Monday, 31 July 2017

Afriland Bank server installation

We supplied an HP ProLiant Server for one of our clients, Afriland First Bank Liberia. In a few days the, the client request that we (NATC) come over and do the installation of the software (Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard). I arranged my software quickly and stop by at the bank. My arrival was announced to the IT department but unfortunately, the IT Manager had left the bank. He instructed that I deliver the software (OS) to any of his colleagues of his department. The next day on my way to work I got a call from my boss saying ‘’ Daniel, the bank have some issues with the installation of the server operating system (OS). You need to pass by and see what’s the problem is and have it resolved as soon as possible!’’ He also shared the error message with me on our WhatsApp channel, as it is one of the easier and smooth ways the team works and communicate with each other these days, very interesting!

Well, below was the error message of the server shown during shutdown. This error does not occur on a “warm” restart of the server. It only occurs during shutdown. I quickly continue my journey to my office, downloaded the needful, went back to client site, and updated the firmware in resolving the problem.

If you may have experience such problem after installation of Microsoft Windows Server 2008R2 Standard in your server environment, there’s no need changing your OS/ operating system  or server brand. A firmware upgrade is required. Download the firmware of the exact brand and OS to save yourself the stress by clicking the link below.
Prepared by:
Daniel W. Collins
Senior IT Technician
New Africa Technology Company (NATC)

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Peace to all the tech lovers in Monrovia and beyond! ✌️

Our latest Facebook update: 
Welcome to the new followers and friends to our page. We have 2,221 followers! Thank you. 🤖
The New Africa Technology Company Facebook page is the home of the latest tech and science news; news of us in action in and around Monrovia and; friendly messages through out the week to keep you motivated in life and work. 
Peace to all the tech lovers in Monrovia and beyond! ☮️✌️

Friday, 30 June 2017

NATC's blog post is featured in the Bush Chicken

Our blog post by Haresh Karamchandani was featured in The Bush Chicken!! Yoo hoo! 🙌🏾 

We shared the blog post on the Liberia Expats Google Group and it was picked up by The Bush Chicken

Bush Chicken is dedicating this week to electricity so it's nice to have our experience be part of the various stories on infrastructure.

This encourages us to keep writing! 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

LEC Woes ⚡

by Haresh Karamchandani

The Liberia ElectricityCorporation is the only entity that supplies electricity to Liberia. No competition.

In the good old days before the war started, they had a fully functional Hydro-Electric Power station at Mount Coffee which not only supplied power to Liberia but also to the neighboring countries. The grid was well planned and laid out. Cables ran throughout the length and breadth of Liberia. I don’t remember owning a generator or hearing the hum of generator during those good old days. I also remember visiting the LEC stations in Bushrod Island, where they had huge turbine type generation plants, powered by diesel. These were used as a stand by just in case the hydro needed maintenance or had any breakdown, which was very rare.

The war came and brought along widespread looting, rampaging of the infrastructure. All the cables and towers were stolen and sold as scrap which was shipped out by the ship load to metal scrap hungry countries. The hydro power station was bombed, burnt, looted. Completely destroyed.

As the war ended and peace times began, things normalized, and generators became the norm. Every business, household, had to install a generator in order to have electricity. Some smart business people installed huge generators around town and ‘supplied” current at exorbitant prices.

Recently, the hydro has been rehabilited at a cost of several hundred million dollars. One can see new infrastructure, cables, poles all over the country, but alas the LEC woes continue.

I wish to narrate what we have gone through recently.

We had a single phase meter installed by LEC to supply current to our residence on Randall street.

The breaker kept tripping, and also on 2 separate occasions the meter burnt out. We would write a letter to LEC Commercial Department and follow up on a daily basis and within about a month they would come with a replacement meter.

After the meter got burnt out for the third time in less than a year, the LEC advised that we should apply for a 3-phase meter as possibly the single phase meter is unable to handle the load from our airconditioners. We promptly applied and started following up on a day to day basis.

Initially, we were told that they do not have new 3 phase meters in stock and have ordered them and are waiting for delivery. After waiting for a month, we finally were able to strike a deal with an LEC official who said they could help. The meter came the same day and was installed. But it was not as easy as that.

Even though we had a brand new 3 phase meter, we did not have electricity. The LEC crew said that there was an issue with some phases in the main line that would need to be fixed, before we could start getting current. I had accumulated a few telephone numbers of LEC field men and kept pestering them daily. Finally, one day they came and rectified the problem and after “tipping them $200.00” our LEC at home was restored.

Last night, the LEC went off, and came back on after 30 minutes. But no, it did not come on properly. Only 2 phases are working and the 3rd phase is reading 22v only. Half the house does not have electricity.

Back to square one? Well, yes, this is Liberia. I have written to LEC and will start calling them up until they can come and fix the issue. Till then we will have to use our back-up Generator, which is another story altogether.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Dear Reader:

On February 15th 2017 we received an email request for proposal from International Foundation For Electoral Systems (IFES Liberia) for supply and installations of V-sat internet links for internet services at 19 (Nineteen) National Elections Commission Magistrate offices in Liberia. It was such an exciting news to hear.

1.       Lower Montserrado……… Brewerville
2.       Grand Cape Mount……….Robertsport
3.       Bomi County…………………………….. Tubmanburg
4.       Gbapolu County………………………...Bopolu
5.        Montserrado County……………….. Bentor
6.       Magibi County…………………………...Kakata
7.       Bong County…………………Totota
8.       Bong County………………..Gbarnga
9.       Nimba County…………….Saniquille
10.   Nimba County……………Tapita
11.   Grand Gedeh County……..Zwedru
12.   River Gee County…………….. Fish Town
13.   Maryland County……………… Harper
14.   Grand Kru County…………… Barclayville
15.   Sinoe County………………………. Greenville
16.   River Gee County……………………………... Cestor
17.   Grand Bassa County………………………….Buchanan
18.   Lofa County………………………………………Voijama
19.   Lofa County……………………………………..Kolahun

In the absence of the Head of Operations and CEO, I held two important meetings along with my technical team with IFES and NEC on challenges or issues we may face with equipment and, how to go about resolving them with one understanding between the two parties since traveling in the rural and remote areas in Liberia is a challenge by itself.  Our timeline was delivered and all discussions went well.

We contacted our provider in Israel GILAT SATCOM Ltd. and provided them with the geographical coordinates for all 19 sites, total bandwidth required for all sites, iDerect X3 & X1 modems serial numbers etc. Immediately we received all IP addresses, Sites ID and Option files to be loaded into the moderns to activate these links. 

Now the deal was ready but all equipment was not available so we had to contact a local distributed/supplier but the deal didn’t go well in purchasing these equipment.

The timeline given to IFES/NEC was drawing closer every day, so we had to contact other suppliers from Nigeria. Our Head of Operations had just returned from his short break in a few days and quickly arranged me a ticket to fly with Air Cote d’lvoire and handed me the contact details of suppliers. The next day I took off for Nigeria and meet with the suppliers. Mr. Rasheed (V-SAT Specialist), a colleague to one of our old business partner (Tunde Kashimo) and Jimtop Nigeria Ltd. This tells you the good working relationship we have almost everywhere.

Due to flight delay in Ivory Coast, I arrived 11-12 A.M, Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Contacting the booked hotel was difficult. Traveling at night with such a huge a cash with an unknown hired taxi cab was dangerous even though he didn’t know I had such. There is a say… ‘’Prevention is better than cure’’. 

While driving from one street to another, I spotted a hotel called Atlantic Hotel and asked the driver to drop me there. I did the calculation from Naira to Dollars and pulled out his payment from my wallet and paid him in dollars. He handled his payment with smile and tried convincing me that the place would be very expansive maybe so we should continue calling until we locate the already booked hotel. My feet and luggage was already down so his tricks couldn’t hold me if that was his intension.

The next morning I phone Mr. Rasheed that I had arrived and needed to start business as soon as possible. He then reached me in a couple of minutes and phoned another supplier name unknown. His prices were very reasonable as compare to Jimtop. He asked us make 60% payment for an equipment that was only shown to us on WhatsApp. Saying his warehouse was locked up due to some payment he have to make. I couldn’t take that chance, which could be a scam so I had to cancel deal. I phoned Mr. Barode, Managing Director of Jimtop Nigeria Ltd. and located him on his address: 7 Unity Road, off Toyin Street, Ikeja, Lagos State Nigeria. From the glance of his office, equipment and transactions with customers, technically I was convinced. We had a brief discussion and then move on as planned. All equipment were brought out of stock, tested and packaged for payment:

  1.  14pcs Linear feedhorn 1.8m C-Band Dish
  2. 14pcs 5watts BUC C-Band
  3. 14pcs Norseat PLL 3220 LNB
  4.  1pc iDirect X3 Modem
  5. 2pcs power adaptors for X3 Modem
  6.  50pcs RG11 connectors
  7. 5pce of climbs for feed horn

Total of 50 Kgs was packaged and taken to my hotel room for departure the next morning. It was nice being in Lagos, the same state but different community where I did a training for deployments and installations ofThermographic Cameras here in Liberia during the Ebola crisis few years back. I returned to Liberia the next afternoon with all set to go. Our installations went well. I am was glad that we could finish up the project before the timeline.

Here at NATC, we are Professional, Efficient, and Proactive. Save yourself the stress and reach out for the best.

Prepared by:
Daniel Collins
Senior IT Technician
New Africa Technology Company

Monday, 15 May 2017

A series of bad-luck events

by Farzana Rasheed

I've taken up another day job these days at an international NGO (the last time was with Mercy Corps Liberia in 2015). I was recently away to an induction and training trip to the UK and, Haresh, the head of operations at NATC, also joined me for the last few days. 

Although I've lived in Liberia for so long, coming back to Monrovia can be culture shock or an emotional shock. Coming back from a highly developed country where infrastructure is very good can make one feel very inadequate. Likewise, when one goes to a place where consumerism is entrenched and reinforced everywhere, one feels like a kid in a candy shop in a more developed place. And, of course, leaving one's family and friends behind to come back to one's life in Monrovia can have an emotional impact, too. 

This time around, after being away from Monrovia for about a month, I came back to an apartment where LEC was out for weeks and our back up generator had also failed. So, the family spent the night in a hotel on the first night back because it was asking too much to sleep in heat and mosquitos, coming from cold London where it was still required to wear a light sweater. 

The LEC did not come back on for weeks afterwards! 

Meanwhile, the generator was repaired the next day and we were able to move back to the apartment the next day. 

Towards the end of the first day back (4 May) when I thought I would finally be able to relax at home,  start unpacking and so on, we were faced with an unbelievable disaster! One of our technicians rammed our office car into 2 parked cars on Randall Street while reversing. A passenger was still seated in one car which he collided into. The damage to one of the cars was pretty significant: the door was dented, it looks like a crushed aluminium can. 

How and why someone who does not know how to drive well decided to drive to take home a few small bags which are normally carried by hand at the urging of the office manager is what makes the disaster so frustrating. I had asked one of the staff at the office to take home some hand bags (which I had at the hotel the previous night). Normally, the bags are taken home by hand as we only live a couple of minutes away. In fact, I had walked home only to hear the news the car had had an accident. The office manager had asked the technician to drive and take the bags home. She took the keys from Haresh's desk (without his knowledge) and, as the technician was reversing from the drive way, he struck 2 cars. He must have hit the accelerator full on because the impact was so hard. 

There was a terrific commotion of course and our car was taken away by the police. Thankfully, we managed to not have our technician (who is non-Liberian) taken away. It turned out that our car hit Monroe Chicken's vehicle (he was quite understanding) and a vehicle owned by a member of the Cooper clan. The lady in the vehicle who was sitting in the car when the collision happened did not get hurt but a little shook up. 

The next couple of weeks were excruciatingly stressful, all handled by Haresh, of course. The wounded party was extremely difficult to deal with. The owner of the car (who later we learned was not the actual owner) demanded a vehicle rental every day (one that would cost us at least $ 80 or $ 100 per day). Haresh was also asked to pay for the medical fees for the lady's sister who was sitting in the car when the accident happened. Haresh got an estimate for the total repairs of the car but then changed strategy. He decided to make an offer for the purchase of the vehicle. Our NATC4 constantly needed repairs and, would probably give up any day. Haresh made a deal with the lady's husband who turned out to be someone we knew. The deal was made and the car was purchased. It took several days for our car to be released from the Police and then our 'new vehicle' to be turned over to us. Some more twists and turns took place, of course. We bought the car for $ 10,000. Although we got a brand new car, the purchase caused a serious dent in our cash flow, no pun intended. 

What was the lesson here? Our staff should stick to the stated and simple rules. The car is to be driven only by the driver and the keys are turned over to Haresh every day. No one should pick up the keys without his permission. I asked my office assistant to take the bags home by hand. A mature man should not have driven the car if he is not used to automatic cars, does not have a driving license and is a foreigner. Despite these simple rules and instructions, our staff decided to act on its own and, used a rather foolish common sense. Thank God, no one was killed. 

A couple of weeks later, our generator broke down again. LEC still had not been restored and our generator was being used every evening for more than 12 hours. On a Saturday, our generator was serviced. The generator was serviced by the mechanic