Monday, 30 September 2013

What KwaMoja is and what KwaMoja is not

This is a post about what exactly KwaMoja is, and why we are doing it, and also to explain properly what it is not.


KwaMoja has its origins in some lectures I did at a community college in Kenya. The basis of the lectures was extending the webERP software in various directions. After the lectures some of the students wanted to carry on the work. Due to the unfriendly and often abusive style of management at webERP and I suggested they speak to Munir Patel who had previously talked to me about doing an African/Indian based fork of webERP, and so KwaMoja was born.

When it became obvious that certain people were intent on destroying the project for their own selfish ends, I got involved more deeply.


Our vision at KwaMoja is to make African businesses more competitive with those in the west. In the Eighties, western businesses went through a revolution, lowering inventory costs, improving efficiencies, improving quality, and raising profits for their shareholders. Central to this revolution was the rolling out of ERP software. Very few businesses in the west do not now take advantage of ERP. We believe that KwaMoja is that ERP software for African businesses.

Free Software

KwaMoja is Free software. Now free in this sense means that KwaMoja code comes to you free of restrictions. You can do whatever you like with it, so long as you maintain those freedoms. When you buy software from Apple for instance, the software comes with many restrictions as to what you can and cannot do with it. You can only use it to do what some people in grey suits at Apple's HQ want you to do with it. Free software does not necessarily mean that you cannot charge people for the software, anybody who wants to charge for KwaMoja can do, and anybody who wishes to give it away free can also do that.

Where is the money?

KwaMoja itself has no funding. It is not a company, we have no income, and we have no employees. It is made possible by donations of time and money from those of us involved. However we are not super rich philanthropists. Far from it, and we have had to earn money elsewhere while getting the project ready for release. There is no money to pay web designers, programmers etc.

Many people and companies in the west have become wealthy by being consultants in the implementation of ERP systems. They have no financial interest in the software themselves. They merely work on the implementation side, and people like SAP get the software fees themselves. These fees are often prohibitive to African companies. Our aim at KwaMoja is to build an ecosystem so that many people can get rich on the back of the KwaMoja project. Our aim is to get as many people as possible selling consultancy services around this project.

Consultants who work for $250 a day are considered very cheap, even in African countries. The rewards can be huge.

Why would someone need consultancy?

According to research at least 65% of ERP implementations fail. Failure can often have disastrous implications for a business, whilst success can bring huge benefits to a business. Employing good experienced consultants is often the difference between success and failure. This is why western businesses will always pay for consultancy.

Why would I want to donate my time and skills?

Good question. As I have said above we are none of us rich philanthropists, and we are all seeking to make some money in the end. Imagine you are a company that is looking for consultancy support for it's implementation . Would you choose a consultant who has been actively involved in the building of the software, or someone who has done nothing for it? My guess is that those who contribute the most will earn the most as consultants. You would also gain a global audience to showcase your skills.

Is it just for Africa?

No, definitely not. This software can be used anywhere in the world.


So there it is, that is what KwaMoja is. Sound interesting? Then join us, there is always tons to do.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The "illegal characters" debate

This page is written in response to the lies tha +Phil Daintree has written about me, and spread on the internet. Despite years of searching he has been unable to find anything I have written that is untrue, and he has had to resort to vague generalities, faked emails, and badly fabricated screenshots (you can see the joins if you zoom in using any bit mapped image editor). +Phil Daintree  is welcome to make any comments to these pages, as he has done in the past. If I agree with what he says I will amend my writings, if I do not agree I have allowed his comments to stand next to mine so that people can make their own judgements. I have every confidence in the intelligence of readers to make a sensible judgement based on the facts. +Phil Daintree will not allow me the right of reply to any of the lies he has told about me. It seems to me significant that he realises that if people see both sides of the argument they will see through his lies..

In response to this blog post of mine, +Phil Daintree has posted this to the mailing list. I tried to post a reply to the mailing list, but it was rejected, so I publish it here in the hope it is useful to the debate:


It seems to me that in your attempts to control what characters the user can use you have lost sight of why you are trying to do it. The point of an ERP is to help the user do what is best for their business rather than to tell them what you think is best for their business.

For instance you have recently put a check on what characters can be used in the users company name. Why should it be up to you to decide how a user should spell their company name? What you should be doing is trying these characters in the company name, and then looking at all the places in the code where that field is used, and seeing if these characters cause a problem. I suspect they don't cause any issues, but if they do you should be trying to resolve those issues, not just banning the characters.

Likewise with item codes. The code 3.5K/V-5"x3" would be a perfectly legitimate code for a user to want to use, but would fail the new illegal character tests on several grounds. Yes a user could work around this problem, but why should they when most other ERP packages will allow it?

It seems to me that this desire of yours to control everyone and everything is pulling webERP down. Let us free the users up to do what is best for them, instead of all the time telling them what you think is best for them.


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Setting up your computer for KwaMoja

KwaMoja is a web application. This means that the software runs on a server, and is viewed through a web browser. These need not be on different computers, it is perfectly possible to have both the server and the browser on the same machine.

For best results the browser should be a relatively recent release but as all browsers are freely available for download this should not be a problem.

The web server can be run on most operating systems released in the last decade. It should include a web server, a database server, and the PHP language.

On windows we recommend using the WampServer. This can be downloaded for free and installed with one click. This will install all of the above applications. You will find a folder called something like c:\wamp\www where you should unpack your KwaMoja code. Once the wamp server is started, just point your browser at http://localhost/KwaMoja and you should be greeted by the KwaMoja installer.

On Debian based Linux systems the packages can be installed by using the following command (

sudo apt-get install apache2 php5 mysql-server

sudo yum install httpd mysql mysql-server php php-mysql

On Apple computers you can setup a one click install using MAMP. Like with windows it will install everything in one go.

Of course as with most things there are many other ways to achieve this, (use nginx instead of apache, use mariadb instead of mysql) but the above methods will get you started with the new beta of KwaMoja.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

New installer for KwaMoja

The final bit of the new +KwaMoja version is now complete and just needs testing. This is the brand new installer. 

Firstly it should be said that this builds on the excellent work of +Exson Qu and +iced lava. After downloading +KwaMoja and placing the code in the web root, point your browser to the code.

You should be taken automatically to the installer screen.

This is the wizard that will guide you through the entire installation process.

The first selection you must make is the language that you want to use for the installation, and for the admin user.
Changing this language setting will immediately refresh the screen, and you should now see it in your chosen language.

This language setting will remain constant through the rest of the installation process.

NB You must have the correct language setup on your server.

The final step on this first page is to choose the database management system that you want to use in +KwaMoja

Currently only MariaDB, MySQL, and MySQLi are supported, although +Fahad Hatib has nearly completed his work to have PostgreSQL  supported in +KwaMoja. However it was decided to leave this till after this release to give maximum testing time for his work. Clicking on "Next Step" takes you to the second screen of the installer.

This screen will make all the necessary checks on your system to ensure that
+KwaMoja can be installed and run on your server.

If you get any failures here then you will be presented with a button to "Check Again". Just correct the problem and then click this button, until all problems are resolved, and you get a screen like the one on the right. Then move on to the next step.

This screen is for details of the database connection that we are going to use.

The first field is for the host machine that the database is on, relative to the web server, not to the client machine. So if the web server and the database server are on the same machine this can be left as "localhost". An IP address can also be used.

The last two fields are for the login details to your database. This shouldn't be confused with the login details to +KwaMoja. The second field is for the name of the database that you will use. This should only contains alphanumeric characters, and no spaces. If the database login that you supply doesn't have permissions to create a database (a lot of shared hosting companies do not allow this) then this database must be created manually before the installation process begins.

Clicking on "Next Step" takes us to the final screen of the installer. The first field is for the name of your company. This should be the full name that you want to appear on all paper work. Next we select a chart of accounts to be used for our company. Currently we have 27 charts kindly donated from all around the world - Many thanks to all those who have donated. Next is the timezone that the server is located in +KwaMoja should choose the correct for you. Finally you can upload your company logo which appears throughout +KwaMoja If you don't upload a logo the default +KwaMoja logo will be used instead.

Next we have the option to install some random test data.
Choose this if you are just evaluating +KwaMoja otherwise leave this unchecked.
Finally you need to enter the details for the +KwaMoja system administrator account. Default is a userid of admin, and a password of "kwamoja", but you can decide your own.

Once done click on the install button, and the installation process will start.

This will firstly create a config.php file based on the settings you give. Then create a database for you (this process is quite slow as it performs many checks along the way to ensure the database is correct). Finally if you have elected to load the random demonstration data, this will then be loaded.

Once this is done, a button will be shown to start +KwaMoja. You will need to login using the system administrator login that you provided.

Once logged in, you will be taken to some of the configuration screens to setup your +KwaMoja. It is important you read these screens properly, and give the correct information. If in doubt consult the manual.

You can download this version of +KwaMoja for free from here

All feedback is appreciated. Please log any issues you find here.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The importance of free and open discussion in projects

This page is written in response to the lies that +Phil Daintree has written about me, and spread on the internet. Despite years of searching he has been unable to find anything I have written that is untrue, and he has had to resort to vague generalities, faked emails, and badly fabricated screenshots (you can see the joins if you zoom in using any bit mapped image editor). +Phil Daintree  is welcome to make any comments to these pages, as he has done in the past. If I agree with what he says I will amend my writings, if I do not agree I have allowed his comments to stand next to mine so that people can make their own judgements. I have every confidence in the intelligence of readers to make a sensible judgement based on the facts. +Phil Daintree will not allow me the right of reply to any of the lies he has told about me. It seems to me significant that he realises that if people see both sides of the argument they will see through his lies.

+Phil Daintree has frequently said on webERP that when he gives his opinion on a subject then nobody is allowed to contradict his opinion and no more discussion on the subject should happen. People who ignore this and express different opinions on any subject find themselves banned from any future discussions.

This is fine as long as the decision that +Phil Daintree has come up with is correct, and that no better solution can ever exist. However when the decision is wrong then the repercussions can be very damaging.

For instance recently +Phil Daintree decided to use regular expressions to filter input into forms. This is a good idea in theory, but needs careful thought and planning, as the implications for non English characters are huge. As Phil had announced this decision as his, then no discussion was allowed.

We now have a webERP system (versions 4.11 and 4.11.1) which is totally unusable to anybody not using the standard 26 English alphabet characters. Not only this, but many of the other bugs already found in 4.11.1 and many of the others that await discovery could have been avoided by allowing free and open discussions.

This is a mistake that we intend to avoid in +KwaMoja. Anybody is allowed to contribute anything to any discussion. Even arguments are good as they force both sides to think through their ideas carefully.

"The only people who are afraid to argue are those who know themselves to be wrong".

Friday, 6 September 2013

Introducing the KwaMoja dashboard

+KwaMoja now has a customisable dashboard.

This code has been kindly donated to +KwaMoja by +Mythri Hegde of Netelity and adds considerably to the usability of +KwaMoja.

We can produce any number of small reports to show in the dashboard. +Mythri Hegde has already contributed nine, and they look like this:

Each of these mini reports has a security token assigned to it. The user can only add the report to their dashboard if they have that security token. See here for more details of security tokens.

All a user has to do to remove it from their dashboard is co click on the X in the top right hand corner of the report.

At the bottom of the dashboard is a selection box
Clicking on this drops down a list of all those reports that a user can add to their dashboard, as follows:
Choosing from here adds the report to the users dashboard. The screen shot above shows 6 reports, but the user can have any number of reports showing depending on what they want.

Many thanks to +Mythri Hegde for her hard work and for contributing the code back to the project.

See the dashboard in operation by going to the KwaMoja demo at

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

KwaMoja as it is used in African hospitals

People always talk about the use of +KwaMoja  in manufacturing, and distribution businesses, but +KwaMoja  also plays a big part in the administration of several hospitals.

We have written some extensions to +KwaMoja  that enable it to link seamlessly with an open source health information system project Care2x. All the financial and inventory transactions are delegated to +KwaMoja , and Care2x deals with the clinical information side.

When a patient is admitted in Care2x, +KwaMoja  Care2x will send this information to +KwaMoja  and if the patient is not already setup as a customer they will be setup. The interface with Care2x uses customer branches to indicate who will be paying the bill. If the patient pays in cash then they will get a branch with a code of CASH setup. If they are an insurance customer then they get a branch with an identical code to the customer code for that insurance company.

When any transaction occurs in Care2x which affects the financial status of the hospital then that information is sent to +KwaMoja.

So, when as in this example the doctor prescribes drugs for a patient in Care2x the transaction will be sent to +KwaMoja.

The cashier, who uses +KwaMoja will search for this patient and will be shown a list of all unpaid transactions for that patient, as can be seen here.

Once the items are paid for then the cashier will give the patient a receipt, which they can then exchange for the drugs, or test, or whatever the item is for.

If the item is a physical item, such as drugs as in this case +KwaMoja will automatically deduct the amount from the stock held. +KwaMoja will also do all the double entry bookkeeping for this transaction behind the scenes.

At the end of the cashiers shift, they can produce a report of all monies that they have taken, which should tally with the physical amount of money they have. This is transferred both physically and within +KwaMoja to a central cash account.

Using +KwaMoja the hospital can gain greater efficiency. It can also gain greater security against fraud, and as +KwaMoja is web based if there are remote funders of the hospital, such as a western charity, or central government, they get greater visibility on how the hospital is performing. All this leads to better health care for the people, and +KwaMoja is playing a central part in this.