Maker Faire Africa, Accra, Friday: sessions 2nd part

Notes from the Maker Faire Africa 2009 in Accra, Ghana from Friday 14th to Sunday 16th August.

Follow the MFA09 aggregator on Maneno.

MFA09 program available here.


Panel: African Invention – what drives innovation on the continent?

Dominic Wanjihia, Kenya

Nana Aquah Kofi, Ghana

Emeka Okafor, Nigeria

William Kamkwamba, Malawi

Impediments of innovation

  • The old generation has a mindset not trusting the youth and not encouraging them to try things
  • Teachers are often not too creative, curious pupils are often shut down
  • Often education is seen with an end – a degree


  • Delivering constant quality is hard but quality is the key for international recognition
  • Look at your neighbours (Mala, Cameroon, …) before seeking approval internationally
  • Look at what people do, rather than what degree they have


Panel: Dissemination, Models for Technology Diffusion

Erik Hersman, AfriGadget

Amy smith, IDDS

FabLab Ghana

FabLab Kenya

Engineers for change

IDDS: Create prototypes, not papers; create technology and technologists

Engineers for change:

  • repository for problems and solutions
  • project management & communication tool
  • network for engineers internationally

There is no mechanism with which to share best practices

Often people just can’t invest in new technologies because the capital and time is scarce


Scott Fifer – Go Campaign Prize Announcement

NGO supporting projects helping children – the future of Africa depends on the future of its children

Scholarship for makers organizing workshops



Makers show & tell

IDDS – playground power team

Notes from IDDS final presentation

Is this being disseminated and how?

  • Thinking about using the merry-go-round for advertising
  • Approaching school systems

What was the biggest challenge?

  • making it cheap


Jodie Wu

Just finished MIT, talking about a project started 2 years ago

Technology to shell maize

  • bicycle used for that purpose
  • bike-device was rented and payed itself off in 20 days
  • right now – create an interface for the bike to attach any technology to it

How about releasing the designs – when you actually want to make profit?

  • the basic technology has been around for hundreds of years
  • I see it as a success when people are copying it


Panel: From invention to investor – getting venture finance to perfect your idea

Emeka Okafor

Mark Grimes, NedSpace

Nii Simmonds, Nubian Cheetah

Problem in Africa: many inventions don’t get investment easily, the investment market is quite underdeveloped currently is a great idea – allowing everybody to look at entrepreneurs in various countries and invest in their business

People talk about technology – but we need to look at basic stuff

Also corporate social responsibility programs will not bridge the gap – as big companies will not fund their ultimate opponents

Due to the crisis now is the time to make money – and eventually make the world a better place

Africa is open for business (Carol Pineau) and not different to other continents


  • funding – one reason why this event is hold
  • support from experiences person – platforms such as Nedspace provide a solution
  • having an office – a company address

One model is to look at others and adapt their behavious to your environment

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Maker Faire Africa, Accra, Friday: sessions 2nd part
was published on 14.08.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under sub saharan africa
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Afrika Maker Faire Accra, Friday: Introduction and sessions 1st part

Notes from the Maker Faire Africa 2009 in Accra, Ghana from Friday 14th to Sunday 16th August.

Follow the MFA09 aggregator on Maneno.

MFA09 program available here.


Welcome speech

Nii Simmonds

The event was a journey and a collective effort

People that came here are

  • makers
  • engineers
  • academics
  • people that understand – Africa really needs to take off


Emeka Okafor

This is a networking opportunity, especially for Africans

The event is about

  • energizing
  • amplifying
  • elevating
  • disseminating

what already already appears, fostering entrepreneurship, but also having fun


Makers Show & Tell

William Kamkwamba – created a windmill producing electricity on his own in rural Malawi

  • movie: moving windmills
  • you have to start with a first step
  • hopefully we come up with finding out about innovations as great until Sunday

Where did the idea come from?

  • 2001 – hunger in Malawi, no money for going on to school
  • -> reading books to keep up with colleagues, especially diagrams
  • picture of windmill
  • got stuff from the scrap place and just started building one
  • Later – applying knowledge acquired from travel to the US – building a bigger windmill to pump water

What happens if something breaks?

  • Williams cousin knows how to repair stuff
  • more people want to learn it, one already built an own working windmill

Where do the things come from?

  • most things are locally available

What’s next?

  • short term: teaching people
  • long term: commercial company


IDDS – refridgerator team

Notes from IDDS final presentation

How was working with the community?

  • was the greates part, many ideas/advice, great feedback
  • they tried stuff out and helped in testing -> fostered innovation

Which design principles?

  • Direct feedback by endusers
  • Co-creation
  • Letting users see and try it – exploring & improving


Pat – multi machine

Nowadays everything has to be built using a machine tool – which are very expensive

Multi machine:

  • device which is easy to build
  • combines several machine tools
  • using old (from 1830s) technology
  • anybody can build it

There are no actual plans but there is a DVD with instruction -> which is handed out for free

Feedback of people?

  • it’s built all over the world
  • the machine can be used for virtually anything
  • now working on a treadle mechanism

Q & A

William: what were the difficulties with the first prototype?

  • didn’t convince the community, only the family
  • had to get the old bicycle of his father

Pat: which website?

  • Yahoo group: multimachine newsgroup

IDDS team: where is everything documented?


William: things that didn’t work and had to be redone?

  • couple of things: eg bicycle chain went off all the time

William: what are the costs for a windmill and how many people does it serve?

  • about 50$, Williams family can live from it & it is used for charging mobile phones

General advice:

  • Pat: Persistence is vital
  • IDDS team: Sometimes the problem has to be reformulated


Amy Smith – founder of IDDS, D-Lab

Involving everybody in a design activity

5 water sachets -> build something from it!

Various solutions of the teams

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IDDS – final presentation

This Monday at the Great Hall of Kwame Nkrumah University was the final presentation of the International Development Design Summit.

The organizers and participants of IDDS were present as well as representatives of the university and the villages where the IDDS people went to.

First Amy Smith, founder of IDDS and lecturer at MIT gave a short speech. She outlined how extraordinary this whole experience had been and showed a small video to give an impression what IDDS was like. The participants had made a lot of experiences:

  • how to do design – stages of design
  • moving projects from paper to ideas to discuss
  • learning a lot about different types of technologies
  • how to make many many things – at Suame Magazine
  • people from the outside came to share their visions
  • the village visits which gave the participants an idea who they were working with and what their desires are
  • building & prototyping

After her presentation, Rajnish Jain, one of the participants shared his impressions. He praised IDDS as an event which lights the flame of innovation and creativity in everyone of its participants.

Then all the 12 teams shortly introduced their project and the solution they found. In the following some notes on their presentations and some pictures of the presentation of the prototypes afterwards (sorry for the quality, my camera isn’t the newest anymore).


Shea Nut Oil

Improve the Shae oil extraction process for women in rural areas
-> decreasing the time and labour involved
hydraulic powered oil press – eliminates 5 of the 10 traditional steps
response of the communities – quality of oil appeared to be the same
-> further testing necessary


Electricity from the river

many villages don’t have electricity -> challenge: bringing it to them through the river
tested the rivers to see how fast they flow, unfortunately it wasn’t enough to produce a significant amount of electricity
-> decision for another approach
children were playing everywhere -> merry-go-round to produce electricity
goes in a battery -> charging mobile phones or likewise


Chlorine dosing team – making water safe to drink

every minute 4 children die of waterbourne diseases, chlorine is an accurate and easy solution to purify the water
chlorine is available almost everywhere in the world
problem: dosing
project – creating a smple chlorine dosing machine
three simple prototypes


Chlorine production team – producing chlorine to make water safe

should allow people with no access to chlorine and energy to produce chlorine
everything needed

  • salt
  • water
  • human power

two devices with two different methods – hand-crank and bicycle


Cool storage team

many farmers lose valueable revenue due to vegetables that go bad while storing
they also have no access to cooling solution
-> creating a device to prevent vegetables from spoiling

  • absorber (corn-combs)
  • phase change material to maintain a constant temperature
  • doesn’t need electricity and is much cheaper than a fridge

tomatoes last up to 8 days longer


Family friendly latrines

around 700 000 children die annually because of hygiene
challenge: creating a latrine which is safe to use for children and easy to maintain to have a hygienic environment


Cassava processing/grating machine

when processing cassavas, the grating is the most exhausting and dangerous step – injuries might occur
-> providing a machine to grate cassava

  • no energy is needed
  • protects the user from injuries

efficiency of women processing cassava tripled


Rice destoning

Ghana consumes a lot of rice

  • imports are more popular, although it is more expensive
  • because it is seen as having more quality
  • local rice has a lot more stones
  • stones come in because farmers thrash rice on the ground

challenge: low cost, treadle driven rice thrashing machine

  • rice doesn’t hit the ground at all
  • low cost – now: 100GhC
  • completely, with parts, available in Ghana


Local plastic recycling

plastic waste is a big problem for communities
-> creating plastic sheets which can be used for different purposes

  • creates income
  • removes waste
  • provides scarce material


  • uses aluminium heating elements
  • small motor for slow and steady movement
  • artisans created great items out of the material


Mobile child monitoring

challenge: tool that can improve child monitoring
many children are underweight
15 million die every year from malnutrition – related illnesses
devices currently used are not sufficient
data is stored analogue and is hard to use

  • measures weight and height
  • automatically sends data to server and receives feedback
  • from 0-5 years
  • sends data immediately -> reduces human error

tested in a community – trying to incorporate as much of the feedback as possible now


Small scale energy

1/4 people worldwide live without reliable, accessible access to energy
poor people spend a lot of money on batteries, keronsene, …
designed low-tech batteries from local available materials to replace imported batteries

  • uses aluminium cans to create electricity
  • to power LED lights & radios – mobile phones to come
  • 4V battery costs 5GhC to make – our would last twice as long
  • manufactured and distributed at a low cost
  • can be built and maintained everywhere in the villages


Threshing technologies for groundnut smallholders

developing a machine to speed up threshing process
threshing = removing the nut from the plant with your hand
removing the nur is slow, tedious & exhausting
process can be sped up with the device


For more detailed information on the event and better pictures, visit the official IDDS blog.

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IDDS – final presentation
was published on 12.08.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under sub saharan africa
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IDDS – inside view

Due to me being in Kumasi and our planned screening of our movie Hello Africa (a movie on mobile phone culture in Tanzania) at Maker Faire Africa next weekend in Accra, I got in contact with some of the guys of International Development Design Summit which will present their prototypes at the Maker Faire.

Yesterday I showed up at their place to take some photos, watch them work at the prototypes and find out a bit about the problems which emerged.

Most of the teams focus on problems which need a more engineering-type solution, but one team is into ICTs and I was taking a closer look at them. The team is very multicultural and multidisciplinary – consisting of Evan from the US who is into mobile phones and ICTs, Vaibhav from India who is also into ICTs, Mensah from Ghana working for the Methodist church, Paulina from Guatemale studying industrial design and Dr. Hiwagaba from Uganda who studied medicine.

The challenge the team sought to solve was “baby health care” – assuring that babies can be weighed and measured easily by nurses on the countryside and that the data is kept track of.

The solution they came up with was a device that weighs the baby with pressure sensors, measures the height by a infrared-sensor connected to a measuring tape. After measuring, the data is pre-formatted and senr via a connected modem as sms-message to the database. There the data can be saved and analysed. It’s really easy to use and very practical. The prototype – as all other prototypes of the other teams – is currently undergoing refinement and redesign according to the feedback of potential real users from the Ghanian countryside.

I also looked at some of the projects of the other teams – and after a while I became really euphoric about the amazingly creative and innovative solutions the people from IDDS found for their challenges.

  • Project team “energy production” designed a device which creates electricity from copper, salt water, plastic bottles, aluminium waste and some other things – actually a low tech battery. They already used it to power electric light and a radio.
  • Project team “water purification” designed a device which adds always the exact amount of chloride to water to make it drinkable.
  • Project team “chloride production” redesigned a bike to use it to create hydrochloride from other – available – chemicals. They are working together with team “water purification” to create a feasible all-in-one solution for water purification.
  • Project team “refridgerator” designed a device which keeps a constant temperature of 18° and absorps gases causing fruits and vegtables to rot faster.
  • Project team “plastic waste reduction” designed a device that creates a material which can be used for creating rooftops, raincoats and for several other purposes.

In my opinion all these devices have enormous revolutionary potential – what if you could produce energy from waste and clean water with everyday tools which are already around?

So on Monday the finished prototypes will be presented publically at the KNUST museum and I will be there – really curious on seeing the prototypes in action and observing the ones I didn’t see this time – there are 12 project teams after all.

Also check out Nialls blog – the official IDDS blog, it has far more details and pictures.

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IDDS – inside view
was published on 07.08.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Coop 2.0 Gijon – Aftermath

Now that Cooperation 2.0 in Gijon is over for already a week, we would like to share some thoughts and impressions from the event.

The overall guiding theme of Coop 2.0 was “Innovation on ICT for Development Cooperation” and this theme was present in almost every talk and round table. Already in the entry speech of Nadjat Rochdi from UNDP, the need for innovation was accentuated. And adverse to invention (having new ideas) she defindes innovation as “appyling ideas in a new way“. Furthermore she called for collective action of all stakeholders – governments, NGOs, private sector.

The projects and organizations presented in the following days mostly conformed to these ideas, showing interessting concepts on how to use existing technology for social and economic improvement, or how to reshape development cooperation to let everybody contribute.

On the technology side there were for example

What these three presentations showed was that the right technology in the right situation has huge potential. But, as Kentaro Toayama pointed out Рnot for every problem, there is a technological solution which makes sense. St̩phane Boyera presented mobile phones as the most powerful device in ICT4D currently Рchanging lifestyles of people all around the world and empowering the poor to act as contibutors instead only as consumers. But he also mentioned the shortcomings of mobile phones and the need for an inclusive approach, integrating other technology already in place.

On the “reshaping development cooperation” side there were for example

The statements in these presentations were supporting an increased integration of the southern countries in the process of bridging the digital divide. Furthermore the need for urgent cooperative actions was underlined. As Vikas Nath put it – networked cooperation is a must – institutions have to learn to integrate themselves in bigger networks.

In the discussion panels it was often claimed that in ICT4D, development needs to be in focus, not technology – but in my opinion most contributors at Coop 2.0 seemed to have understood that. What they shared was the enthusiasm about ICTs – as Oleg Petrov put it – one of the most powerful tools in human history.

Coop 2.0 was therefore in my understanding a highly valuable event for the international ICT4D and general development cooperation community to meet, network and share experiences and best practices. It was inspiring to hear of innovative projects using ICTs on the one hand, but also of attempts to achieve increased networking in development cooperation – where ICTs naturally can contribute substantially.

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Coop 2.0 Gijon – Aftermath
was published on 19.02.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Cooperation 2.0 Gijon, day 3 – Round table: mobile ICTs for development


Merryl Ford – Manager of the Emerging Innovations Group of the Meraka Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Kentaro Toyama – Assistant Managing Director of Microsoft Research India (MSR India)

Oleg Petrov – Coordinator of e-Development Thematic Group of World Bank

Jan Blom – Director for Nokia Research Center – India.

Stephane Boyera – W3C


Aspects that have emerged:

  • For many people the web browser on their mobile device is the door to the internet
  • 3 core points: Issues of communications infrastructure, deployment, cost of mobile devices
  • There have to be well-designed technologies to serve the user
  • e-Health, e-Education, e-Governance


Focus on use in mobile phones in schools

2006: ways to integrate mp in teaching

  • what can you do with your cell phone? voice call, sms, run application, access the web, mms
  • concept of an audio wikipedia – information on how to join the school
  • platform audio-wikipedia
  • sms with a keyword to a number, system called back and read the article to that keyword
  • worked extremely well
  • kids discovered how to use the device immediately
  • educational use – student podcast
  • not only access – contribution
  • students contributed to audio wiki

even poor children have access to powerful phones

applications are important, because connectivity is not necessary for them
project: creating surveys on the PC and frame it for mps
successful project: based on mixit – South African instant messaging service
now 10 mio. users
set up on top: service for mathematical questions, helping learners
a lot of stuff developed in the educational sector can be transferred to other levels
also: development of open source tools


Will take the position of skeptic for this panel

There is an immense hype around mobile phones

It’s important to put development first and not technology

  • This is restricting yourself
  • Many problems can be solved in other ways
  • There might be no technology solution
  • Unless you are constrained to the technology you better leave it undetermined
  • No matter how much technology is provided, this will not foster development if no capacity building is offered

There are more ICTs than mps or PS

  • Community radio
  • TV
  • Low level devices, combinations with paper


Mobile phone is the newest vision of the ICT toolbox so it’s naturally that there’s excitement

There’s a lot of reasons to be enthusiastic

Mobile is the most powerful ICT we have – especially for the poor

  • We don’t have a better tool so far
  • All other technologies don’t reach the bottom of the pyramid

Of course we should keep perspective

Development sector is often slow – so enthusiasm is something to embrace

Knowledge sharing is important – workshops on mps

  • Good to avoid mistakes
  • Best practices

Mobiles can the poorest people access to finance

Mobile for better governance

  • complaining about corruption on mobile phones

Also agriculture & health field

The World Bank is joining the bandwagon on this – so there should be sharing of knowledge & experience

We cannot ignore the potential

We need to find a new expression – e-development, effective development – to show we focus on development, not on ICTs

Work with vendors, operators & governments to frame the surrounding

Let’s have a partnership on mobile for development – moving to the next level


Bangalore – taxi driver

  • never used a PC before, didn’t know email
  • but he had a mobile phone

Nokia does a lot of work on development

  • recently launched a project to help health NGOs to collect data on the field and get response with GPS data
  • services for agricultural sector – sms as backbone, launch in India soon

Research at Nokia

  • Bangalore
  • multidisciplinary team
  • role of technology in terms of empowering
  • what can be done in the field of mobile?
  • sister lab in Kenya

Example of research:

  • combination of mobility and location specific information – LBS
  • in the west: info about restaurants …
  • in an LDC: more fundamental needs & motivations
  • governments are not very tranparent
  • disease based info takes very long – 1-2 month lags until info reaches local hospital
  • how to decrease this lag?


  • map of Soho, London
  • Cholera transmitted through contaminated water – visualizing on a map
  • correlation of death cases & contaminated pump
  • 150 years ago

Now every citizen can collect this kind of information

Visualizing local information

Project: comfort zone

  • Upload comfortable/unconfortable information about a place
  • trial in Bangalore

Another project

  • health radar
  • collecting disease information and centralize it
  • feeding back to health-NGOs and hospitals


Approach: looking at what we see in the field

Technology is just one more tool

If you bring them new opportunities perhaps they use them or not – could change their impact

It’s important to provide local existing organizations with as many tools as possible

Mps are available & cheap & therefore have a lot of potential


Mps offer drastic opportunities to do things differently

Technology has to be integrated in design , otherwise the impact is lost

We can’t take technology for granted

It’s important to be informed about technology


What’s already in the hand in the people, what are they already using?

Not everything needs to be solved with mps, but many things are already and people use it


Methodological challenge: how to get immersed in the community?

Many have difficulties to understand local people – which methods should be used?


Hype in mps similar to telecenter hype

Many examples of projects constrained to mobile phones because it’s so hyped now

“We want to do something with mobile phones” – but there is no way to do it sometimes

Reach of mobile phone

  • Agree with that, nothing else is even close
  • but reach is not development
  • it’s not enough
  • it’s a weak reason
  • radios have even greater reach, TVs

Q & A:

Najat Rochdi

The reason why it’s ICT4D was to make a difference ICT as a sector and the efforts to develop the sector. Driver: we need to do more and to do better.

One big mistake that is always present: we start talking a lot about technology, we forget talking about development – what is it about? what do we want to achive? there is no single answer;

Our duty as ICT4D “agents” is to be aware what’s going on in the development zone – awareness – so we can turn it in information we can share to help them to come up with the most approptiate tool.

The right message here is: we have to be aware about what is available – but we have to keep in mind that our duty is to provice our partners with a choice.

6 years ago we didn’t have Microsoft and Nokia addressing development issues. Let’s work together in a transparent and proper way.


There is a demand at the end user level – how can we get those to ask us to hep them? What about the governments? How can we provide our help?


People are at least asking for ICTs – even if they ask for the wrong tools.


What is the right model? Ethnographoc methods? Let the people themselves come up with the solutions – grass root level.


Users point of view: it seems like the picture gets more complicated

MPs get function rich and more expensive, PCs get better and cheaper – how come? Our tasks as ICT4D specialists is to inform responsible persons (governments) what the best choice is.

Make up of best teams is multidiscipinary – does it make sense to create an inter-institutional approach?


Dark side of mobile hype

Mobile operators are one of the most exploiting comapnies in the world – they are evil

Poor people pay much more for their calls than rich people

The industry is smart & opportunist – we have to deal with it

It’s no liberalized sector, poor quality of services, monoploists

In terms of “development first”

Where does the money go to? Where does the information go, can you handle it?

Upscaling is useless unless the backend to manage the inormation is not in place

Implementing mobiles can be implementes without the government – that’s what’s exciting

But development always wants to go large scale – although small scale would be more successful


Confusion of the idea of “needs” of communication

That development is in the hand of mulitnationals – who try to boost their profits

Mobile telephony is also smoke and mirrors

  • In grassroots communities in Latin America above 3000 meters don’t work any more

Increased competition decreased prices

I don’t see why in schools there have to be so many mobile phones

  • There are still problems with mobile phones – messages don’t arrive
  • Mobile technology myth


If we upscale, a lot is missed


How can we collaborate?

We don’t know enough to be really helpful – at least the World Bank

Knowledge management at this stage is very important

  • Forming a network around the knowledge issues
  • That’s the most urgent thing right now


Do you think stadardizing batteries and chargers might help?


It works – people can charge everything with everything

Electricity problem is solved in innovative ways

It’s not a bottleneck

Cecilia Torres

Development is complex and now ICTs arrive – basic needs are still unmet

ICTs influence young people and change their way of life

They could be used to preserve tradition, but they are not

First we have to think about development and then about technology


A mobile is opening up the world to children

How can it be controlled?

It’s necessary to develop value systems in using ICTs

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Cooperation 2.0 Gijon, day 3 – Round table: mobile ICTs for development
was published on 12.02.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Cooperation 2.0 Gijon, day 3 – mobile phones for human development

Mobile phones for human development – Stephane Boyera, W3C

Presentation of Stephane Boyera

Stephane Boyera:

  • W3C mobile web for Social Development
  • Web for Society Program of the Web Foundation
  • EU-FP7 project Digital World Forum

Mobile phones:

  • In December 2008: 4 bio. subscribers
  • change the way people work, communicate, live
  • People offer their work with their m.p. number – makes them flexible
  • but no evidence that the development challenge is addressed

ICTs have changed the Developed World

  • work, meeting, movement

ICT4D promises to bridge historical divides


  • Connectivity (devices, bandwidth)
  • Information Availability (relevant & useful services)
  • Information Accessibility (too expensive, language, illiteracy)
  • Without addressing these issues, ICT4D is useless

Last 15 years:

  • focus on connectivity – telecenters
  • no sustainability
  • hard to replicate (legal issues, hight cost)
  • hard to scale up
  • relying on unstable governments – limits the potential of ICTs

What can mobile phones bring?

Minimal connectivity & computing power worldwide

  • it’s possible to focus on new, mobile, innovative services (e-agriculture, e-health)
  • people start to think big – scalability

Bottom-up approach

  • empowering people – now they can contribute and act instead of only consume

Why is that important?

  • it’s the only way to make services scalable – few people in development agencies vs. thousands of NGOs
  • people can start businesses themselves – entrepreneurship & innovation
  • governments are not that important any more – there is put pressure on the government for transparency


  • Capacity building – creating expertise on mobile phone technology locally
  • Make tools available – free & open source, easy to use software
  • Raise awareness about the potential of mobile technology and the easiness to create new content/tools

Current focus: on information availability

For sms, there have to be a lot of prerequisites fulfilles

To make all people benefit:

  • Address the needs of illiterate people or low reading skills
  • Local languages
  • Digital literacy – teach people how to search & use content and services


Mobile phone: “Swiss army knive” – a lot of services

Today: sms

  • easy setup, available, free reception
  • issues: high cost of running services, only text, interoperability between operators

Next generation:

Mobile web:

  • free & easy development, powerful interface, access to knowledge in the internet
  • issues: availability on mobiles, cost


  • Natural way of communication, easy to use, everywhere available, flexible
  • Issues: high expertise required, usability, technology

No “one-for-all” device

Next steps

Community building

  • development agencies, local people, academics, NGOs, private sector

Explore local needs

  • field studies, pilot projects

Lower access barriers

  • illiteracy, usability, internationalization


  • easier development & deployment

Mobile phones is a way to reach the people & they are available in the field


  • Expensive
  • Constrained
  • Also other devices necessary – low cost laptops, broadband infrastructure


  • Mobile technology has the potential to meet the ICT4D hopes & make significant impact
  • But next steps: concerted effort of all communities, focus on local needs, bridging the gaps between people, empowerment

Q & A:

Telecenters can also be a complementary service – let’s combine services. What about mobile services for internet access?

  • I agree, inclusing approach is substantial
  • Internet access: we have to understand what it means that people access the web via mobile phone – different interface, constrained
  • Linking your PC to the internet via a mobile phone is possible, if there are PCs available

Comment – internet access & mobile technology are equally important because you need access at the institutional level, not just private level.

How big is the challenge of interoperability? Are there enough standards? Where should they be established?

  • Each technology has a different level – moving from one platform to another is hard
  • On the mobile: making the mobile browser an open standardized tool is a challenge
  • It’s also an issue of power – monopolies
  • Voice is already standardized, but is lacking the open source community
  • Developing applications on the mobile – there is nothing standardized
  • Middle layer: Java stack

One thing that is missing: a lot has to be invested in science and technology – high level innovations, not just applications. There is some kind of technology fetishism.

  • It’s correct, work is primarily on application level.

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Cooperation 2.0 Gijon, day 3 – mobile phones for human development
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Cooperation 2.0 Gijon, day 1 – best practices

As Ismael is blogging from the other room (Notes of Ismael on Coop 2.0 best practices session), I thought I would give him a hand and cover the sessions in this room 1 here.

The sessions are about best practices in existing ICT4D projects.


CEDDET – La Fundación Centro de Educación a Distancia para el Desarrollo Económico y Tecnológico

Objective: contribution & cooperation for development – ICT4D

Basic tool: knowledge management throught the usage of ICTs

Exchange of knowledge between Spain and Latin America

2 types of activities

  • online teaching
  • virtual networks of experts
  • no model, they should find their own track for development


  • toplevel civil servants
  • experience of 5 years
  • all kinds of sectors – which have an economic repercussion


  • more time & geographical flexibility
  • increased number of experts
  • p2p communication – exchange of experiences


  • evaluation
  • therefore training is also longer
  • shortage of technological resources
  • not applicable to all types of knowledge – e.g. presence required

Work with ~50 institutions, implementing online training courses

Average age – 39 years, 15 years experience

Feedback by assessment by trainees

After 7 years

  • 449 training courses
  • more 10 000 civil servants
  • 16 networks of experts with > 4000 members


UshahidiJuliana Rotich

Started in January 2008 when in Kenya after the elections there were riots

Blogs were an important source of information during that time

Ory Okolloh started the project – visualizing information about these riots

  • create an online archive about the incidents
  • create a way for everyday Kenyans to report incidents
  • show where the majority of violence was occuring

Three ways to enter information to the web

  • Mobile
  • Email
  • Directly over internet

User generated content is due to its amount at least as interesting as content created by professionals

A little later:

  • DR Congo – Ushahidi in French
  • Engine for Al Jazeera Labs – War on Gaza, incorporating Twitter reports
  • Peace heroes in Kenya – positive incidents

At the beginning it was all volunteer work – the funding came later

The whole projects is predominantly based in Africa – programmers from Malawi, Ghana, …

If it works in Africa, it works everywhere

Partner with FrontlineSMS of Ken Banks to automate incoming sms-reports

Lessons learned:

  • mapping accuracy and value of geolocation
  • data poisoning – danger of wrong information and intentional misinformation
  • verification is difficult but by partnering with (hyper)local NGOs that could be achieved
  • it’s not only about gathering data – create a feedback-loop with sms & rss alerts; make those customizable
  • offline (newspapers, radio), online (blogsphere) and mobile (here: FrontlineSMS, but also other possibilities) strategy

Q & A:

What about the cost? How much does an sms cost?

  • It can get really expensive

People pay anyway?

  • It has come down since then, but it would be great to partner with the mobile phone companies

In offering “heroes” it was difficult to create specific tags – how difficult is it to replicate this process for organizations which are not as tech-savy? Would you provide support?

  • Right now, there is a Beta version which can be downloaded and there the categories can manually defined. For the customization PHP knowledge is required. So it’s not that difficult. The tool itself is very intuitive. It’s also possible to use different map providers.

Do you design only for citizens? How are you funded?

  • Future: Mass collaboration
  • Funding: first 5 months – all volunteers, no funding. July 2008 Humanity United donated some money, but still Ushahidi doesn’t rely to heavily on funding.

Would funding make a difference? Would you expand the tool? What would you do with 4 mio. $?

  • Growing the the community of supporters
  • support more technology (sms chat, …)
  • Geo-RSS – notifications dependent on location
  • Freedom Fone integration  – Audio -> SMS

– With 4 mio. $ we would make a very robust application which would run on every mobile and provide an online system and filter the data semi-automated

– Or crowdsourcing crisis response – how many NGOs, volunteers are in that area and willing to help? Moving from crisis reporting to crisis response.

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Cooperation 2.0 Gijon, day 1 – best practices
was published on 10.02.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global, south asia
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Update from Gijon

Just a short update from Gijon, where we are right now at the Cooperation 2.0 meeting at the Universidad Laboral (picture on the right).

What’s really impressive here is the content sharing platform integration – the video of a speech is being put online immediately (Cooperation 2.0 youtube channel), there’s live twittering (Cooperation 2.0 Twitter channel – regrettably in Spanish), FlickR (Cooperation 2.0 FlickR account) and as Ismael Peña-López is present, there’s also live blogging (

Just this minute I finished my own presentation on Web 2.0 in ICT4D organizations with the following slides.

The talks so far have been very interesting, the opinions range from very enthusiastic about ICT4D to very cautious: The audience is partly the same as at Network Society Barcelona last October.

The overall topic of the meeting is “Innovation” and all the speakers so far pointed out the need for innovative applications and projects – not necessarily new ones.

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Update from Gijon
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Design for the other 90%

Simple water pump - from

Simple water pump - from

In the recent issue of brand eins there is an interesting article on “Design for the other 90%”. It is about an exhibition in New York and Toronto which focuses on simple solutions for big problems – various articles designed for “the other 90%” of the world’s population. The designers focused on an easy and feasible production process so the products can be manufactured in less developed countries by local craftsmen – innovation from constraint.

There are some ingenious pieces such as solar powered battery chargers, simple and easy to use water pumps, water filters and purificaton tools and also some which were already mentioned in posts of Ethan on or on Afrigadget.

Check out the website of the exhibition – it’s really worth visiting.

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Design for the other 90%
was published on 18.01.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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