Ory Okolloh Joins Google To Shape Africa’s Internet Policy

The success of Ushahidi as both an activist organization and as a technology startup is one that is widely recognized as Africa’s first big ‘garage’ startup success story. The...

The success of Ushahidi as both an activist organization and as a technology startup is one that is widely recognized as Africa’s first big ‘garage’ startup success story. The organization was born out of the 2007 post-election unrest in Kenya when Ory Okolloh put out a call to map citizen reports of violence. Erik Hersman, David Kobia and Juliana Rotich all heeded the call and Ushahidi.com was born.

Ory Okolloh @ the launch of iHub Nairobi (c) AfricaKnows.com

In a blog post – Stepping Down as Ushahidi Executive Director; Ory Okolloh states;

For me, what has always been the most important aspect of the work we do has remained simple, building a tool that makes it easy for individuals and groups to tell their stories, and making it easy for these stories to be mapped/visualized.

Ushahidi has grown to be that and much more, thanks especially to the wider community – which saw potential uses beyond crisis reporting and who largely shaped our growth and direction to date be it through translation efforts (Ushahidi now available in 10 languages!), or custom themes, or pushing for a hosted version (Crowdmap), or challenging us to address the shortcomings of the platform (through tools like SwiftRiver and our community resources page).

Beyond the growth of Ushahidi as a platform and an organization, I always tell people that I am most proud of the fact that the Ushahidi story has provided an inspiration to other techies in Kenya and Africa – an example of the kind of talent the continent holds, but also a reminder that we have just scratched the surface. And so after 3 years, I feel it is time for me to take on the next challenge. Those of you who know me well know I’ve got a 1001 ideas floating in my head that I need to get out.

The Kenyan Lawyer and Activist answered the question; Where next and for what?

I will be joining Google in the New Year as the Policy Manager for Africa. The role will involve developing policy /strategies on a number of areas of relevance to Google and the Internet in Africa and will involve working with different parties including government leaders, policy makers, regulators, industry groups and so on.

It is a huge opportunity to bring Google’s resources to bear as far as the growth and development of the internet in Africa (and hopefully a reminder of why I went to law school in the first place!). I’m very excited about the move and I hope I can continue to lean on your support and insight in my new role.

Who takes over as Executive Director at Ushahidi? Guess, who?

Ushahidi co-founder Juliana Rotich will be the acting Executive Director. As Program Director (and pretty much since the very beginning of Ushahidi) Juliana has been our key interface with the wider community of techies, implementers of the platform and volunteers.

Her ability to be a bridge between the core of Ushahidi and the wider community (along with her uber-geek status!) gives me and the rest of the team every confidence that the transition process will be smooth and bigger things lie ahead for Ushahidi.

My friends at Afrinnovator did an interesting piece on Ory’s move to Google and also touched on a few relating articles worth taking a closer look at below:

Ory Okolloh Co-Founder of Ushahidi talks to CNN’s AfricanVoices Ory Okolloh, one of the founders of Ushahidi, talks with…

Ushahidi’s Ory Makes Top 40 Women Under 40 Ory Okolloh, one of the directors of the Ushahidi project…

Ushahidi/FrontlineSMS Talk at UoN It’s hard to talk about what’s happening in technology in…

For a full insight into the making of the Ushahidi platform; read Erik Hersman; @whiteafrican ‘s post: Making Ushahidi


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Award winning Ghanaian Tech blogger, Travel-Geek and a Social Media entreprenuer with a passion for African Innovation and Ideas. Follow my rants on twitter: @MacJordan
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