Africa's mobile economic revolution

Title: Africa's mobile economic revolution
Author: Killian Fox
Source: The Observer
Publisher: The Guardian
Date (published): 24/07/2011
Date (accessed): 24/07/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Half of Africa's one billion population has a mobile phone – and not just for talking. The power of telephony is forging a new enterprise culture, from banking to agriculture to healthcare

Earlier this month, on a short bus ride through the centre of Kampala, I decided to carry out an informal survey. Passing through the Ugandan capital's colourful and chaotic streets, I would attempt to count the signs of the use of mobile phones in evidence around me. These included phone shops and kiosks, street-corner airtime vendors and giant billboard ads, as well as people actually using their mobile phones: a girl in school uniform writing a text message as she hurried along the street, a businessman calmly making a call from the back of a motorcycle taxi swerving through heavy rush-hour traffic. Not only were half of the passengers on my bus occupied with their handsets, our driver was too, thumbing at his keypad as he ferried us to our final destination. After five minutes, I lost count and retired with a sore neck. There was more evidence here than I could put a number on.

My survey underlined a simple fact: Africa has experienced an incredible boom in mobile phone use over the past decade. In 1998, there were fewer than four million mobiles on the continent. Today, there are more than 500 million. In Uganda alone, 10 million people, or about 30% of the population, own a mobile phone, and that number is growing rapidly every year. For Ugandans, these ubiquitous devices are more than just a handy way of communicating on the fly: they are a way of life.

It may seem unlikely, given its track record in technological development, but Africa is at the centre of a mobile revolution. In the west, we have been adapting mobile phones to be more like our computers: the smartphone could be described as a PC for your pocket. In Africa, where a billion people use only 4% of the world's electricity, many cannot afford to charge a computer, let alone buy one. This has led phone users and developers to be more resourceful, and African mobiles are being used to do things that the developed world is only now beginning to pick up on."

Draft ICT policy likely by Aug 15

Title: Draft ICT policy likely by Aug 15
Author: Kirtika Suneja
Source: The Financial Express
Date (published): 12/07/2011
Date (accessed): 24/07/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"The draft National ICT Policy will be two pronged and based on ‘connected and unified government’ and ‘empowerment of citizens’. The strategy on connected and unified government includes mandating e-delivery of public services, development of shared platforms, public services, payment gateway, unique identifiers for persons, property and business, mobile enablement of services and standards and interoperability. On the other hand, the strategy of empowerment of citizens includes Bharat Nirman Common Service Centres in every panchayat, optical fibre network availability to every panchayat, collaboration for and promotion of content in local languages on education, health and agriculture and use of social media."

3G Breaks India’s Bandwidth Bottleneck

Title: 3G Breaks India’s Bandwidth Bottleneck
Source: TeleGeography
Date (published): 19/07/2011
Date (accessed): 24/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Fixed broadband services in India have grown at a steady, but unspectacular, pace since their introduction in 2003. Providers had signed up 11.5 million subscribers at the end of Q1 2011, up 31 percent from a year earlier. Nevertheless, Indian broadband penetration stands at only 5 percent of households. In contrast, 34 percent of Chinese households have broadband access.
While India’s fixed broadband growth is plodding along, data from TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database reveal that 3G mobile subscribers are growing at a breathtaking pace. The number of customers signed up to third-generation mobile services skyrocketed 400 percent between March 2010 and March 2011, reaching 12.2 million. This growth is particularly impressive in light of the fact that 3G services were only introduced in 2009, and 3G service has only become widely available from multiple providers in recent months. Indeed, growth has accelerated as 3G coverage and competition has increased, with subscribers increasing by an astonishing 73 percent in the first quarter of 2011."

See also:
In India, Broadband means a 3G connection, By Om Malik,

Closing the digital divide for Zambia's farmers

Title: Closing the digital divide for Zambia's farmers
Author: Georgina Smith
Source: New Agriculturist
Date (published): June 2011
Date (accessed): 24/07/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Rows of mobile telephones sit recharging in the Chinyunya community telecentre, an hour's drive east of Zambia's capital Lusaka. Powered by 67 1 x 0.5m solar panels and offering a photocopier, projector and three internet-connected computers as well as phone services, the centre is changing the way that farmers in the area receive agricultural information.
Whether it's investigating drought-resistant plants, choosing the best crop rotation, or learning how to retain water in the soil, the internet offers ideas and solutions which can be refined or adapted in discussion with extension officers. The telecentre acts as a point for sharing and accessing previously unavailable information on market prices, machinery and fertiliser availability, and is a networking hub for local agricultural training centres offering advice on organic farming and other practices."

Rwanda: Schools' Laptop Project Gets Security Feature

Title: Rwanda: Schools' Laptop Project Gets Security Feature
Author: Frank Kanyesigye
Source: allAfrica.com
Date (published): 08/07/2011
Date (accessed): 22/07/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"The Ministry of Education, through the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project has installed a security feature to protect the laptops from theft.

Speaking to The New Times yesterday, the National OLPC Coordinator at the Ministry, Nkubito Bakuramutsa, said that all 65,000 laptops currently in circulation countrywide, will be fitted with a re-flash security software.

He stated that the security software will ensure that the laptops are used in a more effective manner, adding that the feature has triggered the current exercise of visiting schools, checking the laptops, recapturing serial numbers as well as repairing faulty ones.

Bakurumutsa disclosed that the activation of laptops began last week in the Southern Province and will continue until the entire country is covered.

So far, 124 schools and over 61,000 children use of laptops, countrywide."

From ICT towards information society : Policy strategies and concepts for employing ICT for reducing poverty

Title: From ICT towards information society : Policy strategies and concepts for employing ICT for reducing poverty
Author: Hannes Toivanen
Pages: 42 pp.
ISBN: 978-951-38-7500-8
Source: VTT Working Papers 158
Publisher: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Date (published): 23/02/2011
Date (accessed): 22/07/2011
Type of information: research report
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"ICT is recognized as an important vehicle to address global development challenges. As a general purpose tech- nology, ICT has the evident potential to improve the delivery of basic services, such as health, education and information, in under-served areas and regions, and thereby address many of the deprivation conditions that cre- ate and maintain poverty. Deservedly, policy frameworks and practices of harnessing knowledge, new technolo- gies and ICT for the benefit of the world’s poor are being re-considered in the developing countries, donor gov- ernments, as well as by academics and other stake-holders.
This paper approaches the possibilities offered by ICT in development specifically from the vantage point of the new ICT ecosystem, as proposed by Martin Fransman, and its underlying sectoral innovation system. While this may be un-orthodox and unaccustomed perspective in the context of development and poverty alleviation, it enhances our understanding how different stake-holder groups, even regions and countries, can relate and employ ICT.
Regions, countries, organizations, communities and people differ greatly in their capacity to create, adopt and use new technology. Economic, social, cultural and technological factors determine to a great degree how people can access and shape new technologies and their applications. These varying factors are well identified in litera- ture on development of ICT in Sub-Saharan Africa, but less attention has been given to how hierarchically organ- ized ICT ecosystem, consisting of technological, economic and social elements, shapes these opportunities.
This report offers a short theoretical and conceptual discussion of ICT strategies in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa, and investigates in more detail the Tanzanian case."

Power cuts hamper Nigerian broadband

Title: Power cuts hamper Nigerian broadband
Author: Bimbo Omitooki
Source: IT News Africa
Date (published): 21/07/2011
Date (accessed): 22/07/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Most Nigerian telecommunications operators have again recounted their ordeals in the lack of regular power supply for their operations in the country.
The operators said that unless the Nigerian government take adequate steps to address the situation, the progress recorded by the industry in the last few years may not be consolidated.
Specifically, some of the telecoms and mobiles noted that as Nigeria is making moves to play big in the broadband market in the next decade of the telecom revolution in the country, inadequate power supply was the main challenge to the deployment of broadband in the country."

Fingerprints, the Next Big Thing in Banking

Title: Fingerprints, the Next Big Thing in Banking
Authors: Alan Gelb, Caroline Decker
Source: Global Development: Views from the Center
Date (published): 21/07/2011
Date (accessed): 22/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"With the expansion of cell coverage and mobile banking, millions of poor and rural people can now access financial services. But as financial institutions reach new populations, it is becoming clear that there are other issues keeping people from formal banking, such as the need for identification. Thankfully, there seems to be an easy solution. Just as mobile phones have helped overcome the issue of proximity for banking, biometrics could do the same for identification.
...
Since 9/11 there has been increased pressure on governments in the developing world to implement policies consistent with international Anti–Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) standards. Included are the Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations requiring financial institutions to identify their clients to better record financial flows. Regulations typically require customers to present some form of official identification, such as proof of employment or address. For those of us in the developed world, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. But in sub-Saharan Africa where only 50 percent of the population has birth certificates, requiring formal ID excludes millions of citizens, especially poor and rural populations—women in particular.

To get around this, financial institutions have begun turning to biometrics. When Opportunity International (OI), an NGO which provides financial services to the poor, came to Malawi they quickly realized many of their target clients couldn’t provide the required KYC documents. OI approached the Central Bank for an exemption; instead of the required passport or driver’s license and proof of employment to open an account, OI clients are identified simply by their fingerprints. And to access their accounts clients use their fingerprints and smartcards at participating ATMs or points of service (POS)."

Android Phones Help Poor Farmers in Uganda

Title: Android Phones Help Poor Farmers in Uganda
Author: Nancy Gohring
Source: PC World
Publisher: IDG
Date (published): 21/07/2011
Date (accessed): 22/07/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Mobile-phone companies and aid agencies have talked for years about deploying feature phones, coupled with basic text information services about the weather and crop pricing, to empower poor people in undeveloped parts of the world. Now, the Grameen Foundation is taking that idea to the opposite, high-tech extreme.

About 400 so-called "community knowledge workers" in Uganda are using Android phones loaded with an open-source data-collection application that feeds data into Salesforce. The phones are powered by batteries that can be recharged in a variety of ways, including solar and bicycle.

Developed by the Seattle-based Grameen Foundation Technology Center, the project offers select farmers loans to buy an Android phone loaded with information about when and how to plant crops, care for farm animals and find markets for products.

Those farmers, whom Grameen calls community knowledge workers, then serve as experts in their villages. Other people turn to them with questions about crops or farm animals, and the knowledge workers find answers in information loaded on the phones. The knowledge workers also gather information about the farmers they talk to."

Does your country have a National Information and Communication Infrastructure Plan?

Title: Does your country have a National Information and Communication Infrastructure Plan?
Author: Wayan Vota
Source: ICTWorks
Publisher: Inveneo
Date (published): 22/07/2011
Date (accessed): 22/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"National ICT plans, also known as National Information and Communication Infrastructure plans (NICI), are key to implementing the African Information Society Initiative (AISI) - an action framework that has been the basis for information and communication activities in Africa since 1996. AISI is not about technology. It is about giving Africans the means to improve the quality of their lives and fight against poverty.

Yet not all African countries have developed a NICI plan, formally accepted the plans as governmental policy, or enforced the policy through national action. In fact, do you even know if your country has a NICI, or it's status?"

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