eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 6

Notes from the World Bank eDevelopment Thematic Group workshop on “Mobile Innovations for Social and Economic Transformation – From Pilots to Scaled-up Implementation on 16 September in Washington DC.


Session 6: Mobile Innovations in Governance


Introduction: Alfredo Gonzalez, WBI

Mobile technology has created at elections in various countries to raise voice and awareness

Fighting corruption is a big issue for ICTs


Mobile Phones for Good Governance – Scaling Up Issues

Ed Campos

Philippines is the SMS capital of the world – the reason is that technology came and broke the landline monopoly and everything changed

Mobile phones give the possibility to tap the voices of people you probably wouldn’t have heard

Problem with governance is the service delivery – especially in the regions locally

  • mobile telephony and ICTs can help a lot here
  • example in the Philippines where mobile phones were used for ensuring transparency in the education system

Mobile technology is a mechanism to bridge the demand-supply side very fast


Johan Hellstrom, ICT Specialist Stockholm University

East Africa as cast study

What is good governance?

  • impossible to define – depends on the context
  • relationships between three actors: state, market and civil society
  • communication between these actors is really the key point

Why mobile phones?

  • huge potentials
  • penetration rates, access, reach
  • easy to use, interaction
  • costs, efficiency
  • no other option?


  • not mGovernment, it’s good governance with mobile technology
  • interaction, reaction, action
  • bottom up participation
  • empowerment

East Africa: mostly pilots – many examples

  • Much usage which was not planned
  • Crowdsourcing

Recent example:

  • big incident
  • hard to get information – except on Twitter
  • crowdsourcing information with the help of Ushahidi


  • why are there so many pilots and yet so few that have been scaled-up?
  • why do many projects start from scratch instead of building on existing solutions?
  • why are there many subscribers but yet so few users of existing applications?


  • infrastructure
  • affordability – who pays for good governance services?
  • content – who is creating the content?
  • surrounding supporting system
  • enabling environment
  • documentation – on the pilots, success, failure, more collaboration

East Africa:

  • markets deregulated but operators still too powerful

Success factors for scaling:

  • design phase: end-user driven, use existing patterns
  • implementation phase: more research on business models, proper marketing to build a critical mass


  • design for scale
  • don’t be afraid of failures, don’t force success – but document
  • service delivery instead of projects approach
  • but: scale is not success, usage is not impact

Q & A:

best practices to design for scale?

  • designing by knowing that there is something beyond the pilot and what you want to achieve

governments are also afraid of the powers of new technologies


Boris Weber, WBI

Using Frontline SMSat WBI

  • east and fast to use
  • great communication tool
  • but relying on one network admin, maybe this can change in the future

Citizen feedback to service providers:

  • Long route – involving governments representatives and a lot of bureaucracy
  • Short route – citizens can give direct feedback

Why are we still doing citizen report cards same as 30 years ago?

  • automated process could make process quicker
  • improve performance
  • give providers the possibility to focus on evaluation and feedback

Idea – having feedback on a public service

  • various channels
  • government civil society work with data

Live sample of feedback mechanism / rating via SMS

Mobile phone – ICT tool with the lowest gender gap, reaches also out to illiterates, …

  • everybody can give feedback

Next step: participatory budgeting

  • priority areas to spend money one
  • specific projects make it too complex – but still citizens can be kept informed
  • increasing number of participation

Participating citizens in the decision process has the potential to change a lot


Katrin Verclas, Co-Founder and Editor, MobileActive.Org download presentation

mLearning is where mHealth was 3 years ago and mHealth is where mFinance was 3 years ago – so what is mGovernance?

there’s very little happening, save a few areas e.g. elections

mobile phone is the most ubiquotious compared to ant other media

  • but a lot of hype is happening in this field
  • danger of people being disappointed
  • one has to be careful about what mobile technology can deliver and what it can not


  • bringing people together using mobiles for social change
  • repository of projects

Use of mobiles interesting in this session

  • accountability & transparency
  • media reporting
  • organizing / advocacy

Report on mobile phones in citizen media

  • citizen media bringing minor but significant changes


  • one of the few areas where ICT are largely used
  • monitoring as an established procedure, mobiles as enhancing it
  • example: Ghana 2008 – went very well

Key issues:

  • Incredibly promising and exciting
  • Commercial, competitive, very fluid field
  • Privacy and security
  • Fragmented platforms
  • Many pilots, no scale
  • Impact unclear. Much trial and error
  • Focus on apps but not on an enabling environment
  • Lack of open platforms and applications
  • Significant capacity issues (NGOs and Gov)
  • Lack of capable intermediaries
  • Little knowledge of what works in what setting
  • Data alone may be largely useless unless it provides the right information delivered through the right channel in the right form at the right time.

A framework

  • Additive versus transformative
  • Contextual and user-focused
  • Sustainable (unsolved)
  • Driven by demand – Build it and they will come does usually not work
  • Localized but shareable
  • Built on open standards?
  • Built on existing knowledge


  • Targeted (and outsourced) R&D
  • ICT innovation marketplaces
  • Venture funds and public private partnerships
  • IT, mobile, data, information visualization, etc
  • User adoption studies and contextual research
  • Nokia and Microsoft
  • Better topographies (and case studies)

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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 6
was published on 16.09.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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