Monday, 7 December 2009

The next generation of mobile phone e‐service delivery

2 to 4 November 2009. Wageningen. The ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), together with its partners, held its 2009 meeting of its ICT Observatory on ICTs on the theme of “mobile services” for agricultural and rural development. The next generation of mobile phone e‐service delivery using web technologies can only become a reality if a number of conditions are met :
  • Making usable mobile web browsers;
  • Defining guidelines on how to make usable web content and applications for people without previous computer experience;
  • Defining guidelines on how to identify needs and requirements of communities for ICT based services.
The meeting gathered some 20 experts around the discussion paper: The potential of mobile devices in wireless environments to provide e-services for positive social and economic change in rural communities. By Pete Cranston.Download in PDF format (35 pages, size: 620 K). An open session at the start of the meeting was addressed by a number of international speakers.

During the CTA ICT Observatory 2009 Mark Davies from Esoko, in Ghana was interviewed. Esoko is a software platform licensed to facilitate the flow of market information between farmers, governments, researchers and other stakeholders involved in agriculture and rural development. It is used to share information on prices, offers, price of fertilizers etc.

It is managed by the web, but delivered via mobile phones. Mark underlines the potential positive effects that Market Information Services such as Esoko can bring about, both in agriculture as well as in for other sectors. He then concludes talking about the difficulties he has encountered in this initiative, such as the lack of content available and the lack of right capacities to build and develop such software.

For Kafui Amenu (One Village Foundation, Ghana) the second day on the Observatory offered great opportunities to discuss business models, how these can be leveraged, and how ICTs can be applied in different situations. He concludes with a note of appreciation for the participatory and interactive approach adopted by the facilitators, which make possible for people to engage at a different level and really think out of the box.

For Edna Karamagi from Brosdi the first day of the ICT Observatory 2009 offered quite some interesting topics for discussion and ideas. In particular, for Edna the issue of sustainability of ICTs initiatives should be really at the center of the debate. Further, she underlines the importance of the quality of information that is made available through ICTs.

Jacqueline Nyagahima from Asareca took few minutes of her time to share some ideas with us on ICTs and agricultural research. In her views, research has the role to validate information: the current ICTs however might allow also some information not yet validated to circulate and people might take decisions upon this same information.

Dorothy Okello presented the work of WOUGNET in Uganda. Her organisation has been using mobile services to enhance the outreach of ICTs, to reach also rural and remote areas. However, there are also some challenges: the costs are still high; access to power and energy is an issue, and innovation in this field is very much needed; there's also a lack of skills in using these technologies; lastly, the policy environment needs to support the development of these services She concludes with some reflections on the day discussions.

Other presentations:

CTA ICT Observatory 2009