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My Year in Tanzania as a Support and Integration Engineer

By | September 9, 2013 in General IT

The Gods Must Be Crazy

"Sometimes they hear a thundering sound when there are no clouds. They assume the gods have eaten too much and their tummies are rumbling."
- from the 1980 cult movie The Gods Must Be Crazy

Working on a project in Africa is a very interesting and challenging task. Though the people, at least in Tanzania, are very positive and gentle, they spend their lives in a different dimension, which would not be understandable to a western man.

The mantra that best describes their perspective on life is Hakuna Matata – Take It Easy!

Regardless to what is happening, they always take a rest, and say Hakuna Matata. Never mind if half of the country has no access to the Internet, or expensive equipment is stuck in customs for seven months and they are losing the money as a result of it.

Perhaps the relaxing sound of waves and cool breeze from the Indian Ocean made their mentality cool, optimistic and carefree.

One more thing to know about the locals—when you are going to a business meeting in Tanzania and want to bring a gift—don’t bring a watch because it will be 100% useless. They’ll use it as a nice piece of jewelry, but they won’t use it as a tool for time measuring. Time in Tanzania flies in a different way, and their hour does not contain 60 minutes as a regular hour does in the rest of the world.

But let's come back to our story.

So, what was I doing in Tanzania? Well, I worked as part of a team with a mission to integrate ECI equipment (see photo above) in the Vodacom network. We were building a wired network infrastructure, and assisting the Tanzanians to escape from satellite network restraints and move to a better, faster world.

To achieve this complicated task, we were supported by two teams. One was the South African team from Mobax, a very professional and effective team with decades of experience and a heavy mix of British and German accents. They were like rangers! Nothing would stop them from completing a task, but don’t forget to fill them with some fuel— they are totally uncreative and boring when they are sober ;).

The second team was a local one. Their job was to build the infrastructure and install the equipment. And, well...they were always located outside the coverage area making it impossible for the satellite footprint to track their location. They, I suppose, succeeded to confirm Einstein’s theory of relativity…why? Because time, geographical location, and progression from point A to point B was a very relative concept to them.

The work itself brought a lot of experience and satisfaction. The year my colleagues and I spent in Tanzania changed the voice quality of cellphone conversation and decreased the Internet delays from 600 milliseconds to 200.

The network stability and consistency changed dramatically as well, in despite of regular power problems all over the country. The network outages decreased, as ECI ventured to demand, in their insolence, a generator for each and every site. And believe it or not, ECI even succeeded to bring a lot of spare parts to ensure that failures of any kind would not result in outages around the country.

Although my boat sailed to the quiet Mediterranean beaches (dealing with SysAid customers is a breeze compared to the eruptions in network operations), I’m still missing the unpredictable storms of the Indian Ocean, and I look forward to my next visit.

Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.

Benny Bychick

About Benny Bychick

Just another typical geek, with his talent for quoting Watchmen and Star Wars scenes, Benny was a perfect fit to take on his role as SysAid Account Manager. He genuinely loves supporting his customers as much as he loves his photography and power-lifting workouts. Yup - mixing tech and creativity is Benny’s personal slogan!

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