Africa

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."

Gender Equality in Free and Open Source Software

Title: Gender Equality in Free and Open Source Software
Source: Wikigender
Date (published): 22/07/2011
Date (accessed): 01/08/2011
Type of information: wiki post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Gender Equality is one of UNESCO’s global priorities, together with Africa. Within this framework, UNESCO seeks to promote women empowerment and to mainstream gender in all UNESCO policies, strategies and programs.
UNESCO’s believes that the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) model provides interesting tools and processes with which women and men can create, exchange, share and exploit software and knowledge efficiently and effectively. FOSS can play an important role as a practical instrument for development as its free and open aspirations make it a natural component of development efforts in the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The Community “Gender equality in free and Open Source Software” aims at creating a network of different institutions, networks and actors that deal with the Gender Gap in FOSS."

via http://www.ictdev.org/

Orange, Google launch sms service in Africa

Title: Orange, Google launch sms service in Africa
Source: IT News Affrica
Date (published): 28/07/2011
Date (accessed): 28/07/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Telecommunications provider Orange and global search giant, Google have signed a partnership that aims to facilitate access to Google’s services across Africa, by leveraging Orange’s networks.

This will enable Orange’s mobile customers to stay in touch with their Google services and Google users to extend their network by using SMS-based services.
The Orange and Google partnership will leverage Orange’s SMS platform to bring Google’s services to African customers.
...

Through the development of SMS-based services that operate on all mobile networks (including GSM), Orange and Google will extend the reach of a wide range of internet services that were previously limited to smartphone and broadband users (through 3G, CDMA or WiMax networks) to all Orange mobile customers.
The “Gmail SMS Chat” service, which will eventually be launched across Orange’s footprint in Africa and the Middle East is already available in Senegal, Uganda and Kenya. It will be launched in four additional countries – Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Conakry and Niger – in the coming months, and will be launched as a trial in Egypt (Mobinil). Orange and Google are now looking to extend this partnership to include other services."

Q&A: Google wants more African content online

Title: Q&A: Google wants more African content online
Author: Denisa Oosthuizen
Source: IT News Africa
Date (published): 27/07/2011
Date (accessed): 28/07/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"In an interview with ITNewsAfrica, Brett StClair, Head of Mobile, Google South Africa, talks about the evolution of mobile media in Africa and the exciting times ahead for Google on the continent.
...
Brett StClair: Gmail SMS is a great platform for both users and mobile operators. What is great about the service is that it provides internet-like services to more ubiquitous technologies like SMS, which have a reach across 500 million African mobile subscribers. These sorts of services are an important stepping stone to diverse services on the mobile Web, helping consumers understand what’s possible, and showing why smartphones are so useful and relevant. We offer SMS services across a number of our products, for example, SMS Search (using SMS to search for services and content), and Google Trader, which is a classified platform to allow consumers in Ghana to trade goods on phones, therefore creating business via mobile.

ITNewsAfrica.com: In a recent article published in The Africa Report, “Is Google good for Africa”, one of Google’s VPs for the region speaks about the lack of information in Africa. How would you comment this statement?
Brett StClair: Our VP Carlo D’Asaro Biondo’s statement referred to the fact that Africa has only one web domain for every 10,000 people, versus a global average of 94 domains for every 10,000 people. In other words, information that is important and valuable to Africans is not yet available online. At Google we want to help create and enable more African content online. For example, we are launching Google products in many African languages, including the wide-reaching Swahili, Amharic, Zulu, Afrikaans and more. We launched MapMaker across the continent so that anyone can map their local roads, village, hospitals or schools. Great recent examples include mapping health locations in Korogocho in Nairobi and mapping new parts of South Sudan. These efforts and many more will help bring information online, and make the web more useful and relevant to Africans. And of course, before long they will be accessing this info on their mobile phones."

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."

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."

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?"

Learning with Mobile Devices Somewhere Near the Bottom of the Pyramid

Title: Learning with Mobile Devices Somewhere Near the Bottom of the Pyramid
Author: John Traxler
Source: Educational Technology Debate
Publisher: UNESCO
Date (published): 06/07/2011
Date (accessed): 17/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Mobile phones hold out enormous promise as the single ICT most likely to deliver education in Africa, and to do so on a sustainable, equitable and scalable basis. I think however that so far, we have not often seen much progress beyond fixed-term, small-scale and subsidised pilots and it is worth exploring whether mobile phones can really deliver their promise.

Delivering education in Africa using mobile phones probably strikes governments, institutions and practitioners as easy and obvious because mobile phones and mobile networks are almost universally accessible and reliable in places where environment, economics, infrastructure and security might variously militate against any other ICTs and where the demographics of mobile phone ownership, access and competence, unlike most other ICTs, takes us near to the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ – the actual ‘bottom of the pyramid’ is of course populated by people who can’t even afford mobile phones! Furthermore, mobile phones are an individual ICT not an institutional or corporate ICT and are not predicated on access to colleges, business centres, cyber-cafes or maybe even cities. Therefore, learning on mobile phones should work.

The current World Bank Group and the African Development Bank study is intended “to raise awareness and stimulate action, especially among African governments and development practitioners”. These are indeed vital prerequisites but perhaps ‘critical awareness’ and ‘rigorously evidence-based action’ are even more vital. This is important debate is often characterised by simplifications, misplaced optimism and untested assertions. Hopefully this piece will strike a better balance.

My contention is that whilst many good projects using mobile devices to support learning, by definition, do good work and thus deserve to be praised and celebrated, our problems start when we try to understand these projects, when we try to reason and infer about these projects, when we try to explain and disseminate them in the hope that we can reproduce and replicate them. This is all the more worrying as we overlook the far larger number of less successful projects or when we group, organise and cluster projects in order to find common generalisable themes, forces, causes and mechanisms. Therein lies our problem with scale, sustainability and equity.

Something is wrong and we need to dig beneath the surface. What are my reasons for advocating such caution?"

AfTerFibre – Mapping Terrestrial Fibre Optic Cable Projects in Africa

Title: AfTerFibre – Mapping Terrestrial Fibre Optic Cable Projects in Africa
Author: Steve Song
Source: Many Possibilities blog
Date (published):
Date (accessed): 13/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"When I started putting together the African Undersea Cable Map about 3 years ago, I did it to solve my own problem. I couldn’t make sense of all the news articles about new undersea cable projects and where and when they were and weren’t landing. At the time, all of the cable operators were only interested in publishing maps of their own cable. It seemed an easy task at the time to put the 2 or 3 planned cables on a single map. Little did I imagine that they would mushroom to the variety of African undersea cable projects we see today. As more undersea cable projects were announced the cable map became an increasingly useful reference. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one trying to keep the various undersea projects straight and the map has become far more popular than I would have ever guessed.

But I don’t think it is just the usefulness of the map that has driven its popularity, nor my infographic design skills which are admittedly basic. My theory, for which I have no other evidence than the nature of the feedback I have received from users, is that the map paints a different-from-the-usual picture of Africa. It’s not a picture of a dark continent but rather a brightly lit one, lit by terabits of light capacity brought by a dozen cables landing on sub-Saharan African shores either now or in the near future. Africa, the brilliant continent. This also happens to be the Africa I believe in.

Another thing I think the map has contributed to in a small way is the sense of latent capacity that has inspired investment in national terrestrial infrastructure in Africa. To my knowledge, every country on the continent has some sort of terrestrial fibre infrastructure project either completed or underway to connect to an undersea cable or to a country with an undersea cable. This unprecedented explosion digital infrastructure investment can only be attributed to the sense of the opportunity that the burgeoning African undersea cables represent."

Switching on: Africa's vast new tech opportunity

Title: Switching on: Africa's vast new tech opportunity
Author: Pete Guest
Source: Wired UK
Date (published): 12/07/2011
Date (accessed): 13/07/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"In 2011, visitors to Africa looking for war, famine and pestilence have to dig a lot deeper than in the past. At Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, hardened missionaries have been replaced by gap-year students clustered around iPads, and on the streets the bad old days have given way to another holy trinity: Premier League football, Toyota Hiace minibuses and cellphones.

Africa's national economies have grown consistently over the last decade. Even in the depths of the financial crisis, GDP growth exceeded three percent: more than in any other region of the world. Improvements in security, Chinese investments and soaring commodity prices have all played a part in transforming the continent's prospects.

Beyond macroeconomic factors, though, technology is driving profound changes to economies and societies across the continent. The hundreds of millions of mobile handsets and billions of airtime minutes only go some way to describe the scope of entrepreneurship that underpins Africa's technological revolution. From mobile payments to telemedicine and advertising, there is a common pulse of innovation, driven by an irrepressible combination of aspiration and necessity. This is the new Africa."

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