Africa

Zap It to Me: The Short-Term Impacts of a Mobile Cash Transfer Program

Title: Zap It to Me: The Short-Term Impacts of a Mobile Cash Transfer Program
Author Editor: Jenny Aker, Rachid Boumnijel, Amanda McClelland, and Niall Tierney
Pages: 40 pp.
Source: Center for Global Development
Date (published): 20/09/2011
Date (accessed): 21/09/2011
Type of information: research report
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"Conditional and unconditional cash transfers have been effective in improving development outcomes in a variety of contexts, yet the costs of these programs to program recipients and implementing agencies are rarely discussed. The introduction of mobile money transfer systems in many developing countries offers new opportunities for a more cost-effective means of implementing cash transfer programs. This paper reports on the first randomized evaluation of a cash transfer program delivered via the mobile phone. In response to a devastating drought in Niger, households in targeted villages received monthly cash transfers as part of a social protection program. One-third of targeted villages received a monthly cash transfer via a mobile money transfer system (called zap), whereas one-third received manual cash transfers and the remaining one-third received manual cash transfers plus a mobile phone. We show that the zap delivery mechanism strongly reduced the variable distribution costs for the implementing agency, as well as program recipients’ costs of obtaining the cash transfer. The zap approach also resulted in additional benefits: households in zap villages used their cash transfer to purchase a more diverse set of goods, had higher diet diversity, depleted fewer assets and grew more types of crops, especially marginal cash crops grown by women. We posit that the potential mechanisms underlying these results are the lower costs and greater privacy of the receiving the cash transfer via the zap mechanism, as well as changes in intra-household decision-making. This suggests that m-transfers could be a cost-effective means of providing cash transfers for remote rural populations, especially those with limited road and financial infrastructure. However, research on the broader welfare effects in the short- and long-term is still needed."

Making the Most of Mobiles in Africa

Title: Making the Most of Mobiles in Africa
Source: Africa the Good News
Date (published): 13/09/2010
Date (accessed): 21/09/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"It is not often a technology guru will say, “Forget the internet!” but Ken Banks, founder of Kiwanja.net, advocates going back to basics – using mobile phones rather than the internet, and pretty basic phones at that.

While mobile phones are ubiquitous in Africa, the internet has nothing like the same penetration and is almost non-existent in rural areas. Says Banks: “For example, in Zimbabwe, there’s 2-3 percent internet penetration. If your amazing, whizzy mobile tool needs the internet, and you are looking to deploy it in Zimbabwe, you have lost 97 percent of people before you start.”

Dillon Dhanecha's company, The Change Studio, was trying to distribute management tools and training through the internet, and admits it fell into exactly the trap Banks was describing. “We were developing short YouTube clips and so on, but I was in Rwanda a few weeks ago and trying to access our site from my Smartphone, and it just wasn’t happening.”

But there are plenty of options with even a not-very-smart phone: one of the pioneers was M-Pesa, designed as a tool for repaying microfinance loans. But Kenyans found all kinds of other uses; for instance, people afraid to carry large sums of cash while travelling would send it to themselves for collection at their destination. It was also key to the recent Kenyans for Kenya drought aid funding drive."

Branchless Banking Headlines & Highlights: Updates from Africa and Beyond

Title: Branchless Banking Headlines & Highlights: Updates from Africa and Beyond
Author: Sarah Rotman
Source: CGAP: Consultative Group to Assist the Poor
Date (published): 13/09/2011
Date (accessed): 21/09/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"The South African bank FNB has recently launched its latest mobile banking offering Pay2Cell which allows FNB account holders to make payments to other FNB clients using only the recipient’s mobile phone number. This is a different product offering from FNB’s eWallet which allows FNB account holders to send money to anybody with a mobile phone. The recipient does not need a bank account and can withdraw the cash at any FNB ATM

An active branchless banking provider in West Africa, Orange has recently launched the Orange African Social Venture Prize. This initiative aims to reward innovative projects using ICT for social and economic development in Africa. In this contest, 3 winners will be selected and will receive financial grants along with 6-months of mentoring support from management and ICT experts. The project should target at least one country where Orange has a footprint and the prizes will be announced during the AfricaCom Awards in Cape Town in November. The deadline for applications is the end of September. .."

In African agriculture, information is power

Title: In African agriculture, information is power
Author: Ken Banks
Source: News Watch
Publisher: National Geographic
Date (published): 05/09/2011
Date (accessed): 07/09/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"You don’t have to spend long in many African agricultural markets to realise the need for better information. Farmers lack prices, traders need transport and new contacts, projects and governments need a better way to reach out to people, businesses lack real-time updates on their stock and the value of their harvests. The list goes on.

In this installment of Mobile Message, Sarah Bartlett – Director of Communications and Research at Esoko - explains how African technology is being used to power agricultural markets across Africa, filling an ‘information void’ for local farmers in the process.

Mobile Message is a series of blog posts about how mobile phones are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives."

What Makes Educational Technology Successful in the Developing World?

Title: What Makes Educational Technology Successful in the Developing World?
Author: David Risher
Source: ReadWriteWeb
Date (published): 22/08/2011
Date (accessed): 24/08/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"I've been thinking about simple machines a lot recently, while in Africa working in education. You probably remember simple machines from elementary school science. They're the basic building blocks of mechanical technology, from the inclined plane that helps move equipment easily from one height to another, to the pulley that enables everything from hoists to the modern bicycle, to the wheel. Simple machines are technology at its most elemental form. Think of a bike climbing a hill and you can see all of them working together gracefully; imagine a dump truck and you see how they allow us to create the tallest buildings and the longest highways. Without them, we'd still be carrying water in pails.

Technology helps us advance, but in education it has often been a source of false hope, peddled by people who promise to revolutionize learning. The problem often is that the technology ignores the basic configuration of any classroom in any school: the triangle that connects students, teachers, and ideas. My experience is that technologies that reinforce the relationship between those three poles represent opportunities for stronger classrooms and better education. But those that interrupt that relationship stall and ultimately fail.

E-readers are a fascinating example of a technology seems to be working in the developing world. At a very basic level, having an e-reader is equivalent to having a set of books at hand. Happily, even in schools with only the most rudimentary learning tools available, both teachers and students are well-versed in the importance of books and the ideas within, and readily recognize the value of having great access to them. This represents an enormous improvement over the status quo, where access to books is extremely limited: Botswana, a country the size of France, has fewer than 10 bookstores, and the village library of Kade, Ghana, is nearly empty of books. Imagine for a moment the power represented by e-readers: Students can walk around holding a library of books larger than all those in the bookstores and libraries of their country.
...
The cost to donate e-books to the developing world is essentially zero, and might even represent a way to create a new market of readers in a generation. The early results we have seen using e-readers in Kenya and Ghana are very promising, with children spending up to 50% more time reading than before the introduction of e-readers, and reading fluency scores increasing quickly. But what's most exciting is that the children and teachers are using e-readers even when not being asked to, downloading books and samples and coming to voluntary summer reading programs to have access to the e-books."

ICT, Financial Inclusion, and Growth: Evidence from African Countries

Title: ICT, Financial Inclusion, and Growth: Evidence from African Countries
Authors: Mihasonirina Andrianaivo and Kangni Kpodar
Pages: 45 pp.
Source: IMF
Date (published): April 2011
Date (accessed): 10/08/2011
Type of information: working paper
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"This paper studies the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT), especially mobile phone rollout, on economic growth in a sample of African countries from 1988 to 2007. Further, we investigate whether financial inclusion is one of the channels through which mobile phone development influences economic growth. In estimating the impact of ICT on economic growth, we use a wide range of ICT indicators, including mobile and fixed telephone penetration rates and the cost of local calls. We address any endogeneity issues by using the System Generalized Method of Moment (GMM) estimator. Financial inclusion is captured by variables measuring access to financial services, such as the number of deposits or loans per head, compiled by Beck, Demirguc-Kunt, and Martinez Peria (2007) and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP, 2009). The results confirm that ICT, including mobile phone development, contribute significantly to economic growth in African countries. Part of the positive effect of mobile phone penetration on growth comes from greater financial inclusion. At the same time, the development of mobile phones consolidates the impact of financial inclusion on economic growth, especially in countries where mobile financial services take hold."

Pan-African training guide on Linux System Administration

Title: Pan-African training guide on Linux System Administration
Source: FOSSFA & GIZ
Date (published): July 2011
Date (accessed): 10/08/2011
Type of information: guide
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"Training Guide on Linux System Administration, LPI Certification Level 1, Supporting African IT-enterprises to get Open Source skills and certification on level 1 of the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) Certification

INTRODUCTION BY FOSSFA AND GIZ
“How do I know that this IT company from Kampala will be able to maintain my IT server infrastructure?” asks a contract-giving government agency in Uganda. The answer lies in a trust-building certification, a crucial ingredient of any economic development agenda. Therefore, FOSSFA and GIZ are proud to present “ict@innovation: Training Guide on Linux System Administration - LPI Certification Level 1”. The guide is part of “Linux Certification in Africa - the ict@innovation Training of Trainers Programme”. It aims to help African small and medium IT-enterprises (SMEs) involved in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to improve the quality of their services offered as well as the level of trust of customers through certification of their FOSS skills.
The ict@innovation programme builds capacities in African small and medium ICT enterprises to make a business with Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). ict@innovation aims to encourage the growth of African ICT industries, through three main actions: spreading FOSS business models for enterprises, fostering FOSS certification and supporting innovative local FOSS applications for social and economic development. ict@innovation is a partnership of FOSSFA (Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Germany [until 2011: InWEnt, now part of GIZ].
We hope that the “ict@innovation: Training Guide on Linux System Administration - LPI Certification Level 1” together with the associated training-of-trainers scheme will contribute to remove a major barrier against adoption and deployment of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in sub-Saharan Africa: the lack of human resources with FOSS skills demonstrated by recognized certificates.
In order to support a wide range of capacity needs and training environments in Africa, the training material and the training-of-trainer programme builds on the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) Certification as a world-wide recognized distribution and vendor-neutral standard for evaluating the competency of Linux professionals with the possibility to hold low-cost paper-based examinations.
The “ict@innovation: Training Guide on Linux System Administration - LPI Certification Level 1” has been released under an open licence (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany License) allowing for free distribution, remixing and updating of the material. Our goal is thereby to empower local African training institutions to offer low-cost trainings. And we are looking forward to further building and updating of this Training Guide in the spirit of sharing and mutual capacity building."

African Cashew Initiative: Cooperation to Use ICT for the Benefit of Cashew Growers

Title: African Cashew Initiative: Cooperation to Use ICT for the Benefit of Cashew Growers
Source: ict4d Newsletter
Publisher: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Date (published): July 2011
Date (accessed): 10/08/2011
Type of information: short notice
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"We recently published, in collaboration with our colleagues from the African Cashew Initiative, a short paper “Virtual Cooperatives: ICT for African Cashew Farmers” on a development partnership with SAP Research in Ghana.
The development partnership utilizes Information and Communication Technologies to provide the means to enhance the productivity of Cashew farmers, to strengthen farmer cooperatives, and to enable them to do collaborative business with the established economy in a transparent and sustainable way.
To learn more, you can download the paper here or visit the website of the African Cashew Initiative. Also, Deutsche Welle, the German international TV channel, has produced a short video about the pilot of the project in Brong Ahafo, Ghana."
via https://twitter.com/#!/ictdev

IT professionals want local content

Title: IT professionals want local content
Source: IT News Africa
Date (published): 07/08/2011
Date (accessed): 09/08/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Global survey reveals Business to Business (B2B) marketers must produce localised IT content to engage IT professionals outside North America.

IDG Connect’s global content survey of 3,217 IT professionals in 114 territories reveals that whilst 72% of respondents find vendor white papers extremely useful, the majority outside of North America still struggle to find the localised content they need.

Results suggest that although this is an issue worldwide, it is a greater problem in developing markets.
“Engagement levels with our audience soar when we supply content which relates to their region. This is especially true in emerging markets where this information is thin on the ground.
These results show high levels of frustration in IT professionals outside North America and prove that even modest amounts of localisation will help technology marketers enhance engagement,” said Matthew Smith VP of IDG Connect International.
· Asia: 74% of IT professionals say they would prefer localized content, but 79% say they “struggle” to find it
· South America: 81% struggle to find local content
· Africa: 75% struggle to find local content
· Middle East: 67% struggle to find local content
· Australia and New Zealand: 69% struggle to find local content
· Europe: 55% struggle to find local content"

Top Ten Opera Mini users in Africa

Title: Top Ten Opera Mini users in Africa
Source: IT News Africa
Date (published): 31/07/2011
Date (accessed): 01/08/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"The “State of the Mobile Web Report” by web browser company Opera Software puts a spotlight on the African region. Here are the top trends in Africa for mobile handsets and usage of the Opera Mini mobile web browser, which is used by 72% of all mobile web users in Africa.

The top 10 countries using the Opera Mini browser in this region are Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia and Morocco.
Some numbers: From June 2010 to June 2011, page views in the top 10 countries of Africa increased by 187%, unique users increased by 184% and data transferred increased by 199%.
Growth rates in Africa: Zimbabwe and Morocco lead the top 10 countries of the region in terms of page-view growth (4964.8 % and 1598.4 %, respectively).
Zimbabwe and Ethiopia lead the top 10 countries of the region in growth of unique users (4483.3 % and 989.5 %, respectively).
Zimbabwe and Morocco lead the top 10 countries of the region in growth of data transferred (3449.7 % and 1385.9 %, respectively).
Zimbabwe leads the top 10 countries of the region in page views per user, with each user browsing 713 pages on average each month.
Among the countries of Africa, the most popular sites include Facebook, Google, YouTube, Yahoo and Wikipedia."

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