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 Monday, November 21, 2011

Hosted by Ericsson, the first Networked Society Forum (NEST Forum) took place in Hong Kong from Nov. 11-13. Leaders and authorities, from the ICT industry and governments, gathered at NEST to discuss how ICT could be utilized to accelerate education and learning for everyone, every where. It's a pity that the proceedings of the forum didn't get much attention in Saudi Arabia, because many of the topics presented were extremely relevant to the debate on how to enhance education here in the Kingdom.

Consider these points on education and technology:

UNESCO and UNICEF report that almost 70 million children are out of school globally, with millions more leaving school early without acquiring the knowledge and skills that are crucial for a decent livelihood, and about 800 million adults lacking basic literacy skills. In the US, one out of four high school students never graduates.

Doubling the broadband speed of an economy increases GDP by 0.3 percent, according to research conducted by Ericsson, Arthur D. Little and the University of Chalmers. The same research found that for every 1,000 broadband connections, 80 new Internet jobs are created. For every ten percent of mobile broadband penetration, an economy adds one percent sustainable GDP.

An October 2011 report from the UN's Broadband Commission for Digital Development found that 30 percent of people worldwide are Internet users. In developed countries, around half the population has mobile broadband and about a quarter has fixed (wired) broadband. In developing countries, however, the figures are a small fraction of these, at 5.4 percent for mobile broadband and 4.4 percent for fixed (estimated, end 2010).

Online education is growing. The Khan Academy is the largest free online school in the world, with one million students a month viewing 100 – 200,000 videos per day on YouTube. According to iNACOL, China’s first online school was created in 1996; today it has expanded to more than 200 online schools with enrollments exceeding 600,000 students.

One of those who has put forward ideas which are in opposition to conventional education methods is Newcastle University Professor Sugata Mitra. He has been conducting experiments with several models of self-teaching, through his Hole-in-the-Wall project (www.hole-in-the-wall.com), as well as through experiments with Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLEs). Having succeeded in helping Tamil-speaking children teach themselves the basic concepts of biotechnology — in English, and without teacher assistance — Mitra is openly challenging the wisdom of education that requires a teacher to stand in the front of a classroom to share knowledge.

Mitra is a leading proponent of Minimally Invasive Education (MIE). At NEST he advised that if we are evaluating students based on their ability to memorize basic facts, as we often have in the past, then we are teaching yet another skill that computers have made practically useless. Instead, we need to reconsider the aims of our education and assessment methods altogether.

(Source: Arab News)
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Monday, November 21, 2011 10:25:50 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The State intends to expand Internet coverage in the country. Seek greater efficiency to offer more services to citizens online.

How many times did you use a cell phone in the last two days? How many times have you consulted some information, the management made or communicated with someone via the Internet? There is no doubt that information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become necessary tools for our daily work. Currently, many state and private institutions offer electronic services that allow their users to perform several actions, proceedings or payments through its web pages. Many people can get rid of long queues, paperwork and other delays, with only a few clicks.

Also, there are more public entities that make intensive use of ICT. An example is the Peruvian Government Portal (www.peru.gob.pe), which has become a reference site and access to public entities. Through it, you can access to the Standard Transparency Portal, in which all entities of public administration are shown in a standardized manner to the citizens, being in charge of updating the institutions themselves.

Another innovation is the implementation of the Platform for Interoperability of the State (PIDE), which provides to the citizens public services and the electronic exchange of data via Internet and mobile telephony.

However, these advantages of technological progress cannot be still enjoyed by a sector of Peru because the digital gap (the difference between people who have Internet access even those without access to a computer) is still high.

According to the company of Advance Computer Technology Corporation of Peru, the computer penetration rate is 12 per 100 inhabitants, while the regional average is 20, and in some countries reaches 30. But to achieve that goal, they must first reduce the digital gap in the country. Thus, it was decided to invest in overhead fiber optic network for the rapidly growing information and increase communication radio cell. "Multiply the capacity of fiber optics for many people to communicate at high speed".

About a month ago, the government announced the State Interoperability Platform (PIDE), which will provide to the citizens with public services and the electronic exchange of data via Internet and mobile telephony.

The Government has plans to expand broadband services to remote areas of the country. Vice President of Infrastructure of the Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF), Antonio Juan Sosa, shows that the authorities of Peru requested support to achieve this goal. They said that Boadband projects do not require much investments and CAF could initially provide 50 million dollars which what they can do a lot.

(Source: El Peruano Newspaper)
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Monday, November 21, 2011 8:34:40 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, November 18, 2011

With the participation of about 1,200 public school teachers in Colombia, started the 4 th National Meeting of Teachers “Digital Education". The inaugural event was in charge of the ICT Minister, Diego Molano Vega, the Education Minister Maria Fernanda Campo, Minister of Telecommunications of Ecuador, Jaime Guerrero and the Director of “Computers for Schools”, Martha Castellanos.

As part of the event, which seeks to socialize the educational experiences with the use of technologies, the ICT Minister said that with the program “Vive Digital” they could increase the use of the Internet in the country.

In pursuit of this objective, the ICT Ministry reduced the prize of computers. In the case of the lower strata they are also working to lower financing costs of acquiring computer equipment. On the other hand, they expect to reach more than 800,000 computers for poor children in colleges or schools.

"Teachers are transformers and builders of dreams that will allow young people to learn these new technologies and be digital educators", said ICT Minister Diego Molano Vega.

The Minister also said that if there are more services on the Internet, the infrastructure is used more and the price is lower, allowing more parents to connect and then have more number of users. The goal for 2014 is that all Colombians have, at least, one connectivity solution thanks to modern information superhighway.

Meanwhile the Education Minister, Maria Fernanda Campo, said that ICT is key to reduce dropout rates, taking into account that the numbers are very high and occur mainly in public institutions of the most remote areas.

As part of the event, Martha Cunningham, executive director of “Computers for Schools program”, announced that technology tools, innovation, skills development and digital content, contribute to the reduction of digital gaps. With this she means that new technologies help to improve education and enable the convergence of different materials on a computer.

Also, she showed very important information. According to a study by the Universidad de los Andes, where teachers and students have greater access to technology, educational dropout rates decrease by 4%, and the ICFES score increase by 2%. Also, they said that the possibility of entering higher education increases by 5.1%, and improve by 4.6% on the income of the workforce.

(Source: Mintic – Colombia)
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Friday, November 18, 2011 9:48:19 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, November 17, 2011
Information and communication have always mattered in agriculture. Ever since people have grown crops, raised live-stock, and caught fish, they have sought information from one another. What is the most effective planting strategy on steep slopes? Where can I buy the improved seed or feed this year? How can I acquire a land title? Who is paying the highest price at the market? How can I participate in the government’s credit program? Producers rarely find it easy to obtain answers to such questions, even if similar ones arise season after season. Farmers in a village may have planted the “same” crop for centuries, but over time, weather pattern sand soil conditions change and epidemics of pests and diseases come and go. Updated information allows the farmers to cope with and even benefit from these changes. Providing such knowledge can be challenging, however, because the highly localized nature of agriculture means that information must be tailored specifically to distinct conditions.

The ICT in Agriculture e-Sourcebook is intended to offer agriculture and other development practitioners a set of tested solutions, good practices, and methodologies, along with promising applications, that enable them to leverage ICT and harness innovation for more effective agricultural and rural development outcomes. The sourcebook brings together thematic notes and over 200 case studies from all over the world into a single easy-to-use compilation for those working in the agricultural sector.

Access to Full Report
(Source: ICT in agriculture News)


Thursday, November 17, 2011 9:12:11 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The demand for higher education has accelerated worldwide. Between 1999 and 2008, the number of students enrolled in higher education institutions (HEIs) increased by 65 million, with much of the growth being seen in East Asia and the Pacific. In fact, the global demand for higher education is predicted to expand from less than 100 million students in 2000 to over 250 million in 2025.

The prevalence of information and communication technology (ICT) and the impact it has made in all aspects of our lives are compelling reasons for HEIs to try to capitalize on 21st century tools and technologies to address 21st century issues and challenges. This has motivated some HEIs in taking the lead to reshape the landscape of their educational systems as well as teaching and learning practices. Over time, the number of universities embracing new technologies to conduct the business of education is expected to soar. However, many HEIs may require guidance and assistance in their change process to minimize their teething problems, reduce costs, utilize appropriate technology and tools, and engage staff with proper knowledge and skills.

UNESCO Bangkok coordinated a research study to document the use of ICT for higher education in the Asia and Pacific region in 2009 with the support of the Japanese Funds-in-Trust. Targeted at Ministry of Education officials and specialists responsible for higher education, administrators and faculty members of HEIs, and higher education and ICT providers, the objective of the study was to increase understanding of how ICT can be used to:

  • design and develop curricular contents;

  • deliver higher education programmes and courses;

  • enhance the learning process; and

  • increase the efficiency of the administration and management of educational systems.

Seven case studies from Australia, Hong Kong-Special Administrative Region of China, India, People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea and Singapore were commissioned to focus on three main areas: open and distance learning; blended learning; and administration and management.

In all the cases discussed in this publication, ICT is used not only for the delivery of lectures and materials, but also for administration and management purposes. It is clear that administrative functions such as student registration, grades, course schedules and even staffing evaluation, have benefitted from the use of ICT. The chapters on the Hong Kong University and the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, focused specifically on administration and management issues, albeit under highly different conditions and perspectives. They provide an interesting contrast but also reveal several areas of similarity regardless of their starting points or resources available.

(Source: UNESCO)
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011 10:14:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One of the factors said to have retarded education development in Tanzania is the lack of teachers, qualified teachers for that matter. There is no doubt about the efforts by the government in trying to raise the standard of education and ensuring that all Tanzanians have access to education.

Many schools have been built in recent times almost throughout the country, but many of these schools lack teachers. Schools situated in the remote areas of the country where transportation is a problem are most affected by the lack of teachers because some of the teachers show reluctance in reporting to such areas.

The government has elaborate plans and strategies of producing as many teachers of different grades to be distributed to primary, secondary and institutes of higher learning as possible. The government has also specific plans of ensuring that all necessary teaching aids like books, libraries and laboratories in order to make the education wholesome.

But the biggest challenge facing the sector is whether the teachers are not redundant in the wake of improved technical and technological advancement. It is now common knowledge that technological development in Information and Communication (ICT) has permeated almost every area in life.

And information and communication technology use in education is making enormous headways in improving quality and access to education. It has further been shown that the use of ICT in education can help improve memory retention, increase motivation and generally deepen understanding.

Information and communication technology can be used to promote collaborative learning including role playing, group problem solving activities and articulated projects. It is promoting new approaches to working and learning, and new ways of interacting. The issue is on the long term impact of ICT on the teaching and learning process.

Though researchers are confirming that ICT changes the nature of motivation to learn, other issues raised at this point is what kind of competence and skills will teachers really need to acquire to be effective in an ICT based learning environment? There is an on-going debate on whether teachers are becoming redundant as a consequence of the use of ICT in education or whether a teacher-less classroom is simply a myth.

However, new education technologies do not remove the need for teachers but the call for definition of their profession. With ICT, the role of teachers has changed and continues to change from being a instructor to become a constructor, facilitator, coach and creator of learning environment.

(Source: TMC News)
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011 5:43:21 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The system is fairly simple. A user registers for mobile phone banking with their service provider and is given a mobile "e-wallet" - an application on their SIM card that is linked to their phone number.

When the user wants to pay for services or transfer money to someone they simply have to go to an agent and pay the desired amount, which is loaded onto the "e-wallet". The payment is made and the recipient can withdraw the money from an agent. There are various agents affiliated with the mobile service providers across the country, making the service easily accessible to those in rural areas.

It is a convenient system that no longer limits the women’s movements. Thelma Nare, and the women in her co-operative make regular trips to Bulawayo to sell produce, like Mopani worms. This means that they miss paying their monthly subscriptions.

Mobile network giant Econet Wireless, which has five million subscribers, introduced the service in September and was quickly followed by its competitors, the government-owned NetOne and Telecel.

These service providers have affiliated agents throughout the country, which include the Zimbabwe Post Office, supermarkets and stores where people like Nare can access their funds."I was in the city and was told about the use of mobile phones to transfer money. When I told the other women in my money club, it seemed to be the answer to our problems", she said.

The model is borrowed from Kenya’s pioneering M-Pesa, which has experienced phenomenal growth from 20,000 users at its launch in 2007 to an estimated 14 million this year.

Girlie Moyo, 40, another member of Nare’s money club said that in the past the women had to gather under a tree to make physical contributions. Now, the convenience of the mobile transfers means "we can co-ordinate our contributions without concerns about distance".

While money transfer services sprouted across the country in the aftermath of the mass exodus of Zimbabweans to work across the world, the "bureaux de change" remained in the cities. So those in the rural areas were forced to rely upon undependable and expensive cross-border transporters who demand up to 20 percent of the total amount being sent.

Mobile banking seems to be the best solution for rural Zimbabweans, as a report released on Nov. 9 by the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) found that Africa has the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world and is the world's second-largest mobile market by connections, after Asia.The GSMA report predicts that there will be more than 735 million subscribers in Africa by the end of 2012.

(Source: Inter Press Service)
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011 2:47:05 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, November 14, 2011
In Africa, innovation is using new technologies to solve old problems. Here are some examples. Innovate is to solve an old problem with new technologies. Each in its own terms, one after another, all the people who were consulted in Africa gave almost the same definition of the word "innovation".

Far away from the concept of “Innovation“ that someone can find in Silicon Valley, where, usually this term is associated with the commercialization of new products, or improved processes and more efficient. The paradox of this dominant model is that even the most celebrated innovations, most popular, are those that solve problems that do not exist yet, and therefore create needs that until now they did not have.

It is very tempting to speculate that, since this problem happens in other continent, African innovations do not concern us and should be ignored. Big mistake: first, because these problems exist, and second, because it is associated with a market of more than one billion people (fastest growing), and finally, because innovations in Africa may prove extremely useful elsewhere.

Taking the case of credit cards. Hardly changed since the fifties of last century! If executives from Visa, MasterCard, American Express and others would make life easier, they should hear the case in Africa.

For any of these titans of the economy would be a surprise the appearance of "M-Pesa" in Kenya: a platform that opens new horizons for the circulation of money which could be used like a inspiration. It is not, as was believed, of a banking system, but a technology that lets people transfer money between phones. The difference is radical: it does not require a bank account.

Just the lack of innovative credit instruments left Kenyans. "Four years ago, when we launched M-Pesa [Pesa means money in Swahili, and M-Pesa mobile money], only a small fraction of the population had a bank account, and is expensive to open" said Waceke Mbugua, Safaricom.co.ke responsible for marketing, the first mobile operator in Kenya and the project promoter.

"A large number of people live in big cities and send money each week to their families who live in other provinces. A lack of access to the banking system should take themselves or rely on the stack of bills that they sent with the driver when they go to their families` hometown".

Launched as a pilot project in March 2007 (thanks to Vodafone's investment and support from the Danish Government), the service now has 15 million users, 80% of the base of Safaricom, which holds 75% of voice market in the country. Even more impressive: "The funds that now flow through M-Pesa equivalent to 25% of GDP", said Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, an economist at the company. Most of the transactions made in half a U.S. dollar. He adds: "From the beginning, our service has transferred 11,500 million dollars. There are no interests or loans, and transactions are made instantly. Rarely money available remains intact over a week."

(Source: El País Newspaper)
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Monday, November 14, 2011 5:14:41 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, November 11, 2011

Six-country study examined use and public perceptions of libraries in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe; most see libraries primarily for educational purposes but recognize potential for much more.

New research on people's perceptions of public libraries in Africa demonstrates that awareness of public libraries is high and a majority view libraries as very important to both communities and individuals. Library users and non-users, librarians, library officials and government decision makers alike view public libraries primarily for educational purposes (90% across all groups), however a range of other information services are emerging in libraries, including Information and Communications Technology (ICT), that have the potential to help meet community development needs.

The six-country study found a significant majority of all respondents (80%) believe the biggest benefit that public libraries offer is the opportunity to learn and to develop new skills. A growing number of people view libraries as a source for national and local news and information on important topics including agriculture, health and employment. Public library users and government officials view libraries as "essential to them personally and to the greater community".

"Everyone agrees that public libraries are essential. But more awareness and support is needed for library services that go beyond providing books and places for study", said Monika Elbert, senior policy advisor at EIFL and lead on the research project. "Access to knowledge is critical for development and public libraries are uniquely positioned to provide ICT-enabled information services that will contribute to countries' medium and long-term development plans. Libraries are a hub where, for example, at-risk youth can access computers and learn new technology skills for the 21st century, unemployed people can learn job-seeking skills and farmers can find valuable information about new farming methods-all of which are key strands of community development".

In addition to raising awareness of the information services libraries provide, the research shows that there is a strong demand for more technology resources. Among library users, only 14 percent report using computers or the Internet at public libraries. A lack of computers is one of the primary reasons library users (37%) and the local authorities that operate libraries (53%) report being dissatisfied with library services. Non-users say they would be motivated to use libraries if more access to online content was available (29%) or if there were more computers in general (24%). A significant majority of librarians (72%) would like to see more funding invested in technologies to meet community needs.

(Source: All Africa News)
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Friday, November 11, 2011 11:04:18 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

After more than ten years of support for a people-centered approach to embedding modern ICTs within Poverty Alleviation Programs, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has reviewed project reports, study program evaluation and meta-evaluations, in order to distil lessons learned on how ICTs can really help to improve development cooperation programmes and more particularly to enhance voice and accountability programs.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a tool box for operational units at SDC, its partners and external parties. It should inform about how to use ICT strategically (in combination with old media) for improving development processes. It aims at strengthening the effectiveness both in classical development programmes and in governance – related programmes, i.e. enhancing democratization and making the voices of the poor and marginalized heard as major tools for achieving poverty reduction.

The Manual/Tool box is based on former evaluative studies on ICT for Development, programme evaluations, experiences  of Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and cientific  literature on how ICTs can and have effectively contributed to better participation, specially by the poor and marginalized. This body of experience was complemented with current knowledge on journalism, media and communication mainly within developing countries.

The paper starts with a few clarifications on concepts and definitions moving on to explain their current knowledge (and its deficiencies) on ICTs in development. It then list major insights on how to use ICTs in combination with old media and tailor effort for different topics and target groups. Finally, they invite operational units to look at the practical opportunities to use ICT s and media within different fields.

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Friday, November 11, 2011 4:48:24 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, November 10, 2011

Girl Hub Rwanda on Wednesday launched Ni Nyampinga, a new girl-focused magazine and radio show, so as to empower teenage girls. Girl Hub is a joint venture between the Nike Foundation and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to ensure that girls in developing countries are involved in the design and implementation of policies and programs that affect them.

Jessica Thornley, brand manager for Girl Hub’s Rwanda office, explained that the project is designed to provide adolescent girls with tools that will enable them to exploit their potential while strengthening self-belief and make good decisions for themselves.

Ni Nyaminga is about fostering a culture for girls that gives them the space, time and tools needed to experience their teenage years in the most positive way”, Thornley explained. “We believe the magazine and the radio programs will be great motivators for girls, give them greater voice, while also having a positive impact on their parents and brothers”.

Thornely added that the new platform for Rwandan teenage girls will be connecting them with other girls by offering them role model stories and advice to share experiences and inspire them with great ideas for future improvement. The bi-monthly magazine will cover topics such as Rwandan culture, health, English, development and economic empowerment, while the weekly radio program will be hosted by a team of Rwandan girl journalists who will make shows about issues that matter most to them and their peers.

Both platforms will prompt audiences for feedback and input through social media, mobile and suggestion boxes in the community, encouraging girls to connect with Ni Nyampinga, each other and decision makers, mentioned the platform designers.

The magazine will initially be freely distributed in Kigali as well as the Northern and Southern provinces at the end of November, and nationwide in early 2012; while commencing November 26, the radio show will be broadcast on five radio stations countrywide.

Girl Hub’s Rwanda office is part of initiative already operating in Ethiopia and the north of Nigeria among other countries so as to unleash the ‘Girl Effect’ – offering the chance to grow into healthy mothers, active citizens and educated members of their societies and transform their families, communities and nations along the way.

(Source: The Rwanda Focus News Paper)
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Thursday, November 10, 2011 4:36:16 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, November 09, 2011
The United Nations' Broadband Commission for Digital Development has endorsed global targets for broadband access.

This comes at a time when broadband access in East Africa is still low, with the typical speeds yet to match those in the developed world. The broadband targets cover, affordability, policy, connectivity and general up-take, all of which are pegged on a four-year timeline, with the ITU measuring each country's progress yearly.

First, the UN commission -- which met recently at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World, 2011, summit in Geneva -- expects countries to have a national broadband plan or strategy or to include broadband in their universal access.

The second target deals with connecting broadband to homes, with 40 per cent of households in developing countries having Internet access by 2015.

There is yet another target for affordable broadband. By 2015, broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries through adequate regulation and market forces.

The final target set by the UN commission is getting people on-line, with an expected Internet penetration of 50 per cent in developing countries and 60 per cent worldwide.

Before the arrival of submarine cables at the East African coastline, the region relied solely on satellite connectivity for Internet access.

This had various demerits stemming from bandwidth availability, speed, cost and subsequent uptake.

This technically eclipsed the region from the digital world. Arrival of the three major submarine cables has opened up the region to the Web, but challenges still abound. Key among these is bottlenecks in the last mile infrastructure and pricing.

This notwithstanding, Dr Hamadoun Toure, ITU secretary general, said: “The targets are ambitious but achievable, given political will and commitment by governments, working in partnership with the private sector”. Also, in a press release, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said: "By working together to apply technology to real-world issues, you will enable information and communication technologies to be a catalyst for social, economic and sustainable development. You will help us accelerate towards the Millennium Development Goals".

(Source: All Africa News)
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Wednesday, November 09, 2011 10:47:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The ability to utilize social media, mobile devices and the Internet more freely in the workplace is a key factor for young professionals and college students when it comes to deciding which job offer to accept, finds a new study which adds that this may be a greater factor than renumeration.

According to the report released by Cisco Systems, an open work environment that accomodates social media, device choice flexibility as well as demands to work remotely is important to future generations in the workforce. Mobile networking, device flexibility and the blending of personal and work lifestyles have become key components of a work environment and culture that are increasingily important in determining which companies will land the next wave of industry talent, the networking giant said.

The study found that about 33 percent of college students and young employees under the ages of 30 said they would prioritize social media freedom, device flexibility and work mobility over salary in accepting a job offer. This indicated that the expectations and priorities of the next generation of the global workforce would not focus only on monetary factors.

More than two in five college students and young employees, or 40 percent and 45 percent, respectively, added that they would accept a lower-paying job that had more flexibility when it came to device choice, social media access and mobility than a higher-paying job with less flexibility. Some 56 percent of college students also indicated that if they encountered a company that banned access to social media, they would either not accept the job offer or would join the organization but find a way to cirucumvent such corporate policies.

The survey also found that the days of single device ownership were over as more than three out of every four employees carried multiple devices such as a laptop and smartphone, or multiple phones, and computers. Sine 33 percent used at least three devices for work.

About 68 percent believed their companies should allow them to access social media and personal sites with their work-issued devices, and more than two out of five college students believed companies should be flexible and empathetic to their need to stay connected via social media and personal Web sites.

(Source:
ZD Net News)
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Wednesday, November 09, 2011 3:07:24 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, November 07, 2011

Heads of State, ICT ministers, industry leaders have joined tens of thousands of participants around the world to create a ‘Manifesto for Change’. The 40th anniversary edition of ITU Telecom World opened its doors to over 250 top leaders from government, the private sector and the global technology community.

The event, which was held in Geneva from 24-27 October, has brought the brightest minds and most influential leaders together to debate the key issues that will shape the future of an industry that now pervades virtually every field of human endeavour.

A vibrant opening ceremony sponsored by China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator with over 600 million subscribers, featured President Ali Bongo of Gabon; Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji; Igor Shchegolev, Minister of Communications and Mass Media, Russian Federation; Doris Leuthard, Head of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, Switzerland; Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohamed Saud Al-Thani, Chairman, Qatar Telecom; Jianzhou Wang, Chairman, China Mobile; and Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General, ITU.

Dr Touré noted how, for the first time in ITU Telecom’s 40-year history, tens of thousands of people from around the world were joining the event using the full range of connected technologies. The event, he said, was a genuine “conversation reflecting the concerns, dreams and visions, not just of people physically present at the event” but of those all around the world following the event remotely from their homes, offices, schools, and through a network of 100,000 telecentres around the world.

The official ceremony was followed by a more informal event celebration in the OpenSpace arena, where participants heard from additional dignitaries including Mark Muller, Conseiller d’Etat, Geneva; Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, UN Population Fund (UNFPA); and Mohamed Khalfan Al Qamzi, Chairman of the Board of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the United Arab Emirates.

Dr Reza Jafari, Chairman of the ITU Telecom Board, took the occasion to announce Dubai as the winner of the global bid to host ITU Telecom World 2012. TRA Chairman Al Qamzi welcomed the announcement, noting that UAE is now home to operators serving over 100 million customers across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. “The global position of UAE as a major gateway for three continents with trade and transit routes reaching west, east, north and south, has ICT as it heart”, he said. “Bringing ICT industry leaders to the region will help foster the development of this sector. I look forward to welcoming you to UAE and to showing you the extent to which ICT is contributing to our development”.

(Source: ITU Newsroom)
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Monday, November 07, 2011 12:58:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development says the rapid increase in mobile phone deployment in Zimbabwe has created business opportunities for small and medium-scale entrepreneurs in the country.

In its information economy report for 2011, UNCTAD said such entrepreneurs are able to conduct electronic business or e-business as 59 percent of Zimbabweans have access to mobile phones compared with only about 5 percent in 2005.

Such penetration, though still below the average of 77 percent in developing economies, is playing a critical role in boosting micro and small enterprises in Zimbabwe, UNCTAD said. It noted that there is a gender gap in mobile phone ownership in the developing world with 300 million fewer women than men owning mobile devices.

Information and Communications Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa told VOA that e-business has become a key component in reviving Zimbabwe’s economy and creating business opportunities for smaller players.

Economic commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said that while many small-scale entrepreneurs are doing business over mobile phones, mobile service quality remain an issue.

"There is need for service providers to improve services in order to create more opportunities for small-scale businesses", Ngwenya said.

The report said that as mobile phones are the main ICT tool used by micro-enterprises and SMEs in low-income countries, these trends reinforce the likelihood that mobile networks will be their main way of accessing the Internet in the near future.

"In Africa, where 84 million mobile handsets are already capable of using the Internet, 7 out of 10 are expected to be Internet-enabled by 2014", the report said.

(Source: Voice of America News)

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Monday, November 07, 2011 12:24:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Pakistan is experimenting with a relatively new model of healthcare delivery: telemedicine. For distance-based medical services to be successful, however, projects must grapple with challenges like inadequate infrastructure and patient distrust of the concept.

In the 10 months since the organization TeleSehat opened a second pilot telemedicine center in the Pakistani city of Gujar Khan, more than 3,000 patients have been treated. Such numbers point to the great potential of telemedicine to bridge the healthcare divide in Pakistan.

Due to an insufficient healthcare budget, a shortage of good doctors, and poor, ill-equipped public hospitals, Pakistan is unable to provide all its citizens with even basic healthcare services. Given the sheer lack of healthcare facilities in remote villages, villagers suffering with serious illnesses and health emergencies often have no other option but to travel extensive distances into the main cities. As the cost of traveling is prohibitive for many who survive on meager incomes, these villagers either rack up great debts or forego medical attention entirely.

Closing the healthcare gap between those who live near medical facilities and those who do not was the impetus behind TeleSehat (‘Sehat’ is Urdu for ‘Health’). Asad Karim (also the CEO of a local technology firm, Comcept) and Syed Mahmood Hussain launched TeleSehat in the summer of 2008. They founded the organization to establish telemedicine centers to deliver healthcare to Pakistanis living in inaccessible locations.

Telemedicine is not a completely new concept to Pakistan, and certain projects have been quite noteworthy. Launched in 2001, the Tele-Health Programme, for instance, was the country’s first telemedicine initiative. Jaroka Tele-healthcare, Sehat First and TeleDoctor, all similar local telemedicine initiatives, soon followed.

But the question remains: Can telemedicine prove successful in a country like Pakistan?
“Telemedicine is the only hope for countries like Pakistan”, insists TeleSehat’s head of business development, Nabeel Ahmad Malik. “However, this can only prove successful if the service delivery model is designed in a way that it suits all the stakeholders, which includes hospitals, doctors, TeleSehat itself, the local population and the respective government”.

(Source: AudienceScapes)
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Wednesday, November 02, 2011 11:45:16 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
OERs provide member states with a strong opportunity to increase the quality and access to education and facilitate knowledge sharing, dialogue, and capacity building.

The first UNESCO publication to be made available on the OER Platform is the UNESCO Model Curricula for Journalism Education. The Curricula has been very successfully adapted by more than 60 university journalism schools in over 50 countries. They have agreements with the journalism schools of the Polytechnic of Namibia and the University of Namibia to share their adaptations of the UNESCO curricula as OERs on the Platform.

By persuading and assisting additional journalism schools to share their adapted curricula in OER format on the Platform, they provide the professor, curricula developer, or quality assurance assessor looking to develop their own curricula with an unparalleled opportunity to easily and intuitively select and compare curricula from near-by or international institutions, in their own language. They are then able to easily, legally, and freely “copy” the content closest to their requirements to adapt to their local requirements.

UNESCO will continue to upload new publications to the Platform. For 2012, work has commenced on the UNESCO Media and Information Literacy Curricula from the Communication and Information Sector and the General History of Africa Curricula from the Culture Sector.

Special guests at the OER Platform launch include Dr. Tjama Tjivikua, Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia and Mr Edwin Tjiramba of the University of Namibia.

The Platform was developed with a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) framework by the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa within the Africa Virtual Open Initiatives and Resources (AVOIR) Consortium comprising of 11 African universities.

The UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning Policy Guidelines for OER in Higher Education was also launched on Tuesday 1 November by the UNESCO Director-General and Sir John Daniel, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning.

The Launch will be live-streamed on the internet:

EN - mms://stream.unesco.org/live/room_10_en.wmv

FR - mms://stream.unesco.org/live/room_10_fr.wmv

The Twitter hashtag for the Launch is: #oerlaunch

(Source: UNESCO)
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Wednesday, November 02, 2011 11:34:14 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, October 31, 2011

Technology giants discuss ICT trends across classrooms and why the United Arabic Emirates (UAE) is leading. The complete digitization of curricula and the integration of Microsoft's Kinect technology are but a few emerging trends global technology giants expect to see manifest in Middle East classrooms.

Information and communication technology (ICT) in education was the basis for last week's BETT Middle East exhibition in Abu Dhabi, where Gulf News caught up with officials from Hewlett Packard (HP) and Microsoft to discuss forthcoming trends in education.

"From discussions I've had I think we will see an increase of the digitization of course content with more curricula and books being stored in clouds", said Antoine Barre, vice-president of HP Personal Systems Group for Middle East and Africa. "A second trend I see is ICT will no longer be placed next to or complementary to educational pedagogy but instead emerge within it as the two merge together".

He said course content will develop in a way that will allow for the integration of multimedia technology in order to facilitate student understanding, an example of which could be the ability for students to simulate complete chemistry experiments on their computing devices.

"A third trend I see is increased mobility as students will have their educational data available to them everywhere through any type of device, laptop, tablet or smartphone", he said. "I think this will enable students to be more efficient in how they find answers to whatever questions they have in life … as I think this goes beyond the scope of academic training".

Azza Al Shinnawy, Public Sector Education Lead at Microsoft, said educational institutions in the UAE, whether schools or universities, are indeed expanding their scope of ICT into education. "The [ICT] expansion is happening at various levels depending on the leeway of freedoms, but the wave is coming at different strengths in both the public and private education sectors", she said.

"Students are probably the most ready and exposed as we talk ICT outside education, but they are in the best position to absorb what comes up in the classroom". She added, however, that although some teachers are ready to embrace the ICT wave, more effort still needs to be exerted when it comes to teacher training. "Traditional teaching methods need to converge with 21st century teaching and learning". Both Microsoft and HP are working closely with the Abu Dhabi Education Council with regard to teacher training and other initiatives.

(Source: Gulf News)

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Monday, October 31, 2011 6:26:41 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, October 30, 2011

Almost everyone in this village in central India has a complaint. Electricity comes only three hours a day. The road has potholes. Widows’ pensions arrive late. The school lunch program often runs low on food.

Villagers say they send letters, call a government complaint line and wait outside officials’ offices for help, but never get a response. “All our complaints go into a blind well of the government”, said Mukesh Chandravanshi, 30, a farmer.

Now a simple cellphone text-messaging program is providing a more direct line of communication between villagers and the government. Developed by activists, local officials and an information technology company, the system ensures that complaints are immediately acknowledged and that residents regularly receive updates on how and when their problems will be resolved.

Launched in two districts in two states, the system decreases the chances that a problem will be ignored by holding officials accountable, according to its developers. Such technology does not guarantee a solution, but it can transform the relationship between citizens and the government in a bloated bureaucracy beset with corruption and apathy, analysts say.

“Everybody’s pocket in the village has a mobile phone nowadays. If we can turn this into a direct pipeline to the government, we will have the power to complain and be heard”, Shafique Khan, a field coordinator for the program, called Samadhan, or resolution, said as he demonstrated how to use it to villagers sitting under a tamarind tree.

Through Samadhan, people can go to a Web site to see where most problems and delays occur and assess the performance of officials in those areas. The data can be used to identify systemic bottlenecks in the government’s delivery of services.

This month, the program — which was supported by the U.N. Millennium Development Goals campaign — has received 530 complaints through text messages, such as “my water handpump is not working”, “health worker is absent” and “the village bridge has collapsed in the rain”.

Citizens groups and IT companies are increasingly using crowdsourcing technology to help make the government more efficient, empower people and even mobilize protesters. The ubiquitous cellphone, with about 750 million users in India, and open-source Internet platforms are being deployed to ensure that trash is picked up on time, to track bribes and to help people learn English, find jobs and report incidents of sexual harassment on the streets.

(Source: The Washington Post)

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Sunday, October 30, 2011 11:59:12 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The ICT Ministry, through the Directorate of ICT ownership, will participate with their strategy, "en TIC confío", in the twelfth edition Expotecnología Expociencia-2011 to be held in Bogotá between 18 and 23 October. This initiative promotes safe and responsible use of ICT, as well as zero tolerance to child pornography and other forms of child abuse in social networks.

Through “I trust in ICT”, the ICT Ministry through its Digital Experience Plan seeks to promote the use of ICT, and zero tolerance for child pornography, sex tourism.

To do so, they will have different reporting platforms such as website, interactive lectures for the education community around the country, social networking, music and cultural events for the community in general.

"The Living Digital Plan has also a component of safe and responsible use of ICT. Through this initiative we will combat child pornography and child abuse in the network. We will be absolutely relentless in the protection of minors on the web", said ICT Minister Diego Molano Vega.

"I trust in ICT" (en TIC confío) will have a stand located in Hall 6 of Corferias in the Expociencia, the attendees will learn about the goals and objectives of the strategy, interacting with various technological devices such as tablets, computers and video games, and share their experiences regarding the use of ICT.

For new and more updates on this strategy, visit www.mintic.gov.co, virtual communities and the hashtag in twitter: # EnTICconfio.

(Source: MINTIC – Colombia)
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011 10:30:54 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, October 25, 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, October 25, 2011 6:09:37 PM (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, October 24, 2011 11:53:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, October 24, 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, October 24, 2011 4:03:09 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, October 22, 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, October 21, 2011 11:16:13 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, October 21, 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, October 20, 2011 11:06:16 PM (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)
Full Report


Thursday, October 20, 2011 11:03:08 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, October 20, 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, October 19, 2011 11:39:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, October 18, 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, October 18, 2011 8:57:40 PM (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, October 18, 2011 4:28:22 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, October 14, 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, October 14, 2011 9:31:40 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, October 13, 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, October 13, 2011 8:45:46 PM (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, October 12, 2011 11:53:18 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, October 11, 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, October 11, 2011 8:42:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, October 10, 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, October 10, 2011 6:05:20 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, October 08, 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, October 08, 2011 5:56:58 AM (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".

(Source:
PR Newswire)
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Saturday, October 08, 2011 5:31:05 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, October 07, 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, October 07, 2011 3:39:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, October 06, 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, October 06, 2011 6:01:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, October 05, 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, October 05, 2011 6:39:20 PM (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, October 05, 2011 5:27:18 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, October 04, 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 www.mysprintrelay.com.

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, October 04, 2011 4:47:46 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, September 30, 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, September 30, 2011 10:13:26 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, September 28, 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, September 28, 2011 10:36:48 PM (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, September 27, 2011 11:12:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, September 27, 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, September 27, 2011 3:27:13 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, September 25, 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, September 25, 2011 6:09:51 AM (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, September 25, 2011 4:58:37 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, September 23, 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, September 23, 2011 6:22:09 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, September 21, 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, September 21, 2011 4:12:28 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A multilingual project funded by the European Union (EU) today began its journey on the Internet at www.poliglotti4.eu website with the ambition to collect and disseminate best practice on language policy and language teaching.

Poliglotti4.eu 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, September 20, 2011 5:40:25 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |