Africa

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."

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)

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."

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)

Updated: African Nations with Active National ICT Plans

Title: Updated: African Nations with Active National ICT Plans
Source: Online Africa
Date (published): 31/03/2011
Date (accessed): 01/04/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"The successful implementation of a national ICT (NICT) plan, also known as national information and communication infrastructure (NICI) plan, requires a great deal of planning on the part of the government. National ICT plans face an array of challenges including costs, stubborn government leaders, lack of infrastructure (ie. electricity), and a limited number of trained consultants. The initial process of deciding to create a plan, researching the best options for a plan, collaborating with experts and leaders, and approving the plan often takes years in itself. At that time, the country is perhaps in a different social and economic state. Plus, the government may or may not have seen drastic shifts in power. Additionally, if a plan is enacted, it can lose government support, face corruption, or lack adequate funding.
...
Below you will find a list of African nations with relatively current and well-publicized ICT plans. Plans that are known to be current within the past 3 years have the greatest chance at still being effective"

Using Mobile Money, Mobile Banking to Enhance Agriculture in Africa

Title: Using Mobile Money, Mobile Banking to Enhance Agriculture in Africa
Author: Judy Payne, Krish Kumar
Pages: 4 pp.
Publisher: USAID
Date (published): 20/12/2010
Date (accessed): 18/03/2011
Type of information: briefing paper
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"This is one of a series of briefing papers to help USAID missions and their implementing partners in sub-Saharan Africa use information and communications technology (ICT) more successfully — via sustainable and scalable approaches—to improve the impact of their agriculture related development projects including Feed the Future projects.1
In this context, this paper provides a brief overview of mobile money and mobile banking services. As the resource list at the end of this paper illustrates, there are many other sources of information available to inform the reader regarding the many aspects of m-money and m-banking related to security, risks, legal and regulatory issues, and key challenges for implementers. In contrast, the paper explains the basics of such services; their current and potential use for agriculture related projects; a few lessons learned to date related to such usage; and a few issues to consider when looking ahead."
via http://www.ictworks.org/

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