mobile communications

SMS for Violence Prevention: PeaceTXT International Launches in Kenya

Title: SMS for Violence Prevention: PeaceTXT International Launches in Kenya
Author: Patrick Meier
Source: iRevolution blog
Date (published): 12/12/2011
Date (accessed): 14/12/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"One of the main reasons I’m in Nairobi this month is to launch PeaceTXT International with PopTech, Praekelt Foundation, Sisi ni Amani and several other key partners. PeaceTXT International is a spin-off from the original PeaceTXT project that several of us began working on with CeaseFire Chicago last year.

The purpose of PeaceTXT is to leverage mobile messaging to catalyze behavior change around peace and conflict issues. In the context of Chicago, the joint project with CeaseFire aims to leverage SMS reminders to interrupt gun violence in marginalized neighborhoods. Several studies in other fields of public health have already shown the massive impact that SMS reminders can have on behavior change, e.g., improving drug adherence behavior among AIDS and TB patients in Africa, Asia and South America.

Our mobile messaging campaign in Chicago builds on another very successful one in the US: “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink and Drive.” Inspired by this approach, the PeaceTXT Team is looking to launch a friends-don’t-let-friends-get-killed campaign.

Note that CeaseFire has been directly credited for significantly reducing the number of gun-related killings in Chicago over the past 10 years. In other words, they have a successful and proven methodology; one being applied to several other cities and countries worldwide. PeaceTXT simply seeks to scale this success by introducing SMS.

In the meantime, PeaceTXT is partnering with Sisi ni Amani (We are Peace) to launch its first international pilot project. Rachel Brown, who spearheads the initiative, first got in touch with me back in the Fall of 2009 whilst finishing her undergraduate studies at Tufts. Rachel was interested in crowdsourcing a peace map of Kenya, which I blogged about here shortly after our first conversation. Since then, Rachel and her team have set up the Kenyan NGO Sisi ni Amani Kenya (SnA-K) to leverage mobile technology for awareness raising and civic engagement with the aim of preventing possible violence during next year’s Presidential Elections..."

Rapid response system : An SMS service delivers quick answers to farmers’ climate questions

Title: Rapid response system : An SMS service delivers quick answers to farmers’ climate questions
Author: Darlington Kahilu
Source: ICT Update
Publisher: CTA Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (ACP-EU)
Date (published): December 2011
Date (accessed): 14/12/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Farmers in Zambia with climate change questions can now receive quick answers via SMS from a new system developed by the country’s National Agricultural Information Services.

In recent years, the Zambia National Agricultural Information Services (NAIS) has been receiving an increasing number of questions from farmers concerned about unpredictable weather patterns. Farmers are pointing out that sometimes the rains come earlier than usual, and when they do come, they are so heavy that they ruin the work the farmer has done to prepare the land. Sometimes the opposite is the problem and there is too little rain to water the crops.

‘The standard advice we gave in past is no longer relevant,’ says Darlington Kahilu, an agricultural information officer with NAIS. ‘For example, we used to tell farmers to plant their maize seeds as soon as the first rains came. The rains would usually continue for a few weeks and germinate the seeds. But now there could be a dry spell lasting a month or more, killing the new seedlings. The farmers then have to spend precious time and money replanting.’

NAIS uses a mixture of print and electronic media to provide agricultural information. Radio is especially useful, and many farmers listen to programmes in groups, often with an extension worker, and then discuss the issues raised in the broadcast. If they still have questions, they can fill in an evaluation form and send it to the nearest NAIS district office. The district office passes the form to the provincial office, where it is finally sent to the main country office. There, a NAIS radio producer assesses the questions, and contacts relevant specialists in agricultural research institutes and government ministries. Based on their feedback, the producer prepares a response for broadcast in a subsequent radio programme.

Together with the International Institute for Communication and Development, and a local software developer, NAIS developed a system, called SMSize to which farmers can send a question via an SMS from a cell phone. The question arrives directly at a server computer at the central office, where the producer researches the answer and sends back the information to the phone of the querying farmer, in the same language as the original request."

Mobile Technology in Africa: a comparative view between Kenya and South Africa

Title: Mobile Technology in Africa: a comparative view between Kenya and South Africa
Author: Mariska Du Preez
Source: MIH Media Lab
Date (published): 07/12/2011
Date (accessed): 13/12/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"A recent GSMA report stated that Africa is currently the second biggest market for mobile in the world. This means that there is huge innovation potential in terms of mobile technology application development, as well as creating solutions (think access to information, ability to transfer money, creating jobs) for the more than 649 million handset owners on the continent.

As part of my research I’ve been investigating the mobile tech space in South Africa and Kenya as well as the developer communities in both countries. It is interesting to see how many differences (and surprising similarities) there are in terms of mobile usage and user statistics."

Africa is world’s second most connected region by mobile subscriptions

Title: Africa is world’s second most connected region by mobile subscriptions
Author: Matthew Reed
Source: Informa Telecomms & Media
Date (published): 03/11/2011
Date (accessed): 20/11/2011
Type of information: press release
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Number of mobile subscriptions in Africa to reach one billion in 2016

Africa has become the second most connected region in the world in terms of mobile subscription count, up from fourth place at end of 2010, according to new research by Informa Telecoms & Media. There were over 616 million mobile subscriptions in Africa at the end of September, which means that the mobile market on the continent is second only to Asia-Pacific in terms of mobile subscription numbers.

Africa’s mobile-subscription count overtook that of Western Europe during 2Q11 and then overtook the Americas in 3Q11. At end-2010, less than a year ago, Africa was only the fourth largest regional mobile market by subscriptions, coming after Asia-Pacific, Western Europe and the Americas.

“The combination in Africa of a still relatively immature telecoms market with factors including population growth, strong competition among providers and the increasing affordability of mobile devices, explains Africa’s move up the regional mobile-market rankings as well as its strong growth forecast,” said Matthew Reed, head of mobile research for the Middle East and Africa at Informa Telecoms & Media. "Africa’s mobile market is heading towards a major landmark: the number of mobile subscriptions on the continent will cross the one billion mark in 2016 according to our latest forecast.""

Rural Women Banking By Mobile Phone

Title: Rural Women Banking By Mobile Phone
Author: Ignatius Banda
Source: ipsnews.net
Publisher: IPS-Inter Press Service
Date (published): 14/11/2011
Date (accessed): 18/11/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Collecting the monthly subscriptions for her co-operative has always been a headache for Thelma Nare, 41. This is because Nare lives in Tshitshi, Plumtree in rural Zimbabwe, about 60 kilometres away from the humdrum of the nearest town centre where banks are located.

"We meet after a long time as here in the rural areas our homesteads can be very far from each other. So members of our club do not meet or contribute regularly," Nare said.

In fact, the women in the co-operative do not have a bank account. Until recently, Nare and the other co-operative members had to physically be present to make their monthly contributions.

But now, these "unsophisticated" rural women find themselves at the centre of efforts by mobile phone service providers to introduce mobile phone money transfers in Zimbabwe.

Those without bank accounts, like Nare and her co-operative, can now send and receive cash via their mobile phones.

The system is fairly simple. A user registers for mobile phone banking with their service provider and is given a mobile "e-wallet" - an application on their sim card that is linked to their phone number.

When the user wants to pay for services or transfer money to someone they simply have to go to an agent and pay the desired amount, which is loaded onto the "e-wallet". The payment is made and the recipient can withdraw the money from an agent. There are various agents affiliated with the mobile service providers across the country, making the service easily accessible to those in rural areas."

The Advent of Mobile Financial Services in Agriculture

Title: The Advent of Mobile Financial Services in Agriculture
Author: Camilo Tellez
Source: Mobile Money for the Unbanked blog
Publisher: GSM Association
Date (published): 15/11/2011
Date (accessed): 17/11/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"As the global population continues to grow – it is expected to reach more than 9 billion by 2050. It will require a 70% increase in food production above current levels. Most of this increased yield will have to be achieved in less developed countries (LDCs), many of whose farmers operate on a small scale and are highly exposed to crop failure and adverse commodity price movements. This month, Vodafone, Accenture and Oxfam released a report on mAgriculture. The report titled “Connected Agriculture” assesses the potential benefits of new mobile data services such as mobile financial services, weather forecasts, and agriculture information and advice for smallholding farmers operating in marginal circumstances.

The financial and information opportunities at the base of the pyramid (BOP) in themselves hold significant untapped value for the private sector. The BOP has both intricate financial and information needs, which have the potential to be met through mobile money and information-based mobile services. Mobile Money can reduce the financial gap for farmers by giving them access to savings and insurance, which in itself reduces the impact of extreme weather and allows for greater investment in improving production.[1] Meanwhile, m-information services have the potential to open up significant markets opportunities, by relaying sales prices, GIS-based commodity demand information, as well as more basic yet essential information on agricultural best practices and reliable weather forecasts..."

Connected Agriculture : The role of mobile in driving efficiency and sustainability in the food and agriculture value chain

Title: Connected Agriculture : The role of mobile in driving efficiency and sustainability in the food and agriculture value chain
Pages: 42 pp.
Publisher: Vodafone
Date (published): 11/10/2011
Date (accessed): 17/11/2011
Type of information: report
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"Mobile communications can help to meet the challenge of feeding an estimated 9.2 billion people by 2050. The 12 specific opportunities explored in this study could increase agricultural income by around US$138 billion across 26 of Vodafone’s markets in 2020.

They could also cut carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 5 mega tonnes (Mt) in these markets and reduce freshwater withdrawals for agricultural irrigation by 6%, with significant savings in water-stressed regions. These benefits assume there will be around 549 million mobile connections to relevant services in 2020.

This report aims to stimulate the necessary engagement between mobile operators, governments, NGOs and businesses to realise these opportunities and explore others.
Benefits Mobile services can enable companies to

The opportunities studied here would improve the efficiency of the agriculture and food sectors as well as helping to raise the incomes of millions of poor farmers in developing countries. Increased efficiency is also expected to lead to fewer food losses – an important aspect of meeting the world’s growing demand for adequate and affordable supplies of nutritious food.

These mobile services enable companies to access and interact directly with different participants in the value chain, helping to build visibility of issues, capacity and quality. They will support company sustainability objectives, and in particular, progress towards the UN Millennium Development Goals by helping to reduce poverty, improve health and increase funding for education.

The greatest potential benefits can be generated by enabling mobile financial payments and mobile information provision, each delivering almost 40% of the total estimated increase in agricultural income.

Opportunities
Mobile telecommunications can connect farmers to markets, finance and education, making it possible to monitor resources and track products. This unlocks productivity potential while helping to manage the impacts of increased production, such as increased water use and greenhouse gas emissions.

This study focuses on 12 opportunities that deliver broad socio-economic and environmental benefits. They are grouped in four categories that were identified through stakeholder consultations as the most important.

Conclusion
The systems required to deliver these opportunities are both complex and fragmented and, as such, need the collective support of key stakeholders across the agricultural supply chain. Mobile network operators are well-positioned to act as a catalyst for action. They have the technology, the distribution channels and the customer relationships to drive these initiatives forward. However, NGOs, private enterprises and governments must agree to contribute their knowledge and expertise in order to ensure the delivery of the benefits to their full potential.

Critical success factors include the development of local relationships and understanding, testing solutions and a sympathetic regulatory environment. Consolidating these elements will help to ensure that the content and methods of delivery are tailored to both markets and crop types, optimising the value for farmers. Governments will also benefit through improved data collection and efficient, secure methods of subsidy distribution and other transactions. Pilot projects will provide an opportunity to test the technology, explore delivery partnerships, and create new business models for the rural poor and other underserved groups, such as women farmers. A regulatory environment that supports these innovations, in terms of both the technology and the required business models, will be essential.

The potential multiplier effects of the social and economic benefits that these opportunities could deliver will reach well beyond the immediate value chain. For example, improved agricultural income can reduce pressure on social support systems. It is clearly in the interest of all stakeholders to work together to ensure success."

Asia Pacific Mobile Observatory 2011 : Driving Economic and Social Development through Mobile Services

Title: Asia Pacific Mobile Observatory 2011 : Driving Economic and Social Development through Mobile Services
Authors: Naveen Menon, Christopher Firth, Samantha Lim
Pages: 96 pp.
Publisher: GSM Association
Date (published): 14/11/2011
Date (accessed): 17/11/2011
Type of information: report
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"Asia Pacific is the largest mobile market in the world, and is continuing to show strong growth.
Asia Pacific accounts for half of the total mobile connections in the world, with 3 billion lines. Looking ahead, the region is expected to continue its strong growth, adding a further 1.5 billion connections between 2010 and 2015 – similar in scale to the achievements of the last five years when 1.7 billion new connections were added. This growth and scale is encouraging for consumers and investors alike, as the industry has shown resilience through the global economic crisis by continuing to invest funds to improve the quality of mobile services across the region.
...
Mobile broadband and data services are transforming the landscape.
By 2015 Asia Pacific is expected to account for 40% of global data traffic. Mobile broadband is booming across
the Asia Pacific region, increasingly becoming the standard conduit to access the Internet, partly driven by rapid 3G network rollouts. In all developed Asian markets mobile service coverage now stands at over 95% while the likes of Malaysia and Indonesia have also achieved population coverage of over 80% – especially impressive given the topography of these countries. As a result, the breadth of applications and services delivered over mobile networks is booming. For example, by 2020 there will be an estimated 5.3 billion M2M connections in Asia Pacific.

The inaugural Mobile Broadband Readiness Index (MBRI) indicates that countries creating an ecosystem conducive to growth in mobile data services have the potential to make rapid leaps ahead of their peers. In 2011 we saw Japan rise up to the top of the index above Singapore, driven by its early 4G rollout and its pro-innovation environment. Hong Kong and Vietnam also jumped ahead, demonstrating their strong commitment to fostering a succesfull broadband landscape. Different stages of market evolution will require different strategies to ensure that growth can be sustained.

The mobile sector is having a transformational impact on society. As well as the social, environmental and charitable initiatives led by mobile operators, the industry is making a profound collateral impact on society by creating efficiencies in everyday communication, productivity and knowledge. Communication is more efficient than ever before, with mobile platforms providing a basis for instant social and professional connections. Productivity efficiencies come from data-enabled mobile devices providing greater flexibility in where we process information, allowing us to lead more productive lives and businesses to be more efficient in their delivery of goods and services. Knowledge efficiencies have enabled markets to function more efficiently and the unprecedented ability of consumers to access any information, anytime, anywhere and can provide a deep social, intellectual and financial advantage."

African Mobile Observatory 2011 : Driving Economic and Social Development through Mobile Services

Title: African Mobile Observatory 2011 : Driving Economic and Social Development through Mobile Services
Author Editor: Tom Phillips, Peter Lyons, Mark Page, Laurent Viviez, Dr. Maria Molina, Tim Ensor
Pages: 58 pp.
Publisher: GSM Association
Date (published): 09/11/2011
Date (accessed): 17/11/2011
Type of information: report
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"The mobile industry in Africa is booming. With over 620 million mobile connections as of September 2011, Africa has overtaken Latin America to become the second largest mobile market in the world, after Asia. Over the past 10 years, the number of mobile connections in Africa has grown an average of 30% per year and is forecast to reach 735 million by the end of 2012.

Fierce competition has driven down prices and increased penetration. Price wars have been common across the continent as operators compete for market share with innovative revenue and pricing options - operators have reduced prices an average of 18% between 2010 and 2011, making mobile connectivity more broadly affordable to the masses. 96% of subscriptions are pre-paid with voice services currently dominating, however the uptake of data services is increasing rapidly. For example in Kenya data revenues, including SMS, have increased at a remarkable 67% CAGR over the last 4 years and now represent 26% of total revenues.

The Mobile Industry in Africa contributes US$56 billion to the regional economy, equivalent to 3.5% of total GDP. In particular, the mobile ecosystem is estimated to employ over 5 million Africans and is contributing to bringing mobile services to customers right across the continent. However there remains huge untapped potential - 36% of Africans, within the 25 largest African mobile markets (A25), still have no access to mobile services. Projections indicate that raising the whole region to 100% mobile penetration, could add an additional US$35 billion in aggregate GDP to the region, equivalent to a further 2% increase.

The mobile industry in Africa is an enabler of economic development far beyond its immediate domain. Mobile operators have driven the emergence of a unique industry in innovative mobile services in Africa. Mobile Value-Added Services have been launched throughout the continent to enable and support agriculture, banking, education, healthcare and gender equality. In particular, the emergence of mobile money transfers and mobile banking puts Africa firmly at the forefront of the global Mobile Money industry. Beyond mobile services, the mobile industry is also contributing to rural electrical distribution with lower carbon emissions and facilitating the work of NGOs across the continent. Many African governments have prioritized ICT policy as a key driver for development.

For the mobile industry to continue to serve as a catalyst for growth, sufficient spectrum is needed for the provision of mobile broadband services. African countries have currently allocated considerably less spectrum to mobile services than developing countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Allocating the Digital Dividend spectrum to mobile services will enable the mobile industry to accelerate its efforts to bring connectivity and information to large swathes of rural Africa."

The digital revolution in sub-Saharan Africa

Title: The digital revolution in sub-Saharan Africa
Author: Laila Ali
Source: Al Jazeera English
Date (published): 12/10/2011
Date (accessed): 17/10/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Much has been written about the role technology played in bringing social and political change across much of the Middle East and North Africa, but less is known about the technological revolution that is taking place and transforming people's lives in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is estimated that by 2015 sub-Saharan Africa will have more people with mobile phone network access than electricity access at home. People with internet and no home electricity will reach 138 million, according to the Cisco Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2010-2015.

This deep and rapid mobile penetration is catapulting developing countries into the 21st century and bringing new and previously unimagined opportunities. While schools in the developed world enforce strict policies to keep mobile phones out of the classroom, African schools and universities are now exploring the use of mobile technology to assist teaching.
...
Mobile education
Under the BridgeIt initiative, known locally as Elimu kwa Teknologia or Education through Technology, teachers download video content using Nokia N95 mobile phones, which are connected to TVs in their classrooms, allowing rural schools and communities access to a digital catalogue of locally-developed or adapted educational content.

E-learning
In South Africa the concept of using mobile technology to support distant learners is also gaining ground. Pretoria University considers it an extension of e-learning - where distance learners use the internet to access materials to support their studies.

An app for that
The use of mobile technology in Africa is not limited to the field of education. In Kenya, high mobile penetration spurred the development of ground-breaking applications that are positioning the country as a regional leader in technology."

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