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 Tuesday, 25 October 2011

His Majesty King Abdullah on Saturday stressed the importance of ICT tools in improving the quality of healthcare services.

Referring to the e-Health Programme “Hakeem” launched at Prince Hamzah Public Hospital on Friday, the King credited the successful implementation of the programme in part to Jordan’s broadband capacity.

He also acknowledged the support of Cisco Systems, noting that the company first came to Jordan in 2002 to help the Kingdom improve its education sector.

His Majesty made the remarks during a special roundtable session on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meeting to inaugurate the first healthcare ICT taskforce, with the participation of Cisco executives and experts from local ICT companies.

Addressing the participants, King Abdullah noted that forming a healthcare ICT taskforce would help in empowering Jordan’s ICT companies and promoting them locally, regionally and internationally, in addition to providing job opportunities for Jordanians, and promoting and strengthening the country’s health services

Speaking at the opening of the session, Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers noted that the ICT sector in Jordan is witnessing impressive growth, pointing out that the number of ICT companies in the country grew from 20 in 2003 to 450 this year.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Tahboub, chairman of the Information Technology Association of Jordan-inj@j, noted that the taskforce will be focused on achieving multiple objectives, including rapidly replicating the Hakeem programme nationwide and positioning Jordan as a regional hub for ICT solutions in the healthcare sector.

The Healthcare ICT task force is an initiative of int@j, the King Abdullah Fund for Development, Cisco, and local partners.

Also at the roundtable session, the King presented Chambers with Al Hussein Decoration for Distinguished Contribution of the First Degree in recognition of his efforts to strengthen Jordan’s education and ICT sectors.

(Source: Jordan Times)
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Tuesday, 25 October 2011 18:09:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The first School of Public Policy makers of Broadband in Latin America, organized by the Economic Commission (CEPAL) with the support of the World Bank, meets in the agency's headquarters in Santiago, Chile.

Deputy Executive Secretary of CEPAL, Antonio Prado, considered the event to be held until Thursday, will contribute to the creation of an independent regional broadband market and, that will allow the expansion of information and communications technology.

The meeting was attended by national policy makers on the issue of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru.

According to the Regional Centre for Broadband, between April 2010 and April of this year there was a significant improvement in the availability of the Internet service, since the price was reduced on average 37% of one megabyte per second.

However, the service rate remains almost five times higher in Latin America and the Caribbean, compared with the average price of industrialized countries.

(Source: UN News)
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Monday, 24 October 2011 23:53:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 24 October 2011
10,000 young people invited to join the global debate at ITU Telecom World 2011 and imagine the innovations that could make a real difference.

ITU is calling on schoolchildren across the world to join a global metaconference at ITU Telecom World 2011 (24-27 October, Geneva, Switzerland) on how technology can be harnessed to solve socio-economic problems and accelerate progress toward the Millennium Development Goals.

Students and teachers are encouraged to sign up their schools or classes and send in their ideas, prototypes and innovations in areas where technology could be harnessed to:

  • alleviate poverty and hunger

  • improve education

  • address gender inequality

  • make sure everyone has access to health care

  • protect our environment

  • improve the lives of disabled people

  • close the gap between the developed and developing world

Students are asked to consider burning questions such as how can we close the gap between rich and poor? How can we make disabled people’s lives easier? Or how can we improve education for all? Ideas and prototypes will be shown to the more than 5,000 influential delegates expected to attend the event, including Heads of State/Heads of Government, industry CEOs, technology gurus, digital innovators and delegations from students’ home countries.

As well as the chance to influence key ICT decision makers, taking part in the metaconference can provide teachers and students with a valuable real-world context in core curriculum areas such as history, geography and mathematics.

Ideas will also form a key part of the ITU Telecom World 2011 Manifesto for a Connected World, a collaborative vision that will be developed out of the event focused on how connected technologies can make citizens happier, healthier, safer and smarter.

Those unable to attend in person will be able to follow the action as it unfolds from wherever they are in the world via live video streams. They will also be encouraged to network and share ideas beforehand, participate remotely in workshops and feed into key discussions as they take place.

Children are our future and deserve the opportunity to have their voices heard. We’re delighted that the power of technology will enable children everywhere to join the discussion and share ideas and innovations alongside global leaders”, said Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General.

(Source: ITU Newsroom)
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Monday, 24 October 2011 16:03:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, 22 October 2011

Technology can be used to spur business growth in developing countries, a UN agency says. The Internet, computers and mobile phones facilitate banking services and improve access to market information.

Information and communication technology (ICT) enables private sector growth in developing countries, according to report published Wednesday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The African ICT sector is growing rapidly. Last year, there were close to 500 million mobile phone subscribers. But there are wide disparities across the African continent. In 2010, less than one in 10 Ethiopians had a mobile phone compared to more than seven in 10 Ghanaians, according to the International Telecommunications Union. This year, Ghana was reclassified by the World Bank as a lower middle income economy.

Despite Ghana's high mobile phone usage, ICT has yet to make a substantial contribution to the country's private sector development, according to the World Bank. It estimates 80 percent of the business sector is informal. 

"The IT revolution [in Africa] is enabling smaller farmers to have access to information which they didn't have earlier, but not much has changed for larger companies," said Sebastian Kahlfeld, a senior fund manager at DWS Investments, Deutsche Bank's investment arm.

Mobile phones in particular are enabling access to services like banking and information, according Sebastien Dessus, the World Bank's lead economist for Ghana. "In theory, [ICT] can play a role in enlarging markets because access to information improves and transaction costs are reduced," he noted.

Farmers now use mobile phones to obtain market information on the latest prices for their crops. In Ghana, cashew nut farmers can use a phone application to compare trader bid prices. And since 2008, the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange has granted farmers access to real-time information via text messages, electronic display boards and a website.

Kenya's mobile banking system, M-Pesa is bringing banking services to millions. The service has 20,000 agents in the country compared to 400 for the largest bank, according to UNCTAD ICT analysis chief Tobjoern Fredriksson.

Apart from providing banking services, ICT has also helped create employment for thousands since it was launched in 2007. The service, which was developed for person-to-person transactions, is now being used by small entrepreneurs to carry out payments, Fredriksson said.

But technology is not only good for enlarging the market and empowering small-scale businesses, it can also be used to fight corruption, according to UNCTAD. ICT improves transparency and accountability, said Johan Hellstroem, a researcher at Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions. "The very presence of mobile phones decreases corruption and secret activities because it leaves footprints and audit trails", he added.

Corruption is third leading constraint to doing business in a country after electricity and tax rates, according to a 2010 World Bank survey.

Crowdsourcing techniques like Kenya's Ushahidi can be used to report incidents of bribes or corruption. Similar initiatives are springing up all over Africa; with stopthebribe in Nigeria, and No bakshish in Cameroon. Through such initiatives and global ones like bribespot and corruption tracker, ICT is empowering people to take a stance against corruption, according to Transparency International (TI).

(Source: Deutsche Welle News)
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Friday, 21 October 2011 23:16:13 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 21 October 2011
In line with the Declaration of the Alma-Ata in 1978 which highlights health as the most important “world-wide social good” and the United Nations 2000 Declaration of the Millennium Development Goals, Nigeria has been striving to harness its resources to achieve efficient and functional healthcare for its people.

Specifically, the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, an agency under the Health Ministry in Nigeria responsible for development and strengthening of primary healthcare nationwide, was formed to support the promotion and sustainability of high quality primary healthcare system and achieve the Millennium Development Goals relating to the health sector.

Alongside efforts by the World Health Organization and the various UN agencies that deal with health-related issues to improve the healthcare delivery system, concerted efforts are being made to reduce the differential access to technology of the developed and the developing world.

It is at the convergence of health and technology that eHealth initiatives evolved, creating an unprecedented opportunity to improve access to services and innovations. So what is the way out? Enter the mobile health (mHealth) initiative.

Stakeholders at a recent mobile health (mHealth) workshop put together by MTN Nigeria, voted in favor of adoption of the mobile healthcare system. Already, a United Nations report notes that this system has capacity to help meet four of the eight Millennium Development Goals, MDGs. Basically, mHealth broadly encompasses the use of mobile telecommunications devices and multimedia technologies as they are integrated within increasingly mobile and wireless healthcare delivery system.

In order words, it is the practice of medical and public healthcare supported by a mobile device, including the use of voice, data and SMS. By adopting mHealth in the healthcare delivery system, many more people, will potentially be reached and the health of the people and communities will be greatly enhanced.

This approach is particularly important due to the rapid adoption of mobile phone technology in developing countries. While mHealth has matured in industrialised nations, the field is still evolving in a developing country such as Nigeria. But argument for it is strong. As mobile technology grows, more and more people acquire mobile phones and other mobile devices, making them part of their everyday lives.

It then becomes easier for medical personnel to interact with them and provide health services, obtain health information to aid their researches and make it easy for them to provide the right medical solutions to health challenges in remote locations.

(Source: Vanguard NewsPaper)
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Thursday, 20 October 2011 23:06:16 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Report shows that the potential of leveraging information and communication technologies (ICTs) to develop the private sector is far from fully exploited. It finds that many national and donor strategies related to PSD currently fail to take adequate account of the ICT potential, which has greatly expanded thanks to changes in the global ICT landscape. The Report then makes policy recommendations on how to remedy this situation.

The Information Economy Report 2011 identifies four facets of the ICT-PSD interface and argues that policy interventions should take into account this holistic approach.

  1. ICT infrastructure as a factor in the investment climate.

  2. ICT use as a factor to improve the performance of the private sector.

  3. The ICT producing sector as a strategic component of the private sector.

  4. ICT use as a component of interventions aimed at facilitating PSD.

In these areas, UNCTAD makes several policy recommendations, such as:

  • To take a comprehensive and systematic approach when integrating the ICT dimension into PSD strategies in developing countries.

  • To continue to extend affordable and relevant connectivity to locations with poor ICT infrastructure.

  • To adopt regulatory frameworks aiming to improve confidence in the use of technologies and their applications.

  • To include ICT modules in business skills´ training programmes.

  • To harness mobile money services to meet the needs of MSEs and to make financial markets more inclusive.

  • To use ICT tools to reduce the cost of doing business, and to help MSEs bring goods and services to domestic and international markets.

  • To develop Donor Guidelines to ensure that the ICT potential is fully harnessed in their PSD strategies.

The Information Economy Report 2011 explores various options and examples of interventions by national governments and their development partners related to the four facets of the interface between ICTs and PSD. Among the cases cited are:

  • Customs automation in Madagascar and Liberia and reforms to streamline business registration procedures in the Philippines, as a means to provide a more conducive business environment.

  • Programmes to increase the number and quality of entrepreneurial and ICT skills in Egypt, Singapore, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Panama as a means to promote the development of human resources.

  • Regulating and promoting the development of mobile money applications in Africa, as a means to enhance financial inclusiveness and open up business opportunities for micro- and small enterprises.

  • The case of ICT freelancers in Bangladesh, as an example of existing opportunities to find low-skilled employment in the ICT producing sector.

  • The use of ICTs to support women entrepreneurs in developing countries, as a means to overcome the existing gender gap in available digital opportunities.

In the Statistical Annex of the Report UNCTAD presents among other things new data on ICT use by enterprises of different size and in various industries.

(Source: UNCTAD)
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Thursday, 20 October 2011 23:03:08 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 20 October 2011
Timor-Leste, a small South East Asian country that gained its independence from Portugal in 1975 only to be occupied by Indonesia until the late 1990s, is one of many smaller islands in South East Asia facing issues of poverty and, at times, famine.  The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste released a report on its 2010 survey of media in Timor-Leste this June.  The survey looks at demographics, the reach of various media, mobile phone and internet use, as well as the effectiveness of various communication strategies and who is not using media at all in Timor-Leste.

As a country with 9 different languages identified as being commonly used, communication strategies need to vary from district to district.  The survey shows that nation-wide, the language most commonly considered a respondent’s mother tongue is Mambae, with 24%, while three others – Makasae, Tetum, and Kemak are accounting for at least 10%.  Despite this, Tetum and Indonesian are identified as the two languages most used by the literate population to read and Tetum is the language that most respondents indicate they can speak well.

Mobile phones are also of growing importance to ICT and development in Timor-Leste.  The survey shows that since 2006, mobile phone ownership has grown by 600 percent, making it the fastest growing communications tool in Timor-Leste.  Although radio is still the highest reaching form of media and 16 percent of the population is still without access to any form of media, the use of text messaging for promotions and campaigns is growing in popularity around the country.  The greatest barriers to use going forward are the cost of mobile phone services and simply the cost of purchasing a mobile phone.  These barriers, at least at face value, seem much easier to break than issues of lack of knowledge or lack of coverage in an area.

Read the Full Report
(Source: AudienceScapes)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011 23:39:23 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 18 October 2011
Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development of Malaysia Datuk Fatimah Abdullah yesterday challenged those in the industry to create products that are user-friendly to both the able and disabled.

We must remember that it is not people’s ‘disability’ that makes it impossible for them to use certain technologies”.

It is the fact that whoever created the products and services did not take into account the notion that people are individuals with differing abilities and preferences”, she said in her keynote address at the launching of a web accessibility seminar. Fatimah said it is vital that those who design, build, sell and use online information services or products must understand the impacts on disabled and older people.

She stated that the Malaysian Disability Act 2008 has made it mandatory for the government and providers of information and communication technology to make their systems accessible to the disabled without any additional costs.

Our focus here is website accessibility. The federal and state governments have made web accessibility as one of the mandatory criteria in government portals and websites”, she added.

According to her, the state government has a web template that complies with the web accessibility requirements to benefit a wider range of citizens.

The three-day seminar is held to highlight the importance of making websites accessible to people with visual disabilities.

It is organised by the state government, Sarawak Society for the Blind, Sarawak Information Systems Sdn Bhd (Sains) and National Council for the Blind Malaysia (NCBM).

“My message to all those who have registered for the workshop, learn as much as possible and develop your websites, services or products that are usable by all.

I hope the organisers, especially Sains being the ICT total solution provider of the state government, can work closely with my ministry to promote web accessibility at national and international levels in the future”, she said.

Also present at the seminar were NCBM president Datuk S. Kulasegaran, Sains CEO Datuk Teo Tien Hiong, Sarawak Society for the Blind president Dr Hsiung Kwo Yen and Chief Minister’s Department ICT Unit director William Patrick Nyigor.

(Source: Borneo Post)
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Tuesday, 18 October 2011 20:57:40 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

"This year’s International Day of Rural Women falls at a time of heightened awareness of the important contribution women are making to social progress.[...] I call on all partners to recognize the contribution of rural women to our world, and to help them do even more for our shared future", said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on 15 October 2008. This new international day, established by the General Assembly in its resolution 62/136 of 18 December 2007, recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty”.

Rural women play a critical role in the rural economies of both developed and developing countries. In most parts of the developing world they participate in crop production and livestock care, provide food, water and fuel for their families, and engage in off-farm activities to diversify their families’ livelihoods. In addition, they carry out vital functions in caring for children, older persons and the sick.

The theme for the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (27 February – 9 March, 2012) is: "The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges".

 (Source: United Nations Organization)

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Tuesday, 18 October 2011 04:28:22 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 14 October 2011

The National Strategy "Women Have Rights", which leads the Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies (MINTIC), the Presidential Office for Equality for Women, the Presidential Agency for Social Action and International Cooperation with the support of the Integral Program Against Gender Violence Fund of the United Nations and Spain for the achievement of Millennium Development Goals, aims to help to reduce all forms of violence against women and especially against women in situations of displacement.

In its first phase "Women Have Rights" has been proposed change processes for the State and society and take the new legal environment (Law 1257 and Order 092 from 2008) as an opportunity to move towards a life free of violence against women, clearly establishing responsibilities and protocols of care for women victims of gender violence and displacement.

This meeting will allow, through socialization of experiences of mayors, governors and organizations, that officially have joined to the strategy, joint actions between the different territories and the national level, setting goals and challenges to the process of territorial sustainability of the strategy in the light of the election of new departmental and municipal governments and define the guidelines for the construction of the Action Plan 2012.

Also, on October 14 has been set to perform with the participants of the workshop the meeting of Spokespersons of the Act 1257, developed by the Ministry of ICT in agreement with the Foundation Women, Art and Life (MAVI) in different regions of the country.

This workshop which is implemented with the video transformation methodology for the appropriation of the law by public officers, media and various organizations so, will become spokespeople for their achievements in various scenarios.

(Source: Mintic – Colombia)
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Friday, 14 October 2011 21:31:40 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 13 October 2011
The Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, has promised to facilitate the development of ICT infrastructure in the country to increase the number of internet users in Nigeria to 70 million by 2015. The number of internet users in the country currently stands at 33.5 million.

Mrs. Johnson, according to a statement from the ministry at the weekend, said that the ministry would accelerate the roll-out of broadband infrastructure to increase broadband penetration from 6% to 12% by 2015.

She emphasized that the ministry will promote and support initiatives that will increase the contribution of ICT from its current 3.5% to 5% of GDP by 2015. (The Indian ICT sector recognized globally currently contributes 6% to the nation's GDP).

She added that the ministry will promote software development and local software innovation by setting up ICT Parks/Digital Havens (equipped with physical/service infrastructure; proximity and access to skilled human capital etc.) and promoting investment in skills required to drive the industry.

She said that the ministry will bridge the internal digital divide in the country by increasing access to ICTs in rural areas and amongst marginalized groups and segments of the population.

The minister emphasized that the ministry will ensure that there is increased adoption of ICT by the Nigerian population by initiating programmes that allow businesses and citizens to access government Information via ICTs.

(Source: All Africa News)

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Thursday, 13 October 2011 20:45:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

When renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs visited rural villages in sub-Saharan Africa in 2005, he saw impoverished communities with poor drinking water, feast-and-famine crop cycles and rampant malaria infections. What he didn't see was mobile phones.

"Now mobile phone ownership is perhaps 30% of households and cell phone coverage is widespread", said Sachs, director of the United Nations Millennium Villages Project, which focuses on improving 14 rural villages across 10 African countries as a model for wider prosperity in the region.

The advent of the mobile society may have brought convenience and a cultural sea change to the U.S. and Europe, but in the poorest regions of the world, affordable mobile phone access has caused a quantum leap in services -- like calling for medical help, sending a quick letter to loved ones or starting a savings account -- that Americans and Europeans have taken for granted for generations, analysts say.

"The cell phone is the single most transformative technology for development", said Sachs, head of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and author of the 2005 book "The End of Poverty".

"Poverty is almost equated with isolation in many places of the world. Poverty results from the lack of access to markets, to emergency health services, access to education, the ability to take advantage of government services and so on", Sachs said. "What the mobile phone -- and more generally IT technology -- is ending is that kind of isolation in all its different varieties".

From 2005 to 2010, cell phone use tripled in the developing world to nearly 4 billion mobile subscriptions, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Nowhere was the growth faster than in Africa, which saw mobile use grow more than 400% during that time frame, according to ITU. That means more money -- a 2006 University of Michigan study found that every 10% increase in cell phone penetration grows the local economy by 0.6%.

The simple ability to make a phone call has far-reaching economic consequences, Sachs said. "Places where traditionally, people would walk livestock for a week or two without knowing what kind of price they'll fetch -- should they go to Khartoum, Nairobi or Port Saeed? Now they can call ahead and find out where to get the best price", Sachs said.

(Source: CNN News)

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Wednesday, 12 October 2011 23:53:18 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 11 October 2011
The district of Los Olivos, in the north of Lima, will become the first "digital city" in Peru, and the second largest of its kind in South America after Curitiba Brazil, with the launch of the first classroom of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

A spokesman for the local mayor told EFE that the ICT classroom, which is located in Peru, in Kawachi School, was opened last week and "marks a new era for Los Olivos district because it is the beginning of its conversion into a digital city ".

The classroom has been implemented with twenty computers and a video projector, all connected to an interactive whiteboard.

For the full implementation of this project, they have 90 km of Optical Fiber, with the aim of connecting to 60,000 homes in Los Olivos with schools, police stations, municipal offices, medical centers and hospitals.

It also provides access to the database of the district, "without interference, high quality and speed in a sort of gigantic Intranet".

The ICT classroom mark the beginning of the installation of 33 points of interconnection, through Fiber Optics, with the database located in a resort town prepared for the technological research, job training and entrepreneurship.

It is planned that the complex will be the centerpiece of the "Telematic District Network ", a large data network capacity with computer servers, similar to financial and telephone companies.

Various institutions in Los Olivos are going to connect to the Network gradually, which will let exchange information and share a number of resources, in addition to providing high quality services to its users", said the spokesman of EFE.

(Source: RPP News)
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Tuesday, 11 October 2011 20:42:32 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 10 October 2011

The Head of ICT at Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Patrick Nyirishema, has said that the establishment of a Carnegie Mellon University campus in Rwanda is a big boost to the development of ICT in the country.

In an interview with The New Times, he said that the introduction of the campus that will focus on ICT courses is a very exciting development.

“The particular engagement we have with the university is focused on ICT although it is a fully fledged institution with many other disciplines back in the USA”, he said.

Carnegie Mellon, a top US varsity, will establish and operate an academic program in Kigali, initially offering a Master of Science in ICT program, starting from next year.

With a history of excellence in higher education and as a global leader in technological innovation, Carnegie Mellon is the first U.S research institution offering degrees in Africa with an in-country presence.

Nyirishima pointed out that the whole vision is to bring in a world class type of a university to fast track the process of scaling up the standard of ICT education in the country.

“It will help us in achieving the vision President Paul Kagame has set of making Rwanda an ICT hub in the region”, he said.

He asserted that the institution will bring in a very high level of expertise in some of the priority areas within the ICT sector which will contribute towards making Rwanda an investment destination for big international companies.

While the new Carnegie Mellon Rwanda program is open to students worldwide, the program will primarily target students from the East African Community with preference given to Rwandan citizens.

(Source: The New Times - Rwanda)

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Monday, 10 October 2011 18:05:20 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, 08 October 2011

The Acting Country Manager of the World Bank has said that lack of access to low price and high quality telecommunications services is one of the factors that presently limit the potential of Liberia to create jobs, expand production of goods and services, and trade competitively with the rest of the world. Coleen Littlejohn pointed out that poor telecommunications services in Liberia are the major obstacle to the social and economic development of the country. The World Bank Executive made these comments recently at the launch of the West Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (WARCIP-Liberia) Project.

The official launch of the WARCIP-Liberia Project was held at the Golden Gate Hotel in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.The WARCIP-Liberia Project is as a result of a US$25.6 million loan given to the Liberian government the World Bank

According to Littlejohn, the lack of access to an international submarine cable, coupled with the absence of national connectivity backbone has resulted in low bandwidth and high price of Internet service, something which she said prevents Liberia from benefiting from advanced Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enabled applications.

She indicated that the connection of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable represents a unique opportunity for Liberia, which has missed out on earlier opportunities to connect to existing global submarine fiber cable systems.

"This project proposes an integrated approach to improve connectivity in Liberia by providing access to the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable and creating an enabling environment and institutional strengthening to support for private sector participation in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure," she stated.

"The Project recognizes that the creation of a competitive, enabling environment in the sector is a prerequisite for affordable connectivity and ensuring an open and non-discriminatory access to capacity. Results in many countries show that this translates into improved connectivity and lower prices of communications services" she said.

Speaking further, she pointed out that the project will in the near future "dramatically" bring down communication costs.

(Source: All Africa News paper)

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Saturday, 08 October 2011 05:56:58 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Combining mentoring with technology to foster women-led small and growing businesses in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East.

- Innovative on-line platform for cross-border mentoring developed with Google

- E-Mentoring boosts confidence, improves business performance and ultimately creates wealth for women entrepreneurs in developing and emerging markets.

-  Mentors benefit from a rich intercultural exchange, mentoring skills, improved technological skills and revitalized interest in their own career.

- The Foundation is seeking skilled professionals and entrepreneurs to give inspiration and advice to pioneering businesswomen.

Many women across Africa, South Asia and the Middle East have the ideas and ambition needed to become successful entrepreneurs but are held back by barriers such as lack of access to business skills, technology, networks and finance.

In response, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women has developed an innovative solution that combines mentoring with technology to offer cross-border support to women entrepreneurs in developing and emerging markets. In collaboration with Google, the Foundation built a virtual community for women entrepreneurs to support each other and receive online mentoring and business advice.

The programme began with a 12-month pilot phase to test the new online platform and determine best practice. Following a positive independent evaluation, the Foundation is now continuing to expand its reach in order to support increasing numbers of women around the globe.

Founder, Cherie Blair says, "Our mentees are women with great entrepreneurial potential, and our mentors give them a vital boost by providing them with the extra advice and support they need".

Sarah Speake, Strategic Marketing Director at Google, says, "This programme will make a clear and tangible difference to the women it supports. I am thrilled that Google has been able to help make this happen through our partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation".

PR Newswire)
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Saturday, 08 October 2011 05:31:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 07 October 2011
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 was awarded on Friday to three campaigning women from Africa and the Arab world in acknowledgment of their nonviolent role in promoting peace, democracy and gender equality. The winners were Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — Africa’s first elected female president — her compatriot, peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman of Yemen, a pro-democracy campaigner.

They were the first women to win the prize since Kenya’s Wangari Maathai, who died last month, was named as the laureate in 2004.

Most of the recipients in the award’s 110-year history have been men and Friday’s decision seemed designed to give impetus to the cause for women’s rights around the world.

We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society”, said the citation read by Thorbjorn Jagland, a former Norwegian prime minister who heads the Oslo-based Nobel committee that chooses the winner of the $1.5 million prize.

In a subsequent interview, he described the prize as “a very important signal to women all over the world”.

Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf is nearing the end of a heated re-election campaign and Monrovia, the Liberian capital, saw her opponents join a big rally before Tuesday’s vote. Mr. Jagland said the election had not influenced the committee’s decision, calling the ballot there a “domestic consideration”. Analysts in Liberia have described the president’s re-election prospects as uncertain, although Friday’s announcement from Oslo could change that. But the Nobel committee’s decision underscored the gap between local perceptions of her — it is not hard to find critics of the president in Liberia — and the view from abroad.

In Yemen on Friday, Ms. Karman, 32, sat in a tent where she has been living since February as part of the sit-in organized to press demands for change. “This is the victory of our peaceful revolution”, she said. “I am so happy and I give this award to all of the youth and all of the women across the Arab world, in Egypt, in Tunisia”.

(Source: The New York Times)
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Friday, 07 October 2011 15:39:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 06 October 2011
Equal Access International (EA) works to include communities in matters of national dialogue with the help of FrontlineSMS’ groundbreaking technology. EA specializes in educating and empowering people in some of the world’s most remote regions through media and community mobilization. With millions of regular listeners, our media programs leverage radio dramas and chat shows, mobile theatre, television shows, listening discussion groups, leadership training and community actions to foster positive change.

EA has been using FrontlineSMS in Chad and Niger since late 2009. They produce six radio programs in these two countries and, for each show, listeners can send text messages to a dedicated telephone number, which is toll-free in Niger. The radio stations receive messages from thousands of listeners, some in response to questions posed on the radio program and others sharing their views and commentary on the programs. During an 18-month period 1,119 messages were received in Chad and 2,330 messages were received in Niger.

In Chad, Equal Access produces a youth radio show titled “Chabab Al Haye” (Youth Alive) which uses a presenter-led chat show format to discuss peaceful ways of addressing grievances, tolerance, livelihoods information and problem solving. Listeners can send in feedback through our FrontlineSMS system asking questions, such as this young listener who texted:

I lived for a little while in the North, and I noticed that tribalism still exists there. The young people from the North and South avoid relating to one another. How do we get past this behavior?”

Questions and comments like this one can be featured on this radio programs and discussed, helping youth from all reaches of the country feel included in the conversation.

Perhaps most importantly, they use FrontlineSMS to create interaction with the radio programs and include listener feedback in the programs, to show listeners that they are being heard. In closed communities, or those struggling with violence or intolerance, the act of engaging in an interactive dialogue via a mass communications platform such as a radio can help people feel engaged and included.

In Niger during the pre-election period running up to the peaceful and democratic transition from a military junta to an elected civilian administration, radio listeners around the country were able to express their views about positions and candidates through SMS messages in response to the radio programs. The messages contributed to a more open and inclusive debate because audiences were able to connect to program producers directly through a toll-free SMS message line.

(Source: National Geographic – Daily News)
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Thursday, 06 October 2011 18:01:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 05 October 2011

Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Communication on Monday observed that government has made giant strides in transforming the country into a modern information-rich and knowledge based society in terms of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) development.

He said the benefits of ICT could be applied to facilitate socio-economic development to bring enormous benefits to Ghanaians. Government therefore, remained committed to promote digital literacy in the country to ensure that the people reap full benefits of ICT usage.

Mr. Iddrisu made the observation when the Ministry of Communication took its turn on the Meet-the-Press series organised by the Ministry of Information. It is a platform that enables ministries and other public agencies to inform the public on the strides made in governance.

Mr. Iddrisu said the mandate of the Ministry is to build a people centred, inclusive and development-oriented information and knowledge society where everyone could create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge to enable individuals and communities achieve their full potential of promoting sustainable development.

In this regard, we are proud of the enormous growth in the ICT sector; and we have made humble but significant strides to transform Ghana into a modern information-rich and knowledge based society where the benefits of ICT can be applied to facilitate socio-economic development”, he added.

Mr. Iddrisu said the communication sector this year witnessed significant growth and transformation, which also expanded in scope as well as technological advancement. This was recognized by the International Telecommunication Union where the country had been touted as of the fastest growing ICT industry in the developing world.

Mr. Iddrisu said within the framework of government’s development agenda to provide transparent and accountable governance, strong economy for real jobs, investing in people and expanding infrastructure for growth, the Ministry is situating ICT as prime enabler and facilitator to provide the necessary tools for good governance.

(Source: Ghana News Agency)
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Wednesday, 05 October 2011 18:39:20 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Digital Cities’11 Conference at ITU Telecom World 2011 (Geneva, Switzerland, 24-27 October) will focus on the trends shaping global city development, and ask city mayors, leading urban developers and experts in the provision of essential public services for their views on the opportunities and solutions offered by information and communications technologies (ICTs).

The conference, supported by Alcatel-Lucent, will focus on how the public and private sectors can come together to design and develop the next generation of urban living. Participants will also address connected urban development and how next-generation networks can enhance socio-economic development, increase the health and well-being of urban citizens and enable environmental sustainability.

Panel discussions and workshops will include mayors from the world’s major cities, together with digital innovators, utility experts, industry CEOs and city planning and transport specialists. Top-level speakers and participants include: Gabrielle Gauthey, EVP, Public Affairs, Alcatel-Lucent; Kim Seang-tae, President, National Information Society Agency, Advisor to the President of Korea; Wim Elfrink, Chief Globalization Officer, Cisco; Suvi Linden, former Minister of Communications, Finland and Special Envoy to the Broadband Commission for Digital Development; Peter Pitsch, Director Communications Policy, Intel Corporation; and Juan Sabines Guerrero, Governor of Chiapas.

Our planet will soon be home to seven billion people. As cities demand more and more from our industry and city dwellers account for half of the world’s population, the time is right for a dedicated conference within the ITU Telecom World event that drives high-level debate and generates key insights into the connected and digital future of urban life”, said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré.

The Digital Cities Conference is specifically designed to be the focal point for informed and defining debate on the future of urban digital development,” commented Ben Verwaayen, CEO, Alcatel-Lucent, “Given the pace at which people are embracing digital life, it is becoming ever more crucial that the industry connects and integrates city infrastructure and services with technologies that will help ensure the sustainability of cities, and improve life, work and well-being for their residents”.

Highlights of the Digital Cities’11 Conference include plenary sessions examining areas such as:

  • Collaboration in fostering sustainable, next-generation city life, and the need for cities to embrace new urban design, strong metropolitan governance, and innovative infrastructure investment models.

  • The best ways to optimize resources smartly, to increase quality of life for citizens. How can citizens become better involved in designing and scoping out the future of their own digital cities?

(Source: ITU Newsroom)
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Wednesday, 05 October 2011 17:27:18 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 04 October 2011

New application allows deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-disabled customers to make calls from virtually anywhere, anytime on Android-powered devices.

Today announced the availability of Sprint Mobile IP Relay, empowering thousands of users in the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities and people with speech disabilities to communicate by phone anywhere and anytime. Sprint Mobile IP Relay, the company’s latest enhancement to its Sprint Relay’s IP portfolio, is a free application that can be downloaded from the Android Market onto select Android devices.

Features and capabilities:

  • Make and receive relay-facilitated mobile calls on Sprint devices running on Android OS 2.1 or higher

  • Save conversations during or after they are completed

  • Provide Spanish language relay calls

  • Adjust font size/colors and background colors

  • Access phone’s contact list, call history, and live Sprint Relay Customer Service representatives

  • Make 911 emergency calls

  • Available on Sprint 3G, Sprint 4G and WiFi networks.

A unique 10-digit number is required to access and use the Sprint® Mobile IP application on Sprint Android devices. To register, go to

This is another offer from Sprint Relay that breaks down communications barriers for those who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities,” said Mike Ellis, director-Sprint Relay Services. “With Mobile IP Relay, users can have unlimited access to relay services wherever their wireless device coverage is available”.

Ellis added that earlier in the year, Sprint Relay introduced another unique offering for Relay users called Sprint Relay ID -- a bundle of applications, links, tips, icons, widgets and wallpapers on Sprint ID-capable Android devices. The bundle includes voice mail transcripts, visual and vibrating alerts and readable captions available in a single download. The launch of Sprint Relay ID marked the first time a wireless carrier developed multiple applications in one package for the needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.

For its innovation and industry-leading customer service, Sprint Relay services were recently lauded with third-party awards and endorsements. The Paisley Group National Relay TTY Performance Index ranked Sprint Relay highest in customer care and speed of service. Sprint Relay also earned ABILITY Magazine’s Best Practices Award for its relay service and its “spirit of inclusion, both in the workplace and in the consumer marketplace”.

Sprint now provides relay service to 32 states and the federal government, in addition to New Zealand and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Sprint also provides Captioned Telephone “CapTel” services to 31 states and the federal government.

(Source: Sprint News)

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Tuesday, 04 October 2011 16:47:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 30 September 2011

The classroom that was delivered to the community of Riohacha will allow to deaf, blind and deafblind people access to Internet Services, training in basic computer concepts and use of computers, as well as intelligent machine of reading Braille telelupa and lines, promoting their access, use and ownership of ICT and guaranteeing the right to information and communication on equal terms. The ICT Ministry spent $ 160 million for this project. The new classroom was presented on Thursday 29 September.

The classrooms of technology for people with sensory disabilities are part of the ICT policy ownership developing by the ICT Ministry and Surcoe. This initiative is included in the Technology Plan “Vive Digital”, which aims to expand the use and appropriation of the Internet in the country and move from 2.2 million to 8.8 million connections in 2014. This new room was provided to the community of Riohacha on Thursday September 29 at the Library Almirante Padilla.

"The opening of this new room will allow the community of Riohacha with sensory disabilities and their family access to technology. Access to ICTs must be for everyone, to make technology part of the life of Colombians”, said ICT Minister, Diego Molano Vega.

The hall will provide free training in basic use of computers, office tools and Internet browsing. Also, these rooms will feature with equipments such as Braille printers that will enable blind people to read texts and computer applications that will enable users to listen to type in documents and texts on the Internet.

The delivery of this new classroom is part of the project Conectando Sentidos” that seeks that the technology world will be within people with sensory disabilities and their families, promoting social inclusion and equal opportunities through the use of technology Information and communications technology (ICT).

(Source: MINTIC – Colombia)

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Friday, 30 September 2011 22:13:26 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The ExxonMobil Foundation today announced a $1.5 million grant for research into how mobile phone technology can enhance women’s economic opportunities and entrepreneurship in the developing world. The grant to the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women will be highlighted at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.

The study, to be conducted in Nigeria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Indonesia, aims to identify various mobile services that can help women entrepreneurs enhance their businesses, and what barriers exist to expanding access to these services.

We know that mobile technology has great potential for placing women in low-income countries on a higher economic trajectory”, said Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

Mobile phone use doesn't just help women earn more money, it can also bring great benefits to businesses and therefore to the wider economy as well”.

Mobile phone services are often cited as a significant tool in economic development. There are 300 million fewer female than male subscribers worldwide, and a woman is 21 percent less likely to own a phone than a man in low- and middle-income countries.

Studies like this will help us understand how technology can best support women in the developing world", said Suzanne M. McCarron, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation. “Success of women entrepreneurs is vital to building strong communities. Expanding the use of mobile technology for women will help raise living standards, leading to more prosperity for them, their families and their countries”.

"Our research shows that technology can be transformative for women, if we engage them in the process", said Sarah Degnan Kambou, president of the International Center for Research on Women. "This partnership does that and will help take women entrepreneurs farther and faster, as a result".

(Source: Financial Post)

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Wednesday, 28 September 2011 22:36:48 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Who has access to information and who doesn’t makes a huge difference in the 21st Century. Those who have limited access to timely market information are facing problems identifying market opportunities and finding sellers or buyers.

This is especially true in agrarian economies such as in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan where more than half of the population lives in rural areas, with most working in the agricultural sector. Access to online market prices and information sharing are critical for sustainable development of agricultural production.

UNDP’s Aid for Trade project is supporting access to real time information for producers, processors, and suppliers in Batken (Kyrgyzstan) and in Khujand (Tajikistan) to improve market access, increase competitiveness and attract buyers. UNDP helped to introduce online systems SMS systems, radio stations and printed updates that share market prices and information on agriculture.

Web sites provide producers, processors, and suppliers with information on market prices of agricultural goods updated on a weekly basis, online advertisement spaces, business directories, and guides.

In Tajikistan, farmers and producers receive SMSs containing market prices during harvest time. In Kyrgyzstan, UNDP helped set up radio stations in major markets and a hotline. We wanted people working in remote areas to be able to access information, and we learned that information services have to be tailor made in order to work.

The web site in Tajikistan has had more than 45,000 visitors since it was made available in July 2010. In Kyrgyzstan, the web site in addition to radio stations and news flyers supported more than 1,000 rural producers to sell their products, and 3,500 farmers are regular users of the different products.

Considering the needs, the agricultural wealth and the overall potential in these two regions, information systems might not be the first choice of intervention for many people. However, it is important to realize that the ability to access real time information allows producers to make more informed choices, get better deals, and more importantly, link to other markets. If we manage to make these systems sustainable, ultimately they will be able to support self-development of the agricultural community.

(Source: UNDP – Europe and CIS)
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Tuesday, 27 September 2011 23:12:21 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 27 September 2011

More than 1500 people in the Ancash region will have access to mobile services and the Internet through the program “Comunicaciones de la Cuenca Ancash”, signed on 23 September 2011, between the Antamina Mining Fund and Telefonica.

Antamina Mining Fund and Telefonica initiated a project that allows access to mobile and Internet services in the districts of: San Pedro de Chana, Huacchis and San Marcos.

To this end, Telefonica will implement two mobile phone base stations, which will benefit 11 towns of Yanacancha Mining Camp, among which are: Cambio 90, Vistoso, Ayash Huaripampa, Ayas Pichiu, San Cristóbal de Tambo, Centro Pichiu, Huancayoc, Puca Puca, Huishllag, Cashapatac y Atash. Also it will provide coverage to hospitals, police stations, medical centers and institutions that benefit to local population.

Also, the Antamina mining company through its association Antamina (Mining Fund) will provide Mobile Internet to 30 schools which will have internet services for five years.

Guillermo Checa, Vice President of Business Segment of Telefonica, expressed great satisfaction over the agreement that will provide telecommunications access to more Peruvian in Ancash region. "In Telefónica, we have been conducting several initiatives aimed at promoting digital inclusion through telecommunications, helping to improve the quality of life of most people and this is a sample of it", he said.

(Source: Telefonica del Peru)

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Tuesday, 27 September 2011 15:27:13 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, 25 September 2011
On September 21, 2011 it was a very special day for 47 children of the school "Chillogallo Pan y Miel", not only because they shared their knowledge with new information and communication technologies standards but also because they learned how to use the Internet without put on risk their safety.

After 11 hours, this school changed its appearance, with the adaptation of the Story "Little Red Riding Hood". Officials of the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Society taught children that "behind the net there are thousands of ravenous wolves, seeking information from children to hurt them" through the talk about "security children in the network".

For German Castro, professor of basic level of this school, the technology is advanced and can become a useful tool for the future of education. The Internet is not just chat, but is a huge library. The teacher said his job is to guide children to get access to useful sites, to increase their knowledge and not harm them.

In addition, they talked not only about network security, also children learned what is the new technology of digital television, that is a transmission system evolved, delivering benefits to citizens and that allows implementing educational programs and interactive scientific .

But how can we protect our children in the Net?
    * Children must be accompanied by a parent or a teacher when accessing the Internet
    * We recommend placing the computer in a public place in the house
    * Teaching our children to notify us when a foreign content appear when they want to open, or to download any content or game.

The Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Society with Telefonica Foundation together promotes educational programs, dynamic and interactive, through which children can learn about the proper use of ICTs and benefit from these powerful and versatile tools, which certainly increase their knowledge and strengthened educational quality processes.

(Source: Mintel - Ecuador)
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Sunday, 25 September 2011 06:09:51 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Accra, Ghana, 20-23 September 2011

In accordance with its multi-year programme of work for 2010-2014, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will consider ‘The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges' as its priority theme during its fifty-sixth session in 2012.

In order to contribute to a fuller understanding of the issue and to assist the Commission in its deliberations, the UN Women) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) will convene an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on ‘Enabling rural women's economic empowerment: institutions, opportunities and participation' from 20-23 September 2011 in Accra, Ghana.

The EGM will explore a wide range of strategies that can enhance the economic empowerment of rural women, and will focus on the following critical areas:

  • Rural women’s strengthened role in agriculture;
  • Rural women’s access to productive resources, technology markets and financing;
  • Decent and productive employment and income-generating opportunities for rural women;
  • Infrastructure and service-delivery that benefit rural women;
  • Rural women’s role in natural resource management and climate change adaptation;
  • Effective institutions and enabling policy environment that promotes gender responsive rural development.

See further Information here

(Source: UN Women)

Sunday, 25 September 2011 04:58:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 23 September 2011

The United Nations must leverage the power of information and communications technology (ICT) to the fullest in its response to political, economic and environmental challenges and to improve the delivery of its services, says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Addressing a meeting at UN Headquarters on public-private partnership for ICT, Mr. Ban stressed that the world body must make the fullest possible use of ICTs in achieving its development goals and other important objectives.

We already do a great deal, but we know we can do more… much more”, he said.

The Secretary-General noted that ICTs can help strengthen disaster risk reduction as well as the UN’s response when disasters do happen. Other important activities – from reporting on repression and human rights abuses and monitoring ecosystems to delivering public services, especially in health and education – can all be made more effective through ICTs.

The UN itself can benefit from development in this area, thereby heightening performance while increasing accountability, he added.

Mr. Ban said that the UN has made significant progress in using ICTs to improve the delivery of its services since the establishment of the UN ICT strategy in 2009, and it was done largely within existing resources. The ICT strategy is comprised of a vision, a management framework and three strategic programmes.

Yet the time has now come when we need additional financial and other support if we are to achieve truly high-impact and better results”, he stated, adding that this is where the public-private partnership on ICT can play a critical role.

It can provide sound strategic guidance as well as resources for leveraging ICT to build a better world”, said Mr. Ban.

At the same time, I am convinced that your involvement will have a significant positive impact for your own organizations. Contributing to global well-being will further reinforce your position as socially responsible citizens of the world, doing their part to advance the human condition”.

(Source: UN News Centre)

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Friday, 23 September 2011 18:22:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Gender equality matters in its own right but is also smart economics: Countries that create better opportunities and conditions for women and girls can raise productivity, improve outcomes for children, make institutions more representative, and advance development prospects for all, says a new World Bank flagship report. 

The World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development details big strides in narrowing gender gaps but shows that disparities remain in many areas. The worst disparity is the rate at which girls and women die relative to men in developing countries: Globally, excess female mortality after birth and “missing” girls at birth account for an estimated 3.9 million women each year in low- and middle-income countries. About two-fifths are never born due to a preference for sons, a sixth die in early childhood, and over a third die in their reproductive years. These losses are growing in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially in countries hard-hit by HIV/AIDS. 

We need to achieve gender equality”, said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. “Over the past five years, the World Bank Group has provided $65 billion to support girls’ education, women’s health, and women’s access to credit, land, agricultural services, jobs, and infrastructure. This has been important work, but it has not been enough or central enough to what we do. Going forward, the World Bank Group will mainstream our gender work and find other ways to move the agenda forward to capture the full potential of half the world’s population”.

The report cites examples of how countries could gain by addressing disparities between men and women:

·  Ensuring equal access and treatment for women farmers would increase maize yields by 11 to 16 percent in Malawi and by 17 percent in Ghana.

· Improving women’s access to agricultural inputs in Burkina Faso would increase total household agricultural production by about 6 percent, with no additional resources—simply by reallocating resources such as fertilizer and labor from men to women.

·  The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that equal access to resources for female farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5 to 4 percent.

·  Eliminating barriers that prevent women from working in certain occupations or sectors would have similar positive effects, reducing the productivity gap between male and female workers by one-third to one-half and increasing output per worker by 3 to 25 percent across a range of countries. 

Blocking women and girls from getting the skills and earnings to succeed in a globalized world is not only wrong, but also economically harmful,” said Justin Yifu Lin, World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President, Development Economics. “Sharing the fruits of growth and globalization equally between men and women is essential to meeting key development goals”.

(Source: World Bank)
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Wednesday, 21 September 2011 16:12:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A multilingual project funded by the European Union (EU) today began its journey on the Internet at website with the ambition to collect and disseminate best practice on language policy and language teaching. is an initiative to promote multilingualism in Europe, the result of the deliberations of the EU Civil Society Platform driven by the European Commission in 2009.

This portal will provide to policy makers, teachers, students and civil society organizations a set of tools for benchmarking and improvement of activities in the field of education and learning, said in a statement the Multilingualism Observatory (EUNIC). Specifically, collect and display information about motivation and goals of multilingualism in various sectors of civil society as well as on best practices and tools for development.

The project is aimed at students and language teachers, social services and public and civil society, as well as those responsible for the development of multilingualism policy.

For now, the web page navigation is possible in English and, later, it will be in French and German, although public input through social networks can ride in any language.

(Source: ABC News)

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Tuesday, 20 September 2011 17:40:25 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Under the guidelines in the document Conpes 3670 from 2010 and the National Development Plan 2010 - 2014, and in the developing of the strategies of "Plan Vive Digital", the Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies together with the Ministry of Education, have defined a joint strategy where schools in the country will benefit with connectivity, under different initiatives and with the support of various organizations.

In this regard, as part of the ICT Ministry's commitment to support the connectivity primarily in the education sector, the “Compartel” Program has assumed the responsibility to connect a significant number of institutions and as a result they published the draft of specifications for the Project Internet connectivity of Public Institutions, which seeks to ensure connectivity service in those public institutions that demand for support and have not been connected through other strategies.

This project is set up as a transition until the definition of the new scheme which will host the program “Compartel 2012”, in coordination with other sectors for the development of social telecommunication projects to suit the needs of the country, the new technological developments and the growing coverage of telecommunications networks.

To view the documents that make up the draft specification for the Internet Connectivity Project for Public Institutions, click here.

(Source: MINTIC – Colombia)

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Monday, 19 September 2011 23:41:29 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 19 September 2011

ITU research indicates that targeting students may be the most effective way to increase Internet use in developing countries. The Internet is only used by an around 21 per cent of the population in the developing world, compared with almost 70 per cent in developed countries.

The Measuring the Information Society 2011 report suggests that the main barriers to Internet use are not always related to infrastructure and price. Usage patterns show major differences related to education, gender, income, age and geographical location of users (urban/rural). For example, there is remarkably little difference in patterns of Internet use among highly educated, high-income individuals across the developing and developed worlds. People with higher educational degrees use the Internet more than those with a lower level of education, and in most countries more men than women are online.

Young people (below the age of 25) are online more than older people, and there is a higher level of Internet use among those currently in school compared with those no longer studying. Assuming that people will continue using the Internet once they have become accustomed to being online, those currently enrolled at school or university are more likely to be future Internet users, too. For young people all over the world, social networking and user-created content like blogs have become key drivers of Internet uptake.

Given that 46 per cent of the population in developing countries is below the age of 25 (representing more than 2.5 billion people), the report suggests that one of the most effective ways to increase Internet use in these countries is by targeting the younger generation – for example through connecting schools and other educational institutions, and improving enrolment rates.

(Source: ITU Newsroom)

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Monday, 19 September 2011 18:13:29 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 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)

Full Report

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