Lend a support to enable smallholder farmers in rural Ghana access IT & financial services

Farmerline recently launched a 30-day Kiva campaign to raise a $100,000 loan to connect 6,000 smallholder farmers in Ghana to financial services, market information, weather forecasts and quality inputs. We need your help to reach our goal today July 18 in a few hours!

In 2016, we launched our first campaign with Kiva and were able to raise $50,000 to connect 1,000 smallholder farmers to high quality and affordable farm inputs at 20 – 30% below market price. We want to extend our reach!

As a supporter and friend of Farmerline, your contribution would go a long way! As little as $25 would ensure a supply of farmer inputs for a month at a 1 – 2 acre farm, while a $75 loan would ensure a rice or vegetable farmer has input supply for four months and is able to focus on ensuring consistent quality yield.

To learn more about our Kiva campaign and become a lender, visit Farmerline Kiva campaign.

Click the video below to hear from a few of the farmers we serve!


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Lend a support to enable smallholder farmers in rural Ghana access IT & financial services
was published on 18.07.2018 by Worlali Senyo. It files under global, sub saharan africa
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Using ICTs in schools with no electricity

interacting with a whiteboard (in front of a blackboard) in Senegal

One persistent criticism that I hear of educational technology projects in many places — and especially in Africa — is that ‘there are too many pilot projects’. ‘What we really need’, or so the lament usually continues, ‘are things thatscale‘. While I don’t necessarily agree that more pilot projects are not useful — to the contrary, I have in the past explored why we need more (not fewer) ICT4D pilot projects in education — few would argue that we shouldn’t be focused on finding ‘solutions’ that ‘scale’.
One challenge that many groups find when trying to scale educational technology projects is that they often begin by working with relatively well-resourced schools in or near urban areas, seeking to establish proof-of-concept that something specific works (e.g. a technology, an approach to teacher training) before taking on the greater challenges of working in, for example, rural schools that are off-the-grid and which have few (if any) qualified teachers. It should perhaps not be so surprising that what works in the first set of schools may not work quite so well in the second set.
There are other groups who choose to start with the most difficult environments first, figuring that (1) that is where the need is greatest; and (2) if a model or approach works there, it might have a better chance of working (most) everywhere.
I am regularly contacted by groups who seek to work in such environments, but only rarely hear back from them with reports about what they are actually learning about working successfully in such environments (I do unfortunately hear a lot about failure), and how they are changing their approach or model as a result. One organization I have heard back from recently in this regard was Cybersmart Africa, a group I had initially learned about because of its innovative use of nylon sheets, PVC pipe, and a modified Nintendo Wii remote to assemble low cost interactive whiteboards for use in schools in Senegal. Cybersmart Africa works exclusively in schools with classrooms with very poor physical infrastructure (including those with no or very limited electricity). “If this is the reality for 80% of schools in Sub-Saharan Africa, and we need to scale ICT use for education, why base what you are doing on what 10-20% of the privileged have?” asks Cybersmart Africa founder Jim Teicher.
(Another example of an approach designed to work in very difficult environments is so-called interactive radio instruction; this has been shown to scale well in many places, but, for a variety of reasons, has often proved to be difficult to sustain. One Mouse Per Child, which has also been profiled on the World Bank EduTech blog previously, is another.)
Many of the Western NGOs and firms with whom I speak who are interested in ‘working in a developing country’ start with a very high level or high concept approach, figuring essentially that, if the strategy is largely correct, the details will follow. (Indigenous groups and international NGOs with long experience ‘on the ground’ usually know better, of course.) Such groups can become frustrated when they discover that it is often an accumulation of ‘small details’ that ensure their particular approach or model does not work. It is better to walk than curse the road, or so the saying goes in Wolof, one of the languages used in Senegal, and this is an approach that the Cybersmart team seems to be following. When speaking recently with Teicher, one of the most encouraging things I found was that he first wanted to share information not about grand theories about what *might* work, but rather about a lot of the ‘little things’ they have been learning about what *doesn’t* work, and about how iterating (and iterating, and iterating!) has been key to their ability to learn and make changes to their approach to methodically improve what they are doing. Things like:
  • If you are off-the-grid and need to use batteries, don’t used lead car batteries, which can cause big problems if/when they tip over, even if they are commonly available. Use sealed AGM batteries instead.
  • Let’s be honest: In most cases, there are too few computers in a school for too manystudents, and it is difficult to integrate their use into normal instruction.  Don’t make things more difficult by segregating computers into their own special rooms (e.g. computer labs). Instead, take the technology to the teachers and students where they are currently teaching and learning — in the classroom itself — and use tools like projectors and interactive whiteboards that impact as many students as possible at one time.  (While you’re at it, be prepared to spend more on teacher training and support than on the technology itself.)
  • Given a choice (and there is a choice more often that you might think!), always search for local products (or, barring that, products that can be assembled locally) instead of immediately looking to import goods from abroad — this can be key to keeping costs down and keeping your supply chain as local as possible. This approach applies as much to the PVC material that they use for the portable ‘interactive whiteboards’ that they have assembled as to lesson plans, which are developed locally.
Sounds simple, you might say, to which I would say: you are exactly right.
moving a low-cost portable interactive whiteboard -- over rocks and sand -- between classrooms
Now, it is not my place or intention to do so here to ‘endorse’ the work of any particular organization (I’ll note parenthetically that World Bank has not supported this particular project in the past — although USAID has).
Rather, it is to highlight an approach which begins by working in the most challenging environments and not simply taking a model that worked successfully in Paris or Pretoria and assuming that, with some small modifications here and there, it will work everywhere. That’s common sense, you might say, and I would certainly agree. But, if the parade of groups who (seek to) pass through our offices here at the World Bank demo’ing their wares are any indication, and the many stalled projects I visit around the world are in any way representative, too often ‘common sense solutions’ are discarded in favor of what’s ‘new and exciting’. While funding what’s new and exciting may be fashionable for donors (should I be surprised that every other project proposal I seem to come across these days seems to include the use of mobile phones in some way?), in the end that it is usually the most practical solutions that find traction with teachers and students over time.
More information (short videos):
  • Here’s a short promotional video from Cybersmart Africa showing off its work. (A hint: watch it first with the sound off to focus on what classrooms in participating pilot schools actually look like)
  • Here are some interviews with school leaders (don’t turn the sound down on this one!) and a short explanation of how text messages (SMS) are being used in conjunction with low cost interactive whiteboards to support teachers.
  • Cybersmart has also posted 17 student-made videos, put together as a result of a special ‘digital storytelling’ initiative it sponsored. The idea here was first to gain the confidence and support of parents and community leaders by extend traditional storytelling customs into the digital realm, before moving on to other things. The result: 17 portraits of contemporary village life in Senegal.
Note: The image used at the top of this blog post (“interacting with a whiteboard (in front of a blackboard) in Senegal”) comes courtesy of Cybersmart Africa.  The second image (“moving a low-cost interactive whiteboard — over rocks and sand — between classrooms”) is taken from a screen capture of the ‘Snapshot – Cybersmart Africa’ video on YouTube.  Both are used with permission of the rights holder.

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Using ICTs in schools with no electricity
was published on 17.11.2011 by Worlali Senyo. It files under east africa, global, sub saharan africa
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Leveraging Information and Communication Technology for the Base Of the Pyramid

Despite possibilities of scaling projects with technology, many technology-based initiatives in social and economic development have failed to make it past early pilot stages or grow to scale. This study by Hystra, in collaboration with Ashoka and TNO, examines what successful ventures within four sectors can teach us about models for scaling Information and Communications Technology (ICT) -based applications and projects aimed at reaching bottom-of-the-pyramid customers (referred to as Base of the Pyramid in the report). The researchers focused specifically on these sectors: education, health, agricultural services, and financial services.

What Did the Study Review?

Initially considering 280 projects as promising models, researchers found that over half were not worth researching because projects lacked sustainability or replicatibility. Many of the projects were dead pilot projects or were small with no sign of the possibility or intent of scaling in size or reach.

From there, researchers homed in on 16 groundbreaking cases. These projects had reached scale (defined as having 10,000 clients or more) or had the potential to do so. All projects were assessed against three criteria: Is the solution solving the (specified) problem? Is the project economically viable? Is the project scalable and replicable? The researchers grouped projects into specific clusters based on business model type. All projects researched were value-added or market-based, because of the researchers’ belief that such models increase project sustainability and client investment in the project.

The models that the researchers looked at varied. For instance, researchers asked whether end-users accessed the technology themselves as opposed to being delivered trough an intermediary.

What did the Researchers Find?

Technology for development is a young and dynamic field. And, with many new fields, especially in the area of social change, the rhetoric doesn’t measure up to the reality of impact for many projects.

Researchers found, not surprisingly, that many projects turn out not to be sustainable and that those that have reached some semblance of scale are rare. Many ICT4D projects, being donor-funded and donor-driven, are also short-lived and lack an identified, economically viable revenue stream. Additionally, the impact of ICT4D projects is hard to single out and measure. Researchers also found that there are various degrees of financial viability across the education, health, financial and agricultural services sectors studied. The most viable cases could be found in the finance and agricultural services sectors.

The paper goes into great detail about findings, with a chapter dedicated to each business model and sector, detailing different types of capital for different models, pros and cons of models, challenges facing each, and strategies for scaling. The paper also analyzes the state of the education, health, agricultural services, and financial services sectors.

Highlights include:

  • Education – while demand is growing for ICT support, without governments procuring the technology, it remains to be seen if there is sufficient purchasing power at the BoP to support technology education services.
  • Health – mHealth has the highest proportion of dead pilot programs, especially programs that were grant-funded.
  • Agricultural services – some of the largest projects are in this sector, some serving millions of people. The most viable of these over the longer term link individuals with income generation.
  • Financial services – by far, the most mature and viable sector with some great successes, according to the research.

What Makes Successful Project?

With this detailed analysis, the researchers were abe to point to some characteristics of successful projects. These include, understandably, a focus on the end-users ability to pay, a project structure that could adjust through trial and error, an ability to capture a large share of customer’s mind and wallet (often through related services), and varied revenue stream through a wide-range of services.

The authors also described key challenges encountered by many projects in the four areas investigated: Conflicting and confusing policy frameworks to work through (e.g. telecom and health policies), a lack of understanding of local needs and demands, as well as a lack of technical and sectoral expertise; and inability to find adequate capitalization.  Technology, especially when a project is growing, remains an issue as well. Similarly, many of the social entrepreneurs who began a venture lack solid IT expertise.

Some Conclusions

The authors aptly note, that while an entrepreneurial spirit is needed to start successful services, the ability to work with other across sectors is needed for scaling projects to include partnering the public, private and civic spheres. The paper further provides several recommendations. These include, not surprisingly, a solid focus on problem-driven approaches and a bottom-up, customer-centric world view. The authors also recommend supporting existing entrepreneurs, promoting cross-sector synergies, and removing specific barriers to scale. The paper ends with the warning that efforts must be made to reach those who as of yet do not have access to mobiles to minimize the likelihood of further excluding already marginalized populations.

Source: Mobileactive
More details and the full report Click here.

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Leveraging Information and Communication Technology for the Base Of the Pyramid
was published on 24.10.2011 by Worlali Senyo. It files under global
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Free and Open Source Verses Proprietary Softwares: The Case of Ghana

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has become widespread in Ghana and the use of software is playing pivotal role in this increasing growth witnessed in ICTs. Both Proprietary Softwares (PS) and Free and Open Source Softwares (FOSS) are being used in Ghana but PS are much more widespread because most of these PS particularly Windows OS come bundled into the computers whiles those specialized softwares like accounting and payroll, anti-virus and office productive softwares are to be purchased at extra cost contrarily to the positions adopted by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) (Geneva, 2003 and Tunis 2005) on the importance of the issue of
diversity of choice in the use of softwares and critical role softwares play in access to information and knowledge. The positions are really not what pertain in most African countries particularly Ghana as result the worrying trend is the wide use of pirated PS, especially Microsoft Windows and Windows based applications in government departments and institutions, private firms and by individuals. In actual fact some users in Ghana think that all softwares can be downloaded and shared for free.

This blog captured key findings in a study commissioned by the Free and Open Source Software Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA). A comparison of FOSS and PS use in Ghana is made showing the usage patterns of these software alternatives on both the desktop and server environments. Total cost of ownership in the Ghanaian context is presented. Finally, suggestions on the way forward for FOSS implementation in Ghana. The findings presented are credited to a research project FOSS Advocacy in West Africa and Beyond – (FOSSWAY) commissioned by FOSSFA.

FOSS and PS use in Ghana
The study showed that in the desktop environment Windows OS dominated by as much as 84.7% whiles Linux OS constituted 11.9% followed by 3.4% for Unix OS of respondents. It was observed that the reason for Windows OS dominating is because desktop computers bought came with Windows OS pre-installed. Other reasons where attributed to the ease of use and availability of applications, and technical support. An interesting finding the study pointed out was that users of Linux OS on desktop system said it was easy to use dispelling the misconception about the difficulty of using Linux. Another reason users of Linux gave was its safety and freedom from viruses. On the server side, Windows dominated with 66.7%. Linux on the other hand had more than double (25.4%) the response of those using Linux as desktop OS and 3.2% of responses used Unix OS and 4.8% used Solaris. About 96% of the Linux OS server users had Windows Server deployed alongside the study noted.

The users of FOSS mostly are from the technical community, enthusiast and students who install often dual boot with Windows OS. The Ghana India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT and user groups like Students Linux Space, LinuxAccra, LinuxLegon, Ghana Open Source Society (GHOSS), Ghana Bloggers Community, Ghana Developers’ Community and Ushahidi Ghana are advocating the adoption of FOSS by institutions in the country and a lot more needs to be done.

Total Cost of Ownership
The framework behind the Total Cost of Ownership combined among others factors which apply to the operations of computer equipment which included; hardware, training, and support measured over the lifespan of the equipment. The study asked respondent to rank key setup-cost factors (software licenses, hardware, technical support, and training for staff) on a scale from 1 (least) to 5 (most) and it emerged that hardware cost contributed significantly to overall set-up cost ranking 4 for PS and 3 for FOSS. Software licenses where less significant in their contribution to set-up cost for FOSS ranking 2 compared to PS which ranked 4. On technical support FOSS was ranked 3 whiles PS ranked 4. Finally, Training was ranked 3 for both PS and FOSS. Although the study did not include specific questions on piracy, the research team gathered that software piracy was high especially amongst individual users.

Challenges to FOSS use
The major challenge the study identified was the absence of any FOSS policy in Ghana and the existing procurement policy does not clearly stipulate terms for procuring softwares. It is interesting to note that in the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) a software is defined as “something you buy a license for” which basically saying means we do not consider FOSS.

Users still have the perception that FOSS solutions are complex to use. Another dominant challenge cited in the study is the lack of support for FOSS solutions. Others include compatibility, too frequent
updates and too many OS types. The study in conclusion recommended that government to come Policy on Software or FOSS policy by learning from the South African experience to tackle the issue of software procurement in a holistic manner. It also urged the establishment of FOSS council to further probe FOSS issues in Ghana.

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Free and Open Source Verses Proprietary Softwares: The Case of Ghana
was published on 18.09.2010 by Worlali Senyo. It files under global, sub saharan africa
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Young speakers take center stage at first TEDx conference exclusively for African youth

Inaugural TEDxYouthInspire will bring together those with “A Good Head & A Good Heart”

On Saturday, April 10, 2010, from 8:00AM – 6PM GMT, the inaugural TEDxYouthInspire conference will be held at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT in Accra, Ghana. The free one-day event, a first for young African visionaries ages 14-25, will welcome a host of youth speakers, a Ghanaian dance ensemble and an Academy Award-nominated short film. Organized along the theme “A Good Head & A Good Heart”, taken from Nelson Mandela’s 1995 autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, TEDxYouthInspire will exhibit how radical thought and integrity of spirit combine to create unlimited possibilities for a brighter future. “The outpouring of support for TEDxYouthInspire exemplifies the need for more events like this for young people,” says Raquel Wilson, event curator, “As our speaker line-up suggests, youth everywhere are ready to solidify their contributions towards making the world a better place.” TEDxYouthInspire welcomes the following speakers to give the talks of their lives:

Iyinoluwa E. Aboyeji, 18, a Nigerian teenager with a passion for philosophy, global politics and economics, is President of the Board for University of Waterloo publication Imprint. Using his weekly column “E is for Error” to discuss development and post secondary education, he aspires to be a tenured professor by age 25.

The Asanti Dance Theatre is a dynamic ensemble that combines traditional, contemporary and freestyle dancing along with drumming. Founded in 2003, the group raises awareness of prominent issues facing West Africa and is dedicated to developing and preserving the cultural heritage of Ghana.

Yawa Hansen-Quao, 26, is a women’s empowerment activist and firmly advocates that “one cannot love an Africa one does not know.” Believing that women must play a central role in spurring economic and social advancement in Africa, Yawa supports travel as a tool to “transform people without permission”.

Mac-Jordan Holdbrookes-Degadjor, 25, a social media activist, is passionate about Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), youth empowerment and ending poverty through education. With three blogs to his credit, he often writes about global events, social entrepreneurship, traveling and how it feels to be a geek in Ghana.

Shirley Osei-Mensah, 18, is an Internet entrepreneur and student at Keystone National High School. Unable to attend a regular classroom, she takes all coursework online and uses her web exposure to inspire others, provide tips about entrepreneurship and advise on earning an income online.

Esi Yankah, 25, is founder and president of The Africa Mentor Network and creative director for Yankah and Associates. Cautious to always live a life that is cheerful and purposeful, she does not believe that entrepreneurs are an extraordinary breed of people; rather, as she explains, “We just back our faith with action.”

Ghana Google Country Manager Estelle Akofio-Sowah will host TEDxYouthInspire.

TEDxYouthInspire is sold out, however, a live web steam of the event will be available online at LiveStream. Individual and corporate sponsorship packages are still available. Additional information about TEDxYouthInspire can be found by visiting www.tedxyouthinspire.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tedxyouthinspir or Facebook at www.facebook.com/tedxyouthinspire.

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Young speakers take center stage at first TEDx conference exclusively for African youth
was published on 10.04.2010 by Worlali Senyo. It files under sub saharan africa
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Ghana to develop a National Broadband Strategy which aims at increasing broadband uptake by 50% by 2015

The Ghana Connect initiative is an effort by a group of stakeholders in the Telecommunications industry to develop a National Broadband Strategy. According to organizers, it is a platform for stakeholders in the ICT industry with the aim of ensuring broadband growth by means of public seminars, workshop and implementation of mechanisms to ensure accessibility and affordability of broadband connection for all. GhanaConnect seeks to help with policy and strategy development and implementation.

The current effort is to help develop a Broadband Strategy based on the Telecom and ICT Policies, geared towards making broadband accessible and affordable.

Several dignitaries and stakeholders including the Deputy Minister of Information, Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, some Members of Parliament and industry giants including MTN, Vodafone, tiGO, KNET, NCBC, Internet Ghana, Netafrique, Omatek Computers and several other firms and organizations were present to contribute to the strategy development and implementation. The workshop was chaired by the Hon. Twumasi Appiah, MP and Chairman for the Parliamentary Select Committee on Communications.

During his speech, the Hon. Twumasi Appiah underscored the relevance of broadband in facilitating the economic development of any country. He said “broadband can help facilitate e-citizenship and e-governance and enhance relations between citizens and government and strengthen our democracy. Broadband has enormous potential for strengthening community voice in public debate and decision making and in maintaining transparency and accountability by government”. At the end of his presentation, the Honorable MP enumerated certain action items he feels should be core elements in the Strategy. They include assessing competition regulation in the market, granting more infrastructure licenses, investing in nationwide fibre and developing a national master plan amongst others.

The Deputy Minister of Information also launched the workshop on behalf of the Vice President by stating the importance of broadband in general to economic development and conveyed the government’s commitment to ensuring broadband uptake.

There were four sessions on International fibre, national fibre, last mile access and PC and CPE costs and industry stakeholders took turns to give thought provoking presentations and ideas on how to increase broadband uptake. One highlight of the workshop was when Dr. Nii Narku Quaynor of NCS questioned the feasibility of the Strategies objective of increasing broadband uptake by 50% by 2015 but the general consensus was that it is important to increase broadband uptake.

The importance of local content came to light. Participants agreed that it was important to develop local content and to encourage localized traffic.

At the end of the first day, it came to light that recommendations should be made to government through parliament of the outcomes and recommendations of Ghana Connect initiative. The final day of the workshop will seek to incorporate all these inputs into the draft strategy

Source: GhanaConnect

Ghana to develop a National Broadband Strategy which aims at increasing broadband uptake by 50% by 2015
was published on 02.09.2009 by Worlali Senyo. It files under global
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First AfNOG EO Localization UNIX System Administration Workshop

16 years ago, an Internet Community from Ghana connected West Africa to the Internet and transferred this knowledge to other countries in Africa. Sadly, this community has been ignored over the years and no wonder Ghana has lost its presence on the global internet space with an internet penetration rate lower than the average on the African continent.

Group picture of participants at the First AfNOG EO localization workshop held at the University of Cape Coast

Group picture of participants at the First AfNOG EO localization workshop held at the University of Cape Coast

The President of Internet Society, Ghana Chapter (ISOCgh) Mr. Daniel Obuobi in a welcome address recounted how Internet Technology workshop had started in 1993 and since then to 2000 eight countries have held such workshops. The localizing of such workshops became more important so as to reduce the cost of travels and increase participation as well as build capacity on the continent. The results, was the birth of African Network Operators Group (AfNOG) with Internet Society (ISOC) facilitating and providing support. In this same regard, the ISOCgh accepted the challenge of localizing AfNOG EO track (Unix System Administration) home. This got strong approval from ISOC and the University of Cape Coast opted to facilitate the process by hosting the first ever AfNOG EO localization workshop/conference.

To feather extend the localization drive the Ghana Network Operators Group (ghNOG) was born on the 31st day of July, 2009 at the University of Cape Coast for which I am more than excited to be part of. The ghNOG is a “forum for the exchange of technical information to ensure stability of the Internet Services in Ghana” with the aim of creating a community for sharing experiences and technical challenges on setting up, building and running IP networks in Ghana.

The event begun on 27th July with participants from government, education, industry and Non-governmental organization been taken through Unix System Administration using the Free BSD (ghNOG-1). Topics covered included; Unix concepts, FreeBSD installation, DNS concepts, configurations and delegations, Apache and Virtual Hosts, Email systems using exim, System Log Management and  Backups.  The climax of the event was the outdooring ceremony of the new baby ghNOG. The President of ISOCgh hoped to see a vibrant ghNOG working closely with ISOC Ghana to organize technical workshops, conferences and annual meeting at various venues across the country to build capacity.

Mr. Michuki Mwangi, Senior Education Manger, ISOC in a short message was excited to be part because one Ghana was close to his heart and also he attended an AfNOG training that was organized in Ghana in 2001 which marked the start of this career and has made him who he is today. As he puts it “to give back to the community that help changed me”. Mr. Michuki  was an instructor at the workshop. Sharing with the audience a story on Skunkworks in his home country Kenya. Skunkworks is mailing list of young and upcoming engineers who with little or no resources are helping solve problems, making great innovation and helping local authorities to know where to go for help. “Its not perfect but has filled a void” Michuki said. He recommended that, Ghana develop these communities along a common line that bring the youth, young engineers together to harness their talent since it was difficult to get find such talents in our part of the world in a group.

AfNOG Convener and board member of ICANN, Prof. Nii Quaynor in his message applauded the development of internet operators groups which in May 2000 gave birth to AfNOG in Cape Town South Africa. At the 10th anniversary of AfNOG in Cairo, Egypt in May 2009, the role of NOG’s became even more apparent and important and as he noted “the growth of the internet network simply demanded more technical capacity of operators who had to coordinate and communicate better”.

The Internet Technical Community through ghNOG will deliver;

  • ghNIC domain name registry,
  • ghCERT,
  • GARNet,
  • IXPs/Roots,
  • W3C office,
  • AfrNIC training office and more… he added.

The two key success factors Prof. Quaynor noted were; extent of engagement of the community and policy environments. One interesting question he asked was the “e-Readiness of our Judiciary to handle IT related cases at IT speeds” an experience his own company Network Computer Systems (NCS) had suffered from.

“the Internet Technical Community is our only weapon to prevent the digital divide”

Concluding his speech, he wished ghNOG and its trainers and trainees to be missionaries/ revolutionaries who will champion internet development and selflessly serve their communities. “Ghana deserves an Internet renaissance” he added.

ghNOG!!!! Success………!!!!!

In the keynote address by the Hon. Deputy Minister of Communication Hon. Gideon Quarcoo, commended ISOCgh for its work in bringing to the forefront the importance of the Internet as an indispensable tool that we can use to accelerate the socio-economic development of the country and creating a forum for the exchange of technical information, sharing of experience and capacity-building for the industry given the constraints. The Minister called on all the internet fraternity to join hands with Government in addressing the security threats confronting the development of the Internet in general. He noted that in the area of legislation, the Ghana’s Electronic Transactions Act, 2008 (Act 772) which among others, will help develop a safe, secure and effective environment for the conduct of electronic transactions.

He charged the ghNOG to complement Government’s efforts and provide practical and meaningful measure that can help control the menace of security. The Ministry of Communication has developed a comprehensive e-security policy that has identified eleven priority areas to secure the country’s systems, infrastructure and information he added. A copy of which he is presenting to ghNOG for study and guidance in its operations. He also mentioned an e-Security Policy document which was part of the Ministry’s arrangement for the establishment of a national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). He again noted that the Ministry was enjoying goodwill from Industry and this will enable it establish a governing Board for the Internet Registry and facilitate multi-stakeholder participation in the management of Ghana’s domain name space.

“Government is also working to reduce the cost of bandwidth to promote the growth of the industry” he added.

He stated “Let us collectively strive first and foremost, to protect the internet and build confidence in its usage. There is so much expectation out there, and we dare not fail in our endeavour”

The Ghana Network Operators Group (ghNOG) was then formally declared duly launched by the Hon. Deputy Ministry. And promised the Ministry’s and Governments support and cooperation to the community at all times.

The board for ghNOG was inaugurate and were made of  6 members with Mr. Ernest Brown as interim Convener.

Presentation sessions were organized;

  1. Mr. Ayitey Bully, Technical coordinator, AfrNOG presented on the Role of NOGs in National Development.
  2. Prof. Dakubu, GARNET, UG presented on Roles of NRENS in National Development.
  3. Prof. Nii Quaynor, Convener, AfNOG presentation was on IGF: A Multi-stakeholder Process
  4. Towards an Improved National Internet Infrastructure: Prospects & Challenges -by Ezer Yeboah-Boateng (for GISPA)
  5. Mr. Issah Yahaya Director, Ministry of Communication presented on New ICT Initiative for Accelerated Development
  6. Presentation on ccTLD as a Backbone to Information Society was by Eric Akumiah, GM, Africa Top Level domain organization

ghNOG will be have a series of training workshops in the months details of which will be had available on the site.

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First AfNOG EO Localization UNIX System Administration Workshop
was published on 04.08.2009 by Worlali Senyo. It files under global, sub saharan africa
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'Sleep talking' PCs save energy and Money

‘Somniloquy’ a new technology system has been developed by Yuvraj Agarwal from UC San Diego and Microsoft Research. According to the researchers, evaluation of the ‘Somniloquy’ show that “it consumes 11 to 24 times less power than a PC in idle state”, and this could translate to a 60 to 80 percent energy savings depending on their use model it added.

The computer scientists named their system ‘Somniloquy’, because the system allows a PC to perform “non-power-intensive tasks” even though it is in sleep mode and wakes up the PC when higher resources are required for a computing task such as storing files.

In the public release on 23rd April 2009, by EurekAlert.org, UC San Diego computer science Ph.D. student Yuvraj Agarwal presented this work at the USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 2009). Collaborators on this project and the NSDI 2009 paper,  Somniloquy: Augmenting Network Interfaces to Reduce PC Energy Usage where computer scientists at UC San Diego and Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington and Cambridge, UK.

Figure 4 from the NSDI 2009 paper, Somniloquy: Augmenting Network Interfaces to Reduce PC Energy Usage. The photograph captures the gumstix-based Somniloquy prototype -- Wired-1NIC version.

(Source: NSDI 2009 paper)

The goal of Somniloquy is to encourage people to put their PCs in sleep mode more often, for example when they are not being used for computationally demanding tasks. “Reducing energy consumed by wall-powered devices, especially computing equipment, offers a huge opportunity to save money and reduce greenhouse gasses,” said Agarwal.

Agarwal noted that “Large numbers of people keep their PCs in awake mode even though the PCs are relatively idle for long blocks of time because they want to stay connected to an internal network or the Internet or both”. “I realized that most of the tasks that people keep their computers on for—like ensuring remote access and availability for virus scans and backup, maintaining presence on instant messaging (IM) networks, being available for incoming voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls, and file sharing and downloading—can be achieved at much lower power-use levels than regular awake mode,” said Agarwal.

Based on this realization, Agarwal and the team built a small USB-connected hardware and software plug-in system that allows a PC to remain in sleep mode while continuing to maintain network presence and run well-defined application functions. It supports instant messaging applications, VoIP, large background web downloads, peer-to-peer file sharing networks such as BitTorrent, and remote access. Also the system can be easily extended to support other applications, this the scientists indicated.

“Somniloquy uses a very small low-power computer. It has a low-power processor, some memory, a lightweight operating system, and a small amount of flash to store data. Everything is scaled down and extremely energy efficient,” said Agarwal. Its low-power secondary processor functions at the PC’s network interface an runs an embedded operating system and impersonates the sleeping PC to other hosts on the network. Somniloquy will wake up the PC over the USB bus if necessary. For example, during a movie download, when the flash memory fills up, Somniloquy will wake up the PC and transfer the data. When the transfer is complete, it will go back to sleep mode and Somniloquy will again impersonate the computer on the network.

The statement noted that current prototypes work for desktops and laptops, over wired and wireless networks, and are incrementally deployable on systems with an existing network interface. It does not require any changes to the operating system on the PC, to routers or other network infrastructure, or to remote application servers.

In the future, Somniloquy could be incorporated into the network interface card of new PCs, which would eliminate the need for the prototype’s external USB plug-in hardware, the statement added.

Source: Eurekalert.org

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'Sleep talking' PCs save energy and Money
was published on 27.04.2009 by Worlali Senyo. It files under global
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Review: Long-term Sustainability of Tele-Centers: Comparing Model Cases

In this paper Andrea Kavanaugh of HCI Center Virginia Tech, USA, compares the two main telecenter models for government support and establishment, and their abilities to provide long term sustainability in the provision of universal access. These are the Stand-alone and Embedded telecenter models. The paper also provides summary findings of other telecenter studies drawing on case studies in Iran and Appalachia in the US.


Hudson (1995, 2006), and a host of others have already established the benefits that ICTs bring to a country however, the majority of population in developing nations and some sections of the developed countries lackproper access to ICT’s and therefore, the benefits.


In the paper, Andrea notes that on the one hand, the “sole activity and raison d’etre” in the Stand-alone model is “providing access to (and training in) computers and computer networks” with no self-sustaining mechanism.  On the other hand, the Embedded model has built-in sustainability features that enables it to “provide outside support” (“funds to purchase computers and internet access” the paper noted) to keep access available.  Some examples noted in the paper of the embedded model were in a school, library and community center.


In evaluating the designs of the models, the paper discussed using mixed methods of quantitative and qualitative techniques which included participants’ questionnaires and registration data for the quantitative approach, and interviews, review of records and reports for the qualitative.


In examining the two models in Iran, the paper observed the case of Zahedan Information Technology Center (Stand-alone) and “Math House” (Embedded). Zahedan Information Technology Center a community organization is located in Zahedan the provincial capital of Sistan and Baluchestan Province in southeastern Iran that primarily provides technology, training and networking facilities (Kavanaugh, 2005). The second Math House was established by local public schools in Neyshabur, a city North-East of Iran. Although the setup was initially for students with interest in learning mathematics, it has grown to have a large network infrastructure with computers connected to the internet. A key characteristic of the Math house that makes it an Embedded model is the intrinsic maintenance of the computers and related facilities being part of the “duties and responsibilities of teachers and staff of Math House as they help the planning of learning activities for participating students”.  


Also in the case study of Appalachia, USA, the embedded model was observed. Here three of the local chapters located in the New River Valley (NRV) southwest Virginia namely, the New River Community Action Agency (NRCA) and Smyth County, Virginia, the public health district of the New River Valley (PHD NRV), and the Appalachian Women’s Alliance (AWA) with support from the US Department of Commerce assisted the NRCA in “purchasing and setting up of public access computer, printer, and overhead projector” at four different NRCA localities in several counties. The system ensured through agreed financial support “each locality was integrated and upgraded to their local area network and the computer network connected to broadband connection”. Through this approach the NRCA was able to donate “computer, printer, and projector package” to the local Goodwill Industries workforce training facility” which provided on demand basis continuing education programs for low-income adults.


From the case studies presented, we can agree to the fact that implementation of development projects should first fundamentally get the buy-in of the community it is intended for if it should be sustained.  In this way, the community sees it as theirs and will assist in sustaining the existence of the facility.  Again, governments should take into consideration the long term sustainability of projects when seeking to improve the access to training and technologies since most often these projects lack the ability to support their continuation after grant funding ends.  A careful blend of the two models should provide communities, especially those in developing countries, a continuous and reliable access to the internet and other technologies.


The paper concluded that long term sustainability is much more feasible through the Embedded model than the Stand-alone. This was because in the long run Stand-alone telecentres were “difficult to sustain” mainly because of lack of funding and management support. It also noted that the attempts to develop other funding sources to sustain these telecenters no longer serve the original purpose of providing universal access to population that cannot afford access and training there.  However, unlike the stand-alone, the Embedded Telecenters model turn out to be sustainable in the long run, since they are supported and maintained by the organization hosting them and do not “depend of completely new revenue streams”.  A critical point the paper examined was the need for “existing community organizations like schools to consider integrating mobile telephone service which offer greater alternatives for individuals to gain access to computing and Internet resources especially in rural areas” where infrastructure (“electricity supply and telecommunications”) is poor.  It noted the various advantages that the mobile phone technology offers and the fact that more people in developing countries now own more mobile phones than personal computers mainly because it is more affordable and easier to use then the mobile phones. This technology has recently been preached to have the potential to help bridge the learning curve for people, especially in developing countries with low computer literacy.



1. Andrea K, 2009. Long-term Sustainability of Tele-Centers: Comparing Model Cases. CHI’09, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

2. Hudson, H. 2006. From Rural Village to Global Village: Telecommunications for development in the information age. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

3. Kavanaugh, A. 2005. “Evaluation of the ICT Center in Zahedan, Iran: Training & entrepreneurship for women and youth” External Evaluation. InfoDev Program, Global Information and Communication Technologies Department, The World Bank

4. http://www.imaginar.org/its2008/286.pdf

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Review: Long-term Sustainability of Tele-Centers: Comparing Model Cases
was published on 23.04.2009 by Worlali Senyo. It files under global
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