Local governance and ICTs in Africa : case studies and guidelines for implementation and evaluation

Title: Local governance and ICTs in Africa : case studies and guidelines for implementation and evaluation
Authors: Timothy Mwololo Waema, Edith Ofwona Adera
Pages: 357 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-55250-518-2, 978-0-85749-032-2
Publisher: IDRC, Pambazuka Press and CAFRAD
Date (published): 08/04/2011
Date (accessed): 12/07/2011
Type of information: book
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"With governance high on the agenda in Africa, many governments are using information and communications technologies (lCTs) to develop ways in which they deliver services to citizens. E-governance has the potential to enable local governments to engage citizens in greater participation, leading to socio-economic developments at local and national levels. But this potential remains largely unexploited and until now there has been a lack of evidence on information technology in local governance in Africa. This book addresses that gap. It offers studies from nine African countries that explore how lCTs can transform service delivery, tax, financial management, land management, education, local economic development, citizen registration and political inclusion. A synthesis of the findings and a roadmap for implementing and evaluating e-local governance projects mean that this book is not only relevant to researchers and students but is also a practical handbook for government decision makers. With lCTs increasingly available in Africa, this timely book speaks to the current issues."
(via zunia.org)

National Broadband Plans

Title: National Broadband Plans
Source: OECD Digital Economy Papers, No. 181,
Publisher: OECD
Date (published): 15/06/2011
Date (accessed): 12/07/2011
Type of information: report
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"This report surveys national broadband plans (NBP) across the OECD area, providing an overview of common elements and goals in those plans. An annex to this report contains references and links to the plans.
OECD countries have previously-agreed key areas of broadband policies, which have been incorporated into NBPs, notably the 2004 Council Recommendation on Broadband and the 2008 Declaration of the Seoul Ministerial for the Future of the Internet Economy.
Policy makers have been updating NBPs, taking into account the effects of the global financial crisis (GFC). The communications industry has emerged relatively well from the GFC, partly due to the experience of the “dot-com bubble”. There has been continued growth in demand for broadband services, at a time when many other sectors experienced a decline. Some governments injected funds, either directly or through support for loans, to help the geographic expansion of broadband access networks, the upgrading of existing networks to higher speeds and also through measures to encourage adoption amongst social and economic groups with limited use of broadband. Governments assessed these interventions based on their costs, benefits and effects on markets.
The benefits of NBPs are expected to be extensive across economies and societies. This has required co-ordination amongst many ministries and agencies, in order to identify realistic targets and to ensure that processes are in place to monitor their achievement.
...
The OECD has undertaken extensive work in e-government and, for example, on e-health. The first presents similar challenges to NBPs, with a requirement to co-ordinate across many parts of government and other stakeholders. Both also require widespread availability of broadband networks to link government offices, hospitals and clinics, plus the widest possible adoption of broadband, so that citizens and business (particularly SMEs) can access e-government services on demand. Only then can governments achieve the savings and quality improvements they have forecast."

A Data Divide? Data “Haves” and “Have Nots” and Open (Government) Data

Title: A Data Divide? Data “Haves” and “Have Nots” and Open (Government) Data
Author: Michael Gurstein
Source: Gurstein's Community Informatics
Date (published): 11/07/2011
Date (accessed): 12/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Researchers have extensively explored the range of social, economic, geographical and other barriers which underlie and to a considerable degree “explain” (cause) the Digital Divide. My own contribution has been to argue that “access is not enough”, it is whether opportunities and pre-conditions are in place for the “effective use” of the technology particularly for those at the grassroots.
The idea of a possible parallel “Data Divide” between those who have access and the opportunity to make effective use of data and particularly “open data” and those who do not, began to occur to me. I was attending several planning/recruitment events for the Open Data “movement” here in Vancouver and the socio-demographics and some of the underlying political assumptions seemed to be somewhat at odds with the expressed advocacy position of “data for all”.
Thus the “open data” which was being argued for would not likely be accessible and usable to the groups and individuals with which Community Informatics has largely been concerned – the grassroots, the poor and marginalized, indigenous people, rural people and slum dwellers in Less Developed countries. It was/is hard to see, given the explanations, provided to date how these folks could use this data in any effective way to help them in responding to the opportunities for advance and social betterment which open data advocates have been indicating as the outcome of their efforts."

Opportunities and challenges for use of mobile phones for learning

Title: Opportunities and challenges for use of mobile phones for learning
Author: Bas Hoefman
Source: Educational Technology Debate
Publisher: infoDev and UNESCO
Date (published): 11/07/2011
Date (accessed): 12/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"The Mobile landscape in Africa has rapidly evolved over the past decade with 380 Million mobile subscribers and 1 million added every week. This growth has been fueled in a large part by the liberalization effort resulting in the formation of independent regulatory bodies and increased competition in the market. This has enhanced numerous grassroots efforts to empower the poor and marginalized by providing access to knowledge through technology, more so a platform for communication. SMS and voice is being used in innovative ways to share knowledge and improve learning among students in Africa.
...
Technology role out for learning is still stalled by a number of factors in Africa including:

* Poor ICT policy implementation especially in the areas of Health and Education. These two areas are complimentary – will you educate an unhealthy nation?
* Most schools in Africa still do not accept mobile phone possession in classroom or even at school. Aspects of high teacher absenteeism and quality of teachers are still apparent.
* Limited mobile coverage especially in the rural areas which has also led to poor internet connectivity. Mobile operators are always seeking a win-win market situation– how then should we package these programs to make them interesting to the operators?
* Africa is characterized by too many ICT pilots of which most have not materialized to ongoing impact generating programs.
* Technology is powered by Electricity, which is a challenge to most of rural Africa."

Afghanistan's Amazing DIY Internet

Title: Afghanistan's Amazing DIY Internet
Author: Neal Ungerleider
Source: Fast Company
Date (published): 21/06/2011
Date (accessed): 10/07/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"FabFi is an ambitious project which is creating Internet networks for eastern Afghanistan whose main components can be built out of trash. It's low-tech, it's simple--and it works.

The Afghan city of Jalalabad has a high-speed Internet network whose main components are built out of trash found locally. Aid workers, mostly from the United States, are using the provincial city in Afghanistan's far east as a pilot site for a project called FabFi.

It's a broadband apart from the covert, subversive "Internet in a suitcase" and stealth broadband networks being sponspored by the U.S., aimed at empowering dissidents, but the goal isn't so different: bringing high-speed onilne access to the world's most remote places.

Residents can build a FabFi node out of approximately $60 worth of everyday items such as boards, wires, plastic tubs, and cans that will serve a whole community at once. While it sounds like science fiction, FabFi could have important ramifications for entire swaths of the world that lack conventional broadband.

FabFi is an open source project that maintains close ties to MIT's Fab Lab and the university's Center for Bits and Atoms. At the moment, FabFi products are up and running in both Jalalabad and at three sites in Kenya, which collectively operate as an Internet service provider called JoinAfrica. Inside Afghanistan, FabFi networks are used to aid local businesses and to prop up community infrastructure such as hospitals and clinics.

FabFi is funded primarily by the personal savings of group members and a grant from the National Science Foundation.

The technology used to create FabFi networks seems like it leaped out of an episode of MacGyver. Commercial wireless routers are mounted on homemade RF reflectors covered with a metallic mesh surface. Another router-on-a-reflector is set up at a distance; the two routers then create an ad-hoc network that provides Internet access to a whole network of reflectors. The number of reflectors which can be integrated into the network is theoretically endless; FabFi's network covers most of Jalalabad."

See also: FabFi

A model for ICT based services for agriculture extension in Pakistan

Title: A model for ICT based services for agriculture extension in Pakistan
Author Editor: Mahrukh Siraj
Pages: 85 pp.
Source: DFID
Publisher: CABI South Asia, Rawalpindi
Date (published): 29/06/2011
Date (accessed): 10/07/2011
Type of information: Technical Report
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"Informed by a research study in Punjab, a model for the use of ICTs in agricultural extension services in Pakistan is proposed which is compatible with the current telecom infrastructure within Pakistan. It uses mobile phones as the user interface for field use by farmers and extension workers. A web-based interface is proposed for institutional users. The model focuses on providing customized information to the users, and is intended to be self-sustaining in about three years."
(via http://www.iaald.org )

Africa’s First National Open Data Initiative: Kenya

Title: Africa’s First National Open Data Initiative: Kenya
Author: Erik Hersman
Source: WhiteAfrican
Date (published): 07/07/2011
Date (accessed): 10/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Today Kenya becomes the first country in Africa to launch a national open data initiative. There have been many people pushing for this, over many months, and it’s been an exciting process to watch unfold. Foremost amongst the drivers on this has been Dr. Bitange Ndemo, the Permanent Secretary of Information and Communications. This is indeed a very proud moment for Kenya, and a leading position to take on the continent.

The Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI) goes live this morning in a big event that includes President Kibaki, as well as many politicians, government officials and local technologists. The World Bank, who has been instrumental in organizing and helping publish the data is here as well, along with Google, Ushahidi, the iHub community and a large selection of youth.

The data is available online through the Socrata platform, which allows users to view different data at national, county and constituency levels. They can compare different data sets, create maps and other visualizations.

Data sets are categorized into 6 main categories: Education, Energy, Health, Population, Poverty and Water & Sanitation. It includes data from the national census, the ministry of education, ministry of health, CDF projects and many more."
(via https://twitter.com/#!/ajussis)

NTP 2011 Objective: Broadband

Title: NTP 2011 Objective: Broadband
Author: Shyam Ponappa
Source: Telecom Blog
Publisher: Centre for Internet and Society
Date (published): 08/06/2011
Date (accessed): 06/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"The Indian government has to choose between accessible, affordable services and short-term revenue, writes Shyam Ponappa in this article published in the Business Standard on June 2, 2011.

Apart from the scams, confused ideas are roiling India’s telecom sector. One instance is the finance ministry urging spectrum auctions to collect Rs 30,000 crore to help bridge the fiscal deficit. Another is the Ashok Chawla committee recommending spectrum auctions for transparency, making transparency the criterion for managing spectrum. The committee apparently does not mention the disastrous US auction, and attributes the UK fiasco to extraneous reasons; presumably, they knew the facts. Such issues need logical and systematic remedies. Otherwise, the success of the telecom sector will degenerate into yet another failure.

* Objectives: the transaction should be structured in the public interest;
* A life-cycle analysis of costs and benefits, and not just windfall revenues (since short-term cash drives the finance ministry’s concerns, it is important for the ministry and the government to step back and consider alternatives, such as the sale of BSNL’s vast real estate. If the goal is ubiquitous and affordable broadband, this would be much less damaging to the public interest than spectrum auctions); and
* End-to-end solutions are required from an integrated systems perspective.

The New Telecom Policy ’11
For the New Telecom Policy 2011 (NTP ’11), the first requirement is to define convergent goals. We could take a leaf from countries with excellent broadband that built high-quality next generation networks. While the US and UK have strong initiatives, Japan, Sweden, South Korea and Finland have highly rated broadband. Australia and Singapore are now building next-generation networks. Both are common-access, open-to-all service providers."

ICT and Economic Growth: Evidence from Kenya

Title: ICT and Economic Growth: Evidence from Kenya
Author: Richard Heeks
Source: ICTs for Development
Date (published): 26/06/2011
Date (accessed): 06/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Do ICTs contribute to economic growth in developing countries?

In the 1980s, Robert Solow triggered the idea of a productivity paradox, saying “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” And for many years there was a similar developing country growth paradox: that you could increasingly see ICTs in developing countries except in the economic growth data.

That is still largely true of computers and to some extent the Internet, but much less true overall as mobiles have become the dominant form of ICTs in development. In particular key studies such as those by Waverman et al (2005), Lee et al (2009), and Qiang (2009) have demonstrated a clear connection between mobiles and economic growth and/or between telecoms more generally and economic growth. They all address the “endogeneity” problem: that a correlation between telecoms (indeed, all ICTs) and economic growth is readily demonstrable; but that you then have to tease out the direction of causality: economic growth of course causes increased levels of ICTs in a country (we buy more tech as we get richer); you need to try to control for that, and separate out the interesting bit: the extent to which the technology causes economic growth."

Re-thinking Telecentres: A Community Informatics Approach

Title: Re-thinking Telecentres: A Community Informatics Approach
Author: Michael Gurstein
Source: Gurstein's Community Informatics
Date (published): 15/05/2011
Date (accessed): 06/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"The interest in Telecentres has ebbed and flowed within the broad technology stream. In Developed countries the various programs which supported the development of telecentres (called by various names in different jurisdictions) have been in considerable retreat in recent years as the initial need for access to low cost Internet access and computers has been to a very considerable extent overtaken by commercial Internet service providers and the continuing reduction in the cost of computer hardware and the availability of low cost or free software.
In Less Developed Countries (LDC’s) the situation is rather more mixed. An initial spate of high level programs in countries such as South Africa and Brazil have foundered for various reasons but often because the sponsors of the centres have adopted a rather naïve approach to engaging the local community as “partners” if not actual “owners” of the centres. Even where Telecentres and Telecentre programs do survive they are often plagued by low utilization and an indifferent response from the communities into which they have been inserted."

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