Project: EpiHandy

Florian mentioned it before: We left to South Africa on Saturday late afternoon and took the plane to Johannesburg via Munich. Everything was fine, we arrived without problems. We were picked up from the airport and on the way to our hotel we got a first glimpse of Johannesburg. We visited the Rosenberg Mall and had delicious lunch.

Then we went to Melville, a very hip area in town, where we attendet the infomal meetup of MobileActive08 participants. It was great and we met a lot of people like Peter, Marc and Joern working on some mobile framework at the University of Kampala, Uganda. The project is called EpiHandy, and it is

a new cutting edge solution that  revolutionizes the way in which surveys and data collection is done in health and development research. It eliminates bulky paper questionnaires and subsequent data entry as well as costly errors related to manual data entry and lack of validation of data at time of collection. [Snip taken from here]

It is basicly a mix up of different technologies like .NET and Java ME and they support basic form handling and data transmission of the forms. The next step is to incorporate a workflow engine to support complex flows and forms depending on each other. They got massive funding and they team up with the University of Bergen, Norway. They are planning to invest 40 manyears of labour in the next 4 years. Good luck!

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Project: EpiHandy
was published on 13.10.2008 by Martin Konzett. It files under sub saharan africa
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Electricity prepaid

We where previously discussing prepay versus subscription in the cellular network business. Now we want to go into prepaid electricity supply. Niti Bhan is reporting about the benefits of prepaying by example of John Lumbe out of Blantyre, Malawi. I spent myself 3 month down in Blantyre, and a was not a friend of topping up my electricity counter. As i grew up in Austria, electricity was always there. You just plug a device in, and it is lighting up and working. Prepaying therefor is just overhead. Why should you prepay, when you have electricity at almost no cost and the supplying company is just charging your account?

In lesser developed countries the situation is different. Companies don’t trust their customers. They want the money in advance. The consumption behavior is different. People want to spend small amounts of money to services and want to get a short experience. E.g. people spent this affordable small amount of money to plug in their TV an watch the news 5 minutes a day. On the other hand business owners can benefit from the prepaid system:

– No writing off of bad debts
– Cost decrease
– Simplifying management information
– Help companies to cope with uncertainty

    [bullets taken from here]

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    Electricity prepaid
    was published on 21.09.2008 by Martin Konzett. It files under global
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    Google and Mozambique

    Florian was reporting about Google before and there is more and more to report about Google and Africa. I am especially interested in this move because I daily work with Google Web Toolkit and Google App Engine. I hope this projects will also move into LDCs soon.

    Google is providing the 26th country home page in Sub-Saharan Africa: Mozambique

    As part of our ongoing commitment to Africa, we look forward to enabling more people to access the internet in their local language, and have better access to local content. [Says Divon Lan here]

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    Google and Mozambique
    was published on 15.09.2008 by Martin Konzett. It files under global
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    The Economist on the mobile web

    Economist.com is covering a story about how the mobile web will influence social change in developing countries. The story is providing lots of numbers about China and other LDCs. It is also mentioning M-Pesa, which we introduced before here and there. Apparently W3C founded a group which will provide models and standards for such applications.

    For the W3C, M-PESA and its ilk are harbingers of far more sophisticated services to come. If mobile banking is possible using a simple system of text messages, imagine what might be possible with full web access. But it will require standards to ensure that services and devices are compatible. [Snip taken from here]

    [Image taken from here]

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    The Economist on the mobile web
    was published on 10.09.2008 by Martin Konzett. It files under global
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    Slum Farming

    AfriGadget is covering a photo story about gardening in slums. They show how a garbage dump is transformed to a field where fine crops can be yielded.

    [Pictures taken from here]

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    Slum Farming
    was published on 08.09.2008 by Martin Konzett. It files under global
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    Our Movie … Our Route

    Yes, it is our route for mobile – the movie and we are proud that we can announce the following fixed dates we are doing. We: Martin Konzett, producer and camera, Anders Bolin, producer, editor and audio (full schedule), Martin Tomitsch, consultant (2 weeks at the beginning), Karola Riegler, photography (Zanzibar coverage) … view our member list for short CVs

    • Johannesburg, South Africa
    • Lusaka, Zambia
    • Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
    • Zanzibar Town, Tanzania
    • Tanga, Tanzania
    • and many more …


    View Larger Map

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    Our Movie … Our Route
    was published on 01.09.2008 by Martin Konzett. It files under global
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    CNN: Africans get mobile

    Putting people first points to this acticle by CNN: “Africans get upwardly mobile in cell phone boom“. The report is focusing on numbers and starts with a story about a cab driver in Accra, the captial Ghana, where back in 2002 land plots where exchanged against cell phones. Nowadays cell phones are everywhere, even the poorest own them.

    There are now almost seven million cellphone users in Ghana, up from only a couple hundred thousand subscribers in 2000. The continent’s biggest users are in South Africa, with nearly 25 million subscribers, followed by Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco. [snip taken from here]

    The story also points to the Grameen Village Phone and the complementary business which grows with the mobile market, like charging cell phones from car batteries, mobile banking, e-health and common e-business.

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    CNN: Africans get mobile
    was published on 11.08.2008 by Martin Konzett. It files under global
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    Prepay versus Subscription

    Jonathan Gosier from Appfrica is asking the question: Why is there no solid payment system available in Africa? Check out his recent blog post. He is picking up this interesting fact: Credit cards are normally not accepted in rural areas and in cities; most of the people rely on cash. In many African countries exist mobile payment solutions, e.g. M-Pesa in Kenya, but such a system does not help you out, when you want to order a book from amazon.com or when you have to do a check out with PayPal. The systems provided must be accepted by the developed world. So there has to be a hub from local mobile payment solutions to the internationally accepted credit card systems. Another fact is that mobile payment solutions are driven by cell phones with prepayed accounts. So there is money around. Why are the companies not issuing postpayed contracts? What are the barriers? Check out Jonathan’s analysis:

    – excessive taxation of the private sector (discourages entrepreneurship)
    – lack of city planning (no real addresses outside of P.O. Boxes makes it hard to track people)
    – lack of enforcement (finding people in a place with no addresses is impossible)
    – lack of foresight (by companies going for immediate cash versus continuous revenue)
    – overwhelming poverty (the middle class is still largely dwarfed by the poor)
    – lack of education (leads to ignorant conflicts related to tribe, ethnicity and religion)
    – lack of government transparency (with the amount of corruption here it’s no wonder)
    – lack of faith by foreign investors (leaving African institutions to fend for themselves)
    [list taken based on here]

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    Prepay versus Subscription
    was published on 07.08.2008 by Martin Konzett. It files under global
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    Nano Vent-skin: The solution for energy problems?

    I want to follow up Florians post about the electricity supply in rural LDCs. Al Kags writes about a very conceptual system called Nano Vent-Skin invented by the Mexican product Designer Agustin Otegui. The system acts like a skin for almost every surface and tries to absorb wind energy using built in nano vents. The project has to survive prototyping stage before thinking about the costs. In fact, a ubiquitous system like that could be installed everywhere, especially in rural areas. It could provide energy for lighting up the environment, charging cell phones or power even bigger systems like GSM towers. I think it has to be combined with solar powered systems to give a sustainable solution. Since solar panels are there for quite long, and the prices are low (compared to this system), Nano Vent-Skin has a long road to go to become successful.

    Africa has two main challenges. Powering up the continent and doing it in a sustainable manner. In line with this thinking, I have stumbled upon a new technology called Nano Vent-Skin that seems to be very interesting. I wonder if it is the solution for Africa? [snip taken from here]

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    Nano Vent-skin: The solution for energy problems?
    was published on 05.08.2008 by Martin Konzett. It files under global
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    XING group for ICT4D.at

    Today I was busy setting up the XING group for ICT4D … The group will give us the ability to manage forum, newsletter and events inside the XING-network. check it out! Join the ICT4D.at XING group!

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    XING group for ICT4D.at
    was published on 04.08.2008 by Martin Konzett. It files under global
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