Blog

March 2012

  • East ASEAN to rollout regional ICT projects

    The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Working
    Group for the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines–East ASEAN Growth
    Area (BIMP-EAGA) identified three
    major projects to be included in the BIMP-EAGA Implementation
    Blueprint (IB) for 2012-2016.

    According to Attorney Jonalyn Bagayan from the Mindanao Development Authority, the
    projects includes the roll out of the ICT rural outreach
    program, the establishment of the BIMP-EAGA rink
    (submarine cable), and the implementation of the Intelligence Clearance Identification (iClid).

    mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">The ICT Rural
    outreach program aims to improve ICT literacy of rural communities
    through the construction of e-telecentres equipped with e-Learning models and mobile
    applications.

    mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">In
    the Philippines, the Committee has identified 30 pilot sites in the Autonomous Region
    for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for the roll-out of the e-telecentres.
    Each pilot site is expected to have 20 computers.

    E.A. Trillink Inc. is the private sector lead of the program
    in the Philippines. The latter is investing US$33 million
    for the installation of around 2,000 telecentres in ARMM.
    Meanwhile, Brunei has successfully implemented the program’s first phase which includes
    training courses on e-commerce and the establishment of e-telecentres equipped with
    broadband internet, and other applications.

    mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">The BIMP - EAGA Rink
    project on the other hand, aims to develop BIMP-EAGA as
    a new hub and centre of investment by leveraging a Hybrid Communications Platform
    which would make use of sea cable, satellite, or terrestrial systems.

    mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">Lastly,
    the iCLid project will use a combination of Radio-frequency Identification and web
    technology to facilitate cross-border movement of goods and vehicles within the BIMP-EAGA region.

    mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">Brunei
    Darussalam has already implemented the first phase of the project in Sungai Tujoh
    and Kuala Lurah, and will extend it to Sabah and Sarawak checkpoints in Malaysia for
    the second phase. Each checkpoint is estimated to cost around US$1.5 million.

    mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">(Source: FutureGov)

    mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">Further
    details

  • School program makes use of new skills, old computers - USA

    When a large company or famous philanthropist donates computers to children to advance
    their learning and give them online access to the world, it makes an impact. But when
    the donors are young teenagers who revamped and renovated the computers themselves,
    it makes an even bigger impact.

    Students and teachers at Forest Park High School, a public magnet school in Woodbridge,
    Va.
    , say their school’s computer donation program has become an essential part
    of the learning experience. It has also become an essential asset for the community.

    The program combines academic learning and hands-on lab work with community service.
    First students learn about computer systems and networks. Then they rebuild used computers
    and give them away to children and other schools needing computers.

    It is the act of giving that solidifies the learning experience,
    says Brian Hackett, an instructional technologist at the school and co-coordinator
    for the program. “It becomes personal. You don’t get personal in learning until the
    kids see results of what they have learned”.

    Hackett thinks education in general should head in the direction of combining schooling
    with community service. Applying academic material gives it relevance.

    The students seemed to agree. “When we go to events to give the
    computers away, the parents and students are overwhelmed with joy. The smiles on their
    faces are amazing”, said Karl Stallknecht, a student at Forest Park. “You can see
    the big picture”.

    As the students worked on restoring computers to mint condition during class, they
    spoke about their coursework with enthusiasm. They seemed to grasp the complexities
    of information technology as they discussed network systems, web hosting, cloud-based
    solutions, Linux operating systems, and various software programs. Listening to their
    high level of discourse, it was clear they understood as least as much about technology
    as the average adult working in the field.

    (Source: eschool News)

    More
    details



  • Andes: new initiatives to reduce digital gap

    The digital gap that faced by Quechua-speaking
    communities of the Andes could be reduced thanks to two initiatives that create content
    in this language and replace the lack of Internet connectivity with off-line versions.

    A project sponsored by One Laptop Per Child Association (OLPC by
    its acronym in English), works in an offline version, based on the Wikipedia online
    in Quechua language, so that could be used by students who speak that language and
    have no Internet connectivity.

    "The wiki page in
    Quechua
    is too good and it is wasted because most Quechua speakers do not have
    Internet access" told Gonzalo Odiard to SciDev.Net, from the Association OLPC and
    Sugar Labs project, global initiative, which uses a computer learning platform for
    children to learn together through the computer.

    Odiard had already successfully completed a similar project in Rwanda, based on the
    wiki kinyarwanda.

    The project to provide a viewer for the wikipedia offline on computers using the XO
    which use OLPC program was created by Chris Ball in 2008, in Spanish and English.

    Based on this project, "we developed a set of tools used to process files of wikipedia
    dump (a kind of backup of all contents of all pages in the wiki), select a set of
    pages, compress and prepare so they can be deployed locally on computers", said Odiard.

    The community “Somos Azúcar” will do the same with wikipedia pages in Aymara and Guarani.
    This Projects would be aimed at users of the highland areas of Peru and Bolivia in
    the first case, and Paraguay in the second, where these languages are spoken, and
    where the population has not full Internet access.

    The most important thing is that the project has no cost. "For every wikipedia collaborate
    volunteers who speak the language and that we are working, doing quality control and
    selecting relevant articles", said Odiard.

    Another initiative, the Mozilla community in Peru, seeks to turn the Quechua language
    in one of the Firefox web browser, that is why the community has invited to all Quechua
    speaker and who wish, to contribute in the construction of the project.

    (Source: SciDev.Net)

    Further
    details


  • 'Easy Pay - Digital Pay ', an inclusive Project Law - Colombia

    The ICT Ministry and the Ministry of Finance released the draft law “Easy Pay - Digital
    Pay”, which seeks to bring transactional services to the entire population and expanding
    demand over the Internet.

    The Deputy Minister for ICT, María Carolina Hoyos Turbay and Technical Deputy Minister
    of Finance, Ana Fernanda Maiguashca, presented the draft law 'Easy Pay - Digital Pay'
    during the Third Congress of Access to Financial Services, Payment Systems and Tools,
    organized by Asobancaria in Cartagena (Colombia).

    The project serves a new digital payments business that will allow Colombians to make
    their transactions safely, efficiently and at lower cost. It also seeks financial
    inclusion of the population which develops informal productive activities, and thus
    tending to the formalization of the transactions in the economy.

    "The idea is that people can do their financial transactions from their phones, tablets
    and other mobile devices, to no longer waste time on travel and rows. It is a great
    alternative for people who live in rural or remote areas of banking areas", said Vice
    ICT.

    Technical Deputy Minister of Finance said that it is important a balance between protection
    and access to electronic transactions, as this project is part of the strategy that
    seeks that more Colombians are banked.

    Now there are over one million users of mobile transaction, this thanks to the coordination
    of different actors in the government and the private sector, who in a joint, are
    driving the delivery of government subsidies through electronic wallets.

    This mechanism has reduced prices incurred by the national government to meet the
    basic needs of vulnerable sections of the country, and also this social service is
    going to be provided in an efficient, quick and transparent way.

    Mobile banking has grown substantially in recent years. According to the latest report
    of the Superintendency of Colombia, the channel used by financial users in Colombia
    is the cell phone, with a 26% of usability.

    (Source: MINTIC –Colombia)


    Further
    details


  • Creating an 'energy Internet' for the poor

    The world's poorest countries can jump directly from the pre-electricity era into
    a new industrial revolution through an "energy Internet" — the uptake of renewable
    energy shared through communication technologies, argues economist Jeremy Rifkin.

    "The great economic revolutions in history occur when new communication
    technologies converge with new energy systems", writes Rifkin.

    And now — with industrial civilization at a crossroads and the
    need to transition to a post-carbon era — internet technology and renewable energies
    are coming together to create a new infrastructure for a Third Industrial Revolution,
    a decentralized system where millions of people can produce green energy locally and
    share it with each other.

    Rifkin points out that because developing countries do not have an aging electricity
    grid, they can "leapfrog" into a new energy era by building new, distributed electricity
    systems. This will significantly reduce the time and cost of making the transition
    — the European Union needs to spend US$ 1.3 trillion between 2010 and 2020 to update
    electricity grids and keep up with renewable energy.

    Economic development is impossible without reliable and affordable
    green electricity, says Rifkin, and this democratization of energy will help raise
    40 per cent of the global population out of poverty. Power and control over energy
    will shift from "giant" fossil fuel companies to millions of small producers, diffusing
    risk as neighborhoods and regions pool resources to create local grids.

    Establishing this infrastructure to transition to a Third Industrial Revolution will
    require setting down several 'pillars' simultaneously, which include shifting to renewable
    energy; building micro-power plants to collect renewable energies; and using the Internet
    to create an "energy-sharing intergrid".

    (Source:SciDevNet)

    Further
    details


  • ICT is key in the protection of the rights of children as consumers - Colombia

    On 15 March,
    was held the Consumer's Day in the world and to celebrate it, the Superintendency
    of Industry and Trade in conjunction with the School Cafam, prepared virtual guides
    'Alert and Safety in the Network', by which, children
    and
    young people will get information about the expected behavior on the Internet, warning
    of hazards and risks, plus tips and suggestions for browsing the network.





    This
    is framed in the Act
    1480 - 2011
    , through which was issued the Consumer Protection Statute, which protects
    the right of all consumers to be educated about their rights.





    The
    Deputy Minister for ICT, María Carolina Hoyos, helped to launch the project, which
    intends to continue with the issue of virtual cards in matters of protection and safety
    of children as consumers, to allow- through the use of technological tools-present,
    disseminate
    and educate Colombians about their rights under the law in their role as consumers.





    "For
    the ICT Ministry is a priority to develop strategies for our children, so they will
    be better users of ICT, especially Internet and, as such, they should respect their
    rights.
    Committed
    to that purpose, under the Digital Living Plan, we developed the strategy 'EnTicConfio',
    a novel model by which we produce, collect and disclose content to provide citizens
    with valuable tools to make better use of ICT ", said Hoyos, the Deputy Minister.





    Also,
    the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce started to provide to manufacturers,
    suppliers and marketers of good services, as well as general users, the tool called
    VIRTUAL BOX, by which they can meet the demands that promote consumer
    to
    the entity, as an efficient and expeditious channel of communication with the SIC.

    (Source: MINTIC –Colombia)

    Further
    details

  • Research. Tracking Mobile Money Use in Tanzania

    In quarterly tracking studies through fall 2012, InterMedia is monitoring trends in
    awareness and use of mobile money in Tanzania, for the benefit of the financial access
    stakeholder community.

    This first quarterly report, covering the period Sept-Nov. 2011, provides a concise
    view on levels of awareness and use, triggers and deterrents to use, what alternatives
    to mobile money services are being used, and perspectives on successful marketing
    of mobile money services.

    As Key Points this report shows:

    • Ownership of a mobile phone in Tanzania is high with more than three-quarters (78
      percent) of Tanzanians having household ownership of a mobile phone and 63 percent
      having personal ownership.

    • General awareness of mobile money (MM) services in Tanzania is almost
      universal with 93 percent of Tanzanians aware of at least one brand of mobile money
      services. However, only about a quarter of the population (24 percent) is actually
      using MM.

    • Use of mobile money is not even across demographic characteristics.

    • Usage of mobile money is positively associated with ownership of mobile phones.

    • Income often not a factor in usage of MM applications.

    • MM usage still restricted to sending and receiving money.

    • Non-MM users are not yet convinced that MM is reliable, trustworthy, or convenient.

    • Rural females living below the $1.25/day PPP poverty line, the population
      least likely to use MM currently, express the most interest in the product’s safety,
      security and convenience.

    Full
    Report



    (Source: InterMedia)


  • Vietnamese city to provide free wifi for residents

    Located 160km Northeast of Hanoi, Ha
    Long
    —capital city of Quang
    Ninh province
    , Vietnam—”has started installing 30 wireless base broadcasting stations
    to provide free wifi for citizen and tourists” revealed Mr Nguyen Minh Hong, Director
    General, Department of Information and Communications, Quang Ninh province.



    The project to offer free wifi for the main cities of Quang Ninh is estimated to cost
    about 350 trillion Dong (USD 17 million).



    The first implementation phase required an investment of about 100 trillion Dong (USD
    5 million) to “establish free wifi for Ha Long city”. Quang Ninh local government
    is working closely with the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (VNPT)
    to implement this project. VNPT is responsible for installing infrastructure and collect
    monthly wireless internet fee from local government and end-users who need better
    services for their entertainment needs.



    Hong told FutureGov that the Ha Long project is expected to be finished before the
    end of April 2012 when the local tourism festival begins. The free wifi coverage will
    help meet internet access needs of local citizens, investors and tourists.



    (Source: FutureGov)

    Further
    details




  • Connectivity How Mobile Phones, Computers and the Internet Can Catalyze Women's Entrepreneurship - India: A Case Study

    This study examines how access to and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) are transforming the economic opportunities available to poor and low-income women in India by promoting their entrepreneurial activity. What types of initiatives support small and medium enterprises for women, and through which ICTs? What factors shape a positive connection between ICTs and women’s business success? What barriers have been lifted and what opportunities realized? What types of impact are ICT-based initiatives having on women, their businesses and beyond? What promising pathways are being shaped, and what channels have yet to be explored?



    The larger goal of this research is to identify how technology can be leveraged to
    create and transform entrepreneurial opportunities for women across the globe. The
    insights presented here are intended to inform programs, policies and investments
    that encourage women to start, strengthen and sustain businesses by adopting and using
    ICTs. Recommendations aim to provide direction for stakeholders—development actors,
    governments, and especially the private sector—on how they can support women’s entrepreneurship
    through ICT platforms, products and services.



    (Source: International
    Center for Research on Women - ICRW



    Full
    Report


  • Research. How are women who are making less than $ 2 a day using mobile tech?

    March 8th is International Women's Day and to mark the occasion, the GSMA
    mWomen Programme
    has released a study called "Striving
    and Surviving – Exploring the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid
    ". Drawn
    from 2,500 interviews with women (aged 16-64 in both rural and urban areas) living
    on less that $2 a day in Egypt, India, Papua New Guinea, and Uganda, the report looks
    at how mobile technology influences the way women approach health, economic development,
    and family relationships, and what mobile operators can do to reach more low-income
    women.



    The report is divided into three parts; part one looks at the social, cultural, and
    economic factors that women at the base of the economic pyramid face in their daily
    lives, part two looks at the role of mobile technology in their lives, and part three
    looks at how technology can be used to further reach low-income women.


    Some of the statistics pulled from the report show that when asked what the key benefits
    of mobile would be:

    • 80% reported being connected to friends and family
    • 58% said it would be useful in an emergency
    • 40% said it would cut down on travel time
    • 15% believed it would help them feel secure
    • 93% reported that mobile phones made them feel safer, while the same proportion particularly
      valued being connected to friends and family.
    • 41% reported that owning a mobile had helped them increase their income or their professional
      prospects
    • 85% of mobile owners reported a greater feeling of independence

    Full
    Report



    (Source: Mobile
    Active
    )


  • Broadband For Nigeria - Next ICT Development Frontier

    This paper makes the case for a National Software
    and Broadband Policy in support of the recently published draft National ICT Policy
    of January 2012 by the Ministry of Communications Technology's Ministerial Committee
    on ICT Policy Harmonization which includes in its objectives, "To encourage the development
    of Broadband services that will enable Nigerians enjoy the benefits of globalization
    and convergence".

    Specifically, the paper builds on the Broadband Section of the policy which states
    that "It is widely acknowledged that broadband infrastructure is an enabler for economic
    and social growth in the digital economy.

    Therefore as part of the universal service obligation, broadband access shall be made
    universally available to all citizens." This section of the policy sets the National
    Broadband objectives as - To accelerate the penetration of affordable broadband Internet
    in the country and - to foster broadband usage for national development.

    The strategies put forward for achieving these objectives are that the Government
    shall:

    1. Provide periodic review of the broadband penetration targets in order to determine
      further action for broadband expansion;


    2. Promote both supply- and demand-side policies that create incentives for broadband
      backbone and access network deployment;


    3. Facilitate broadband development and deployment, leveraging on existing universal
      service frameworks;


    4. Provide special incentives to operators to encourage them to increase their investment
      in broadband rollout;


    5. Promote e-Government and other e-services that would foster broadband usages.



    (Source: allAfrica)


    Further Details


  • First mobile phone cash transfers facilitate UN-backed home rebuilding - Haiti

    Survivors of the 2010 devastating earthquake in Haiti have this week started receiving
    cash subsidies through the first-ever mobile money transfer system in support of post-disaster
    housing reconstruction, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
    reported.

    More than 2,000 mobile money transfers are planned in the next three months to 1,000
    low-income families receiving subsidies totalling $500 to purchase construction materials
    such as cement, iron and wood at selected project-certified stores. The initiative
    is part of the ‘Community Support Centres for House Repairs’, a partnership between
    UNDP and the Government of Haiti.

    Commissioned by UNDP and developed by Digicel, one of the country’s largest cell phone
    service providers, the mobile telephone cash transfers are helping boost financial
    inclusion in Haiti, where nearly two-thirds of the population has access to mobile
    phones, but only 10 per cent have bank accounts.

    Beneficiaries can also access a mobile phone checking account, which is a safer method
    of keeping cash, reduces financial transaction costs, improves users’ ability to save
    and helps bring more people into the formal financial sector.

    “Mobile phone vouchers create additional security and convenience here in Haiti, especially
    for women, who might feel more vulnerable when carrying large sums of money”, said Jessica
    Faieta, Senior UNDP Country Director for Haiti. She stressed that more than 40 per
    cent of Haitian households are led by women.

    “With safer housing conditions, this initiative will also encourage the permanent
    return of camp residents to their neighbourhoods and repaired homes”, she added.

    The Support Centres, known locally by their French acronym as CARMEN, have been empowering
    quake-affected communities in Port-au-Prince and the western town of Léogâne to directly
    take charge of house repairs, with engineering assessments and construction training.

    Four thousand families have already registered to participate in the project, benefiting
    12,000 people. Five thousand participants have been trained in construction techniques
    and 2,000 damaged houses have already been evaluated, according to UNDP.



    (Source: United Nations)

    Further
    Details




  • New study: The world is ready for mobile healthcare

    The study identifies the main
    healthcare challenges in each study country, and estimates the
    potential benefits over the next decade of large-scale mHealth
    solutions being made available, leveraging the best evidence
    available on mHealth pilots to date. It also examines the roles
    stakeholders need to play to help make this a reality.

    Based on the explosive growth in global mobile phone penetration, a technology revolution
    is quickly gaining pace in healthcare. Around the world, healthcare systems are overburdened,
    costly and incapable of meeting the needs of a growing population. According to a
    new study from The Boston Consulting Group and Telenor
    Group
    , mobile health technology can offer sizeable benefits to all countries,
    lead to economic growth and promise a better life for individuals.

    The study "Socio-Economic Impact of mHealth " - commissioned by Telenor Group and
    carried out by The Boston Consulting Group - is a comprehensive survey of the impact
    that mHealth initiatives can have in 12 countries. What unites them all is that mobile
    health technology can improve the quality, reach and effectiveness of services while
    reducing costs and the overall system burden.

    Telenor Group has launched a number of mobile health initiatives across its markets.
    In Norway, an assisted living project helps the elderly stay longer at home through
    mobile alarm systems. In Thailand, a mobile text messaging service provides epidemic
    surveillance. In Bangladesh and Pakistan, a service called Healthline provides patients
    with a simple number to dial for both serious and non-serious medical needs. In India,
    mothers can obtain critical information about prenatal health via their phones. In
    Montenegro, a joint project with the EU provides a service for remotely located elderly
    people, enabled by one touch on a button on their mobile handset. In Serbia, mobile
    health technology is used to increase the quality of medical registration and reporting
    for the Roma community.

    Among the key findings:

    • The necessary infrastructure is already in everyone's hands: 7.4 billion mobile subscriptions
      projected by 2015

    • The technology richness and network capacity is sufficient, both on simple feature
      phones and on smart devices

    • Currently, more than 500 mobile health projects are taking place around the world

    • Costs in elderly care can be reduced by 25% with mobile healthcare

    • Maternal and perinatal mortality can be reduced by 30%

    • Twice as many rural patients can be reached per doctor

    • Tuberculosis treatment compliance can be improved by 30-70%

    • 30% of smartphone users are likely to use "wellness apps" by 2015

    • Costs related to data collection can be reduced by 24%

    • Smartphone is the most popular technology among doctors since the stethoscope

    (Source: Reuters News)

    Further
    details


  • Mobile Phones and Apps Making a Difference in the Lives of Poor Farmers – Kenya

    A farmers’ organization in Western Kenya uses mobile
    phones to access a digital marketplace and bypass middlemen. Now trading directly
    with exporters, the group is seeing dramatic increases in income. New mobile applications
    are also being used to provide timely information about disease outbreaks to farmers
    in Eastern Africa, so they can prepare and prevent the pests from affecting their
    livestock.

    Understanding and addressing global agriculture developments - both positive and negative
    - are critical to improving smallholder livelihoods. These are just two examples of
    how the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) can improve smallholder
    farmers’ income and increase agricultural productivity. Expanded and increasingly
    affordable connectivity and tools, especially mobile phones, as well as advances in
    data storage and open access, have made ICT relevant to agriculture.

    Now, the World Bank’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department (ARD)
    has teamed up with infoDev to connect
    smallholder farmers to knowledge, networks, and institutions.



    “The missing link to achieving smallholder farmer growth has always been access to
    timely, cost-effective, and personally relevant information on improved practices,
    markets, prices, inputs, weather - and impending disasters,” said Mark Cackler, sector
    manager for ARD.

    Smallholder farmers, who still provide a significant portion of the world’s food,
    need information to advance their work just as much as industrial-scale producers,
    but they often lack access to simple tools and technologies that can provide essential
    information on prices, markets, varieties, production techniques, services, storage,
    or processing. As a result, smallholder farmers remain dependent primarily on word
    of mouth, previous experience, and local leadership.

    But this is changing as the types of ICT-enabled
    services useful to improving the capacity and livelihoods of poor smallholders are
    growing quickly. For example, short messaging service (SMS) is now enabling mobile
    phones to be used as a platform for agricultural information exchange.



    (Source: The World Bank)

    Further Details