Sunday, 5 April 2009

Africa Perspective on the Role of Mobile Technologies in Fostering Social Development

Sean Paavo of Nokia presents the the Nokia Life Tools for agriculture

Maputo 1-2 April. FARA participated at the W3C workshop in Maputo: Africa Perspective on the Role of Mobile Technologies in Fostering Social Development.

The workshop attended by 100 participants was organised by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), particularly the Mobile Web Initiative, and its Mobile Web for Social Development Interest Group. As the organisers put it:

"There are today more than half of the population living with less than 3$ a day, and lacking all kind of services (health, education, government...). The incredible growth of the mobile penetration rate last few years is providing a new hope. The potential of simple ICT services on mobiles to improve people's income has indeed been largely demonstrated. The aim of this workshop is to explore how to leverage these success stories and create an enabling environment that would drive the appearance of numerous services all over the Developing World."

The following topics were of particular interest:
  • Analysis of use-cases / real-world projects on use of mobile phones in development projects, use of the Web in development projects, deployment of public services using mobile devices in developing countries.
  • Strengths and weaknesses of SMS technology vs mobile Web vs voice technology
  • Regional differences in Asia/Africa/Central Europe/Middle East/South America/etc.
  • Challenges of integrating ICTs in rural communities
  • Usability and Human-Computer Interfaces (HCI) challenges of mobile browser and mobile content for population without technological background and prior computer experience
  • Challenges and potential solutions against illiteracy
  • Usage of mobile technologies in emergency responses in rural areas
  • Analysis on the way the mobile phones and/or the Web could improve people's lives in Developing Countries (education, healthcare, etc.)
  • Role of voice and multimodal technologies/applications
  • Challenges of developing and deploying numerous ICT services to rural communities
  • Comparison between different potential platforms to support ICT's deployment (mobile phones, low-cost laptop, telecenters, and so on)
  • Opportunity and challenges of ICTs in social/human development
  • Challenges of sustainability, scalability and replicability
  • Challenges and opportunity of integrating mobile phones in specific domains: eGovernment projects (mGovernment), e-health projects, disaster management,....
Fara presented its paper on Innovative Farmer Advisory Services using ICT on 02/04.

Have a look at the workshop agenda for links to other papers which may be of interest.