communicate with parts of the government, for example, they are able to email the “Premier Ministre” (Prime Minister) with questions, advice or suggestions or even ask personal questions.

Mali:

In Mali, the focus was set at first on training governments workers in the use of ICTs and upgrading the computer equipment government wide. Since 2005, AGETIC (Agency for Information and Communication Technologies) has networked the offices of the president, the prime minister, several ministries  and state services and the IntraCom project has linked together several administrative districts in an attempt to further the “decentralisation” process (Moving away from having all administrative services centralized in a single location ) and bringing government and citizens closer in order to promote good the practices of good governance.

Benin:

Benin offers two models of e-government initiatives. First, the Systeme d’Information Administratif Public (Public Administrative Information System) is made up of all the data and information made available over the web by the Beninese government. Second, the Systemes d’Information Sectoriels (Sector-based Information Systems) are made up of all the intranet sites and websites belonging to the different ministries and institutions. Benin also voted a 2009 law protecting individual privacy and data rights.

Senegal:

The Senegalese government has shown a certain voluntarism when it comes to e-government and e-administration. In Senegal, e-government lies in administrative services like government intranet, fiber optic inter-ministry network, in enterprise services (Duty management software), and in publicly available services like the website dedicated to finding and filing administrative papers, online since 2005.

Niger, Togo and Mauritania are other West African countries with very limited e-government initiatives, but as shown by the overview above, the e-government effort in West Africa is pretty limited and in my own opinion, more geared towards providing a good sound bite for foreign investors and governments (or even articles like this), but not a real effort put in place by believers in ICT and its transforming effect on administration and the economy. The analysis show that most of the initiatives consist of putting a public web interface on databases and there for example, no administrative service that can be performed online (like paying your taxes, or applying for a passport or ID card). As the article stresses, e-government goes way beyond giving instructions online on how to file for a paper, since this is nothing exceptional in most developed countries but rather the minimum that can be done. The article also questions the lack of mobile integration in e-government given the prominence of the technology in Africa.

As of 2010 here are some African countries standing in global  e-government rankings:

  • Tunisia (Best in Africa ) 66th worldwide
  • Mauritius: 77th
  • Egypt: 86th
  • South Africa : 97th

Between 2008 and 2010, most West African countries actually dropped in ranking:

  • Cap Vert , from 104th to 108th
  • Senegal 153rd to 163rd
  • Mali 175th to 176th
  • Benin 171st to 173rd
  • Burkina Faso 176th to 178th
  • Ghana 138th to 147th

In order to better e-government in West Africa, the author recommends of global review of existing efforts in order to better integrate them in development strategies. The E-Government 2010 Survey argues that these initiatives could be bettered by a reinforced cooperation between countries, by keeping in mind that beyond its  “electronic” component, e-government is about promoting citizenship and participation in government. That last sentence is key so I’ll repeat it “promoting citizenship and participation in government”; if you know anything about the political situation in most West African countries, you’ll understand why it’s failing right now…

 

E-Book: African Apps in The Global Marketplace

African Apps Book

I ran into this e-book totally by mistake, but nothing happens by coincidence in my book so here you go. It’s an e-book by Andrew Mugoya and you can download it from here on the AfriApps marketplace, which if you didn’t know offers great apps written African Developers.

Here is a synopsis of the book by the author himself:

 

African technology is in an exciting and vibrant phase with many talented developers and an unprecedented access to global markets.

However, this is not a situation unique to Africa. App development has exploded all across the world. What this means for African developers and entrepreneurs is that they are not only competing for the same global market but also facing stiffer competition for their local markets.

To be able to compete in this new world – to be able to survive – African developers and entrepreneurs will need to understand and adapt to this reality.

‘African Apps in a Global Marketplace’ is a useful read for African app developers or anyone interested in the state of the African app industry. It presents the reader with the points to consider in taking their app from a simple and fun idea into a product that can be successful globally. From conceptualisation to design, funding and marketing. Most importantly, it informs on how African apps can stand out in the crowded global marketplace.

I will definitely give it a read myself and will post a review as soon as done. Congratulations and thanks to the author, the literature is definitely needed on the African development market.

Visit the Afriapps website.

Have you heard about Konza City?

Konza City
Konza City

When it comes to ICTs, Kenya has demonstrated that it is deservedly one of the leaders in the new Africa. I was recently directed to learn about Konza City by Amadou Daffe of Coders4Africa, who came back impressed with the Kenya and its ICT community from a recent trip to Kenya for a conference. What is Konza City? First you need to head over and visit the site to see the blue prints, 3D rendering of the vision for this new technopolis the government of Kenya wants to create.

Konza City is a foray into the future, and the intention here is to create a 2000 hectare (~7.7 square miles for the metric system challegend readers), $7 billion technopolis 60KM from downtown Nairobi and 50KM from Jomo Kenyatta International airport on a clean sheet site based on successful new town projects around the world put together by an international team of experts, drawing on best practice from places such as the UK, China and Brazil to ensure global competitiveness. Konza City will provide the best ICT infrastructure in Kenya, and probably in Eastern Africa and will also function as a business center with excellent transport and communication links. The city layout will include a modern transport infrastructure, a BPO technological park, a  business district, a science park, a university campus and overall, green and open spaces. The city will be developed in 4 phases to allow phased development permitting rapid growth whilst ensuring that the civic amenities and infrastructure grow with the population’s needs.

Konza City is at the center of the vision for the Silicon Savannah and if this vision comes to fruition, it will truly be an achievement to celebrate and to emulate, especially in Western Africa. We don’t lack blueprints, 3d renderings and visualizations for grand brand new projects from our “leadership” when they are campaigning or when they just take power, but more than often, they stay at that stage so I remain skeptical with a see it to believe it attitude but in ICT, Kenya as already proven its dedication to investing in this sector so with plans finalized this past summer and firms currently looking for projects to invest in, i am confident that Konza City will see the light of the day and not suffer the fate of a similar technopolis president Wade had presented in Senegal who last I heard, was morphed into a traditional wrestling mega-arena…