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OK, so there are still some hurdles to jump before the 40 finalists in the inaugural African News Innovation Challenge (ANIC) are whittled down to the 20 or so winners in this prestigious competition. Still, the next round should be really productive and interesting as the finalists meet in Zanzibar to work on their pitches and products ahead of the November 10 announcement of winners in Dakar later this year.

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I'm in a very different head space at the moment and I've got close friends at Kubatana– Bev & Amanda– to thank. This past month has been an amazing collaboration with them to try and get Freedom Fone onto the Unreasonable at Sea voyage next year. They have made a remarkable effort, and in response to their challenge I feel like parts of me have come alive again. It's been part business boot camp, part market research and a large chunk of personal reflection.

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Freedom Fone trainers have been in Nairobi this month to assist with the first deployment of the platform for a reproductive health hotline.

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As part of the Quality Assurance testing of Freedom Fone's new Dialer version, Kubatana engaged citizens in Zimbabwe around the thorny issue of billing by the country's sole energy supplier - the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC).

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Bart Sullivan is affectionately known as 'Captain' by the team of ICT officers who work at Farm Radio International's regional offices in Ghana, Malawi, Ethiopia and Tanzania. In my eyes, Bart earned his stripes today when he pulled off an audacious first for Freedom Fone and Farm Radio at Radio 5, a busy commercial radio station in Arusha's Njiro suburb. All round nice guy, Bart is also sharp and innovative... and as this story shows, very persuasive too.

Radio 5 combi

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Evening discussion topics

Arusha Tech Training - Lots to talk about later!

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Tich Siguake and I arrived in Arusha on the weekend to prepare for the start of our training workshop for ICT officers at Farm Radio International's HQ in Tanzania. We flew in to the exotic sounding Kilimanjaro airport at about 7pm where we were met by FRI's ICT and Radio Specialist, Bart Sullivan.

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Last week the Freedom Fone team completed a training hosted by the DW Akademie. The training focused on how to script, record and edit good quality audio for a variety of appropriate formats including: Vox Pops, news stories and explanation pieces. All files need to be audible and clear to callers using mobile phones.

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Having lived through the hyperinflation years in Zimbabwe, you would be forgiven for assuming that I'd be inured to biggish numbers. Not so. Tunisians have the unusual practice of adding an extra zero to the decimals following their numbers. So 127.000 Dinar is actually 127.00 Dinar in the Zimbabwean numbering system - not 1,270.

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The award ceremony for the 2012 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize was held at the Presidential Palace in Tunis on May 3.

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