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 Friday, 20 January 2012
Invitation of Expression of Interest for Support from USO Fund for Pilot Project Scheme for Access to ICTs for Persons with Disabilities in Rural India
Administrator Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) on behalf of President of India invites “Expression of Interest” (EoI) from Services Providers for the above said pilot projects.

The detailed document inviting Expression of Interest is available on USOF website: No charges shall be payable by applicants towards the cost of the EoI application. In case of any query clarification maybe sought though email at the address

The EoI is to be submitted in Room Nº 1307, Sanchar Bhawan, New Delhi and the last date of submission is 31.03.2012 by 16 hours.

See previous information here.

(Source: USOF – India)

Friday, 20 January 2012 15:04:02 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 19 January 2012
Encouraging more jobs for women in mobile phone retail and telecoms industries across 11 emerging countries could help families and boost revenues for mobile companies, suggests a new study released in Dubai.

Spearheaded by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, the study was conducted in cooperation with 14 mobile operators across the Middle East, Africa and Asia and comes more than a year after a study found that 300 million women globally do not have access to mobile phones.

Cherie Blair, foundation founder and wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, presented the findings yesterday at the Middle East Telco World Summit.

"I think it's all about showing what women can do, about showing that women actually can contribute to the economy and still fulfill their desires to be a wife and mother and also be respectful to their local community", Blair told Gulf News in an interview.

"Here in the Middle East we have more educated women coming forward, this will allow them to put that education to use and the mobile phone allows them to do that", she said.

Blair said the study by her foundation was undertaken following an initial study done in 2010 (Report) that showed encouraging women to enter the workforce could yield up to $13 billion in revenue for mobile operators.

(Source: Gulfnews)
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Thursday, 19 January 2012 21:20:49 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Society (Mintel), made the formal presentation of Mobile Classrooms, conveyance equipped with the latest technology, which will reach out to citizens from all corners of  the country with first-class technology services, as well as training on the proper use of Information and Communication Technology.

The Mobile Classroom presentation was made by Mr. Jaime Ruiz Guerrero, Minister of Telecommunication and Information Society, in the "Parque de la Madre", the city of Cuenca, after saying that "With the Mobile Classrooms we transport technology and transport knowledge,  by these units based on the concept of mobility we contribute significantly in strengthening technological learning, with the aim of eradicating digital illiteracy ... An educated country is a country that progresses ... a country that thrives. .. a country that moves ... This is Ecuador that we want, one Digital Ecuador", he added.

This project will train the population in rural and marginal urban areas of the most remote and difficult access to the national level. Also deliver content such as: access and manage e-mail, search engines, social networks, use of online government services, among other things that contribute in improving the quality of life of all Ecuadorians.

 The campaign for digital training, in its first phase, will have 2 mobile units, equipped with computers and Internet access, each with facilitators who will travel country wide.

(Source: Mintel - Ecuador)
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Thursday, 19 January 2012 05:25:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Recently, Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) Peru launched via Facebook, a useful source of information for women: "Being a Woman", which has the objective to inform women on what it means to be female. There is possible to find the answers to frequently asked questions that are commonly performed by women, thinking of their benefits, health and beauty, among other interesting topics.

To answer all kinds of inquiries with regard to women, it will be available a health specialist about sexuality. The expert also will absolve consultations on contraception, menopause, fertility, among other subjects that the visitors of the page are interested on. In addition it will provide tips and contests via this popular social network. In this regard Dr. Monica Naranjo Cáceres, gynecology specialist, said that this is important means of informing our female population, starting obviously with the teenagers and covers all women of childbearing age, to enjoy a full sex life and a personal. The link is

"Women today should be better informed and know more about what it means to be a woman", noted the specialist.

(Source: Perumagazin)

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Tuesday, 17 January 2012 05:28:24 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, 15 January 2012
The ICT Ministry, the organization Sesame Wokshop producer of Sesame Street TV and Channel 13, will sign a co-production alliance of digital literacy teaching and promoting the use and exploitation of ICTs aimed at children and youth of the country. The launch of this strategy took place on December 14 in the ICT Ministry. This initiative seeks to contribute to the reduction of gaps in knowledge of new technologies on children, youth and families in Colombia. According to the Sesame Model (internationally recognized educational model) will develop a special strategy for Colombia, promotional and educational, exploiting the recognition of the muppets from Sesame Street to promote the use of ICT in the country.

"To have 26 television episodes of Sesame Street dedicated to promote the use and appropriation of ICT in the country is like a dream. We all remember fondly the characters of Sesame Street, now let's remember because families, children and young people will learn to use ICT through their stories and characters", said ICT Minister Diego Molano Vega. The alliance also includes regional forums in which children and young people can participate and that they can structure a Decalogue for families in the use of new technologies. In 2012 they will produce series of 26 episodes of Sesame Street, which will be built on posts agreed with local experts.

Also, in articulated way they will develop in a strategy educational outreach involving the development and distribution of materials for different beneficiaries (children, families and educators) by exploiting the opportunities offered by different technological platforms. In addition, the ICT Ministry will encourage the participation of children in digital content production, with the aim of contributing to the digital world and train new filmmakers in them healthy practices in their relationship with technology.

The 26 episodes produced for Colombia will have a wide distribution in the eight regional channels in the country. In the first stage will work more than 100 people located in the United States, Mexico and Colombia and at the beginning this is directed to the Colombian families, but it has a great international projection.

(Source: MINTIC - Colombia)
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Sunday, 15 January 2012 18:19:58 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Last Saturday, the Minister of Telecommunication and Information Society, Jaime Guerrero Ruiz, presented officially an "Infocentro" (Infocentre) in Social Rehabilitation Center of Tulcan.

Persons deprived of liberty (PPL) expressed satisfaction with this delivery, and that through the use of computers they can learn and be trained in the field of Information and Communication Technology.

Lydya Cruz, Director of the Center for Social Rehabilitation of Tulcan, said that the Infocentre is a new space for persons deprived of liberty, considering it a great opportunity, because it will improve the rehabilitation of these people. Through the creation of these spaces with equipment and connectivity, they will learn new options for their future, she added.

Cruz also highlighted the concern of the Minister of Telecommunications and the Government, lead by Econ. Rafael Correa Delgado, for improving the living conditions of persons deprived of liberty.

With the "Infocentro", PPL will enjoy of the educational and productive activities, so when they get back their freedom they will have better opportunities to rejoin society.

The Ministry of Telecommunication delivers in rural and marginal urban areas, and in social sectors, Infocentres to promote inclusion in the field of Information and Communication Technology.

(Source: Mintel - Ecuador)
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Sunday, 15 January 2012 16:58:51 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, 14 January 2012

UNICEF has launched an international fundraising initiative called Schools for Asia to improve education for millions of children in the region.

The campaign will help the most marginalized, excluded or otherwise vulnerable children, including girls and children from poor families and of ethnic minorities.

The aim is to improve the access and quality of education for these disadvantaged children living across Asia and the Pacific.

Leotes Helin from UNICEF East-Asia and Pacific region spoke to Patrick Maigua about the programme.

See more details here

(Source: United Nations – News)

Saturday, 14 January 2012 18:19:19 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 13 January 2012
The partnership will take place through the GSMA mWomen Programme Global Development Alliance and will enable women to effectively use mobile phones to access life-enhancing information, networks and services – such as banking, education and healthcare.

Studies have shown that a 10 percent increase in mobile phone use has led to a 1.2 percent increase in gross domestic product (GDP) in low- and middle-income countries. However, research shows that women in the developing world are 21 percent less likely than men to own a mobile phone.

Secretary Clinton noted at the launch of the GSMA mWomen Programme in October 2010 that, “investing in women’s progress is the most direct and effective way to invest in progress economically and socially globally.”

“For 300 million women in low- and middle- income countries, mobile technology is still out of reach. “It’s not simply because it’s too expensive . . . but it’s because of an array of economic and social barriers, from a lack of literacy to a lack of income to the all-too-common belief that cell phones afford more freedom to women than they deserve,” said Secretary Clinton.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said that a wide range of social and economic benefits can be delivered by extending mobile phone ownership to women. “Mobile phones can provide women living in remote and rural areas with access to bank accounts and formal credit”, said Mr. Rudd.

“In Pakistan, text messaging has been used to deliver basic literacy and numeracy classes. In India, texts have been used to provide agricultural commodity prices at markets, helping women to get the best prices for their produce”.

Today four out of five mobile phone connections are in the developing world. Through mobile technology, the public and private sectors are able to engage with individuals in new and innovative ways to achieve development objectives and drive economic growth.

The Global Development Alliance is a USAID mechanism bringing together the core competencies of the private and public sector. The GSMA mWomen Programme Global Development Alliance is being implemented by the GSMA, leveraging the expertise, distribution and resources of its global mobile industry membership, including the 31 GSMA mWomen Working Group members who have each committed their company to help reduce the mobile phone gender gap.

(Source: mWomen)
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Friday, 13 January 2012 17:28:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 12 January 2012
A handful of teachers in Hawaii are using a new service that allows them to blast a text message to parents, who can then text back.

Mark McDonald, 23, debuted the program in his Aiea High classroom at the start of this school year, sending parents reminders about everything from upcoming assignments to grades. Almost immediately, McDonald said, parents were making the communication two-way, texting him back with questions on how their child could do better or if missed work could be made up.

When McDonald began teaching English at Aiea in 2010, he struggled with how to involve parents. Parent engagement was next to nonexistent, despite his best attempts, so he had no way of knowing whether parents were getting his letters home, seeing their children’s grades or reviewing progress reports.

To address the problem, McDonald teamed up with a fellow teacher, Max Sack, and employed the help of a friend who is a computer programmer to start an online service that allows teachers to send text-message blasts to parents — and receive responses from them through a proxy telephone number.

Cellphones, McDonald and Sack reasoned, are more ubiquitous than computers and internet connections — which not all parents have access to — and more practical than printed notes sent home.

Since quietly went live late last year, about 20 teachers (most in Hawaii), along with a handful of churches and other organizations, have signed up for the service, which education technology experts are calling a novel way to improve communication between parents and teachers and get students more connected to what’s going on in the classroom.

(Source:eSchools News)
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Thursday, 12 January 2012 18:44:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 10 January 2012
Five Homes for old adults from the Government of Buenos Aires were benefited with connectivity, with broadband internet service and training provided from the volunteers of Telefonica.

What is "Digital Inclusion Centers"?

There are five Day homes belonging to the Government in the City of Buenos Aires where Telefonica´s Volunteers conducted the 2011 edition of Digital Inclusion Centers project, an initiative which aims to empower older adults in the use of tools computer and the Internet.

Twenty five volunteers from the Volunteers program of Telefonica have taught on office management and the Internet to older adults in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires.

The project, developed in a coordinated manner with the Office of Strengthening Social Civil Society from the Ministry of Development, from the Government of Buenos Aires, develops at different times in the Day homes 9 (Palermo), 17 (Almagro), 22 (The Boca), 27 (Villa Luro), and San Martin (Chacarita).

About Telefonica

Telefonica is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world market by capitalization and number of customers. Its activities are centered mainly on the fixed and mobile telephony businesses with broadband as the key tool for development of both.
In Argentina, there are 16.7 million mobile lines, over 1.5 million accesses of broadband and 4.6 million fixed lines.

(Source: Telefonica Argentina)
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Tuesday, 10 January 2012 18:16:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 09 January 2012

A recent study reported by ITU/InfoDev reveals that investment in telecoms generates growth dividend because the spread of telecommunications reduces costs of interaction, expands market boundaries, and enormously expands information flows.

The results of the study show that in general the advent of mobile telephony has had a positive and significant impact on economic growth in both developed and developing economies. Key among these are:

A) Developed Economies

  • In the OECD economies, modern fixed-line networks took a long time to develop
  • Access to homes and firms at the time required physical lines to be built which was a slow and expensive process
  • These economies by and large had fully articulated fixed-line networks by 1996
  • The addition of mobile networks in these economies had significant value-added benefits by complementing the existing fixed lines.

B) Less Developed Economies

  • Developing countries may be said to experience a low telecoms trap i.e. the lack of networks and access in many villages increases costs, and reduces opportunities because information is difficult to gather
  • But at the same time, the impact of mobile telephony may be twice as large in these countries compared to developed countries
  • In these economies, mobile phones may be substituting for fixed lines
  • They are playing the same crucial role that fixed telephony played in the richer economies in the 1970s and 1980s
  • The growth dividend of increasing mobile phone penetration in developing countries is therefore substantial and far larger because mobile phones provide, by and large, the main communications networks
  • Mobile telephony therefore supplants the information-gathering role of fixed-line systems.
The study concluded that telecommunications is an important prerequisite for participation in the modern economic universe. The differences in the penetration and diffusion of mobile telephony appear to explain some of the differences in growth rates between developing countries. But given the speed with which mobile telecoms have spread in developing nations, it is unlikely that large gaps in penetration will persist forever.

(Source: GBI - USAID)
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Monday, 09 January 2012 05:01:17 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Society equipped with 5 computers, a laser printer, and a digital whiteboard to the school Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, the Canton La Libertad, Santa Elena.

The computer teacher, Karina Vera, has 16 years working in this institution and told us that when she started, there was only one computer in the direction and the girls sat on the floor to receive information on how to use these tools. Vera said that always the computer time was very short, she never reached that the students could practice as they should, and this overwhelmed her.

It is impressive to see how, in order to advance in the world technology, she offered the classes through posters, all so that, girls recognize the tools and become familiar with the use of them, she said.

Currently, the school has a lab with 23 computers and a whiteboard. This is a realistic approach to technology. The official thanks to the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Society, to include their school in this project, recognizing that each of the computers that come to his laboratory, will be useful to the fullest.

(Source: Mintel - Ecuador)
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Monday, 09 January 2012 04:46:07 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, 07 January 2012
Games for Change, a social enterprise that creates video and mobile games that engage players with global social issues, is in the midst of developing games that promote the rights of women in different ways through its partnership with the women’s right movement Half the Sky.

Half the Sky began as a bestselling book written by award-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn that inspired readers to join in a movement against the oppression of women and girls worldwide. It has turned into a transmedia project that includes a TV series, websites, video modules, and social impact Facebook and mobile games. Games for Change’s partnership with Half the Sky began in 2009 at the 6th Annual Games for Change Festival.

Co-president of Games for Change, Asi Burak, is most noted for developing Peacemaker, a game that confronts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where players strive to bring peace to the region using real news footage and facts from real events. The entrepreneur recently provided his insights on how gaming can change the world for the better in an interview with, and hopes to create an impact game that’s as popular as Farmville.

According to Burak, Games for Change is currently working on two types of video games for Half the Sky. The first, operated through Facebook, focuses on users in the U.S. and raises awareness on girls’ issues while encouraging support for various NGOs involved in the movement. The second kind of game is one that girls in India play that helps them understand their rights. For example, one game is designed to educate young girls on how to avoid and treat intestinal worms (a common problem among young girls in the country), and another informs girls on maternal health.

Burak believes Games for Change and similar efforts can create a marketplace for these “impact games” where huge numbers of people play them, ultimately leading to a positive social payoff.

(Source: GBI – USAID)
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Saturday, 07 January 2012 02:53:30 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 04 January 2012
For the very first time in Sri Lanka, doctors in government hospitals will be able view a patient’s comprehensive medical records on their computer screen, all thanks to the newly developed Hospital Health Information Management System (HHIMS).

The HHIMS is a joint collaborative effort between the ICT agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) and the Ministry of Health. The initiative stemmed from the Government’s thrust to significantly improve service delivery to the citizens by using ICT.

According to Wasantha Deshapriya, ICTA Re-engineering Government Programme Director, the software has been tested in five hospitals – Karavanella, Mawanella, Endegoda, Kitugala, and Deriyanagala – in the Kegalle District for over six months. At present, it is now ready to be installed in other Government hospitals island-wide.

The Hospital Health Information Management System, is a free open source software that will enable doctors make accurate and well-informed diagnosis on their patients
By simply having a registration number, the hospital staff will dispense medication and carry out tests as per the doctor’s ‘prescription’ which is documented on the electronic patient record available to them on their computer screens.

“This user-friendly software enables accurate diagnosis and will be crucial in helping government hospitals go paperless. In addition, it also facilitates the production of many routine but essential hospital reports thus saving time and much paperwork. A positive indirect effect of the system is that the medical staff has more time to attend to their patients”, Deshapriya said.

(Source: FutureGov)
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Wednesday, 04 January 2012 21:45:10 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 30 December 2011

The call for the Malaysian society to be a highly-technocratic one is not a new notion. In his Vision 2020 working paper in 1991, former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad highlighted the need to establish ‘a scientific and progressive society’ as the sixth challenge out of nine outlined in the national agenda.

In Budget 2011 tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak last year, the government would provide the ‘Entrepreneurship Enhancement Training Programme’ to train 500 new technopreneurs and attract more investors.

Additionally, the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC) would be provided with a start-up fund amounting to RM100 million to furnish soft loans that allowed loan repayments only after companies had generated income.

Obviously, the government wanted to see more technopreneurs running the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country. “SMEs had to grow at about 8.5 per cent annually in order to contribute about 41 per cent to Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020”, stated SME Corporation Malaysia’s (SME Corp) chief executive officer Datuk Hafsah Hashim recently.

She added that towards achieving such a goal, SMEs had to grow unexceptionally different, meaning they must have that ‘leapfrog’ growth. “To be able to do that, we need to ensure that they are growing on the premise of innovation, creativity and higher productivity. One of the ways is to encourage SMEs to use ICT”, she stressed.

Currently, there are over one million SMEs in Malaysia, employing 56 per cent of the nation’s workforce and generating 32 per cent of the nation’s GDP.

If the figures presented in a recently-published research by Indonesia’s Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) were to go on by, the number of technopreneurs in Malaysia could well be over 800,000 individuals, or three per cent of the 28.68 million populations – close to the nation’s unemployment rate of 3.4 per cent.

Imagine if those 3.4 per cent jobless individuals took the same steps as that of the three per cent technopreneurs; the country would ideally have zero-unemployment rate. “With technopreneurship, the world is the market. You just cannot go wrong”, said Muhammad Abdullah Zaidel, finance lecturer for the Faculty of Economics and Business at University Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).

(Source: Borneo Post)

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Friday, 30 December 2011 23:41:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Accompany children in the use of Internet. Take care of the network as they do elsewhere. This was a message from the ICT Minister, Diego Molano Vega, to all families on holidays.

With children on holiday and the great possibilities that the Internet offer to them, as well as to have fun and to learn about new things in the world, also increases the risk that children access some contents unsuitable for their age or even some sites may pose a danger to them.

During the past two years, the country has blocked 4,200 pages of content not suitable for children. The Ministry of Information Technology (ICT) is the entity that receives complaints through the portal “Internet Sano”, the police is conducting the investigation and the company provider is who has to proceed with the 'closure' of the sites.

The ICT Minister, Diego Molano Vega, sent a message of five good practices of ICT, to all children, youth and adults during the holiday season. There are also recommendations that should continue throughout the year to ensure that children enjoy the advantages of the Internet properly.

1. Children should combine Internet use and doing a sport or play outdoors. It is good to find a balance between being connected on vacation to technology and be connected to your health

2. Children should make an agreement with their family, they should teach their parents how to manage the computer. Internet is full of interesting activities for the whole family

3. Children must not go to appointments with strangers who are organized through the Internet, nobody can make them to do something what they do not want

4. Children should know and learn how to use the latest electronic devices, this can be very useful in their daily life

5. The parents should always accompany their children; share with them their concerns against what is happening on the Internet. Take care of them in the network, the same as outside of this.

(Source: MINTIC – Colombia)
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Friday, 30 December 2011 03:31:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 27 December 2011
Riau provincial government in central Sumatra has initiated a programme to introduce IT to children across its primary schools. It is an extension of a project already in place in other parts of Indonesia since 2008.

The “KidSmart” project, in collaboration with IBM, aims to teach children essential IT skills through specialized software and custom-designed terminals. In total, 250 primary schools in Indonesia are participating in the programme.

KidSmart also involves training the teachers in using the software and hardware tools, and 300 teachers across Indonesia have been trained so far.

The programme was inaugurated in Riau province at the city of Pekanbaru on the 7th of December, with the Governor of Riau HM Rusli Zainal, Riau Police Chief, Mayor of Pekanbaru Syamsurizal, and President-Director of IBM Indonesia, Suryo Suwignjo, in presence.

“For teachers, mastering the technology is extremely important, so that they can operate it and implement it into their daily lives, and also serve as examples for their students”, said Governor Zainal, as Mayor Syamsurizal inaugurated the cyber-technology training centre for teachers.

The teachers are provided basic knowledge about the internet, word processing, spreadsheets and presentations techniques, and participate in a short workshop on crime prevention.

(Source: FutureGov)
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Tuesday, 27 December 2011 20:19:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 26 December 2011
A project that connects, by a computer, the Hospital of Yurimaguas with three health centers located in the heart of Alto Amazonas, Loreto, improved the services level, prevented deaths and made more efficient medical work in this area of the country. This initiative has just been awarded by Telefónica as one of the best enterprises in rural areas in 2011.

Last Friday, a young woman from the community of Nuevo Junín came to the Medical Center of Balsapuerto District, Alto Amazonas, for a medical emergency. She had twin pregnancy, but the kids were in a position that made it difficult to delivery. A doctor assessed it, but also made consultation with an obstetrician in Yurimaguas Hospital, 60 kilometers far, through a computer communication system that makes it possible to see the patient on the screen and assess the severity of the case. It was decided that a small plane departed from Yurimaguas go to pick up the women and bring her to the city. She took an operation and saved her life and from their two children.

Maybe without the system that makes possible to see online the patient and give her a diagnosis, would not been so fast and could not manage it quickly the fly of a plane through the Health Integral System (SIS). The pregnant woman came to Yurimaguas in less than an hour from the depths of the Amazon. Otherwise she should have to travel by river boat about six hours, with the risk of dying in the road.

The project that has made it possible to act with such efficiency is called "Telemedicine Network in health" and weeks ago won an award as one of the best enterprises in rural communication, 2011. What is? The Department of Health from Alto Amazon has interconnected via audio and video its administrative headquarters in Santa Gema in Yurimaguas hospital, with the health center of Balsapuerto district, and the communities of San Gabriel and San Juan de Varadero Armanayacu, forest locations with problems of lack of basic services, poverty and disease.

Dr. Georgina Valentin, head of Alto Amazon DISA is the coordinator of this project that has managed to "diagnose serious cases away and prevent many deaths". This health centers have a computer, WiFi connection, a transmission antenna almost 60 feet high and solar panels that make it possible to have energy where there are no electrical connections. The system is similar to Skype, but it is a network that only works between sites connected. If the doctor of this network have questions about a case, can consult with a specialist hospital in Yurimaguas though a video call.

(Source: La Republica Newspaper)
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Monday, 26 December 2011 23:58:26 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, 25 December 2011

Colombia is a country very active on the Internet and has grown markedly in connectivity. The ICT Ministry will continue working with determination to close the poverty gap and contribute to development.The Minister of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), Diego Molano Vega presented the balance of 2011 and announced the great challenges of the next year.

 Among the achievements of the ICT Ministry in 2011 are:

- The increase in Internet connections through major infrastructure. In 2009 there were 2.2 million connections, in December 2010, 3.1 million, and this year totaled 4.6 million.

 - Colombia is Latin America's leading connectivity. There are 325 municipalities connected with fiber optics, and the goal is that by 2014 all municipalities are connected.

 - Was awarded the contract to connect 2,800 educational institutions in remote and rural areas, four times faster and half price.

 - Ensured the performance of 1,300 Community Access Centres to the Internet in remote areas of the country.

 - 115,000 Colombian homes, from the strata 1 and 2, were subsidized from 77 municipalities to have access to the Internet. Users pay a maximum fee of 20,000 colombian pesos (aprox. US$ 10.4) per month.

 Computers for Schools:

- Until December 19th, were given 81 830 computers.

- 3564 places have seen a computer for first time, and the opening of 230 libraries and houses of culture.

- 66 400 Portable were purchased.

- Recruitment of universities through competitive bidding, $ 10 billion (they carry the PC, give initial train, install the equipment).

- Acquisition of 7,400 classrooms and 3,000 mobile video beam.

 What comes in 2012?

-  More technology, more progress

- Infrastructure: more competition in cellular telephony.

- New system user protection.

- Will open new job opportunities.

- Digital Experience Points: they reach about 800 municipalities distant, so that people learn to use technology.

- Digital Natives. The goal is to provide computers with Internet connectivity to all public schools in the country, accompanied by an aggressive strategy of training for teachers.

(Source: MINTIC - Colombia)

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Sunday, 25 December 2011 22:30:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 22 December 2011

As part of the government’s effort to foster an IT literate society, the government launched its “e-diriya” national IT literacy initiative which aims to provide basic computer knowledge to 50,000 “samurddhi” recipients and school children.

According to Hambantota District MP, Namal Rajapaksa, it is imperative for the country to leverage its computer, internet, and telephone penetration rates in order to have a good foundation for IT literacy, especially in schools.

IT now is regarded as an important tool in every sphere of the country’s development, because of this many take great interest in the use of IT as a tool”, he said.

Meanwhile, Professor P.W. Epasinghe, Chairman of the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka, pointed out that the widespread availability of ICT equipment such as computers and mobile phones should be accompanied by equally widespread availability of facilities to use them.

Through the launch of “e-diriya”, we have taken steps to provide information technology knowledge to a segment of society that had not been covered before. From today we begin providing IT training to especially to 20,000 Samurddhi recipients in the first round.

I think that this simple computer knowledge will help them change their standard of living in a positive way. I believe that although the computer cannot satisfy the hunger of Samurddhi recipients it will at least be able to equip them with knowledge and strategy for setting them free from poverty”.

That is why we have named this project “e-diriya”. The idea behind this is to fill the underprivileged group of people in our society with courage through IT. The purpose is to equip them with courage and strength to go forward in the world via computer knowledge” Professor Epasinghe said.

(Source: FutureGov)
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Thursday, 22 December 2011 20:49:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 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)
Further details

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)
Full Report

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)
Further details

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)
Further details

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)
Further details

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)
Full Report

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.

Access to Full Report
(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)  #     |