YES We Care 2! Kick-Off and first Study Trip

We recently started to work with mladiinfo from Macedonia, Risky Businesses from Romania and YoungAfrica from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia on our YES We Care 2 – Youth Empowerment through Social Entrepreneurship. We support our partners with our ICT know-how and contribute with our experiences from the field. The overall goal is to map social entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia and offer them trainings, networking and guidance to further grow their businesses. ICT plays a vial role in establishing a successful business and needs to take local realities such as limited resources and different interface into consideration. Read more here about the current project and find here more information about the past first project implementation.

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Kick-Off in Harare

We started the project with a kick-off event in Harare, Zimbabwe where the consortium met for the first time in person. We discussed and planned the upcoming studies visits in the three African countries and how we will succeed in the implementation. The meeting was a lot of fun, surfaced many challenges within our planning and brought us all closer together.

First Study Trip to Beira in Mozambique

For the last few days the city of Beira in Mozambique was our working place. Although “working” is not quite the right term. It was a mix of study visits, cultural networking and enjoying the country. In total it was quite intense, we were visiting a lot of places, met a lot of interesting people and promising NGOs – even the mayor of the town gave us an official welcome.

Our goal within the project was to find local social entrepreneurs to invite them to a training session in Macedonia next year. Our project “YES We Care 2” aims to give those motivated people and their ideas an educational boost and a network to reach out to potential sponsors.

Yet it was not easy to find social entrepreneurs in the local scene since the term is relatively unknown in Mozambique. There might be already several well running businesses which fulfil the criteria of a social entrepreneurship but they are not on the radar of our local partner. Speaking of which: Our study visits and trips around Beira were organised by Young Africa Mozambique. They run a training centre in Beira and in Dondo, a nearby spot in the country side, where they provide education, vocational trainings and many other courses with very practical aspects for young students. In different franchises the students learn to become bike mechanics, farmers, electricians, cooks etc.

Young Africa introduced us to those franchises and we got more than a glimpse on the social impact of the organisation. They also arranged visits with local government officials and businesses and other NGOs. One of the first meetings was with the mayor of the town. Sitting in the mayor’s office, presenting our project, taking pictures – all that gave our trip a very official start and we felt honoured to be invited. The mayor mentioned that we need to try prawns and that supporting young citizens might be even more important after the big cyclone earlier this year.

We were very impressed by the rather quick recovery of the city. The damage of the cyclone is still visible in many places (e.g. many of the roofs are still gone) although the citizens did a great job in rebuilding the structures. As always, the ones who suffer the most are the poor inhabitants. And there are a lot. We passed by many slums when we were going around by car and it gave us yet another reminder how privileged we are to travel around the globe, sleeping in clean beds and having regular meals.

Our discussion cycled daily around the circumstances these people are living in. The question is: How can we help the motivated entrepreneurs and project leaders in the most sustainable way? We cannot solve their problems, but only support them in helping themselves. For us, it is obvious that we can achieve that by establishing strong networks which last longer than our short trips and most importantly providing tools to them to help themselves. Start a business, create jobs and rebuild the city.

The diverse members of our group were also quite colourful and it was a pleasure to work with all of them: Mhlonipeni from Zimbabwe, Constance from Mozambique, Shemo and Lulesa from Macedonia, Robert from Romania, Eric from Belgium, Paul and Georg from Austria. Finding topics to talk about wasn’t hard. Politics, cultural habits, sharing ideas and telling jokes only scratch the surface. There were always funny cultural differences and language barriers. We spent hours trying to bridge those gaps. Trying to count in the different languages was maybe the most hilarious part.

In the end, we shook a lot of hands, built up networks, led very interesting conversations and discussions about social entrepreneurship and how to improve the situation for young entrepreneurs in Beira.

One good example was 3R Mozambique. They create a clean environment for current and future generations through the transformation of the waste. Furthermore, 3R provide integrated waste management services for medium and large organizations and build waste treatment infrastructure across Mozambique.

We also met Baisikeli who import second-hand bikes from Denmark supported by their sponsor. They repair the bikes, sell them in local shops and promote eco-friendly transport in Beira. If this wasn’t already enough, they work with Young Africa in Beira to train young students to become bike mechanics and also create bikes for handicapped people. Many still loose their ability to walk due to a still existing mine problem in the surrounding area. Recently they also built bikes with a pizza oven included, they plan start new businesses with mobile pizza bikes!

We also used the opportunity to connect with local universities. Paul met colleague from the Universidade Zambeze. The local public university which suffered badly from the cyclone. Almost all of their computers were destroyed and they now face the challenge to teach computer science for 500 students with only 20 computers. We talked about how we can support them and explored possible collaborations.

Overall, we simply had a lot of fun. Mozambicans are very friendly people and we are very grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the Mozambican culture. Therefore, we want to thank Young Africa and our project partners for the wonderful collaboration: Mladiinfo and Risky Business.

Written by: Paul Spiesberger and Georg Steinfelder

Yes We Care 2 Partners

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YES We Care 2! Kick-Off and first Study Trip
was published on 16.07.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under sub saharan africa
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Guest Lecture at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Maputo, Mozambique

I got lucky to be part of the delegation we sent to Mozambique to participate in the YES We Care 2 project. We implemented our project in Beira and a blog post will soon be published about our work there.

Several years ago, I was teaching in Maputo at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) within our ICT4DMZ project. I worked with students from the DMI and gave a one semester course about Android development. I managed to add a few days to my stay here in Mozambique and stopped by the UEM to visit old friends and connect again with the department. I offered to give a guest lecture at the DMI for Master students and I chose to give them once again an introduction to Android programming. Five years have passed since my last Android lecture at the DMI and the way I would now implement a modern Android application fundamentally changed since then.

I am big fan of practical teaching. So I only had 11 slides prepared, which were mostly about who I am, what I do and why I was here. I prefer to simply programmed live in front of the students and explain the code and why I implement it in a certain way. That might be a bit risky, but also gives me the chance to fix bugs and errors in front of the students, since they will probably also encounter the same in the future. I tried to cover the latest standards and illustrate how I would now start a new Android project. I covered the following in my lecture:

  • GIT and GitHub – because I would never start a project without it
  • Project setup and overall architecture of an Android Studio project
  • Jetpack Navigation – single Activity architecture and Fragments
  • Data Binding – Interaction with UI Elements
  • ViewModel and LifeCycle Handling

The lecture was well accepted, although hard to follow, since I only scratched the surface of all these topics in only 2,5 hours. This was intended, since I wanted to show them the tools they should use, give them a direction where to look and then at the end simply remember what is out there. So if they start a new Android project in the future, they then should think: “oh yeah right, there is something called Jetpack Navigation, ViewModels and Databinding… and I should probably use GIT to organize my work”. For the rest, they will have to teach it themselves, which is in my opinion the best way to learn programming anyway.

You can find my Android project I created during the lecture here on GitHub. Feedback is more than welcome.

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Guest Lecture at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Maputo, Mozambique
was published on 09.07.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under sub saharan africa
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Special Sponsor of PyCon Africa 2019

Last year we celebrated our 10th year anniversary with a party at Schikaneder in Vienna. It was a wonderful evening and we used the opportunity to collect donations for Noah and his engagement in Ghana. He recently joined the team who is organizing this year’s PyCon Africa 2019. The organising team of PyCon Africa 2019 includes experienced Python community conference organisers from Africa and Europe. Between them they have run multiple international conferences, including PyCons in Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, United Kingdom as well as several editions of DjangoCon Europe. The conference will happen 6th-10th August 2019 in Accra and will be the first-ever pan-African meeting of the Python programming community. Get your tickets here!

We are proud to be listed a Special Sponsor of the PyCon Africa 2019 and are happy to support their great work with our humble contribution. They are still looking for support, so please do not hesitate to donate as well.

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Special Sponsor of PyCon Africa 2019
was published on 22.06.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under sub saharan africa
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ICT4D Guest Lecture at TU Wien

I am a member of the research group INSO at the TU Wien (Vienna University of Technologies). The research group for Industrial Software (INSO) deals with the study of development and maintenance of software systems in practice. I got invited as a guest lecturer next week as part of their Beyond the Desktop lecture. I will give an introduction to ICT4D, discuss projects and past research with the students and I will give them an overview of our activities and projects at ICT4D.at. We are currently looking for students who are interested in participating in our projects or start writing a thesis in the field of ICT4D at the TU Wien. Everyone is welcome to pass by and join in:

Thursday, 13th June 2019, 16:00 – 18:00 at GM 4 Knoller Hörsaal (1060 Wien, Getreidemarkt 9, Hoftrakt, Stiege IV, 2. Obergeschoß).

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ICT4D Guest Lecture at TU Wien
was published on 07.06.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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Android ICT4D News Application – for You from Us

ICT4D News App Icon
ICT4D News Logo designed by Chloé Zimmermann

We are software engineers, open source enthusiasts, programmers, designers, geeks and simply love to make the life of others easier with ICTs. We are happy to announce our Android ICT4D News Application. ICT4D News combines 29 blogs and news sources (complete list on GitHub) around the topic of ICT4D and Digital Development. The goal is to offer an easy way to stay tuned and receive the latest ICT4D updates. All blogs and sources are combined into one handy list and provide offline reading capabilities. The blogs and sources can be deactivated to customize your reading. Please download it and do not hesitate to send us your feedback at news.app@ict4d.at

Get it on Google Play
Download now!

The latest version hit 1.1.0 and is solely for you, the ICT4D community, made by us, ICT4D.at. But we hope this will not stay this way, the application is Open Source and just waiting for you to reports bugs, discuss new features and contribute to the code base. So if you recently fell in love with Kotlin (as I did) and want to bring in your ideas, then don’t hesitate to contribute.

We also strongly believe in diversity and the benefits coming with it. We are proud of being an international team from 3 different continents (Africa, Asia and Europe) and 4 different countries: The core team consist of three members: Noah Alorwu, who is active in Ghana, Raja Saboor Ali is strongly committed in Pakistan and myself is involved from Austria. We also have support from Chloé Zimmermann a designer from France. We develop, work, share and take decisions equally.

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Android ICT4D News Application – for You from Us
was published on 13.05.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under global
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WSIS Forum 2019 with TEQtogether

World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2019

I was delighted to visit this year’s World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum in Geneva. The WSIS Forum is a global United Nations (UN) multi-stakeholder platform facilitating the implementation of the WSIS Action Lines for advancing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD, in close collaboration with all WSIS Action Line co-/facilitators and other UN organizations. It represents the world’s largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT for Development’ community. It provides an opportunity for information exchange, knowledge creation and sharing of best practices, while identifying emerging trends and fostering partnerships, taking into account the evolving Information and Knowledge Societies.

TEQTogether Workshop

I was part of a panel with Tim Unwin and Bushra Hassan due to our engagement with TEQtogether and other connected research. We presented and discussed our efforts to change men’s attitudes and behaviours to women & technology. The reality is, that many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are going into the wrong direction and SDG10 aiming at Reduction of inequalities, is one of them. Therefore, it is clear that our current actions are failing on a massive scale. Men’s attitudes and behaviours are at the root of discrimination against women and we need to point our actions towards this reality. This is why we joined TEQtogether, which is part of the EQUALS movement and lead by Tim Unwin and Liz Quaglia.

From the left to the right: Paul, Bushra and Tim

We covered the following:

  • An overview of the work of TEQtogether
    • informing men about how their actions impact digital gender inequality (see Resources and Other Initiatives pages);
    • Identifying actions that men can take to enhance gender equality in the tech workplace (see Guidance Notes)
    • Recommending actions that men can take to reduce digital violence against women
    • Encouraging reverse mentoring through which women mentor men at all levels in tech organisations.
  • I gave an introduction to the Guidance Notes I created within our partnership. They are focusing on running a computer programming workshop.
  • An overview of work on the use of mobiles for sexual harassment by Bushra Hassan (International Islamic University, Islamabad).

After this short introduction we included the audience to collaboratively develop a strategy of what needs to be done to change men’s attitudes and behaviours to women & technology. The final WSIS report can be found here, download the Mindmap here and a more detailed report can be found at the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D blog.

EQUALS

There was a separate session of EQUALS which highlighted their engagement. EQUALS is a committed partnership of corporate leaders, governments, businesses, not-for-profit organizations, academic institutions, NGOs and community groups around the world dedicated to promoting gender balance in the technology sector by championing equality of access, skills development and career opportunities for women and men alike.

The panel underlined the necessity of EQUALS and TEQtogether by the fact that it is still 10% less likely for a woman to own a phone on this planet and 23% less likely to then also have access to the Internet. No phone and no access to the Internet results in a lack of basic Information. Therefore, this results in no chance to take knowledge based decisions, lesser political and economic power and being incapable of properly raising your voice. An uniformed human being cannot be a free person.

EQUALS offers a successful webinar series: Business and Leadership for Women in the Technology Sector and nominations are already open for their 2019 EQUALS in Tech Award.

Other great WSIS Sessions

Exciting sessions included Cyber Ethics, Education and Security: Serving Humanity with Values. Where the panel tried to illustrate their practical implementation of ethics. GlobEthics was part of the session. The relationship between security and freedom was discussed where most societies try to find a balance. The panel was concerned by the fact that the world is currently moving in the direction to give up their freedom to trade it for more security. The panel concluded that individual responsibility is also a necessity and the question was raised if everyone should delete WhatsApp due to its heavy privacy violation. Luckily I’m already WhatsApp free for years and solely use Signal.

Human human rights in connection with ICTs were discussed in the session Technology 4 Human Rights – The opportunities presented and methods already in evidence for the role of advanced technology, including blockchain, for promoting human rights.

Wonderful to see were also the mBot kids workshops by Techlabs and other exhibitions.

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WSIS Forum 2019 with TEQtogether
was published on 16.04.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week? Actually Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development

Source: UNESCO MLW

Today I had the pleasure to be part of the first day of the Mobile Learning Week (MLW) in Paris with its keynotes and discussion rounds. Last year the conference was focused on education in a mobile context with the focus on Skills for a connected world, as the MLW title implies. It seems, that this year it was hijacked by the trending ICT topic Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the education part was left out a bit. I can only assume why, but it seems that the UNESCO is shifting its focus and tries to spicy up their events with more buzzwords. AI is a trending topic and, besides its real significance, used most of the time to sell/promote things to people who have no glue about it. A couple of years ago it was the buzzword Blockchain Technologies to trigger interest and as far as I can remember, before that it was Cloud Computing. Yes, all of these technologies did or are changing the way we use and live with technology, but as before, most people are using the term AI more like this wonderful meme:



To be fair, AI and Machine Learning are much more than just statistics, read more here.

I am reporting from the MLW only from the first day, which is called “Principals for AI: Towards a Humanistic Approach” and the discussed AI topic fits more into this definition. To be fair, the next upcoming days will apparently stronger focus on education in combination with with AI and will have sessions such as “How can AI improve learning?”, “How can AI boost education and learning management systems?”, “How can AI be harnessed to reduce the learning inequitability?”, or “Will AI promote equity and gender equality?”.
Therefore, this blog post is not about Mobile Learning, but rather AI itself and summarizes some of the statements. I am pleased that at least some of the speakers were asking questions in the right direction and I hope this will continue in the upcoming AI-Education sessions. AI is happening and used world-wide, but as it is with every technology, it is just a tool and only gets a meaning or purpose when used by us. The question is not for what we should use AI and what it can do. This will be figured out anyway by the private and public sector due to demands by the market and the people. The real questions are:

  • Who is creating the AI, in which context was it created and what are their biases?
  • How transparent is it?
  • Who owns the AI and who has access to its tools?
  • Is it inclusive? Does it really mirror the society and context it is used in? (minorities, gender, sexual preferences, etc.)
  • How can we test and verify the decisions an AI takes for us?
  • Who is responsible for errors and accidents because of AI?
  • How democratic is the use of the AI? Who decided what we ask and for what we use it?

I am sure this list can be extended, feel free to do so, the more discussion the better. Please do not get me wrong, I favour AI and I am exited about the new possibilities AI offers, but I miss often a real discussion about pressing issues and questions. The buzzword topics Blockchain Technologies and Cloud Computing did not have the same impact capabilities as AI has. As a society we need to discuss how we would like to use AI in a democratic way. If we do not, then we will end up like China, where AI is used to control people in an unprecedented way. I personally want to live in a world were AI is enriching my freedom, not used to limit it or just to display me more fitting advertisement on Google or Facebook.

Furthermore, these questions are seldom asked for people in low-income countries. They are excluded from potential benefits of AIs already straight from the beginning. Our main goal must be to use AI to improve the lives of those who need it the most. For me, this would be a real intelligent use of Artificial Intelligence.

Here are some key statements I favoured during the key note and discussion rounds:

“Artificial intelligence is a false term, it’s neither artificial nor intelligent. It is created by us and it is our responsibility.“

“I work in many African countries and some of them have no freedom of press, no mandatory primary schools and a weak economy, but they develop an industry 4.0 and AI strategy for their countries. They don’t want to fall behind, but lack of the basics.”

“IEEE is currently working on Ethical Aligned Design for all who design technology and for the users as well. We work on how to put principal into practice, e.g. use standards to be implemented by the industry which have ethics at the core.”

“Behind every data point are actual people and we should not forget that.”

“Solidarity should be a core principal of AI.“

“African questions have to be taken into the context of an African problem. The design of an AI must take the people and their context into consideration”

“Many people say, that we need more women in AI”

“The current AI situation is reflecting the unfair distribution of wealth in the world. Definition, access and implementation are key.”

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UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week? Actually Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development
was published on 04.03.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe, global
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TEQtogether teams up with ICT4D.at

TEQtogether is committed to changing men’s attitudes and behaviours towards women and technology.

Digital Technologies can bring great benefits to individuals and communities. However, they also have a darker side, increasing inequalities and being widely used for abuse and harassment. This is especially true at the interface between women and technology. Women are not only often marginalised in the tech sector, but they are also frequently violated through technology. TEQtogether fights to change men’s attitudes and behaviours towards gender equality and women’s rights in the technology sector.

We are proud to partner up with TEQtogether. ICT4D.at will fight with them for an equal world and women rights in the technology sector. We will contribute with our experience and expertise from the ICT field, create awareness for this essential issue and carry our shared vision in every project we implement. Paul is an official member of the team lead by Elizabeth Quaglia and Tim Unwin.

As a start, we contributed in the creation of a Guidance Note: Convening a computer programming workshop. Women and girls need to be able to receive appropriate and relevant training in computer programming at all levels, or they will miss out on numerous employment opportunities across the technology sector. You can find our contribution and all of the other TEQTogether’s Guidance notes here.

Six things to do if you are convening a computer programming workshop

  1. As far as possible ensure an equal balance between men and women as invited trainers and speakers.
  2. If it is intended to be a mixed gender workshop, seek to ensure an equal balance between women and men as participants.
  3. Ensure equal access for women and men to all shared material and equipment, before, during and after the workshop.
  4. Ensure that all sub-groups within the workshop have mixed genders within them and every member has equal rights to speak up and participate.
  5. Ensure that there are guidelines on expected behaviour that specifically address sexual harassment.
  6. Be pro-active if you see inappropriate behaviour.

Six things to avoid if you are convening a computer programming workshop

  1. Permitting or condoning inappropriate sexual behaviour by participants, trainers, speakers, or sponsors during the workshop.
  2. Only inviting men to be speakers or trainers.
  3. Only choosing men to participate in the workshop if it is intended to be open to all genders.
  4. Only granting male participants access to shared materials and equipment during the workshop.
  5. Separating men and women into two groups with unequal access to resources during the workshop.
  6. Doing nothing if you see inappropriate behaviour.

You can download the PDF Version from here.


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TEQtogether teams up with ICT4D.at
was published on 25.02.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under global
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Vision Meeting and General Assembly 2018

We spent a very lovely weekend in Lower Austria and did two things very well: working hard on our Vision, Mission and Values and treat ourselves a bit by enjoying our company. We are lucky to not just be members of our NGO, but also friends.
Álvaro organized an amazingly structured, but still very much open workshop for us to better narrow down our Vision and Mission. We reflected on where we come from, our skill sets and what our strengths are. We strongly believe in our new Vision are are working everyday towards it. Our Vision is the reason why we are all joined ICT4D.at and why we keep working – we want to have a World of Equal Opportunities of All.

Our new Vision – our overall goal and the world we want to live in:
A World of Equal Opportunities for All.

Our new Mission – how we, in a broad aspect, try to achieve our Vision:
Through knowledge, tools and networks we empower people to developer the skills they need to achieve their full potential.

Our Core Values

  • Community
  • Interdisciplinary & Co-creation
  • Respect & Tolerance
  • Honesty & Trust
  • Passion & Creativity

All attending members voted again for the current chairman and vice chairman: Myself, Paul, got re-elected as the chairman and would like to express my gratitude for the trust everyone puts in me. George will stay our vice chair and I am very happy to have him next to me.





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Vision Meeting and General Assembly 2018
was published on 24.11.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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ICT4D Introduction Lecture at TU Vienna

I was invited by the Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation from the Vienna University of Technology to give a guest lecture regarding ICT4D. I will give a short overview, talk about the history and where the ICT4D community is currently heading. There will be a focus on practical projects from our past, since they lecture titles Projects in Development Aid.

Aim of course

Goal of the lecture is showing the participants the challenges of development aid projects. The participants will see that skills like social competence and flexibility are essential for success.

Subject of course

The focus of the course is the development aid program Appear (Austrian Partnership Program in Higher Education and Research for Development). After a general introduction, five speakers will present their respective projects. An essential aspect of the lectures are, in addition to the problem definition and the (technical) solution, the challenges of working in developing countries, dealing with inadequacies of the infrastructure, political developments, social challenges, economic conditions, etc.

You can find more detailed information here.

Pass by if you find the time, anyone is welcome:
Fri, 16.11.2018, 17:00 – 18:45
Address: Gußhausstraße 27-29, 1040 Vienna,
Neues EI, Stiege I, 3. Stock

 

ICT4D Lecture at TU Vienna





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ICT4D Introduction Lecture at TU Vienna
was published on 11.11.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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