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 Tuesday, October 21, 2014
“UNESCO organized an intensive high-level Workshop on Open Educational Resources (OERs) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) to significantly enhance the quality and access to higher education for thousands of Nigerian and African students. The Workshop was held in Lagos, Nigeria, from 10 to 11 September 2014 and attended by 30 senior faculty members of NOUN.

The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) is an Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institution, the first of its kind in the West African sub-region. The University at present has 54 Centres spread across the country. It is Nigeria's largest tertiary institution with over 150,000 enrolled students.

The Workshop at NOUN is part of the African component of the Globalizing OpenupEd Project, which aims to empower key national higher education institutions to offer courses with full open licenses (OERs), and to transform them into Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are defined as any type of educational materials in the public domain, or released with an open license allowing free use, adaptation, and distribution. They present educational institutions with a strategic opportunity to increase the quality of educational materials.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are characterized as free-of-cost, openly-accessible, online courses which can support ‘massive’ numbers of students.

By transforming OER courses into MOOCs that can be accessed free-of-cost and easily via mobile phones, NOUN hopes to ‘massively’ increase the number of enrolments from Nigeria, Africa and internationally.

OpenupEd is the world’s first MOOC Initiative that offers learners several unique innovations:

1.courses are to be made immediately/progressively available as OERs with at least CC BY SA licenses;
2.the University partners will offer full recognition and additional credit for fees;
3.some courses are to offer cohort-independence.

The Project is led by Abel Caine, UNESCO Programme Specialist in OERs, and Professor Fred Mulder, UNESCO OER Chair.

With support from the European Commission, UNESCO is globalizing OpenupEd in Africa working with the Africa Council for Distance Education (ACDE), and in Asia working with the Asian Association for Open Universities (AAOU).

The Workshop was facilitated by Dr Robert Schuwer of the Open University of the Netherlands. Using extensive OER and MOOC models, the delegates identified 10 pilot courses to be updated and offered with the Creative Commons Attribution (BY) ShareAlike (SA) license. A new course on the History of NOUN will be the pilot MOOC.

Abel Caine, from UNESCO, was very pleased with the Workshop, ´NOUN is one of the very few universities worldwide to freely share their intellectual wealth with a Portal of all their courses. They are now extending this gift with open licenses to allow other universities to freely and legally use the NOUN materials.´

NOUN extended a great honour to the UNESCO Team allowing Mr Caine and Professor Fred Mulder to present the NOUN Senate comprising of over 100 academics on Tuesday 10 September.

The Workshop was extensively promoted by local media including the Nigeria Guardian newspaper and Nigeria TV with many comments on Twitter and shared photos.
The medium-term goal is to launch the Africa OpenupEd Initiative with at least 3 African universities offering fully open-licensed MOOCs by the seminal World Education Forum in Incheon, South Korea, in May 2015.”

Further details

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 9:43:08 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


"MTN has joined three leading global technology companies as sponsors of this year’s AMPION Venture Bus, which seeks to enable entrepreneurial talent in Africa to develop innovative solutions on the continent by making best use of the power of mobile technology.

MTN as well as SAP and Microsoft will financially support AMPION's 2014 operations and enable the newly established NGO to successfully operate on a pan-African level and generate long-term impact. Free hardware and bandwidth granted by Inmarsat will provide the AMPION Venture Buses with satellite connectivity.

Microsoft will additionally provide a package of free software and training to winning startups of the 2014 AMPION Venture Buses. Interested entrepreneurs, designers and coders still have a chance to apply for a seat on the Venture Busesonline. More than 700 applications from all over the world have been reviewed by AMPION as of today for the 180 seats on the Venture Buses.

Global healthcare leader Merck will be AMPION’s prime sponsor for the East African Venture Bus. Participants on the Venture Bus travelling from Tanzania to Rwanda will specifically focus on developing e-Health solutions. The East African Venture Bus will be accompanied by a CEO-selected Merck representative. E-Health experts are specifically encouraged to apply for this Venture Bus.

In September 2014, AMPION had launched two crowdfunding campaigns to aid with operational costs and to finance an extensive Fellowship Program for the most promising start-ups; the first crowdfunding campaign on 1%Club has now been successfully completed and is being granted 70% of its €15.000 funding goal through The Cheetah Fund, which is powered by the Dutch National Postcode Lottery.

 AMPION will utilise this momentum to mobilise support for its remaining crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Reaching the overall crowdfunding goal of €50,000 will enable AMPION to set up a Fellowship Programme for a maximum amount of African start-ups and entrepreneurs with considerable funding and incubation.

Commenting on the strategic partnerships, Fabian-Carlos Guhl Founder & MD, AMPION, said: ´We are delighted to work with our new sponsors MTN, SAP, Microsoft, Inmarsat and Merck in Africa. Sponsoring and partnering with AMPION is an investment into the African mobile technology, start-ups and ICT space of tomorrow – and the creative entrepreneurs behind it. We are proud that world leading companies are convinced that our work is making a difference and decided to be a part of it.´"

(Source: Biztech Africa)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 9:39:27 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“On Thursday 16th of October, Fundi Bots, a Ugandan robotics company that equips students and developers with robotics skills trained over 20 learners from the University of Rwanda as well as developers at the kLab innovation space.

And Solomon King, the founder of Fundi Bots, explains what it is all about: ´The thing about robotics is it is one discipline, but there are a million sub-disciplines in it. I keep telling the trainees that when they’ve finished their first robot, they’ve learnt about electronics, they learnt about logical thinking, they’ve learnt about programming, mechanics, biology and popular science. And that is the main target of this training among all our works.´

The training lasted a full day running from 9am to 4pm and students learnt a range of skills ranging from the core of electronics and arduino programming to programming machines to move and navigate around.

Mark Musasizi, a developer, says the training availed developers with skills that are timely for the development of Rwanda into a regional ICT hub.

´We can’t lean on only knowledge that we get from school. We must source knowledge elsewhere and be a significant part of ICT development in the country that has set up the entire necessary infrastructure for us. What we are learning is technology in developed countries and we need to bring it home and apply it,´ he remarks.

Fundi Bots is a nonprofit organization which builds spaces where passionate young people can learn, grow and experiment with machines, gadgets and technology they would not otherwise have access to. Places where curiosity is fostered rather than feared, where failure is embraced as part of a learning process, and where ideas, however crazy, are heard and explored without bias or prejudice.

Fundi Bots works with private enterprises, nongovernmental organizations, academia and other talented and interested parties to create environments where social, commercial and local solutions can be found for Ugandan problems.

Fundi Bots is currently operating in Uganda but hopes to extend more training activities to Rwanda and move to about five African countries before the end of next year.

(Source: The New Times)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 9:36:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
“The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, and the Chief Executive Officer of Alcatel Lucent, Michel Combes, today signed a cooperation agreement designed to promote gender equality.

The agreement, signed at UNESCO’s Headquarters, aims to increase the representation and participation of women in professional life through partnerships with universities, social networks and corporations.

´We are very happy to establish a partnership with a cutting-edge technology company like Alcatel Lucent that has a strong grassroots base, especially in the area of our global priority: gender equality,´ said the Director-General. ´Throughout my travels, I have seen girls and women take leadership. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize sends a wonderful message that education matters and that grassroots level activism makes a difference.´

´Gender diversity is close to our heart, and empowering women with digital technologies is an important part of our work,” said Michel Combes. ´Societies have not encouraged girls to pursue scientific and engineering careers, and we have embarked on many actions in this area, including through m-learning. We are proud to have a strong grassroots movement, created by employees for employees, with a membership of over 1,000 in 50 countries.´

Over two years, the partners will draw on the model provided by StrongHer, a social network created by Alcatel Lucent to improve the participation of women in the group’s decision making process.

UNESCO and Alcatel Lucent have been working together for a long time in the Broadband Commission, notably in the working group on gender.

Since its creation, UNESCO has been at the forefront of efforts to promote the rights of women and their empowerment. In 2008, gender equality became one of the Organization’s two global priorities."

(Source: UNESCO)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 9:32:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
“Civil war has caused a teacher shortage in Sudan, but that hasn’t stopped a group of teenagers from wanting to learn or an inspiring foreign teacher from joining the class to teach students how to teach themselves via development of their own learning app.

The classrooms are busy in Khartoum. Class sizes frequently exceed 60 students and they are getting bigger. Many students are entering class after fleeing from civil war, poverty and famine in South Sudan or from the from tribal conflicts in Darfur. Learning in a Sudanese classroom is not easy, but it can made more manageable it seems, with clever deployment of technology.

A foreign teacher from Australia teaching at Comboni College had an ambitious idea on how to improve the education situation in the school by tasking students to learn how to teach themselves by developing a smartphone application. The project has encouraged students to think retrospectively. It’s an exercise in revision, requiring them to think about everything they have ever learnt about learning English and then putting it into a format that other students can learn from.

The application is being built with an online app building platform, there is no coding involved. Their contribution to the app is purely content.

One of the students, Tijwok, said helping develop the application had made him more happy. ´At first I did not know what this special project was about, Teacher Tim just said it was a special project, it involved mobile phones and it would make me famous. I am happy it is helping me and my classmates improve English.´

Teacher Tim was more emphatic, ´I just wanted to use my powers for good and improve the lives of some kids in Sudan.´A donation to the project can be made here.

99 Tablets are currently running a crowd funding campaign to supply tablet computers to the school so that students can start learning from the app that they helped create. 99tablets.org aim to start a global education revolution in the developing world by putting tablet computers in front of students who need them the most.”

(Source: IT News Africa)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 9:23:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
"Ericsson has today announced the launch of the sixth annual Innovation Awards, a competition in which university students are given the opportunity to be drivers of fundamental change in society.

The theme of the 2015 competition is ´The Future of Learning´ - how can we make learning accessible for all? What do we need when lifelong learning becomes necessary for everyone? What are the new tools and methodologies when learning becomes an online activity and it happens more and more away from school buildings?

In Ericsson's vision of the Networked Society, technology fundamentally transforms the ways we organize our lives, businesses and societies. But only recently has the connectivity and computational power once reserved for industrial applications become intensely personal - embedded not just into our mobile devices and cloud software, but into our everyday expressions, interactions, relationships and desires. The result is an unprecedented capacity for individual empowerment and innovation.

Empowered by technology, students and progressive teachers are catalysts for fundamental change. New skills and the passion for constant learning are becoming increasingly important. A new ecosystem is emerging that is greatly impacting, and in some cases redefining, established systems and institutions.

We hope and expect many good ideas about the future of learning from students around the world. The winners will receive a prize 25 000 EUR, with the runners-up receiving 10 000 EUR and 5 000 EUR going to the third-placed team.

All semi finalists and finalists will also be given the opportunity to an interview for internship or permanent employment at Ericsson.

The competition is open to team of two to four people, and Ericsson recommends a combination of technology and business students in the team. To apply and register to the competition visit www.ericsson.com/innovationawards

Last year's winner in the student category was Team WorkMode from South Africa for their collaboration."

(Source: Ericsson)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 9:19:10 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“UNESCO has entered into its first-ever partnership with a private company based in sub-Saharan Africa. The Funds-In-Trust agreement between Airtel Gabon and UNESCO will support Train My Generation: Gabon 5000, a three-year project to provide scientific and entrepreneurial training through ICT to thousands of young people in Gabon, plus deliver new skills to secondary school teachers.

The mobile company will provide $4.3 million for the project, which will be implemented by UNESCO. It will start with the establishment of ten Cyber Centres equipped with servers and computers at schools in Libreville, Port Gentil, Oyem, Franceville, Bitam and Lambaréné.

At the signing ceremony in Paris, the Director-General of UNESCO welcomed the partnership with Airtel, pointing out the potential of such cooperation with African corporations. ´The African Private sector is extremely dynamic and I am very proud today to sign UNESCO’s first partnership with a company based in Sub-Saharan Africa,´ stated Irina Bokova.

Olivier Herve Njapoum, the Director-General of Airtel Gabon, added that his company was convinced that the youth of Africa will contribute to the development of the continent if they are provided with good training. ´Through this partnership, Airtel wishes to benefit from the expertise of one of the most important organizations of the United Nations System […], UNESCO, whose programmes in Africa contribute to the promotion of innovation based on knowledge technologies,´ he said.

The Ambassador of Gabon, Gisèle Marie Hortense Ossakedjombo-Ngoua Memiaghe, welcomed the partnership with enthusiasm, invoking ´studies that prove that there is a cause and effect link between the development of telecommunications and economic development.´

5,000 young people, aged 18 to 35, will receive basic ICT training during the first phase of the project, which will also provide training in online teaching to 100 secondary education science teachers. The teachers will use their skills to provide online educational support to 15,000 secondary school students preparing their end of school exams. But because the platform used for educational support will be easily accessible, scholastic support is expected to reach a far greater number of students.

Smaller groups will be taught how to develop applications for mobile phones, operate cyber cafés and set up cooperative maintenance centres, through the Train My Generation: Gabon 5000 project.”

(Source: UNESCO)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 9:11:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, October 16, 2014

"The Director General of Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi, FIIRO, Dr. Gloria Elemo, has said that an estimated 1,500 small and medium scale enterprises are expected to be set up across the country in the next one year through the 250 Research and Development (R&D) technologies/outputs developed by the institute.

Speaking ahead of the Investment and Technology Week being put together by the institute, she said that not less than 50,000 direct job opportunities will also be created following the adoption of the technologies by the 774 local government areas in the nation, even as she said that 75,000 entrepreneurs have so far benefited from FIIRO technology transfer.

She noted that the 250 R&D outputs to be showcased at the four days event, which kicked off today (Tuesday, October 14, 2014), would also spur more Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, interest into the country.

Elemo added that the investment week is part of the institute's effort to deliver more effectively on its mandate for rapid industrialization of the national economy, as well as create employment opportunities to reverse the worsening unemployment in the country.

´The overall aim of the programme is to showcase the institutes over 250 R&D outputs suitable for investment by micro, small, medium and large scale entrepreneurs to enhance job creation and improve on the national Gross Domestic Products.´

We are hoping that at least 35 technologies would be well structured and adopted in all the local governments, which is 774. So, the projection is that if every local government tries to adopt at least two technologies, we will have a total of about 2,000 jobs each.

´When you look at others that are coming in to buy into the technologies, various commercial organisations, students coming in, National Association of Nigeria Students, NANS, organizations like SURE-P and other organized sectors, we are expecting that minimum expected jobs that can come out of this catalyst should be at least 250,000. This will definitely reduce unemployment level in the country,´ she said.

´We just concluded training of a number of youths on our National Techno-entrepreneurs Initiative, but our target is 2,000 youths on annual basis as part of our contribution to national development and corporate social responsibility programme, to transfer technology to them and also lead them to proper infrastructure that will definitely establish them on the field."

(Source: Vanguard Newspaper)

Thursday, October 16, 2014 10:46:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


"Tigo-owned Kigali-based technology incubator think has announced the first four companies selected for support, with the winners to be offered US$15,000 in funding, access to Tigo networks across Africa, mentoring and business development education.

BizTechAfrica reported in August think had received over 100 applications from nine countries, and the incubator has now chosen four teams it says represent innovative, digital, private sector solutions that demonstrate the potential to scale across Africa, with the four companies now invited to participate in a six-month accelerator programme beginning early next month.

The companies are Egyptian startup Beliaa, a mobile app for road assistance that uses GPS location services and provides traffic tracking and other transportation information features, Nigeria’s Cribpark, which is a platform for real estate matching, home design and architecture, Ghanian company PollAfrique, which offers a research platform allowing respondents to participate in incentivised surveys via a number of channels, and Rwandan firm TorQue, which delivers channel management software for wholesale distributors in the beverage and telecommunications industries.

The winning startups were picked from applicants from Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, Benin, Uganda and Benin.
Tongai Maramba, general manager of Tigo Rwanda, said: ´The companies we have selected for think show innovation in a crowded playing field. The founders are smart, determined and have the potential to scale their firms across the continent. After a rigorous review process, we have selected companies that demonstrate incredible promise.´
The incubator said it forms one part of a growing ecosystem to encourage technology development across Africa, and will work closely with The Office RW and incubator kLab to co-host networking and skills-building events.

VC4Africa, GSMA, MEST Ghana, Venture Wave San Francisco, Afrilabs, iHub Nairobi and Carnegie Mellon University all assisted in promoting the application process.
´Rwanda is becoming a hub for technology innovations, and think is a great addition to our vibrant ecosystem. We cannot wait to see the next African startups bourgeoning from Rwanda,´ Rwanda’s minister for youth and ICT Jean-Philbert Nsengimana said."

(Source: Biztech Africa)

Thursday, October 16, 2014 10:42:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“The MTN Foundation and Cameroon’s Ministry of Secondary Education have recognised teachers who make the best use of ICTs in education.

Open to all secondary school teachers in Cameroon, the competition to select the best teacher in using and integrating ICTs was launched in May 2014 by the Ministry of Secondary Education (MINESEC) and MTN Foundation with the following objectives:

- Instil healthy emulation amongst secondary school teachers without distinction of discipline, in the use of ICTs;
- Drive the taste for research in innovative teaching methods;
- Contribute to meet the objectives of quality education.

The projects submitted to the competition were assessed by a jury chaired by the Inspector Coordinator of Pedagogy in charge of Computer Science at MINSEC and comprised of two (02) members of the MTN Foundation and two (02) representatives from MINSEC.

After objectively assessing the projects, the Minister of Secondary Education published by Release N°0001/14 MINESEC/CAB of 18 September 2014, a list of ten winners, with each from the 10 regions of Cameroon for the 2013-2014 academic year, who have distinguished themselves by their contribution towards improving learning through integrating ICTs in teaching methods and techniques.“

More information

Thursday, October 16, 2014 10:40:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


"Universal primary education (UPE) will remain a distant dream for millions of children living in countries without enough teachers in classrooms. Current discussions of the post-2015 development agenda include a target to bolster the supply and training of teachers as part of efforts to ensure that every child is in school and learning. To help formulate and monitor this type of target, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) produces an annual set of projections concerning the supply of and demand for primary teachers at the global and national levels. According to the latest data, more than 27 million teachers will need to be recruited to ensure every child’s right to a primary education by 2030.

This eAtlas features a wide range of UIS projections and indicators about teachers, based on results of the Institute’s annual survey involving more than 200 countries and territories and partnerships with organizations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Eurostat."

Further details

Thursday, October 16, 2014 10:37:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


"Ericsson, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Millennium Promise further enhance education access for young girls through ICT solutions. Connect To Learn goals are being achieved by improving the access to and quality of education by connecting students globally through mobility, broadband and cloud solutions. As of June 2014, over 40,000 students have received access to quality educational resources enabled by the cloud-based ICT solution deployed in their schools and new deployments are underway.

Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at Ericsson, says: ´As we approach the United Nations International Day of the Girl, we recognize the positive impact education can have on a girl's life, on her family and community. That is why we will continue to provide technology solutions as well as the expertise of our employees to create lasting change in communities all around the world.´

In Myanmar, Connect To Learn is launching in more than 40 schools with partners under the UK government's Girls' Education Challenge. Up to 600 scholarships will also be provided to marginalized girls, enabling them to stay in school and complete their secondary education. The deployments are supported by mobile operator Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) and will benefit 14,000 students/girls. Jan Wassenius, Head of Ericsson in Myanmar, says: ´We are pleased to work with our customer, MPT and other partners to help bring Connect to Learn to Myanmar. Greater access to education and to connectivity will indeed provide more study and employment opportunities for these students, and we are honored to be a part of this undertaking.´

In Ghana, Connect To Learn is launching its' ICT program in the Millennium Village in Northern Ghana SADA region with mobile operator Tigo, which will be benefiting over 7,000 students, in four secondary schools. This will build upon Connect To Learn's girls scholarship program, which was launched in SADA in 2012.

Roshi Motman, CEO for Tigo Ghana, says: ´Girls in the 21st century need to be provided with innovative learning experiences and quality education. ICT offers them the opportunity to bring their personal ambitions and passions together and make meaningful contributions to society by developing cutting-edge innovative solutions. Tigo Ghana is excited to partner with Ericsson on the Connect to Learn program and hope several girls will be empowered to stay ahead in digital literacy. We believe the adoption of digital lifestyles foster appropriate productivity skills and opportunities in ICT offer economic freedom and independence for women to work from anywhere including remote locations and across industries.´

In Sri Lanka, the Connect to Learn program creates a partnership between Ericsson, Mobitel, Open University of Sri Lanka and the Commonwealth of Learning that aims to bring ICT and computer literacy education to teenage girls in farming communities in Sri Lanka, empowering and equipping them with the ICT skills required to pursue tertiary studies and employment opportunities. The ICT solution deployed will give students and teachers access to the most modern educational tools and resources, and the ability to connect to other schools around the world to foster collaborative learning, cross-cultural understanding and global awareness.

Currently, Connect To Learn gives access to quality educational resources enabled by the cloud-based ICT solution deployed in their schools. These students attend secondary schools in Millennium Villages in Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Senegal, Malawi and Rwanda. Connect To Learn is also deployed in schools in Ghana, Cape Verde, Djibouti, India, China, Buhtan, Chile and Brazil. The ICT in education report identifies challenges in providing ICT-based education and, underlining possible solutions, the study offers a universal framework for measuring Interventions in schools."

(Source: Ericsson)

Thursday, October 16, 2014 10:33:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, October 09, 2014


“UNESCO Chair Program, Women, Science and Technology in Latin America.

The research was performed under the Program for Promotion of low-carbon development and social cohesion, executed by ECLAC in conjunction with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ).

The purpose of this research is to understand the rationality of the public and private policies to promote the IT industry, in particular the SSI, and verify whether they  incorporate and support the gender equality and / or encourage the participation of women. It also proposes to determine how symbolically is constructed this group of women from the companies, which problems they have to face and what solutions they propose to overcome and contrast these discourses and interventions with the experiences, visions and demands of women leaders in the SSI sector. For this, they surveyed and analyzed policies, programs and best practices in Europe, and later compared these practices with the stage of completion and the particularities of these existing instruments in Latin America and the Caribbean, delving into the cases of Argentina, Costa Rica and Colombia.”

Access the publication here

(Source: FLASCO Argentina)

Thursday, October 09, 2014 9:58:30 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“Close to 60% of women in Senegal are illiterate, according to UNESCO figures. Successive administrations of Senegal – from Senghor to Diouf via Wade and now Macky Sall – have long wondered how in heaven’s name they can reverse this sad state of affairs, and help these unfortunate women regain their dignity.

However, the Gods of technology have heard Mariam Thiam’s prayers and have responded. Thiam (40), mother of five and involved in a polygamous marriage, has lived to tell the tale of being able to now read – though gradually – the SMSes coming through her cellphone thanks to the National Literacy Programme for Youth and Adults Based on ICTs (PNEBJA-TIC in its French acronym).

The programme, launched in 2013, aimed at enrolling and training more than 14000 people, the Senegalese government said.

Despite this modest success, Senegal’s ICT-packed literacy projects face serious funding problems as the government only allocates 1% of the education budget to this programme, whereas experts recommend at least 3%.

This led the United Nations to give a helping hand to ensure that a big portion of women and girls like Thiam become literate and improved their lives. It is in this spirit that UNESCO launched an ICT-based project called PAJEF, which is a two-year Literacy Progamme for Women and Girls aiming at training 40000 women and girls from 15 to 55-year-old to read and write.

UNESCO Dakar said the programme offers quality literacy through the use of Internet, TV, mobile phone and CD-DVD in national languages and French. UNESCO Dakar, which supervises all UNESCO offices in Africa, also said the project will be rolled out in several African countries. ´The fight against illiteracy is a national issue that requires a lot of commitment from everyone,´ government representative Mamadou Mar said.

Thiam told Biztechafrica that being able to read and write has helped her take control of her life and look at life from another angle.”

Further details

Thursday, October 09, 2014 9:37:18 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“In its continuous effort to bridge the gap between theories taught in the classroom and real life situations, Vodacom Business Nigeria has organised a two-day industrial tour for students from the Department of Engineering and Information Technology, Covenant University, Nigeria.

According to the tech giant, the visit was aimed at providing first–hand experience and a unique opportunity for the students to gain insight into a working environment related to their field of study. The industrial tour, which took place at Vodacom’s offices in Ikoyi, focused on´Demystifying Cloud Computing´ where students got in-depth knowledge of cloud technology, how it works and how it is applied to modern businesses.

The Managing Director, Vodacom Business Nigeria, Guy Clarke, said: ´Our commitment is centered on the concept that the more knowledgeable the youth are, the greater their opportunity for employment. We know that Cloud Computing plays a big role in the ICT industry today and it would contribute to the further growth of Nigerian businesses as the technology is gaining wider acceptance in the business world´. According to him, the workshop is one of the company’s many contributions towards the development of skills and job creation opportunities for young people.

Cloud computing will continue to change the world and in many cases, young people drive this process even without knowing it. With millions of youths in Nigeria connected to the Internet, many use cloud through collaboration and social networking tools. There is no better way to encourage this change than exposing the young people to the technical, business and leadership skills required for Cloud technology innovations.”

(Source: Biztech Africa)

Thursday, October 09, 2014 9:33:07 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“MTN Ghana has revealed the details for Version 2.0 of the MTN Ghana Application Challenge. Back in 2013, Software Engineer Setriakor Nyomi was named as the overall winner with his Oware 3D application.

According to MTN Ghana, this year’s edition under the theme ´Promoting innovative local apps development´ is open for submission of apps from October to 28th of November 2014. It challenges Ghanaian app developers to code locally relevant and user-friendly apps to suit local taste.

CMO Rahul De stated that: ´In addition to consolation prizes for runners-up, each category will award a cash prize of GHC 15,000, and the overall winner will receive a cash prize of GHC 20,000.´

´The mobile application market is inextricably linked with the explosion of smartphone penetration and usage by consumers worldwide. As the smartphone market grows rapidly in Ghana, and especially on MTN network, it is imperative that we have apps developed locally and tailored to our market,´ he said.

According to MTN Ghana: ´The mobile application market is creating employment and generating income for an estimated number of 2.3 million people across the world. It is also said that apps generate around €10 billion per year in revenue for the European Union, which has about one 1 million apps available.´

The last edition of the apps challenge was a success, according to MTN Ghana, as most of its winners are experiencing rapid patronage of their apps on MTN play and other platforms.

´MTN Apps Challenge Version 2.0 has one goal, and that is to reward the most innovative and locally-relevant mobile apps developers. Entries of apps will be accepted in three categories: education; lifestyle; and games and entertainment.´”

(Source: IT News Africa)

Thursday, October 09, 2014 9:28:09 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


"IICD believes that equipping teachers with pedagogical tools and access to information can bring about large-scale social changes in entire educational systems. Many of the gaps in education in developing countries can be bridged with the help of ICTs and enhanced capacities for creating, sharing and using information and educational materials.

It is globally acknowledged that quality education has the power to combat poverty and stimulate long-term development. Despite this consensus, 130 million schoolchildren are still unable to read, write or do basic math* because of poor standards in education, overcrowded classrooms and under-qualified teachers. In its new position paper, IICD draws on nearly 20 years experience of bringing ICT solutions to classrooms to show that by building the ICT capacities of teachers, students gain the skills needed to succeed after school.

IICD’s experience in this field has shown that simply equipping schools with innovative tools is not enough to improve teaching and learning in the classroom. The success of ICT in the classroom cannot be achieved through one single solution. For this reason, IICD offers a range of integrated ICT solutions that aim to holistically overcome challenges and change classroom dynamics. Each of our solutions is made up of four parts: 1) equipping schools with locally appropriate ICT tools, 2) training local stakeholders on the effective use of these tools, 3) creating relevant educational materials, and 4) enabling the ICT environment to support sustainable changes in education."

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Thursday, October 09, 2014 9:23:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Portland Community College (PCC) has teamed with Desire2Learn (D2L) to introduce a massive open online course (MOOC) for educators that will address Web accessibility concerns associated with online learning.  



PCC and D2L are working together to offer this practical, hands-on MOOC to help all educators become more versed in the issues of web accessibility in online education.
Specifically, the following goals are to be achieved by course participants:

- Create accessible photo images, diagrams, and charts for online courses
- Create accessible audio and video components for online courses
- Create accessible HTML content pages for online courses
- Create accessible course content in other formats
- Building a Web-accessibility knowledge base.

'At PCC, we are committed to improving Web accessibility in our online program and advocate for the needs of students. We make it a priority to provide faculty, course designers and instructional technology professionals with the knowledge and skills to create offerings with accessibility in mind,' said Loraine Schmitt, director of distance education at PCC, in a prepared statement. ' We realize many institutions are faced with resource challenges and we are excited that this free MOOC on accessibility teaches educators some of the best practices we use at PCC to make educational content accessible to students.'

Successful participants will have the option of receiving an electronic not-for-credit completion certificate from D2L at the end of the course.
For more information, visit opencourses.desire2learn.com"

(Source: GAATES)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 10:50:17 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

"Young Rwandans who will be able to come up with software applications aimed at enhancing public service delivery are set to win cash prizes that go up to $5,000 (Rwf 3.5 million) in a newly launched competition by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Speaking at the launch of the competition on Thursday in Kacyiru, Kigali , the UN resident coordinator, Lamin Manneh, said they were focusing on how to apply innovation in improving people's daily livelihoods.

´As an emerging economy, we are focusing on applying innovations to improve livelihoods and opportunities provided by mobile technology,´ he said.

UNDP, which is organising the competition in partnershio with the Ministry for Youth and ICT (MYICT) and Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), wants the youth to develop software that can be downloaded on mobile phones and be used by citizens for continuous feedback to authorities on the level of public service delivery.

The information gathered from the software will be analysed by RGB and shared with the relevant government institutions for action, as well as inform research and policy.
Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the Youth and ICT minister urged the youth to take advantage of the opportunity to help grow country's economy.

´Don't look at the $5,000 cash prize. The benefits could be much more if you looked at public satisfaction with services delivered using your software,´ he told the youth.
The winner will walk away with $5,000, the first-runners up with $2,000 while the second-runners up will take home $1,500.

Applicants have up to 28th November this year to present their projects to the organisers."

(Source: All Africa)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 10:29:53 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


"A public-private partnership among USAID, NetHope, Intel Corporation, World Pulse, World Vision, UN Women, and Women in Technology in Nigeria

The Alliance will create a ‘movement’ that addresses the Internet gender gap by bringing more than 600,000 young women online in Nigeria and Kenya in the next 3 years.

Alliance partners will combine efforts to transform the lives and livelihoods of girls and women in Africa through digital literacy training, relevant content, policy work, and online social networks. The Alliance will introduce girls and women to the transformative benefits of the Internet. All partners share a common interest in increasing access to and use of the Internet to realize the socio-economic benefits for all of bringing more girls and women online. This effort will expand opportunities for young women to generate greater income, receive a quality education, increase their sense of empowerment and equity, extend their support networks, and increase their political participation.

BRIDGING THE INTERNET GAP

Digital Literacy: The integration of digital literacy training into gender and development programs enables women to access hardware, software, Internet connectivity, and ongoing support. With mobile platforms, individuals can follow different learning paths through a variety of channels, such as a mobile learning platform, and phone and tablet apps.

Knowledge and Voices: The power of digital media connects women and gives them a global voice. Addressing relevancy through women-tailored content and peer networks is critical. The Internet can empower women by providing them with an opportunity to connect with people outside of their communities, which, in turn, creates a strong incentive for women to continue using information and communications technologies (ICTs). This will provide long-term benefits in increased confidence and expression.

Economic opportunities: Internet use can increase the opportunities for women and girls in employment, online work, or improved businesses. ICT-enabled employment opportunities and skills training can generate social and economic opportunities for those employed, their families, and their communities.

The 'movement': System-level collaborations can enhance the inclusion of women and girls in the information society. Together, the Alliance will create a movement to address the challenges of the Internet gender gap by building, fostering, and supporting an ecosystem of partners."

(Source: USAID)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 10:13:19 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


"The United Nations E-Government Survey presents a systematic assessment of the use and potential of information and communication technologies to transform the public sector by enhancing efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, accountability, access to public services and citizen participation in the 193 Member States of the United Nations, and at all levels of development."

View Publication

Further details

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 10:07:19 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


"The Kenyan ICT Authority has partnered SAP for the second year to train at least 100 young Kenyans with high-end ICT skills to the value of approximately US$6,000 per student.

The SAP Skills for Africa programme, which will be offered on scholarship to unemployed recent university graduates, will be carried out at the Techno Brain offices in Nairobi.
 
SAP Skills for Africa targets recent graduates interested in finance and business development, in line with Kenya’s ICT Master Plan 2014-17, which recommends developing talent and nurturing a workforce skilled in ICT to meet the needs of the industry.

Cabinet Secretary at the Ministry of ICT Dr Fred Matiang’i commended the achievements of the initiative and called on more companies to design similar projects. 'We churn out thousands of graduates into the market, but they face a challenge in getting jobs as they do not match the skill set that employers are looking for. We are tackling this head on and our goal is to partner with the private sector to increase the capacity of our people in ICT,' he said.

The ICT Authority and SAP have signed a three-year partnership agreement to collaborate on innovation and incubation programmes, general ICT awareness and literacy, skills development and internship programmes, best practice sharing on process improvement and joint research initiatives.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the ICT Authority Victor Kyalo said: 'Capacity and literacy is a major component of what the authority is mandated to promote. We are working to achieve this through various partners in the private sector and academia. This is a key ingredient to Kenya success to becoming a hub in ICT excellence.'

'A key component of SAP’s Africa Growth Plan, is the training of 8,000-10,000 new consultants in Africa in the next seven years. These skilled people, in the main economic hubs of Africa, will enable governments and private sector to improve the way they do business across the continent and ultimately the World – driving prosperity through job creation,' said Andrew Waititu, Managing Director of SAP East Africa.

Successful candidates will go through a training programme, certification and internship placements, with the scholarships targeting candidates that graduated between December 2011 and December 2014 for internships to run in the first quarter of next year."

(Source: BizTech Africa)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 10:02:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

"Today the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and Facebook announced a new partnership to support women entrepreneurs around the world by providing them with Facebook business resources and mentor support.

The collaboration will involve Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Mentoring Programme, which connects mentors with women entrepreneurs from developing countries.

Facebook is creating a new online portal designed to support these entrepreneur mentees in growing their businesses, including best-practice guides, how-to videos, and inspiration from other like-minded business owners. The portal includes an ´ask an expert´ function where Foundation mentees can receive assistance from a Facebook expert on creating their Page, acquiring new customers, and building their online presence.

Facebook will hold a business bootcamp webinar for mentees and mentors to launch the portal and walk them through these new resources. In addition, Facebook employees will join the Foundation’s Mentoring Programme as volunteer mentors and work one-on-one with women entrepreneurs to help them take their small and medium enterprises to the next level.

´Facebook is a natural partner for my Foundation,´ said Cherie Blair QC, CBE. ´When women are able to become financially independent, this not only transforms their lives for the better but also positively impacts the lives of their family members and people in their communities.´

´This partnership combines many things Facebook cares about: the power of small businesses to connect to more customers; the power of technology to drive economic growth; and the power of entrepreneurship to help women achieve economic independence,´ commented Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. ´We are thrilled to be teaming up with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women because they, too, are focused on bringing and scaling support to more entrepreneurs around the world.´

Cherie Blair Foundation CEO, Sevi Simavi, said, ´Many of the Foundation’s mentees regularly ask for training on using social media and Facebook, so we are enthusiastic about this partnership and the new learning opportunities it will make available to the women we work with´."

(Source: Cherieblairfoundation)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 9:56:24 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, September 25, 2014
“Microsoft 4Afrika has announced a new Collaboration Challenge with AfriLabs to increase knowledge sharing across the hub network in Africa and spur innovation. The challenge, officially launched at this year’s DEMO Africa event, is tasking hub members with proposing and delivering an activity, process or tool that fosters collaboration within the AfriLabs network.

AfriLabs’ core function is to facilitate collaboration, which requires the right platforms, mechanisms and incentives for hubs and their teams to share information and dialogue. The winning solution will receive $15,000 from Microsoft and technical support to develop it. The hubs within the AfriLabs network will be provided with a more efficient way to learn from each other’s best practices and build more sustainable models.

´Collaboration fuels innovation. It encourages people to learn from each other and build on better and bigger ideas,´ says Annie Njenga innovation hubs manager for Microsoft. ´Innovation hubs give developers a collaborative space where organisations can assist them with the technical and business skills needed to get their businesses off the ground. They bring different people together who otherwise would never have met, and create successful companies that strengthen local economies.´

According to the World Bank, there are currently 90 innovation hubs across Africa. AfriLabs, a pan-African network of technology and innovation hubs, makes up 35 of these. Two of these hubs, the Co-creation hub in Nigeria and the iHub in Kenya, have been recognised as best performing models. The iHub has launched 152 successful local startups to date, encouraging the local Kenyan government to commit to establishing a tech hub in each of its 47 counties. ´The encouragement of a vibrant innovator ecosystem is essential to the growth of Africa’s knowledge economy,´ says Fernando de Sousa, General Manager of Africa Initiatives at Microsoft. ´To remain relevant and sustainable, the hubs will need to not only promote innovation, but also focus on their monetisation.´

However, many hubs have been unable to find models that ensure sustainability from the initial grants that got them started. ´Challenges like finding the right partners, determining the correct strategy and sustainability model, having the right team and skills in the hub, and the involvement of government can be difficult to navigate,´ says Tayo Akinyemi, Director at AfriLabs.

The Collaboration Challenge has been designed to help stimulate collaboration and knowledge sharing within the Afrilabs network and fully leverage the knowledge, skills and resources that are available through the network and its partners.

´If you look at the success of Silicon Valley, you’ll see it lies in collaboration.´ Research done by the Accenture Institute for High Performance pins it down to close ties among outstanding educational institutions, research organisations and businesses. ´That’s what we’re aiming for throughout the pan-African network,´ says Annie Njenga.

Hub members who enter the challenge will have until the 24th of October 2014 to submit their concepts and vote for their favourite ideas. All those proposing an application need to design it for the Windows platform and host it on Microsoft Azure, an open and flexible cloud platform with a single software-as-a-service offering that manages the entire lifecycle of an application. The winning individual or team will receive financial, technical and mentorship support from Microsoft to help them execute the concept.

The challenge will be run on Hylo, a social network that enables skilled collaborators to coalesce around shared intentions and challenges. Individual participants and teams can submit an ‘intention’ in the form of a brief description of the proposed idea. Others may respond by submitting their own ideas, requesting information from the idea’s originator, or submitting an ‘offer’ to help develop someone else’s idea. The winning concept will be the one that garners the most overall support.”

(Source: AfriLabs)

Thursday, September 25, 2014 9:48:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“Jonathan Mosen, who has been blind since birth, spent his evening snapping photos of packages in the mail, his son’s school report and labels on bottles in the fridge. In seconds, he was listening to audio of the printed words the camera captured, courtesy of a new app on his Apple Inc iPhone.

´I couldn’t believe how accurate it was,´ said Mosen, an assistive technology consultant from New Zealand.

The new app that allows people who are blind to listen to an audio readback of printed text is receiving rave reviews after its first day of availability and is being heralded as a life-changer by many people.

People with vision disabilities say the KNFB Reader app will enable a new level of engagement in everyday life, from reading menus in restaurants to browsing handouts in the classroom.

The US$99 app is the result of a four decades-long relationship between the National Federation of the Blind and Ray Kurzweil, a well-known artificial-intelligence scientist and senior Googleemployee.

According to its website, K-NFB Reading Technology Inc and Sensotec NV, a Belgium-based company, led the technical development of the app.

Kurzweil, who demonstrated the app on stage at the NFB’s annual convention in June, said it can replace a ´sighted adviser´.

Taking advantage of new pattern recognition and image- processing technology as well as new smartphone hardware, the app allows users to adjust or tilt the camera, and reads printed materials out loud.

People with refreshable Braille displays can now snap pictures of print documents and display them in Braille near-instantaneously, said NFB spokesman Chris Danielsen.
The app has already given some people greater independence, users said on Thursday and Friday on social-media sites such as Twitter.

One early adopter, Gordon Luke, tweeted that he was able to use the app to read his polling card for the Scottish Referendum.

The app will be available on Android in the coming months, Kurzweil told Reuters in an interview. He may also explore a version of the app for Google Glass, a postage stamp-sized computer screen that attaches to eyeglass frames and is capable of taking photos, recording video and playing sound.

´Google Glass makes sense because you direct the camera with your head,´ Kurzweil said.

Kurzweil started working on so-called ´reading machines´ in the early 1970s after chatting on a plane with a blind person who voiced frustrations with the lack of optical-recognition technology on the market.

A few years later, ´Kurzweil burst into the National Federation of the Blind’s offices in Washington, DC, and said he had invented a reading machine,´ recalled Jim Gashel, a former NFB employee who currently heads business development at KNFB Reader. ´It was phenomenal.´

Kurzweil’s first reading machine was the size of a washing machine and cost $50,000.

The technology has continued to improve over the past few decades — the new smartphone app can recognize and translate print between different languages and scan PowerPoint slides up to 7.6m away — but it was not available on a mainstream mobile device until now.

Previously, it cost more than US$1,000 to use the software with a Nokia cell phone and a camera.

San Francisco-based Bryan Bashin, executive director of the non-profit Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, said the KNFB app shows the positive and profound impact that technology can have.

´There are innumerable times in life that I’ll have a bit of print and there will be nobody around who can help me out, and I’ll just want to know something as simple as ‘Is this packet decaf or caffeinated coffee?´´ Bashin said.

´The ability to do this easily with something that fits in your pocket at lightning speed will certainly be a game changer.´”

(Source: GAATES)

Thursday, September 25, 2014 6:23:25 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“ Mobile phones are common, if not ubiquitous, in most developing nations. But not in Myanmar - until now. For years, the Myanmar government kept a monopoly on the SIM cards needed to connect to mobile networks. As recently as 2009 they cost approximately US$2,000.

Then things began to change. Since 2011, the price of SIM cards has fallen to about US$1.50. And the number of mobile subscriptions has risen from fewer than 600,000 in 2010 to nearly seven million by the end of 2013, in a country of more than 50 million people. The newly available technology is changing how farmers and brokers do business. In the countryside and in the city, agricultural workers say the new phones save them enormous amounts of time and money.

This audio slideshow explores how lower SIM card prices have dramatically changed how farmers do business.“

See here the video presentation.

(Source: SciDevNet)

Thursday, September 25, 2014 6:11:53 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“The State National Bank for Economic and Social Development of Brazil (BNDES funds) launched in Sao Paulo an exclusive line of credit for the Brazilian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) on the sector of Information Technology, which pretends to invest in innovation.

The program has a credit calculated on 300 million reais (about US$ 126.9 million), with an interest rate of 4% per annum for companies with 'innovative' profile, according to the presentation of MPMEs innovative, as it was called the credit from BNDES and DESENVOLVE SP, the regional development agency.

"The company that has a card BNDES is already classified as innovative", without bureaucratic procedure to present the projects to justify the range, told to Efe the Innovation director of the Brazilian Association of Software Companies (ABES), Jamile Sabatini.

The ABES gathers more than 80% of companies in the information technology sector and is responsible for presenting the MSME innovative to SMEs.

According to ABES, the field of information technology in Brazil is one of the biggest in the world, with a 3% share of the global market and growth rates three times the international average, achieving 4.8% of annual increase.

Because the market potential, indicated by the ABES, the credit line will boost up the sector in the Brazilian economy. ´It was because these experiences that we started talking with BNDES, showing that allocating resources on the innovation, the companies grow. The return to the society is huge because it creates jobs, generates income and bring economic development,´ said Sabatini.

The ´Zero Interest´ program, held in the southern state of Santa Catarina, which borders with Argentina, awarded 20 million reals (US$ 8.4 million) in 37 companies in the region through the Financier of Studies and Projects (FINEP ).

In Santa Catarina, told Sabatini, some SMEs came to grow up to 5.000% with that incentive.

In one year, the regional government recovered the money given to those SMEs with the taxes, because the contribution of those firms increased significantly, thanks to their exports.

´In 2008 was the time of crisis and some employers told us that if there was not this resource, they would have bankrupted,´ said Sabatini, for whom with the current unfavorable numbers of the economy, ´it is important that companies seek this resource.´

Sabatini, however, admitted that the annual rate of 4% for the new line of credit is high and therefore he warned that SMEs must ´know how to take advantage´ of these resources."

(Source: America Economía)

Thursday, September 25, 2014 6:08:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“On 12 September 2014, the Trinidad and Tobago national phase of the Agrihack Talent Caribbean has ended and the "Team Agri-Info" has win this importat competition hosted by Community HUB.

The four Trinidadian students composing the Team Agri-Info, Kris Adams, Mikaeel Andrews, Nicholai Rajkumar and Jairaj Singh, will now fly to Suriname, where they will have the opportunity to compete among the finalists to win the Agrihack Talent Caribbean, that will take place in Paramaribo, Suriname, from 6 to 12 October 2014 in occasion of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture.

The Agrihack Talent Caribbean is a regional initiative focusing on ICT for Agriculture, organised by the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), in collaboration with different institutions including the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and ConnectiMass. The main objective of this initiative is to support the development of ICT innovations and entrepreneurship in agriculture by young people.“

More information

Thursday, September 25, 2014 6:04:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

"First museum-based Cisco Science Fellowship for Innovative Learning Technologies to foster science engagement and innovation through technology.

Today, Cisco and the Ontario Science Centre announced their vision to advance the Centre's interactivity and accessibility. Cisco's investment in state of the art Information Communication Technology (ICT) will help transform the Ontario Science Centre into a ´connected museum´ allowing it to engage even broader audiences in innovative and interactive approaches to exploring science. In addition, Cisco is also funding the first ever museum-based Cisco Science Fellow for Innovative Learning Technologies, with the appointment of the Centre's Sabrina Greupner.

A Commitment to Science Literacy is Important for Canada's Economic Success

According to the World Economic Forum, in the past five years Canada has fallen to fifteenth from ninth place in economic competitiveness. In addition to investments in science, technology and innovation, competitive economies need innovative workforces that are literate in science and technology. Both organizations recognize the importance of a culture of science and innovation for Canada's economic success.

´With one million visitors per year, including more than 180,000 students, the Ontario Science Centre is one of the most visited cultural attractions in Canada. This collaboration will allow us to develop new modalities of interaction with our visitors and to reach audiences beyond the Centre. Cisco's vision to enable innovation, particularly in education, is closely aligned with our own, and is one of the reasons this is an excellent relationship,´ said Dr. Maurice Bitran, CEO, Ontario Science Centre. ´Cisco's leadership in this alliance has been both innovative and inspirational, and with their technology solutions and expertise, we hope to offer our visitors unparalleled learning experiences that will inspire the next generation of innovators.´

Creating a Next Generation ´Connected Museum´

This collaboration will provide the technological infrastructure necessary to bring science literacy and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning to broader audiences.

Both organizations will work to modernize and upgrade the Centre's information and communication systems, allowing it to collaborate with initiatives such as the forthcoming Cisco™ Internet of Everything Innovation Centre in Toronto and Cisco's Connected North program that enhances education and health care services in remote northern communities.

´Today's students will be the architects of tomorrow's Internet of Everything. Encouraging students to learn and engaging with them in new and exciting ways is key to inspiring them with the energy and creativity that drives scientific and technological innovation,´ said Nitin Kawale, president, Cisco Canada. ´By exploring technology solutions and integrating them into the new Science Fellowship, Cisco and the Ontario Science Centre hope to light a spark in the youth of today and encourage them to explore the potential that science and technology have to offer.´

Visionary Leadership Provided by Cisco Science Fellow for Innovative Learning Technologies

While Cisco offers a number of academic fellowships for science and technology education, the Cisco Science Fellow for Innovative Learning Technologies is its first museum-based fellowship. The goal of this fellowship is to improve science engagement and literacy through the use of integrated technologies.

´With a shared commitment to a culture of innovation, learning excellence and engagement with science, this new alliance opens up so many exciting opportunities,´ said Sabrina Greupner, manager of the Science Centre's Weston Family Innovation Centre and the newly appointed Cisco Science Fellow in Innovative Learning Technologies. ´As a liaison between organizations, my goal is to bring together external collaborators with our researchers, programmers, teachers and science experts to create innovative learning experiences and encourage the sharing of best practices.´

This fellowship will allow for research, development and innovation in the use of integrated technologies and solutions for learning science, enhancing the Centre's Science Education program, the largest museum-based program of its kind in Canada."

(Source: CISCO)

Thursday, September 25, 2014 5:58:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, September 19, 2014
More than 500 participants connected with tech entrepreneurs and experts from some of the most exciting names
 
With a curiosity to find out more about what it’s like to work in tech, more than 500 youth participated in the first-ever Tech Fest on 6 September 2014. Professionals from global tech companies, up-and-coming start-ups and local tech groups shared their experiences and advice with these participants.

Tech Fest seeks to raise awareness of the tech industry among the youth, while providing them the opportunity to network, as well as learn and dabble with some of the latest technologies. The highlights from the afternoon of activities included a live demo of the Red Rhino – a made in Singapore open-top fire-fighting vehicle; exploring a Nanyang Polytechnic student project which uses Microsoft Kinect sensor for infantry training; students writing their first lines of code in Ruby and Python; as well as a mock interview session with Google.

´We are thrilled by the overwhelming response for Tech Fest, especially with it being a totally new event. We were oversubscribed, but that was a happy problem for us.

Some rising and big names in the tech circle supported Tech Fest, and IDA will keep working with the industry to find new ways to inspire young Singaporeans to build and experiment with tech. Singapore is on its way to be the world’s first Smart Nation, and Tech Fest is just one of the many cool events that we will be organising for the tech ecosystem as we move towards that goal,´ said Steve Leonard, Executive Deputy Chairman, IDA.

´One of the speakers said nothing is wasting time, so if you are wasting time, then you are doing something that you are passionate about. So it’s not always that you need to get good grades and everything. That was really important. It’s a different perspective I would say´said Benjamin Wu, 25 years old, SMU student.

Tech Fest is organised by the IDA, in collaboration with Autodesk, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PayPal, Red Hat, Garena, GrabTaxi, Razer, Carousell, Hope Technik, Tinkertanker, ViSenze, Zopim, GeekcampSG, Singapore Geek Girls and Kosagi.”

(Source: IDA)

Friday, September 19, 2014 10:11:30 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

“ABOUT 120 teachers from Doregos Private Academy and St Bernadette School in Nigeria are in the processing of becoming the first schools in Nigeria and Africa to get certified in the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Standard, Digital Literacy and Microsoft certifications towards preparing students for the new academic session with 21st century skills which they will need in a world where technology is prevalent and quickly changing.

 The teachers from the schools will be certified as Microsoft Certified Educators (MCE) and Internet and Computing Core Certified (IC3) professionals. These certifications differentiate Doregos and St. Bernadette Schools from other teachers in Nigeria and Africa. The Microsoft Partners in Learning Group has a professional development programme to help teachers develop the attributes needed for innovative teaching.

The teachers are undergoing rigorous training for four weeks at New Horizons, the world’s leading IT training institution in Nigeria where they will also sit for the international certification online to test their competencies in all areas based on the examination body. This landmark achievement has set a standard of ICT digital literacy and teaching with technology in schools today for others to emulate.

Mrs. Clementina Doregos, proprietress of the two schools said the training will aid them to be on same level with what transpires abroad.

She explained that her visit to top schools in USA and UK where teachers and students are collaborating, innovating and solving problem in classroom in real time shows that teaching has gone beyond didactic method of training to collaborative method where teachers and students share knowledge real time in classroom with the use of technology.

 Managing Director of New Horizons, Tim Akano, said that ´Mummy Doregos is such an exceptional proprietress that is ready for change driven by innovative way of adding value to her students, teachers, parents and schools.´ He added that the proprietress informed him how she wants her teachers to be certified and empowered yearly by using technology to train the students.

New Horizons has developed a curriculum for teachers in line with UNESCO Standard, Digital Literacy and Microsoft certifications to empower and equip them with 21st century teaching skills and test their competency. This will address one of the reasons for the mass failure in West African Examinations Council (WAEC).

According to the Head of National Office, WAEC, Charles Eguridu many Nigerian teachers are not competent and some teachers could not even read and how will they impact knowledge you do not possess. He also said that teachers find it difficult to do competency tests which some state had to reserved for obvious reasons, so the quality of the teachers in the systems is such that one can not vouch for their competence.”

(Source: The Guardian)

Friday, September 19, 2014 10:00:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“Founded on the idea that Information and Communication Technologies can be leveraged to contribute to social change, Barefoot Law Uganda was initiated by a team of enthusiastic Ugandan lawyers passionate about making positive contributions to the lives of ordinary Ugandans.

Mr. Abila Gerald, who founded the Barefoot Law aims at providing free legal service to Ugandan people using information and communication technologies – especially social media to address the rampant ignorance of the common people about the law, their rights and need for legal redress.

In an earlier interview with Voice of America (VOA) News in May 2014, Abila, 30 said ´I travel a lot, and a lot of people in areas I travel to were like me before I started studying the law… the level of legal ignorance. And access to legal services is too low,´ he said.

Last week, a team of Barefoot Lawyers through a partnership with Women of Uganda Network(WOUGNET) spoke to participants of the ReachUp project – the project implemented by the Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) Uganda and WOUGNET builds capacity of young women and men (youth) on how they can use technology to improve their businesses and nurture business potential to reduce the rampant youth unemployment in Uganda.

The Lawyers, introduced youth to the ideas behind Barefoot Law project and explained the different online platforms and social media that they use to answer/respond to legal questions posed by thousands of people in the country. They also availed themselves freely to respond to any legal issues that the youth had.

The team of Barefoot Law answered many legal questions affecting the youth including land issues, domestic issues, contracts and employment issues and many others. Mr. Micheal Kwizera and his colleague Timothy spent more than three hours interacting with youth, answering questions and listening to their innovative ideas.

Because women and youth in Uganda faces serious socio – economic and political challenges including ignorance of their rights and the law including access to free legal services , WOUGNET and barefoot Law decided to make this possible to women in Uganda and their partnership began by making access to legal services easier for women and youth from Kampala and this is expected to be rolled out to other areas including Northern Uganda.

Speaking in an earlier interview, Mr. Abila said -
´Ninety-seven percent of lawyers in Uganda are within the capital,´ he said. ´So 97 percent of lawyers serve a population of 2 million people, and the remaining three percent is left to serve a population of around 36 million. So how do you overcome such challenges using technology?´

Abila’s decided Barefoot Law, which he founded two years ago, would be the answer. The team uses web 2.0 and social media to address legal issues to majority of average and poor Ugandans.

Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) is a Non – Governmental Organisation initiated by several women’s organisations in Uganda to promote and support the use of Information and Communications Technology as tools to share information and address issues of sustainable national development collectively.“

(Source: WOUGNET)

Friday, September 19, 2014 9:55:37 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“Telstra is providing more options for people with disabilities to access communication services, with three new initiatives launching today including a new portal on Telstra.com that allows customers to identify which mobile device in the Telstra range will best suit their particular needs.

Speaking today at the ACCAN ‘Connecting Today’s Consumer Conference in Sydney, Group Managing Director Telstra Consumer, Karsten Wildberger said the new portal was designed to help everyone, but particularly older Australians and people with disability, to easily find the features that may make it easier for them to connect.

´We want all our customers to have a brilliant experience with us, and helping them find the devices and apps that best meet their needs is fundamental to that,´ said Mr Wildberger.

Based on the Mobile Manufactures Forum (MMF) Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative, the new portal lets users search for features that may assist specific disabilities such as speech, vision, cognitive and dexterity impairment. Examples include:

- Adjustable vibrating alerts that can help people who are deaf,
- Gesture navigation that can help people with dexterity disabilities navigate around their phone, and
- Voice output of caller ID for people who are blind or low vision.
Telstra is the first carrier globally to provide customers with direct access to this important information.

This function will make the purchase decision and access to mobile phones easier for our customers, especially for seniors and the more than four million Australians who have disabilities.

´It is exciting to announce this new initiative at the annual ACCAN conference, as the idea to develop this site was born at the ACCAN-Telstra conference held in August 2013´, Mr Wildberger said.

´In addition to announcing the new portal, we can also confirm we have removed the use of CAPTCHAs from our website and added open captions to 14 popular BigPond movie titles. We plan to increase the number of titles with open captions over time, until the technical capacity that will enable closed captions to be offered across all platforms is completed.´

Telstra’s purpose to create a brilliant connected future for everyone includes breaking down the barriers that make it a challenge for some members of the community to enjoy the benefits of modern mobile communications.

Telstra has a strong commitment to improving access to communications for customers with disability and has a three-year Disability Action Plan to continue to improve our activities and drive new initiatives in this space. This is our sixth three-year Disability Action Plan.”

(Source: GAATES)

Friday, September 19, 2014 9:38:13 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“Mobile telephony continues to make its way – slowly but triumphantly – into the rural areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), improving the lives of millions and bringing ICTs at the doorstep of the less fortunate communities, where poverty rate stands at 76%.

To date, Vodacom Congo appears to be leading the pack in this aspect, with more than 1000 cities and villages currently covered by its network in this Central African nation.

One of its recent rural projects is the coverage this year of the village of Basoko, in the Oriental Province, about 1300 km north-east of Kinshasa.

Basoko resident Nafisa Bilinga, currently visiting her extended family in the capital Kinshasa, told Biztechafrica that mobile telephone has changed the lives of many in that city and throughout the province, as communicating with the outside world was no longer a hassle as it is used to be.

´All you need now is a device and a sim card packed with units´, Bilinga said proudly.

However, certain operators have done more than facilitating their rural users to just send SMSes or making phones calls. This is the case of Airtel DRC, which launched a health service called ‘Airtel Santé Info’, an innovative service that helps callers to consult a medical doctor – or put it simply to seek medical advice – over the cellphone.

In an under-equipped country such as the DRC where rural patients have to travel thousands of miles to get to a make-shift clinic, the service is said to have helped many rural folks to know instantly which bug is eating their bodies.

´From now on, the mobile phone will act as a relay in real time between doctors and their patients´, Airtel marketing manager Eddy Kapuku said at the launch.
One only needs to dial 3535 to get access to the service.

In the East’s war-torn areas, mobile telephone is also proving to be an effective tool for helping millions of displaced populations to rebuild their lives.

Care International conducted Umoja Plus and Ujio Yetu, two pilot mobile money projects, in the rural cities of Masisi and Lubero, in association with the Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry, UK’s Viiv Health and Airtel DRC.”

(Source: BizTech Africa)

Friday, September 19, 2014 9:21:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“On the 28th of August, the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is celebrating the launch of MapAbility platform, a ground-breaking online map designed to inform students with disabilities about the accessibility level of European Higher Education Institutions [HEIs].

ExchangeAbility and its subproject, MapAbility are supported by a coalition of partners in delivering this project. With this new online map, ESN is using MapAbility data to provide students with disabilities with an exclusive guide to accessibility in European Universities.

A committed team of students from across Europe founded the project, which maps out the entire Higher Education Area. The group – who are all the volunteers of ESN – created a questionnaire to investigate the accessibility level of Higher Education buildings and to gather information about the services HEIs can offer students with disabilities.

Preliminary MapAbility research reveals mixed results for accessibility in European HEIs: although a third of institutions have no Disability unit to welcome students with disabilities, over two thirds of HEIs have essential facilities such as elevators and accessible bathrooms.

The project also hopes to promote common understanding of the diverse range of accessibility needs in Europe. The goal would be to increase the facilities available for students with disabilities and to improve the perception of different forms of disability in European HEIs.

MapAbility is a sub-project of ExchangeAbility, an ESN program with the wider aim of increasing the participation of students with disabilities in international mobility programs”.

(Source: GAATES)

Friday, September 19, 2014 9:10:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
“The fourth edition of Colombia 3.0 met digital entrepreneurs content. For three days national and international experts, academics and investors had an appointment to discuss the latest developments in the industry.

More than 14,000 people attended the conferences, workshops and panels for which were invited 120 experts from 19 countries (Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador, United States, India, Venezuela, Canada, Germany, Brazil, Chile, Norway, United Kingdom, Peru, Ecuador, Belgium, Spain, Panama, Uruguay).

Participants included big industry players such as Javier Olivar, International Director of Facebook; Paul Debevec, Oscar winner for his work on Avatar; David James, production designer of the company DreamWorks; Dawn Rivera-Ernst, Director of Talent Development and Scope of Walt Disney Animation Studios; Ady Harley, head of music partnerships of Google Play; Isaac Bess, business strategist of YouTube; Jorden Woods, President and Co-Founder of Silicon Valley Fundraising and Camilo Gomez, manager of Online Partnerships Group for Colombia of Google and co-founder of Nubello Jorge Araújo Muller. 

According to the statistics the balance of this event is more than positive. Thanks to the support of Proexport, the first round of business in Colombia 3.0 ended with the business expectations of $ 1.3 million among the 15 international buyers and 27 exporters from Bogota, Armenia, Cali, Manizales, Medellin and Pereira, around the development of different contents such as games, animations and software.

The MINTIC Contents' director,  Juan Sebastián Sandino, said that the fourth edition of Colombia 3.0 ratified the magnitude of the digital revolution that Colombia is living now. Also, he mentioned that this event showed that the developers and creatives have matured in the articulation of new business models and monetization of their products. He said that the great progress made by the ICT Ministry to bring the Internet to all Colombians and the entry into operation of Vivelabs are consolidating their industry. He concluded that their country has a great opportunity to become a major player in the development of digital content. The information highways are routed. It's time to exploit them.“

(Source: MINTIC)

Friday, September 19, 2014 9:05:31 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, September 16, 2014


UNESCO’s experience in Senegal demonstrates that mobile phones, computers, internet and TV make literacy courses much more attractive for illiterate women.

“We have demonstrated that technology increases illiterate women’s interest in learning new skills and helps build their confidence, as they are able to read and write their own messages and use the keyboard to correct their own sentences,” says Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Director of UNESCO’s Regional Office in Dakar. According to her, the transition women make in the classes to using mobile phones and computers has become an attraction and pooled a lot of interest.

Since 2011, UNESCO Dakar has been running the PAJEF literacy project in Senegal in partnership with government, NGOs and local communities. While some beneficiaries receive literacy classes face-to-face,   the majority of women learn through DVDs, online and mobile applications and television programmes.

Through this project women can improve both their literacy and IT skills as well as vocational and life skills, which are also integral parts of the literacy package.  In addition, the project includes financial support given to each class for learners to develop their own income generating activities. 

 After the good results obtained in Senegal, UNESCO announced the extension of the project to Kenya and Nigeria. Gambia has also shown interest in replicating the project and yet more countries, including Pakistan and Namibia, are interested in learning more. In this way the project PAJEF is being considered as a model for other countries to increase the literacy nationwide and particularly among women.

(Further details)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 8:33:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Darius Ishaku, has announced that the training of 100 youth in ICT skills for this region will start on September 15th.

Mr. Ishaku said that the Ministry would carry out this training in collaboration with companies such as Swift and the private consultancy firm, Just Nigeria Ltd.

According to the Minister, "This initiative places emphasis on vocational training tailored towards providing the identified trainees with the needed essential skills and competences to become active players in their chosen sector of the economy". Also, he said that because information and communication technology is one of the biggest sectors in Nigeria, it poses a great opportunity to engage the country’s extensive young population. 

According to the statistics, there are around 44 million Nigerian mobile phone subscribers. The Minister said, "With more than 100 million active phone users and some 50 million persons having access to the Internet, phone assembly plants are therefore the best investment for youths to benefit from“. In this way the Minister noted the importance of developing the necessary technical skills among youths to foster further development of  his country.

The Ministry also mentioned that the government’s  “Transformation Agenda” and commitment to improving the lives of youth, including through ICT. Unfortunately some of the projects from the government faced obstacles, such as lack of funding.  Despite these challenges, he programme recently completed training for 100 Niger Delta youths in its skill acquisition programme, carrying out trainings and providing each participant with N100,000 to start their own businesses once they completed training.

(Source: All Africa)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 8:26:31 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


According to a report by the International Women's Media Foundation (2011) on global status of women in the news media, men occupy the vast majority of managerial and news gathering positions in the Asia-Pacific region, while women take up barely 13% of senior management positions. Factors such as institutionalized prejudices and gender stereotyping are behind the marginalization of women in terms of the career choices and opportunities for upward mobility available to them.

This year, as a follow-up to the Global Forum on Media and Gender (Bangkok,2013), UNESCO and UN Women have partnered with the International Federation of Journalists Asia-Pacific (IFJ) to conduct a Research Study on Media and Gender in Asia-Pacific. This study aims to inform the debate on gender equality in the media and propose concrete actions to improve the current situation.

The study will build on IFJ’s previous work in the area and analyze samples of countries in South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific. The study will follow the UNESCO’s Gender Sensitive Indicators for the Media and the use a combination of surveys, analysis of the media content and case studies.  Areas of research include the situation of women in the media; the number of women in senior positions and the issues affecting this representation;  the role that unions, associations and women´s networks could and do play; and finally, best practice case studies of campaigns, media workplaces as well as coverage and representation of women.

The recommendations of  the study will be presented regionally and globally in relation a to the platform of action of Beijing (PAB) +20 review process  and the post 2015 development framework .The objective is to inform the national, regional and global policies and programmes. A first draft of the study will be introduced at the Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, which will be held in Bangkok in November 2014. The final report is expected to be presented at the 59th session of the Commission on Status of Women in March 2015.

For more details

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 2:38:55 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
On September 08, 2014 a literacy app will be launched by the Nal'ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign, in partnership with Mxit Reach.

Mxit is a South African social networking platform, which will provide access to stories, and educational materials to anyone with a mobile.  This company has five million users every month.

According to Carole Bloch, Director of the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA),"Research shows that being told stories and being read to at home are the things most likely to help make children successful learners at school. Stories, particularly when read or heard in home languages, help children develop their language skills and imagination as well as their thinking and problem-solving skills. But not all South Africans have access to children's books and stories - particularly in their mother tongue.

What most South Africans do have is a cellphone, with mobile penetration now over 100% in the country. By harnessing this tidal wave of mobile communication technology use in our country, we hope to get even more adults reading and enjoying stories with their children so it becomes part of their daily lives."
Because children are often just as skilled in technology use as their parents, they are able to read stories on their own or experience the rewards of sharing stories with their parents. 

"There is a tendency for parents to engage less with their children around E-books and other forms of digital content. Language and literacy skills are best developed in the discussion and engagement that takes place when caregivers and young ones share a story together - and this includes the sharing of stories found on digital devices".

To address this, on the Nal'ibali reading-for-enjoyment app, they invite adults to sign-up with their children for stories and motivational tips in the language of their choice. The app prompts users to share stories with their children, given that frequent practice with reading will encourage higher levels of literacy. Users also earn points for finishing stories and answering questions.  Finally, the app provides a library of stories, including audio stories, quizzes, and space for reviews.  Soon, features will be added to enable younger children to practice rhymes and all users will be able to ask experts reading- and writing-related questions. 

The app currently enjoys more than 60,000 subscribers and seeks to expand its use. “In that way,” Andrew Rudge, CEO of Mxit Reach says, “the company can make a lasting contribution to the development of a reading culture in SA”.

Further details

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 2:32:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


FutureGov pre-selected candidates for the annual FutureGov Awards in the category of Digital Inclusion. The shortlisted programmes are the Sarawak Action Plan from Malaysia, Sistem E-Livestock from Indonesia, ‘SMU Mobile’ programme by Singapore Management University  from Singapore, ‘Zero Counters’ project by Subang Jaya Municipal Council from Malaysia and  Bankers-Builders-Buyers (BBB+B) Programme by Home Guaranty Corporation from The Philippines.

The Chief Minister’s Department of the Malaysian State of Sarawak created the Sarawak Action Plan to facilitate efficient delivery of services to citizens  living in the sparsely populated areas of the country. The program has achieved significant progress including the Sarawak’s eKiosk roll-out, which provides remote access to bill payment, checking of information on application status, and feedback reporting.

The Sistem E-Livestock is an app developed by the E-Government Department of the University of Indonesia and tested in Sumatra. The app provides an e-service that uses GIS to manage the identification, registration, and documentation of cows and to monitor their movement within the country.

Singapore Management University’s (‘SMU Mobile’) programme is a great example of a mobile app designed to specifically meet the needs of its target group. This app provides access to a wide range of transactional, location-based and social media services and widens the access to course and library services through mobile web, Windows Phone, Apple and Android apps. The service has achieved more than 10,000 page views in a month.

Subang Jaya Municipal Council’s Zero Counters’ project has a target to reduce face-to-face transactions by 80 per cent by 2016 and has already made significant progress towards reaching this goal.  While maintaining community’s access to services, the project has reduced service time for exception handling to an average of 17 minutes.

The Home Guaranty Corporation in the Philippines has launched its Bankers-Builders-Buyers (BBB+B) Programme with the objective to mobilize funds for social housing.  As a part of the government’s mandate to widen home ownership in the Philippines, the programme guides homebuyers through the complex home loan application and purchase process. The innovation originates from the agency’s partnership with the private sector that aims to create online tools addressing each stage of the loan origination and home purchase process.

The FutureGov Awards is an annual peer-review process, administered by the FutureGov editorial team since 2007. This year the contest received over 550 nominations from across the Asia Pacific.

The winner will be announced at the 11th annual FutureGov Summit in Kuala Lumpur in October.

(Source: FutureGov)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 2:26:24 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, September 01, 2014


In order to tackle the lack of locally relevant content and improve the quality of education in rural areas of Peru, the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) has designed an integrated solution that turns largely unused laptops into digital offline libraries.

Student reading performance in Peru ranked last in the 2012 OECD PISA test, and rural education suffers considerably from a lack of culturally and linguistically contextualized learning materials and expertise. These digital offline libraries contain user-generated content in local languages and reflect the culture of Peru’s indigenous communities.

For the last 17 years, IICD has been using existing ICT in innovative ways to solve day-to-day problems faced by local communities. Although nearly five million Peruvians speak Quechua, Peru’s national curriculum is still mostly in Spanish. Spanish-speaking Peruvians are seven times more likely to achieve satisfactory scores on literacy and numeracy tests than Quechua speakers. The situation is much worse in disconnected rural schools. Peru’s most remote areas in the Andes suffer from poor infrastructure, a serious shortage of qualified teachers, lack of Internet connectivity and lack of relevant educational material.

As part of an effort to improve Peruvian education in general, the One Laptop per Child programme (OLPC) has already provided eight hundred thousand XO laptops for educational use, but due to lack of training and Internet connectivity, these laptops have gone largely unused. With suited pedagogical approaches and access to the right kinds of learning materials and expertise, these computers can be powerful tools for education. They offer students access to stimulating materials, like videos in their own language, and allow teachers to offer and create culturally relevant content and examples. The availability of educational material contextualized to indigenous cultures and traditional knowledge not only increases the development of students’ literacy skills, but also aids in the preservation of local identities.

(Source: IICD)

Monday, September 01, 2014 10:47:03 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


UNESCO’s YouthMobile Initiative recently concluded the 3rd round of workshops in Nairobi, Kenya for 40 young people on mobile app development. The training is part of a seven round series of workshops hosted in partnership with the Developer School of Kenya.

A series of intensive training workshops on mobile application development for youth for sustainable development in Kenya has been ongoing during the summer in Nairobi, Kenya.

From 17 July 2014, 40 young people received mobile app development training. The workshops were within the framework of the new and innovative UNESCO YouthMobile Initiative in partnership with the Dev School and Kenya National Commission for UNESCO.

The UNESCO Eastern Africa Office provided extensive assistance to the training initiatives. The YouthMobile Initiative aims to empower youth with the high-level skills and confidence to create mobile apps that are locally-relevant and contribute to the reduction of chronic youth unemployment.

The global objective is to engage at least 25,000 young people and sell at least 5,000 mobile apps by 2017.

At a time when the world is looking for new ways to build peace and achieve sustainable development, encouraging innovation and creativity in the  youth of the world will be vital in effectively addressing these challenges.

The Nairobi workshop was held in partnership with the Dev School, a start-up from Kenya with aspirations to introduce coding to youth across the nation. Founded in 2013 by a young Kenyan, Ms. Martha Njeri Chelimo, the Dev School has now successfully run two rounds of training in Nairobi. In these workshops, students are able to extensively study programming languages, mobile platforms, web application frameworks, front end development, writing and entrepreneurship.

The 40 young people who participated in this summer’s workshop learned mobile app development from the MIT App Inventor curriculum. Peer trainers guided students in building Android applications and focused on creating apps that would solve specific local problems.

Linus Onyango, Chairperson at the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO Youth Forum, said: “The Mobile Application Training has been the most exciting and innovative undertaking related to ICT in which the UNESCO Youth forum Kenya has participated. The mobile Application training has been on for six weeks now and the attendance has been amazing. The class is always full and the trainers have been great in giving the learners an introduction to mobile apps development. I would like to thank UNESCO’s Regional Office, the Dev School, the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO and the Kenyan youth for making Nairobi YouthMobile a success”.

Since the Dev School’s inception, the number of students participating in workshops has been steadily increasing. Graduating students have had great success in finding employment within the growing IT industry in Kenya.

There will be a hackathon in September, where students will be required to fully develop their final mobile applications for presentation. In the hackathon, the students will build Android applications in the following areas: education, unemployment, culture, water and sustainable development.

To find out more about the UNESCO YouthMobile Initiative, follow on Twitter @YouthMobile_ or visit the website: www.youthmobile.org
UNESCO is organizing similar YouthMobile workshops in South Sudan, Nigeria, Lebanon and Jordan.

(Source: UNESCO)

Monday, September 01, 2014 10:19:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


The Chief Executive Officer of Tigo (Tigo Ghana limited), Roshi Motman, is encouraging more girls to study ICT including software, web applications and hardware engineering.

According to her, the ICT industry offers women the opportunity to bring their personal ambition and passions together and make a meaningful contribution to society by developing cutting-edge innovative solutions.

She also believes careers in ICT offer economic freedom and independence for women to work from anywhere including remote locations and across industries.
The Tigo CEO interacted with young women from Nima and Maamobi, suburbs of Accra, at the ‘Tech needs Girls’ training centre.

The centre is run by a Tigo Reach for Change ambassador, Regina Agyare, a social entrepreneur committed to introducing and encouraging young girls to study ICT. Roshi Motman was delighted by the enthusiasm of the young girls and pledged Tigo’s continuous support for  the project. She urged the young women to be confident and challenge the status quo as they will be constrained by history, processes and systems.

‘Tech needs Girls’ is a social enterprise project aimed using technology to encourage and empower young girls to pursue various careers in ICT through hands-on training and mentorship.

(Source: Biztech Africa)

Monday, September 01, 2014 10:04:15 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
ITU, the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs), in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) is looking for innovative ideas on how ICTs can help smart cities to slow down or mitigate the effects of climate change and thereby improve people’s health.



This might include novel technologies or combinations of existing technologies, services, and systems which would shape a smart city. It may focus on monitoring or reporting on climate change, mitigating or adapting the impact of climate change on society, or on changes in technology and society that lead to a greener community.

Are you an entrepreneur under the age of 30 and interested in winning up to USD5000 in funding, plus mentorship, networking, and high-level exposure before an influential global audience of decision-makers?

Are you interested in working on concepts and ideas for new social start-ups which directly address climate change and its negative impact on health through a process of co-creation?

Do you want to be part of the select group of 10 young innovators from all over the world present at ITU Telecom World 2014 in Doha, Qatar?
Apply now at: https://ideas.itu.int

Deadline: Tuesday, October 7 2014
Find out more on ITU Telecom World 2014 at telecomworld.itu.int

(Source: GAATES)

Monday, September 01, 2014 8:57:55 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


Rwandan tech incubator Think has received over 100 applications from nine countries for a six-month programme beginning in September in Kigali.

Backed by mobile operator Tigo, Think opened applications to startups and developers from Rwanda and the rest of Africa last month, and will pick the best five teams to join the programme.

Tigo said it will offer selected startups seed financing, structured training and coaching programmes, as well as access to product testing resources and potential customers and investors.

The incubator said it has received over 100 applications from a variety of tech startups and early stage companies from Rwanda as well as Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, Benin, Uganda and Benin.

“We are excited to welcome the first batch of talented entrepreneurs at Think. We are calling on tech entrepreneurs across the continent with solid ideas for digital innovation for Africa. Tigo is looking forward to investing in their skills and ingenuity”, Tigo Rwanda general manager, Tongai Maramba, said.

“Think is part of a large and growing ecosystem to encourage technology development across Africa. In Rwanda, Think is already working closely with The Office RW and kLab to co-host networking and skills-building events”, Think said.

“In addition, both of these co-working spaces have supported the Think incubator in outreach to promising startups in their networks. In the larger ecosystem, Think is seeking to partner with leaders in the tech development, incubation, and business development in the world”.

VC4Africa, GSMA, MEST Ghana, Venture Wave San Francisco, Afrilabs, iHub Nairobi and Carnegie Mellon University have all been assisting  in the application process and have expressed interest in supporting Think tech entrepreneurs.

“Rwanda is becoming a hub for technology innovations, and Think is a great addition to our vibrant ecosystem. We cannot wait to see the next African startups bourgeoning from Rwanda”, Rwanda’s minister for youth and ICT, Jean-Philbert Nsengimana, said.

Further details

Monday, September 01, 2014 8:46:15 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


A free app to help blind people, which uses different smartphone functions to translate tapping gestures into text, launched this week.
The Simpleye app will initially be available for free for Android smartphones.

“It should be available to everyone who needs it”, says the app’s Indian designer Sumit Dagar, who is also working on developing one of the world’s first Braille smartphones.

Dagar is looking to charge users in developed countries a small amount to recover start-up costs, although he hopes to keep the app free in the developing world where the majority of blind or visually impaired people live.

Touching the screen using different tapping or swiping gestures works by imitating Braille, says Dagar. The app also gives audio feedback, reading  words created by the gestures out loud, and even pointing out words that do not make sense.

Dagar is now looking to make the app multilingual so that non-English speakers can use it. He says he has a working prototype or "launcher" that has basic functionalities such as desktop tools, calling, text messaging and a calculator. More complicated aspects like navigation and music are still being designed.

However, progress on the Braille smartphone has been slowed down by lack of funds and high production costs, which currently stand at about US$ 800 per piece. Dagar says he may approach organisations such as the UN or Google for possible collaborations in the near future.

He hopes his smartphone will eventually work with apps such as Facebook; he plans to approach these organizations directly to achieve this.

A decision still has to be made on whether to release a basic version of the phone with compromised functionality — without navigation for example — or to wait until the full functionality is available, says Dagar.

OwnFone, the UK-based designers of the first Braille phone that went on sale for £60 (US$100) earlier this year in the United Kingdom, says they plan to launch a Kickstarter project to raise funds to make their product available internationally. OwnFone’s first international partner is based in Australia, but the company gives no details about whether the phone will be available in developing countries or how much they would charge in these areas. OwnFone congratulated Dagar’s efforts. “The more devices on the market to help the blind or the partially-sighted, the better,” they said.

A spokesman from the UK-based Royal London Society for Blind People praised Dagar’s app, saying, “Simpleye is a great typing alternative for blind and partially sighted Braille users, and we applaud the efforts of developers working to expand the choice of accessibility apps for vision impaired smartphone users.”

(Source: Scidev Net)

Monday, September 01, 2014 4:30:12 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, August 21, 2014
SMEs can now enjoy broader coverage of technology solutions and a simplified application process through the incorporation of the $500 million IPG programme into "Increase SME Productivity with Infocomm Adoption & Transformation" (iSPRINT). The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced IPG earlier this year in the Singapore Budget 2014 Speech.

The enhanced iSPRINT scheme will boost SMEs' productivity and growth. There are three new elements in the enhanced iSPRINT: piloting of new sector solutions, scaling up of already proven sector solutions and leveraging access to high-speed connectivity to achieve more with technology.

The enhancement was announced today by Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, at the opening of the 16th Annual SMEs Conference & 17th Infocomm Commerce Conference, organized by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Dr. Yaacob said that the enhancements aim to make the adoption of ICT solutions more accessible to SMEs. "Global and technological trends have made the businesses highly competitive and SMEs must make use of technology to compete and succeed. The opportunities and possibilities are there, it is up to you (SMEs) to take advantage of the resources the Government has provided".

Mr. Steve Leonard, Executive Deputy Chairman, IDA said, "Tech enables business transformation. To build the world's first Smart Nation, we need pioneers among our SME to innovate with tech and transform their businesses so that they can compete even more effectively in Singapore and reach new markets overseas".

IT vendors and SMEs who wish to pioneer new and scalable solutions that can automate and transform a particular sector may now receive support of up to 80% capped at $1 million. SMEs, on the other hand, that wish to deploy proven sector-specific solutions in their business, may also benefit from this scheme. SMEs can choose solutions from a growing pre-qualified list and may now receive support of up to 70%.

To encourage SMEs to deploy technology into their businesses, SMEs can also enjoy higher speed connectivity with the support from IDA if they adopt selected solutions. These include support for SMEs' fibre subscription plans of at least 100 Mbps and implementation of Wireless@SG services at their business premises.

At the same time, SMEs will also not need to make any claim submissions for the above enhanced iSPRINT support. The enhanced iSPRINT is expected to support up to 10,000 companies over three years. Whilst all sectors with SMEs will benefit from this scheme, 5 sectors that will benefit significantly for productivity and growth are retail, food & beverage, construction, logistics/transport and tourism & attractions.

Further details

Thursday, August 21, 2014 6:43:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


On July 9, the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD)-led Connect4Change consortium, together with preferred partner Text to Change and the Forum for African Women Educationalists in Malawi (FAWEMA), launched a campaign aimed at creating an environment in which children’s rights are recognized and respected. The initiative uses ICTs to map the local situation of children, particularly in schools and focusing on girls, to raise community awareness of child abuse and to advocate for children’s rights. It empowers the community to voice their concerns and puts a structure in place for facilitating follow-up and feedback.

In this campaign, SMS and radio are used to mobilize communities around issues affecting children’s rights and education. Parents, teachers and other community members are encouraged to enrol in a mobile platform informing and surveying participants on various children’s rights topics, and both SMS and radio are used to further raise awareness and sensitize the community to these issues. The messages focus on child abuse in many forms, including but not limited to child marriage, child labor, sexual harassment and severe punishments by teachers. A toll free line has been designed to report incidents of child abuse, and reported cases are to be followed up by linking to the appropriate authorities such as the Victim Support Unit, mother groups or the Ministry of Gender and Social Welfare.

Our experience shows that inclusion of all community stakeholders from the beginning is crucial in advocacy work. Furthermore, the diversity of issues addressed by this campaign requires the engagement of all community stakeholders to support and hold each other accountable to their shared goals. For these reasons, IICD worked to include not only local authorities, but also school management committees, teachers, parent-teacher associations, teacher training colleges and primary education advisors in the workflow.

Advocacy initiatives such as this child protection campaign are an important part of the ICT4D work that IICD pursues. Keeping issues such as child abuse on political and community agendas is a central component of bringing about sustainable social changes in the countries in which they work. In this initiative, by advocating children’s rights via an ICT platform, parents and educators in the community become better equipped to deal with these concerns and offer their children a safer environment for learning and living.

(Source: IICD)

Thursday, August 21, 2014 6:35:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has signed a collaborative agreement with Microsoft East Africa to enhance development activities in the area of entrepreneurship.

The two organizations have agreed that Microsoft will provide training and mentorship services to Ethiopia's UNDP - supported Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) for 200,000 entrepreneurs. These services form part of Microsoft's 4Afrika Initiative, which looks to accelerate Africa's economic development and improve its global competitiveness by empowering local entrepreneurs. Microsoft brings this vision, as well as its vast experience in providing ICT skills, education and curriculum for developing countries, to the deal.

As part of this agreement, senior Microsoft executive volunteers will be required to provide support, including mentoring entrepreneurs on strategy and marketing; supporting the best innovators and nominating them for the 4Afrika Innovation Grant Award; providing access to Microsoft BizSpark, a global program that provides free software to startup entrepreneurs and in future; and helping entrepreneurs exchange products and services and gain global recognition through the Microsoft Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) portal.

UNDP's partnership deal with Microsoft also includes a 'Build Your Own Business' training, which is designed to help micro and small businesses empower current and aspiring entrepreneurs.

This is UNDP Ethiopia's first private sector partnership. Commenting on the collaborative agreement, the Resident Representative, Eugene Owusu, says: "The goods and services offered by Microsoft provides a unique opportunity to unleash the potential of young and budding entrepreneurs. This will help them to play a vital role in the economic growth and transformational development of Ethiopia".

Eric Odipo, Country Manager of Microsoft East and Southern Africa, agrees: "It is critical to develop the capacity, knowledge and skills of local entrepreneurs who will stimulate local economies. We look forward to working with the UNDP in taking innovative business models to scale".

UNDP and Microsoft have successfully partnered in the past in numerous countries to promote sustainable development, eradication of poverty, advancement of women, good governance and the rule of law. In this new partnership targeted at Ethiopia, the collaboration will focus on addressing some of the principal challenges faced in building resilient nations by empowering citizens and preparing them to join a dynamic and innovative 21st century workforce.

"Entrepreneurs hold the key in driving innovation and long term competitiveness in the African economy. Microsoft's partnership with UNDP to support 200,000 entrepreneurs in Ethiopia is the first step in driving this growth", noted Amrote Abdella, Director of Startup Engagement & Partnerships, Africa Initiatives, Microsoft.

Further details

Thursday, August 21, 2014 6:30:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |