Bringing Africa Online At Ascoderu with Clemens Wolff


June 24th, 2018

42 mins 33 secs

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About this Episode


The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed. One of the places where this is especially true is in sub-Saharan Africa which is a vast region with little to no reliable internet connectivity. To help communities in this region leapfrog infrastructure challenges and gain access to opportunities for education and market information the Ascoderu non-profit has built Lokole. In this episode one of the lead engineers on the project, Clemens Wolff, explains what it is, how it is built, and how the venerable e-mail protocols can continue to provide access cheaply and reliably.


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  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Clemens Wolff about how Ascoderu is using Python to help communities in sub-Saharan Africa gain access to the digital age


  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • What is the mission of Ascoderu and how did the organization get started?
    • How did you get involved?

  • The primary project that you build and maintain is Lokole. What is it and how does it help you in achieving the goals of the organization?

    • What are the limitations of using e-mail as the only interface to the broader internet?
    • What are some of the most interesting or unexpected uses of email in isolation have you seen?

  • From the user perspective, can you describe the overall experience of interacting with Lokole?

    • What is happening in the background?
    • Did you consider using a binary message format such as Avro, protocol buffers, or msgpack in place of JSON?

  • What kind of fault tolerance techniques are built into the overall information flow?

  • What are the most challenging or unexpected aspects of building Lokole and interacting with the user communities?

  • What projects do you have planned for the future?

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA