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 Monday, March 16, 2015



“The Vodafone Foundation has unveiled a portable "Instant Classroom" that it hopes will give 15,000 child refugees across Africa access to tablet-based education.

The digital school in a box, which has been unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, can be set up in 20 minutes and can be used in classrooms where there is no electricity. The Foundation has partnered with UNHCR to bring the Instant Classroom to 12 schools in Kenya, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the next 12 months.

Each Instant Classroom is shipped in a secure and robust case that weighs 52kg and comes equipped with a laptop, 25 tablets pre-loaded with educational software, a projector, a speaker and a hotspot modem with 3G connectivity. The Classroom can be charged as a single unit from one power source in 6-8 hours, after which it can be used in a for an entire day without access to electricity.

The ongoing partnership between the Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR has already seen the benefits of tablet-based education in refugee camps. Through the Instant Network Schools programme it used tablets donated by Huawei to provide educational experiences to 18,000 pupils in the Dadaab refugee settlement in Kenya. The tablet-based lessons have proved so popular that attendance rates has improved by 15 percent on average.

It has always been the Foundation's approach to bring holistic solutions that include power, connectivity and devices into refugee camp schools. The box, however, is being introduced to help increase the reach of the programme and to make deployment faster and more efficient, the Vodafone Foundation's Oisin Walton explains to WIRED.co.uk.

´We can't with the current programme meet all the needs in the refugee camps,´ he says. ´We'd like to expand the programme and we're looking into this but we cannot reach all the schools in the camp at the moment so to support that the box means that you can actually bring all the equipment into a classroom where we haven't fitted internet and power.´

The Vodafone Foundation started working in its first school in October 2013 and has been working on the box since last summer. It took about six months to design the box and source the equipment and the first prototype was delivered in December 2014. ´But I would say it is based on 18 months work in refugee camps,´ says Walton.
As well as improving attendance rates, Vodafone and UNHCR's efforts to introduce technology into classrooms has encouraged children attending school not to turn up late, as if they do they are not allowed to use the tablets, he adds. ´It's amazing to see the impact and the excitement -- particularly in Dadaab.´

Not only are people keen to use the technology, but they are fully aware of the fact that the skills they are learning will open up more opportunities to them. ´When you're stuck in the camp, your opportunity to create a business or to be able to work aligns with your potential to work with technology,´ says Walton.

The plan now, he adds ´is to deploy 12 of these kits in the next twelve months in Congo (DRC), Kenya and Tanzania.´ All of the kits will go to new schools and the 15,000 new students the Vodafone Foundation will serve as a result should bring the total number of children benefitting from the programme to close to 45,000.

Over the coming months the Vodafone Foundation will also be putting more emphasis on content and training, says Walton. ´We have the technology now -- we need to create that link between the technology and the human factor, which are the teachers and what they're actually teaching on the ground, and that takes some time.´"

(Source: WIRED.co.uk.)

Monday, March 16, 2015 10:32:07 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, March 05, 2015



“Ericsson and The Coca-Cola Company have announced a pilot project to bring mobile connectivity to EKOCENTER, a social enterprise initiative designed to empower community well-being by bringing safe water, solar power and mobile communications, as well as basic goods and services to underserved communities. The pilot project will be conducted in collaboration with Tigo Rwanda and German start-up company, Solarkiosk.

´EKOCENTER is an innovative social enterprise that endeavors to help communities thrive by providing further access to resources. Engaging new partners to join this journey adds skills and expertise beyond our core enhancing the value for the people in these communities,´ said Beatriz Perez, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Coca-Cola Company. ´Connectivity has become a fundamental part of thriving communities and economies. We're excited about the solutions Ericsson can deliver to EKOCENTER, solutions we believe will foster positive change.´

Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Vice President Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at Ericsson, says: ´Mobile broadband can address a wide range of issues that hinder development – from poverty to lack of electricity and safe water, to financial exclusion and gender inequality. Creating a community hub is a great way to empower women while making needed services available in a convenient way. The constellation of companies partnering to figure out commercially sustainable business models is very exciting and I think we will need to see much more of this type of innovation going forward to meaningfully address poverty and development in rural areas.´

Tongai Maramba, CEO of Tigo Rwanda, says: ´We are excited to be part of pioneering an ecosystem that will change the lives of entire communities.The EKOCENTER is an ideal platform for Rwandans to use our network to develop new skills by accessing different digital services.´

The Coca-Cola Company is partnering with Solarkiosk, to roll-out EKOCENTER in six countries in Africa and Asia in 2015. The unique design of the kiosk is tailored to meet the needs of underserved communities.

Lars Kruckeberg, CTO of Solarkiosk, says: “Solarkiosk's mission is the economic and social development in Base of the Pyramid communities worldwide. Our solar-powered, reliable source of energy provides a safe solution for off-the-grid communities, enabling them to conduct everyday activities many of us take for granted. Partnering with Coca-Cola and Ericsson brings us another step closer to fulfilling our goal of helping meet community needs.”

The modular kiosks will be run by local women entrepreneurs, and serve as a community center where people gather and have access to free and fee-based services. The new connectivity services could include education, health care, mobile commerce, information and entertainment.

Ericsson will initially deploy its Managed Rural Coverage (MRC) solution to provide Internet services to the EKOCENTER in rural Rwanda. The company's TV Anywhere service will enable access to education and healthcare content as well as infotainment capabilities, enabling the kiosk to become a connected hub. Ericsson will also provide EKOCENTER with its M-Commerce solution that enables people to make transactions using their mobile wallets. Based on success of implementation, Ericsson will potentially incorporate its services at additional EKOCENTER sites.“

(Source: Biztech Africa)

Thursday, March 05, 2015 11:16:41 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, February 19, 2015

“In a nation of about 15 million people, Cambodia has over 19 million mobile phone subscribers. In addition, there are only about 3.8 million Internet users. A 2014 report published by the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) says that ´Mobile phone access is near universal for young people… Almost all youth (96%) in Cambodia have access to mobile phone.´ The nation’s largest population, young people, prefer to communicate via phone calls rather than text messaging. ´They used their mobile phones mostly for making and receiving calls (98%), listening to the radio (43%), and sending and receiving messages (32%),´ adds the UNDP report.

Mobile technologies are the key to help improve people’s quality of life. Unfortunately, programs delivering critical information via mobile texts to citizens were unavailable in the local language, Khmer. Many used and new phones that the Cambodians used did not have the ability to type or show words in the Khmer script language, making needed information unreadable and unable to send via texts.

Since 2011, InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia, a Phnom Penh-based innovation lab of InSTEDD (Innovative Support to Emergencies Diseases and Disasters), has helped a dozen of humanitarian and health organizations to leverage InSTEDD’s Verboice, an automated voice platform for hotlines, alerts, reminders, surveys, voice reports, or quizzes. These organizations’ target groups are very diverse: new mothers, garment factory workers, youth groups, and diabetic patients.

Verboice is an adaptable open-source platform that makes it easy for anyone, speaking any language, to create and run their own customized automated voice response systems for mobile phones. Highly customizable and scalable, Verboice allows users to adapt to suit their requirements. Verboice is basically a non-developer’s platform to create mobile applications for non-smartphone users.

In Cambodia, Verboice’s impact has been incredibly powerful as dozens of organizations are using the technology to provide critical information to thousands of citizens. For example:
  • The International Labour Organisation (ILO) runs an interactive information hotline for factory workers.
  • Marie Stopes International Cambodia (MSIC) uses automated messages as part of its post-abortion counselling approach.
  • People In Need (PIN) uses automated messages to provide new parents with health advice as well as runs an early warning system, enabling Cambodian authorities to quickly inform citizens of upcoming disasters.
  • BBC Media Action provides the audience with an additional medium so that they can engage with the program’s content“

(Source: ICTWorks)

Thursday, February 19, 2015 10:47:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, February 12, 2015
“Massify Internet to generate equity, promote peace and Internet to improve education were some of the topics discussed during the meeting between President Santos and Mark Zuckeberg, CEO of Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and President of Facebook, praised the results of the massification of Internet in Colombia and the leadership of the national government for making more Colombians access to knowledge.

Zuckerberg met with President Juan Manuel Santos to arrange an alliance that will allow free Internet access via Facebook to over 8 million users of low-end phones.

´With US President, Barack Obama, we agreed a partnership in education and technology and link a group of businessmen from both countries,´ said President Santos. ´This linkage of our country to internet.org, project sponsored by Facebook to give access to millions of poor people in the world, is already a reality in Colombia,´ said the President Santos.

During the roundtable discussion, President Santos said that one of the priorities of the Government is to expand Internet as a tool to reduce poverty and create jobs. ´Four years ago we began the greatest revolution of our digital ecosystem and increased investment in technology in the country's history which has allowed us today to achieve 98% of municipalities connected to high speed Internet.´

Mark Zuckerberg said meanwhile that Colombia advances in ICT, spoke of the challenge of making the communications infrastructure to be efficient and motivating content creation. He highlighted the many possibilities of strengthening education leveraging Internet. He said that today is unimaginable a school without computer and Internet. ´If you give people the tools is much that can be done, but you must work in culture.´

President Santos and CEO of Facebook stressed the importance of ICT for peace and equality.

´There are a lot of reasons why people do not have Internet in the world and what we are going to do in Facebook is to break these barriers to access, the first is the physical condition. Once people have connectivity they do not know what to do in Internet. That is why we give free access to internet.org here in Colombia, accessing to contents of Facebook, Wikipedia, agribusiness, health, education is a way to generate equality,´ Zuckerberg said.

When President Santos asked how to make education for the peace through Facebook, Mark Zuckeberg said: ´the first thing is to give people connectivity tools to create communication. I think that conflicts occur because there is no understanding. The better communication can help solve problems. If we talk about how to use social networks, I think you President has done a great job in managing the networks and this demonstrates that you communicate with people where you are.´ "

(Source: MINTIC)

Thursday, February 12, 2015 4:18:52 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, December 23, 2014
"´Nothing can replace a good teacher. Today, teaching in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) means being confronted with a number of challenges. On the job training provides practical and educational solutions to enable teachers to offer a better quality of education.´

These words were spoken by Irina Bokova at the official launch of the programme ‘Strengthening national capacity for training on the job in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’ on 16 December 2014.

The launch was held in the presence of the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and Introduction to the New Citizenship, Mr. Maker Mwangu Famba, and the China Chargé d’Affaires in the DRC.

Funded by the People's Republic of China, this flagship project, already launched in Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia and Namibia, will be deployed in eight African countries to improve the quality of education.

Welcoming this new cooperation, the Director-General said that ´ICTs are revolutionizing teaching practices. We can use them to improve access and quality of teacher training allowing teachers to be followed, to communicate and to share best practices. This project embodies the determination of UNESCO to support the development of the Congolese education system and it pays particular attention to rural education, where teachers are often isolated, without support.´

The project includes the development and online publication of educational materials, training on how to use new technical tools and equipment purchases.

´I welcome this innovative project. This is a new model of South-South cooperation that complements the strategic partnership between the DRC and China in the field of education,´ said the China Chargé d’Affaires, adding that he hoped other partners, including private partners would join this initiative.

Highlighting the need to develop the teaching profession in the DRC, the Minister of Education has called for ´mobilization for teachers to improve their training, their status and their social condition.´

The Democratic Republic of Congo has some 600,000 teachers, a figure increased over 40% since 2007. The primary and secondary school enrollment rates are rising steadily, but the challenges remain immense in this vast country, where 3.5 million of children are still out of school.“

(Source: UNESCO)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 2:55:52 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, September 25, 2014


“ 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)  #     | 
 Friday, September 19, 2014


“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)  #     | 
 Tuesday, September 16, 2014


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, August 11, 2014


Akvo builds open source internet and mobile software which is used to make international development cooperation and aid activity more effective and transparent. They provide the software as a service to the vast majority of the organizations with which they work, backed by a partner-support and training team.

Akvo is a non-profit foundation headquartered in the Netherlands with staff in Sweden, Kenya, Burkina Faso, the UK, Germany, Spain, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Finland and the United States. Akvo’s tools are open source and used by over 1,500 organizations throughout the world in areas such as water, sanitation, health, education and economic development.

Products:

Akvo RSR stands for Really Simple Reporting. It’s a web- and Android-based system that makes it easy for development aid teams to bring complex networks of projects online and share progress with everyone involved and interested.

Akvo FLOW is a mobile phone and online service that transforms field monitoring using Android smartphones.

Akvo Openaid helps governments and big international organizations present aid-spend data online in easy to navigate ways so they can meet transparency obligations.

Akvopedia is a portal for online knowledge on smart, low-cost, sustainable water and sanitation technology and approaches.

(Source: Akvo)

Monday, August 11, 2014 12:19:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


On the 22nd July 2014, Camara attended the official opening of its first solar-powered computer lab in Gros Morne, Haiti. As part of Camara’s ongoing partnership with University College Dublin Volunteers Overseas (UCDVO), it is intended that this facility will become the first of many new e-Learning centres to be integrated into the region. This unveiling is the result of a Memorandum of Association signed over two months ago in University College Dublin by Maureen O’Donnell, Camara’s European and Caribbean Service Manager, and Caroline O’Connor, a representative of UCDVO. The memorandum outlined a plan to introduce a sophisticated solar-powered computer lab with an accompanying teacher training programme to the area; a plan that has now come to fruition.

Camara successfully installed twenty refurbished computers, while also providing a rudimentary training course for the teachers involved. UCDVO have shown their support by administering continuous, valuable teacher training to staff for the duration of their stay. In the coming weeks, Camara will begin work on a specialized training manual for teachers. It will be bilingual: available in  both French and Haitian Creole. Camara hopes this will continue to support staff and schools in the region.

This venture has been part of a collaboration between the two organizations that has been ongoing since 2009. An inaugural project in Morogoro, Tanzania was expanded to incorporate multiple schools and an extensive computer training programme.

UCDVO are already involved in many development projects in the greater Gros Morne area, and Camara are thrilled to have launched this new project in partnership with them. The installation of this solar-powered computer lab is an exciting new opportunity, allowing them to focus on one of the central issues impeding access to ICT in Haiti – that of electricity. Electricity is something of an exclusive resource in Haiti; it is quite expensive and generally unavailable outside of urbanized areas. Solar power offers an elegant, practical and renewable alternative.

(Source: Camara)

Monday, August 11, 2014 9:20:57 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, August 04, 2014


The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has announced a strategic partnership with the private sector to deliver e-learning programmes in Kenya to thousands of marginalized girls.

Project iMlango is an e-learning partnership, led by satellite operator Avanti Communications and its partners: the smartcard and digital payments system provider, sQuid; online maths tutoring provider, Whizz Education; and technology NGO, Camara Education. The integrated programme aims to improve learning outcomes for 25,675 marginalied girls, across 195 Kenyan primary schools.

Project iMlango addresses the cultural and financial issues that can lead to reduced school attendance and drop outs, with electronic attendance monitoring and conditional payments to families. At the programme’s core sits an internet learning platform, accessed via satellite broadband connectivity, where partners provide students with interactive, individualized learning tools.

According to the project lead, Project iMlango delivers:

- High-speed satellite broadband connectivity to schools;
- Personalized maths tuition with a virtual online tutor, alongside digital learning content for maths, literacy and life skills;
- Tuition and support to teachers to use ICT in their teaching;
- Electronic attendance monitoring with conditional payments – to incentivise families to send their daughters to school – for use with local merchants;
- In-field capacity in IT, technology and support resources;
Real-time project monitoring and measurement;

(Source: IT News Africa)

Monday, August 04, 2014 9:24:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


Ghana will soon benefit from an innovative project from Samsung in which shipping containers repurposed into solar-powered classrooms will provide students in the most remote parts of Africa access to education and innovation.

Samsung's Solar-Powered Internet Schools Initiative is part of Samsung’s Citizenship program and it will bring mobile classrooms filled with gadgets to rural towns.

By outfitting a mobile shipping container with desks, a 65-inch electronic board, Internet-enabled solar-powered notebooks, Samsung Galaxy tablet computers and Wi-Fi cameras, children can receive a technology-rich education without traveling far away.

Each 12-meter portable classroom has space for up to 24 students to learn how to use computers and how to surf the Internet, many for the first time. The schools are specifically designed for African conditions, and can withstand energy-scarce environments, harsh weather conditions and transportation over long distances.

Fold-away solar panels provide enough energy to power the classrooms’ equipment for up to nine hours a day, and for one-and-a-half days without any sunlight. The solar panels are made from rubber, rather than glass, ensuring they are hardy and durable enough to survive long journeys across the continent.

Samsung is working with the Government of Ghana and the Ministry of Education, local educators, content developers, school administration and management to integrate the Internet Schools into local communities in Ghana by the end of July.

(More details)

Monday, August 04, 2014 9:12:00 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, July 16, 2014


On 10th July the European Commission launched its “Connected Communities” initiative – an umbrella for several systems designed to connect towns, cities, local broadband partnerships and operators to the advice they need to access finance and develop tailored business models for bringing fast broadband to their community.

All parties working at a local, regional and national level are invited to submit their concepts and plans for broadband deployment projects to the European Commission. Requests must be received before 15 October 2014, and the best concepts will receive the Commission's "seal of approval", and access to more in-depth support.

Some current examples of best practice include:
  • Reggefiber in the Netherlands, a project which started in 2010, has contributed greatly to the rollout of ultra high-speed fibre to the home (FttH), thanks to financing from the EIB and six commercial banks.
  • Iliad, in France, which signed a €200 million project with the EIB in 2012 to finance the rollout of next generation networks in France, 65% of which is earmarked to FttH development.
European Commission Vice President @NeelieKroesEU said: "If you're a local authority, a region, or a committed broadband activist, we are here to help you! We want to connect you to practical support and finance to help you achieve your vision for your community”.
Types of support on offer include:

  • Individual feedback: initial assessment of a local broadband plan to determine what support can be offered.
  • World Bank technical assistance: the World Bank is cooperating with experts from the European Commission who will help develop business models and advise on how your project can achieve the necessary scale to be eligible for private or public financing.
  • European Investment Bank: The Commission has provided seed money for the EIB, as part of its Connecting Europe Facility, to deliver tailored financing for broadband projects, backed by the bank‘s AAA credit rating.
  • European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF): The EU has €453 billion available to all regions between now and 2020. Access to, and quality and use of ICT (including broadband investment) is, for the first time, one of the top priorities for these grants.
  • State aid: The Commission has defined special rules to assist in the granting of state aid for broadband, in ways that do not harm competition. This has seen a significant increase in the amount of state aid offered by Member States in recent years. A handbook is now available to assist you in requesting legal state aid (IP/14/535).
Why do we need a Connected Communities initiative?
The Digital Agenda targets are as follows: 100% of EU households to have 30 Mbps broadband and 50% households to subscribe to 100 Mbps or more, by 2020.
Investment in broadband networks is falling short and the current data shows that 64% of EU households have 30 Mbps available and only 3% have connections of 100 Mbps.

The high-speed broadband development is slow in particular in semi-urban and rural as well as economically disadvantaged areas. Only 18% of European rural households have access to high-speed broadband.

(Further details)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 12:06:17 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


Indigenous communities may benefit from new computer technology that allows them to access educational resources and the internet using their own language. An international and interdisciplinary group is currently working on using this technology to reduce the digital gap and help protect cultural diversity in Mexico.

This effort is part of a wider project called Heliox, which is developing a free, inclusive operating system using a version of the existing fully open-source GNU/Linux system. New features such as translation software to assist indigenous speakers, as well as archives and educational content in local languages and direct links to websites are being added to this operating system.

“Free software is allowing us to serve people, minorities, who are not the goal of companies”, says Roberto Feltrero, a researcher in cognitive sciences at the National Distance Education University, Spain, and the project’s director. Feltrero first developed assistive Heliox to help people with disabilities access computers, designing innovations such as screen magnifier software and a device to control the mouse using head movements.

When he visited Mexico and met a group of philosophers of science interested in promoting the autonomous use of technology in indigenous communities, they began to work on the Mexican version of Heliox.

Heliox guides users to applications, files and websites through text and voice messages that appear in their chosen language when the cursor is pointed at icons. This helps guide users without needing much computing knowledge.

“If you tell a person ‘Firefox’ or ‘open file’ even in their native language, they will not understand because it is a computer language. In fact, 96 per cent of the words used in a computer system do not have a translation”, explains Feltrero. “We do not want only to translate because we want to reach people who have probably never used a computer”.

Heliox is saved on a memory stick along with software that automatically configures it to any computer in less than two minutes. “You do not have to do anything”, Feltrero explains, adding that Heliox can work on old computers.

With a budget of nearly US$8,000, provided by Mexico’s National Institute for Indigenous Languages, Feltrero and his team have already translated Heliox into Mexican Spanish, and indigenous tongues Mayan, Náhuatl and Mixe.

Luz Lazos, the project’s diversity consultant, who is based in Mexico, says, “It is not restricted to these languages. It is a system for any community anywhere in the world to develop their own Heliox and revitalize their language”.

Heliox’s creators expect that the Mexican version of the software will be released for free later this year. At the same time, indigenous communities will be given 20 old computers with Heliox installed.

In addition to the translation software, the team is developing educational and scientific content in indigenous languages to be included as archives in Heliox.
The objective is to show communities they can use text, video and audio editors to jointly create and share content based on their own cultures, values and traditions.
“There is a surprising connection between the principles and values in free software communities and the ones in indigenous communities, such as communal work or meritocracy”, says Lazos.

Gustavo Gómez Macías, a Mexican expert in programming and free software, says Heliox will be a “wonderful tool”. But he adds that it is important to make sure there are no compatibility problems between GNU/Linux and hardware, which is often a problem due to its complexity, and to ensure automatic updates are available. Feltrero is confident that these challenges will be adequately addressed.

(Source: SciDev Net)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 11:08:46 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, June 27, 2014


MTN Uganda, through the MTN Uganda Foundation, has unveiled a fully equipped,state of the art bus dubbed the “MTN Internet Bus“. The Bus, which is the first of its kind in Uganda, will be a vital tool in carrying out MTN Uganda’s vision of enhancing ICT Education across the country.

The MTN Internet Bus is equipped with sixteen high-end computer workstations, as well as access to High-speed Internet Connectivity Service powered by MTN 3G and 4G LTE technology and Wi-Fi coverage. The Internet Bus is estimated to have cost in excess of Ushs. 600 million andwas unveiled at a Press conference held at MTN’s Nyonyi Garden offices.

At the launch,  MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer Mazen Mroué said the introduction of the MTN Internet Bus is part of MTN Uganda’s new vision of delivering a “Bold, new digital world.“ The company aims to create a unique customer experience, drive sustainable growth and improve MTN customers‘ lives.

Mroué said the MTN Internet Bus, along with other ICT awareness initiatives throughout the country, will serve to develop the technological capacity of Ugandans and strengthen the nation’s economy.  This Bus also plays a vital in briding the gap between rural and urban areas by promoting computer literacy in rural zones.

Further details

Friday, June 27, 2014 8:27:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, June 19, 2014


Digital Literacy 2.0 (Dlit2.0) is a European project, funded as part ofthe Lifelong Learning Programme, that aims to help you use Web2.0 applications in your everyday life.

Web 2.0 can ease your daily life and will help you to
- stay in contact with family & friends
- find bargains and snips
- have a voice in public debate
- make use of services that are free of charge ... and much more.

DLit2.0 follows an ICT-based “train the trainer“ and “qualify the users“ approach. It sets out to develop and implement training programmes for staff in informal learning settings such as public libraries, community and care centres to enable them to use Web 2.0 to provide ICT based informal instruction and distance learning to socially disadvantaged people. Once they are trained, these staff members will enable new Internet users to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to make full and safe use of the World Wide Web, improving their motivation to learn and empowering them to participate in social life. Essentially, Web 2.0 provides learning opportunities and reduces educational barriers.

DLit2.0 compiles best practices, strategies and success criteria from different European countries into one comprehensive and innovative strategy, with special emphasis on innovative, non-formal learning approaches and collaboration models. The project reflects transnational, transsectoral and interdisciplinary cooperation and creates value by based on knowledge, empowering people in inclusive societies and ensuring that citizens have access to lifelong learning toolsto master "New Skills for New Jobs".

Further details

Thursday, June 19, 2014 8:28:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Over 130 international delegates gathered in Singapore on 16 June 2014 to discuss innovative solutions for an ageing society in the new era of ICT-enabled growth and to create opportunities for people with disabilities to capitalise on the digital wave.

Jointly organised by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), Singapore e-Government Leadership Centre (eGL) and Institute of System Science (ISS) at the National University of Singapore (NUS), the workshop delved into ways to make ICT more accessible to the aged and people with special needs in order to enable them to participate in the digital economy.

Supported by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Waseda University and International Academy of CIOs (IAC), the event included government officials, academia, NGOs, VWOs and industry players from 24 economies.

"Governments today face higher expectations from citizens who use their best online transaction experiences from around the world, including that with the private sector as a yardstick for the quality of government digital services. Hence, it is no longer sufficient for Government to just provide and upkeep services online, but to innovate, and keep on innovating to raise the bar of public service and to enhance the service experience of citizens when they interact with the government", said Mr Amos Tan, Director, Strategy and Innovation Division (SID), IDA.

Consensus drawn at the workshop included the need for international cooperation and broad-based steps to be developed now, in particular the acceleration of innovation, design of secure and resilient environments, building strategic ICT capabilities, aligning policies with user-driven needs, promoting scalable solutions, harnessing data analytics for citizen participation, recognising the need for increased cross-cutting research and raising social awareness about ageing and disabilities.

"Learning from international best practices and the implementation of comprehensive strategies is a good start to address the needs of the elderly and people with disability in Singapore. We will continue to promote research and innovation of services in sectors such as healthcare, finance, training, transportation, community development, housing and e-government so as to provide an environment for the ageing and disabled folks with capabilities, opportunities, responsibilities and resources to maintain active participation and social inclusion. In addition, we advocate the use of design thinking to achieve good design to enable products, services or ICT for the elderly and people with disability", said Mr Lim Swee Cheang, Director of ISS.

The workshop concluded that to meet the challenges of the 21st century and to mitigate the social and economic impacts of people with special needs, economies must embrace the culture of innovation and enhance collaboration among governments, businesses and citizens. This includes social and organisational innovation, as well as the unlocking of information technologies through increased research and innovative new models.

(Source: IDA)

Thursday, June 19, 2014 8:12:17 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, June 14, 2014
Rural communities in Lesotho deserve to be connected just like anywhere else in the world, according to Nthabiseng Pule, executive secretary at the Universal Service Fund (USF) of Lesotho.

Pule was discussing rural infrastructure at the 2014 SatCom and World Rural Telecoms Congress Africa event in Johannesburg, South Africa on 21th May.

“Some of the towers with the highest traffic are in the rural areas”, she said, while highlighting the challenges of making sure the mountainous country was covered by voice and data services.

“They [people in rural areas] make use of communication technology a lot because they want to sell their sheep and cattle and also track their mohair payments”, she said.

Pule said the government is trying to find alternatives to smartphones for internet provision.

“A smartphone’s power doesn’t last long, so we are looking for alternatives”, she said.

HumanIPO reported last month low-cost smartphones are key to internet penetration in Africa.

“Growth is going to come from mobile phones and particularly low-end smartphones that are starting to flood the market”, said Dave Duarte, South African entrepreneur and social media expert.

(Source: HumanIPO)

Saturday, June 14, 2014 1:31:00 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, May 08, 2014
The Singapore government will set up a S$8 million (US$6.3 million) Digital Inclusion (DI) Fund to raise the adoption of infocomm for low-income households, and encourage social innovations to help voluntary welfare organisations better manage the well-being of their beneficiaries with relevant technology, announced Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information.

“The Internet today is increasingly becoming a utility for individuals, households and organisations. The Government has been stepping up its efforts at digital inclusion to ensure that no segment of the community is excluded from the benefits that the internet can bring – for example, access to information and e-services”, he said.

The Government’s existing programmes include the NEU PC Plus Programme, Silvercomm Initiative and Infocomm Accessibility Centre reach out to students from low-income families, senior citizens and persons with disabilities respectively.

The DI Fund will help individuals and households level up and enjoy the benefits that come with advancements in digital technology as Singapore prepares to wire up as a Smart Nation.

For example, targeted households will benefit from home internet access to surf for information and perform digital voice calls.

(Source: FutureGov)

Thursday, May 08, 2014 9:38:14 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, April 22, 2014
An ambitious project by Botswana’s Ministry of Labour through the National Internship, donor agencies and leading NGOs has seen the creation of a youth friendly portal to promote job creation in the country. According to the developers, “this is a platform with a job search function, youth mentoring and social and professional networking”, a source added.

Speaking during the stakeholders’ engagement session, the Botswana Innovation Hub CEO Allan Boshwaen said the youths in the country now have something to smile about. “A portal has been developed to support this program in partnership with Microsoft through the MIC initiative, with this portal we aim to aggregate all empowerment or employability initiatives or opportunities that are available for the youth and recent graduates, and provide them a one stop shop where they can access and explore opportunities that exist in the country”.

He added that a list of avenues to take the portal to the people was being explored. “After this stakeholder sensitisation session we plan to do a road show targeting the beneficiaries of this program being youth, recent graduates, SME or start-ups and other marginalized communities such as women, rural communities.

Stakeholders say the program will provide a full ecosystem to support workforce development across Botswana for job or talent research and professional skill enhancement.

“This is key to creating job opportunities and building businesses. This will help raise the countries competitiveness by developing world class workforce skills,’ noted one commentator.

“The world is becoming more and faster paced and Botswana should do more to keep up with this development”, commented Michael Murphy, Chargé d’Affairs US Embassy in Gaborone during the session.

Djam Bhakshandegi, the Director Public Affairs and Citizenship at Microsoft said her organisation was instrumental in facilitating the growth of ICT awareness on the continent. During an interview with Biztechafrica, she said ICT in Africa was growing exponentially especially among the youth, who she said were becoming more and more tech savvy.

“As Microsoft have invested a lot of time and expertise so that the greatest number of people in Africa have access to ICTs, and in this regard, millions of people have been impacted. In order to do this we are working with other companies so that those that don’t have access to technology will get it”, she assured.

(Source: Biztech Africa)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:16:52 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, March 24, 2014


UNESCO is now seeking feedback from stakeholders on how it should design and implement a comprehensive study of Internet-related issues that will present options for future actions within its mandate. Comments are requested before 30 April, after which the draft concept paper and questions will be finalized, and the research will commence.

This wide-ranging Internet study arises from a resolution agreed by UNESCO’s 195 Member States during the Organization’s General Conference in November 2013.

By mandate of Resolution 52 of UNESCO’s 37th General Conference in 2013, the study is required to cover the fields of (i) Access to information and knowledge, (ii) Freedom of expression, (iii) Privacy, and (iv) Ethical dimensions of the information society, and also explore possible options for future actions. The results will inform the Organization’s reporting to the 38th General Conference in 2015.

The resolution requires that the study be done through an inclusive multi-stakeholder process which includes governments, private sector, civil society, international organizations and the technical community.

These consultations will be done through an online questionnaire, meetings with UNESCO Member States, and UNESCO participation in events such as the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (NETmundial), WSIS High Level Review Events, the Internet Governance Forum, the Freedom Online Conference, and the Stockholm Internet Forum.

The draft concept paper for the study, proposed by UNESCO’s Secretariat, outlines how the fields can be conceptualized and presents related research questions. The guiding framework is the draft concept of “Internet Universality”. By summarizing core Internet principles relevant to UNESCO’s mandate and fields of competence, the notion of “Internet universality” highlights four R-O-A-M principles: (i) that the Internet should be Human Rights-based (ii) “Open”, (iii) “Accessible to All”, and (iv) nurtured by Multi-stakeholder Participation. As part of the consultation, feedback is also sought on this draft concept.

To send your written comments on the Draft Concept Paper and the Draft Concept of Internet Universality, please write to Internetstudy(at)unesco.org.

Further details

Monday, March 24, 2014 6:26:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


The Ministry of Information Communication Technology (ICT), Postal and Courier Services is organising the e-TECH AFRICA 2014 EXPO conference and exhibition scheduled for 11 – 14 March 2014 in collaboration with its strategic partners.

The theme for this year is “Promoting Competitiveness and Sustainable Growth Through ICTs”.

The conference will run parallel to the exhibition. The event is expected to bring a wide range of ideas, opinions, perspectives, research findings and expertise to expand knowledge frontiers for sustainable growth and development through ICTs. The event is also expected to draw people from the ICT Industry, civil society, academia and government to a discussion platform for national development. The e-TECH Africa 2014 Conference and exhibitions will provide a platform for creating awareness about the opportunities, challenges and benefits derived from the adoption of ICTs in Africa as well as initiate practical measures needed to extend the ICT reach.

The exhibitions and conference will also explore the enabling role of ICTs in the development of African countries.

Objectives of the conference
The general objective of the e-TECH Africa Conference is to arouse the interest of the Zimbabwean population in the use of ICTs for a successful transformation of Africa from an agricultural society to a knowledge society. In line with the African Regional Action Plan on the Knowledge Economy (ARAPKE), the Conference is expected to:

a. Promote the right of all to have equal access to ICT value added services and to experience the advantages of using technological services
b. Develop, maintain and stimulate people’s curiosity, interest and enjoyment in ICTs
c. Promote the acquisition of appropriate technological skills, concepts, principles, methods and vocabulary
d. Leverage ICTs as a tool for socio- economic development especially in developing countries.
e. Attract more and new investments in the ICT sector
f. Bridge the digital divide.
g. Promote business linkages and partnerships.

The thrust of the conference is therefore to explore how ICTs can accelerate Africa’s developmental agenda and in the process transform Zimbabwe into a knowledge based society.

Conference Agenda
The conference will be characterised by key presentations followed by panel debates that will discuss how ICTs can be exploited to support sustainable economic development. Presentations and panel debates will focus on what can be done to sustain or speed up the developmental pace and close the ICT gap still exists particularly at national level and in Africa. It is therefore expected that key presentations will be made in and around the following areas:

• Building a Knowledge and Information Society
• Research and development in ICT’s
• ICT’s in Health and Agriculture
• ICT’s in Tourism and Entertainment
• Building a vibrant ICT industry
• The need for a well regulated ICT environment
• Bridging the digital divide
• The potential of ICT’s for sustainable growth
• Cyber Security & Cyber Ethics
• ICTs for Poverty Alleviation and Community Development
• Impact of e-Government on National Development
• E-learning for a developing economy
• Green Computing
• Cloud Computing

For more information please visit http://www.etechafrica.co.zw/ or email:  gchingonzo@ictministry.gov.zw or bmhonderwa@ictministry.gov.zw

(Source: TechZim)

Monday, March 24, 2014 5:55:31 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, March 11, 2014

In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, Telecentre.org Foundation (TCF) is happy to announce that, as of January 2014, over 1 million women from different parts of the world have been trained and acquired new ICT skills under its Telecentre Women Digital Literacy Campaign.

The campaign, which kicked off in 2011, is a joint undertaking of TCF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN specialized agency for ICTs. With a total of 1,014,096 women trained, the original 1 million target was surpassed through the combined efforts of 153 participating organizations in 79 countries.

“Partnership is key in any undertaking, and what we have achieved so far under the Telecentre Women Digital Literacy Campaign is a testament to this. I, therefore, take this opportunity to thank ITU and all our partners in this campaign for accepting the challenge and for embracing this cause with so much fervor", says Miguel Raimilla, TCF’s Executive Director. “We may have already reached our target, but the work doesn’t stop here. There is still so much more to be done out there, and the program will definitely continue to empower women worldwide through ICT, in the hopes of inspiring change and ultimately bringing about the much needed results”, he added.

(Source: Telecentre.org)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 3:02:30 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Whether it's learning how to read and write or setting up your own farm, a Zambian computer tablet -- known as the ZEduPad -- is trying to open up the country's information highway.

The brain child of British tech entrepreneur Mark Bennett, the ZEduPad principally teaches users basic numeracy and literacy skills, aimed at primary school children. "It became clear that there was a huge need for this kind of technology", Bennett said, "particularly tablet technology, which has come a long way in Africa in recent years".

After arriving in Zambia 30 years ago under the British Aid Program, Bennett worked in the computer department at the country's national university for over a decade before deciding to go it alone.

We can really do something very major for the first time", he said. "We've invested about $5 million to date... It's totally all-encompassing and quite prescriptive so we are aiming at being able to get to an untrained teacher in a deep rural area in the African bush".

The ZEduPad is programmed in eight different languages native to Zambia with over 12,000 preloaded classes and lesson plans for untrained teachers in rural areas, according to Bennett.

Approved by the Zambian Ministry of Education, the educational tablet allows children to create a personal profile on its seven-inch screen to keep track of their progress as well as exposing them to e-mail and Wikipedia.

Bennett said the ZEduPad is set up to teach grades one to seven through interactive learning in every subject from math to PE, art and music. The technology comes at a time when Zambia's educational system is undergoing sweeping changes. Since 2001, the government has increased primary school enrollment rates by 90%. As a result, the World Bank has identified the landlocked southern African nation as having one of the most improved primary school education systems in the developing world.

Bennett added: "For years there was a problem with funding, education was not keeping up with population growth. Young people coming out of school and not being well suited or prepared to enter the job market.... We're trying to change that".

The ZEduPad gives children a grasp of vital technology skills in a landlocked country where broadband is scarce and only 18% of the nation's 14 million people have access to electricity, according to the World Bank.

In addition to following the national curriculum, the tablet also contains farming and health information designed for adults to help prevent the spread of killer diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria.

(Source: CNN)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 2:42:54 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, February 26, 2014
UNPAN online training courses are available to anyone with Internet access and are provided free of charge. The courses are available in English, Russian and Spanish. Please login or register to view and access the courses available listed below:

Courses Available for Registered Users

Electronic and Mobile Government
- Principles of E-Government
- Infrastructure for E-Government Development
- Strategies and Methodologies for E-Government
- E-Government Interoperability (English and Russian)
- Open Government Data for Citizen Engagement (NEW!)

Institution and Human Resources Management
- Decentralized Governance
- Human Resources Managers Capacity Development
- Gestión Presupuestaria Basada en Resultados (Spanish)
- La Calidad en las Organizaciones Públicas (Spanish)
- Strategies for Strengthening Public Sector Human Resources Management for Africa's Development (Coming Soon...)

Knowledge Management in Government
- Knowledge Management in Government Organization
- Strategic Intelligence

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs
)
- Citizen Engagement and the Millennium Development Goals
- Results-Based Monitoring and Evaluation for MDG Implementation
- Play and Learn: MDG Progress Game

(Source: UNPAN)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 12:22:05 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, February 25, 2014


The fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 10 to 21 March 2014.
Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC - accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world attend the session.

Themes

Priority theme:
Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.
The draft agreed conclusions are now available.

Review theme:
Access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work (agreed conclusions from the fifty-fifth session).

Emerging issue
:
Women’s access to productive resources

Organization of the session

In accordance with its multi-year programme of work (ECOSOC resolution 2009/15), the Commission's two-week session includes the following activities:
Organization of work

Further details

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 11:54:10 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


Download PDF here

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been proven to promote economic growth, but do we know that ICTs reduce poverty? This book provides new empirical evidence on access to and use of ICTs and their effect on poor households in four East African countries: Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. It addresses the questions: Do women benefit economically from using ICTs? Are the livelihoods of rural users boosted? Which ICTs are being used by low-income entrepreneurs?

ICT Pathways to Poverty Reduction presents a conceptual framework to analyze how the dynamics of poverty change over time and to shed light on whether ICT access benefits the poor as well as the not-so-poor. The chapters contain case studies on how various forms of ICTs affect different aspects of poverty based on research in East and Southern African countries at the household level or in small and medium enterprises.

Six of the chapters in this book are based on data from the PICTURE Africa study between 2007 and 2010. Two additional chapters detail country-specific studies based on findings from other research projects. Overall, the study concluded that ICTs make a difference to the livelihoods of the poor and contribute to reducing both financial and non-financial dimensions of poverty.

ICT Pathways to Poverty Reduction is essential reading for policymakers and researchers in international development, as well as staff of development agencies working on livelihoods for the poor.

(Source: IDRC)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 11:08:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Malawian mothers and guardians of young children who live in villages far from health facilities are heaving a sigh of relief, after the introduction of a hotline through which they can access medical advice. VillageReach, a non-profit NGO, is running a program called “Chipatala Cha Pa Foni“, which means Health Center by Phone.

Malawi has some of the highest mother and child mortality rates in the world. The maternal mortality ratio is at 675 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, while the under-five mortality rate is 112 deaths per 1,000 births.

The figures are largely attributed to limited availability of timely and reliable health information for women of childbearing age, and a lack of access to health care for villagers due to long distances.

VillageReach officials say the phone program, which is currently run in the districts of Balaka, Mulanje, Nkhota-kota and Ntcheu, aims to bridge this information gap. “This is a toll-free case management hotline, which means people can call free from any Airtel [mobile phone service provider] phone and can ask their questions concerning any health issues", explained Zachariah Jezman, the program manager. "And apart from that component, we have also a reminder and tips service. In addition to that we have protocol approved messages, which are either posted to clients who have personal phone or which can be retrieved by a client without a phone by using any Airtel phone”.

According to Jezman, two complementary services extend the health centers' reach by providing Malawians with access to accurate health information.

He said the clients are handled by hotline workers who are trained personnel in maternal, newborn, and children's health. The workers use a simple touch-screen device that records data electronically for monitoring and evaluation purposes. They are supervised by trained nurses for quality assurance.

Balaka Center hotline nurse supervisor Novice Gauti tells VOA the center receives between 25 and 30 calls each day from mothers and guardians who seek medical advice. Gauti said along with providing crucial help for people in remote villages, Chipatala Cha pa Foni has helped reduce queues in the health facilities.

“Now the queues at the hospitals are very small compared to the time when there was no Chipatala cha pa Foni, because the mothers were just rushing to the hospital with minor problems", she noted. " But now when they have minor problems or discomfort they can easily and comfortably call us from their home and seek medical advice or medical care”.

(Source: Voice of America)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 10:32:41 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, December 19, 2013


Imagine a world where disabled and non-disabled people have equal life opportunities; access to mainstream education, employment and career development opportunities, a world where disabled people are able to freely access buildings, transport and other services.  This is what we aim for.

India has a rich cultural and religious heritage. It is the world’s fourth largest economy, and with a population of over one billion, is the largest democracy in the world (World Bank, 2010). India is growing in many aspects, fast becoming a global player with great potential to develop and influence other countries.

There are many changes taking place in relation to Disability Equality in India and around the world; anti-discriminative legislations, ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled people (UNCRPD), CSR initiatives, Disability Equality Practices and many more.

However, whilst India is making rapid progress in addressing disability equality, over 50% of disabled people remain illiterate compared to 35% of the general population (Government of India, 2001). The deep inequalities experienced by disabled people are further exacerbated when combined with existing axes of social difference, such as gender and social status. This shows the greater need for change in attitudes towards, and awareness of disability equality and accessibility. We believe it is you who can initiate this change which will last a lifetime and beyond, that will see our children, grandchildren and generations to come grow up in a country that respects equality and provides opportunities for all.

Choice Internationl (UK) and NGI are bringing together national and international resources to provide an environment for innovation and creativity, through which we aim to initiate change in Disability Equality and Accessibility in India. This jointly organised conference aims to recognise the achievements in Disability Equality in India, whilst analysing the challenges we now face.

So join us at ‘Freedom of choice’- an International Conference on Disability Equality and Accessibility in India, and make a lasting difference!

NGI creates a platform for forward-thinking Indians and friends, connecting them for the betterment of their lives. The aim of this publication and its events are to explore, express, learn, share, and network across the globe, promoting India, Indians and friends globally via debate, discussion and knowledge sharing.

Choice International is a UK based, non-profit, international development organisation promoting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the UK and overseas focussing specifically on promoting leadership development of disabled people. The current focus on India is via the LEAD-India programme.

This conference aims to:
- Explore Disability Equality within Indian businesses and services to gain an understanding of disability equality relating to accessibility, perception of disability and disability legislation in India.
- Explore the importance of barrier-free design and infrastructure.
- Equip participants to become ambassadors and promoters of Disability Equality
- Create an opportunity for participants to meet and network, share skills, knowledge and experience in Disability Equality and promote the concept of a barrier-free environment in their respective fields.

Help to incorporate effective Disability Equality practices and barrier free design in all infrastructures developed within corporate, public and voluntary sectors.

(Source: Choice International)

Thursday, December 19, 2013 6:03:50 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


UNESCO has launched its Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Assessment Framework for the evaluation of countries’ readiness to create an enabling environment for MIL. The publication also aims to assess citizens’ competencies on MIL, particularly targeting teachers in service and training.

Since the rapid advancements in information and communication technologies took place, traditional notions of literacy have struggled to keep up with modern demands. The challenges are also linked to a growing influence of media and the need for better management of information and knowledge at professional and societal levels.

UNESCO’s Media and Information Literacy programme represents a composite set of knowledge, attitudes and skills, necessary to access, analyse, evaluate, use, produce and communicate information, media content and knowledge in creative, responsible and ethical ways in order to participate and engage in personal, professional and societal activities. UNESCO believes that every citizen needs to learn and understand principles necessary for media and information providers to fulfil their functions in society, learn more about opportunities and threats coming from virtual world and manage resources. As such, MIL acts as a key factor for the participation in knowledge societies in the 21th century, ensuring capacities for lifelong learning and developing employability and inclusion for all citizens.

A central component of UNESCO’s Media and Information Literacy strategy, the Global MIL Assessment Framework would enable Member States to carry out comprehensive assessments of the information and media environment, and to monitor at the regional and national level the extent to which citizens have acquired MIL competencies, particularly targeting teachers in service and training. This evidence-based information will subsequently help Member States monitor the effectiveness of the implementation of education and ICT policies in developing 21st century capacities, and help to design new strategies and action-oriented plans that fit best within country-specific contexts and conditions.

The publication presents an overall assessment framework composed of two tiers: country readiness, and assessment of competencies. It also includes a plan for national adaptation as well as concrete suggestions for data collection, analysis and application. It is intended as a living document to be further tested, adjusted and adapted to national needs and circumstances by its users – policy decision makers, teachers and local professional communities in information, media and education.

The Global MIL Assessment Framework is part of UNESCO’s commitment to the implementation of the Intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP) Strategic Plan, and particularly its priority on information literacy, and of the Plan of Action of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). It also contributes to the on-going debate on Internet Governance.

The UNESCO Global Media and Information Literacy Assessment Framework was prepared by UNESCO’s Communication and Information Sector in close collaboration with UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics and with support of the Japanese Government.

The UNESCO Global Media and Information Literacy Assessment Framework can be accessed here.

(Source: UNESCO)

Thursday, December 19, 2013 5:30:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, December 13, 2013


We are pleased to publish ‘Mobile Phone Network Data for Development’, a primer on how analysis of Call Detail Records (CDRs) can provide valuable information for humanitarian and development purposes.

Earlier this year we produced the Global Pulse “Big Data for Development Primer”, an introductory guide for the global development community, summarizing key terms, concepts, case studies and challenges around big data.

Our new primer, Mobile Phone Network Data for Development, is an accessible synthesis of a growing body of research on mobile phone data analysis in development or humanitarian contexts. For example, de-identified CDRs have allowed researchers to see aggregate geographic trends such as the flow of mass populations during after natural disasters, how malaria can spread via human movement, or the passage of commuters through a city at peak times.

The document explains three types of indicators that can be extracted through analysis of CDRs (mobility, social interaction and economic activity), includes a synthesis of several research examples and a summary of privacy protection considerations.

(Source: United Nations Global Pulse)

Friday, December 13, 2013 5:11:49 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
ICT can transform the way that education is delivered and open the way to a new pedagogy. It can make it easier for teachers to plan and find high quality materials, and it can help pupils to find out more about the subjects that they are studying. Critically, new technology can enable teachers to tailor their teaching more closely to the abilities of individual pupils.

This article is going to explore some initiatives taken by Tanzanian government in providing conducive environment for utilisation of ICT in the education sector. There are several projects at the national level, projects that have now been included as part of the national ICT policy for education.

(a) ICT Implementation in Teachers’ Colleges: This was a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Education and SIDA aimed at introducing ICT in all teacher-training colleges in the country. The project was initiated in 2005 when a proposal was developed by Schools Online, an NGO based in the US and with offices in Tanzania at the time, and sold to the ministry as an initiative to improve access and quality of education in the country. The programme’s main goal is to improve the quality of teacher education by using ICTs in pre-service and in-service sessions. Tutors were expected to become ICT literate and able to use ICT as a tool for teaching and learning as well as for management and administration. The benefits of preparing ICT-literate teachers are expected to spill over to schools when implementing initiatives like e-school or e-learning.

(b) ICT Development in Secondary Education: The eSchool Forum which was formed after the education stakeholders workshop organized by the ministry of education in 2005, has submitted a programme proposal to the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. The proposal recommended the introduction of ICT in secondary education, in phases starting with 200 schools in phase 1 (2006 to 2008), a large scale rollout covering 2,000 schools in phase 2 (within five years), and nationwide coverage by 2015. The proposal covered a wide range of activities that need to be undertaken within the programme, including ICT infrastructure development in the schools, technical resources, student management at school levels (integrated EMIS), content and curriculum development, e-learning, sensitisation, human resources, and programme co-ordination and funding.

(c) Education Management Information System (EMIS): The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training is implementing a nationwide education management information system (EMIS) to produce and manage educational data and information. The EMIS is expected to collect, process, utilise, and disseminate education data to educational stakeholders on a timely basis. This project is currently being implemented at the ministry headquarters, however some regional and districts offices have been provided with computers and printers. Computer training has taken place for 19 regional education officers, 19 regional academic officers, 35 district education officers, and 34 statistical and logistics officers.

(d) Computer Procurement and Refurbishment for Schools: This project was managed by the Tanzania Computer Literacy for Secondary Schools Trust Fund, a local NGO based in Dar es Salaam. The project procured used computers and received donations from donors and other organisations, refurbishes these computers and uses them to equip computer labs in secondary schools. The project also train students in basic computer maintenance so that they can become the first-level support for the labs. This project was supported by IICD.

(e) Tanzania Education Services Web site: This Web site publishes information on the education sector in Tanzania, including information about schools, examination results, and school administration. There is a wealth of information including contact information for 1,060 schools and 47 teacher colleges. This project was supported by IICD.

(f) Barclays/Digital Links/TEA Computer for Schools Project: Barclays Bank and Digital Links International have formed a partnership to spur the growth of ICT in schools across East Africa. A three-year programme has set targets to place 10,000 computers in approximately 500 schools.

Implementation of the programme is through collaborative partnerships with organisations in each country. For Tanzania, the Barclays ICT project for schools is implemented by Tanzania Education Authority (TEA), Tanzania Commission of Science and Technology (COSTECH), and Mkombozi Centre for Street Children.

We are now living in an information age whereby transformation has been happening around the world with the ubiquity of ICT. It is natural that this transformation must be reflected in the way we teach and the way we learn. Todate, such a transformation has not much been taken up by the government in an effort to offer a wide range of ICT services to the citizens especially primary schools.

In Tanzania most of schools have not gone through this technological process and very few have been equipped with an ICT infrastructure. In primary schools in Tanzania, ICT has been included in curriculum while in the secondary sector it has been started to be regarded as a different subject and geared towards a skills-based exam but for few private secondary schools.

ICT can be a powerful resource for supporting school-directed change. Funding for ICT in Schools will influence the direction and the speed of innovation over the next four years. It is our recommendation that resources are targeted to areas that will drive the priorities and strategies to make transforming the way we learn into a reality.

(Source: IPP Media)

Friday, December 13, 2013 4:47:12 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Cabinet has rubber-stamped “South Africa Connect”, the Department of Communication’s National Broadband Policy, Strategy and Plan.



Cabinet has approved the National Broadband Policy, Strategy and Plan, and the gazetting of the National Integrated Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy Green Paper for public consultation.

The Government Communications and Information System department issued a press statement today (Thursday, 5 December 2013) in which it outlined the discussions and decisions made by cabinet yesterday.

In the statement, Cabinet said the National Broadband Policy, Strategy and Plan, collectively referred to as “South Africa Connect”, will contribute significantly to economic growth, development and job-creation.

“The overall goal is to achieve a universal average download speed of 100Mbps by 2030”, Cabinet said. “To reach this target in a progressive manner, there are reviewable targets starting with an average user experience speed of 5Mbps to be reached by 2016 and available to 50% of the population, and to 90% by 2020”, Cabinet said.
Cabinet said that targets are also set for schools and clinics and general public sector connectivity.

“The rapid evolution of broadband technology means that these targets will be reviewed annually”, Cabinet said.

Cabinet also said that it has approved the gazetting of the National Integrated Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy Green Paper for public consultation.

The Green Paper deals with the need to amend policies and regulations to take account of the rapid changes in ICT in recent years. Among the issues it focuses on, Cabinet said, are telecommunications, broadcasting and postal services. Public hearings will be held in all the provinces early next year, Cabinet said.

(Source: My Broadband)

Friday, December 13, 2013 4:31:55 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
ICT education to reach 8500 students in 33 provincial schools

ITU has selected Sri Lanka as one of five countries for the ‘Connect a School, Connect a Community’ project. Following the completion of a ‘Connect a school, Connect a Community’ project in Akuressa, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) initiated this project with ITU to extend the scope to cover 33 schools on the entire island.

This project was inaugurated today with the opening of the Computer Laboratory of the Watareka Kanishta Vidyalaya (Primary School), in Homagama, Padukka, Colombo District, by the Sri Lanka Minister of Education Mr Bandula Gunawardena. The ceremony was attended by Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka and Chairman of the TRCSL, and Ms Eun-Ju Kim, Director of the ITU Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, along with participating school principals and officials of the Provincial Education Offices.

The project will benefit over 8500 students in 33 schools located in areas of low ICT development, while also educating children with special needs.

The main objective of the project is to narrow the digital divide between rural and urban areas and provide digital opportunities to their communities. Transforming these schools into community ICT centres is expected to help marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as women, indigenous people, persons with disabilities and those living in rural, remote and underserved areas, and to empower them to contribute to their socio-economic development.

ITU and TRCSL have provided funds for the hardware and software required to equip the computer laboratories in schools. The schools will be responsible for the maintenance and operation of the facilities, while telecommunication operators will provide broadband Internet connectivity to at concessionary rates. “This school and rural community-oriented ICT project will be beneficial to the rural sector”, said Mr Weeratunga. “In the future, these schools will play a key role in the penetration of ICT knowledge into the rural and remote areas of the country”.

“The Ministry of Education is committed to equipping teachers and students in Sri Lanka with digital literacy skills in order to empower them to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the global economy”, said Mr Anura Dissanayake, Secretary in the Ministry of Education. “The project will bring technology into the classroom and allow teachers to teach their students critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration skills”.

“This is a smart initiative which sets a milestone in driving ICT access to rural and remote areas and benefits not only teachers and students but also the communities where they live”, said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré. “Such an innovative public-private-peoples’ partnership, which promotes school-based community ICT centres, represents an attractive, affordable, inclusive, scalable and sustainable step forward in providing digital opportunities for the people of Sri Lanka. This is certainly an excellent way forward to realize the Asia-Pacific Vision 2020: Smartly DIGITAL, which was endorsed last month by leaders at the Connect Asia-Pacific Summit held in Bangkok, Thailand”. Dr Touré was represented at the event by Ms Eun-Ju Kim, Director of ITU’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

The ‘Connect a School, Connect a Community’ project in Sri Lanka is a public-private-peoples’ partnership (4P) involving ITU, TRCSL, the Sri Lanka Ministry of Education, UNHCR, ICTA, SLT, Mobitel, Dialog Axiata, Metropolitan Computers, Daisy Lanka Foundation, Jinasena Training and Rehabilitation for ICT Education promotion of the Island.

(Source: ITU Newsroom)

Friday, December 13, 2013 4:21:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, November 21, 2013

A collaborative action research (CAR) study funded by Ericsson, and managed independently by a team of multidisciplinary experts from the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Columbia University Teachers College, University of Nairobi in Kenya, and Kampala University in Uganda, finds significant potential for improved teaching and learning with ICT tools. Specifically, the findings are only such when the tools are appropriately designed and adequately supported with infrastructure and ongoing professional development for teachers.

Investigators worked for one year to understand the effects, opportunities and challenges of integrating ICT into schools and teaching routines. To do that, university faculty and teachers worked in close collaboration at four rural schools in Kenya and Uganda.

Interviews, training workshops, surveys and observations conducted indicate significant improvements in teaching and learning when ICT tools and resources are well-designed with the school infrastructure and environment in mind, and when teachers are provided with on-going training and professional development in how to optimize these resources in their classrooms.

Research findings show that over the course of the study, guided use, training and professional development workshops offered essential support for teachers focusing on using ICT in their classrooms. There were significant increases both in teachers' reported skill and comfort with using ICT for educational purposes, as well as in the observed use of ICT in their classrooms. For example, where only 21% of teachers considered themselves to be "advanced" users of ICT at the beginning of the project; by the end, 45% of teachers were reporting themselves to be advanced users. There was also an 18% increase in reported use of ICT in the classroom over the course of the project.

Researchers compiled recommendations in several categories, including:

- Physical infrastructure, calling for policies for open access to hardware, electrical outlets throughout all classrooms and security;
- ICT infrastructure, where Wi-Fi networks, adequate airtime, and computers and projectors are basic needs;
- Teacher pedagogical skills and knowledge development along with basic ICT training, where professional development should be facilitated in partnership with local universities or Non-Governmental Organizations, among other steps;
- Open source teaching and learning resources, including use of Connect To Learn's online resource library and expanding the availability of locally relevant online resources;
- Student ICT participation and knowledge, which encourages teachers to assign online research and computer-based projects; and
- Public-private partnership implementation, urging each site to hire local facilitators to provide ongoing support to administrators and teachers, and forging partnerships with local decision-makers and telecommunications industry leaders to institutionalize the integration of ICT at all levels of education.

Download full report

Video about the ICT in Education Study

(Source: Ericsson)

Thursday, November 21, 2013 3:59:58 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, November 07, 2013


“Women In African History: An E-Learning Tool” corresponds to the two global priorities of UNESCO – Priority Africa and Gender Equality – and represents a crucial step to expand and disseminate knowledge of the role of women in African history to counter prejudices and stereotypes in the framework of “The Pedagogical use of The General History of Africa”. In line with UNESCO’s Gender Equality Action Plan, the Project seeks to empower women through ICTs and access to information and knowledge to promote an accurate understanding of their role in the economic, social, cultural, and political development of the region.

“Women in African History: An E-Learning Tool,” implemented by the Knowledge Societies Division in the Communication and Information Sector of UNESCO, is an internet platform that consists of multimedia content including comic strips, interactive pedagogical units, audio modules, and quizzes in order to highlight the role of women in African History.

The first phase of the project (2012/2013) is dedicated to the development of the architecture of the platform and the production of the first eight modules; a particular emphasis is given to historical women figures from Africa and the African Diaspora. In this way, the project develops ICT tools for knowledge acquisition and sharing that encourages the general education and ICT capacity of young women, promotes the use of ICTs, and capitalizes on intangible heritage to promote the link between culture, education, technological innovation and sustainable development.

Further details

Thursday, November 07, 2013 4:44:12 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


“Fear” was the word used often by women from Ngöbe-Buglé indigenous community in Costa Rica when they talked about their first experience in front of a microphone, computer or video-camera. Even more crippling than fear to speak in public or ask someone a question is a profound belief that a woman’s role should be limited to taking care of children and homes.

The exercise which solicited ideas for radio stories about Ngöbe-Buglé home-makers revealed that, although women practice traditional cooking, handicrafts and medicine on a daily basis, they do not consider themselves as guardians of traditions. Usually this role is reserved to sukia, a healer in indigenous societies across Central America. On their way to the knowledge society, Ngöbe-Buglé, Sutiaba, Nahoas-Nicarao, Chorotegas-Nahuas-Mangues y Cacaopera-Matagalpa and Guna communities have to count with illiteracy, unemployment and poverty. High rate of teenage pregnancies affects the number of girls continuing their studies.

To organize a series of workshops on ICTs, radio and video for women from indigenous communities in Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, UNESCO partnered with the Sustainable Development Network (RDS) NGO and the Indigenous Movement of Nicaragua, as well as Centre for Social Development Studies (CEDES) NGO in Panama. From July to October 2013, the workshops were taking place in San Felix, Chiriqui province in Panama; La Casona, Punta Arenas province in Costa Rica; and in Managua for participants from Pacific, Centre and North regions of Nicaragua.

After theoretical and practical courses, women recorded and edited stories about traditions, legends, cosmology as well as everyday community life. In the Rural College of La Casona, trainees scripted, played, filmed and edited socially-important messages. In Nicaragua, training yielded 12 audiovisual products and 20 radio and audiovisual pieces in Panama and Costa Rica. More than 75 women, mostly mistresses of families, acquired a combined set of competencies (knowledge, skills and attitude), graduating from users of mobile phones to potential producers of information and media content, who can make their voice heard. More workshops and exchange meetings are planned until December 2013.

UNESCO will continue strengthening communication capacities of indigenous communities, in particular women, with objective of introducing audiovisual content generated by the communities into media at provincial and national levels.

(Source: UNESCO)

Thursday, November 07, 2013 4:18:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Donato Tramuto, the Founder ofHealth eVillages, announced last week that the organization has made a grant to the Lwala Community Alliance (LCA) for comprehensive Internet service that will improve connectivity between LCA clinicians in rural Kenya. The grant was announced during a visit to Lwala by Tramuto and other members of the Health eVillages team.

With this grant, LCA clinicians working in rural communities in Migori County, Kenya, will be able to communicate and consult directly with doctors at the LCA Hospital in Lwala to help them make critical decisions in the field for their patients. LCA programs focus both on treatment at the Lwala Community Hospital and prevention through health education and outreach in the surrounding communities.

Health eVillages is a program founded by Tramuto and Physicians Interactive in partnership with the not-for-profit Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights (RFK Center). Health eVillages provides iPod(R), iPad(R) and other handheld devices equipped with specialized references and clinical decision support tools to improve primary and preventive healthcare in underserved areas around the world.

"Health eVillages is excited to expand our support of the Lwala Community Alliance to promote better healthcare through wellness, preventative and medical care initiatives", said Tramuto, who is also the CEO and Chairman of Physicians Interactive. "The LCA is dedicated to providing comprehensive care to its patients throughout the region, many of whom cannot make the journey to the main clinic in Lwala. With this comprehensive Internet service, clinicians in remote rural areas are now able to communicate directly on site with doctors back at the Lwala Community Hospital to immediately discuss diagnoses and treatment options, instead of having to travel back to the hospital".

The Lwala Community Alliance was founded in 2006 by brothers Milton Ochieng, M.D., and Fred Ochieng, M.D., to create sustainable solutions for the Lwala community. The Vanderbilt University Medical School graduates created the LCA to fulfill the vision of their late parents to build a hospital and provide healthcare for residents throughout Migori County.

"We are honored to receive this grant from Health eVillages to improve the communications with our clinicians in the field", said James Nardella, LCA's Executive Director. "Due to the threats of HIV, malaria, other infectious diseases and poor sanitation, life expectancy in the region hovers just above 40 years. With this grant, our clinicians will be able to better serve our patients in a more immediate manner in remote rural areas. This will enable the residents of Migori County to take a more proactive role in their own comprehensive well-being".

(Source: HealthCare IT News)

Thursday, November 07, 2013 4:10:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
IBM (NYSE: IBM) and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF announced a collaboration with UNICEF Uganda on U-report, a free SMS-based reporting tool that allows Ugandan youth to communicate with their government and community leaders using their cell phones.

Launched in 2011, U-report began as a grassroots text-messaging system that conducts weekly polls for youth to share observations/opinions and speak out on issues affecting their lives. To date, more than 240,000 young adults in Uganda have joined the program. In addition to responding to surveys, U-reporters send in 'unsolicited' text messages, hoping to be heard on topics ranging from health, education and gender-based violence. Today, UNICEF receives an average of 170,000 text messages per month. Approximately 20,000 of these are unsolicited messages and initial analysis suggested that seven percent of these require immediate action from community leaders or the government. As a result of U-report's growth, the volume of diverse data was becoming a challenge for the existing system, making it difficult to identify what emerging issues were trending and which were the most urgent messages. Since February 2013, U-report has been using text analytics and machine learning technologies from IBM Research to help deal with the flood of information by automating the classification of messages. UNICEF Uganda and IBM Research deployed A-Class, a text classification system trained to understand the content of the text messages and analyzes the data much faster, and with much more accuracy.

IBM analytics, working in combination with UNICEF Uganda's existing classification process are being used by UNICEF, partners and community leaders to make more informed decisions about where to place, and how to prioritize, development and relief work efforts.

"This project has the potential to change the lives of young people in Uganda simply by giving them a platform to communicate and be heard", said Dr. Sharad Sapra, Representative, UNICEF Uganda.

"Today we've created a richer U-report that makes sense of streams of data in real-time", he said. "This technology helps us understand the real impact of policies and development programs, the pulse of the nation at any given time and it even provides an early warning system on disease outbreaks or where we need to focus relief work".

(Source: All Africa)

Thursday, November 07, 2013 3:46:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, October 23, 2013


In several countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, women have equal access to Internet than men, but  women have disadvantage respect the use. This situation limits both personal and professional development of the female population than growth with equity in the countries of the region under the new technological paradigm, a new study released last week by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

The rate of Internet use among women is on average 8.5 % lower than of men in 10 countries with available information included in the document “Women in the Digital Economy: Overcoming the threshold of inequality”, whose findings have feeded the work of the XII Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, which was held last week in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The digital economy includes the telecommunications infrastructure - particularly broadband networks - industries of information and communications  technology (ICT) - hardware , software and applications- and the degree of users' digital literacy.

In all countries has increased, in recent years, the proportion of men and women who report using the Internet from any access point , but only in Brazil , Mexico and Uruguay the gender gap narrowed. In the rest of countries widened. The difference between women and men is nearly 5 % in Chile (39.3 % vs. 44 %) , a country that has one of the highest rates of use of this technology. In Peru, meanwhile, 26 % of women and 34.1 % of men say they are users.

This gender digital divide is more common in urban than rural areas and mainly affects older women of all educational levels. In El Salvador the difference between women and men with tertiary education is five points ( 70.3 % versus 75.5 %), while in Honduras is almost three percent (71.2 % and 74 %). In Brazil , on  other hand, 4.3 % of women and 7.4 % of men 65 years older report using internet, the same happen in countries like Costa Rica (3.1 % and 7.1 %) and Ecuador (2.1% and 4.1 % ).
The prevalence of Internet use increases, as well as the income level of households rises, but the gender gap is smaller in those groups where the technology is less accessible. In Uruguay, the least unequal country in this area, 34.5 % of women in the first quintile report using Internet against 63 % in the fifth quintile.

The only situation where inequality is reversed is in the case of women employees, showing Internet use rates higher than those of men. The latter data indicates that having skills for use of ICT can be a powerful tool for the employment of many women.

But, almost half of the women in the region (representing 50.9 % of the population, over 300 million people) have no any link with the labor market: the female economic activity rate reaches 49.8 % ( for male the rate reaches 78.7 % ) and one per every 10 women are employed in domestic service, one of the lowest paid work and less social protection.

Ensuring women's economic autonomy, increasing their labor market participation and recognizing the unpaid work that they perform mostly, are some of the main challenges that the countries of the region are facing, raises the ECLAC. And as  in the digital economy the gender inequalities, present in the rest of society, are reproduced, policies that prevent occupational segregation, wage gaps prevention and promote a fair gender division of labor are necessary.

Full Report (In Spanish):

(Source: CEPAL)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 11:20:23 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Global prizes will recognize outstanding projects designed to further accessibility and affordability of ICTs.

For the third consecutive year, ITU has launched a competition that recognizes excellence in the implementation of projects and initiatives which further the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) goals of improving connectivity to information and communication technologies (ICTs), particularly within underserved communities.
Organized into four phases which will run until mid-April 2014, the contest comprises 18 categories directly linked to the WSIS Action Lines outlined in the Geneva Plan of Action. Winners for each category will be announced at an award ceremony on 13 April 2014, during the WSIS+10 High-Level Event.

The WSIS Project Prizes provide a high-profile, international platform for recognizing and showcasing success stories and models that could be easily replicated. They are designed to empower communities at the local level, giving all stakeholders working on WSIS projects the opportunity to participate. In particular, they recognize the commitment and efforts of stakeholders – no matter how big or small – to use ICT as a powerful tool improve social inclusiveness and economic development.

Next year’s awarding of the 2014 WSIS Project Prizes takes on a special significance in the light of WSIS+10 Review Process.

“I am pleased to see so many stakeholders making such great achievements in the implementation of the WSIS outcomes, and inspiring others to do the same”, said Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General of ITU. “I hope to see even more countries and stakeholders engaging in the process and sharing their valuable knowledge with others through this platform”.

Submissions can be made online at www.wsis.org/prizes until 1st November 2013.

Testimonials from past winners
“Receiving the 2013 WSIS Project Prize was a tremendous honour and an important recognition that public libraries are powerful partners in development. Winning such an esteemed prize gave us extra validation that our innovative approach connecting libraries with technology is working”. Rima Kupryte, Director of EIFL.
“The victory of the electronic licensing of Kazakhstan in the international WSIS Project Prizes 2013 competition served as a great incentive and became the pride of the entire project team, including both public authorities and the business community…After receiving the award, experts from several countries visited Kazakhstan to learn more about our experience in introducing the project and our plans for further development. We would be very glad if other Kazakhstan projects would take part in this important competition in future”. Ruslan Ensebayev, Chairman of the Board, NITEC, Kazakhstan.

“Winning the prize means that even small nations can give examples to the world of how to successfully design and execute ICT projects to increase the accessibility of new technologies to poor people, in line with the Millennium Development Goals.Our team has received many congratulations, and other countries have asked us for advice. We are very glad to share our expertise and collaborate with countries to help them to replicate the model”. Patricio Carvajal, Digital Literacy Director, Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Society, Ecuador.

“It is important to win this contest because it gives official recognition to your work and confirms that you are doing the right thing”. Thomas Mueller, Deputy Head of Programmes, Child Helpline International.

“It is an incentive for the team to further transform our e-government programmes into a more reachable, available, secure, and seamless service for citizens". Khaled H. Al Ajmi, Ministry of Higher Education, Saudi Arabia.

More information on last year’s winners can be found at WSIS Stocktaking: Success Stories 2013.

(Source: ITU Newsroom)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 4:17:17 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, October 10, 2013
Huawei, in partnership with the Angola Ministry of Education and Unitel, has launched phase two of E-Net, a project to connect schools in Angola. 



“The objective of this project is to promote bridging of digital divide among Angola youth, at the same time enhancing research and development in ICT leading to localized innovations’, said Mr. Leon Liu, Director at Huawei Technologies Angola Representative office. He added that Huawei was committed to collaborate with local partners such as the government and Unitel to advance Angola as knowledge based economy.

The digital inclusion project will benefit over 18000 youth, covering the 18 provinces of the country. The first phase has already connected Bie, Cabinda, Luanda, Benguela, Kwanza Norte, Malanje, Huambo, Uige, and Huila. The second phase is expected to cover the provinces of Zaire, Moxico, Kubango, Kwanza Sul, Bengo, Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul, Namibe and Cunene.

Investment in infrastructure, competitive internet pricing, and enabling regulatory environment are key in enhancing Africa’s connectivity. According to Internet World Stats, by end of June 2012 Angola internet users were 2,976,657 forming a 14.8% penetration of the country’s population, translating to Africa’s 1.8% internet users. Initiatives such as the E-net project are key in increasing the country’s connectivity and internet usage.

(Source: Biztech Africa)

Thursday, October 10, 2013 11:27:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, October 07, 2013
The GSMA has announced last week a ground-breaking cooperation between government partners including the Philippines Department of Education (DepEd) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), along with Digitel Mobile Philippines Inc. (DMPI), Globe Telecom, and Smart Communications.

In a joint collaboration for mEducation, the GSMA will be working with the Philippines government agencies and all mobile network operators across the K-12 spectrum to provide up to one million Filipino out-of-school youths (OSYs) with additional opportunities to access education, including technical vocational (tech-voc) education, via mobile media. The operators are co-operating to complement the efforts of multiple government agencies by extending knowledge to OSYs, especially those in underserved areas and geographically isolated communities, with the support and reach of mobile technology. The National Statistics Office of the Philippines reports that in 2011, there were at least 6.24 million out-of-school youths in the country.

“We are excited to be acting as advisor for this mEducation initiative, providing support to include best practice and business model expertise to the project,” said Irene Ng, Head of Asia, GSMA“. Never before has such an ambitious mEducation collaboration taken place in the Philippines, involving all three mobile network operators and two key government agencies. The Asian mEducation market is projected to reach $6.8 billion by 2017. Initiatives such as this, especially involving multi-stakeholder partnership, will drive even greater growth and help to accelerate achievement of the desired objectives for such programmes”.

Mobile technology is uniquely positioned to help bring education solutions to learners, including OSYs, in the Philippines. The country has a very high adoption of mobile technology and is known as the ‘SMS capital of the world’, with Filipinos sending over two billion messages every day. The mobile penetration rate in the country was 105 per cent by the end of 2012 and the smartphone penetration rate nearly tripled between 2010 and 2011, growing from nine per cent to 24 per cent.
The GSMA’s global mEducation project aims to accelerate the adoption of mobile education solutions, particularly mobile-enabled portable devices, such as e-Readers and tablets. It forms part of the GSMA vision of a ‘Connected Life’, a world where everything intelligently connects via mobile networks, delivering rich services to businesses and consumers in every aspect of their lives.

(Source: GSMA)

Monday, October 07, 2013 2:02:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, September 27, 2013
Twenty one new rural telecentres have been opened in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka earlier this week as part of the Information Infrastructure programme of the Sri Lanka’s ICT development strategy, e-Sri Lanka.

These ICT service delivery centres, known as Nenasalas (‘nena’ means ‘knowledge’ and ‘salas’ means ‘shops’), are based on the vision of developing e-societies connecting community members to information and e-services.

Nenasalas serve as ICT hubs, linking the students, farmers and business owners to the internet and providing access to IT knowledge and skills with computer literacy classes. They serve as bases for radio broadcasts of market prices and agricultural information to farmers and telehealth facilities.

Moreoever, they have facilities for visually and hearing impaired individuals with audiobooks and hearing aids.

Chairman of ICT Agency (ICTA), Professor P. W. Epasinghe has said that the aim of the Nenasalas is to accelerate the process of equipping people with IT knowledge and facilities. The e-Sri Lanka strategy states the establishment of a network of 1000 Nenasalas to providing the communities with “affordable access to information and communications technologies”.

Epasinghe said that the opening of the new telecentres “coincides aptly with the economic development taking place in the North with the dawn peace in the country”, as the Northern Province recovers from the end of 25 years of civil strife.

There are currently a total of 699 Nenasalas across the country, with 19 more to be opened in the North.

Further information

Friday, September 27, 2013 4:24:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
As part of its ongoing commitment of developing Egypt through technology, Intel took a leap forward to reduce the digital illiteracy in Egypt at the difficult times that the country is going through politically. Intel will deliver educating initiative "Evolve your Life, live it with strength" on the importance of technology, latest technologies in the market and entrepreneurship trainings to Egyptian youth through a 2 months roadshow to Egyptian governorates to bridge the gap between the knowledge that students acquire during their academic study and the practical experience required by the labor market in both the public and private sectors.

As societies mature and people express themselves through their spending, technology is a status symbol that plays to their needs and helps them show how they are ahead of others. Proportion of individuals in urban areas using computer reached 41.1%, while the proportion of individuals in rural areas using computer reached 29%. Intel believes that technology opens up a world of opportunities for people from education, career, to entertainment and social life, as there is good growth for technology penetration potential in Egypt. During "Evolve your Life, live it with strength" technology awareness initiative will reach out across six governorates (Alex, Cairo, Mansoura, Minya, Tanta, Zagazig) through series of educational activities to provide opportunities for young learners to obtain key skills needed for tomorrow's success, with a focus on the importance of technology use, problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration which will increase technology knowledge and innovation capacity in the market to meet the immediate employment needs in the market and to develop the Egypt's labor market efficiency which currently marks 119 from 148 globally.

"We live in a world of opportunities. It starts with the potential we all have inside to succeed, connect, and be inspired. Intel's mission is to deliver technology advancements that become essential to the way we work and live. We truly believe that technology can play a huge role in ending the digital divide in Egypt and driving personal growth, be it in developing job skills or providing easy access to quality education, healthcare and critical government services. Our quest is to bring nation awareness for digital literacy by pursuing their passions to promote social progress and to successfully compete in the global marketplace." Stated Ahmed El Zoghby, Market Development Manager, Intel Egypt.

According to a research conducted by Intel Egypt, Egyptian youth are lacking the main importance of technology use in education and career building as it is consider a luxurious device; around 68% purchase devices to stay only up to date, 48% use devices for gaming only and 24% are not prioritizing devices purchase in their lives. Throughout everyday life, technology is universal and Intel understands this. When buying a computer for the first time, choice of device will come down to what the needs and requirements are. Intel's mission is to create awareness about the different technology usage and to delight its customers by delivering technology advancements that become essential to the way they work and live which will improve Egypt's Technological readiness which currently ranks 100 from 148 countries globally.
 
"The world is changing rapidly, PCs open your eyes to what is happening globally and help you expand your knowledge of the world. We believe consumers should enjoy a wealth of choice across the devices they use to keep in touch socially, stay in the know, get entertained, work and play". Added Ahmed El Zoghby, Market Development Manager, Intel Egypt.

Egypt is one of the highest-growth potential IT markets in the Middle East as it has a 7.89% yearly growth of internet users in Q1 2013 estimated internet users of 33.34 million compared to 30.90 million at the end of Q1 2012 and Internet penetration reached 40.09%. People in developing economies are keen to connect to the internet and seek out the opportunities for learning, entrepreneurship, creativity and socializing. Intel will channel the potential we all have inside to succeed, connect, and be inspired, by giving access to entertainment, education, and being connected with others. It empowers people who are purchasing technology for the first time through its innovation and choice in devices.

(Source: Zawya)

Friday, September 27, 2013 4:03:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


Eighteen digital hubs for Kenyan primary schools, allowing pupils access to computers and the internet, have been officially launched. Funded by the British council and Microsoft, they are intended to serve more than 100 schools.

The BBC's Frenny Jowi says a hub she visited in Nairobi had 21 computers. Give the numbers, they seem like a drop in the ocean, but the scheme is a significant step for Kenya's state education sector, she says.

Kenya's 639 state primary schools are often overcrowded, with up to 1,000 pupils at each institution,  the reporter says.
The hub at the Kilimani School in the capital, Nairobi, will be serving five schools altogether - and sessions will be timetabled. But the reporter says it was evident that the pupils at Kilimani were enjoying the computer lab.

"The computers are easier to use and give a lot of information about what you are studying", one 10-year-old boy told the BBC. Each desktop computer is loaded with Microsoft's Encarta reference encyclopaedia.

The digital hubs now also have full and free internet access following a three-year deal with telecoms giant Bharti Airtel, the British Council said. They have been built over the last year and during that time, some 2,000 teachers have been trained in IT skills, it said.

Kilimani's headmaster Gideon Wasike said there has already been a positive effect on students since the pilot hub had opened in August 2012. "It has motivated them and has raised their esteem and their interest in learning", he told the BBC. "They're able to do a lot of research on their own".

The BBC correspondent says the hub project - dubbed Badiliko, meaning "change" in kiSwahili - was officially launched at a ceremony at Kilimani school on Wednesday morning.

The scheme has also been launched in eight other sub-Saharan countries, establishing 127 digital hubs in total.

In recent years, Kenya has become a centre for information technology - and the government has launched a project to build a new city by 2033 intended to be an IT business hub called Konza Technology City and nicknamed "Africa's Silicon Savannah".

(Source: BBC News Africa)

Friday, September 27, 2013 3:39:06 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
A new report released today demonstrates how Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), have become a positive force of transformation and a crucial element of any personal development, empowerment and institutional framework for inclusive development.

While the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) represent a concerted effort to address global poverty, there is a striking gap in the current MDGs and their inclusion of persons with disabilities. The estimated 1 billion persons with disabilities are still excluded from equitable access to resources (education, healthcare, etc.) and as a result persons with disabilities experience disproportionately high rates of poverty. In spite of the conclusion of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006, disability remains largely invisible in most mainstream development processes.

The High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development (HLMDD) of the sixty eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly, taking place in New York, provides a historic opportunity to rectify this omission and will discuss the issues that should be reflected in the post-2015 framework for development.

“The ICT Opportunity for a Disability-Inclusive Development Framework” contributes to a better understanding of the extent to which ICTs can enable and accelerate the social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities. It lists challenges that are still to be addressed while outlining concrete actions to be undertaken by each group of stakeholders and a set of indicators to help measure progress towards the achievement of a disability-inclusive development agenda.

This report is the result of collaborative input from the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development, the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ICT), the International Disability Alliance (IDA), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Microsoft, the Telecentre.org Foundation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Launching the report, Secretary General of the ITU, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, said “The use of information and communication technologies should be at the heart of any strategy to promote the social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities. We have the tools at our hands; the remaining challenge is to expand access to these technologies to all and to make ICTs accessible and affordable for persons with disabilities”.

The content is based on feedback from a global consultation on ICT, Disability and Development, carried out from 20 May to 17 June 2013 in support of the preparatory process of the HLMDD. The consultation gathered over 150 expert inputs from relevant organizations and key individuals from over 55 countries and representing multiple stakeholders, including governments, academic institutions, organizations of persons with disabilities, civil society organizations, private sector and regional and international organizations.

The report highlights that when ICT are available, affordable and accessible, they can significantly improve the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society.

- Web services constitute the access technology with the greatest impact in promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all areas of development (e.g. social networking, teleworking, online educational classes, telemedicine).

- Mobile devices and services constituted the second-most valued ICT. In particular, the use of mobile phones is instrumental to enable independent living of persons with disabilities (e.g. SMS, captioned telephone, mobile banking services, and access to emergency services).

-Television is the third-ranked ICT in the assessment, specifically for its use as a tool to access government services and information (e.g. news broadcasts, information and education programmes).

Regarding the challenges to overcome, some barriers are universal while others affect specific areas of development.

- The cost of assistive technologies, which is comprised of the cost of the technology as well as the cost of assistive technology assessment, training and support services, is still one of the main barriers that prevents many persons with disabilities to fully access healthcare services, benefit all educational levels, be competitive in the labour market and to live independently.

- A lack of access to ICT accessibility technologies is a pervasive barrier that is further reinforced by the lack of policies which foster widespread availability of accessible ICTs and the lack of effective policy implementation.

- Limited availability and use of ICT in general greatly constrains the use of ICT as a solution to tackling development challenges.

Addressing these barriers requires the collaboration of the main stakeholders involved in each sector, as well as concrete actions to be undertaken by each group of stakeholders and relevant indicators to monitor progress.

- Governments can play a key role in stimulating the introduction of ICT-enabled solutions adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities, increasing the availability of accessible ICTs and promoting the affordability of assistive technologies in social, educational, economic and other domains. One priority action is the inclusion of accessibility requirements in procurement policies. In addition, governments can foster a greater awareness of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as a comprehensive and integral instrument which highlights the importance of ICTs and accessibility for the enjoyment of one’s human rights and fundamental freedoms. This entails updating disability legislation to include ICTs in the legal definition of accessibility. Through regular consultation with organizations of persons with disabilities, they can improve the provision and quality of accessible ICT.

- Private sector entities can contribute by increasing research and development efforts, incorporating universal design principles at the earliest stage possible and recruit persons with disabilities in product development departments to develop accessible ICTs. Another priority action is to address the shortage of IT professionals with ICT accessibility skills (in-house training, industry gatherings and publications). The private sector can further remove attitudinal barriers towards hiring persons with disabilities and promote accessible and inclusive workplaces. Through these contributions, employers can greatly contribute to a society where persons with disabilities can participate in work life, and have increased independence.

- Civil society organizations have a key role in raising policymakers’ awareness of the remaining accessibility barriers, becoming more active in the work conducted by international standards organizations. Furthermore, they also have the ability to bring about social progress and economic growth by raising the awareness and building the capacity of persons with disabilities and their relatives in using ICT to facilitate their own economic and social inclusion. Finally, advocating for the mainstreaming of the use of the universal design principle in all development efforts is crucial for ensuring that the international development framework is disability-inclusive.

- The UN system and other international organizations must implement operational activities to meet disability-inclusive development goals, complemented by the monitoring and evaluation of development efforts at the global, regional and national levels. Also necessary are performance reviews to assess whether development policies, programmes and projects are effective and results-driven. It is imperative to ensure that this analysis is quantitative and supported by consistent data, and that such analysis is designed with the participation of persons with disabilities, in order to make sure that the correct factors are measured. Lastly, the UN must ensure that it keeps implementing awareness-raising activities and mobilization campaigns in order to create a demand for national governmental action.

- International standards organizations can also play a special role in enabling a disability-inclusive development agenda by providing a neutral platform from which to develop and/or harmonize international standards and provide recommendations related to accessible ICTs. To achieve this, standards development bodies must facilitate the participation of relevant experts and delegates with disabilities. Furthermore, these organizations can contribute to the promotion of R&D focused on developing specific ICT-enabled solutions for persons with disabilities. International standards organizations must also raise policy makers’ awareness of accessibility barriers to be addressed.

The report is released during the High-Level side-event to the HLMDD “The UN delivering as one in enabling a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”, taking place today, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Download the full version of the new report here.

For more information on ITU, visit: http://www.itu.int/accessibility

Follow ITU on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ITU/103018419782973

Follow ITU on Twitter: https://twitter.com/itu

(Source: ITU Newsroom)

Thursday, September 26, 2013 11:01:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, September 17, 2013
South Korean Ministry of Education announced last week that 67.1 billion won (US$61 million) will be spent on students for IT purposes.

The total education funding this year, amounting to 3.185 trillion won (US$2.8 billion), will benefit 4.37 million primary and secondary school students across the nation.
The education funding project of city and provincial offices of education is designed to support high school tuition, after-school classes, IT devices and school meals for students from low income families.

The 67.1 billion won (US$61 million) IT fund will be spent on 240,000 students for PCs, internet, and communication expense.
Fewer students - a drop of 13,000 - will benefit from this IT fund due to the rise in internet fees, according to the ministry, even though the budget increased by 2.4 billion won (US$2.2 million).

The overall education fund has gone up by 504.5 billion won (US$465.6 million), benefiting 397,000 more students compared to last year. 428.4 billion won (US$395.4 million) will be provided to 386,000 students (or 20 per cent of the entire high school students) for high school tuition, which includes admission fees, tuition and school operating expenses. 790,000 students will receive 251.8 billion won (US$232.4 million) for after school classes. Another 2.4374 trillion won (US$2.2 billion) will be provided for school meals, including free meals, benefiting 4.37 million students, or 67 per cent of students.

(Source: FutureGov)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 10:11:04 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, September 08, 2013

Rural Zimbabwe is characterised by a lack of proper infrastructure, a limited electricity supply and poor road networks. Traditionally, communication to these areas has always been limited.

However, over the past five years mobile phones have begun providing a means of communication, connecting Zimbabwe's rural population with urban dwellers.

According to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), a body mandated to issue licences in the postal and telecommunications sector, Zimbabwe now has a mobile penetration of 97 percent.

"The increase in mobile penetration has been triggered by increased investment in communication infrastructure in both urban and rural areas, meaning that marginalised people can now afford to use mobile phones", POTRAZ acting director Alfred Marisa told IPS.

Mobile phones have slowly become the simplest and cheapest mode of communication in this southern African nation.

According to the Zimbabwe Statistics Agency's 2011-2012 Poverty Income Consumption and Expenditure Survey, which was released in June, 7.7 percent of Zimbabwe's economically active population is unemployed. This is a marked contrast to previously reported unemployment figures of 85 to 90 percent.

The report also noted that 8.2 million Zimbabweans in rural areas are poor, while 10.7 percent of the rural population is unemployed. It is estimated that 72 percent of Zimbabwe's 12.75 million people live in rural areas.

But despite these high poverty figures for rural Zimbabwe, mobile phone usage is growing rapidly there.

According to Frost and Sullivan Growth Partnership Services, an international company that conducts business research to accelerate growth, "despite the high levels of unemployment, the number of mobile phone subscribers in Zimbabwe has increased from less than two million at the end of 2008 to more than 10.9 million in 2013".

According to Josham Gurira, an economist at the University of Zimbabwe, access to mobile phones will continue to change rural Zimbabwe.

"Access to information and communication technologies is now considered a basic human right and mobile phones have offered the best opportunity to enhance the digital divide which could have prevented it. The use of mobile technology has empowered many people and is regarded as a key tool in helping alleviate global poverty", Gurira told IPS.

"The adaption of mobile technology has redefined the way people communicate and the growth in mobile phone use has shaped a new way of engagement and connection. Mobile phones are providing Zimbabwe with an opportunity to develop", he said.


(Source: All Africa)

Saturday, September 07, 2013 11:26:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

UNESCO’s Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development moves into a second phase in its open consultation with all stakeholders on the new concept of “Internet Universality”, with the release this week of a second version of a concept paper.

This follows a series of internal and external consultations by the Communication and Information Sector, most recently with the sister programmatic sectors at UNESCO. Since the process began at the WSIS+10 review meeting in February 2013, the concept has also been canvassed at eight international fora.

The concept of “Internet Universality” provides an overarching understanding of key elements of the Internet. These are the underlying norms that contribute to shaping the use and development of Internet: (i) free and human rights based; (ii) openness; (iii) accessible to all; and (iv) multi-stakeholder driven participation. The four can be summarized by the mnemonic R – O – A – M (Rights-based, Open, Accessible, Multi-stakeholder driven).

By bringing together UNESCO’s existing positions on the Internet, the concept of “Internet Universality” could help to frame much of UNESCO’s Internet-related work in education, culture, science, social science and communication-information for the strategic period of 2014-2021. It could provide a common point of reference and lead to enhanced synergies between sectors.

In addition, the concept could support UNESCO’s work in facilitating international multi-stakeholder cooperation in regard to the Internet, and it could also highlight what the Organization can bring to the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

The Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development thanks all those who have commented on earlier drafts for their valuable suggestions. As part of an evolving discussion, the second version of “Internet Universality: A Means Towards Building Knowledge Societies and the Post-2015 Development Agenda” is offered for further feedback from all stakeholders.

(Source: UNESCO)

Saturday, September 07, 2013 11:10:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, August 29, 2013

Google is giving $25,000 dollars to each of the five most inspiring stories of how the web has played a pivotal role in transforming lives in Africa. As a nod to encouraging sustainable ventures, the money will be put toward improving winning entries. The competition, dubbed Africa Connected, runs from August 27 through October 31.

The idea of Africa Connected is more than just Google promoting its own products for corporate gain (though Google is undeniably pitching its products to new web users). Instead, the projects highlighted by the initiative will inspire others to change their community. The collection of success stories will also show how the internet can have a social and economic impact on Africa. As Google puts it, one of the most important ways to get people online is to “help increase the visibility of what African people are actually achieving on the web”.

The entry requirements are:
- Be 18 years of older and a resident of an African country (other than Sudan due to economic sanctions)
- Be willing to showcase how the internet, in conjunction with a Google product, has improved African lives
- Have a Google+ account

Individuals, teams, businesses, and NGOs are able to submit. Entrants may submit multiple stories and can vote for their own submissions. The deadline for entries is October 31st.

Judging looks to be a thorough process
Winners, slated to be announced in March 2014, will be selected across five categories and then matched against five criteria:
- originality of concept
- level of social/economic impact
- relevance to country/region
- use of Google products
- potential to scale

After submissions are collected, a shortlist will be narrowed down to 20 semi-finalists of which senior judges will limit to 10 finalists. The online community (those with a Google account) will then pick the five most engaging stories.

Further details

Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:30:22 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The nation’s capital has joined Cape Town and Stellenbosch in the race to roll out fast internet to the public, to the especial benefit of the poor, in a move that signals a newfound understanding of ‘digital rights’.

The idea that access to the internet is something other than a cutting-edge luxury has been slow to filter into South African discourse. Yet the evidence shows that access to the Internet is far from a luxury for the poor. It is better understood as an enabler of existing rights on a large scale, as well as the most powerful means of job creation and business creation currently known. The poor are least likely to receive government services timeously and fully, but also least able to complain about it and hold those responsible accountable. In a South African context in which one’s likelihood of receiving the services one is entitled to, rises exponentially with one’s ability to punish the officials concerned when they fail to provide the services, giving the poor access to advanced information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure can change lives.

Even where this rationale is not understood or accepted, the business case for free public wifi more than stands on its own, and some of the nation’s leading municipalities have duly set about making digital rights real.

The City of Tshwane aims to roll out free wifi to poor neighbourhoods, built-up areas and major centres of learning as early as November this year. The first phase will encompass the venerable Church Square, the University of Pretoria in Hatfield, the Tshwane University of Technology’s Soshanguve campus, a community centre in Mamelodi, one of the nation’s largest townships, and another college.

Next year, Phase Two will focus on schools, with the total connectivity of all government schools and higher learning centres by 2016. This builds on the success of the city’s push to connect 100 municipal offices, libraries, and contact centres, now complete. Most hearteningly, the city’s approach is enlightened about the intersection between public investments and grassroots entrepreneurship: spare capacity on the city network will be sold to private service providers, who will be providing a fast internet service to parts of the city in which there is very little choice in internet provider – or no internet service at all.

(Source: The South African)

Thursday, August 29, 2013 9:49:40 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Ministry of Education announced on Monday 26 August its plan to upgrade schools in rural or remote areas by enhancing access to information communication technology services.

The ministry said it believed an effective use of ICT could overcome the limitations of education in the most remote areas of the country.
The ministry will first inject 5.9 billion won (US$ 5.3 million) to provide tablet computers and smart devices as well as wireless network connections for 300 schools with fewer than 60 students by next year.

It also plans to provide ICT workshops for students and teachers at the schools, and will gradually expand its support to other schools in the areas, the ministry said.

(Source: The Korea Herald)

Thursday, August 29, 2013 9:39:04 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, August 22, 2013
Most welcome as the virtual gateway of rural and enclaved areas to the world, the communities of Ako, Misaje, Jakiri, Oku and Ewoh in the North West Region now sound off with multi- purpose community telecentres.

The respective centres officially went functional from August 5-7, 2013 with the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Jean Pierre Biyiti-bi Essam, cris-crossing the communities with prescriptions for the populations to embrace and preserve the facility for posterity.

On -the-spot in the beneficiary Divisions of Bui, Donga Mantung and Momo, Minister Jean Pierre Biyiti-bi Essam said the telecentres are a precious gift of President Paul Biya whose commitment to develop the nation never dims. He said the centres meet standards and were conceived to serve the people without discrimination. He stressed that they are indispensible tools for human existence and development with revelations that more centres will be constructed to cover a majority of localities and lift their level of computer literacy. Conceived to take communication facilities to virtually every community, the telecentres enhance communication without tears. It is a poverty-alleviation project that checks rural exodus, creates indirect jobs, opens chances for competition in business ventures and enhances the government's resolve to decentralise. Each centre carries infrastructure, computers, information equipment and furniture worth about FCFA 70 million. They are open to the general public and cover compartments with opportunities for postal services, ICTs, telecommunications, training, financial services, telephone, internet, e-mail, typing, digitalised printing and video editing. They also have a lot to offer in telephone services, fax, photocopy, scanning, internet, online services, community radio services, research and secretariat works etc.

The commissioning exercise was a rare moment for beneficiary communities to show gratitude with gifts and messages that demonstrated their commitment to stand by the government for peace, progress and development. In Ewoh, the Mayor of Batibo council, Tenoh Lawrence saluted government's efforts to decentralize communications as a prerequisite for development. He prayed for the effective operation of the centres after the fanfare of inaugurals while an elite, Rt. Col Weriwoh Godfred hailed government for efforts to take Ewoh and neighbourhoods out of darkness with the planting of modern day communication facilities.

Further details

Thursday, August 22, 2013 9:44:59 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, August 15, 2013


The use of multimedia tools to facilitate broader community participation is enabling some of the more marginalized communities in Peru to share more engaging and relevant local knowledge among their people. “Participatory video is a methodology to reach the deepest emotional action triggers of people”, said Peruvian film-maker and Andean activist Rodrigo Otero.

During a workshop organized by IICD in Cusco, facilitated by Otero who is also an expert on participatory video processes, participants and local organizations agreed that video is a communication technology appropriate for their intervention areas due to its effective way of collecting and transmitting indigenous knowledge, culture and traditions of their communities.

“Participatory video making is related to various experiences in different places worldwide that privilege the role of communities both in the production and diffusion of videos in today’s modern society”, said Otero.

Since 2011, IICD supports the efforts of civil society organizations to integrate ICT in Education through the Connect4Change programme in Peru. Six organizations are currently involved in the implementation of intercultural bilingual education (Educación Intercultural Bilingüe - EIB in Spanish), a nation-wide experimental plan aiming at a more balanced and contextualized education across several Peruvian regions such as Cusco, Huancavelica, Apurímac, Junín and Ayacucho.

A major aspect of EIB is to bring culturally relevant and bilingual education to the classroom by using Spanish and Quechua. Quechua is the mother tongue of 13.2%1 of Peruvians and the language that is widely spoken by some of the most excluded communities in the rural areas where the six Connect4Change-supported organizations intervene. Other aspects of EIB include linking the Andean culture to modern educational practices, for example reintroducing traditional Quechua songs into teachers´ pedagogical methods in the classroom.

During the three-day workshop in May, a group of 20 participants, from technical staff of the six organizations to teachers working in poor communities, explored the basics of participatory video making in a very practical and hands-on training. The first day was dedicated to introduce participants to filming techniques such as “in front of and behind the camera”, “seeking the beauty” or “show and tell” with practical exercises. On the second day, participants learned to write a storyboard using the techniques from day one and shot a 10-minute outdoors interview. The workshop concluded with a round of deliberations regarding the suitability of participatory video methodologies to convey EIB values in the school.

Further information

Thursday, August 15, 2013 2:42:53 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, August 12, 2013
The government has provided 459 schools and institutions with fully furnished and equipped Information Communication Technology (ITC) laboratories and Internet access.
So far, 38 colleges of education, 37 national vocational training institutes, 26 technical institutes,10 youth leadership training centres and 249 senior secondary schools have benefited from the government’s schools connectivity project.

Other beneficiaries are 25 junior high schools, 49 nursing colleges and 25 community development vocational institutes. The Minister of Communication, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, made this known at the meet- the-press in Accra last week.

The minister used the platform to announce the official launch of the ITU‘s Regional Development Forum (RDF) and the Africa Regional Preparatory Meeting (ARPM) for the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) scheduled for Accra, this year. The RDF will be held from October 1, 2013, while the ARPM will be held from October 2 to 4, 2013.

With the country’s development in the ICT sector, the minister said the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2011 listed Ghana as one of the top 10 most dynamic performing countries in Information Communication Technology (ICT) development.

Ghana is said to have improved its global ranking by four places and its ICT Development Index (IDI) increased from 1.81 to 2.23 whereas the average for Africa is 1.88.
According to the minister, Ghana placed 117 in the world, and sixth among sub-Saharan African countries in ICT usage.

The ITU is the global and specialized agency of the United Nations with a responsibility to regulate, standardize, co-ordinate and develop international telecommunications.
Dr Boamah said the upcoming RDF would be used to deliberate on issues relating to trends in telecommunications and ICT in Africa, broadband policy and e-applications.
The conference will also deliberate on cyber security, development of public-private partnership for improved capacity building in the ICT sector and the future of the information society.

The ARPM, according to the minister, was in preparation towards the WTDC in 2014. He said the meeting would be used to assess the implementation of action plans of the WTDC.

Enumerating some of the successes in the ICT sector, the minister said the over-all submarine cable capacity of the country so far was 12.3 Terabit.
According to him, in fulfillment of ITU commitments and that of the government to provide employment to persons with disability, the Akropong and Wa schools for the Blind have been selected as sites for the pilot phase of the disability connectivity project.

Also, he said Community Information Centers (CICs) had been built as access points for ICT in the under-served areas, adding that currently 93 CICs were fully furnished and equipped to provide community Internet access and an avenue for low cost ICT training.

According to the minister, the cost of bandwidth in Ghana had witnessed substantial reduction over the years from $10,000 per month of two megabits to $1,200 today of the same two megabits.

(Source: Ghana Web)

Monday, August 12, 2013 5:20:38 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, August 02, 2013
The Minister of Information and Civic Education, Moses Kunkuyu says Government is focused at improving the services and livelihoods of the people of Malawi through Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Kunkuyu said this in Blantyre on Monday during the official opening of a 5-day Television white Spaces (TVWS) training for ICT stakeholders in Malawi.

The physics Department of Chancellor College of the University of Malawi, in partnership with the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has embarked on a project called Malawi White Spaces Project which aims at providing broadband connectivity to rural Malawi at affordable cost using the identified gaps (White Spaces).
The meeting is geared to finding means and ways of how to reach out to rural masses with ICT using the white spaces in channels that are free in a given site or region.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the training, Kunkuyu said the government of Malawi is committed to promote universal access to ICT services by facilitating a conducive environment for enhanced collaboration between the public and the private sector through PPP arrangements.

"I am glad to inform you that Malawi is one of the five countries in the world which are currently involved in the pilot phase of this project. This demonstrates the strategic focus on ICT development under the wise and dynamic leadership of the current administration”.

The country has placed ICT high on its agenda through such initiatives as the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) and the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP).
"This project will therefore go a long way in supporting these initiatives through the upliftment of the socio-economic status for the rural masses", said Kunkuyu adding that there will be challenges in the implementation that require close cooperation between the industry, leaders and MACRA.

Kunkuyu said the training will facilitate improved broadband connectivity to the rural areas utilizing the identified White Spaces and that the project's initial pilot phase starting September, targets areas which are key to social and economic development like hospitals, schools, the defense forces and the Seismology Unit for earthquake monitoring.

Further details

Friday, August 02, 2013 11:23:04 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, July 26, 2013
Gender equality is a basic human right enshrined in the United Nations Charter. In the year 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, the Millennium Development Goals were established and signed by 189 heads of state around the world: a list of eight overarching goals for developing countries to achieve by 2015 was outlined. Within this list, Goal 3a sought to 'eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015'. Indicator 9 of this goal was to measure the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women, in the ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education. However, the targets set by MDGs and other global forums have largely been missed on the African continent, partly because in Sub-Saharan Africa the number of out-of-school girls has decreased more slowly, from 25 million in 1999 to 17 million in 2008, according to the World Bank (2011).

For many years, the education of the girl child has not been a priority in many parts of the developing world because of a number of reasons, ranging from cultural, biological and social. This disparity has been reflected in areas of politics, leadership and business which have for many years, with some recent changes, been dominated by men.

The birth and rise of new media is, however, changing the story for many girls in Africa who have been given an opportunity to compete with their male counterparts. A new generation of girls using technology to change their story is being born. An example from Uganda is the GirlGeekKampala, a group of young enthusiastic girls who have come together to encourage the culture of programming among female university students all over Uganda. Their goal is to facilitate favorable competition in developing applications for sale, to match their male counterparts.

Similarly, in South Africa, ShetheGeek is on a mission to empower women globally through training with technology and innovation. In Kenya, a fast growing technology base within East Africa, the school of Open Kenya initiative is creating positive impact and changing mind-sets (Creative Commons Blog, 2013). The initiative provides girls with peer mentorship, learning through the use of open educational resources, and using the Internet to objectively achieve their goals and actualize their ideas, while actively solving issues in their communities. Beyond individual efforts of girls trying to help fellow girls, institutions such as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) strive to improve access to ICTs to underserved communities worldwide. Access to ICTs, the United Nations says, empowers women and girls to take their rightful place as equals in the world.

It is evident that investing in a girl child's education is empowering a girl to make informed decisions about her life, to aspire for greater goals in life beyond marriage and to compete favorably with her male counterparts in politics, business, leadership and other fields, with one main goal of creating positive social change and contributing to the development of her society or nation. It is therefore important for leaders to encourage the culture of tolerance and acceptance in men, of women who break even in politics and other male dominated professions and cease to look at them as competitors or threats but rather as companions and team players in achieving a better good for society.

"How Technologies Can Help with Investing in Girls Education" is one of the twelve opinion pieces featured in the eLearning Africa 2013 Report. To read more about the annual publication, please visit: http://elearning-africa.com/media_library_publications_ela_report_2013.php.

(Source: All Africa)

Friday, July 26, 2013 10:12:19 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, July 18, 2013
The Namibian government aims to embark on a programme to take ICTs to isolated rural schools, and is seeking investment partners to support the plan.
This emerged at the Namibian Investment Seminar staged for potential investors at Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg, South Africa,  on July 02.

Education is an important focus area in the Namibian Government’s development plan, said Tuaundamuje Keeja, Deputy Director, Corporate Planning at the Ministry of Education. He highlighted an initiative aiming to deliver ICTs to rural schools not supported by the national power or communications grid.

Keeja cited projects such as the solar-powered container ICT lab concept, which is making ICTs available to underserved schools. “It is difficult for us as a Ministry to provide ICT services to all schools, but we want to connect all schools for the benefit of Namibia’s children”.

The investment seminar also noted that Namibian industry is set to boom on a number of fronts, particularly in light of its major port expansions, new mining potential and ambitious agro-processing goals.

Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Tweya Tjekero, and High Commissioner Marten N. Kapewesha headed a panel of sector authorities to outline the multiple investment opportunities available to South African and international investors.

(Source: Biztech Africa)

Thursday, July 18, 2013 2:01:16 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
WeWi unveils an all-terrain Ubuntu Linux laptop that runs entirely by the power of the sun and never needs to be plugged in. The device called SOL was developed to accelerate education in developing countries.

The company held a launch event at the London Convention Centre where it demonstrated the fully functioning pre-production prototype.

The laptop, called SOL, is an all-terrain ‘sport utility’ device, which the company developed to help accelerate education in developing countries around the world.

SOL is equipped with a battery and can run for about eight to 10 hours without charge. The device isn’t meant just for the developing countries. “We are currently working on additional models for explorers and adventurers. SOL is self-sustainable and runs on green energy. It is a great device for everyone around the world”, David Snir, the company’s C.E.O explains. “We have been in talks with several universities looking for computers to do field work such as Geology, we are even looking into preparing and certifying SOL to Mil-Spec [U.S Military Standard] which would open another market”.

SOL will first launch in Ghana. WeWi’s focus on Ghana stems from the company’s recent international expansion into the country where the Canadian corporation collaborated with its African subsidiary on the project.

“We saw a great need for affordable computing in areas where power infrastructure can not sustain the large growth in population or where there is simply no access to electricity at all”, says Roland Carson, C.T.O of WeWi. “A future where people are able to study and work with computers without any access to electricity is very important for advancing education and will help shaping a better future for many individuals in those countries”, Roland continued.

SOL is expected to cost $300-450 and will come preinstalled with Ubuntu Linux and a suite of office/productivity software.

Further details

Thursday, July 18, 2013 1:56:37 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Teachers Media is an innovative, 21st-century system for raising standards of teaching and learning by sharing good practice through broadcast quality video. They believe that by partnering with education ministries they can be the next step in the evolution of the original initiative that was funded by the UK government.

As a modern converged service, Teachers Media uses a combination of broadcast TV, broadband and emerging mobile platforms to reach and influence many more teachers than traditional training methods could. This model has proven to be a cost-effective solution to improving educational outcomes on a national and international scale, leading the way in reflecting the latest thinking on how to transform the performance and aspirations of the teaching workforce.

The Teachers Media model promotes a peer-to-peer approach to professional learning, rather than the more traditional top down methods. It promotes reflective learning, rather than knowledge based learning. By harnessing the narrative power of video, it reaches hearts as well as minds.

To achieve this, their model relies on the highest possible broadcast quality or innovative content, and makes best use of the latest digital technology to deliver content to teachers and educators. Research shows that teachers are far more likely to transform their practice if they have the opportunity to personally witness alternatives, rather than just be told about them.

Angela Ney, Teachers Media founder, said:  “We believe in solutions and we look for governments that believe in accountability. I strongly believe that in order for my children to have a future, we need to look to Africa, support the change, work to achievable measures and commit ourselves to this cause”.

(Source: eLearning Africa)

Thursday, July 18, 2013 1:43:15 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, June 25, 2013
On Friday 07 June 2013, MTNers officially launched the fund-raising campaign for the education of the girl child and undereducated children of Kousséri and the 10 municipalities of the Logone and Chari. This ceremony that held at the company’s head office in Douala witnessed the massive participation of employees whose kind donations enabled to raise a significant sum of money, given that, each staff is supposed to contribute 1000 F CFA per day, being 21 000 F CFA in 21 days in order to change lives in Kousséri and promote access to education for all. There was also the donation of didactic materials and other school stationery.



On Saturday 08 June 2013, MTNers nationwide carried out various actions. In view of reacting in alignment with the new vision and mission of the enterprise which is that of providing customers a new digital world for a brighter future, MTNers met with people of all works of life and various communities in order to familiarize them with this new world. In the Littoral region, the Government High Schools of Makepe and Japoma respectively played host to this caravan which brought together students, teachers, associations, the elite and residents. More than 350 people were trained on social networks, internet, ICT and computer basics. MTN employees, equipped with computers, tablets, smartphones etc, organized several sessions where several workshops enabled to connect the communities to this new digital world which is that of today and tomorrow.

This MTN multimedia caravan dubbed “Welcome to the New World” equally visited in the North region the towns of Garoua, notably the Roumde Adja and Bibemire neighbourhoods, Maroua, especially Pitoare and Arde quarters, Ngaoundere in Sabongari and Burkinabe in the as well as Bertoua where the training was particularly meant for inmates of the Marie France Orphanage of Nkolbikone.

In the Centre region, MTNers went to Nkolmesseng where a discussion on new information and communication technologies enabled to sensitize the population on the importance of Education for all, in a world where analogy has definitively given way to digitization. Demonstration and experimentation sessions on ICTs enabled to reassure the population who, with regard to their uncertainty, did not already believe that they as well could have access to these tools for their education and development.
Earlier on, in the week, MTNers of the North West region accompanied by the Inspector for Basic Education in Santa, Bamenda visited the village of Baligham in North West region, where an elated population appreciated the training on basic computer skills. The villagers, about 1000 in number, comprised of students, teachers, and traditional authorities.

Focus shall be placed on other localities next week in order to provide a greater majority with access to the new world.

(Source: Africa News)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 5:50:57 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
According to the World Bank and African Development Bank report, there are over 650 million mobile users in Africa.

Isolated from myriad information communication technologies, rural youth in Namibia have turned to mobile phones to engage in social debates and access information.
Selma Alweendo is from Okaukamasheshe Village. On a late Sunday morning, Alweendo is already consumed up in her phone. At that moment, she projected all sorts of reactions-smiling, shaking her head in disbelief and humming while she scrolls through her phone.

A closer observation, she is compiling a text as she listens to a radio show on a youth commercial radio station. “There is an interesting show on radio. I am submitting my contribution via Facebook”, she said on Sunday.

“What else is there to do here in this village? This place is isolated from any other facilities. We have no computers, no television and no newspapers. But thanks to my mobile phone, in addition to phone calls and messaging, I am able to engage and create accounts on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter”, Alweendo added.
Alweendo is one of the many young people in rural areas socially excluded from many developments, including mainstream information means, who have turned to mobile phone to engage in social and national debates.

Alweendo justifies that there are a limited activities to engage in and rarely any modern facilities reach their village. “If I want a newspaper, I will have to travel about 20 kilometers to Oshakati, the nearest town. In fact I have to spend about 40 Namibia dollars (about 4 U.S. dollars) to get to town. I would rather save that and spend it on airtime for data to browse”, she told Xinhua News.

With the airtime, Alweendo said that, she is able to do more on her cellphone as compared to having travelled to town. “I can even read the newspapers online. But internet is expensive in Namibia and slow here. One minute you are facebooking, and in a few seconds next thing you know you have ran out of credit”, she added.
“But if I run out of credit, I ask people I know to transfer me a minimal 2 Namibia dollars. Imagine if five people transfers me 2 Namibian dollars, it takes me far”, she giggles.
The rapid and increased use of mobile phones widely attributed to increasing connectivity and spread of network coverage across the country. Namibia has 99% mobile network coverage across the country, according the mobile service provider MTC’s website.

Tutaleni Asino, a scholar and educationalist at Penn State University during the e-learning conference held in Windhoek late May, said that mobile devices such as phones excite young people and encourage engagement. “Many people in Namibia do not have computers and even more do not have internet. On the other hand, just about every mobile phone these days can connect to the internet”, argued Asino.

Certainly, according to Asino, mobile devices have and are changing society whether we want to admit it or not.

Further details

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 5:43:31 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, June 20, 2013


Funding for a project to deliver voice-based technologies that enable illiterate people in rural Africa to access the web — even those without an Internet connection or a computer — is ending this month, and a drive is on to ensure that the technologies will be freely available after it finishes.

The project's 13 partners aim to support remote communities by creating spoken web content accessed through mobile phones or radio. Pilot services were built in collaboration with farmers, radio journalists and local ICT entrepreneurs, and the partners want to ensure that enough business is generated to maintain uptake of the services beyond the project's life.

The partners will also publish open-source software to enable other developers to put together similar services and technologies, says Mary Allen Ballo, executive secretary of Sahel Eco, a development NGO involved in the project.

A number of pilot systems were developed as part of the US$4 million project called VOICES (VOIce-based Community-cEntric mobile Services) that was launched in 2011. It is managed by the World Wide Web Foundation, which works to ensure universal web access, in partnership with NGOs, universities and telecommunications companies.
The VOICES project has done several pilots in two key sectors: ones to do with health in Senegal and agriculture-based schemes in Mali. The ones in Mali were implemented — and will continue — in Burkina Faso and Ghana.

Several voice-based services, including a virtual farmers' market, a voice-based messaging system and a citizen journalism platform have been launched, allowing illiterate people in Africa to access information and to run businesses.

The free, open-source voice-based technologies could be deployed to bridge the digital gap anywhere, the team says.

They are based on VoiceXML, a web standard for building voice applications, says Stéphane Boyera, lead programmer manager at the World Wide Web Foundation.
Unlike the standard setup in which text is used to input information that is then displayed on a computer screen, the new system uses speech or a mobile phone keypad as the input, and audio played on mobile phones or radio as the output, according to Boyera.

This means that it opens opportunities for people who are illiterate or lack an Internet connection.
One example, Radio Marché — Market Radio — is a trading system that helps farmers in Mali find buyers for products such as shea nuts, honey and tamarind by turning market information sent via phone into a computer-generated voice message that is broadcast on the local community radio.

(Source: SciDevNet)

Thursday, June 20, 2013 4:10:34 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The City of Joburg Broadband Project will go live on 1 July 2013 after a 3 year build phase, which BWired will operate for 12 years. The completion of the fibre optic network covers all 7 regions of the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) municipality, and will deliver a live network that will immediately be able to offer key services to all municipal buildings connected to the network. This fibre optic network was designed by Ericsson South Africa and uses world-class technologies utilized in Smart Cities around the world, and marks one of the biggest rollouts of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere in terms of its 1.2Tb core capacity and 940km coverage, giving the City of Johannesburg true Smart City Status.

The Johannesburg Broadband and Network Project (JBNP) is the realisation of the city’s long term vision of developing the city’s economy which will see the positive stimulation of opportunities for the business sector in terms of small to medium enterprises, effective access to public services, the development of the youth in Johannesburg and increased employment opportunities for all.

All civil work was completed at the end of April 2013, with the fibre installation work being at 90% completion at this time.

The network build will be completed at the end of May 2013. When the Network goes live on the 1stJuly 2013, it will offer full WAN accessibility, VPN services, and will bring internet to all of the CoJ buildings in the region. The JBNP will be service ready to transition all of the agreed upon services as of 1 July 2013.

“We support the vision of the CoJ, and the completion of this successful build phase on time and within budget, is testament to our commitment to the project and its objectives”, said Musa Nkosi, BWired CEO. The network was developed by the CoJ in partnership with Ericsson, with the aim of creating a platform for bridging the digital divide within the CoJ. The delivery of the network will allow the CoJ to assume Smart City status, which is supported by a strong broadband backbone. The benefits of broadband to any city are far-reaching – including economic growth, the enhancement of the public service offering through e-government, added capacity and efficiencies for private enterprises, social benefits through e-learning, job creation through community portals, and right though to city wide platforms for emergency services.

“The principle behind this network was to provide ICT communications at a vastly lower cost, not only reducing the CoJ’s communications costs, but enabling the rest of the residents of the city to benefit from the network roll out”, said Nkosi. Although connecting all of its buildings, the CoJ will only use a small percentage of the projected network capacity, meaning other telecoms service providers, and industry at large can plug into the remaining capacity on a wholesale and open access basis. “We are already working with one of country’s largest mobile service providers with over 200 sites connected and operational to date. We are also running a number of POC’s with Tier 1 ISP’s, as well as other network Operators. This shows how BWired is extending its network’s functionality beyond the CoJ Municipality requirements and realizing true inclusion for all within the City of Johannesburg”, added Nkosi.

The CoJ Broadband Project will enable digital inclusion through the provision of affordable broadband to the public.

(Source: IT News Africa)

Thursday, June 20, 2013 3:56:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, June 14, 2013
Information and communications technology (ICT) is now an indispensable tool in empowering women, an international conference heard.



Participants from 21 countries attending the three-day conference, held this month (1-3 June) in Solan in Himachal Pradesh state (India), were satisfied by the rapid progress of ICT initiatives, but equally concerned at the many divides.

"We are doing a lot to train urban women into experts in information technology, but relatively little is being done to increase use of ICT among rural women", said Vinita Sharma who heads science for equity, empowerment & development at India’s department of science and technology.

Deliberations at the conference, organized by the centre for science & technology of non-aligned and other developing countries (NAM S&T Centre) and Jaypee University of Information Technology, Solan, focused on ways to make ICT more accessible to women.

Marialy Tovar, international analyst, Venezuelan ministry of science, technology and innovation, reported that 'info-centro' machines installed in most villages in her country have increased ICT access for women in her country.

Pushpa Devi Kuppusamy, IT officer in the Malaysian ministry of science, technology and innovation said the '1nita' project in her country encourages women entrepreneurs to use ICT to advantage.

Participants noted the problems of access that women face include lack of training and infrastructure, socio-economic constraints to owning ICT equipment, inconvenient location of community ICT centres and lack of confidence.

While there has been a steady increase in the number of female ICT professionals, a large number of women still fear using ICT tools.
"We need to instill confidence among women so that they can be as good as men in both using and improving the technology", Arun Kulshreshsta, director of the NAM S&T Centre, told SciDev.Net.

Nirupama Prakash, head of the centre for women studies at Jaypee University, said women from the villages in Uttarakhand state had benefited from training in using community radio imparted by her centre.

Among recommendations made by the conference was one concerning the use of ICT to increase women's security and making them better aware of their legal rights.

(Source: SCIDEV)

Friday, June 14, 2013 2:08:09 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The minister of Science and Technology, Maria Candida Teixeira, said Tuesday in Luanda that the implementation of Solar Mobile School will contribute to the promotion of science, technology and innovation nation-wide by presenting new solutions aimed at solving some problems of the country.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Solar Mobile School, the government official said it was a computerized mobile laboratory that will contribute to the education and learning and improving the quality of life, poverty eradication and sustainable development, as well as boost strategic sectors such as education, health and others.

"This lab will be fed in isolated communities of Angola by photovoltaic (solar), and will take the information and communication technologies (ICT) to the most remote areas of the country, especially at public schools, with the installation of computer labs and internet access", he said.

The project, he added, is a public-private partnership between the MINCT, the company Samsung and mobile operator Unitel, joining the efforts of the Executive with their technological experiences, putting them at the service of the Angolan population.

According to the minister, the programme of schools with internet by Samsung offers a full learning technology and a good learning environment for secondary classes in five African countries, as a pilot programme in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.

With these centers throughout the African continent, he said it wants to reach 2.5 million students by 2015, a program that focuses on the implementation of ICT infrastructure consisting of interactive electronic whiteboards banks (E-board) from Samsung Multifunction Printers and laptops.

(Source: All Africa)

Friday, June 14, 2013 1:42:27 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, June 07, 2013


What used to be a system where patient files had to be looked up in papers in a dusty attic, is now in the process of becoming a digital system in several Ugandan hospitals. With continuous computer training, medical training via computers with a teleconferencing tool, a soon-to-be digital pharmacy and electronic patient records, Lubaga hospital in Kampala and other Ugandan hospitals are taking giant steps to improve their quality.

In a wooden attic, cabinets filled with old papers are collecting dust. “These are our old patient records”, says records assistant Rhodah Kiconco. Unlike the rest of Lubaga hospital, a city hospital in Kampala which has quite a nice temperature, the attic is directly under the roof and very hot. After one year, patient files are moved from the hospitals main department to the attic. In practice this could mean that if a patient moves to another city or village and comes back a couple of years later, that it is hard to find his or her records again quickly. For these and many other reasons, the hospital is now in the process of digitalizing with the support of IICD and Cordaid via the Connect4Change Consortium together with Ugandan partner UCMB. Patient records will be stored digitally and easily accessible from most places in the hospital and hospital staff receives continuous computer training and health training via computers.

Two floors down, a group of 12 nurses and doctors receive computer training by IT instructor Andrew Ssemwezi who is talking about how to use some of the features of Google online such as a shared calendar. In the afternoon, 12 other nurses, doctors and administrative workers will receive the same course. The 24 people will receive basic computer training for several weeks and then other groups take their place. Once all staff is trained in basic computer training, the staff can start using the available computers for continuous medical training, says UCMB’s project coordinator Jenard Ntacyo. “The idea is that in the future, all nurses and other staff have to start using computers for e-learning. And if they don’t participate and do continuous training, they could lose their license”.

(Source: IICD)

Friday, June 07, 2013 8:58:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, May 27, 2013
YouthConnekt Month has been launched in Rushashi Sector in Gakenke District. A computer lab has been officially opened to facilitate Youth get skills in ICT.

Youth are happy to get this room because they’ll be able to learn more things especially in ICT. And this will help them be connected with other fellows around the globe.
The Deputy Mayor in charge of Social Affairs, Zephyrin Ntakirutimana commends Gakenke Youth for contributing in building our country through YouthConnekt Month.
“I urge you to help vulnerable people and to embrace the culture of working together as Youth, this will be a foundation of your future life and a career”, says Ntakirutimana.
Youth pledge to construct a house for Marie Nyirabavakure in Gisiza Cell, Muramba Village in Janja Sector.

Youth from all districts across Rwanda will participate in different activities ranging from those in line with economic empowerment, social contribution and the use of ICT as tool for development as well as activities related to sport and entertainment.

Under the theme, “The Promise of a generation”, other activities will include visiting different youth initiatives to witness their contribution in national development and the role of ICT.

Further details

Monday, May 27, 2013 3:44:57 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, May 21, 2013
New venture Librii is seeking to set up self-sustaining libraries with internet access in poor and isolated communities.



A decade ago, Brewster Kahle, philanthropist and founder of the Internet Archive, created the first digital bookmobile: a complete printing press in the back of a car. With a power source, satellite internet connection, printer and binder, the vehicle and its descendants subsequently printed thousands of public-domain books where they were needed most, such as in rural areas without internet connection, including schools and refugee camps across Africa.

In 2003, it was estimated that less than 1% of Africa's population had access to the internet. Since then, that figure has grown to just 15%. Private companies have been laying high-speed cables along the coasts, but it's slow to make progress inland: even where access is available, it is often low speed and unconnected to the facilities on the ground needed to make the most of it, particularly for education (The vast majority of people in Africa who do access the internet do so via mobile phone).

Now, with an initial funding of $50,000 from Kickstarter, library startup Librii is building its first "eHub" prototype: a shipping container filled with computers, printers and training materials, connected to a simple, low-cost study centre, which will let visitors access information, print books and other materials and, crucially, contribute back to the project and the web at large.

Once the prototype is complete and tested, a partnership with the University of Ghana and Librarians Without Borders is intended to start shipping the embryonic libraries to Africa, following the frontiers of fibreoptic cable as they push into the continent. While Librii is an NGO, the libraries will be fully self-supporting after the first year, seeking local sponsorship and generating their own income. Recognizing that local knowledge, architecture, infrastructure and education are all vital components in the project is what makes Librii's approach an exciting one.

Further details

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 2:45:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
E-health initiative, an electronic health delivery system, was launched on last Friday to enable doctors reach their patients online and bring health care to the door steps of the citizenry.

The E-health initiative, a remote doctor/patient interface allows a patient to see a doctor without leaving his home or office.
It does not seek to prevent patients from visiting hospital but to augment existing health care delivery services.

The launch was on the theme: “Convenience in Health Care Delivery” and has a safe harbour statement: “We do not handle emergency cases”.

To assess the product one has to go online to book an appointment with a doctor on ehealthghana.com after which an appointment coordinator will assign doctors to patient depending on the ailment.

Professor Agyemang Badu Akosa, a former Director General of Ghana Health Service, who launched the product, said the country’s health care is patterned on the colonial model, and health care could only be assessed at the capital, regional and district levels thereby creating a missing link in the peripherals.

He said if the initiative is rolled out properly many people would benefit from health care services irrespective of the distance, especially in a technologically advanced era.
Prof Akosa, however, noted that the challenge is with internet penetration in the country but expressed the hope that with fibre optic gaining grounds is positive light at the end of the tunnel.

He welcomed the initiative and said it would beneficial to the rural areas where E-kiosk fitted with e-health internet would be placed and operated by a volunteer and an interpreter.

Prof Edmund Delle, Founder of Rabito Clinic, lauded the initiative but cautioned that sustainability is very crucial to the success of the scheme.
“What is the use of a specialist whose activities are confined to his office while the rural areas are underserved”, he said.

Prof Delle noted that “an initiative which enables a doctor or specialist to reach out to more people without traveling too much for outreach programmes is very much welcomed”.

Mr Patrick Dasoberi, originator of the E-health Initiative, said it would serve as a platform for doctors, to share ideas and experiences relating to patients, as well as a network for pharmacists, laboratory technicians, volunteers, service couriers, who are the core of the scheme.

Further details

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 11:39:24 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, May 16, 2013
National Broadcasting and Telecommunications (NBTC), Thailand has last week launched a campaign to boost computer literacy and bridge digital divide in rural areas.

In partnership with Intel Corporation, “Be Amazing” roadshow campaign will travel to 27 provinces to educate the public in the remote areas, particularly first-time users and college students, on the use and benefits of computers especially for education purpose. The roadshow will start from May 14 to the end of December 2013.

Computer makers participating in the campaign are Asus, Acer, Samsung, Lenovo and Toshiba along with the broadband providers TOT and Advanced Info Service.
Affordable prices device to be featured during the roadshow include THB 7,900 (US$ 263) tablets.

“Only 6 million of the 20 million Thai households own computers”, said Accharas Ouysinprasert, Intel Thailand Manager. Computer penetration is 90% of households in some developed countries.

Ouysinprasert said the campaign is expected to reach 550,000 households this year. Thailand’s telecom operators just kicked start official 3G services last week, following last month’s official approval from the government after ending the long complication.

Gen Sukit Khamasundara, NBTC Member said the launch of 3G and 4G service is expected to boost computer use to 80 per cent of total households.
He added that the NBTC is considering trimming down the universal service obligation (USO) fee from 3.75 per cent to 2 – 3 per cent in order to reduce the burden on licensees.

The USO fee is collected from telecom operators with an aim to provide services in rural areas where telecom investment is not commercially justifiable.
Under the USO master plan from 2012-16, the NBTC will spend 20 billion baht to install fibre-optic networks in rural areas to allow as many as 80% of the citizens to access broadband, up from 32% now.

The spending will cover implementation of the networks and community computer centres for 7,000 sub districts, up from 1,000 at present.

(Source: FutureGov)

Thursday, May 16, 2013 8:13:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, May 10, 2013
IBM has long held a presence in Africa (for 90+ years). Offices now exist in over 20 African nations. Within the East Africa region, a full subsidiary office opened in Nairobi, Kenya in 2009. Since then, the company has partnered with East African universities in software development, made plans to turn Nairobi into a Smart City, and attempted to reverse the African brain drain. Most recently, in May 2013, IBM opened a research lab in the city amid much fanfare. In particular, IBM was drawn to Kenya for its great long term vision (Vision 2030) and the ability of Kenya to take innovation and use it. The company’s goal in Nairobi is “to help feed the momentum”.

Specifically, the center will house up to 50 researchers within five years. Candidates will come from public and private sectors across Africa. All sorts of ICT projects will be tackled – from water management to traffic management. IBM categorizes the areas as: Next Generation Public Sector, Smarter Cities, and Human Capacity Development. The center will also open opportunities for developers through a tight partnership with iHub Nairobi. Another key component will be the center’s ability to link venture capitalists with local innovators.

IBM also released a video discussing how public-private partnerships (PPPs) are driving East African economic growth. Victor Kyalo, CEO of the Kenya ICT Board, gave insight that can be summarized as:

- Kenya needs need technology to solve problems.
- Kenya needs PPPs to move to the next level.
- In 5 years Kenya will be using IT to enable daily tasks.

See the video presentation

Further details

Friday, May 10, 2013 6:09:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, May 01, 2013


Samsung Electronics, the global electronics giant, has delivered one container, the first of what could be a number of Solar Powered Internet Schools based in containers in the country.

The project is being made possible in association with the Angolan government and other partners.

The Solar Powered Internet School, which is geared to provide access to the Internet and electronic textbooks, will operate on a shift basis and will meet the needs of 200 children a day, according to Thierry Boulanger, IT director for solutions and business to business in Africa at Samsung Electronics.

“This school represents a breakthrough in the delivery of education by helping to break down the technological barriers facing education in Angola”, Boulanger said.
The facility, housed in a ‘40-foot’ shipping container, was delivered by truck to its site, he said.

Samsung said the school, which will be used on a rotational basis by children during the day, operates between 08h00 and 17h00 every day. Boulanger said: “It may be a small beginning, but for the 200 children who will benefit, the school opens the door to huge opportunities. Finding the funding to create hundreds of similar facilities across Africa could, within a comparatively short period, transform education, quality of life and service delivery across Africa”.

Samsung also said the school has the capacity to operate effectively for up to 36 hours without any sunlight at all. “The power generated by the panels each day also means that the school can be used beyond the traditional learning day. After-hours it can operate as an adult education centre or a community centre over weekends”.
Built to withstand harsh African conditions the solar panels powering the school are made from rubber instead of glass, to ensure that they are hardy and durable enough to survive long journeys across the continent, Boulanger concluded.

Further information

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 11:32:56 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


The United Nations E-Government Survey presents a systematic assessment of the use of ICT to transform and reform the public sector by enhancing efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, accountability, access to public services and citizen participation in 193 Countries.
  
We are pleased to inform that the Government of Costa Rica (Digital Government Secretariat), in partnership with the National University of Costa Rica, has kindly provided the translation of the United Nations E-Government Survey to all Spanish- speaking countries.    

The E-Government Survey has been adopted by United Nations Member States and economists as a useful tool to benchmark e-government development.  The Survey is also a tool to guide policies and strategies on how Member States can improve overall public service delivery and bridge the digital divide. 

Main Findings:

Progress in online service delivery continues in most countries around the world. Among the e-government leaders, innovative technology solutions have gained special recognition as the means to revitalize lagging economic and social sectors.  One of the key findings that emerges from the 2012 Survey is that while it is important to continue with service delivery, governments must increasingly rethink their e-government approach by placing greater emphasis on institutional linkages among government structures in a bid to create synergy for inclusive sustainable development.
 
The Spanish edition may be accessed and downloaded directly from the United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN) at: http://workspace.unpan.org/sites/Internet/Documents/EGovSurvey2012_Spanish.pdf.

(Source: UNPAN)

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 11:19:58 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, April 24, 2013
There is a need for more research and development (R&D) investment and new ways to ensure that technology transfer is used to overcome global development challenges, a meeting of international academics in Indonesia concluded last month. What does this mean for disabled people around the world? The meeting is part of the lengthy process of agreeing new UN-coordinated global development goals post-2015.

It identified R&D investment and technology transfer as ways to address the massive inequalities between developed and less-developed countries. Irsan Pawennei — one of the meeting's conveners — highlighted inequality as the main issue to consider in setting the successors to the Millennium Development Goals.

These points are very relevant for people with disabilities. In all societies, disabled people experience substantial social and material poverty, and many inequalities. Technologies are available that could help improve their lives, but too often they are delivered in insufficient quantity or quality. For example, damaged wheelchairs and broken hearing aids can be found around the developing world no longer serving a purpose.

Technology transfer to less-developed countries has generally focused on non-disabled people. Intentional efforts acknowledging the needs and rights of disabled people is an important first step in redressing this. Without this effort inequalities between disabled and non-disabled people will become further entrenched. Irsan said at the meeting technology transfer should rely on the transfer of knowledge rather than products, to ensure the poor benefit in the long term and inequalities aren't further entrenched. This is a key consideration point for disabled people.

Products can quickly become redundant, but knowledge is more sustainable. Copyright-restricted software packages date fast, can be expensive and can make users reliant on a 'brand'. Communications technologies can transform the lives of hearing-impaired people but hardware has rapidly moved on from minicoms to mobile phones and now smartphones.

Information on technology transfer should be delivered in formats and methods that people with different impairments can access, for example by providing audio versions or by using simple language. If accessible formats are not consciously considered, disabled people will be excluded from both benefiting from their content and engaging in the process.

Irsan discusses the potential for information and communications technology (ICT) for creating jobs in urban areas. ICT also offers massive potential benefits for disabled people if it is intentionally applied. In some African countries, mobile phone companies — for example Safaricom in Kenya — are creating jobs for physically impaired people in call centres. Mobile communications offer huge inclusion benefits to people with hearing impairments. Ever improving screen-reader technologies open up many opportunities for visually impaired people.

Decisions made on the post-2015 targets could dominate the development agenda for the next two decades. Making commitments for disability-inclusive technology transfer would be a vital part of reducing global inequalities.

(Source: SciDev. Net)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 3:27:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, April 18, 2013
ICT has become an essential tool for humanitarian aid work, and its role in both education and healthcare throughout sub-Saharan Africa is indispensable: particularly its use in educating large groups of young refugees, from diverse backgrounds and with varying levels of basic education and literacy.

The largest refugee camp in the world is located in Dadaab, in north-eastern Kenya, 100 km from the Somali border; more than 500,000 refugees reside here, many of them displaced by the civil war taking place in southern Somalia. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been working to provide not only food and healthcare for the camp’s residents, but also educational opportunities for its more than 80,000 young people. To achieve this, they have been integrating solar-powered technologies to support ICT delivery in the 39 primary and secondary schools and 4 vocational centres in the camp.



The difficulty in educating such a large and diverse population using traditional educational tools is in addressing language barriers, illiteracy, and the high drop-out rate found throughout the camp. Making the task more difficult is the absence of necessary infrastructure, materials and qualified teachers. This is where ICT is making a difference: the use of computers and portable devices has allowed young people to obtain quality education in a safe and secure environment, taking part in eLearning programmes that can be adjusted to the needs of the individual student.

The close-knit community in the camp has played an important role in the design, sustainability and success of the project, with meetings attended by teachers, students and parents at every stage of its creation. Additionally, each school was responsible for designing solutions to the challenges of security and computer maintenance, as well as for sourcing additional funding to ensure the project’s sustainability. Erin Hayba, Associate Community Services Officer at UNHCR and a speaker at the upcoming eLearning Africa conference in Namibia, has been involved in the project for several years and explains the situation:

“This particular project that I have worked on to bring computers, Internet and solar power into the schools has sparked a new trend amongst the refugee community and partner NGOs to be innovative. Implementing change and innovation is often extremely difficult, with many hurdles to overcome, including dealing with naysayers. Innovation, in my mind, happens when people come together with varying perspectives, experiences, and knowledge to address a challenge and work toward a solution. Once a solution proves viable and people see positive results, this encourages more innovation to occur”.

The stakeholders involved in the project have been brought together to find innovative uses of ICT in education, particularly within the harsh and volatile environment of humanitarian work. And because the schools and communities are encouraged to participate in the design and implementation, as well as to invest in their own learning, the solutions found are more sustainable and appropriate. It has sparked a wave of innovative thinking within school- and education-focused humanitarian organizations. As a result, a foundation of learners, teachers, and community members who are more knowledgeable about ICT in education has been developed, creating a platform from which eLearning can grow and flourish.

(Source: eLearning Africa)

Thursday, April 18, 2013 10:19:06 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, April 11, 2013
The report, produced by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) India, says that mobile phone interventions to ensure patients comply with treatment, medical stock is available and healthcare workers stick to treatment guidelines could save some of the three million lives lost each year across Africa to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and pregnancy-related conditions.

"Many of the deadly conditions are relatively simple to treat, prevent or contain. SMS reminders to check stock levels at health centres have shown promising results in reducing stock-outs of key combination therapy medication for malaria, TB and HIV", it says.
"Delivering mobile-assisted awareness to pregnant mothers and traditional birth attendants could reduce prenatal and maternal mortality by up to 30 per cent, while programmes that track mobile-usage patterns have been very successful in predicting disease outbreaks and in reporting malaria reporting adherence", according to the report.

Africa's low adoption of mHealth solutions is mainly due to a lack of health literacy among patients, says Shashank Tripathi, leader of the strategy and research practice at PwC India and one of the study authors.

Patricia Mechael, executive director of the US-based mHealth Alliance, says mHealth can help to strengthen overall health systems. For instance, she says, equipping field health workers with mHealth skills and phone applications can enable them to instantly communicate with authorities so they can take rapid action.
The potential number of lives that mHealth initiatives could save in Africa over five years to 2017 differs greatly, from 1,500 in Botswana up to 143,000 in Somalia, the report estimates.

Besides differences in mobile phone ownership and use, these variations are also due to differing mortality rates for individual countries, says Tripathi.
The report was launched at the annual Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, Spain, earlier this year (25-28 February).

Access to Full Report

(Source: SciDev. Net)

Thursday, April 11, 2013 3:27:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, March 28, 2013
The Vice President of the Republic, Dr. Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, was appointed by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as a sponsor of an educational project to promote the use of Information and Communication Technologies between children and adolescents through the project "Technology needs girls". In a letter sent by Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General, the body recognizes the work developed by the Vice President of the Republic through the 89 Community Technology Centers located in remote communities of the country, which have changed the lives of thousands of children and adolescents.

The project will allow children and adolescents to participate in local activities that allow them to remove barriers so that girls have the opportunity to explore careers in technology.

This recognition includes the Vice President to continue promoting the celebration on April 25 2013, the Day of  Girls in ICT , date that has been commemorated as the "Day of the Tecnochicas", with the aim of integrating girls from 14 to 19 years old in technology.

The Day of Girls in ICT was established by Resolution 70, which was updated and adopted by the Plenipotentiary Conference of the ITU held in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October 2010. The Resolution "Mainstreaming a gender policy in ITU and promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women through information technologies and communication" provides for the incorporation of a gender policy in all plans and ITU programs.

In May 2007, being the First Lady of the Republic, the Vice president Cedeño de Fernández received the "Award of the ITU World Information Society" for her contribution to ensure that technology services are available to residents of the poorest areas of the Dominican Republic. The ITU Award on Information Society is granted to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the construction of the information society. Personal achievement may take the form of social achievements, mobilizing public opinion or a key technical innovation.

(Source: Newspaper El Nacional)

Thursday, March 28, 2013 6:51:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture will provide free internet for the first 30 minutes every day to urban and rural households with monthly incomes below RM3000 (USD 968).

The service will also be extended to households who quality for 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M), a one-off cash payment initiative for low-income households. The database of BR1M recipients will be used as a starting point to identify qualifying households.

About five million people are expected to benefit from this service.

“People can use the first 30 minutes of internet for free for all their personal, family or business interests”, said Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, Information, Communications and Culture Minister.

The Minister stated that the programme would be launched in April. The ministry will involve Internet service providers, and work with the Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to mobilize the programme.

The ministry will determine by next week if subscribers of broadband, high-speed broadband, and fiber optic Internet services will be included.
Kampung Kerinchi in Kuala Lumpur is expected to be the first location for the implementation of the programme.

(Source: FutureGov)

Thursday, March 28, 2013 6:34:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Institute of Advanced Technology (IAT), based in Kenya, is the leading ICT institute in the East African region. IAT needed to replace the 380 ageing PC desktops used in their training centres and classrooms but had only a small budget. To be successful, IAT would need to provide users with increased computing access while also reducing the high cost of maintenance both on hardware and support personnel.

IAT considered other traditional thin client solutions but found that many solutions were complex, requiring additional third party hardware components and an extra investment in technical support. Fortunately, NComputing’s end-to-end desktop virtualization solution was cost effective and, with the highest user density per dollar compared to any PC or thin client on the market, provided the essential features needed for a good desktop experience. In addition, NComputing virtual desktop access devices were compatible with existing applications, reliable and easy to manage, thereby eliminating the expensive IT support and maintenance costs.
Desktop virtualization, a shared computing strategy that maximizes efficiency by harnessing the computing power of underutilized PCs is an excellent way to bring classrooms into the 21st century, in a simple and cost effective manner.

By implementing NComputing virtual desktops, IAT has realized many benefits:

The NComputing solution has proven to be compatible with existing IT infrastructures and classroom orientations, allowing IAT to re-use and extend the life span of its existing PC desktops while not incurring new hardware capitalization costs.

NComputing virtual desktops are easy to deploy and maintain, drastically reducing the need for technical support and repairs.

IAT has reduced the cost of investment by 40% per seat, offering significant savings in operating and capital costs.

The NComputing solution has created a greener institution for IAT, simultaneously cutting costs and reducing power consumption while achieving environmental goals.

Finally, the most important benefit is that the new desktop virtualization environment has given IAT the means to scale desktop computing to additional users. The current virtualization environment supports approximately 500 virtual desktops, increasing the number of terminal workstations without increasing the number of physical desktops.
 


Futher details

Thursday, March 28, 2013 6:20:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Ericsson has provided the network infrastructure and services to bring voice and data communications to the Millennium Village Project (MVP) in Koraro located in a remote part of northern Ethiopia. With access to 3G connectivity more than 4,000 students and their teachers at two schools involved in the Connect To Learn initiative will now have access to modern learning and teaching resources through Ericsson's cloud-computing solution. In addition, community health workers in the Millennium Villages will be using mobile phones provided by Sony Mobile and broadband access provided by Ericsson to deliver life-saving health care services directly to households to collect health information for improved monitoring.

Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Vice President and Head of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson says: "Education is key to ending poverty and ensuring a better life for people. ICT can play a vital role in providing access to quality classroom resources for both teacher and student, and fostering social awareness and global understanding which has become a necessity nowadays in secondary education.

"Many of the residents in this area rely on the community clinic for health care, with otherwise little or no access to the most fundamental aspects of health care. Connecting the health clinic in Koraro is one part of a new joint continent-wide campaign that aims to train, equip and deploy one million community health workers throughout rural sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2015, reaching millions of underserved people", Weidman-Grunewald continues.

The deployment of Ericsson's cloud computing solution in Connect To Learn at Koraro, Masho Secondary School and Megab Secondary School, includes netbooks and wireless terminals that enable both students and teachers to access educational resources on the Internet, along with basic ICT skills training for teachers.
In Koraro, community health workers use the Open MRS (medical record system) and a smartphone-based health-data management system to collect information and report on malaria and other diseases, the number of births, and the incidence of malnutrition and the health status of pregnant women during household visits. Many of these residents would otherwise have little or no access to the most fundamental aspects of health care services.

In all, Ericsson has provided connectivity to Millennium Villages in 11 countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania Uganda and Liberia.

(Source: Ericsson)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 7:19:54 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, March 07, 2013
Aligned with the Government’s “TI Maior” Strategy, Agreement Supports Research in Energy, Transportation, Education, Software Activities and Plans for Integration of up to 300 Researchers in Intel’s Laboratory Network.

The plan includes direct investments and is aligned with the Federal Government's Strategic Plan for Software and IT Services, the TI Maior (Greater IT), which aims to attract global centers of research and development to the country. The agreement aims to expand Intel and the Federal Government's activities in research, development, software and local innovation in partnership with entrepreneurs, universities and research centers in Brazil. The initiative amounts to an investment of R$ 300 million (USD 152.2 millon) from Intel in Brazil.

Energy, Transportation, and Education will be the priority segments for the research projects. Intel's Software and Services Group expects to hire up to 80 engineers in the country over the next five years looking to support the 70,000 local software companies and 400,000 local software developers.

"The joint efforts we are announcing today create exciting opportunities to develop cutting-edge technology that will create breakthrough innovations in energy, transportation, education and software development and explore new growth markets. We look forward to this new partnership between Intel and Brazil and the opportunity to position Brazil as a global center of IT innovation," said Justin Rattner, Intel's Chief Technology Officer".

The expectation is up to 300 researchers in the country will be connected to the Intel global research network, investigating issues related to cutting-edge technology. The work will be developed through research cells located in various centers of excellence across the country, connected to Intel Labs within a structure known as the "Intel Strategic Research Alliance".

(Source: Intel News)

Thursday, March 07, 2013 3:53:37 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, February 27, 2013
What is the role of information and communication technology (ICT) in the process of social inclusion of rural youth in Peru? New Braids program organizes the presentation of the study "The use, appropriation and impact of ICT on young rural women in Peru", by Mariana Barreto and Andrea Garcia, researchers of the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP).

The workshop discussion will present the findings of this project, developed in order to find information about the type of public policy approaches that have been implemented in our continent on key issues for the development of young rural women.

The study is part of a group of research papers which is conducting by “Nuevas Trenzas”, program that is implemented in six countries and coordinated in Peru by the IEP.
The event is this Friday, March 1, from 8:30 to 10:00 am, at IEP Office.  Admission is free, prior registration email floli@iep.org.pe



Further information

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 9:36:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, February 25, 2013
The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka this week has formally opened applications to set up 40 ‘Nenasala’ or Telecentres in the Northern Provinces as part of the agency’s continuing efforts to bridge the digital divide in the country.

Telecentres, or also known as Community e-Centres, are public sites often situated in remote rural areas that enable people to gather information, create, learn, and communicate with others by using the ICT tools provided.

It gives the community access to ICT based equipment and services such as computers with internet access, printers, e-mail and other collaborative applications. They feature a broad range of services and applications aimed at catering to the needs of the community at very affordable prices.

Examples of services available in Telecentres are: ICT skills training, information awareness campaigns, telemedicine and many others.
In Sri Lanka, the initiative to roll out the ‘Nenasala’ stemmed from President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s vision to extend the reach of ICT to even the most far-flung villages in the country. At present, there are 692 ‘Nenasala’s” spread island-wide.

Applications to set up the telecentres are open to Rural development societies, women’s associations, sports clubs, public libraries, organizations in charge of places of worship and social groups committed to village development.

Further details
(Source: FutureGov)

Monday, February 25, 2013 9:51:45 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, January 17, 2013
Two lines written in a social network can awake a sleepy language and cause deep feelings inside of people. Under the name of tweets, published five times a day through various phrases made up with one hundred forty characters, a language that may sound distant and preterit becomes close and present, living in the realms of Twitter.
That is happening with the account @hablemosquechua. "We are taking a language that is a bit asleep to instant language technology that is Twitter, like a robotic memory aid"; says Kiko Mayorga, codirector of Escuelab, laboratory that develops technologies to meet local needs.

When they started over a year ago, they used only 4 words: water, fire, sea and sun. Then Irma added fluency to her native language that she learned in Apurimac, and which she had to combine with the Spanish when she moved to Arequipa, forced by terrorist violence.

"Quechua does not adapt easily to technology terms, as it is the Spanish language, it is harder”, says Irma. Five years ago she started working in the free software translation self-taught, advised by the American historian Amos Batto. Even though there is Office in Quechua made by Microsoft, its collective Runasimipi translated Abiword into Quechua, a free program. She likes that her work can integrate more people.

"Before, I always found softwares provided in English and Spanish but not in Quechua. I am happy that it exists now; it is like having the right to walk freely in the streets. Now there is a strong rebound in learning the Quechua language and should give the right to learn this language to everybody", says Irma.

(Source: Newspaper El Comercio)

Thursday, January 17, 2013 8:56:09 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Indigenous communities in the rainforest of Africa's Congo Basin have no legal rights to the land that they and their ancestors have been using for centuries. And with logging, mining, industrial plantation and conservation activities spreading fast in the area, there is a growing urgency to map their hunting and gathering areas and preserve their livelihoods.

The Rainforest Foundation UK has come up with an extraordinary solution: community mapping with GPS technology on cell phones. The forest communities map the land they use for hunting and gathering to record how the land is used and what the rate of dependency on the land is in order to help preserve their access to the forest.

Over the last 10 years, the foundation’s participatory mapping programme has demonstrated that forest communities are capable of accurately defining the lands they occupy and use with the help of geo-technologies in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and the Republic of Congo. It has so far trained over 200 mapping facilitators and 40 GIS technicians from civil society and government in participatory approaches, not to mention over 1,000 local community mappers. To date these have supported over 300 forest communities to produce fully geo-referenced maps of their lands and resources, covering over two million hectares of forest.

GPS and associated technologies help communities express and integrate this knowledge in the context of other data sets such as the presence of logging concessions or mining permits.

This is all about the empowerment of local communities and the promotion of dialogue and communication among different actors. Community ownership and involvement in the mapping process also means that communities learn about their rights and how to defend them. ‘Crowdsourced maps’, says Georges Thierry Handja, mapping coordinator of the London-based foundation, ‘are particularly effective when used in conjunction with national laws or international agreements and treaties that protect the rights of communities in forest areas.

(Source: ICT Update)

Thursday, January 17, 2013 8:49:26 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Radio broadcasting is a powerful tool that enables communication to many isolated rural villages and towns in developing countries. For many of these rural communities, radio broadcasts are often the only effective way to solicit important information to a large audience.

Most recently in Uganda, community operated educational programmes are being broadcast to remote localities in an effort to reach students that have limited access to educational resources.

Since its establishment in 2003, Nakaseke community radio has served as a forum and knowledge portal for poor rural communities in Nakaseke, a newly created district located 75km north of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. Nakaseke radio operates in the Nakaseke Community Multimedia Centre (CMC), and is part of a piloted series of Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MCT) established by the African Information Society Initiatives to test and assess the impact and viability of MCT’s in rural Africa.

Education is one the station’s main programme foci and recently Nakaseke Community radio, together with primary teachers from government and private schools, started a special programme called The Radio Quiz Competition as a challenge to students to perform better and hopefully raise the low literacy levels and poor academic performance of students in the impoverished district.

The programme targets all schools in the district, which has a total of 95 primary schools (both government and private), and 13,401 pupils, with a 1:75 teacher – pupil ratio.

These schools are scattered in different localities, thus making transport to the radio station difficult and unfortunately limiting participation, but the radio broadcast bridges the geographical gap and helps educate the students who are unable to compete.

Radio Quiz Competition runs live every Sunday over the community radio. Three schools are hosted, with each school represented by two pupils in a live question and answer session that is conducted by a panel of teachers from local schools. These teachers set the questions and also provide answers and explanations if the students are incorrect – for the benefit of listeners.

Winning schools are often awarded prizes, mostly scholastic materials, donated by the radio programme’s listeners (parents), NGOs/CBOs and some local leaders. The successful school advances to the next round and this process continues up to the final stage.

Further details

(Source: eLearning Africa)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 5:11:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and leading network operator Millicom International Cellular S.A., launched an innovative project to bring mobile financial services to women entrepreneurs throughout Tanzania, Rwanda and Ghana. Over a period of 18 months, this Global Development Alliance will provide over 4,000 women with business skills training and valuable opportunities to increase their income through mobile retail channels.

In launching this new Global Development Alliance, USAID Chief Innovation Officer, Maura O’Neill, remarked: “Our opportunity to economically empower women through powerful, wide-reaching mobile technologies is more realizable now than ever before. But our ability to succeed requires coordinated and collective action. As such, we value our partnership with the private sector and influential foundations, such as Millicom and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. The components of this partnership are ground-breaking, and we are excited to watch them unfold for the benefit of women and their families in Tanzania, Rwanda and Ghana”.

Cherie Blair noted, “Women entrepreneurs stand to gain a great deal from selling mobile money products. With the right business training and working capital available, women entrepreneurs can benefit from being part of a mobile operator's value chain. Setting up mobile sales provides additional household income and the opportunity for these women to be financially independent”.

The women involved will have access to 12-month working capital loans for their mobile money businesses, distributed to the women entrepreneurs through Millicom’s mobile financial services platform. The initiative will deliver financial literacy and business development trainings for the women entrepreneurs, to support them in managing their loan repayments and their mobile money agent business.

Hans-Holger Albrecht, President and CEO for Millicom commented: “I am proud that we at Millicom can be part of financial inclusion in Africa. This public-private initiative with renowned partners such as the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and USAID will foster women’s entrepreneurship to the benefit of all in the local communities. The initiative will deliver financial literacy and business development training for the women entrepreneurs to support them in managing their mobile money agent business.”

This partnership will present opportunities for women mobile money agents to become profitable while at the same time attracting and retaining new customers. By increasing the number of female agents, this project aims to lower the barriers that women face in accessing financial service and to promote the innovative adoption of mobile technology amongst these women. It also aims to design a successful model for mobile operators around the world to replicate, in order to expand mobile money operations and financial inclusion for the unbanked.

(Source: USAID)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 5:05:43 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
A team of four Chadian women living abroad in Paris have launched a new cultural website, La beauté tchadienne. They are not new to the Internet; the site has evolved from a successful Facebook page (18,133+ likes!), Blogger blog, and Twitter account.

The authors recognize the power of technology to bring citizens closer together – something we admire greatly. In a detailed post on December 17th, the ladies of LBT explained the mission of the site. We translated the (powerful) goals as:

  • to contribute to the reputation of Chad

  • to promote Chadian culture

  • to enable democratic debate

  • to support victims and develop solidarity

  • to create a sense of patriotism

Recent posts highlight various recipes, beauty contest winners, and other various cultural events. The emphasis on women is refreshing as well.

LBT is definitely a site to watch as there really is minimal current web content representing Chad. Although the site is not based in Chad, it still serves an important purpose and can serve to encourage further local content creation from within the country as well as from afar.

(Source: OAfrica)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:50:36 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Public libraries in South Africa engage with local communities to preserve indigenous knowledge. This involves teaching them to use ICT tools.

Nowadays, ICTs can help to document and disseminate indigenous knowledge. In South Africa, it is mainly libraries that have accepted the challenge of preserving indigenous knowledge systems. For example, the consortium of eThekwini Municipal Libraries, which serves 89 local public libraries in the Durban area (Durban is the second-largest city of South Africa), started a crowdsourcing experiment to collect local indigenous knowledge.

This Ulwazi programme mainly records Zulu culture, but it has the broader aim of capturing the mix and interaction of different cultures in the Durban area. Examples of indigenous knowledge collected through the Ulwazi programme are traditional celebrations, traditional clothing, Zulu proverbs, traditional folk tales, the use of spiritual herbs and traditional agricultural methods.

The Ulwazi programme has a collaborative online community memory database of local indigenous knowledge. It relies on the community to deliver content and post it on the web. The community assumes ownership of the database, while the library focuses on custodianship of the information resource. Community participation ensures that local knowledge is collected, recorded and preserved, and in the process it therefore shares knowledge, develops people’s skills, creates job opportunities and empowers local communities.

The Ulwazi Community Memory website has been developed in the form of a wiki, an open-source webpage designed to enable contributions and modifications from multiple users. It also runs a blog and other social software applications, such as Facebook and Twitter.

At the moment Ulwazi does not have a process for collecting indigenous knowledge via mobile phones, but this has been under discussion and should be rolled out in the next year or so.

Indigenous knowledge is collected from local communities through community journalists, members of the public who can register an account and submit a story on a more ad-hoc basis, and through direct engagement with local residents often through community groups. Community journalists are actively recruited. They are generally younger people from the communities with some ICT skills, an interest in heritage and culture, and a desire to acquire new skills and gain work experience. The community journalists collect stories through personal interviews, in the form of audio recordings and video interviews.

(Source: ICT Update)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:45:44 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
This report analyzes rural broadband and use by consumers, the community-at-large, and businesses; rural broadband availability; and broadband's social and economic effects on rural areas. It also summarizes results from an ERS-sponsored workshop on rural broadband use, and other ERS-commissioned studies. Overall, rural communities that had greater broadband Internet access had greater economic growth, which conforms to supplemental research on the benefits that rural businesses, consumers, and communities ascribe to broadband Internet use. One of the rural business sectors mentioned is the farm business.

Agriculture is another rural business sector that benefits from the Internet. For farm operators with Internet access in 2000, 98 percent used it to gather information. Price tracking (82 percent) was the next most common application.

In general, rural America has shared in the growth of the Internet economy. Online course offerings for students in primary, secondary, post-secondary, and continuing education programs have improved educational opportunities, especially in small, isolated rural areas. And interaction among students, parents, teachers, and school administrators has been enhanced via online forums, which is especially significant given the importance of ongoing parental involvement in children’s education.

Telemedicine and telehealth have been hailed as vital to health care provision in rural communities, whether simply improving the perception of locally provided health care quality or expanding the menu of medical services. More accessible health information, products, and services confer real economic benefits on rural communities: reducing transportation time and expenses, treating emergencies more effectively, reducing time missed at work, increasing local lab and pharmacy work, and generating savings for health facilities from outsourcing specialized medical procedures.

Full Report

(Source: e-agriculture)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:21:49 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Millions of smallholder farmers worldwide could improve their yields, incomes and resilience if only they had better access to appropriate information and knowledge that helps them make informed choices about farming practices.

Yet, despite new information and communication technologies (ICT), reaching out to these farmers with the right information at the right time is still a largely unmet challenge.

Using ICT to revitalize agricultural extension and education towards providing knowledge access to smallholder farmers was the subject of an international workshop held at the Infosys Campus in Hyderabad on 3-4 December.

The global consultation on Innovative ICT and Knowledge Sharing Platforms for Revitalizing Agricultural Extension and Education: Opportunities and Challenges organized by a global team led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), brought together about 60 ICT researches, extension and education experts from India, USA and Africa.

The two - day workshop was successful in laying the groundwork for the formation of a global partnership that will push the ‘knowledge to the poor’ revolution through ICT application in agricultural extension and education.

Partners from India, USA and Africa have agreed to develop tri-lateral educational programs to enhance the capacities of students, faculty members, extension agents, smallholder farmers, and various stakeholders in using ICT to promote the sharing and use of agricultural information among the poor and marginalized. To initiate this activity, a global AgED open courseware platform was launched during the workshop.

(Source: ICRISAT)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 2:38:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
WTSA-12 affirms commitment to an inclusive Information Society

ITU’s membership has adopted a Resolution inviting ITU Member States to refrain from taking any unilateral and/or discriminatory actions that could impede another Member State from accessing public Internet sites and using resources, within the spirit of Article 1 of the Constitution and the WSIS principles.

Meeting at the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-12) in Dubai, ITU members revised and adopted a Resolution first agreed at 2008’s WTSA in Johannesburg: Resolution 69, Non-discriminatory access and use of Internet resources.

Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General, ITU: “Just days away from the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12), the adoption of this Resolution underlines ITU’s commitment to a free and inclusive information society. This should send a strong message to the international community about accusations that ITU’s membership wishes to restrict the freedom of speech. Clearly the opposite is true. It is in this spirit – fostering an Internet whose benefits are open to all – that I would like to head into WCIT-12”.

Noting the global and open nature of the Internet as a driving force in accelerating progress towards development in its various forms and that discrimination regarding access to the Internet could greatly affect developing countries; Resolution 69 invites affected ITU Member States to report to ITU, Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) on any unilateral and/or discriminatory actions that could impede another Member State from accessing public Internet sites and using resources, within the spirit of Article 1 of the Constitution and the WSIS principles.

ITU’s work, along with many others, has played a key role in enabling the Internet. Without ITU standards providing the access technologies to homes and businesses and the transport mechanisms to carry information from one side of the world to another the broadband services that we have come to rely on would simply not work.

(Source: ITU Newsroom)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 10:45:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Applications are now open for Santa Clara University’s Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI), an 11-year-old program that helps social entrepreneurs create greater impact in their poverty-alleviating missions.

This year, the program has been renamed GSBI Silicon Valley and revamped to focus on later-stage, investment-ready organizations with potential to reach significant scale. Up to 15 accepted enterprises will receive eight months of mentoring from Silicon Valley veterans, 10 days of intensive, on-campus education, and — for the first time this year — will be paired with at least one interested funding partner.

GSBI Silicon Valley 2013 is seeking applications from proven social enterprises — those that have been able to reach large numbers of beneficiaries. Those selected will utilize their eight months in GSBI to develop skills and martial resources to achieve operational excellence and attract financing that enables rapid, effective expansion of impact. Qualifying criteria for applicants can be found on the GSBI website.

GSBI Silicon Valley 2013 applications must be completed fully by Jan. 11, 2013. Ten to 15 successful applicants will be awarded scholarships valued at $25,000 each; the in-residence portion at Santa Clara University is scheduled for August 15 to 23, 2013.

The intensified focus reflects the GSBI’s goal of positively impacting one billion people living in poverty by 2020. The program’s new curriculum focuses on achieving significant scale, so alumni of GSBI are also encouraged to apply.

Further information


Thursday, January 17, 2013 10:05:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, November 23, 2012
According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary, Dinky Soliman, citizens can take part by indicating the location or name of the street, time when they found the homeless child together with other relevant details such as nearby landmarks and tagging it to DSWD’s designated Twitter account @savestreetkids.

Information submitted to the DSWD will then be relayed to the agency’s “reach-out team” for immediate action. In addition, the agency will also be updating the status of each reported incident by indicating the location of the “reception action centre” where the homeless child is temporarily sheltered.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development is seeking to engage the public, via the popular microblogging site called Twitter, to help save the lives of homeless children in the streets of Metro Manila.

(Source: FutureGov)


Friday, November 23, 2012 11:52:41 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
With little access to formal extension services, a rural Zambian community set up an internet connection to develop local agriculture, education and energy facilities. The community is now using local radio to encourage other villages to do the same.

There have been very few studies into the effects access to broadband internet can have on agriculture in rural Africa. The reason for that is simple: broadband internet is still very rare in rural Africa. But in Zambia, a rural community, called Macha, does have broadband. There, internet and agriculture – and much more – combine as part of an integrated project to inspire the local community to reach its collective potential.

Traditionally, people have earned their living here through subsistence farming, mostly growing maize. Although agriculture always sustained the community, cultivation practices had not changed in many years. NGOs and internationals consultants came and went. And Macha remained a typical rural area with bad roads, scattered water pumps, limited electricity, patchy mobile phone coverage, dilapidated schools and health facilities.

In 2003, in a cooperative effort, community members came together to build a wireless network that would connect Macha to the internet via a satellite connection. They started with a VSAT link that offered download speeds of up to 128 kbps. The service soon became so popular that the bandwidth could not cope with the volume of internet traffic. The problem eased in 2011 when Macha upgraded the connection to a microwave link via a newly available cell phone network, which offers speeds of 2 Mbps, making it truly broadband.

The internet link is further distributed throughout the community via a wireless local area network (WLAN). There are more than 100 wireless access points, offering connectivity to both offices and homes. Surveys and measurements show that Macha has an active internet community of around 200 individuals, 67% of whom are on line for more than three hours a day. Half the users access the internet from home, and 71% use it frequently to surf the web for educational purposes.

As well as having a channel to communicate with friends and family outside of the community, access to the technology produced a discernible difference in agricultural practices within the first year. One community member found information on the web about sunflower farming, and decided to give it a go. A few years later, sunflower farming has blossomed in the village and it is now the community’s second most important cash crop.

(Source: ICT Update)


Friday, November 23, 2012 11:49:09 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Two Secondary Schools to Benefit from 90 Girls' Scholarships, 50 Netbook Computers, and Internet Connectivity

Connect To Learn has been launched in Léona, Senegal with the announcement of 90 multi-year secondary school scholarships for 90 girls and the installation of 50 netbook computers supported by broadband connectivity for two secondary schools in the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) site in Léona. The launch at the Collège d’Enseignement Moyen was attended by MVP staff, students, teachers, parents, administrative authorities, education officials, and representatives of Ericsson and Tigo, two of the organizations supporting the effort.

Connect To Learn implements mobile broadband technology to connect classrooms to a 21st century education by enabling access to vital teaching and learning resources. The computers and connectivity contributed by the program’s technology partners will also allow teachers to improve their skills and knowledge and therefore the quality of secondary education in the schools where they work.

Through funds raised by Connect To Learn from individual and corporate donors, the program has also announced that they will offer multi-year scholarships this year for 90 young women to enroll in these schools. Girls eligible are MVP residents who have achieved academic excellence and whose families are unable to sustainably fund their education at the secondary level.

Connect To Learn is a partnership between the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Ericsson and Millennium Promise. As part of its contributions as chief technology partner for the initiative Ericsson has donated the 50 mobile broadband enabled computers and two video projectors. Tigo, the cell phone service provider that has joined the initiative in Senegal, is providing free Internet service that allows the netbooks to connect to the Internet through Tigo’s mobile phone network.

(Source: Connect To Learn)


Friday, November 23, 2012 11:41:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Leveraging the power of ICT to help improve the quality of education for students through access to teaching and learning resources has become a useful tool within an increasingly networked society.

Technology improves educational opportunities by enabling personalized study. It also enhances the potential for learning through community-based education and access to educational resources, even in remote rural schools.

Connect To Learn was launched in 2010 as a collaborative effort between the Earth Institute providing advice on development, education, and evaluation; Ericsson as lead technology partner; and Millennium Promise, a non-profit organization.

Building on the expertise of each partner, Connect To Learn identifies strategies to integrate teacher professional development with 21st century ICT-based teaching, tools and practices in classrooms.

Connect To Learn also combines a cloud-based ICT solution developed by Ericsson for schools with the on-the-ground experience of partner NGOs. It aims to remove ICT support tasks from teachers and provides them with technology that is simpler to manage, so teachers can focus on improving the quality of education.

The solution is provided as a service, and is designed for users with little or no IT competence.

Improved access, energy efficiency and reduced costs are possible because users do not have to worry about virus protection, software updates and content-control capabilities for safe Internet browsing, application installation or maintenance. All tasks which are managed in the cloud.

Connect To Learn partners recognize the transformational role that broadband and other ICT solutions can play in scaling up access to quality education through innovative programs such as this one.

(Source: ICT4U)


Friday, November 23, 2012 11:35:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, November 16, 2012
This study investigates whether women have limited access to savings services delivered via the mobile phone. It examines women’s mobile phone and savings behaviour to understand whether the mobile phone creates a barrier to the savings services through lack of technical knowledge and mobile phone access.

Women members of Grameen Foundation’s savings project at Cashpor Microcredit, based in Varanasi, India are the focus of the study. 65 randomly selected Cashpor clients throughout the Varanasi region were interviewed. Women were asked to self-select into one of three categories of mobile phone ownership, telling us whether they own a phone, borrow a phone or have no access to a phone. The interviews focused on three main themes: How women use mobile phones; savings services; and how knowledge about the phone is shared among their community, particularly with children. The data collected highlight some gaps in service and further our understanding of how these women, men and their families use mobile technology.

In summary, this study found three important lessons.

  • Promoting mobile phone ownership among women is an important component to ensuring that they gain unobstructed access to savings services, or any service delivered through the phone

  • Providing mobile phone literacy training is essential among these women

  • The children of Cashpor clients know much more about mobile phones than their parents.

Download the Full Report

(Source: GSMA Women)

Friday, November 16, 2012 1:33:26 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Women farmers experience a lack of access to resources globally—in the form of production inputs, labor, credit, training, and information. Their enormous contributions to food production, subsistence farming, and the agricultural labor force in the developing world means that ensuring gender mainstreaming in information and communication technology (ICT) is a priority for global food security. It is also central to a global development agenda based on human rights and effective and sustainable development outcomes.

This briefing paper addresses these and related approaches in ICT services for agriculture that support sustainable practices and promote gender equality.

Download the full paper here

(Source: USAID)


Friday, November 16, 2012 1:23:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Kenya's claim to being Africa's leader in information and communication technologies (ICT) got a boost last month, when IBM announced it would place its first African research lab in the country's capital Nairobi.

The announcement, on 13 August, is a feather in Kenya's cap. Like other African nations, it is looking to the private sector to pad out national spending on research and development (R&D) and boost innovation.

By getting the lab, Kenya joins countries like Australia, Brazil, China, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Switzerland and the United States, which host the computer giant's other research units.

'IBM Research – Africa' will conduct basic and applied research in areas including the use of modern technology to improve government efficiency, root out corruption and manage city services, such as water utilities and traffic control.

The lab will serve Africa as a whole, and house IBM researchers alongside Kenyan and other African talent, selected and nurtured through a Resident Science Programme.

"The IBM research lab will not only rubber stamp Kenya as Africa's leader in ICT, but will help the country to transform into a knowledge-based economy", Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary in Kenya's ICT ministry, was quoted as saying in a press release.

But the decision means other African countries with ambitions in ICT leadership will need to do some soul-searching to work out how to achieve their technological aspirations.

(Source: SciDev)


Friday, November 16, 2012 1:20:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It will be focused on analyzing and raising awareness about the needs and mobile-based solutions for groups under risk of digital exclusion in Latin America (low-income and isolated communities, chronic patients and people with disabilities). Relevant stakeholders from all over the world will participate providing their expertise from technological, social and politic-economical perspectives.

The M-Inclusion awards for “Apps4Change” Challenge Program 2012, which recognizes groundbreaking mobile solutions for social inclusion, will take place during the conference.

Specific objectives:

    Bring together and facilitate the dialog amongst key actors in mobile technologies for social and digital inclusion in Latin America.

    Analyze the needs of the risk groups in terms of education, health, accessibility and economics needs.

    Identify and analyze the existing mobile technologies and initiatives that can cover the previously mentioned needs.

    Identify the trending mobile solutions relevant for mobile social inclusion.

    Promote awareness about the needs of shortening the gaps of social and digital inclusion in Latin America.

The outcome of this first Open Forum will shape the M-Inclusion Road map for social and digital inclusion in Latin America,  containing needs for social inclusion focused on the disadvantaged groups represented within the project, as well as mobile solutions based on new existing and trending technologies applied to main  scopes for social inclusion (economic, geographic, educational and health inclusion).

The audience of the event will be:

    Mobile Technologies: researchers, developers and technology providers

    End-users associations and communities: Disabled, elderly, low-income, isolated areas, social exclusion groups, chronics, etc

    Political stakeholders: Latin America and European with relevant links to regulatory issues and the market

    Financial and funding actors.

Further details about the location and the schedule in the agenda.

(Source: M-inclusion)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 4:46:25 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Blue-Ribbon Group of Media Leaders Concludes a Year of Deliberations
With Release of Report and Review of Best Practices

The Healthy MEdia Commission for Positive Images of Women and Girls, consisting of more than 50 leaders from the media industry, creative community, academia, and youth-serving nonprofits, completed more than a year of deliberations today by releasing a report offering a variety of recommendations and best practices to encourage more healthy and realistic portrayals of women and girls across all media.

The Commission Co-Chairs – Academy Award-winning actor Geena Davis, founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media; and former Federal Communications Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, International Telecommunications Union Special Envoy and Laureate for Child Online Protection – announced the release of the group’s report during the Third Symposium on Gender in Media of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Recognizing the need for gender balance and positive portrayals of women and girls in the media, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), along with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and The Creative Coalition hosted the Healthy Media for Youth Summit in the U.S. Capitol in October 2010. At that time, a broad cross-section of stakeholders gathered to chart a course to promote healthy media for the benefit of all young people and recommended that a Healthy Media Commission be formed to develop recommendations supporting a more positive and gender-neutral media environment for women, promoting the healthy development of a girl’s social, emotional and physical well-being.

The objective of the report, according to its Executive Summary, is “to develop recommendations supporting a more positive and gender-neutral media environment for women, promoting the healthy development of a girl’s social, emotional and physical well-being”. The report includes a section on “Healthy Elements of Media”, designed to encourage more healthy body images, active and diverse female characters, equal and healthy relationships, and roles for women and girls.

In addition, the report offers wide-ranging recommendations to a variety of key groups, helping media leaders, creators, and consumers “learn” more about healthy media, “choose” to promote healthy media images, and “educate” peers and colleagues about the healthy media issue and its ramifications for the health of girls and women. “Collectively we must lead efforts to raise awareness of, and facilitate greater education outreach around, healthy media, and work towards re-shaping our media landscape, so that it better promotes balanced and positive images of girls, and values their identities and aspirations”, the report says.

The Report and Recommendations of the Healthy MEdia Commission for Positive Images of Women and Girls is available online at www.GirlScouts.org/HealthyMedia.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 10:41:46 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, November 09, 2012

Since the introduction of mobile competition in October 2007, people in Papua New Guinea are able to own affordable mobile handsets and make cheaper calls for both business and personal use. In a country with rugged mountains and isolated islands, the mobile revolution has been embraced by ordinary Papua New Guineans. Over two million more people in PNG and the Pacific now have mobile phones compared to a decade ago.

“Before, whenever there was a death in the village, people had to travel long distances to the nearest government station or town to notify relatives in other provinces. But now we don’t have to because everyone has mobile phones and we can just call from the village”, said Mary, a housewife in Port Moresby who uses her mobile phone to get in touch with people in her village.

The World Bank has been helping to facilitate improved access to mobile phones and a stronger policy and regulatory framework for ICT all over the Pacific region. Working with other development partners, coupled with increased investment by the private sector, has reduced the cost of services and dramatically increased access.

In 2011, 26 percent of people in PNG had access to mobile phones. Before there was competition among telecom providers, only 4 percent of the population had access to either a fixed line or a mobile phone.

While these figures are still low compared to other countries in the region, it is a big difference with the time when there was only one operator. Back then, the handsets were too expensive and call rates were too high and just owning one was considered a luxury.

Competition among mobile operators has brought another dimension to the mobile revolution, such as mobile banking, sending money and purchasing utilities such as electricity using mobile phones, all of which are making life easier for everyday Papua New Guineans.

(Source: World Bank)

Friday, November 09, 2012 12:36:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Chilean website PSU Educarchile, which helps students to prepare the entrance examination to college, was the only Latin American project awarded (September 27) with one of the six WISE Awards 2012, presented annually by the Qatar Foundation for distinguish innovation in education.

PSU Educarchile is a free and interactive online platform which allows students from last years of secondary education prepare to the University Selection Test (PSU), an examination of language, math, science and social science prerequisite to enter the Chilean universities.

While schools prepare their students for this exam, those who can pay in pre-university parallel courses tend to receive better training and achieve higher scores on admission.

The platform - which works with publicly, private and philanthropic funded -is an alternative to these paid centers, because it allows testing using tools including a website with more than 57 000 test questions, exam podcasts with content and messages text to cell phones. It also offers support through Facebook and Twitter.

The site receives 120,000 visits a month across the country. The 60 percent of all users come from public schools, ie, students with not so much economical resources and who has difficulties to pay Preuniversitario or private tutoring.

"This is an innovative solution that aims directly at reducing inequity gaps due to the distance and social vulnerability, or generated by the inability of many students to attend classes for specific situations such as the 2010 earthquake or shots year colleges past, said the director of EducarChile portal.

(Source: SciDev Net)

Friday, November 09, 2012 12:32:30 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Indonesia’s capital city will be distributing an estimated 3000 “smart cards” to underprivileged students on 5 November 2012, as part of new Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo’s campaign promise to make sure no child is unable to go to school because of school expenses.

According to Jakarta Education Agency Chief Taufik Yudi Mulyanto, the “smart card” works like an ATM card where students would have to enter their PIN so they can withdraw money to cover their personal expenses. As part of the program, 10,766 senior high school and vocational school students will each receive Rp 240,000 (US$24) per month for one year to cover school related expenses such as transportation, food, clothing, textbooks and other school materials.

Taufik added that the city administration is currently conducting a survey in five municipalities to identify the recipients of the “smart cards” and to formulate an effective distribution mechanism in those areas once the program is extended to cover students in both elementary and junior high school by 2013.

On other hand, the authorities of the city are also planning to distribute health cards to poor citizens, so they can get medical attention at local community health care centres and as well as third-class service at public and private hospitals in Jakarta without fees of an expensive medical bill.

(Source: FutureGov)

Friday, November 09, 2012 12:28:46 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Over 500 people attended the first day of the three-day conference, Making the Connection – value chains for transforming smallholder agriculture. Held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the event attracted a broad range of individuals representing the private sector, government, civil society, farmers’ organizations and academia.

Value chains are all about making effective connections between farmers, input suppliers and buyers; between processors and supermarkets or buyers overseas. “It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this topic,” said CTA director Michael Hailu in his opening remarks. He quoted a popular Ethiopian saying: “You have the horse; you have the field – now it’s up to you to make things happen”.  Much, he said, could be achieved by conference participants over the coming days.

Mobile phones and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) are playing an increasingly important role in supporting agricultural value chains. This was the focus of the third parallel session, moderated by Ken Lohento of CTA. Shaun Ferris of the Catholic relief services (CRS) provided an overview of how different ICT technologies and products are being used to develop and improve agricultural value chains. Fritz Brugger of the Syngenta Foundation discussed the way in which his organization had used ICTs in index-based crop insurance schemes. Peter Thompson of Jamaica’s Rural Agricultural Development Authority highlighted the role of mobile phones in connecting farmers with information on everything from markets to the weather. “Agricultural losses to Hurricane Sandy would have been much greater had it not been for the text messaging service alerting farmers to how to cope with the hurricane”, he said.

Two presentations focused on specific interventions. One described the development of a dairy value chain in Kenya. In Nyala, Technoserve helped small-scale dairy farmers to develop a thriving market. This in turn benefited a range of other businesses, such as fodder producers, stimulating employment both within and beyond the agricultural sector. Tadesse Meskela described the astonishing success of the Oromio Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union in Ethiopia, which now boasts over 200,000 members organized in 217 co-operatives. There was much to learn about the importance of leadership and the development of a strong cooperative model.

(Source: This is Africa Online)

Friday, November 09, 2012 12:21:41 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Rwanda announces young innovator conference: Transform Africa


The Young Innovators Competition at ITU Telecom World 2012 came to a conclusion in Dubai following five days of workshops, mentoring and pitching sessions which ended with a lively debate between young social entrepreneurs and leaders of industry, government and academia.

"You are all winners and future leaders in an industry where the future is bright and the sky is no longer the limit", Dr Touré said. The debate highlighted education; political will; business incubators; and commitment from the corporate sector to employ young people on merit as most important factors in enabling success. Mr Jazairy said, "You can build a flagless revolution based on innovation and knowledge, and we will follow you".

"As young innovators, we need investment, mentoring and advice to get our projects started", said competition finalist Linkest Diwan, whose Crisis Communicator project offers a total disaster management system. "I'm really happy the ITU Young Innovators Competition exists. It provides innovators with social purpose a leg up, coaching and exposure. If there were more programmes like this on the planet, I believe the economic and environmental crises we have would be over in a day".

The Minister for Youth and Information and Communication Technologies of Rwanda, Mr Jean Philibert Nsengimana, announced the launch of Transform Africa, a conference and exhibition for young entrepreneurs from Africa and around the world, to be held in Kigali, Rwanda, 18-22 March, 2013. He explained that the conference will invite young ICT entrepreneurs from across Africa to training, development and workshops, plus high-level ministerial round table discussions and connections with investors in Rwanda and beyond. "The number of mobile subscriptions in Africa has doubled in the past six years", said Mr Nsengimana. "In Rwanda, the increase has been ten-fold over the same time period. Transform Africa will catalyze the transformation of the economic landscape of enterprises”.

The annual Young Innovators Competition offers young social entrepreneurs the chance to shine an international spotlight on their innovative and creative ICT-based projects or concepts to drive socio-economic development. The twelve finalists were selected to attend ITU Telecom World 2012, the leading global platform for knowledge-sharing, debate and networking in the ICT community, on the basis of the business viability and potential social impact of their projects.

The ITU Video Newsroom is at: www.itu.int/en/newsroom/Pages/videos.aspx

For more information, see http://world2012.itu.int/

(Source: ITU Newsroom)



Tuesday, October 30, 2012 10:54:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The administrative staff and teachers of AIC Girls Boarding School in Kajiado, Kenya managed to increase the accuracy of the school’s grades and attendance figures and save time in one go, simply by using digital spreadsheets.

“Here, this used to be our school’s administration”, With a wide grin on their faces, four teachers  of AIC Boarding School, show a huge stack of written paper that contain attendance rates and grades of students. “These papers represent about three days of work for us”, says one of the teachers. She then grabs about ten pieces of paper. “And this is the same information, but then created by using Excel. It’s exactly the same, but this only took us half an hour to make”.

Since June 2012, this boarding school for Maasai girls is using four computers for administrative purposes. With the support of IICD and Edukans in the Connect4Change Consortium together with Kenyan partner Dupoto-e-Maa (a Kajiado-based indigenous NGO), all teachers and administrative staff were trained in basic ICT usage and how to use the system, which will help to generate more accurate data about grades and attendance of students.

In the near future, the system will also be used to keep track of payments. Maasai parents are often on the move, but in the beginning of the school year, they come to the school and pay the school fee for their children, which often include boarding fees. Payments records will be kept digitally which makes it easier to see which parents already paid. The system will also help with keeping track of payments in terms, as many parents do not have the full amount at the beginning of the year. If payments are tracked better, this means that the school will increase its income which can then be spent on teaching materials and better facilities for the school.

(Source: IICD)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 4:14:59 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, October 08, 2012

Farmerline is a mobile and web-based system that furnishes farmers and investors with relevant agro industry content to improve productivity and increase income. Farmerline bridges the information gap between rural farmers and agro-industry sources in two ways:

  • The voice forum: This feature allows farmers to ask questions by calling a toll free helpline (short code). The extension officers are able to answer the questions via a web interface and answers sent to farmers as voice sms.

  • Automated SMS Alerts: The SMS will include advice on tackling pests or diseases, agricultural techniques, optimum times to plant crops, available subsidies, as well as weather forecasts, local fairs and crop prices.

Farmerline won the first and third position in the Mobile Web Ghana Competition and Apps4africa Climate Change Competition organized by the US Department of State respectively.

(Source: e-agriculture)


Monday, October 08, 2012 8:29:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Financial Inclusion Tracker Surveys (FITS) Project is a multiyear research initiative providing critical data, analysis and insights to stakeholders in the mobile money field in particular, and in financial inclusion generally. The FITS Project supports strategic planning, benchmarking, monitoring and impact assessment for mobile money and financial inclusion projects.

InterMedia is currently working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s (Financial Services for the Poor program to implement FITS in Pakistan, Tanzania and Uganda) identified by the Gates FSP team as markets where mobile money is poised to achieve scale and serve as models for other countries. FITS may be expanded to other countries, depending on local market developments.

The project was designed with substantial input from the financial inclusion stakeholder community. It is based on the assumption that people in developing countries require safe, convenient and affordable ways to manage their money, especially those people with little money who need to be able to manage it carefully but who are often excluded from the formal banking system.

Between the annual surveys, InterMedia will conduct SMS mini-surveys to retain contact with the panel households, monitor shorter-term trends and stay abreast of any new developments in mobile money use. The primary goal is to create general purpose datasets to provide windows on mobile money market developments from the user perspective.

(Source: AudienceScapes)
Full Report


Monday, October 08, 2012 7:57:30 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, September 28, 2012
A project that provides online legal advice and digital trainings to Bolivian victims of domestic violence was praised in a recent publication of International Capacity Building Organization PSO.

The project, which was formerly supported by IICD in collaboration with local partner Casa de la Mujer (Woman’s House), was presented as an example of an inspiring innovative approach to capacity development that leads to the improvement of people’s lives.

The project consists of an online consulting service for women suffering from domestic violence, which provides them legal advice and the opportunity to interact online anonymously with professional counselors. In addition, these women are trained in the basic use of computers as well as the use of tools such as chat and Skype where they can speak to their peers or learn how to anonymously tell their story.

Given that most women do not have a computer of their own, Casa de La Mujer has created computer centres throughout Santa Cruz, which women can visit and use for free to send messages to lawyers and psychologists who volunteer in the project or to other victims, anonymously, if they prefer.

As a result, the women feel that they are not alone. By interacting with other women facing the same problems and by being introduced to basic ICT skills like blogging or using Skype, they are given a voice to communicate about domestic violence and inspire other women who suffer in other areas of the country. In addition to this, ICT has given them the opportunity to seek help maintaining their anonymity, something that is really important to victims of domestic violence and gender discrimination.

IICD’s officer Community Relations, Innovation & Capacity Development, Saskia Harmsen says that “We are pleased with the results seen from the training of 600 women in the use of ICT, and in the use of the on-line legal services and in legal rights issues”.

(Source: IICD)





Friday, September 28, 2012 10:55:48 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Two projects, one in Kenya and one in Burkina Faso, show that female farmers have better access to ICTs and are using them to improve their livelihoods. However, there is still a gender digital divide, and some profound problems are preventing women from benefiting from ICTs.

Margaret Wanjiku Mwangi has been a regular user of the Ng’arua Maarifa ICT Centre in the rural county of Laikipia in Kenya since it was inaugurated seven years ago. She has acquired computer skills free of charge and regularly borrows books and magazines to discover new ideas to improve yield productivity. For example, she learnt how to preserve various vegetable seeds for planting to enhance food security. It was also at this rural ICT Centre, an initiative of the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), that she came up with the idea of making a kitchen garden to grow vegetables in the dry season, and to make fruit juices at home to sell at special occasions and social gatherings.

Mwangi has also attended market access trainings at the ICT Centre, where she has learnt to use her mobile phone and the internet to check market prices. ‘Whenever my crops are ready,’ she says, ‘I use my mobile phone to check market prices in major towns so that I can learn about the current market situation. I share the information with neighbours, and we are no longer exploited by middle men’.

Bett Kipsang’, field officer at the Ng’arua Maarifa Centre says: “We have initiated training sessions targeting all the community members and specifically women. During these sessions, we introduce them to initiatives about online marketing skills, for example, where we train farmers to check market prices from a web-based portal using the internet and mobile phones”.

The portal is called Sokopepe, which loosely translated into Swahili means ‘online market’. It was developed by ALIN, for use by local farmers to access market information via the Short Message Service (SMS). The internet portal has been customized to receive SMS and give feedback on the prices of commodities as inquired by the farmers and buyers. The initiative enables farmers to upload their offers online and receive market information from different market centers in order to make informed decisions on where to sell their produce. This marketing system has helped rural women find prices and also discover the location of prospective buyers‘.

(Source: ICT Update)


Friday, September 28, 2012 10:49:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
In June this year, thirty-year old Limbikani Makani was nominated by the United States embassy in Harare to participate in the State Department’s Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership for Young African Leaders. The Washington summit brought together 65 inspirational young leaders from 42 African countries, and Makani was able to share his experiences and insights on how he has spent the last three years developing a platform to transform the ICT landscape in Zimbabwe. At the time, there was a dearth of information on ICT for the local context, and having identified a niche, he launched the TechZim website, which has arguably become one of Zimbabwe’s leading technology websites for product reviews and local IT news. With approximately 3,000 page views per day, TechZim is proving popular, and Makani says, "We have set our sights on building a culture of start-ups and innovation in Zimbabwe".

Whilst tech start-ups are now able to access news and information readily, TechZim has had another unprecedented impact by helping secondary school students who are learning the ropes of using ICT as a tool for academic research. Makani explains, "We decided to take on young people from secondary schools and colleges to teach them how to use the Internet and social media networks for their academic research". They host free informal training seminars during the school holidays where a few youths at a time learn about software, web designing and project management. For novices, there are sessions on basic computer skills – something so many privileged people take for granted these days. "We don’t award certificates because we aren’t a college", says Makani. "We are basically demystifying ICT and assisting students who would otherwise not be able to afford computer classes at all", he says.

Makani’s project has proved popular, so much so that the Department of Media Studies at WITS University in Johannesburg invited his input for a study into the revision of the regulatory framework of a new national media policy for Zimbabwe. "If tech start-ups are to succeed, the overall ICT climate has to be conducive to doing business", he argues. "For eCommerce to become a reality, we need to be investing in skills; in research and development and working towards Universal Internet Access".

(Source: eLearning Africa)


Friday, September 28, 2012 10:27:53 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, September 21, 2012

Zack Matere is not an average farmer. Having studied for a diploma in business administration at Eldoret Polytechnic in Kenya, he ventured into white collar jobs, which he quickly abandoned to concentrate on what many people on his age regarded as a poor man’s job: farming.

He started farming vegetables, and first encountered ICTs when a strange disease attacked his potatoes. Not even the agricultural officer could diagnose the cause. Zack’s farm is in Segereya village, near Eldoret, a long way from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. He had learned a little about computers and the Internet at college, so Zack cycled 10 km from his home to the nearest internet café. He opened the Google search engine and typed ‘potato diseases.’

He found that ants had attacked his potatoes, and also found a cheap and environmentally friendly cure: spraying wood ash. Amazed by the results, Zack returned to the Internet café and, after a few clicks, he was able to find a buyer for his potatoes.

Zack invested in a 3G-enabled phone that he could use to look for information online from the comfort of his home. Zack is lucky, he is internet literate, but thousands of farmers in his area do not even know how to use cell phones. Zack has therefore become the bridge between these farmers and the internet. Zack pays 50 Kenyan shillings (0.50 euro) everyday to access the internet from his phone, an amount that is beyond the reach of his fellow farmers.

Zack has tried to bring these farmers the information that they so desperately need. The initial challenge was to identify the most effective and inexpensive platform to reach and interact with a community of 10,000 people within a radius of 50 km. He came up with the idea for the network of notice boards, an initiative he calls Leo Pamoja, in Swahili for ‘together today’.

More details
(Source: ICT Update)



Friday, September 21, 2012 12:04:59 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, September 17, 2012

Atul Bharve, a farmer from Maharashtra's Marathwada district, says a mobile phone message saved him from crop losses this year. When monsoon was delayed, he sent an SMS to Nokia Life Tools - a text message-based information service-seeking advice on what to cultivate and was promptly advised to focus on fodder.

Kapil Mehta, a farmer from Sabakantha district in northern Gujarat, took up sorghum cultivation, which requires less water, this season in line with a voice message advisory from Iffco Kisan Sanchar, a joint venture between mobile carrier Bharti Airtel and fertiliser firm Iffco.

If India avoids a farming disaster of huge crop losses due to deficient monsoon rains this year, part of its credits go to specialized mobile-based advisory services such as Iffco Kisan Sanchar, Nokia Life Tools and Reuters Market Light, which are helping a millions of farmers across the country take the right decisions.

Finnish mobile handset maker Nokia says nearly 30 million customers subscribe to its Nokia Life Tools service and a sizeable chunk of this group are farmers.

Reuters Market Light, an initiative of news and information firm Thomson Reuters to provide personalized agricultural information through text messages in local languages to farmers for Rs 999 a year, boasts of one million unique subscribers.

These service providers are now working overtime to respond to a deluge in demand due to delayed monsoon. Experts believe mobile-based farmer advisory providers will play an increasingly larger role in coming years.

B V Natesh, director (emerging markets services) at Nokia Life Tools, says: "Since the Indian farmer now faces significant monsoon-related challenges, we've been providing our subscribers with best practices and tips on water and soil moisture conservation, alternate crop selection in low rainfall scenarios and five-day weather forecasts". Nokia Life provides personalized text messages on 270 commodities in 12 languages across 22 states in 12 languages and can be accessed by farmers on a daily basis.

According to the World Bank, mobile-based access to price information has improved average farmer incomes by up to 24%, adding that the most common usage of text messaging in the context of agriculture includes access to price information, crop disease and meteorological information.

(Source: The Economic Times)

Monday, September 17, 2012 4:52:37 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Remote, mountainous, and hard-to-reach areas like Uganda’s Kabale district suffer from inadequate access to information of all kinds. Because the region, located in the southwestern corner of Uganda, is predominantly agricultural, timely and relevant information for farmers in Kabale would significantly help improve their livelihoods.

A mobile phone application developed by the project Life Long Learning for Farmers in Uganda (L3F Uganda) is helping Kabale farmers get the information they need. The project sends text messages with agricultural updates and information to about 1,000 farmers. This information, disseminated twice weekly by L3F Uganda, has helped farmers get valuable guidance on market access, fertilizer application, plant spacing, timely planting, local diseases, and other topics. The project is a partnership of Commonwealth of Learning, Makerere University’s Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo, and local community organizations, and was instituted as a pilot project in Bufundi, a sub-county of Kabale, in 2009 with the hope of extending it to all of Uganda.

The main aim of L3F Uganda is to help solve the many challenges farmers confront in the region. These include inadequate road networks, preventing farmers from getting to markets; a lack of credit and financial services; volatile market prices; and a lack of up-to-date information about seeds, weather patterns, appropriate fertilizers, pests, and other agricultural issues. Traditionally, the government’s agricultural extension service was the main source of information for farmers in Uganda, but the current ratio of extension workers to farmers in the country is 1:24,000, rendering the service largely ineffective. In Bufundi, the ratio is 1:46,000.

(Source: iconnect)                                                                                                                                                        

Further details


Monday, September 17, 2012 3:21:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, August 31, 2012

The DVD is called "The Wold of the Baure" and will be included in schools in a greater programme to emphasize Bolivian indigenous cultures and preserve them. It is an interactive DVD that will feature encyclopedia type of information, but also many video and sound clips. The advantage of these educational DVDs over a website is that even schools without an Internet connection can use this material. Additionally, the DVDs can also be used by the Baure themselves to educate people about their history and customs.

The Baure are an indigenous group of the Bolivian Amazon, inhabiting Baures village and the nearby small communities. Their numbers have slowly dwindled and currently, there are only 50 people left who still speak the Baure language. Several Baure have already been interviewed about their local customs and their language for the DVD and videos, audio clips and images are already collected.

The DVD is part of a bigger programme to preserve indigenous cultures by using multimedia. This is supported by IICD and Edukans through the Connect4Change consortium and Bolivian indigenous group supporter APCOB.  For the Baure project, the Indigenous Center of Baures is also closely involved.

A detailed project description is available on the international transparency ‘Really Simple Reporting’ platform, created by software developer Akvo.

(Source: IICD)

Friday, August 31, 2012 8:58:28 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, August 20, 2012

The World Bank Board of Directors approved last June the extension of the Rural Telecommunications Project with an additional credit of US$5 million, in order to expand access to telecommunications services among more than 200,000 rural inhabitants in the Caribbean coast and Rio San Juan Department in Nicaragua.

The Rural Telecommunications Project, implemented since 2007 through an initial financing of US$7 million, has already installed new broadband Internet access points in 101 municipalities, expanded mobile phone coverage to 37 rural communities, and installed almost 600 public phones in rural areas.

These US$5 million in additional financing will support Government efforts to reduce the cost of telecommunications services and expand opportunities for the inhabitants of the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) and South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS), Alto Wanki Territory and Rio San Juan Department in Nicaragua’s southeast. In these areas, poverty levels reach almost 55 percent and poverty is especially prevalent in indigenous and Afro-descendants living in small communities, away from national communication networks.

With the extension of this project, we will be able to increase regional access to telecommunications services by at least 40 percent, something that will have a positive effect on the local economy”, said Orlando Castillo, Executive President of the Nicaraguan Telecommunications and Posts Institute (TELCOR).

The Project will continue to expand the telecenter network to facilitate access to low cost mobile phone and Internet services in rural communities in the Caribbean coast and Rio San Juan, along with municipal governments, NGOs and the local private sector.

(Source: The World Bank)
Further details

Monday, August 20, 2012 8:52:50 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), in collaboration with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) commissioned 6 Country Case Studies (Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe) in November 2011 on current and emerging youth policies and initiatives with a special focus on links to Agriculture. The announcement of these case studies was made during the Regional Dialogue in September 2011, where the theme of the conference was "Advocating for the active engagement of the youth in the Agricultural Value-chain".

This year, the FANRPAN Annual High Level Regional Food Security Policy Dialogue will be held from 3-7 September 2012 in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania with the theme "From Policy to Practice: Advocating for the Active Engagement of Youth in Agriculture Value Chains", whereby the 6 Country Case Studies conducted by youth representatives from each of these countries will be synthesized into a Regional Report, that will give a bird's eye view of the current situation, identify gaps and better target interventions. The final report will be presented at the Regional Dialogue in September 2012.

Prior to the FANRPAN 2012 Regional Dialogue, a Twitter campaign will be run by each of the 6 young consultants who conducted the Country Case Studies from 1st to 31st August 2012 to engage youths and others who are interested in the case-studies in discussions on Twitter.

In order to participate in the Twitter campaign, you need to know the following:

The Twitter campaign will run for 4 weeks and each week, the focus will be on a specific topic, and hence will have a specific Hashtag (#) described below:

Week 1 (1-7 Aug) - Topic: Youth Perceptions on Agriculture - #youthagperc

Week 2 (8-14 Aug) - Topic: National Policies as Key Drivers - #youthagpol

Week 3 (15-21 Aug) - Topic: Institutions and Mechanisms for Youth Engagement - #youthageng

Week 4 (22-31 Aug) - Topic: Opportunities for Youth in Agriculture - #youthagopp

(Source: YPARD)
Further details


Monday, August 20, 2012 8:22:04 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

To enhance and attain the health component of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Abia State Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Broadbased Communications Limited to provide fibre optic network across the state.

The chief marketing officer of Broadbased Communications, Mr. Chidi Ibisi, said that the fibre optic network would put Abia on the telecommunications super highway and revolutionalise the healthcare delivery system in the state.

“Farmers in the rural areas would have access to new methods of farming as extension officers can talk to farmers in the rural areas at the same time through video conferencing”, he said, adding that the state governor can also use the network to make a broadcast.

The chief marketing officer explained that the benefits of Abia’s journey into the information superhighway would be felt everywhere across the state because hospitals, schools, government ministries, departments and agencies, banks would all be connected to the network.

“It is a super highway that can carry everybody, a next generation broadband network that can carry a lot of data”, he said, noting that telecommunications companies operating in Abia could log into the fibre optic network for efficient services.

Special adviser to the governor on NEPAD, Hon Longman Emeka Nwachukwu, who facilitated the fibre optic networking agreement with Broadbased Communications, told that Abia was well poised to utilize the full benefits of ICT to drive its development.

(Source: This Day News Paper)
Further details


Monday, August 20, 2012 8:11:10 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, August 13, 2012

ECDL Foundation Partners with AGE Platform Europe to Promote the Older People’s Digital Inclusion during the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations and Launches Updated ICT Training Program Adapted to Older People’s Needs.

As key stakeholders in the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (EY2012) Coalition, ECDL Foundation and AGE Platform Europe will collaborate to connect the capacity of both organisations’ extensive networks in support of the Year’s aims around ICT skills development. The development of older Europeans’ ICT skills is considered crucial to their active ageing and continued participation in society, and to their ongoing contribution to the labor market. At any age, and particularly with an ageing population in Europe, European citizens need to be able to use the technology that can greatly improve their quality of life. ECDL Foundation is a committed supporter of EY2012 and will work towards using the potential of ICT to open up training and employment opportunities for older people, including those with disabilities.

In support of the objectives of the EY2012 and its collaboration with AGE Platform Europe, ECDL Foundation is launching a revised version of its accessible introductory ICT training programme, EqualSkills. This new version of the highly successful EqualSkills workbook seeks to meet the specific needs of older people. EqualSkills is a tutor-led, introductory ICT skills development programme that helps to remove the fear of computers for complete novices by using a simple, non-threatening approach to providing basic skills for using a computer, email, and the Internet. These essential ICT skills are key to individuals’ full participation in technology-dependent societies, and are an important factor in promoting lifelong learning. So far, almost 100,000 Europeans have already participated in the EqualSkills programme.

ECDL Foundation, as a leading advocate for the promotion of digital literacy in Europe, fully supports the aims of the European Commission’s European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012. ECDL Foundation and its network of national partners look forward to collaborating with AGE Platform Europe in the joint aim of enabling the digital inclusion of the elderly in Europe throughout 2012 and beyond.

(Source: Age Platform Europe)


Monday, August 13, 2012 10:03:36 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

This year's conference, which was held in Cotonou, Benin, from 23rd – 25th May, saw the launch of The eLearning Africa 2012 Report. The Report is based on a detailed survey of nearly five hundred education professionals across the Continent, and marks the first significant attempt to provide a snapshot of how ICT and better connectivity are believed to be changing the face of education in Africa.

These are some of the key findings of The eLearning Africa 2012 Survey, completed by 447 respondents. The eLearning Africa 2012 Report, which is the first of its kind, bringing together the views of eLearning professionals and a range of other stakeholders from across 41 African countries.

What role does the ICT-enhanced learning and training community play in contributing towards Africa's growth and development? This is the overarching question that frames The eLearning Africa 2012 Report. How do people define ICT-enhanced learning and training? What technologies are being used within the sector? In what contexts are they being used? What motivates people to use ICT and how do they make use of it? Each of these questions is explored through the Survey analysis.

The eLearning Africa Report aims to provide regular, yearly snapshots of the eLearning experience in Africa, with the aim of fostering richer, more nuanced conversations, healthier decision-making and more effective action-taking towards ensuring Education for All in Africa.

To download a free copy of the 2012 Report, please click here.

(Source: eLearning Africa)


Monday, August 13, 2012 9:56:50 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In September 2009, Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) hit the Philippines, causing the worst flooding in more than 40 years in Metro Manila.

Damages were estimated to be at $1.09 billion and about 747 fatalities were recorded.

Now, three years later, the torrential rains that has been pounding Metro Manila and its nearby provinces since yesterday is now dubbed as “Ondoy 2”, as the capital city now finds itself again submerged in chest-deep flood waters and many citizens stranded on the 2nd floor or the roof of their houses.

With the crisis far from over, a group of twitter users proactively created a Googledoc spread sheet to help first responders facilitate evacuation efforts.

The Googledoc “#rescuePH” allows users to report people who are in need of immediate evacuation or assistance.

The document includes the following information: Timestamp (which indicates the time when the entry was made), address of persons who need to be evacuated, status of the rescue alert, contact information and the exact twitter message. In addition, the spreadsheet also contains emergency hotlines of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

New entries are marked red, and users who input information are requested to update the status column to green when people are rescued. Up to date there are 250 entries.

This initiative stems from the concept of turning crowd sourced data into actionable information. Through this initiative, first responders would be able to streamline their efforts in order to help victims get needed aid as soon as possible.

(Source: FutureGov)

Further details

Monday, August 13, 2012 9:49:00 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Shea nut collecting women in southwestern Burkina Faso received a computer system in mid-June to help them manage, record, retrieve, and track information about the sale of Shea nuts. This will increase efficiency and eventually will help them to sell more Shea nuts.

'Before, we used a paper-based recording system and it caused many problems at the section levels', said Clementine Hien, the treasurer of Fadefso, the Federation of Women's Development and Emancipation Associations in Southwestern Burkina Faso. The Federation has over 20,000 members, of whom more than 10,000 engage in seasonal Shea nut collection.

'The sections are unable to know exactly how many members involved in Shea nut collection', added Mrs Hien, concluding that this shortcoming affect provisions for the next season.

With the support of IICD and ICCO, who teamed up with other partners to form the Connect for Change Consortium, Fadefso kicked off the piloting phase by installing its computer and accessories in its headquarters in Dano, about 340 km southwest of the capital Ouagadougou.

'With this computer, we will digitalize the list of all our members', said Olivier Some the Fadefso-Dano support agent. He added that the delay-causing handling of paper-based correspondence with clients and partners was to be replaced by emails. 

Shea (a nut that is used to create Shea Butter) collection is the most important income-generating activity for women in Southwestern Burkina Faso. Putting Information and Communication Technologies at the disposal of those hardworking women for managerial, information recording and tracking tasks is a way to increase their efficiency and their incomes.

(Source: IIDC)
Further details


Tuesday, August 07, 2012 7:31:42 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Thailand’s Electronic Government Agency (EGA) will introduce the ‘Smart Box’, an integrated device that provides connectivity and delivers government services through smart card authentication for remote communities.

The Smart Box will enable remote villagers especially farmers to access real-time agricultural information. The streaming data will be customized to suit interest and benefit of people in particular provinces, areas, and types of cultivation. The information includes weather forecast, and market price for rice, rubber, tapioca and etc.

The EGA is preparing to launch the pilot project of Smart Box in Nakhon Nayok - a chosen province to be the first Smart Province of ICT Ministry.

Apart from providing necessary agricultural information, the Smart Box will be able to read Smart ID Card and provide personal data and social welfare benefits attached to each citizen.

The Smart Box has a similar shape to cable TV box, featuring pre-set Intranet connected to the Government Information Network (GIN), and wi-fi reception. Initially, it will be installed in the community ICT centres, houses of village chiefs or sub-district heads where there is fine connection of internet.

The units of Smart Box will be ready for distribution in the next 3-4 months. The price per unit is between THB 3,000 - 4,000 (US$ 95-126) depending on the specification that the EGA will finalize.

(Source: FutureGov)


Tuesday, August 07, 2012 7:29:42 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In order to allow access to integrated telecommunications services in the central rural areas of the country, the municipality of Simon Bolivar, from the department of Pasco, and Movistar launched the mobile services, fixed and wireless public telephony in the district of Simon Bolivar.

This initiative is part of the project “Intégrame” from Movistar which will benefit from today to more than 2,600 inhabitants of the towns: Pacoyan, Quiulacocha, Sacrafamilia, San Antonio de Ranas and San Pedro de Racco, which can access to telecommunications already.

Intégrame is a project of public-private partnership that was created in 2006 by Movistar to provide the services to rural areas that did not have access to telecommunications or which had very limited services. From that time, Intégrame is serving more than 100,000 people from 301 locations throughout Peru.

"Intégrame" develops infrastructure projects that enable communities to access the integrated telecommunications services, reducing the digital gap in poorest areas of the country, promoting their economic and social growth, and connecting them with the rest of the country and the world.

(Source: Telefonica)
Further details


Tuesday, August 07, 2012 7:27:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, July 30, 2012

The study by Rajender Verma assesses the impact of IT services and e-governance projects in the development of the rural society. It covers the services concerned with their regular routine such as agriculture, education, health, social relation, product marketing, administration, planning and current information needs. Agriculture is the main income source on Rural Himachal. So, the study identifies IT as an effective tool for increasing agricultural output stressing government to start e-Business Scheme like e-Choupal Scheme (Internet-based interventions in rural Farmers introduced by ITC).

Report along many regional e-governance tools covers SUGAM or Integrated Community Service Centers (i-CoSC) and Agriculture Resource Information Systems and Networking (AGRISNET) particularly concerned with rural agriculture. SUGAM provides all important services including agriculture commodity prices at the doorstep of rural community by bringing all citizen related services and information under a single roof cutting across different tiers of administration. While, AGRISNET Project brings farmers, researchers, scientists and administrators together by establishing online information for agriculture, animal husbandry, horticulture and fisheries departments. The citizens can put their queries online along with the scanned photographs (if any) on the web and get the advice from the experts of concerned departments. It longs to create a sustainable data bank of all agricultural Inputs in the State of Himachal Pradesh containing entries for all relevant information pertaining to agriculture and related activities.

(Source: e-agriculture)
Full report


Monday, July 30, 2012 1:04:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Eight thousand primary and secondary schools in Zimbabwe will shortly be connected to the Internet as part of a new national eLearning programme, says Nelson Chamisa, the country’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology. “All political parties in the government have agreed that eLearning should be a priority in order to improve our education system”, said Chamisa, adding that the state would be furnishing educational institutions with computers so that all schools go digital by 2014.

The programme comes at a time when the country is overhauling its national ICT policy for the first time in six years. Launched at Chogugudza Primary School in Mashonaland East Province in March this year, the national eLearning programme will initially target schools on the national grid.

The scarcity of electricity in most rural areas was in part responsible for the failure of the first attempt to computerise the nation’s schools a decade ago. The collapse of the economy and the subsequent brain drain of skilled teachers nationwide forever changed the formerly bright face of education in Zimbabwe.  By 2009, reports UNICEF, 94% of rural schools had been closed, and school attendance had dropped from 80% to 20%. UNICEF has been paying the school fees of over four hundred thousand underprivileged primary schoolers through the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), but the agency has recently announced its withdrawal from the programme. The new national eLearning programme will therefore be challenging to implement in remote areas where schools are underfunded.

Jeffreyson Chitando, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Member on Education, Sports and Culture, said the country was keen to see rural areas benefiting from the eLearning programme. “Our committee shall make sure that there is no school that will be excluded in the ongoing national eLearning programme. We understand the benefits of eLearning, and we are going to make sure that no student shall be disadvantaged in accessing modern technologies such as the Internet”, said Chitando.

(Source: eLearning Africa)
Further details

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 9:41:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

With over 6 billion mobile subscriptions in use worldwide, up from fewer than 1 billion in 2000, three out of every four human beings worldwide now have access to a mobile phone, says a flagship report on global mobile trends released today by infoDev and the World Bank.

According to Information and Communications for Development 2012: Maximizing Mobile, more than 30 billion mobile applications, or “apps,” were downloaded in 2011 – software that extends the capabilities of phones, for instance to become mobile wallets, navigational aids, or price comparison tools. In developing countries, citizens are increasingly using mobile phones to create new livelihoods and enhance their lifestyles, while governments are using them to improve service delivery and citizen feedback mechanisms.

This new report, the third in the World Bank’s series on Information and Communications for Development (IC4D), explores the consequences for development of the emerging “app economy”, especially in evolving approaches to entrepreneurship and employment. It also examines the vast transformative impact of mobile technology in sectors such as agriculture, health, financial services, and government.

Countries around the world are taking advantage of this potential, for example:

  • In India, the state of Kerala’s mGovernment program has deployed over 20 applications and facilitated more than 3 million interactions between the government and citizens since its launch in December 2010.

  • Kenya has emerged as a leading player in mobile for development, largely due to the success of the M-PESA mobile payment ecosystem. Nairobi-based AkiraChix, for example, provides networking and training for women technologists.

  • In Palestine, Souktel’s JobMatch service is helping young people find jobs. College graduates using the service reported a reduction in the time spent looking for employment from an average of twelve weeks to one week or less, and an increase in wages of up to 50 percent.

The report benefits from research funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, the Korea Trust Fund for ICT4D, and UKaid. It features at-a-glance tables for more than 150 economies showing the latest available data and indicators for the mobile sector. It also introduces an analytical tool for examining the relevant performance indicators for each country’s mobile sector, so that policy-makers can assess their capacities relative to other countries.

Download the IC4D 2012 infographic here
(Source: infoDev)


Wednesday, July 25, 2012 9:33:04 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Chulalongkorn University (CU) has launched an electronic bookstore on iOS and expected to release up to 1000 items in stock by the end of the year.

The eBook Store not only provides e-books to students and readers but will also be a gateway of writers and professors’ knowledge for readers in terms of digital media and multimedia,” Assoc Dr Danuja Kunpanitchakit, a vice president of CU said.

The CU’s e-Bookstore application will be based on iOS to empower students in accessing knowledge and curricula via mobile devices such as tablets, according to her.

The CU is the oldest university in Thailand, located in the heart of Bangkok. It plans to transform itself into a digital university within four years. Establishing the CU-eBook Store, the first of its kind, is a part of the initial transition to provide e-books and e-curricula to students and mobile users, she added.

According to Kriengsak Hongsawek, a computer manager of the CU Book Centre, the e-Book Store currently offers about 500 items for download, of which 200 are free. The rest can be purchased at a saving of 20-30 per cent.

The university also aimed to partner with leading publishing houses to offer up to 1,000 items by year-end.

The app for Android users will be ready in a couple weeks. The Quick Response (QR) code technology is being deployed to make e-learning experience more convenient and easily accessible, he inserted.

(Source: FutureGov)


Wednesday, July 25, 2012 9:21:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Like most of the farmers in developing countries, farmers in India also lack proper access to market information. Realizing this information gap, a free SMS-based product called “Fasal” that connects rural farmers with buyers and provides them with real-time price information in India is developed by Intuit.

 It facilitates the relationship between sellers and buyers, whether through finding marketplaces or determining market rates. The service uses complex matching algorithms to ensure that the multiple service messages reach the farmer every day, providing him with data so that he can make informed decisions. Itis rapidly becoming popular among farmers in the Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh states with the outreach count reaching to 9,24,838 and 8,000 new members joining the fasal community every week.

 

Access the Fasal website here: fasal.intuit.com/index.html

(Source: e-agriculture)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 5:33:23 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Both institutions seek to create synergies to develop solutions engineering, product design and methodology, using ICT as a tool to connect to most Peruvians, especially in rural areas.

The agreement also aims to strengthen the initiatives being developed by the Rural Telecommunications Group of Catholic University (PUCP) through which it has deployed wireless networks in various parts of Cusco, Cajamarca and Loreto and currently provides access to the Internet via the WiFi network allowing for example to have the service of Telemedicine in border areas.

Telefonica and the Rural Telecommunications Group of Catholic University of Peru (PUCP) signed on Friday 13 July a cooperation agreement through which the agencies are seeking to join forces with the aim of developing solutions based on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) that allow telecommunications to be brought to rural America.

Through this agreement, both institutions seek to create synergies to develop engineering solutions, products, design and methodology, using ICT as a tool to connect to most Peruvians, with special attention to the needs of rural areas that have a lack of telecommunications services and / or with limited access.

Both institutions are committed to develop outreach activities and academic specialization programmes, courses, seminars, forums and conferences to enhance participants' skills and improve their experiences in ICT.

(Source: Telefonica)
Further details

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 5:25:21 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

WeFarm is a worldwide peer-to-peer knowledge sharing network being piloted by the Cafédirect Producers’ Foundation (CPF) with very exciting results so far.

The content is created by the users; sharing their knowledge and innovative ideas from farmer to farmer across continents and languages, and enabling people with no access to the internet to harness its power, through even the most basic mobile phone, to improve their lives.

The internet platform will support smallholder farming communities to:

-          Strengthen their farming practices and livelihoods by accessing relevant information from other smallholders.

-          Showcase practices and products developed within their community, and strengthen links with potential partners.

-          Share, learn and benefit from experiences and innovative solutions.

-          Create networks and use for this technology that cannot be envisaged yet. In the process the project will gain a life of its own and become self sufficient.

Two years after this simple idea was born, WeFarm has grown into a pioneering test system, which has now been successfully piloted with farmers in Kenya and Peru. WeFarm wants to be the first port of call for any farmer, anywhere, who has a problem to solve or a solution to share.

For further information see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPzfxuqB6ok

http://www.e-agriculture.org/sites/default/files/uploads/media/WeFarm_About.pdf

(Source: Wefarm)





Tuesday, July 17, 2012 5:18:48 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Agricultural workers in Ethiopia such as farmers and researchers came together in Addis Ababa to discuss a farmers market information system (FMIS). This system will include a text message information service for farmers in Ethiopia’s Oromia province.

Purpose of the workshops was to identify the needs of several actors in the agriculture field such as farmers, farmers unions, agricultural experts and traders and suppliers of cultivation products. The meeting also allowed the agriculture workers to classify their requirements on the features of the farmers market information system and. The system will be built by Ethiopian mobile technology company Apposit LLC with the support of Connect4Change consortium members IICD, Texttochange and ICCO and Dutch ICT company 1Zero.

The Farmers Market Information System will function as a database with a mobile component, giving its users all the information they seek, in different user interfaces, adjusted to their needs.

Field visits in local farmers market organizations, indicated that more than 50% of the farmers in the Oromia Region make use of mobile phones and value this use in their daily life. Through the FMIS, the farmers will be able to receive information on market prices for their products, the weather forecast, or availability of fertilisers with a simple text message. In addition to this, they will be provided with solar mobile chargers to facilitate them, as at the moment, every time they need to charge their phones, they are forced to visit the nearest village on a market day and pay an amount of money to have it charged.

Farmers market organizations and unions will use the Farmers Market Information System to aggregate data from individual farmers about what and how many products they grow. With these data, they will be able to analyze and monitor the production of agricultural goods in their area.

The Farmers Information System will also be used by traders and suppliers of cultivation products to retrieve information on which products are being cultivated and provide the farmers with the necessary market information or products such as fertilizers suitable to their crop.

In the first phase, the Farmers Market Information System will be used by 16500 farmers in the Oromia Region, with the possibility to upscale it to other provinces. The system will be developed by the Ethiopian mobile technology company Apposit LLC with the support of IICD and fellow Connect4change members, ICCO and Texttochange,  as well as with the support of 1Zero.

(Source: IICD)

Further details

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 6:02:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |