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 Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The award "Connected to Grow," seeks to identify and recognize best efforts developed in rural areas of the country, which have had social and economic impact in their residents and / or communities using telecommunications as a base, said Alvaro Valdez Fernandez Baca, Director of Communications, Image and Corporate Responsibility of Telefónica.

"We are very pleased with the results of this contest which confirm that ICT is an important tool to accelerate the development of peoples and enhance the skills and talent of rural entrepreneurs, enabling them to improve the quality of their crops, implementing new business and make more informed people, to improve their life standard and its environment", said Valdez Fernandez Baca.

The winners, chosen from 23 finalists, received stimuli for a total of S /. 60,000 (US$ aprox. 20,000), as well as the latest laptops generation.

First place prize went to the Rural Tourism Association Solidario (ASTURS) from Capachica (Puno), represented by Walter Pancca Paucar. This is about an experiential tourism project, which has improved the lives of 75 families of 9 communities with microcredit and straightening abilities, from ICT and development of solidarity with tourist travel. This initiative has the support of the Departs associations and Culture Contact in France.

The second place went to the project "Telemedicine in health" which was presented by Dr. Georgina Valentin Rojas. This initiative developed in the community of Balsapuerto (Loreto) is important because have successfully implemented telemedicine from a wireless network for voice and data interfaces to 11 health facilities, decreasing mortality and disease epidemiology.

Finally, Commander Trinidad Wilbert Callapiña Durand, was awarded third place on behalf of the Police Division Acomayo (Cusco), the project has allowed this division to be trained in the use of ICT and improve their operation in the program "Willay" from a telecommunications network that provides a dial-up Internet access point that comes through repeater stations installed in strategic areas.

It was also awarded the "Special Award Living Testimony" to the five best stories of life of people who stood out among 37 witnesses, who have benefited with the use of ICT in their communities.

(Source: Telefonica del Peru)
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Tuesday, 20 December 2011 16:36:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 19 December 2011

To make ICT more accessible for persons with disabilities, the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR), has introduced the country’s first eAccessibility Policy.

The policy aims to ensure people with disabilities in Qatar have equal access to the technologies that can enrich their lives, and covers a range of e-accessibility issues, including websites, telecommunications services, handsets, ATMs, government services, access to assistive technologies and digital content.

The policy is effective immediately and ictQATAR will oversee the implementation of the policy across sectors and monitor progress.

For many people with disabilities, information and communication technology can be a tremendously empowering and enabling tool, however, if these technologies are not fully accessible, they may actually become tools of exclusion or isolation. Qatar’s eAccessibility Policy, which was developed in consultation with numerous stakeholder groups, will make Qatar one of the most progressive countries in the region in terms of bringing the benefits of technology to people with disabilities”, said Hessa Al-Jaber, ictQATAR Secretary General.

The primary provisions of the eAccessibility Policy include:

  • Requiring telecommunications service providers to provide accessible handsets, user interfaces, relay services, special rate plans, emergency services and accessible public payphones where appropriate.

  • Requiring public sector organizations to develop websites and mobile content that can be accessed by persons with disabilities.

  • Requiring all public sector organizations, including government owned banks, to implement service improvements that will ensure that public access terminals/kiosks and ATMs are available at strategic locations and usable by people with low vision blindness, deaf or hearing impairments, physical disabilities and reading problems.

  • Requiring Qatar’s Assistive Technology Center (Mada) to establish a fund to improve access to assistive technologies (AT) and services, encouraging the wide spread procurement of ATs, spreading awareness of the available services and benefits of ATs and providing demonstrations, special training and evaluations.

  • Calling to action all producers and distributors of digital media in Qatar to improve the accessibility of their content through accessible eBooks, online information and special captioning for video programming.

The full e-accessibility policy is available here.

(Source: FutureGov Newspaper)

Monday, 19 December 2011 17:51:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Universal Service Obligation Fund of India (USOF) has announced that it will fund a series of Pilot Projects for access to ICT facilities combined with assistive technologies (ATs) for persons with disabilities in rural India. Eligible licensed Indian Service Providers interested in applying for pilot project funding will shortly be invited to submit proposals in line with the Concept Paper and draft Expression of Interest published at

Projects should address accessibility in terms of hardware, software and human interface and cover persons with various forms of disability such as sensory (including vision and hearing), cognitive and motor disability. The Service Providers will need to partner with a range of stakeholders including telecom equipment manufacturers, mobile and internet/broadband content providers, NGOs etc. Organizations outside of India, including those that have developed accessible ICTs, assistive technologies and suitable mobile applications may consider participating in this effort by teaming up with Indian stakeholders.

Further details

(Source: USOF – India)


Joint Administrator (F),

Universal Service Obligation Fund,

Room No. 1118, Sanchar Bhavan,

20 Ashoka Road, New Delhi 110001



Monday, 19 December 2011 17:45:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 16 December 2011

It is a fact that telecommunications have had a positive effect, more important in rural areas of the country. People and the communities that they had access to roads to integrate into their community, have been widely favored by the implementation of Information Technology (ICT), which literally changed the lives of its inhabitants. "Telecommunications facilitate the development of business, increase productivity of activities such as livestock and agriculture, although the level of technology that many people use is the basic", said the president of the telecommunications consulting firm “Alterna”, Liliana Ruiz.

In addition, she said, it has generated a substantial improvement in public services like health and education. "This caused the living standards of rural populations improve, but the technological potential to develop is even higher", she said to the official gazette “El Peruano”.

In this regard, Ruiz said that ICTs offer more than phone calls or surfing the internet. "In rural areas have great untapped potential for development, with the consequent creation of new businesses that will not only allow the saving of financial resources but also of time". Ruiz said the best way to leverage the benefits of telecommunications technology is through policies that institutionalize their use and development.

"The efforts made by the State, through the Telecommunications Investment Fund (Fitel), have been instrumental in integrating populations. However, while there is extensive development of mobile telephony, which has grown faster, and the Internet, these services offer more benefits that are not fully exploited".

Therefore, she said, would be important to establish an institutionalized policy that exploits its full potential. "It could be, by an office under the President of the Republic" she suggested. According to the Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MTC), the end of this year about 12.045 locations will access to telecommunications services such as public telephone, or Internet telephony subscribers.

Last year with the support of Fitel, about 10.856 villages were benefited from these important services. It is expected that by 2012, the number of internet sites, residential and public telephony rise. Also, according to MTC, at the end of next year will be a total of 15.820 locations with access to telecommunications services.

Up to date, Fitel has a balance of resources by approximately of 400 million nuevos soles (aprox. 133 millions US$) and in addition there are 398 million already committed in the execution of various projects. In the first case, they plan to invest 259 million soles for the National Backbone, a fiber optic project. The MTC said that the remaining 103 million will be used in implementing an integration project between Loreto and San Martin, to provide telecommunications services to more than 350 surrounding villages. The government plans to increase the coverage of rural population centers for voice communications services (fixed, mobile and public use), which will increase from 27% registered in 2010 to 77% in 2016.

(Source: El Peruano Newspaper)
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Friday, 16 December 2011 16:58:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 15 December 2011

Pakistan, like many other developing countries, has seen an explosion in its mobile communications market in recent years. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) reported a 65.4 percent mobile teledensity (The number of mobile phones in use for every 100 individuals) and a total of 108,894,518 subscribers in June 2011. The number of subscribers has increased threefold since 2005.

Measuring the number of mobile phone users is challenged by shared use of phones, those who own more than one SIM card, and the ownership of SIM cards by non-phone owners. While the number of mobile subscribers is officially 108 million, according to the PTA, those with phone access might be higher and conversely those with actual mobile phone ownership might be lower.

This dilemma is illustrated in studies of mobile phone access and use by gender in Pakistan. According to the Pakistan Institute of Public Opinion (PIPO) 2010 Media Report, there seems to be a large gender disparity in mobile phone ownership. However, the 2010 Mobile Life Pakistan Report produced by the Gilani Research Foundation measures regular use as opposed to ownership. Very different results appear.

In addition to gender, James Linton Williams, founder of the Popular Engagement Policy Lab (PEPL) talks about similar disparities across income groups on a recent PEPL report. He cites 2009 survey data from LIRN Asia, where they surveyed the poorest 60 percent of Pakistan’s population. The study shows that, of the 109 million people in that bracket, only 40.33 million own mobile phones, but 104.64 million (96 percent of the 109 million) had used a phone in the three months prior to the survey.

Regarding mobilephone activities, most Pakistani mobile users use their mobile phones to make calls, according to the 2010 Mobile Life Pakistan Report. Another activity, known as missed calling, is also popular. This involves dialing a number, and then immediately when the calls gets through, disconnecting it after 1-2 rings and before the receiver picks up in order to save both parties from being charged incoming or outgoing rates. Many Pakistanis might have predetermined signals that these missed calls give (for example: a missed call could mean the caller will be home in 10 minutes, or has reached a destination, or will be here to pick you up). In general it is a free way to communicate.

(Source: AudienceScapes)
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Thursday, 15 December 2011 16:38:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The user should say loud and clear voice that he wants to advertise on social networking.

 A new application for mobile devices, developed by the institute ITEAM of Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), allow "blind" more involved in social networks like Twitter, thanks to voice recognition for posting.

 UPV explained that the application was worked for the Android platform and that will also benefit disabled drivers, who may communicate by voice with other devices in their home through Bluetooth or Wi-fi.

 "The prototype uses a system of recognition and voice synthesis to the control and management of applications to capture and deliver information in audio format and serve as an interface between the user and mobile", said Juan Carlos Guerri, one of the researchers of ITEAM institute.

 He indicated that the user needs clear and audible voice the message that he wants to be published on Twitter; it uses the microphone to the mobile device.

 "This recognition activates the motor to tweet transcribed to text and then synthesize it and play it. Once the user to check the content and it fits what you want to communicate you can publish it", he added.

 Previously, the same company has developed a warning system for the hearing disabled, prototype aimed to improve their quality of life.

(Source: El Comercio Newspaper)
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Thursday, 15 December 2011 05:09:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 14 December 2011

With mobile telephone access reaching over five billion of the world’s population, the United Nations educational agency today announced the launch of an initiative to harness the technology and bring mobile phone use into the classroom.

In a statement issued in Paris, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the opening of a global summit and symposium gathering experts from around the world to discuss the impact of the mobile telephone on education and learning.

Dubbed Mobile Learning Week, and organized in partnership with the conglomerate Nokia, the meeting has brought together close to 200 policy-makers, educators, academics and researchers from across the globe in an effort to provide insight on how mobile telephones can support teachers and students alike.

Initiatives promoting mobile learning have already been spearheaded across a wide range of countries – including Mozambique, Pakistan, South Africa, Niger, Kenya, and Mongolia – where policies have already provided access to distance education in far-flung communities and improved literacy among girls and women.

According to recent data, 90 per cent of the world’s population now has access to mobile networks, prompting growing enthusiasm for the potential of mobile devices to improve education access and quality.

(Source: UN News Center)
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Wednesday, 14 December 2011 18:14:14 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The United Nations’ technology body, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is calling for a wider use of technology projects in helping countries adapt to climate change.

At the Durban Summit last week, the ITU released a study focusing on how an ICT project allowed Ghana’s cocoa industry to become more resilient to the effects of climate change. The ITU said Ghana’s case should set an example for other developing countries.

The study focuses on how ICT can be used in optimising production by, for example, sharing information in real time between producers and end users, said Dr Bilel Jamoussi, chief of the ITU’s Study Groups department, in an interview with Business Green.

He said ICT has, in general, been overlooked as a tool for helping developing countries adapt, and that Ghana’s case demonstrates the value that these countries can find in technology projects.

It’s a really good sign that these countries are seeing how they can adapt”, he said. “These countries are not always big producers of greenhouse gases, but they are the most affected [by climate change]”.

The ITU believes that ICT has in general been overlooked as a way of helping stem climate change and to adapt to its effects, Jamoussi said.

Our key goal is that ICT is viewed as an enabler and plays a central role in adaptation and mitigation”, Jamoussi told Business Green. “Our report and recommendations are a concrete example of that”.

As part of its wider support of ICT’s role in mitigating climate change, the ITU has created a set of standardized methodologies for assessing the impact of ICT on the environment, and has participated in other initiatives such as the development of a standardized, energy-efficient mobile phone charger.

The ITU gave its approval for the concept for a universal phone charger in 2009, with the aim of drastically reducing the number of chargers produced, shipped and subsequently discarded as new models become available.

(Source: eweekerope)
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Tuesday, 13 December 2011 21:28:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Governments worldwide must boost internet accessibility in order to nurture democracy and economic development, entrepreneur Loic Le Meur said at the prestigious LeWeb technology conference in Paris which he founded.

The conference brought together some 3,500 of the world's top digital experts and entrepreneurs from 60 countries to discuss the state of the technology industry and its relationship with economic growth.

"Stage one is to help provide those tools to help people express themselves and get more democracy", Le Meur told AlertNet, the global humanitarian news service run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"The next stage is economic development". He pointed to the potential that remains for technology growth in developing countries.

But, while delegates focused attention on how to develop internet technology and smart phones, others outside the conference have pointed to how the more accessible, standard mobile phone can aid social and economic development.

Millennium Development Goal 8 (MDG 8) - one among a framework of global targets set in 2000 by the United Nations to be met by 2015 to try and alleviate poverty - stipulates that new technologies, especially information and communications technologies (ICTs), should be made available to all, in cooperation with the private sector.

Currently, at least 5.4 billion of the planet's seven billion people have access to mobiles, which means the MDG 8 target is achievable, according to a forthcoming paper to be published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and made available to AlertNet.

Estimates indicate that among those 5.4 billion people over 483 million come from low-income countries and 2.6 billion from lower middle-income countries, according to the paper titled "Mobile Technologies and Empowerment". The paper also showed ICTs had an impact on democratic governance, poverty reduction, energy use and the environment, crisis prevention and recovery.

Further development of the existing technology used for text messaging known as SMS (short message service) on basic mobile phones could help African farmers get their products to market in Europe for example, said Raul Zambrano, an ICT policy advisor at the UNDP in New York. "Most people have a simple, basic SMS voice phone - there are only about 15 percent of people in Africa who can use the Internet", Zambrano added.

(Source: Reuters)
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Tuesday, 13 December 2011 17:16:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 12 December 2011

Health minister Onybeuchi Chukwu says Nigeria must begin deploying information and communication technology (ICT) in health delivery but insists it must be driven by "a policy that's coherent, but more importantly implementable".

A national conference looking at deploying information and communication technology has opened in Abuja.

Declaring it open, the minister said stakeholders must galvanise "action toward ensuring ICT is employed in the best manner that will help to drive the health sector toward" targets set in the National Health Development Plan.

"Our traditional ways of doing things can no longer be considered sufficient", he said.

Among new technologies in medicine is mobile health, which allows the public get health information on their mobile phones.

But the minister noted there were plans to replace old plastic syringes with automatic ones next year.

He stressed that deploying ICT in health could open up innovative ways to drive down the cost of healthcare, improve education and training programmes, accessibility and reliability of medical records. It could also make disease control more efficient, Chukwu noted.

The health ministry is coordinating with both the ministries of communications technology as well as science and technology.

Science and technology ministry has already launched a telemedicine project in Lagos, according to the minister, Prof Ita Okon Bassey Ewa, noting that a vibrant IT system could give a health sector "that responds to needs".

Dr Andrew Mbewe of the World Health Organisation said Nigeria needed to institute a national coordinating mechanism for various e-health systems, coordinate investments in e-health and health information systems from donors and partners as well as assess appropriate policies at all levels.

(Source: AllAfrica News)
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Monday, 12 December 2011 17:17:12 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 09 December 2011

ICT ministry awarded tenders to connect more than 6,800 institutions for public education - Colombia

The award of the tender for Connectivity Public Institutions, project led by “Compartel Program”, was awarded to firms Telebucaramanga, Unión Temporal Aprende Digital, Unión Temporal Internet Para Todos, Unión Temporal Colombia Digital, Media Commerce Partners, Unión Temporal Gilat Fontic y BT Latam Colombia S.A., to provide connectivity to a 6852 total rural public schools in the country. The project has an investment by the Ministry of $ 126,298 million.

After reviewing the proposals made by the proponents, the grade was given to institutions which offer connecting more and faster. This fact allowed institutions to increase the number of schools beneficiaries of 6178, corresponding to the target set in the tender, up to 6852 schools with the outcome of the tender.

Thus, the ICT Ministry awarded the contract to firms that offered the best financial offers and connectivity, in addition to the requirements of the specification process.

With this initiative the ICT Ministry is supporting the Ministry of National Education in its efforts to generate new models of education in schools in remote areas with difficult access.

"With this result more than 6,800 rural schools in the country will have access to the Internet twice to four times the speed with which they had previously. Thus, more than 1'130,000 children and young people have the same opportunities to use technology in their schools than those who live in big cities", said Diego Vega Molano, ICT Minister.

Since 2004, the Compartel program advances connectivity projects that have benefited around 18,000 public institutions, most of these schools. With the current tender the connectivity conditions are improved to the beneficiary institutions, most of them located in rural areas of Colombia.

(Source: Mintic – Colombia)
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Friday, 09 December 2011 20:21:56 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 07 December 2011

UNICEF and UN Women have a launched an online centre to provide evaluators with resources to design and manage evaluations that integrate equity, human rights and gender equality.

The section of Gender Equality and Human Rights Responsive Evaluations Community is administered by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). The purpose and the role of evaluation in UN Women is to enhance accountability, inform decision-making and contribute to learning on the best ways to achieve women’s empowerment and gender equality through operational and normative work.

The consideration of gender and human rights in the evaluation practice involves the integration of gender equality and human rights dimensions in all steps of the evaluation process and involves the analysis of the effects of the interventions in enhancing or negatively affecting gender equality and the empowerment of women. In this context, gender analysis frameworks and feminist and transformative paradigms have key implications for gender and human rights responsive evaluation.

This section aims to promote knowledge on Gender Equality and Human Rights responsive evaluations by providing access to various resources including publications, reports and information on training opportunities. Also through this section evaluation practitioners can access Gender Equality and Human Rights responsive evaluations communities of practice and networks.

In addition, the section provides access to UN Women Manual on Gender Equality and Human Rights Responsive Evaluation a practical guide to help those initiating, managing and/or using gender equality and human rights responsive evaluations. It is intended for all international development professionals who deliver or manage programmes and projects. The guide provides direction, advice and tools for every step in the evaluation process. It contains tools to aid in the process and references to provide a greater depth of information on specific topics and issues.

Access to this virtual tool here

(Source: My M&E)

Wednesday, 07 December 2011 19:42:40 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 06 December 2011

Professor Luis von Ahn launched a beta version of the page that assesses students by level and provides simple sentences to translate.

The Guatemalan Luis von Ahn, a professor in the School of Computer Science Carmegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (USA) launched a beta version of a free site for learning languages.

The new project of Von Ahn, who at 33 years old has been considered one of the 50 most influential people in the world of technology, is the web

Von Ahn, a graduate in Computer Science in 2003 by Duke University (North Carolina) and PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) in 2005, was included in this year into the 10 top New Faces of Ibero-American thought Foreign Policy magazine.

Its success lies in trying to develop programs using the human capacity to solve problems that computers are not yet able to solve. It is especially known for Captcha and ReCaptcha program, a computer security application that uses distorted letters and numbers that the user has to type correctly in a section blank.

The system assesses students by level and provides simple sentences to translate. If the user does not know a word, the program reveals its meaning and hints for the student to remember the next time.

At the same time the students can see how other students from anywhere in the world has translated the same sentence before and start learning the language dynamically. Once past a certain level, more complex sentences are introduced.

This Project has begun with the Spanish and German, but later will came the French, Italian and Chinese.

(Source: RPP News)
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Tuesday, 06 December 2011 22:33:16 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 05 December 2011

A Kenyan is among two innovators awarded $250,000 (approximately Sh25,000,000) to develop pre-natal care solutions.

Two projects, one using cell phones to deliver to expectant mothers in Kenya electronic vouchers for pre-natal care and transportation, the other aimed at promoting maternal and child health in northern Nigeria, will receive $250,000 grants from the Saving Lives at Birth Partnership.

Both projects were motivated by the childbirth-related deaths of important women in the lives of the African-based project innovators.

Although Kenyan Sam Agutu and Nigerian Aminu Gamawa come from different countries and backgrounds, they share a common passionate commitment - to save the lives of women giving birth and guarantee infants a healthy start.

Agutu's sister died in childbirth on the way to the hospital. Gamawa's mother died in childbirth too. Both men say the deaths were avoidable if better care had been available. They've channeled that devastating loss into powerful motivation to improve the odds for women and their babies.

Sam Agutu's Kenyan group, Changamka Microhealth based in Nairobi, is proposing e-vouchers delivered through cell phones to encourage women to seek care during their pregnancy and at birth.

In remote areas health care costs and distance to clinics are barriers for women. The e-vouchers can be used to pay for pre-natal care and transportation.

"Research shows that not receiving adequate care is a leading cause of maternal mortality in the developing world. Mothers who attend their required ante-natal visits and who deliver in hospital stand an infinitely greater chance of surviving than those who do not" said Mr. Agutu. "We will use Saving Lives at Birth's support to validate the effectiveness of e-vouchers, an SMS informational campaign and a transport subsidy in encouraging pregnant women to seek health care".

The Development Research and Projects Centre in Nigeria is relying on persuasion and experience to change attitudes of some Islamic opinion leaders in the country's Muslim northern states.

Each program will receive a $250,000 seed grant from the Saving Lives at Birth partnership, which includes Grand Challenges Canada, USAID, the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank.

(Source: Business daily Africa)
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Monday, 05 December 2011 21:20:16 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Josh Nesbit was a student at Stanford University preparing for medical school, when two conversations with a doctor and a community health worker in Malawi changed the course of his life.

I was doing HIV research at a clinic in Malawi, in 2007, when I met a doctor who was covering a catchment area of 100,000 people single-handedly, and a community health worker who walked 35 miles to the hospital each week to hand-deliver patient reports”, said Nesbit. But he also realized that he had a better mobile signal at that community health worker's home than he did in Palo Alto, California. It became clear to him that this new mobile infrastructure could be harnessed to bridge gaps and coordinate health care services.

Inspired by volunteer village health workers in rural Malawi, Medic Mobile was launched in 2009 by Josh Nesbit and three co-founders while they were still students. According to the organization's website, Medic Mobile develops technologies such as easy-to-use medical record systems and SIM card applications to help health workers communicate and coordinate patient care, and provide diagnostics using low-cost mobile technology. Medic Mobile believes that well-coordinated and connected health systems can save lives.

In June 2011, they announced the first SIM card application for health care, created with support from The Maternal Health Task Force and PSI. These applications run on any GSM device, from the simplest US$15 handsets to smart phones. Using SIM apps, they plan to bring structured information exchange to the “last mile”, supporting health workers and patients. Today, Mobile Medic has over 30 partnerships in 15 countries to improve health care delivery in extremely resource poor conditions.

An article on the website of Global Pulse, the international health journal of the American Medical Student Association, cites World Health Organization (WHO) estimates a shortfall of 4.3 million health care workers in the developing world. Medic Mobile believes that the intelligent deployment of mobile technology can help improve access and outcomes, even with this lack of health professionals.

Mobile Media now works with more than 30 international and local partners. The group has established programs in 70% of Malawi’s districts and implemented projects in twelve countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The results continued - drug stock reporting improved from less than 35% to over 80% across 10 districts in Malawi, costs decreased four times and efficiency increased 112 times for community-level treatment support.

(Source: AudienceScapes)
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Monday, 05 December 2011 16:24:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 02 December 2011

Kenyan women have been at the forefront of some recent newsworthy ICT innovations such as iCow and M-Farm. Dinfin Mulupi covers their success stories and finds that their entrepreneurship might help open doors for disadvantaged women across Kenya.

Farmers in Kenya are benefiting from two technological innovations that have earned praise within the international development community. Called iCow and M-Farm, they help small farmers to manage their herds, access market information and connect with agricultural extension services. Both products were also developed by women, who have made their mark in the Kenyan technology sector in recent years.

The iCow is a mobile phone app for cattle farmers created by Su Kahumbu-Stephanou, an organic farmer who was inspired by her own challenges and experiences. Currently used in 27 Kenyan countries, iCow was created initially to help farmers track the fertility cycle of their cows, but it now incorporates other services like helping farmers gain access to veterinary officers and animal feeds. It also collects and stores farmers' milk and breeding records and sends farmers best practices for dairy management. The innovation received first prize in the 2010 Apps4Africa competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Women's successes in the ICT sector come amid strong investor interest in Kenyan tech innovators generally, with an increasing number of start-ups receiving funding. Meanwhile, widespread penetration of mobile phones in Kenya and Africa as a whole has created a brisk market for mobile apps and other products and services.

Government efforts to start digital centers across the country also are broadening access to technologies. These "pasha centers" (pasha means "inform" in Swahili) will have between 10 and 20 computers connected to the internet, as well as fax machines and printers, among other equipment. The centers will provide a wide range of electronic services to the community including e-mail, e-learning and e-banking.

(Source: AudienceScapes)
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Friday, 02 December 2011 22:47:27 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The rapid growth and evolution of the mobile sector has had a huge impact on our social interactions and on economic progress worldwide. In emerging markets in particular, the industry continues to see massive expansion as an increasing proportion of the population becomes connected. The Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are diversifying their products and services to generate additional sources of income. This growth has created lots of opportunities for employment and entrepreneurial activity. However, in many parts of the world, women have been less able to seize these opportunities due to a variety of factors that reflect underlying gender inequality – for example, lower levels of education, lack of start-up capital, restrictive gender roles and lack of confidence.

One of the most direct ways in which women entrepreneurs can take part in the growth of the mobile industry is by joining the retail channels of MNOs as sellers of mobile products (primarily of airtime, but also of more sophisticated offerings in markets where MNOs provide higher-end mobile-enabled services such as Mobile Money). MNOs have some of the most extensive retail channels, with coverage extending to remote rural areas. MNO retail channels can also be useful conduits for providing other important services such as aid distribution, education and health services, and these can offer further economic opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

In practice, the targeted inclusion of women entrepreneurs in the retail networks of MNOs is an idea that has been gaining currency for some time. Several leading MNOs have specific programmes in place to appoint women as retail network partners in their respective markets. However, to date, no research study has been conducted to investigate the benefits of including women entrepreneurs in the retail networks of MNOs as a distinct model.

This study aims to demonstrate through its findings that including women entrepreneurs at all levels of the ‘mobile value chain’ (MVC) makes commercial and social sense for both, MNOs and women entrepreneurs. To support this argument, they have looked at how women entrepreneurs are being brought into the MVC across 11 markets.

See Full Report

(Source: Cherie Blair Foundation)

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 03:57:03 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 28 November 2011

The Technical Committee on Communications Strategy for the Colombian state on Prevention and Gender-based violence "Women you have rights" invite all the agencies, organizations, media and general public to respond through social networks the question: "What is your contribution to write a story without violence against women?" in commemoration of the "November 25th, the International Day of No Violence against women".

The appointment is in Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, online media and web site We hope that 10,000 women and men manifest through social networks on not violence against women using the label (hashtag) # mujertienesderechos and making that November 25, International Day of No Violence Against Women" the most mentioned theme in social networks (trend topic).

The ICT Ministry will develop simultaneously the # HoraTIC in the Plaza de Bolivar in Bogota and will be projected on a screen messages that you receive via twitter. The # HoraTIC is a space for citizen participation through Twitter account of the ICT Ministry (@ Ministerio_TIC), which seeks to generate discussion on topics related to information technologies and communications.

(Source: MINTIC)
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Monday, 28 November 2011 21:52:39 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The World Bank's CGAP Technology Blog recently posted an article about InterMedia's AudienceScapes' Haiti Mobile Money Tracker. A tool created to examine a series of household surveys, commissioned by the Gates Foundation in 2010, that helped monitor the impact of USAID and the Gates Foundation's Haiti Mobile Money Initiative. An initiative that featured a $10 million fund to provide incentives to mobile service providers to quickly launch and expand mobile money (m-money) services.

The survey revealed strong potential for increasing the number of m-money adopters. At the time of the survey, only 10% of respondents had signed up for m-money. However, more than 80% said they were aware of the existence of m-money services, and 71% said they would use a mobile phone to send or receive money in the future.

The survey also identified the profile of early adopters of m-money – a helpful guidepost for planning future deployments. Over 60% of early adopters had completed at least a secondary education, compared to only 37% of the population as a whole.

In terms of economic strata, the survey indicated that over 60% of the population has difficulty affording sufficient food or clothing, or both. This compared with only 31% of early m-money adopters, indicating that the services have yet to reach deeply among Haiti’s truly impoverished.

Early adopters also have a different age profile than the population as a whole. One might expect younger people to be early adopters as a result of their assumed comfort with mobile technologies. In fact, the survey found that, while close to 50% of Haiti’s population is under 30, only 38% of the early adopters were in that age group.

Other common demographics considered in such studies, such as gender and rural vs. urban wellers, showed little variation from rates among the total population. In addition, sign-up rates among men and women, and among rural and urban respondents, were roughly equal.

61% of current m-money users said they were already recommending the services to others at least once a week, indicating that word of mouth was helping to expand awareness and use quickly throughout Haiti.

(Source: Audiencescapes)
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Wednesday, 23 November 2011 23:28:27 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 22 November 2011

In a recent report, titled Connected Agriculture, Vodafone and Accenture identified 12 opportunities for mobile phone technology to increase agricultural income and productivity. Some of these platforms are already widely used in Africa, while others are still in the early stages of implementation.

1. Mobile payment systems

Mobile payment systems give farmers without access to financial services an inexpensive and secure way to transfer and save money using their mobile phones. By allowing smallholder farmers to save small amounts of money, receive payments quickly in times of need and pay for agricultural inputs via their phones, mobile payment systems replace costly traditional transfer services and the need to travel long distances to collect funds.

2. Micro-insurance systems

Mobile micro-insurance systems can safeguard farmers against losses when bad weather harms their harvest, encouraging them to buy better quality seeds and invest in fertiliser and other inputs. This can improve productivity and boost farmers’ livelihoods as well as enabling suppliers to expand their market among smallholder farmers.

3. Micro-lending platforms

Micro-lending platforms could connect smallholders in Africa with individuals elsewhere willing to provide finance to help the farmers to buy much-needed agricultural inputs.

4. Mobile information platforms

Through mobile information platforms, farmers receive text messages with information that help to improve the productivity of their land and boost their incomes. Governments and agricultural support organizations can use the platforms to distribute information about available subsidies and programmes.

5. Farmer helplines

Farmers call a helpline and speak to agricultural experts who can provide answers to agricultural queries.

6. Smart logistics

Smart logistics uses mobile technology to help distribution companies manage their fleets more efficiently – reducing costs for farmers and distributors, cutting fuel use and potentially preventing food losses.

7. Traceability and tracking systems

Mobile technology can be used to track individual food products through the supply chain from grower to retailer.

8. Mobile management of supplier networks

Food buyers and exporters can use mobile phones to manage their networks of small-scale growers and help field agents collect information.

9. Mobile management of distribution networks

Distributors of farming inputs such as seeds and fertiliser could use mobile technology to gather sales and stock data, improving availability for farmers and increasing sales.

10. Agricultural trading platforms

Linking smallholder farmers directly with potential buyers through a mobile trading platform could help them to secure the best price for their produce.

11. Agricultural tendering platforms

Online platforms for submitting and bidding on tenders for food distribution, processing and exporting could make the agricultural supply chain more competitive and efficient.

12. Agricultural bartering platforms

Mobile could help agricultural workers in rural areas exchange goods and services and improve communities’ livelihoods. For rural people with little or no disposable income, exchanging goods, services and skills with community members is an important part of their livelihoods.

(Source: Africa News)
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Tuesday, 22 November 2011 23:40:58 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

There is currently a gradual shift from an economy of material goods to an economy of intangible assets and relationships, especially for services. This transition, combined with the knowledge society, plays a key role in a country's readiness to absorb technology.

Innovative use of modern technologies in developed countries has become an integral part of their future development strategies, and has the same importance as the efficiency of financial markets, the investment environment, and the quality of public administration and its services. Electronic communication networks and services play an important role in the fundamental conditions for the economic, social and cultural progression of society in all developed countries. In particular, they accelerate, expand and improve communications, which promotes the development of society as a whole in accordance with the requirements of citizens, businesses and state institutions.

Effective use of information and communication technologies (ICT) increases productivity and competitiveness, whilst also leading to significant cost savings and other positive effects, such as transferring labour to activities with higher added value in fields where ICT has been comprehensively implemented. A significant factor of the ICT sector is that its development is closely tied to the needs of society, and quickly responds to them. This is due to the fact that they provide the communication and computing infrastructure for most activities taking place in the country, and simultaneously provide tools for increased efficiency, innovation and competitiveness in virtually all sectors of the economy. ICT plays a significant role in the internal processes and innovation activities in all sectors, contributing to, for example, a 36% increase in efficiency in the chemical industry, 76% in transport and logistics, 59% in the engineering industry and 86% in the automobile industry. The Czech government appreciates the importance of electronic communications and has already approved a national policy – Digital Czech Republic.

By making use of accessible – that is, affordable and geographically available – electronic communication services, interested parties can be provided with access to relevant information very quickly and cheaply. Therefore, electronic communication plays an important part in the everyday life of society. In conjunction with the other technologies and services used in the information society, electronic communication has an ever-increasing role in the standard of living of the population, in improving the business environment, in the development of international commerce, in education, and in cultural and social development.

Without doubt, today's developed European society considers that quality internet access is not a privilege to be enjoyed by only the population in urban areas. Therefore, efforts are being made to provide internet access to all parts of the population, for whom high-speed internet access may, in view of the environment in which they live, be in relative terms an even greater benefit than for people in urban areas. The solution for the disparities between cities and rural communities as regards the conditions for the use of ICT is to ensure comparable accessibility to electronic communication services, and in particular to services provided by means of high-speed internet access. This is also a basic prerequisite for overcoming the so-called 'digital divide' between urban populations and those of rural communities. This divide generally arises due to a lack of opportunities for high-speed internet connection and the impossibility of using the services provided through it. Therefore, the basic objective is to reduce this divide between rural communities and cities.

(Source: Public Sector News)
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Tuesday, 22 November 2011 18:30:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 21 November 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 (, 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, 21 November 2011 22:25:50 (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 (, 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, 21 November 2011 20:34:40 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 18 November 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, 18 November 2011 21:48:19 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 17 November 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.

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(Source: ICT in agriculture News)

Thursday, 17 November 2011 21:12:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 16 November 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, 16 November 2011 22:14:51 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 15 November 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, 15 November 2011 05:43:21 (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, 15 November 2011 02:47:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 14 November 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, 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, 14 November 2011 17:14:41 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 11 November 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, 11 November 2011 23:04:18 (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, 11 November 2011 04:48:24 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 10 November 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, 10 November 2011 16:36:16 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 09 November 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, 09 November 2011 22:47:35 (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.

ZD Net News)
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Wednesday, 09 November 2011 03:07:24 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 07 November 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, 07 November 2011 00:58:38 (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, 07 November 2011 00:24:16 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 02 November 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, 02 November 2011 23:45:16 (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://

FR - mms://

The Twitter hashtag for the Launch is: #oerlaunch

(Source: UNESCO)
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Wednesday, 02 November 2011 23:34:14 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 31 October 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, 31 October 2011 18:26:41 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, 30 October 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, 30 October 2011 23:59:12 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 26 October 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, virtual communities and the hashtag in twitter: # EnTICconfio.

(Source: MINTIC – Colombia)
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Wednesday, 26 October 2011 22:30:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 25 October 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • alleviate poverty and hunger

  • improve education

  • address gender inequality

  • make sure everyone has access to health care

  • protect our environment

  • improve the lives of disabled people

  • close the gap between the developed and developing world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: UNCTAD)
Full Report

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

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

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

Read the Full Report
(Source: AudienceScapes)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 (Source: United Nations Organization)

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