LIFT @ Austria – day 2, part 1

Notes from the first Lift @ Austria conference from 19. to 20. March 2010 in Vienna, Austria.

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After the first day of the Lift @ Austria conference (Lift @ Austria – day 1, part 1 & Lift @ Austria – day 1, part 2), the second day was also dedicated to discussions in small groups initiated by two short impulse talks. I joined the group on Enabling Ambiences meet Enabling Metamorphoses. Information on all the groups and speakers can be found at the Lift @ Austria conference program page. Abstracts of all talks can be read at the Lift @ Austria speakers page.

Pictures of the speaker are either shot by myself or taken from the website of the conference.

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Roland AltonosAlliance

Co-operative Settings that enable IT, Media and Social Businesses

Enabling spaces already created:

  • Spaces, materials, tools for students enabling them to build furniture and make exhibitions
  • Net Culture Lab – with Telekom Austria
  • Enabling a space takes time – process is too complex
  • Old Telekom building in Dornbirn

We need common values in these settings

  • Ethify
  • 8 virtues
  • Testing these values in various settings and adapting them
  • New value system – one answer to the “crisis”

Internationaler Medienverbund – Co-operative with the possibilities of running micro-co-operatives

  • Reduces bureaucracy for small projects
  • Splitting financial responsibility
  • “Structural enabling space”

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Oliver MarlowThe Hub, Tilt

Talking about ‘enabling’ spaces. How design is being used to transform the way people interact with each and their environment

Enabling is connected to space – but also to the interface between people and space

12 principles for The Hub – constraints which are necessary

Co-design workshop for complex problems

  • intuitive responses for questions that pop up
  • for all sorts of problems
  • individual vs. community

(more…)

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LIFT @ Austria – day 2, part 1
was published on 21.03.2010 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Bamboo, Tin and Callabashes

Bamboo, Tin and Callabashes is an exhibition currently being held in the Leopold museum in Vienna. It’s just a small exhibition, but still very interesting, fascinating objects and great pictures.

The exhibition features children’s toys from different regions. From the description on the Leopold museum official page

In this exhibition, the Leopold Museum will be showing over 250 items from the one-of-a-kind toy collection of Austrian ethnologist Dr. Fritz Trupp. The items come from Africa, Asia and Latin America, and they were created from everyday materials by children for their own use.

One thing particularly interesting is how skilled the children get in creating their toys. Often they are made from scrap material which the children just find on the streets – or they even search these materials on waste-yards.

Several of the objects reminded me innovation of the Afrigadget kind of innovations. The picture below shows movie projectors which actually work – with a candle or flash light.

Another interesting aspect is what actually moves and inspired the children to create their toys. The picture below is pretty sad – children building toy weapons, helicopters or chainsaws.

(more…)

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Bamboo, Tin and Callabashes
was published on 05.01.2010 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Development Marketplace 2009 – Aftermath

Today was the final day of Development Marketplace 2009, a competitive grant program hosted by the World Bank and supported by them and several other partners.

There were 100 finalists projects with “ideas to save the planet” surrounding the topic climate adaptaion. On the last four days these finalists were competing for 26 grants of up to $ 200 000 to realize their project.

A very striking feature of all the projects was that the solutions offered were brought forward by local people. A lot of projects fostered indigenous, ancestral knowledge to prepare for climate adaptation. As Ed Canton from MIT stated in his interview – many projects are not high tech, but appropriate to the local circumstances.

Some projects also used ICT to achieve their goal. In the following the three winning projects using ICTs are presented:

Strengthening Disaster Preparedness of Southern Leyte with SMS Technology, Philippines

African Pastoralists to Play Out Climate Drama on the Airwaves, Nigeria

Women and Youth Use Reality-Show Format to Tell of Climate Options, India

All 26 winners of Development Marketplace 2009

The organizers of the event put a very strong emphasis to promote the event via web 2.0 and created possibilities for the project teams to take and upload videos, pictures and to stay connected via social networks. There was also a live webcast several hours every day with interviews of participants and experts on climate change.

There was also broadcasted one panel discussion on Thursday which was really interesting to see. Former winners of Development Marketplace competitions described their projects and focused on the aspect of “scaling up” a solution. In the following discussion the participants suggested a different kind of support from donors, which would encourage more people to come up and get started with their ideas – a bigger number of grants with less money, but therefore more training, capacity building and networking.

Other interesting statements in the course of the event included:

  • Valeria D’Costa – Program Manager infoDev: the rate of access to ICT is growing, but the content doesn’t grow fast enough – infoDev will try to tackle that
  • Wayan Vota – Inveneo: ICTs are not expensive, people make conscious decisions to use these tools because they are valuable to them
  • Valeria Merino – Vice President, Ashoka: marketing & dissemination is a central element of scaling up – selling the idea to others
  • Marianne Fay – Chief Economist, SDN: to be effective, innovation has to tap local knowledge – that’s a big challenge for projects
  • Mara Bun – Green Cross: we are already globally adapting to climate change, we just have to find these ways and promote them

All in all Development Marketplace was a great opportunity to get a peek on what future strategies to adapt for climate change may look like.

If you want to have a look yourself, all the videos of the live webcast are online. For further video material check out the DM 2009 Youtube channel.

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Development Marketplace 2009 – Aftermath
was published on 13.11.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Africa Gathering London – Saturday, presentations 3

Notes from the Africa Gathering London – “sharing ideas about positive change” – an event about business, IT, social causes and Africa.

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Noemia Bacar – ICT in Mocambique

How are doing with ICT as a woman in Mocambique?

  • I am very proud to be the leader of the ICT unit of KPMG in Mocambique
  • Only few women are in this field

How is KPMG doing today in Mocambique?

  • KPMG is the longest established consulting company in Mocambique – since 1990
  • in 2007 a new line of service – IT advisors
  • new product and new market – helping clients developing new businesses, implementation reviews

Africa has got a continuity problem – how are you dealing with that in Mocambique?

  • companies are often not ready for this
  • we are trying to convince companies that it’s important to mitigate risks

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Nick Short & Andrew Hagner & Niall WintersRoyal Veterinary College

Map of the last six months

  • quite a lot has happened – Africa Gathering helped a lot
  • New partners: Bloomsbury Colleges, London International Development Center (LIDC), African partners – very important as reality check, Novoda – commercial partner, Vetaid – NGO in the field providing a different viewpoint, Google.org, SACIDS, Vodafone
  • Research funding, government funding (JISC)

Project overview

  • livestock development – NGOs replacing government services for livestock – rise of community animal helath workers, but they are isolated
  • mobile possibilities, e.g. an Android platform we are working on now
  • pilot study in Zanzibar

Undergraduate research team

  • RVC team of currently 9 students
  • project on East Coast Fever

Use of phones

  • collecting data with Google Open Data Kit – collecting many paramaters
  • recording locations
  • communication
  • updating team blog

Advantages of phones

  • quick upload
  • XML formatted
  • paperless
  • keep in contact
  • input from world experts
  • also several technical constraints

Pros vs. Cons

  • great advantages
  • but phones are not affordable – financial support?

What do the local vets want?

  • educational tool & learning resource
  • record production data
  • management tool
  • ruggedness

Mobile opportunities

  • usage is widespread in Africa already
  • affordable handsets and tariffs
  • sample projects: Google.org & Uganda health care

Perspectives on Learning – Where next?

Challenge – how to use mobile phones to support learning?

  • Can learning be a more engaging process than traditionally?
  • How to design learning experiences around the mobile device

Why is this important?

  • user generated content is more accepted – “caring and sharing”
  • students sharing content
  • emphasis on mobile learning + Web 2.0

What about an African context?

  • a lot of things emerging – mobile phone coverage, data collection tools, sms sending tools
  • mobile is the dominant technology for learning
  • next project: use mobile devices to produce content locally

Q & A:

If you help animals you help people too – do people understand that message?

  • There’s an international movement now to see the whole ecosystem – animal and human health – as one

Who are the kind of people you would like to get in touch with here?

  • People get involved in different ways, just get in touch with us and we’ll find out

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Mira SlavovaMMD4D – Mobile Market Applications in Africa

Interested in markets

What would a visitor from Mars see in social structures on earth?

  • In the west – interconnected communities and companies
  • In Africa, a lot of enclosed societies, not interconnected

More and more penetration in Africa due to the business models

  • pay-and-go

impact of mobile phones

  • blurring of livelihood and lives
  • extending markets
  • strengthening households, families, communities, …

significant instances e.g. M-Pesa, TradeNet, Esoko, txtEagle

Liberia: Trade at Hand

  • civil war, poor infrastructure, lack of standardisation
  • inefficiences in food supply chain, adverse impacts on women
  • project: Trade at Hand
  • posting and receiving offers per sms

research challenges

  • use and social construction of the technology
  • impact on markets
  • adoption
  • business model

innovation challenges

  • application development
  • literacy
  • localisation

Q & A:

Are people already understanding the value of the mobile phone concerning markets?

  • Users are very enthusiastic, we are working on educating the user side

Example of Tanzania

  • Bus drivers stopped taking passengers but make the middleman for people from the village and the city to trade their offers on demand by order of sms

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Emmanuel JalRapper

Former child soldier in Sudan – “forced to be a war child”

Puts his fight into the music

It’s hard telling the story but somebody has to do it – for the people who have no voice

The different ethnies and religions are no problem, the oild and the fertile land is a problem – everybody wants it

NGOs right now are only buying time, the aid has to change to fix Sudan again

  • empower the young people
  • more education

Telling his story – how he was cast away from home, recruited, trained for being a child soldier in a refugee camp, and the long and painful journey of his escape

Right now – trying to raise money for a school in his village to give the young people a chance

Link to Emmanuel Jal’s charity

Q & A:

Have you done workshops with musicians to share the experience

  • I do stuff at schools with the kids, they could be the next leaders so I try to teach them how to be good leaders

How much have you raised for the school so far and how much is your aim?

  • Aim: 1 000 000 $ from 1 000 000 people

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Africa Gathering London – Saturday, presentations 3
was published on 10.10.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Africa Gathering London – Saturday, presentations 2

Notes from the Africa Gathering London – “sharing ideas about positive change” – an event about business, IT, social causes and Africa.

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Justin LyonSimudyne

Insights in simulation science can give insights in many things

computer simulation is creating a virtual envirmonment

  • how to take insights gained in virtual environment out of it

Tried to create a model how to create clean water

  • designed the device in the virtual environment
  • built it in real life
  • doesn’t need electricity
  • only requires that the water is stored above it

We can have something that exists in the virtual world and can be applied in the real world – that’s what we try to accomplish

Q & A:

How do you get the money to begin with? How is it sustained?

  • There’s an opportunity for the government, and for small and medium enterprises to purchase it with a loan

How about servicing?

  • the system was designed as a simple solution for a complex problem
  • the device is designed very inexpensively, the parts are available commercially and simple to maintain

Simulation is a powerful tool – it’s no problem if you mess up

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Kevin “Banana Man” Alanbananaappeal.org

Giving bananas to children in the Zulu land in South Africa – known as Banana Man there

The story as it began

  • 2005, a TV documentary on Africa, seeing the sad living conditions in Africa
  • 6 days later going to Zulu land and trying to help
  • hard decision to leave family and life behind
  • got to know taxi driver David going to Zulu land
  • journey of self-discovery
  • bought bananas to feed the children on the road side
  • incredible journey – found thousands of children that needed help
  • returned back later with money and set up fruit growing schemes
  • tried to get money, fundraise, funds
  • by 2007 many travels back to Zulu land, but quite close to giving up – working alone
  • joined a social networking site, posted stories and pictures to make people aware
  • wrote a book and published it, many copies sold, also in South Africa
  • Jacob Zuma was born in that town – a meeting was arranged
  • now there’s a charity – Banana Appeal
  • feeding children and helping them to go to school

“It’s incredible what you can do with some pence in a third world country”

Now the soccer World Cup is taking place in South Africa

  • what do we see?
  • AIDS, poverty

Zulu land is very fertile, just throw some seeds there and something will grow

Banana appeal wants to

  • grow many many fruit trees
  • create a blue print how to feed all the children for free
  • the trees take out a lot of carbon from the atmosphere

Q & A:

What did you tell your wive?

  • The only thing I did was get over the inhibition to do something
  • Huge emotional turn
  • Wive accepted it

What would you tell other people who have a good idea?

  • If you’re feeling inspired look around, there will be something to do – just get over the inhibitions

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Mariéme Jamme – 10000Girls

  • Viola Vaughn  – Black American lady who decided to retire in Africa, young girl wanted her to teach them
  • Girls had no education
  • project called 10000Girls
  • social entrepreneurship education program
  • education for girls from 8-21 years
  • we want to get 10000Girls.org through education in 2038

Why do some business people go there to teach?

  • to get people in their feet
  • teaching entrepreneurship
  • lending money to start business

Entrepreneurship is the possibility to create your own future

The girls don’t want charity, they want the possibility to start their own businesses

Aid is not a tool, but education is

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Africa Gathering London – Saturday, presentations 1

Notes from the Africa Gathering London – “sharing ideas about positive change” – an event about business, IT, social causes and Africa.

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Glen MehnAppfrica Labs

Not many technology incubators in Africa

Appfrica

  • In business since about one years
  • 5 start ups founded
  • Active in Uganda
  • founded by Jon Gosier
  • 11 months old
  • 12 employees

Recruiting young developers

Encouraging developers – fail early, fail often and learn from these errors

Learning by doing

  • effort
  • persistence – push people forward
  • relationships

Q & A:

What’s the secret in getting investment?

  • Mostly a track record – we’ve done work with the UNICEF, … – or networking

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Ben Lyon – Credit SMS – is now FrontlineSMS Credit

New tagline – the goal is to make every financial service available by 160 characters, in every area, how remote it may be

There’s 54 money transfer systems on the continent, there’s more to come

Mobile money

  • There’s 4 people involved in the process
  • sender, cash-in agent, cash-out agent, receiver

47% of money transfers take place via M-Pesa

There’s obviously a need for that

  • People found ways to transfer money with the devices they have
  • but generally in Africa there are many areas with virtually zero such services

Initial idea: integrating the functionality of FrontlineSMS and a financial model has huge potential

  • A Nation wide bank run from a single laptop
  • Hardware: connecting a laptop to a mobile phone, carrying out the mobile payments via sms
  • Adding microfinance

Q & A:

What about security?

  • Security is huge – we had trouble for months, but two coders in Kenya fixed it
  • Some transactions can be encrypted, this functionality is used
  • Other groups look into secure sms or fingerprints and biometry

How about marketing?

  • We give the software away for free
  • Getting pilots out there and make people share the information about them
  • It should sell itself

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Molly MatessichAfrica Rural Connect

What are we doing?

  • Trying to find solutions to the agricultural challenges in Africa
  • Connect those who live(d) and work(ed) in Africa in the agricultural sector

Working in global collaboration – National Peace Corps Association

  • Cultural exchange and technical corporation
  • Active in 180 countries all over the world
  • People in the Peace Corps can connect with the people and are therefore targeted in this program

Created a platform, collaboration between different projects

  • ARC was launched in July 15th 2009
  • over 65 nationalities are represented

Many projects were added to ARC

  • e.g. Jon Gosier, CreditSMS
  • there is a contest in “best projects”
  • but any project gets displayed and can be contacted from anywhere
  • give a voice to people who didn’t have a voice before

www.africaruralconnect.org

  • create an account
  • add an idea or browse the ideas
  • comment on ideas, vote for ideas
  • it’s also possible to “improve” ideas

Spread the word – social media, traditional media, connections, always looking for partnerships

Q & A:

Seems like a big bottom up approach – why has it taken us so long to find out that we have to ask the “ordinary” people on the ground

  • There is no infrastructure, sometimes people speak different languages we don’t understand
  • People have a sense of control, they want to do their project, not anybody else’s

How do you make sure qou can implement the ideas which are on the top?

  • During the next year we want to make our peacecorps volunteers check the projects
  • We just work on the ideas until they are good enough for real world impact

How do you handle big organizations buying in the idea?

  • We are trying to get people from every side involved, we are trying the best we can

Does it help democratize communities as well – do communities come together at non expected places?

  • Our goal is for that to happen
  • A lot of communities still happen offline

The failure of many projects is that they don’t have a community buy-in & participation

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Africa Gathering London – Friday, presentations 2

Notes from the Africa Gathering London – “sharing ideas about positive change” – an event about business, IT, social causes and Africa.

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Bill LiaoNeo.org

The future of humanity

Where do we get our commerce from? Scarcity

  • A lot of revenue from oil and cars
  • Oil prices go up and down – which cause other people to lose money

We live in a consumer society – but what if there are no consumers?

People – the society gets older

Trustworthy people – are abundant

  • Many people are getting informed and inform themselves
  • trying to control that is hardly possible
  • it’s about the context

5 billion people of 7 billion are not engaged in enterprises

Entrepreneurs are working in relationships, not alone

  • Nintendo increased their market share by engaging the community

We all want to contribute

  • More doers
  • Less talkers
  • Globally aware, locally focused

Happy Planet Index

  • Costa Rica on top

Thrivability

  • you don’t want to just survive in this world, you want to thrive in it
  • starts with trust
  • find the commons – confluence of gifts and commerce
  • be vulnerable and open
  • be authentic
  • assist others & loyalty
  • Neo.org

Happiness?

  • idea: Company Happines Index
  • happy companies – happy ecosystems
  • happy companies make happier workers

but the 5 billions are missing in this picture which are not entrepreneurs

  • need for a happiness leapfrog?
  • we need the developing world to save us
  • weforest.com
  • the rain forests keep us alive, we have to conserve them to survive
  • rain forests create rain, not the other way round
  • reforestation of the planet is important, it’s simple, doable, sustainable – please support the movement

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Sean MoroneyAITEC

Events in over 50 African countries “ICT exhibitions and conferences”

  • e.g. how to use the newly available bandwidth in East Africa

ICT events in Africa still work in isolation

  • associations & industry connections are lacking
  • people want to keep their ideas for themselves
  • top-down scenario with a strong disconnect between traditional and new developments
  • Real-life gatherings such as this Africa Gathering don’t really take place in Africa
  • it’s tough for young professionals and researchers

Professionals in Africa work in isolation and under extreme pressure

  • it’s hard for them to find people to collaborate
  • skilled people are in huge demand

Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem

It’s beautiful that so many non-Africans talk about the future of Africa here

Internet is becoming more and more important in Africa

Dictatorships and authoritarian regimes add internet as third battlefield

What is needed in Africa

  • young people
  • mentoring
  • democracy

This event shows young people how to become part of “good gangs” – teaching how to be creative and innovative

Q & A:

How to encourage and motivate the leaders to give the mentoring?

  • the leaders can’t give what they don’t have; events like this here might help – for the lead
  • Also informing and educating people in general helps – power and responsibility

Are things getting better in Nigeria – concerning spam, identity theft, …

  • people are aware that there is a problem, there’s a project called “rebrand Nigeria”
  • many Nigerians work hard, these people do not represent all Nigeria

Maybe the reason is the crisis in leadership – same as here? What can we do to inspire business leaders?

  • more inspirational input, professional development events & networks

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Teddy RugeProject Diaspora – Mobilize – Engage – Motivate

How many people in the diaspora are making a difference by investing in fellow Africans?

Project Diaspora

  • Motivate people who want to invest in Africans
  • Engage those who are doing for Africa
  • Mobilize that want to do something but don’t know how

In the US there are 4-6 millions members of the diaspora

The missions of the project

  • making sure that the money goes to community development projects
  • if the money is given to the community, everybody is better off, not only the person you had in mind

Does Africa understand the benefits of customer service?

  • a way of survival – if I please you I will eat today
  • all products salesmen in Africa sell are shaped for the community needs
  • a lost customer is a lost revenue opportunity

Customer service as path to prosperity

The word needs to be spread that African time is not fast enough & quality needs to be high enough for the West – customer service can be learned

Africa is defined by a single story only – mostly problems and poverty, but it can be so much more

Customer service as the core of Africa’s digital future

www.gotissuez.com

  • complaints about customer service online
  • based in Kenya

We have potential to move forward

Comments, Q & A:

How do orgaizations in the west know who / how / when to trust?

  • Get somebody who speaks the language and knows the customs, he/she will understand

Let’s start to celebrate success sories

Organizations in the west have to involve

  • don’t just throw money
  • success indicators, control

Try to give education to the people, communicate with Africans, learn from them

Education is the only thing I would ask for aid – it’s an investment

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Africa Gathering London – Friday, presentations 2
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Africa Gathering London – Friday, presentations 1

Notes from the Africa Gathering London – “sharing ideas about positive change” – an event about business, IT, social causes and Africa.

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Ed Scotcher – Introduction

Africa Gathering is already in place almost a year and has grown into this event – giving space for people to present their projects which might not be that big, but still innovative and important

The money which is made is going to a prize for a project which is presented

Mariéme Jamme

We are the leading platform in London today to share ideas about Africa and innovation

Africa is a great continent, a lot of things happen there, we are here to find out how to improve our continent

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Leon BenjaminWinning by Sharing

Personal background – child of different cultures, coming from the IT sector

Biggest story of the 21st century – from industrial age to a networked one

The things the basic institutions nowadays needed to survive are mostly gathered around command and control

Advances in technology, prosperity, but at what cost?

The cost of command & control

  • Diabetes – e.g. appeared in India with Modern work and life models
  • Work Rage – stress, suicides
  • Inequality – no more middle class, huge wage differences, rising poverty
  • Environment – business “owns” the environment

Animals have a different way of living and have totally different needs to survive

  • Self-organization
  • Transparency
  • Trust

P2P production values

  • Open Source Software – also Google, Facebook, … couldn’t exist without it
  • P2P lending – microfinance
  • Prosperity without growth – economic prosperity other than GDP growth
  • Creative Commons – crowdsourcing
  • Open democracy

Guide for entrepreneurs

  • Different thinking about ownership structures – Visa, a chaordic model; Ricardo Semler, Semco employee contract; txteagle, separation of work
  • Different thinking about labour models – fractional work, “the future is about less”,

We need antibodies

  • we need different types of leadership
  • P2P, self-organized
  • power from the bottom, not from the top
  • Ubuntu – I am because we are

Q & A:

What steps need to happen in Africa?

  • Connectivity – the penetration of mobile phones is not yet enough

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Ken BanksFrontline SMS – The business of social mobile: Mobile empowerment and the art of invisibility

Empowerment – build something, then take a step back and let other people take over

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Centralised vs. Decentralised communities

  • Many people have fantastic ideas, but they can’t realise them because they don’t have access to certain resources
  • We have to do something about it

Who has control over the stuff communities are producing? Who is controling?

  • The local people vs. the professionals

Long tail theory

  • High tech, expensive, infrastructure heavy solutions vs. easy, cheap, free local solutions
  • In rural, poor areas, the easy solutions tend to work, but the complex ones don’t

FrontlineSMS

  • already documented on this blog e.g. at the April Africa Gathering notes
  • empowering people in various countries – e.g. monitoring elections, working with Ushahidi visualizing stuff

FrontlineSMS Medic

  • “Text messages saving lives”
  • Students in the US set it up
  • Out there and running

People run it themselves now, the community is present

Important things to think about when starting a project

  • hardware requrements
  • make it run on its own
  • make it cheap or free
  • forget the internet
  • assume there’s no technical knowledge
  • provide space to connect
  • be multi-discipliary
  • appropriate technology, low tech
  • collaboration, not competition
  • connect with your users

New concept FrontlineSMS Credit

  • One system, microcredit solution
  • Presentation tomorrow

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oneVillageFoundation Ghana

The oneVillageFoundation is an international foundation aiming at promoting the use of

Information Communication Technology (ICT) to address World Urgent Issues, by providing a platform for an integrated approach to sustainable development” [from the oneVilageFoundation homepage]

It was founded in the US and currently operates also in Ghana, Nigeria and Taiwan.

Recently me and ICT4D.at fellow Worlali Senyo went to Winneba, Ghana, to meet the people behind oneVillageFoundation Ghana and to look at their projects.

Winneba is the main base of the oneVillageFoundation in Ghana, they have a building with offices and computer rooms there. Jacob Odame and Kafui Prebbie welcomed us and gave a short presentation of the projects which oneVillageFoundation is currently supporting, and the objectives of oneVillageFoundation Ghana in general.

In Winneba the foundation provides computer classes, an internet cafe, acts as local partner for appropriate technology company Inveneo and has a NComputing sample solution set up. The latter two help a lot in their efforts to give consulting for other organizations who want to introduce ICT solutions.

The computer room is built with the already mentioned NComputing device, a tiny and almost no energy consuming device which allows to split up the computing power of one PC to up to four workplaces – with monitor, mouse and keyboard each. This basically allows everyone to open up an internet cafe or easily equip a computer room with low equipment and energy costs. Due to the low power consumption it’s also possible to easily implement a backup power source as well as to minimize the cooling efforts – things which are of critical importance in a country like Ghana.

Another way the organization serves the surrounding communities is by sharing their internet conection with them. This is done with the German software Freifunk which allows to easily create large mesh networks by utilizing antennas and commonly available routers. This way only one participant of the network has to offer the conncetion to the intenet to make everybody profit. The same works in some cities in Austria with the initiative Funkfeuer.

oneVillageFoundation Ghana is also part of several international projects, such as the Wireless Africa initiative aiming at promoting Community Owned Information Networks or the EU-initiated Digital World Forum focusing on the use of ICT to leverage economic development in Africa and Latin America.

After a short walk through oneVillageFoundation’s facilities we had a discussion on how to get cheap internet to as many people as possible in Ghana – also mentioning several former UNDP efforts, the recent foundation of the Ghana Network Operators Group (ghNOG) which is a “forum for the exchange of technical information to ensure stability of the Internet Services in Ghana” and the Ghana Connect initiative.

It was inspiring to see the innovative and highly appropriate installations oneVillageFoundation implemented. Also I am curious if their solutions will spread over Ghana in the future, increasing internet access by simple means. Thumbs up for Kafui, Jacob and their co-workers who do a good job serving a lot of people.

If you want to know more about them and their projects check out the oneVillageFoundation homepage or the oneVillageFoundation blog.

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oneVillageFoundation Ghana
was published on 23.09.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Aftermath

Yesterday, 16 September, the workshop Mobile Innovations for Social and Economic Transformation: From Pilots to Scaled-up Implementation, initiated by the eDevelopment Thematic Group (eTG) of the World Bank took place.

It was already the 7th workshop we covered on our blog, Twitter and social media since we started our partnership with eTG, and the topic was especially interesting for us – considering the unique role of mobile phones in developing countries nowadays.

The workshop was split in six parts, each having as leitmotif a certain sector where mobile services are used.

There are some photos which Oleg Petrov took during the event on the ICT4D.at Flickr account.

The speakers came from various sectors – the World Bank, private and public sector, the academia and practicioners in the field.

Many of them claimed what I also already heard in several other conferences – the technology is there, now we have to focus on applications and business models. Although several successful projects were presented, there were general complaints that often such projects don’t bypass the “pilot” stage and don’t achieve sustainability. The topic of scaling projects to reach more audience and higher impact was also mentioned several times. More evaluation on impact and sharing information on failures of projects was identified as two ways to overcome this problem. Also the concept of private-public partnerships and searching strong, committed partners for implementing mobile solutions was put forward once more.

More detailed information can be found in the blog posts linked above and on Twitter. Under the hashtag #mobile09 the lively online discussion surrounding the event can be followed – several contributors gave this event quite a drive. The comments there had a more critical viewpoint on mobile phones as the big solution for all problems.

What was interesting for me personally was that obviously there is no real large scale project out there which is profitable so far. M-Pesa is the only one which scratches the border but also has trouble creating revenue. Impressive non-profit examples where projects which used mobile phones for delivering services to the poor and as enhancements in education.

So all in all the event gave a feeling that there is potential for more to come in the mobile sector and several great examples were given – but the “killer application” is obviously still to come, or maybe there’s even no need for it, because it’s so easy to set up an own, localized application.

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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Aftermath
was published on 18.09.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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