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 Thursday, 15 September 2011

With broadband service becoming an increasingly essential tool for participating in modern life, federal policy makers are pursuing regulatory reforms that will fundamentally refocus the government’s “Universal Service” programs and related regulations to spur more broadband deployment and adoption - a marked departure from the historical primacy of circuit switched voice services.

These reforms promise to give community anchor institutions, including schools and libraries, access to a wider variety of affordable broadband service than ever before. The changes also promise to expand the range of broadband services eligible for support under the federal Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism (also known as the “e-Rate”).

At the same time, broadband service providers and their customers - including schools - will face new compliance challenges as the web of federal programs supporting broadband infrastructure grows larger and more intertwined.

Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has under consideration:
  • Multiple proposals - chiefly including the America’s Broadband Connectivity (ABC) Plan, proposed by large and midsize telecommunications companies, as well as an alternative plan championed by Google, Skype, Sprint, Vonage, and others - to transform the High-Cost Universal Service Support Mechanisms to provide direct support for broadband facilities and services, in accord with the blueprint outlined in the National Broadband Plan. These proposals would create the Connect America Fund (CAF), described last year in the National Broadband Plan.

  • A proposal to create a Low-Income Broadband Support pilot program, which could include support for deployment of network facilities and customer premises equipment, provision of broadband service, and digital literacy training to encourage sustainable broadband adoption.

  • Reforms to the Rural Health Care Support Mechanism, which has struggled to fulfill its promise since it was created. Complementary programs - such as Health Information Technology (HIT) loans, offered through the joint efforts of the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S.

In addition, the FCC will be watching to see the results from the 2011 “Learning on the Go” wireless pilot program for schools and libraries, which could expand the range of mobile broadband services eligible for federal e-Rate support as early as Funding Year 2013.

(Source: eSchoolNews)

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Thursday, 15 September 2011 16:34:24 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Thursday began a $2 billion giveaway of free laptops to every student in state-run schools and colleges over the next five years.

The scheme was an election promise made by the local AIADMK party of former movie starlet J. Jayalalithaa, which came to power in state polls in May. The plan aims to provide laptops to nearly seven million students across the state, including 900,000 in the first year.

Jayalalithaa's administration has earmarked 10.2 billion rupees ($2.1 dollars) to fund the project, but critics say the money would be better spent on social welfare schemes.

A senior lawyer in the state capital Chennai had petitioned the Supreme Court to impose a stay on the laptop handout on the grounds that it amounted to electoral "bribery" and a corrupt use of state funds. Speaking at Thursday's launch, which was marked by an initial giveaway of 6,600 laptops purchased from Acer and Hewlett-Packard, Jayalalithaa hit out at those who had sought to "demean" the scheme.

"The sole aim is to make people economically independent", she said. "No one should trivialise it".
As well as laptops, the government is distributing free electric fans, food mixers, goats and cows to tens of thousands of impoverished families in villages across Tamil Nadu.

(Source: Indiatimes News)
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Thursday, 15 September 2011 16:00:31 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 14 September 2011

In less than two years, the South African AIDS-education project Young Africa Live is engaging hundreds of thousands of young people in sensitive discussions about love, sex and HIV/AIDS. Earlier this summer, the project released findings from its “Youth Sex Survey”, unprecedented in both size and content. The survey, conducted on the mobile platform that is the centerpiece of Young Africa Live, pulls back the curtain on what young South Africans think about crucial issues affecting their sexual health.

The Young Africa Live survey received more than 130,000 responses from the mobile platform’s users, the majority of whom are between 16 and 24. Findings included a high percentage (44 percent) of South African youth admitting they are sexually active at the same time that they are significantly concerned about HIV/AIDS – 81 percent of respondents indicated they equate “not telling a sexual partner that you carry the virus” with outright murder. In good news for the government’s promotion of circumcision as part of an overall HIV prevention program, a huge number of females – 78 percent -- stated that they prefer a circumcised partner.

Young Africa Live included some superficial questions in the poll, like whether guys and girls can be “just friends”. Placing serious and entertaining content side by side is the content formula Young Africa Live employs across its mobile platform – a combination that has proved successful for building an audience of more than 400,00 active users.

Young Africa Live’s founding organization, the Praekelt Foundation, didn’t want to brand the project as an “AIDS portal”. They avoided explicitly describing the platform as related to AIDS because of the stigma associated with the disease and the fact that many South Africans, particularly those who do not know their HIV-status, may not identify with that label.  “Our approach is not to preach, but to allow discussion, dialogue and community support”, says Marcha Neethling, Head of Operations for Praekelt.

The concept for Young Africa Live evolved from the recognition that South African youth are becoming avid users of mobile portals like Vodafone Live and MTNPlay. The Johannesburg-based Praekelt Foundation, which leverages mobile technology to improve the “health and well-being of people living in poverty”, was looking for a way to educate young South Africans about HIV/AIDS.  According to Neethling, they saw an opportunity in the fact that millions of young people use these mobile portals to chat, download music, read up on celebrity and sports news, participate in competitions, and win prizes. 

(Source: AudienceScapes)

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Wednesday, 14 September 2011 22:50:39 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

As growing numbers of women enter the economic mainstream, they will have a profound effect on global business.

A huge and fast-growing group of people are poised to take their place in the economic mainstream over the next decade, as producers, consumers, employees, and entrepreneurs. This group’s impact on the global economy will be at least as significant as that of China and India’s billion-plus populations. But its members have not yet attracted the level of attention they deserve.

If China and India each represent 1 billion emerging participants in the global marketplace, then this “third billion” is made up of women, in both developing and industrialized nations, whose economic lives have previously been stunted, underleveraged, or suppressed. These women, who have been living or contributing at a subsistence level, are now entering the mainstream for the first time. They estimate that about 870 million of them will do so by 2020, with the number conceivably passing 1 billion during the following decade. Their presence as economic actors will be widely felt, because they have long been overrepresented in the ranks of subsistence agriculture and other resource-based forms of work. As they move into knowledge work, in domains ranging from manufacturing to medicine to education to information technology, their sheer numbers will hasten the integration of the regions where they live into the larger economy.

To date, the potential of women as economic players has been unrealized. The reasons became evident recently in a Booz & Company analysis of data from the International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations constituent that tracks global workforce statistics. Globally, many women could be considered “not prepared” (lacking sufficient education, usually defined as secondary school); others are “not enabled” (lacking support from families and communities); and a significant number are both. The specific characteristics of these two major constraints vary widely, according to local social, cultural, and economic conditions. But as the constraints are alleviated — through increased migration to cities, the expansion of educational opportunities, changes in local laws and cultural norms, and investments in infrastructures that support greater workforce participation — the Third Billion’s movement into the middle class will accelerate. The pattern of this emergence will probably shift from a graduated incline to a graph that looks more like a hockey stick.

(Source: Strategy and Business)

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Wednesday, 14 September 2011 17:46:18 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Dr. David Perez Taveras, says that developing countries will not be successful in the global economy if they do not incorporate ICT into their production system.

The chairman of the board of the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel), Dr. David Perez Taveras, said that "the digital gap leads to greater social and economic gap" and argued that for this reason, the developed technologies have been incorporated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in their production systems and invest significant resources (public and private) to promote this sector.

"It is clear that developing countries cannot succeed in a global economy if we do not incorporate the use of ICT in our nation strategy", stressed the official.
Perez Taveras said that a country without a presence on the Internet, with hotels and other businesses do not have a good platform for connectivity and web presence and will have problems in their growth and in their integration into the globalized world.

"We need to continue improving the ICT infrastructure, but more important is that the country incorporates the intensive use of ICT: incorporating the production value chain (supplier-producer relationship, vendor-consumer e-commerce) and follow developing e-Government", he said.

Also he considered necessary to integrate the promotion of telework, the use of digital signatures, improving cyber security and data protection, impact on reducing costs and tariffs of telecommunications services to encourage the use and maintaining international quality standards.

Mr. Perez Taveras explained that the strategy to develop broadband and cited three main points of this approach, "first, to promote infrastructure growth; second to promote the development of new technologies, products, applications and services; and third, to promote competition in the provision of services ".

He stressed that now the Dominican Republic's objective "is to expand the use of the Internet and make the high-speed coverage service available to the entire population, with more bandwidth at affordable prices".

(Source: Indotel – Dominican Republic)

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Wednesday, 14 September 2011 00:54:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 13 September 2011

This Saturday September 10th, it was introduced the panel of experts from the TV show 'Vive Digital' from the ICT Ministry, which are transmitted every Saturday by the Institutional tv Channel.

In this issue, teachers from remote areas of Colombia shared with viewers all the experiences that they had with their students since they are using the information and communications technologies as educational tools.

This time during the program “Vive Digital”, panel of experts, led by the ICT Minister, Diego Molano, they talked about the appropriation of ICT in the education sector. As invited experts two teachers accompanied him: Ana Maria Muchavisoy from Sibundoy, Putumayo and Carlos Andres Romero from Magangué, Bolívar.

Also the following teachers participated via Skype: Emiro Pérez de Corozal, Sucre, Nayibe Rangel de Tame, Arauca, Andrés Ladino from the Community of Macedonia, Amazon, and Porras Esnith y Danny Esther Ayala from Quibdó, Chocó.

During the half hour, teachers talked about the impact that the appropriation of ICT had in the education provided to children and youth in schools with limited resources. For his part, the Minister Diego Molano presented the progress of “Computers for Schools” program, which has helped to reduce the dropout, to improve educational quality and increase accessibility to higher education in Colombia.

According to recent study made by the University of Los Andes, the program “Computers for Schools” was able to reduce by 4% the attrition in the schools were they are working for more than three years. In relation to the quality of education, it helped to improve the test results of the State (ICFES), increasing by 2.1% the score for students who had 8 years of education in a school benefited from the program. The study also found that graduates from schools benefited of “Computers for Schools” program, increase in 12.7% in their probability of entering to higher education, completing 8 years in an institution equipped with computers.

(Source: MINTIC – Colombia)

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Monday, 12 September 2011 23:10:18 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 12 September 2011

Consultative meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development throws spotlight on young innovators and debates strategies for getting Africa online.

Broadband commissioners and interested representatives of governments, private sector and civil society met in Rwanda’s capital Kigali this week to focus on challenges, priorities and strategies that can help get the African continent wired to high-speed networks.

The meeting, which took place on 8-9 September, was held at the invitation of the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, who Co-Chairs the Broadband Commission for Digital Development with Carlos Slim Helú, Honorary Chairman of Grupo Carso. President Kagame is a staunch champion of the transformational power of technology, and has prioritized the construction of information and technology (ICT) networks as part of his national rebuilding programme. The Commission is co-vice chaired by ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré, and UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova.

The meeting’s first day focused on the role of youth in defining new ICT services and driving take-up. In a continent where over half the population is yet to reach adulthood, Rwanda has an exceptionally young population, with 42% of people under the age of 15.

“African youth possesses the energy, passion and dedication to use these technologies to address global challenges and truly benefit from ICTs. Our duty as leaders is to build the right environment and promote the necessary investments to allow them to fulfil their potential. Let´s not wait another century to recognize that broadband was another missed opportunity for Africa”, highlighted President Paul Kagame.

Two High-level Round Table debates looked at the policies needed to help ensure African youth gain access to online services such as education, healthcare, and considered how government and industry can support strategies to encourage youth entrepreneurship.

Participants included Max Ahoueke, Minister of Communications and New Technologies, Benin; Clotilde Nizigama, Minister for Finance, Economy, Cooperation and Development, Burundi; Brahima Sanou, Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau, ITU; as well as members of the Broadband Commission, such as Indrajit Banerjee, Director of the Information Society Division of UNESCO; Cheik Sidi Diarra, Under Secretary-General, UN Special Adviser on Africa and High Representative for Least Developed Countries; Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General for the Millennium Development Goals;Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Airtel; and musician Youssou N’Dour, among others.

Speaking at the opening of the Youth session, Dr Hamadoun Touré told participants, including 135 young students from Kigali’s leading tertiary education institutions, as well as from other neighbouring countries, that broadband is the single most powerful tool available to accelerate progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and to drive social and economic development.

(Source: ITU Newsroom)

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Monday, 12 September 2011 01:13:43 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

South Korean electronics maker Samsung has launched a solar powered laptop in the Kenyan market with the capacity to run for 15 hours, nearly double the seven to eight hours lasting power of rivals. 

Korean electronics giant Samsung has launched a solar powered laptop in the Kenyan market targeting thousands of potential consumers currently locked out of the computer revolution by lack of electricity.

Kenya, with a large rural population that is not connected to the national power grid, is among the few countries Samsung picked for the global launch that began last week.

The Samsung Netbook NC215S lap top is priced at Sh35,000 and is also targeting consumers who are connected to the national electricity grid but suffer erratic power supply. The solar-charged laptop is loaded with a front cover panel that captures energy from the sun and automatically recharges the battery. When fully charged, the lap top can run for up 15 hours – nearly double the capacity of its closest competitors that have seven or eight hours stand-by capability.

“With Netbook NC 215S Samsung is demonstrating its capacity to bring to the consumers technology that satisfies their needs and takes care of the environment”, said Samsung Electronics East Africa Business Leader Robert Ngeru.

The Korean firm is building consumer electronics and mobile technology for sub-Sahara Africa where it set a $10 billion revenue target by 2015. Samsung’s sub-Saharan Africa market is currently worth $1.23 billion.

Launch of the Netbook NC 215S comes as Kenya’s four mobile telecoms firms, Safaricom, Airtel, Telkom’s Kenya Orange and Essar’s Yu have intensified their activities in the data market and are looking for affordable internet enabled devices such as laptops and mobile phone handsets to expand the number of data users.

(Source: Business Daily Africa)

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Monday, 12 September 2011 00:56:44 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 08 September 2011

Telefonica del Peru announced the launch of the project Wayra, a regional initiative which main objective is to identify talent in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and promoting its development through a comprehensive support model, and the funding to turn their idea into reality.

Support finance and technology. Each elected project will receive between US$ 30 000 and US$ 70 000.

Alvaro Valdez, Director of Communications of Telefonica, said that he already started receiving proposals. "The 10 Peruvian projects will be selected during the wayra week to be held in late October or early November. The winners will receive a contribution of US$ 30 000 and US$ 70 000 per project at an early stage and technology platforms to make it happen", said the executive. For more information see:

(Source: La Republica NewsPaper)
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Thursday, 08 September 2011 18:00:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 06 September 2011

There is not necessary to spend long in many African agricultural markets to realize the need for better information. Farmers lack prices, traders need transport and new contacts, projects and governments need a better way to reach out to people, businesses lack real-time updates on their stock and the value of their harvests.

In this installment of Mobile Message, Sarah Bartlett – Director of Communications and Research at Esoko - explains how African technology is being used to power agricultural markets across Africa, filling an ‘information void’ for local farmers in the process.

Mobile Message is a series of blog posts about how mobile phones are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives.

Standing in the heart of his pineapple farm in the Central Region of Ghana, Ali Morrison, gripping two mobile phones, tells the story of his most recent sale. Traders came to him offering just 0.20 Ghana cedis for each pineapple. That’s about 13 US cents. This time around he and his business partner, Isaac Assan, had their mobiles on hand and did a quick SMS price request to Esoko. He sent in the word “pineapple”. He received a list of prices covering the major markets in Ghana.

In the past, farmers like Ali and Isaac have had no choice but to blindly accept the prices offered by traders. But the recent and sudden ability to refer to current prices across the country disrupts that whole dynamic. It gives farmers confidence that they didn’t have before, and it takes away the opportunity for traders to lie about prices in faraway markets. Knowing the trader would resell in the capital city’s market for 0.80 cedis each, Ali wouldn’t budge until he got 0.40 cedis. He doubled his profits that week, making 400 Ghana cedis instead of 200. That’s US$165 more. And just for the price of a text message.

Seeing Ali access current prices – like a stock trader accessing Reuters – shows just how powerful information itself can be. Farmers are business people too. But they can’t do good business if they don’t have information. Ali’s story about using Esoko’s SMS prices to increase revenues is not the only one we’ve heard recently. Mobile technology is just beginning to take center stage here, and it’s remarkable to watch.

(Source: National Geographic Daily News)

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Tuesday, 06 September 2011 20:03:50 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, 03 September 2011

About 2 000 equipments, including monitors, CPUs, keyboards and mousses received the program Computers for Education of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies from the mobile phone company Comcel.

The first computers donated by the company were delivered last Thursday to rural schools of Rio Negro, located 8 kilometers from the urban area of Fomeque in Cundinamarca, in a ceremony attended by the Vice Minister for ICT, María Carolina Hoyos Turbay, the Executive Director of Computers for Schools, Martha Castellanos and the Manager of Marketing and Communications of the multinational, Diego Hernández de Alba.

In 2011, Comcel has donated technology equipment among 1944 notebooks, monitors, CPU, printer, keyboard and mouse. In the last three years, the communications sector has been one of the most dynamic in donations, companies like Telefonica, EPM, Telmex, Emcali, among others, are counted as the greatest allies of the social program.

Computers for Schools has provided the educational centers of the municipality of Fomeque 165 computers, benefiting to student population, close to 2 000 young people. Also, 300 teachers have been trained in the use of technology.

For the Director of the institution Ana Cecilia Acosta Ávila, this is an important benefit that will help improve the quality of education, "it is the opportunity to involve children in the world of technology, before it was a utopia to believe that computers will reach this area", she said.

Computers for Schools has reached 116 municipalities in Cundinamarca, especially in rural areas where they benefited about 400 000 students of 2 222 schools. Several municipalities of this department are on the list to receive replacement equipment that they lost as a result of the rainy season.

 In total 6 million children across the country, from the poorest strata of the population, are among those benefiting from this program that in 2011 will deliver 89 000 terminals to educational centers, cultural centers and libraries in Colombia.

(Source: MINTIC - Colombia)
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Saturday, 03 September 2011 02:47:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 02 September 2011

Remote parts of Kenya have trouble attracting professional teachers. Some schools are using computers to compensate for the lack of human instructors. Despite the obstacles digital learning brings with it, the schools are pleased with the results.

Kenya’s digital learning experiment is expanding, with both the government and private sector championing its adoption. Digital learning – academic instruction using a computer – is often considered an advantage when distance is an obstacle to education. Schools in the drought-ravaged North Eastern Province are now deploying computers to cope not with distance, but an acute shortage of teachers.

Schools in northeastern Kenya often have trouble attracting teachers because of the harsh living conditions, poor infrastructure and constant attacks from Ethiopian militia groups. Most schools in the region, which is the least-developed part of Kenya, record dismal academic performances and are estimated to have a paltry literacy rate of 8.5 percent.

Given the lack of teachers, high illiteracy and poverty levels in this region, advocates of digital learning say the computers are filling a crucial educational gap. Take, for instance, Sakaba High School in Mandera West District, which has a teacher shortage. Sakaba’s principal, Shabure Haji, believes digital learning is a boon for his students.

With computers, students are able to use the Kenya Institute of Education digital content”, said Haji. “Students are therefore able to learn and access vital information even in the absence of a teacher”. The school is currently awaiting the arrival of 11 computers the government is giving it as part of an economic stimulus plan. Until then, Sakaba’s 300 students have to scramble for time on the existing 22 computers.

Thousands of miles away, computers are helping educate the students at Turkana Girls Secondary School, located in the Turkana region which has been severely affected by drought. The principal of Turkana, Sister Florence Nabwire, agrees that computers hold the key to addressing the shortage of teachers.

(Source: AudienceScapes)

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Thursday, 01 September 2011 23:43:41 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A drop in the price of mobile handsets and the arrival of the fiber optic network in Zimbabwe has caused an enormous expansion in the use of mobile phones. With the launch of mobile broadband services, Zimbabwe is undergoing dramatic changes in how people communicate and do business.

The rapid adoption of technology is redefining the way people here communicate, especially the young and technologically savvy. A combination of factors, including growth in mobile telephone use and the installation of a fiber-optic network, is shaping a new way of engagement and connectedness. Mobile phones are providing Zimbabwe with an opportunity to leapfrog development stages in the country, and many Zimbabweans’ first experience of the internet will be through the mobile phone.

To illustrate the trend, the number of mobile phone subscribers in Zimbabwe tripled from less than 2 million at the end of 2008 to reach 6.9 million in 2010, according to growth partnership company Frost & Sullivan. Currently, the mobile penetration rate is 54 percent. Despite the country’s massive unemployment rates and low incomes, analysts expect the growth in mobile technology to continue, reaching more than 13 million subscribers by 2015.

Unlike a decade ago, today it is very easy to secure a mobile phone and a SIM-card –-- prices have fallen drastically. Mobile phones used to be a preserve of the rich elite, but now more low-income Zimbabweans, in both rural and urban areas, have access to them. The arrival of cheap, Chinese-made products, such as G-Tide, have taken Zimbabwe by storm as mobile users snap them up for half the price of leading brands like Nokia and Samsung.

Mobile driving economic growth

The overall growth in mobile technology has substantially contributed revenue to Zimbabwe’s telecommunications sector; the mobile communications market earned a total of $372.2 million in 2009, according to Frost & Sullivan. Mobile operators have traditionally targeted urban areas, but as urban markets become saturated, the next generation of mobile phone users will increasingly be rural.

“Mobile operators are the largest contributors to telecommunications revenues in Zimbabwe,” said Protea Hirschel, a Frost & Sullivan ICT industry analyst, in a statement.

Using mobile technology for development?

While there's growth in the technological infrastructure and use of mobile phones, innovation in the area of value-added services for mobile phones is still scarce. Unlike in other parts of the continent, there has been very little progress in using mobile technology to enhance banking, farming, health care provision, or environmental protection among other possible uses. One notable exception, though, comes from, a grassroots organization, which has been pioneering the use of mobile technology for citizen journalism through its “Freedom Fone” project.

(Source: AudienceScapes)
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Wednesday, 31 August 2011 17:59:10 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Moves are afoot in Sierra Leone to empower women through mobile phone ownership and improved computer literacy.

Admire Bio has the reassured presence of a successful businesswoman, with an edge that reveals she is still hungry for more. Bio, 28, a single mother living with her parents, set up her first internet cafe in the Sierra Leone capital, Freetown, only a year ago. She has expanded with two more branches, and plans to go national if she can secure a bank loan.

"My biggest motivation is challenging men," she says, "to [get women to] say: 'Yes! I can be successful without you'".

But things aren't easy. "Men make you dependent", says Bio. "Women only get loans with collateral from male relatives. My fiance offered his land. Worse, it's common to be pressured into sex by bank staff, if there isn't a man's backing, when women apply for loans. I'm angry women can't succeed alone".

The swell of internet users in her cafe tells Bio she is on a winning road. Access to the internet and computer literacy is an area of much needed growth and investment. Only around 0.3% of the population are described as internet users (pdf), while fibre-optic broadband will not arrive until next year. Bio offers women evening computer courses "to make them stronger".

Meanwhile, mobile phones are ubiquitous, in urban areas at least, with around 26% of people owning one (pdf). In the absence of widespread internet access, mobiles have been seen as something of a panacea for development in Africa.

Kenya's M-Pesa money-transfer is hailed by technology gurus and development experts alike as an example of how poverty can be bypassed and development hastened. However, "banking the unbanked" has been questioned by some (pdf), as mobile money often caters for already affluent groups.

M-Pesa's success inspired Sheka Forna back to his homeland, Sierra Leone, to start Splash. Since it launched in 2009, Splash has convinced around 100,000 people to forsake real money for the virtual kind, effectively using their SIM cards as bank accounts.

(Source: Guardian Newspaper)
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Wednesday, 31 August 2011 16:42:06 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 30 August 2011
As part of the National Agenda of strategic sectors, Chapter Manabi, the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Society, in coordination with the National Telecommunications Corporation CNT EP, delivered four new Centers Integrated Services (CIS) in the cantons of Manta, Chone, Flavio Alfaro and Tosagua of the Province of Manabi, in order to provide quality telecommunications services to citizens of the province.

The official inauguration of these CIS were attended by the Minister Coordinator of Strategic Sectors, Jorge Glas, Minister of Telecommunication and Information Society, Mr. Jaime Ruiz Guerrero, Regional Manager of the National Telecommunications Corporation
, Mr. Waldemar Pacheco, provincial authorities, local and general population.

With the implementation of CIS Manta, 27 757 fixed telephone subscribers will be benefited and 3 952 Internet users from the cantons  of Manta, Montecristi and Jaramijó. With the CIS of Chone 14 286 fixed telephony customers will be benefited and 2 048 Internet users in the cantons of Chone, El Carmen, Tosagua, Calceta and Junin are the beneficiaries. With CIS of Flavio Alfaro 573 fixed telephone subscribers and 128 Internet users have access to fixed and mobile telecommunications services.

(Source: Mintel - Ecuador)
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Tuesday, 30 August 2011 04:23:13 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, 28 August 2011

The departments of Santander and Tolima have received about 30 thousand ICT equipments, distributed in 2,500 schools, with which more than 450 thousand students have benefited.The Vice Minister for Information and Communications Technology María Carolina Hoyos Turbay, delivered on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 August computers to schools through the Program Computers for Schools in rural areas of the municipalities of Girón Santander and Ibagué in Tolima.

Only in Girón, this program has delivered nearly 700 equipments to 49 educational centers, this time the school Rio de Oro, will host the equipments to complete the endowment of its computer room."Technology is part of learning. We believe that these tools are essential to strengthen pedagogical processes and enrich the education of our country", said Deputy of ICT.

 Throughout the department of Santander, Computers for Schools has delivered about 15 000 computers, distributed in over 1,400 schools, facilitating access and use of new technologies to more than 200 000 students. Also about 18 thousand teachers of this department have been trained on the use of ICT in their teaching.

Ibague, known as the music capital of Colombia, is another of the selected cities. The educational Area 3, Las Animas, also received equipment to complement their training project. Tolima department has received a total of 12 277 computers to benefit about 1000 schools.

As well as in Santander and in Tolima, private sector participation has been fundamental in achieving these goals. In Santander, ESSA the Power Authority of the Department has adequate more than 40 locations with the necessary infrastructure and the goal is to reach all with computers. Meanwhile, the company Isagen has contributed to get that 20 communities of the Canyon of the hermosas in the municipality of Chaparral have access to these technologies.

(Source: MINTIC -Colombia)

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Sunday, 28 August 2011 18:13:55 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 26 August 2011

The World Bank published recently a video on its Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) program in Rwanda called eRwanda. The video features Dr. Jeanne D’Arc Mujawamariya, Rwandan minister of Gender and Family Protection, as speaking on the impact of ICT on the women of Rwanda.

The World Bank’s eRwanda project that focuses on technology has provided telecommunication infrastructure especially in the rural areas of Rwanda. eRwanda, with a US$10 million International Development Association (IDA) grant, started in 2006 to support the government’s efforts to use ICT for improving service delivery.  By establishing telecenters, and four “ICT buses” that travel throughout the country and train villagers in using ICTs, the project is providing ICT services to people that currently do not have ICT access.

According to Dr. Mujawamariya, ICT has been particularly useful in the agricultural businesses. In the agriculture sector, women are more predominant than men. Women have embraced ICT in such a way that they get a deeper understanding of the market. She notes: “if you want women to work smarter in agriculture, it means you have to help them to save their products. You have to help them know how the market is and how the prices are throughout the country. Before ICT introduction it was not possible to know what is going on in the market, in the north or in the southern province. But now it is possible, even on your mobile phone. Then you can know which city in this country needs, for example, beans. Because people are now connected.” She added that ICT has changed the way women do business.

However, the number of women eRwanda has reached out so far is just 700. Out of Rwanda’s 11 million population 52% are women. The vast majority of women population of  Rwanda are still outside the reach of ICT. One promising example of the project is ‘eSoko’. It is  an agricultural marketplace information system. The project provides market price information to rural farmers and cooperatives via text messages using mobile phones.

The video concludes with Mujawamariya remark filled with hope for the future: “ICT is a tool to improve the lives of our people”.

(Source: Microfinance Focus)

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Friday, 26 August 2011 16:20:45 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The words of the late German poet-playwright apply to the challenge facing international broadcasters since InterMedia began helping many of them to gauge reach, engagement and impact 15 years ago. The need to engage with audiences through relevant content and appealing formats is unchanged, but the terrain of engagement has transformed as digital and mobile technologies proliferate and evolve. Strategies and research must adapt to this shifting landscape while still focusing on broadcasters' core activities.

How much have things changed digitally? In the past two decades, personal mobile devices have gone from 1G phones to 3G and 4G "smart devices". Between 2000 and 2008, Google's reach expanded from one billion indexed pages to one trillion. In the past seven years, Facebook amassed half a billion active users who spend roughly 700 billion minutes combined on the site each month. Twenty-four hours of video are added to Youtube servers every hour; Twitter users tally more than 5 billion friendship relationships. Phew.

The challenge for all media organizations is to embrace and benefit from these new platforms, where the keys to effective engagement are understanding how users behave and cluster within these networks, and how users are shaping their own news and information environments.

(Source: AudienceScape)
Further Details

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 18:03:13 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Paki Masabong is the first chiefdom in Sierra Leone to get access to the internet. The multi-use internet resource center that serves the village may be a model for connecting other rural areas in the country.

Sierra Leone is taking steps toward closing the technology gap between its rural and urban citizens. Thanks to a new internet resource center, Mapaki is the first rural community in Sierra Leone to enjoy internet access. The government has recently pledged to build similar centers in several other rural villages.

This spring, the Center for Development and Peace Education (Cdpeace), a local nongovernmental organization promoting peace and self-sufficiency, opened a multipurpose internet resource center in Northern Sierra Leone’s Paki Masabong Chiefdom in the Bombali District.

Cdpeace invested in this much-needed service to bridge the digital divide between the country’s rural and urban communities. Of the country’s 149 chiefdoms, Masabong is the first to receive an internet resource center for the community. This explains why the unveiling ceremony in April attracted Sierra Leone’s leading information technology and communications stakeholders and businesses as well as government functionaries. NATCOM (National Telecommunications Commission) officials, chiefdom authorities and community leaders, Cdpeace staff and partners from Queens University in Canada, as well as school pupils in the chiefdom were in attendance.

A telecom centre in a rural community like Mapaki is a step in the right direction”, said Commissioner Saidu Turay of NATCOM, the nation’s monitoring authority charged with the responsibility of monitoring all communications systems and institutions in the country. “As the competition increases in the rural areas, ICT services will become more affordable to a greater number of people”.

Paramount Chief Masapaki Kobombor, in whose chiefdom the service was established, expressed gratitude toward Cdpeace and its partners “for bringing the world closer to their chiefdom”.

(Source: AudienceScapes)

Further details

Tuesday, 23 August 2011 16:54:56 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 22 August 2011

The ICT Ministry, Ministry of Culture and the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) will conduct the first national meeting that seeks to identify various themes, components and mechanisms for concerted construction of an information policy and communication for the indigenous people who make visible cultural diversity and access to media and new technologies. The meeting will take place between 22 and 24 August in the Andes Plaza Hotel Bogota.

The roundtable discussion will be a space for dialogue, reflection and exchange, and with the participation of indigenous authorities, leaders of indigenous communication processes, representatives of public, academic and media experts.

In this meeting will participate Indian officials and leaders of the community of Ingá, Nasa, Totoró, Wayuu, Embera, Kankuamo, Misako, kamentsá, AWA and Arhuaco, among others. There will be also representatives of indigenous communication experiences across the country, such as the deployment of communication of ACIN (Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca) Zhigoneshi Communications Center (from the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta), Wayuu Women Force Center AMCIC (Association of Indian media del Cauca), Kankuamo TV and several stations Indians.

Together with the indigenous representatives the meeting will bring together various public officials, specialists on the subject as Germán Rey (Director of ATICO Center, Universidad Javeriana), Omar Rincón (Director CEPER, Universidad de Los Andes), Pablo Mora (radio producer ), Germán Muñoz (teacher in the University of the district), Jair Vega (researcher and university professor), among others, and three international guests: Fernando Lopez (ALER, Ecuador), Matthias Melilla (Argentina) and Edgar Davila Navarro (Bolivia).

(Source: MINTIC – Colombia)

Further details

Monday, 22 August 2011 17:32:23 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 19 August 2011

The GSMA mWomen Programme announced the launch of their Policy Recommendations paper to Address the Mobile Phone Gender Gap. Following on from the barriers identified in their report they realized that governments and policy makers have a critical role to play in empowering women through mobile technology and are a pivotal part of the ecosystem in achieving the goal of reducing the mobile phone gender gap in developing countries. Women’s empowerment is crucial for a country’s economic growth and development; mobile technology can help to achieve these goals in line with the Millennium Development Goals.

Summary of Recommendations:

  1. Reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of mobile

    • Remedy the discriminatory tax treatment of telecoms goods and services to reduce the total cost of ownership of mobile.

  2. Remove cultural barriers to mobile phone ownership and access to ICTs by women

    • Systematise the collection of data on the use of ICTs and mobiles by women.

    • Embed the issue of gender into the ICT agenda.

    • Embed the issue of women’s access to and uptake of ICTs into existing gender programmes.

    • Designate well-respected individuals as champions of mobile phone ownership amongst women.

    • Introduce piecemeal practical measures that will facilitate the use and profitable exploitation of ICTs by women.

  3. Address limited technical literacy amongst women at the base of the pyramid

    • Collaborate with and incentivise local providers of culturally sensitive training in use of ICTs for women.

  4. Encourage the development of value-added mobile services that benefit women in particular

    • Launch mGovernment services which will be attractive to women, particularly in rural areas.

    • Allocate Universal Service Funds to fund the development of value-added mobile services.

(Source: mWomen)

Full Report

Friday, 19 August 2011 18:25:10 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 18 August 2011

The initiative that provides coverage of mobile telephony and broadband service will benefit, at this stage, to almost a million people in remote and rural areas of Chile.

The aim is to promote productive development, education and the inclusion of these communities with the rest of Chile and the world.

The Government of Chile and the company Entel inaugurated the second stage of the Project “All Chile Connected”, which provides coverage of Phones & Mobile Broadband (BAM) to 587 rural communities across the country, benefiting about 991,357 people.

This public-private initiative is the most important challenge of connectivity made so far in the country's history and it is expected that when the three phases are fully operational in early 2012, over 3 million Chileans of 1,474 rural and remote locations will have the opportunity to connect to Internet.

This inauguration is additional to the opening in September 2010 in the town of Valle de Chaca in the region of Arica and Parinacota, when it was introduced the first stage of this project, which benefited 451 communities.

The launching ceremony of the second stage took place in the town of Huape, Region de los Rios, located 33 km from Valdivia, and was attended by the Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, Pedro Pablo Errazuriz, the Undersecretary of Telecommunications, Jorge Atton, the mayor of the Region de los Rios, Juan Andres Varas, and general manager of Entel, Antonio Büchi.

This village of 200 inhabitants, which can only be reached after 20 minutes by ferry, has no church, no police and before the arrival of this project had no mobile phone service.

(Source: SUBTEL – Chile)

Further details

Thursday, 18 August 2011 17:44:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The department of El Valle and the Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies signed an agreement for more than two billion dollars, in order to implement the project Valle Vive Digital, in the framework of the 'Vive Digital Regional".

The initiative seeks to benefit about 4 million inhabitants from El Valle and ensure they can access and ownership of the opportunities and benefits offered by ICT.

Valle Vive Digital project aims at building and launching of thirty (30) wifi zones and six (6) points of Bluetooth consultation. Includes training in web promotion of travel services for 600 people and aims to certify as a digital citizen to 1,500 people in the department of El Valle. The total value of the agreement is $ 2,182,492,352 Colombian Pesos, from which 'Vive Digital Regional' provided the sum of $ 924,000,000 Colombian Pesos and the department El Valle spent $ 1,258,492,352 Colombian Pesos.

"This alliance is part of the Vive Digital Plan of ICT Ministry, with which we intend to increase and expand the use of Internet in Colombia, from 2.2 million to 8.8 connections throughout the country by 2014. As part of this goal, we signed an agreement for more than two billion Pesos in order to develop the project Valle Vive Digital", said ICT Minister, Diego Molano Vega.

This agreement has as priority to take the technological challenge that will face the department of El Valle, considering that the information technology and communications are a platform to raise the strengths of the region in education, trade, industry, culture and tourism.

This alliance is part of the initiative "Vive Digital Regional ', which seeks to promote access, use and massive appropriation of ICTs, through policies and programs to achieve progressive levels and sustainable development in all the departments of Colombia.

(Source: Mintic-Colombia)

Further details

Wednesday, 17 August 2011 18:08:03 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 15 August 2011

ITU Telecom World 2011 has launched a global competition that gives 60 Young Innovators and Digital Innovators the chance to come to the event in Geneva (October 24-27) to pitch their ground-breaking ideas to the cream of the ICT industry.

The three entrants from each category judged to have the best all-round concepts by an online vote of delegates attending ITU Telecom World 2011 will share prize money totaling over CHF 50,000 to help them realize their digital dreams.

Industry mentors will also continue to work with the six winners after the event to help them turn their vision into reality.

Would-be innovators simply submit their idea online in one of two competition categories:
  • Young Innovators: Entrants should be 18-25 years or age, and their idea must have been developed independently of any project with their current employer. The best ideas from around the world will win finalists an all-expenses-paid trip to Geneva, where they will benefit from two intensive days of training on how to best pitch their concept, culminating in a final ‘quickfire pitch’ at a grand final event on October 25. ITU is actively encouraging submissions from women and those still looking to enter the workforce.

  • Digital Innovators: partnering with an NGO or other not-for-profit body: Entrants are encouraged to submit their ideas for new ways in which ICTs could help further their causes in areas like environmental sustainability, improved access to health and education, digital accessibility or the alleviation of poverty. The best partnerships will be brought to Geneva and trained on how best to pitch their developed idea, before making their final pitch on October 25.

Entries will be judged on innovation, feasibility (technical implementation/cost) and applicant experience (ability to deliver). ITU Telecom World’s online community will initially vote on their favourite submissions, with the 60 most popular ideas from each category then submitted to a high-level selection panel of independent experts from the public and private sector, who will choose the finalists.

In addition to the chance to win one of six cash prizes, the competition is designed to offer finalists an enriching experience that will help them better succeed in the competitive world of ICT development. As well as the chance to build a valuable network of new professional contacts worldwide, all contestants will have their pitches filmed and uploaded to YouTube, Facebook and the ITU Telecom website, to give them and their great ideas maximum global exposure.

They will also be encouraged to blog about their experiences and their ups and downs on the ITU Telecom website during the two-day pitch development process, and to upload their own photos, videos and audio podcasts.

(Source: ITU Newsroom)

Further details

Monday, 15 August 2011 17:32:21 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, 13 August 2011

President of Rwanda (Paul Kagame) has called upon the East African Community (EAC) member states to invest in programmes and institutions that improve the livelihoods and incomes of women, if they are to succeed in empowering them.

The President made the call, yesterday, while officially opening the first ever East African Community (EAC) Women in Business Conference in Kigali.

Addressing the two-day conference attended by delegations representing women entrepreneurs from the EAC partner states and Southern Sudan, President Kagame said that while there is no doubt that women play a critical role in society today, they remain the majority of the region's poor and vulnerable.

"Despite many good efforts, women remain on the fringe of our formal economies. The question that begs an urgent answer today is how can we progress on this critical issue as fast and as effectively as possible?" Kagame said.

"Women's productive capacity is staggering. In Africa today, women constitute 70 percent to 80 percent of the total agriculture force, a third of the global manufacturing labour force and a third of the micro and small scale enterprises business population", he added.

The Head of State further said that women constitute the majority in the informal sector but ironically, still struggle with low incomes, unemployment, and unequal access to financial resources, as well as legal obstacles to their potential as entrepreneurs.

"It is clear, therefore, that the EAC needs to properly harness this energy and talent as an important contribution to the region's socio-economic transformation", he said.

In order to achieve that, President Kagame said the EAC states need to consider a number of key interventions including investing in training and equipping women, especially those in the informal sector, with the skills necessary to manage their businesses.

"It is our responsibility as governments and regional bodies to mobilise more resources and ensure that institutions to support women in business exist and work well", "Similarly, we must continue to invest in programmes that have a direct positive impact on family livelihoods and women's economic security", Kagame said.

(Source: All Africa News)
Further details

Saturday, 13 August 2011 22:16:40 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 12 August 2011

The Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Society and the National Telecommunications Corporation, CNT EP, on August 6, delivered 2000 telephone lines and 240 Internet gateways in the area of Montebello, city of Guayaquil.

The official delivery was attended by Dr. Rodrigo Lopez, Chairman of the CNT and delegate of the Minister of Telecommunication and Information Society, General Manager of the CNT, Mr. Cesar Regalado, local authorities and the general population.

The provision of telephone lines will allow citizens to connect from home with their families nationally and internationally, without having to go to call centers.

This delivery will benefit 4800 citizens of the areas of “Montebello”, “Colinas del Sol”, “Caracol” and “Totori”.

With the implementation of Internet ports the inhabitants of these areas can use the Internet as a technological tool that significantly will contribute to promote education, productivity, and communication.

Notably, the Guayas Province is in rapidly advancing in the development of telecommunications services, so that, in December 2010 the data record in relation to the implementation of telephone lines was 587 362; to June 2011 was 588 037 , representing a growth of 0.11%. Regarding the implementation of the Internet, to December 2010 data recording layer of the Internet service was 68 965 as of June 2011, 73 925, ie a growth of 7.19%.

With the implementation of infrastructure and provision of fixed telephony and Internet, Guayaquil advances in the construction of the road leading to the inclusion of Ecuador in the Information Society.

(Source: Mintel – Ecuador)

Further details

Friday, 12 August 2011 17:51:21 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 11 August 2011

ITU, together with the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, is organizing the first Green Standards Week from 5 to 9 September in Rome, Italy.

Hosted by Telecom Italia, the cluster of workshops that make up the event will focus on raising awareness of the importance of using ICT standards to build a green economy and combat climate change. Full remote participation will be made possible with video, streamed audio and the ability to submit questions online via a moderator.

A High-Level Segment (HLS) will provide Ministers and senior representatives from the ICT industry with an opportunity to exchange views on how ICTs can help in the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the run-up to Durban (COP-17) and in preparation for the Earth Summit Rio +20, to be held in 2012. The HLS will aim to set transparent policy objectives and targets to measure and improve government green ICT strategies and standards, including ICT-enabled applications across the economy.

The first workshop will focus on methodologies for environmental impact assessment of ICT, and will examine work underway to measure the impact of ICTs on climate change, and how to standardize the way to calculate the reduction of GHG in ICT operation. This workshop will be jointly organized with the European Commission.

A second workshop will look at moving to a green economy through ICT standards, exploring how ICTs can help to address climate change and build a green economy, and shedding light on standards, policies and best practices. This workshop will be jointly organized with Telecom Italia and will be opened by the Italian Minister of Economic Development, Paolo Romani.

The third workshop in the series will focus on using submarine communication networks to monitor the climate and provide tsunami warnings. It aims to encourage the development of new technologies and standards and to explore business opportunities for telecommunication companies to become active players in monitoring climate change. This workshop will be jointly organized by ITU, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General, ITU: “UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has put sustainability right at the top of the agenda for the United Nations in 2011. One problem we face is that while lip service is paid across the planet to the concept of sustainability, there is still surprisingly little action being taken. The main reason, I believe, is that the economic case for sustainability has not in fact been made convincingly – and here, the ICT sector and standards have a powerful potential role to play”.

Green Standards Week, which is sponsored by Huawei, Research in Motion, Alcatel Lucent and Microsoft, will bring together leading specialists in the field, from top policy-makers to engineers, designers, planners, government officials, regulators, standards experts and others. It is open to participation by the press.

(Source: ITU Newsroom)

Further details

Wednesday, 10 August 2011 23:40:40 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 08 August 2011

Three million people living in poverty in Africa and South Asia—around 75 percent of them women—will gain access to low-cost mobile phones identities and mobile phone numbers following United Kingdom-based technology firm Movirtu’s commitment made today to the  Business Call to Action (BCtA).

BCtA is a global initiative supported by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), among other international organizations, which aims to encourage private sector efforts to fight poverty.

Instead of sharing a phone number with family members or neighbours, those provided with a Movirtu cloud phone number will be able to use any mobile phone to log in with their own unique number to make and receive individual calls and access critical information and services such as banking or agriculture support.

Evidence shows that access to mobile communications is a way of improving lives and expanding the earning potential of one billion people living on $1-2 a day”, said Amanda Gardiner, BCtA Acting Program Manager.

By providing low-income communities with access to secure mobile accounts and identities, Movirtu is helping to bridge the divide between those that have easy access to mobile phones and those that rely on community phones or paying a borrower’s premium to friends to meet their communication needs”, Gardiner added.

The company plans to bring the phone technology to at least12 markets in Africa and South Asia by early 2013, giving at least 50 million people in both continents access to the technology, with a target of 3 million using it on a regular basis.

A unique personal mobile identity will allow users to access network applications that provide information about employment opportunities, promote access to mobile payment systems or banking services, and help keep users up-to-date on a variety of health and market topics.

It is a basic fact not everyone in the world can afford their own mobile phone”, said Ramona Liberoff, Executive Vice President of Marketing, Strategy and Planning at Movirtu. “With Movirtu’s Cloud Phone technology, we give shared phone users their own mobile identity, opening up the world of mobile banking and payments and customised information services.  Our goal is to increase the earning potential of those on $1-2 a day by saving money and allowing them to access the economic benefits of a full mobile identity today”.

Women in rural communities in South Asia and sub-Saharan African will be the main beneficiaries of Movirtu’s investment. Low-income women in these regions are up to 21 percent less likely to have mobile phone access than a man, according to global mobile operator association GSMA.

(Source: UNDP)

Full Story

Monday, 08 August 2011 17:54:26 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The work in the National Telecommunications Corporation (CNT EP) continues. The development of different types of fiber optic for long-distance lines generates a revolution in the world of telecommunications while the introduction of fiber optics. Proof of this is the investment that the Government made through the CNT EP for approximately 8.2 million dollars in building fiber optic infrastructure in Ecuador.

This work will let the construction of a highway in which 34 projects were planned outside plant, intended for the development of telecommunications, these in turn are distributed in 21 processes that aim to build 401 kilometers of optical fiber, facilitating telephony and Internet services in areas where because the irregularity of the terrain they could not enjoy the services of first necessity, as is currently the phone and Internet connection.

The provinces that will benefit are: Azuay, Bolivar, Cañar, Cotopaxi, El Oro, Esmeraldas, Guayas, Loja, Los Rios, Manabí, Morona Santiago and Napo, Pichincha and Tungurahua. Thanks to the development of technology, today we can speak of transmissions through fiber optic cables.

Fiber optic cables facilitate the transmission of communications, whether in the form of signals, voice or data, not only with quality but with the advantage of doing it at a low cost. The Government is improving in various areas, one of which is telecommunications. Thus, the President, Rafael Correa, says "there are no longer citizens of first or second, we are all equal, and therefore services must reach all corners of the country".

(Source: Mintel - Ecuador)
Further details

Monday, 08 August 2011 04:48:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 05 August 2011

Africa is buzzing with its own brand of innovation, taking existing technology and adapting it to new uses.

Mobile technology, for example, has become a game changer in many parts of the continent, with cell phones being used for everything from transferring money to providing health care information. But Africa's resourcefulness goes far beyond the mobile phone, and according to Nigerian-American journalist Dayo Olopade, author of forthcoming book "The Bright Continent," advanced economies can learn a thing or two from Africa's innovative spirit.

"There are ways of doing more with less that are very organic to the African ecosystem, and I think in general in the 21st century there's a very important recognition that we need to all do more with less, and where better to look that the place that has been doing this for centuries?" said Olopade.

CNN's Robyn Curnow sat down with Olopade to talk about what global businesses can learn from African innovation. An edited version of the interview follows.

CNN: So what you're saying is that African innovation can teach the rest of the world something?

Dayo Olopade: That's right and it's very counter-intuitive to say that the place where we've poured trillions of dollars of aid, we've tried rock stars, we've tried celebrity-led campaign ads, we've tried all sorts of things to help Africa, but the tools to help Africa really lie within the region, and that's really not necessarily aid flows but human capital. It's a continent approaching a billion people, all of whom have something to say.

It's a very young place - I think something like 60% of the population is under 35 - and so in the next decade we're going to see this generation really take advantage of what is both global technology and global ideas and what they're already working with on the ground and there are so many examples that I see all over the place.

CNN: What are some of the examples?

DO: Well, for one, I think technology is very different, the way that people use things is very different than in more advanced economies -- I like to call it the difference between a fat economy and a lean economy. In a fat economy, a bicycle is just a bicycle, or a cell phone is just a cell phone; in a lean economy, I've seen men in Kenya making phone chargers using their bicycles, where it's double use. Where electricity goes out and you have a cell phone that's out of juice, you can then plug your cell phone into a bike and peddle away and also charge your phone.

(Source: CNN International)

Full report

Friday, 05 August 2011 21:03:08 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The African continent has attracted numerous international investors seeking new business deals across the continent. Africa is being promoted as the next global technology hub and the continent is said to be on the brink of unprecedented growth and prosperity.

Africa has experienced rapid growth in the ICT sector and with over half a billion mobile subscribers, the continent is set to become a choice destination for telecom investors.

According to Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO of Synchronica, a UK based mobile messaging service provider- “The negative publicity that plagues Africa as a business destination is outdated. While corruption, poor infrastructure and institutional bureaucracy can certainly make for a challenging business environment, Synchronica has found the continent to be incredibly entrepreneurial and backed up with a wealth of highly skilled, resourceful and incredibly talented people”.

Here are 9 reasons to invest in African ICT:

1. Infrastructure

Africa’s infrastructure has improved over the past 5 years with new roads, airports, power plants and communication networks projects being planned and rolled out across the continent. According to, in July 2010, African leaders launched a new programme for infrastructure development in Africa (PIDA), led by the African Union, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and African Development Bank (ADB). According to the website, the initiative is said to have a budget of several billion dollars.

2. Mobile

Global mobile telecommunication companies that have taken the bold step of investing in the African mobile industry are reaping a high return on investment (ROI). A typical example is Bharti Airtel, a company that is currently investing over $1 billion in its mobile operations in Africa.

3. Mobile Money

Africa’s mobile transactions are spearheading the future of banking on the continent. Safaricom Kenya’s M-Pesa is currently dominating the East African mobile money landscape.

4. Mobile Internet

Africa has experienced a massive boom in mobile phone access with more than 500 million active mobile phones across the continent.

5. e-Government

e-Government has arrived in Africa and great progress has been made to fully implement projects such as sms gov services and setting up information kiosks at various community centres.

6. Broadband

There’s been a significant progress in Africa’s broadband investments with high capacity broadband projects being rolled out across the continent.

7. E-Agriculture

The use of mobile technology in African commercial farming is gaining momentum. Mobile phones are currently being used by farmers in various African countries to determine daily farm prices in local markets, , process orders and to issue warnings of an imminent drought or severe rain. e-Agriculture has fast revolutionised communication between subsistence and commercial farmers.

8. Energy

This is not strictly ICT related but energy generation is one area we felt should not be left out of any discussion on investment opportunities in Africa.

9. E- Healthcare

African Scientists and health professionals are using the latest technology to diagnose some of the continent’s most deadly diseases.

(Source: IT News Africa)

Full Report

Friday, 05 August 2011 17:33:21 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 04 August 2011

The Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications and the Colombian Association of Deafblind (Surcoe) will make a virtual forum on "Vive Digital. Technology in the life of every Colombian".

The forum aims to raise awareness on what is the Plan "Vive Digital" and is an opportunity for surfers to send their concerns, which will be solved by David Eduardo Gutierrez Muñoz, manager of the initiative, who helped design the plan by the coordination with the people involved in its development, the process of research and technical support of it.

Those interested in learning about the goals, objectives and strategies of "Vive Digital" can participate in the forum from 3th to 5th August, through the Internet platform, link Forum. Everybody who wants to participate must make a prior register.

"Vive Digital" seeks that Colombia will make the technology leap, thanks to the massification of the Internet and has the goal to triple the number of municipalities connected to the information broadband, connecting to Internet 50% of MIPYMES (SME) and 50% of homes and multiple four times the number of Internet connections.

As part of the plan " Vive Digital" there is the strategy "ICT for people with disabilities", which is part of the project “Connecting Senses”, which while contribute to the reduction of the digital gap in Colombia and the service offering with the latest technology, to ensure the inclusion of education, social, work and disabled population.

The forum will be led by engineer David Eduardo Gutierrez Muñoz, Manager of Vive Digital, who helped to design the plan and now coordinates the management of Vive Digital and advises its strategic initiatives.

(Source: MINTIC – Colombia)

Further details

Thursday, 04 August 2011 19:29:31 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The border town of Ciudad Juarez may be best known for its problems, but that’s not the only story in town. A new project gathers citizen reports of everyday heroes in an effort to present a more balanced picture of life there.

Launched last December, "Cronicas de Heroes" or “Juarez Hero Reports” doesn’t report news in the conventional sense of the term. You won’t find stories about the weather, the government or sports. Instead, “Cronicas de Heroes” seeks to cover stories about ordinary people committing random acts of kindness, bravery and care. For “Cronicas,” important news is a report about neighbors transporting a woman having a heart attack to the nearest hospital. Another is about a nanny who foiled a kidnap attempt. The project abounds with stories about strangers helping people change flat tires or chipping in at the checkout line to help someone buy groceries.

Yesica Guerra, Director of “Cronicas De Heroes”, believes highlighting the positive happenings in Juarez and the people responsible for them is more than just a feel-good exercise. “I grew up in Chihuahua and still have family there. While the violence the world media portrays is of course there, there are many positive things also that need mentioning”, says Guerra.

In the seven months since it debuted, the project has reported more than 1,000 stories on its website. All reported by regular citizens. Some of the stories are submitted through the “Cronicas” website. But the project’s organizers make sure that people without access to the internet also have the opportunity to contribute. They hold in-person meetings where people can write down their stories on postcards, which are later published online.

Guerra edits and fact-checks every submission. As a safety measure, the site does not identify authors. The stories are published without attribution and lacking any details that might put people at risk. "Everything on the site is in Spanish and anonymous", says Guerra. She emphasizes that they are careful about not putting the hero mantle on anyone. "People help because they want to. Anonymity helps not making heroes out of people".

One of the biggest challenges the project faces, according to Guerra, is the limited internet access in Mexico. While the website’s traffic is growing, sometimes as high as 300 visits per week, the project’s target audience includes many who can’t visit the website.

From a web-based initiative, the project has grown to include activities that involve the public at a very intimate level, with people encouraged to share stories in person. "Cronicas" is employing creative strategies to reach its "offline” audience and build participation in the project. A group of urban street artists paint murals based on stories "Cronicas" publishes. One of these murals was painted as a community event, which helped spread the word about the project. Mainstream print newspapers and journals have begun publishing stories from “Cronicas.” The “Cronicas” team has also been invited to read their stories on radio.

(Source: AudienceScapes)

Full Story

Thursday, 04 August 2011 19:23:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 02 August 2011

The department of Huila and the Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies (Mintic) signed an agreement for more than two billion Colombian pesos, in order to implement the project Huila Vive Digital, in the framework of the plan 'Vive Digital Regional".

The initiative seeks to benefit about one million of the population of Huila and ensure their knowledge, access and ownership of the opportunities and benefits offered by ICT.

Huila Vive Digital project aims at the construction of two cyber parks: one in the city of Neiva and the other in the town of Garzón. Also it will bring wifi areas in six municipalities of the department, which will have security and monitoring system.

The agreement was signed in June and will begin implementation during the month of August with a budget of $ 2.4 billion Colombian pesos, from which 'Vive Digital Regional' provided the sum of $ 1.4 billion and the department of Huila provided $ 983 million Colombian pesos.

"This alliance is part of the Plan “Vive Digital” from the ICT Ministry, with which we intend to increase and expand the use of Internet in Colombia, from 2.2 million to 8.8 connections throughout the country by 2014. As part of this goal, we signed an agreement for more than 2 billion pesos in order to develop the project Vive Digital Huila", said the ICT Minister, Diego Molano Vega.

This agreement has as a priority to take the technological challenge that will face the department of Huila, given that the information technology and communications are a platform to raise the strengths from the region in education, commerce, industry, culture and tourism.

This alliance is part of the initiative "Vive Digital Regional', which seeks to promote access, use and massive appropriation of ICTs, through policies and programs to achieve progressive levels and sustainable development in all the departments of Colombia.

(Source: Mintic – Colombia)

Further details

Tuesday, 02 August 2011 20:41:24 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, 31 July 2011

Individuals, non-governmental organizations, groups and networks are invited to submit written communications—including, but not limited to, complaints, appeals and petitions—to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) with information pertaining to alleged injustices and human rights violations against women in any country. Examples of claims include arbitrary arrests of women, domestic violence, unfair employment practices and discrimination against women under immigration and nationality laws. The deadline to submit such communications is 1 August 2011.

The communications procedure aims to identify emerging trends on injustices and discriminatory practices against women for policy formulation purposes.

UN Women’s Human Rights section will collect and compile the claims as well as replies on the communications from Governments concerned into a confidential report. Following that, a Working Group of the Commission, composed of representatives from all five regions, will identify trends and patterns of injustice and discriminatory practices against women. The Working Group will present their findings in a confidential report to CSW at its annual session (CSW56) in March 2012 for review.

For more information on how to submit a claim, categories of claims received in the past, the communications procedure and contact information, visit the submission page:

(Source: UN Women)

Further details

Saturday, 30 July 2011 23:06:30 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, 30 July 2011
On July 27, were issued the official results of the study in which operates the interactive generation between 6 and 18 years old, in 1900 schools in the country, from the Interactive Generation Consulting, awarded by the Ministry of Telecommunications and the Information Society to the Foundation Telefonica (Movistar corporate group).

The Minister of Telecommunications, Jaime Guerrero Ruiz said "Today is a special day for those who see the service as a priority and even more for those who are convinced that education is essential for humanity to achieve the ideals of peace, freedom, competitiveness and social justice".

The relevant results are:
i) ICT equipment
The Interactive Generation in Ecuador live in homes more equipped technologically. The computer is competing with the television penetration level, ie 49% of children between 6 and 9 years old and 54% of children from 10 to 18 years old said that their house has a computer.
ii) Use of ICT
the age is a variable positively related to the equipment and use, these are higher among the older group.
iii) The cell phone, the screen more widespread among Ecuadorian children and adolescents as it is multifunctional.
iv) Use of ICT in education environment
The percentage of boys / girls and adolescents who use the Internet at school is very high: nearly 30%. The same percentage said that a teacher has taught them to use the Internet.
v) Use of ICT in familiar environment
 59% of children / adolescents as well says that their parents "take a look while they search at internet", as the main intervention of the family in the use of internet. 23%, meanwhile, recognized that "their parents do / say anything while they navigate in internet". Only 14% say that "their parents help them" and 8% said that "they do something together."
vi) Ratings
Consolidation of the "bedroom culture": 26% of teens have a computer in his room and 52% a television.

(Source: Mintel - Ecuador)
Full report

Saturday, 30 July 2011 22:40:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 29 July 2011

Coinciding with the celebration of Teacher's Day, Telefónica Foundation through its portal “Educared” provides some recommendations for teachers to use Internet tools to make their teaching more didactic and improve the student performance.

It is useful and simple tips that have been transmitted to more than 1,500 teachers from public and private schools nationwide, using the skills developed and with the support of the Ministry of Education.

Using blogs, email, interactive online resources, social networks and discussion forums between students are part of the recommendations offered by this portal, so that teachers do not simply teach within the walls of a classroom.

Create learning experiences: Use visual diagrams, whiteboards, online and video tutorials to prepare homework and upload to YouTube, in order that students can see them anytime, anywhere.

Some specific recommendations for teachers are:

-       Teach using the search engines: Not all Internet content is relevant and safe for students. In that sense it is important that teachers be a guide for students to succeed in a particular research topic through the use of Internet.

-       Apply digital media: It is important that teachers take advantage of the audiovisual production capacity with their students, as young people recorded, edited and uploaded to YouTube everyday life activities.

-       Use social networking: Participate in social settings (Facebook or Twitter,) so education allows the exchange of information and generation of educational projects with other groups who share the same interests.

-       Use e-mail with your students: It is essential that they can learn to communicate by email and recognize the difference between formal and informal language, it will be useful also for their future professional life.

-       Post a blog with the students: In addition to using this resource as a means to disseminate information, it is also possible that the students themselves become authors of a blog.

-    Build your own network of learning: Teachers can identify spaces online or networks that are generated by the exchange of knowledge to train and be constantly updated.

(Source: RPP News)
Further details

Friday, 29 July 2011 00:50:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Minister of Transport and Communications, Enrique Cornejo, said today that the implementation of National Plan for Development of Broadband in Peru will allow the number of connections increased by 290 percent, by 2016, from current levels.
He said that the increase will mean that in five years there will be a total of four million broadband connections nationwide and with speeds of 512 kilobytes per second (kbps) effective.

He added that another goal set in the plan is to achieve, by 2016, the figure of 500 000 broadband connections high-speed greater than four megabytes per second (mbps).

"The plan contains policy recommendations for the expansion of Broadband by achieving three goals: i) the provision of infrastructure and offer appropriate services, ii) stimulate demand and the inclusion of the population, and iii) strengthen the institutional framework aimed at a technology converged environment of information and communication technology (ICT)", he said.

He noted that Peru has been significant advances in communications in the last five years and up to date there are nearly 30 million mobile phones and a large number of phones and fixed wireless.

"In Internet connections we have around 1.5 million officials connected, but through public cabinets can be many more that are connected every day", he said.

He emphasized that various global organizations agree on the need for states to work towards further development of broadband.

"It is estimated that with a ten percent increase in Broad Band connections we can achieve an increase of 1.3 points in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and also with an increase of ten to 20 percent per year in the Broad Band we can achieves a 1.5 percent increase in the productivity of the country", he said.

(Source: Andina News)

Further details

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 14:28:15 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The department of Atlántico and the Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies signed an agreement for more than 6 billion Colombian pesos, in order to implement the project “Atlántico Vive Digital” in the framework of the initiative 'Vive Digital Regional".

The initiative seeks to benefit about 2,112,000 people and ensure their knowledge, access and ownership of the opportunities and benefits offered by ICT.

Atlántico Vive Digital” project aims at the construction of forty-two (42) WiFi areas and the provision of hardware for five mayors. Additionally, the project includes training on “Ciudadano Digital”, led to government employees and native population of the department.

"This alliance is part of the Plan “Vive Digital” from the ICT Ministry, with which we intend to increase and expand the use of Internet in Colombia, from 2.2 to 8.8 million connections throughout the country by 2014. As part of this goal, we signed an agreement for more than 6 billion pesos in order to develop the Atlántico Vive Digital project", said ICT Minister, Diego Molano Vega.

This agreement has as a priority to take the technological challenge that will face the department of Atlántico, knowing that the information and communications technology, are a platform to raise the strengths of the region in education, trade, industry, culture and tourism.

(Source: Mintic – Colombia)

Further details

Tuesday, 26 July 2011 15:34:56 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 22 July 2011

One of the aspirations of indigenous communities who live in rural areas of the province of Chimborazo, long time ago, was to have Internet service. Therefore, the Government four years ago, delivered this service to 50 communities, through a contract between the National Telecommunications and Megadatos company, with the participation of Popular Radio Schools of Ecuador (ERPE ).

The free Internet service for these rural areas of the province of Chimborazo will continue, since the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Society (MINTEL) as being committed to the development of Information and Communication Technologies in Ecuador renewed the contract with Megadatos on June, 2011, for an additional of 12 months, from May 1, 2011, to continue running the Telecentre Network in the province.

These Telecentres are equipped and operating, becoming a useful tool to promote education and community development, as part of one of the tenets of the Government: consolidate the “Sumak Kawsay” or Good Life of all Ecuadorians.

The official ceremony featured the massive turnout of people from more than fifty communities, and developed in the Community Stadium of Troje Grande, with the presence of the Coordinating Minister for Strategic Sectors, Eng Jorge Glas, Minister of Telecommunication and Information Society, Jaime Guerrero Ruiz, the governor of the province, architect Carlos Castro, the National Water Secretary, Mr. Christopher Punin, the Mayor of Colta, Eng Tayupanda Hermel, the Mayor of Alausí, Mr. Clemente Taday, Executive Chairman of ERPE, Juan Perez Sarmiento, General Manager of Megadatos, Mr. Francisco Balarezo, the President of the community of El Troje Grande, Mr. Francisco Rios and local authorities.

The Community of Telecentres Network links the followed rural parishes: La Matriz, Cicalpa, Santiago de Quito, Columbo, Cacha, Licto, Flores, Punín, San Andres and Tixán; all belonging to the cantons of Guamote, Colta, Guano, Riobamba and Alausí.

(Source: Mintel – Ecuador)

Further details

Friday, 22 July 2011 22:35:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

As the country gains another connection to the East Africa undersea cable, new internet providers has begun a scramble for customers. While this bodes well for consumers, obstacles to optimum connectivity persist. Masimba Biriwasha reports.

A drop in internet prices and an uptick in internet speed is on the horizon for Zimbabweans, thanks to two recent developments. In May, the country completed another link to the undersea cable through Mozambiqu. The fiber-optic connection provides access to higher bandwidth which will increase internet penetration and result in lower costs.

Also pushing down costs is a recent surge in competition in the broadband sector, according to the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ). Analysts say, however, that although prices are expected to go down, the real game changer will be in network quality, speed and reach.

POTRAZ has licensed approximately 15 IAPs, and some are already beginning to put products into the Zimbabwean market. For consumers, increased competition locally is a welcome development, as it will result in more choice and price offerings.

In recent months, several companies in the country have joined the fray of broadband provision, including Africom, Telecel, PowerTel, Zimbabwe Online, and TelOne. Econet, a subsidiary of Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe's leading mobile network, has also been reducing its prices, forcing PowerTel to reduce its bandwidth charges.

Zimbabwe, like many African countries, has historically had to rely on satellite links for internet access. Satellites are not as reliable as fiber optic; they're more expensive to run and cannot carry as much bandwidth as fiber optic. POTRAZ's deputy-director general was quoted in local media as saying that as more companies provide links to the undersea cable prices would go down. "PowerTel was the first company to provide access to the undersea cable through Botswana and has recently established another link to the SEACOM through Mozambique", reported The Standard newspaper.

"The arrival of the undersea cables results in access to more bandwidth at less pricing for Internet Access Providers (IAPs) which can have a spill-off benefit on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and consumers”, said Clinton Mutambo, founder of, a blog covering technology in Zimbabwe. “These cables are dedicated towards serving the continent (unlike before) such that economies of scale are achieved where bandwidth is concerned. The more capacity African telecom providers buy, the cheaper it becomes”.

(Source: AudienceScapes)

Further details

Friday, 22 July 2011 20:26:42 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 21 July 2011

Disability and poverty are dynamic and intricately linked phenomena. In developed countries, a large body of empirical research shows that persons with disabilities experience inter alia comparatively lower educational attainment, lower employment and higher unemployment rates, worse living conditions, and higher poverty rates. In developing countries, the still limited body of empirical research points toward individuals with disability being often economically worse off in terms of employment and educational attainment, while at the household level, the evidence is mixed. Deriving any conclusions on the association between disability and poverty in developing countries from this literature is problematic, given the lack of comparability of the disability measures, economic indicators, and methods in these studies.

This study aims to contribute to the empirical research on social and economic conditions of people with disabilities in developing countries. Using comparable data and methods across countries, this study presents a snapshot of economic and poverty situation of working-age persons with disabilities and their households in 15 developing countries.

The study uses data from the World Health Survey (WHS) conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2002-2004 in 30 developed and 40 developing countries across the world. The countries for this study are: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia, and Zimbabwe in Africa; Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Pakistan, and the Philippines in Asia; and Brazil, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Paraguay in Latin America and the Caribbean. The selection of the countries was driven by the data quality.

(Source: World Bank)

Full Report

Thursday, 21 July 2011 16:27:22 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 20 July 2011

At a time when Kenya is struggling to feed its population following severe droughts, radio programs are educating listeners on better farming techniques in a bid to improve food security.

Kenya is on the brink of possibly one of its worst droughts in 60 years, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Aid groups have issued their largest-ever appeal for food aid for parts of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

The food shortage resulting from this year’s drought is not uncommon in Kenya, although this year it is particularly severe. For decades, Kenya has suffered frequent acute food shortages. Paradoxically, it is believed that close to 80 percent of the population engages in farming. While Kenya’s food shortages are caused by a complex set of circumstances – drought, high global food prices, and political instability -- the poor farming techniques practiced by Kenya’s majority small holder farmers have been singled out as a major factor.

To remedy this problem, some radio stations in Kenya are broadcasting programs to educate farmers about successful agricultural techniques. The goal is to promote food security for the region by helping small holder farmers increase their yield.
At the same time that its population is growing, Kenya’s agricultural production and performance has been declining, according to the Sustainable Agriculture Center for Research and Development in Africa (SACRED). Some of this drop in output is due to financial constraints that keep farmers from using higher yield seeds and fertilizer

Yet the lack of up-to-date knowledge about farming methods is considered a significant obstacle to success for small holder farmers. This stems in part from the government’s decision to stop hiring agricultural extension specialists, a valuable source of agricultural expertise. SACRED points out that farmers are missing out on the advice these specialists dispense, like where to find suppliers of certified seeds, techniques for applying chemicals, how to deal with pesticides and crop diseases, and which are the right crops or animals to keep.

Leveraging the popularity and accessibility of radio, radio programs have sprouted up around the country that combine both research and extension services. Projects like the Farmers Voice Radio (FVR) Initiative are delivering farming advice in Swahili, English, and several vernacular languages through national and community radio stations.

(Source: AudienceScapes)

Further details

Wednesday, 20 July 2011 17:07:57 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Karine Ramadan is a self-confessed teen geek who often spends five hours a day on the internet.

She would love to work in technology when she is older, but will have to fight against a stark "gender gap" among Lebanon's high-tech community, according to activists. Karine, 16, was the ideal candidate for Girl Geek Camp, currently running for the first time for 16 teenagers in the mountains of Lebanon.

The girls learn about social networking, internet security, basic programming, blogging, photography, gaming, mobile technology, video editing, careers in technology, entrepreneurship and much more.

Nadine Moawad, an activist for women's rights and technology who is running the camp, said: "I want to close the gender gap in technology which is very pronounced in Lebanon. Girls are not encouraged to pursue math or engineering, if you meet someone in IT support or an entrepreneur you expect them to be a man. "We are trying to break these myths and give girls the option to do technology at college or in their careers".

Statistics on opportunities for women in technology in Lebanon are hard to come by, but a 2010 study of Facebook membership carried out by Spot On Public Relations and reported in Online Marketing Trends showed women were more active in Lebanon than other countries of Middle East and North Africa, but behind Europe and the United States.

It found 44% of Lebanon's 930,000 Facebook members were women, compared with 37% across the Middle East and North Africa, and 56% in the United States.

Moawad is part of a women's collective called Nasawiya which runs programs in various fields from politics to writing. It has an ongoing program called Take Back the Tech aimed mainly at women in their 20s.

Girl Geek Camp is an attempt to bring these ideas to a younger generation of 15 to 19-year-olds. Moawad said: "We realized teenaged girls are using the internet and need to enhance their skills and understanding of social media and technology.

(Source: CNN News)

Further details

Tuesday, 19 July 2011 17:20:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 18 July 2011

As mobile operators build infrastructure and upgrade services, a newcomer launches a free SMS service. If subscribers are willing to put up with ads at the end of their messages, that is. As texting has gotten more expensive in the country, this new product could fill a need. Tawanda Karombo reports.

Zimbabwe’s telecommunications sector is set for a major boost following recent moves by both dominant and emerging companies. Of these, the introduction of a free text-messaging service being offered by a newcomer, Free SMS Zimbabwe, has the potential to be most popular with consumers.

Telecom sector players and investors are predicting the demand for telecommunications services will increase as the Zimbabwean economy begins to rebound. This is based on the belief that businesses, company executives and other senior management personnel will need reliable data and voice services.

The free SMS service is launching in a market already dominated by three major companies, Econet, Telecel and the state-controlled NetOne. Econet and Telecel, which introduced data services on its network a few months ago, are upgrading their services. And another newcomer, Telerix (owned by Masawara PLC), has been busy building infrastructure.

Free SMS Zimbabwe is launching its free text-messaging platform at a time when subscribers are shunning the traditional text message service offered by the three major mobile operators. Consumers have been opting for voice calls over texting since these firms introduced per-second billing last year. With the tariffs for a local SMS averaging US$ 0.10 cents, most subscribers prefer short voice calls as they can get immediate responses and most also say it is a bit cheaper to utilize per-second billing than texting.

Pearson Pfavayi, who is spearheading the free-SMS product, said that, in coming up with this project, his company, wanted to “upset the pricy texting” regime in Zimbabwe. The new free messaging platform will generate revenue through advertising. At the end of each text message (maximum 100 characters) there will be an advertising slot (maximum 60 characters).

Pfavayi believes the model of using ads to pay for the cost of sending an SMS will be successful because of the rate of mobile penetration in the country.

With a ratio of 6:1 of mobile phone users to PC users in Zimbabwe and following the introduction of the 3G network and the fibre optic, the mobile web is growing at an alarming rate and companies do not want to miss targeting this new emerging market”, he said in a statement this week.

(Source: AudienceScapes)

Further details

Monday, 18 July 2011 20:25:38 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 15 July 2011

The department of Quindío and the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications signed an agreement for 1500 million Colombian pesos (more than US$ 850 000), to implement the project “Quindío Vive Digital” in the framework of the initiative 'Vive Digital Regional".

The initiative seeks to benefit about 535,000 people from the region of Quindío to ensure that they know, access and ownership of the opportunities and benefits offered by ICT.

The agreement was signed on June 29 after the approval of the draft presented by the government of Quindío. The total value was agreed by 1,589,500,000 Colombian Pesos, from which 'Vive Digital Regional' provided the sum of 933,000,000 Colombian Pesos and the department of Quindío 656,500,000 Colombian Pesos.

“Quindío Vive Digital” project aims at the construction and commissioning of: a web portal for IT industry, a web portal for tourism and geographic information system and tourism. Additionally, the project includes ICT training of 35 people who are part of the industry of information technology and training for 240 small and medium enterprises of the department.

"This alliance is part of the Plan Vive Digital of the ICT Ministry, with which we intend to increase and expand the use of Internet in Colombia, from 2.2 million to 8.8 connections throughout the country by 2014. As part of this goal, we signed an agreement for more than a half billion dollars to develop the project Quindío Vive Digital", said ICT Minister, Diego Molano Vega.

This agreement has as priority to take the technological challenge that will face the department of Quindío, considering that the information and communications technology is a platform to raise awareness of the strengths that the region has in trade, industry, culture and tourism.

This alliance is part of the initiative "Vive Digital Regional ', which seeks to promote access, use and massive appropriation of ICTs, through policies and programs to achieve progressive levels and sustainable development in all the departments of Colombia.

"The initiative Quindío Vive Digital will have the support and constant monitoring of the ICT Ministry and Colciencias, also they expect the cooperation from local authorities and social actors in the department", said Nicolas Llano Naranjo, Regional Manager of Vive Digital Regional.

(Source: Mintic – Colombia)

Further details

Friday, 15 July 2011 17:27:01 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Kenya government in partnership with HP East Africa and Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) launched a project that will enable health workers in the field to detect and manage disease outbreaks through smart phones.

The move follows a donation of 250 HP Palm Pre-Smart Phones which are the first of their kind in the continent that will facilitate early detection and response to communicable public health threats in the country through mobile health monitoring technology.

The phones are part of 1 million U.S. dollar worth of technological support that HP will be extending to the government through the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) program.

Director of Public Health and Sanitation at the Ministry of Public Health Shanaaz Sharif said the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) system which has been developed in the past two months will simplify health workers' task of reporting in real time, health events that occur at the local level. "Due to technological and personnel constraints only about 5,000 of the 7,000 health facilities in the country report and maintain a record of health events on a real time basis, but now any health worker with a simple mobile handset will be enable to report", Sharif told journalists in Nairobi.

He said members of the public will also be allowed to report on health events but only through the internet. "The IDSR will enable the government to collect information in real time to help in the decision making for the appropriate public health action intervention. Mobile phones will be used to transmit raw data and then the data will entered, stored, analyzed and interpreted in real time via the computer", Sharif said.

The project will enable health workers to collect data through a web operating system application (webOS), upload the same, analyze and share the data with organizations like National Aids and Sexually Transmitted Infections Control Program (Nascop). "When health workers at the local level suspect of any disease they are expected to report this via the system to the national level so that public health officials to analyze, interpret and compare the data with prevailing trends", Sharif said.

(Source: XinhuaNews)

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Thursday, 14 July 2011 17:19:45 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A research project in India designed to illuminate technology solutions that uniquely benefit women entrepreneurs.

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) are collaborating on a research project in India which will focus on how information and communication technologies (ICT) such as mobile phone services, can facilitate women’s entrepreneurship in India.

The research comes out of our 2010 Women Mean Business Conference in Mumbai, where leading professionals and women entrepreneurs gathered to discuss how ICT could help women overcome the barriers that women entrepreneurs in India face.

India was chosen partly because of its rapidly developing economy. Also despite the fact that mobile phones are seemingly ubiquitous in India, there is a significant gender gap in access to mobile technology in South Asia, where a man is 37% more likely to have access to a mobile phone than a woman.

The research will identify factors which enhance the ability of technology to transform Indian women's economic experiences and continue India’s economic development by focusing on the relationship Indian women entrepreneurs have with technology as well as the emerging trends.  The report will serve as the foundation for a set of recommendations that can facilitate concrete action by development actors, the government and the private sector.

(Source: Cherie Blair Foundation for Women)

Further details

Thursday, 14 July 2011 04:14:30 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP-17), in Durban South Africa, attendees at the ITU Symposium on ICTs and Climate Change in Ghana have renewed calls for global leaders to recognize the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

An outcome document asks that ITU, as the UN specialized agency for ICTs, lead a coalition urging delegates to look to the enormous potential of ICT solutions to cut emissions across all sectors. The document calls for the adoption of a ‘closed loop’ approach to manufacturing and recycling which will reduce the need to extract and process raw materials. It also asks for recognition of the value of ICTs in monitoring deforestation, crop patterns and other environmental phenomena.

Specific mention of ICTs in the COP-17 negotiating text, along with the adoption of an agreed methodology for measuring the carbon footprint of ICT equipment and its inclusion in National Adaptation/Mitigation Plans, would provide an incentive to the ICT industry to invest in developing countries, help reduce the digital divide, and at the same time help fight climate change – a win-win scenario. ITU is already actively developing a methodology that could serve as a reliable and accurate global benchmark for assessing the carbon footprint of a wide range of ICT equipment.

Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General, ITU, stressed ITU’s commitment to providing the technical know-how to mitigate and adapt to climate change. “It is now clear to most observers that ICTs have a very important role to play here. Recognition of this at the international level will provide countries with a solid argument to roll out climate change strategies with a strong ICT element”, he said.

Speaking at the opening of the Ghana symposium, Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, said: “Today, a world without ICTs is unthinkable. ICTs are integrated into almost all parts of our society and economy. Yet while the increasingly widespread use of ICTs has changed people’s lives dramatically and boosted economic growth, the success of technology means it is itself a growing contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, ICTs probably provide the most significant opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the major high emissions industries of energy generation, waste disposal, building and transport. This is a message we must carry to COP-17”.

(Source: ITU Newsroom)

Further details

Wednesday, 13 July 2011 21:29:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 12 July 2011

300 new telecentres will work in 127 municipalities in the country. With an investment of US$ 40,000 million, the ICT Ministry, through its Communications program “Compartel”, is bringing the Internet to remote regions of the country.

The social program Compartel from the ICT Ministry will run over 300 community Internet access centers in villages and townships located in remote and difficult access areas, in order to ensure a space to the community to access to Internet, while others public or private operators come to expand the supply of telecommunications.

"For Compartel is very important provide connectivity to places that normally do not have Internet service. We want to make community ownership of these spaces and enjoy the benefits of ICT that come with the telecenters". It said Guillermo Cruz German, manager of Compartel.

These Telecenters will come to places like the Oasis in the municipality of Arauquita (Arauca), New Siviru in Bajo Baudó (Chocó), San Pedro in Puerto Caicedo (Putumayo); Puerto Nariño in Cumaribo (Vichada), and La Rocosa in San Andrés (San Andres and La Providencia).

Telecentres will provide Internet services to the public at least 40 hours a week, webcam and printing documents. Additionally they will provide advice to users and 50% discounts for students on the fee.

The complete lists of the localities benefited are in the next link:

(Source: MINTIC – Colombia)

Further details

Tuesday, 12 July 2011 21:30:18 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |