Africa Gathering London – Saturday, presentations 3

Notes from the Africa Gathering London – “sharing ideas about positive change” – an event about business, IT, social causes and Africa.


Noemia Bacar – ICT in Mocambique

How are doing with ICT as a woman in Mocambique?

  • I am very proud to be the leader of the ICT unit of KPMG in Mocambique
  • Only few women are in this field

How is KPMG doing today in Mocambique?

  • KPMG is the longest established consulting company in Mocambique – since 1990
  • in 2007 a new line of service – IT advisors
  • new product and new market – helping clients developing new businesses, implementation reviews

Africa has got a continuity problem – how are you dealing with that in Mocambique?

  • companies are often not ready for this
  • we are trying to convince companies that it’s important to mitigate risks


Nick Short & Andrew Hagner & Niall WintersRoyal Veterinary College

Map of the last six months

  • quite a lot has happened – Africa Gathering helped a lot
  • New partners: Bloomsbury Colleges, London International Development Center (LIDC), African partners – very important as reality check, Novoda – commercial partner, Vetaid – NGO in the field providing a different viewpoint,, SACIDS, Vodafone
  • Research funding, government funding (JISC)

Project overview

  • livestock development – NGOs replacing government services for livestock – rise of community animal helath workers, but they are isolated
  • mobile possibilities, e.g. an Android platform we are working on now
  • pilot study in Zanzibar

Undergraduate research team

  • RVC team of currently 9 students
  • project on East Coast Fever

Use of phones

  • collecting data with Google Open Data Kit – collecting many paramaters
  • recording locations
  • communication
  • updating team blog

Advantages of phones

  • quick upload
  • XML formatted
  • paperless
  • keep in contact
  • input from world experts
  • also several technical constraints

Pros vs. Cons

  • great advantages
  • but phones are not affordable – financial support?

What do the local vets want?

  • educational tool & learning resource
  • record production data
  • management tool
  • ruggedness

Mobile opportunities

  • usage is widespread in Africa already
  • affordable handsets and tariffs
  • sample projects: & Uganda health care

Perspectives on Learning – Where next?

Challenge – how to use mobile phones to support learning?

  • Can learning be a more engaging process than traditionally?
  • How to design learning experiences around the mobile device

Why is this important?

  • user generated content is more accepted – “caring and sharing”
  • students sharing content
  • emphasis on mobile learning + Web 2.0

What about an African context?

  • a lot of things emerging – mobile phone coverage, data collection tools, sms sending tools
  • mobile is the dominant technology for learning
  • next project: use mobile devices to produce content locally

Q & A:

If you help animals you help people too – do people understand that message?

  • There’s an international movement now to see the whole ecosystem – animal and human health – as one

Who are the kind of people you would like to get in touch with here?

  • People get involved in different ways, just get in touch with us and we’ll find out


Mira SlavovaMMD4D – Mobile Market Applications in Africa

Interested in markets

What would a visitor from Mars see in social structures on earth?

  • In the west – interconnected communities and companies
  • In Africa, a lot of enclosed societies, not interconnected

More and more penetration in Africa due to the business models

  • pay-and-go

impact of mobile phones

  • blurring of livelihood and lives
  • extending markets
  • strengthening households, families, communities, …

significant instances e.g. M-Pesa, TradeNet, Esoko, txtEagle

Liberia: Trade at Hand

  • civil war, poor infrastructure, lack of standardisation
  • inefficiences in food supply chain, adverse impacts on women
  • project: Trade at Hand
  • posting and receiving offers per sms

research challenges

  • use and social construction of the technology
  • impact on markets
  • adoption
  • business model

innovation challenges

  • application development
  • literacy
  • localisation

Q & A:

Are people already understanding the value of the mobile phone concerning markets?

  • Users are very enthusiastic, we are working on educating the user side

Example of Tanzania

  • Bus drivers stopped taking passengers but make the middleman for people from the village and the city to trade their offers on demand by order of sms


Emmanuel JalRapper

Former child soldier in Sudan – “forced to be a war child”

Puts his fight into the music

It’s hard telling the story but somebody has to do it – for the people who have no voice

The different ethnies and religions are no problem, the oild and the fertile land is a problem – everybody wants it

NGOs right now are only buying time, the aid has to change to fix Sudan again

  • empower the young people
  • more education

Telling his story – how he was cast away from home, recruited, trained for being a child soldier in a refugee camp, and the long and painful journey of his escape

Right now – trying to raise money for a school in his village to give the young people a chance

Link to Emmanuel Jal’s charity

Q & A:

Have you done workshops with musicians to share the experience

  • I do stuff at schools with the kids, they could be the next leaders so I try to teach them how to be good leaders

How much have you raised for the school so far and how much is your aim?

  • Aim: 1 000 000 $ from 1 000 000 people

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Africa Gathering London – Saturday, presentations 3
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Africa Gathering London – Saturday, presentations 2

Notes from the Africa Gathering London – “sharing ideas about positive change” – an event about business, IT, social causes and Africa.


Justin LyonSimudyne

Insights in simulation science can give insights in many things

computer simulation is creating a virtual envirmonment

  • how to take insights gained in virtual environment out of it

Tried to create a model how to create clean water

  • designed the device in the virtual environment
  • built it in real life
  • doesn’t need electricity
  • only requires that the water is stored above it

We can have something that exists in the virtual world and can be applied in the real world – that’s what we try to accomplish

Q & A:

How do you get the money to begin with? How is it sustained?

  • There’s an opportunity for the government, and for small and medium enterprises to purchase it with a loan

How about servicing?

  • the system was designed as a simple solution for a complex problem
  • the device is designed very inexpensively, the parts are available commercially and simple to maintain

Simulation is a powerful tool – it’s no problem if you mess up


Kevin “Banana Man”

Giving bananas to children in the Zulu land in South Africa – known as Banana Man there

The story as it began

  • 2005, a TV documentary on Africa, seeing the sad living conditions in Africa
  • 6 days later going to Zulu land and trying to help
  • hard decision to leave family and life behind
  • got to know taxi driver David going to Zulu land
  • journey of self-discovery
  • bought bananas to feed the children on the road side
  • incredible journey – found thousands of children that needed help
  • returned back later with money and set up fruit growing schemes
  • tried to get money, fundraise, funds
  • by 2007 many travels back to Zulu land, but quite close to giving up – working alone
  • joined a social networking site, posted stories and pictures to make people aware
  • wrote a book and published it, many copies sold, also in South Africa
  • Jacob Zuma was born in that town – a meeting was arranged
  • now there’s a charity – Banana Appeal
  • feeding children and helping them to go to school

“It’s incredible what you can do with some pence in a third world country”

Now the soccer World Cup is taking place in South Africa

  • what do we see?
  • AIDS, poverty

Zulu land is very fertile, just throw some seeds there and something will grow

Banana appeal wants to

  • grow many many fruit trees
  • create a blue print how to feed all the children for free
  • the trees take out a lot of carbon from the atmosphere

Q & A:

What did you tell your wive?

  • The only thing I did was get over the inhibition to do something
  • Huge emotional turn
  • Wive accepted it

What would you tell other people who have a good idea?

  • If you’re feeling inspired look around, there will be something to do – just get over the inhibitions


Mariéme Jamme – 10000Girls

  • Viola Vaughn  – Black American lady who decided to retire in Africa, young girl wanted her to teach them
  • Girls had no education
  • project called 10000Girls
  • social entrepreneurship education program
  • education for girls from 8-21 years
  • we want to get through education in 2038

Why do some business people go there to teach?

  • to get people in their feet
  • teaching entrepreneurship
  • lending money to start business

Entrepreneurship is the possibility to create your own future

The girls don’t want charity, they want the possibility to start their own businesses

Aid is not a tool, but education is

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Africa Gathering London – Saturday, presentations 1

Notes from the Africa Gathering London – “sharing ideas about positive change” – an event about business, IT, social causes and Africa.


Glen MehnAppfrica Labs

Not many technology incubators in Africa


  • In business since about one years
  • 5 start ups founded
  • Active in Uganda
  • founded by Jon Gosier
  • 11 months old
  • 12 employees

Recruiting young developers

Encouraging developers – fail early, fail often and learn from these errors

Learning by doing

  • effort
  • persistence – push people forward
  • relationships

Q & A:

What’s the secret in getting investment?

  • Mostly a track record – we’ve done work with the UNICEF, … – or networking


Ben Lyon – Credit SMS – is now FrontlineSMS Credit

New tagline – the goal is to make every financial service available by 160 characters, in every area, how remote it may be

There’s 54 money transfer systems on the continent, there’s more to come

Mobile money

  • There’s 4 people involved in the process
  • sender, cash-in agent, cash-out agent, receiver

47% of money transfers take place via M-Pesa

There’s obviously a need for that

  • People found ways to transfer money with the devices they have
  • but generally in Africa there are many areas with virtually zero such services

Initial idea: integrating the functionality of FrontlineSMS and a financial model has huge potential

  • A Nation wide bank run from a single laptop
  • Hardware: connecting a laptop to a mobile phone, carrying out the mobile payments via sms
  • Adding microfinance

Q & A:

What about security?

  • Security is huge – we had trouble for months, but two coders in Kenya fixed it
  • Some transactions can be encrypted, this functionality is used
  • Other groups look into secure sms or fingerprints and biometry

How about marketing?

  • We give the software away for free
  • Getting pilots out there and make people share the information about them
  • It should sell itself


Molly MatessichAfrica Rural Connect

What are we doing?

  • Trying to find solutions to the agricultural challenges in Africa
  • Connect those who live(d) and work(ed) in Africa in the agricultural sector

Working in global collaboration – National Peace Corps Association

  • Cultural exchange and technical corporation
  • Active in 180 countries all over the world
  • People in the Peace Corps can connect with the people and are therefore targeted in this program

Created a platform, collaboration between different projects

  • ARC was launched in July 15th 2009
  • over 65 nationalities are represented

Many projects were added to ARC

  • e.g. Jon Gosier, CreditSMS
  • there is a contest in “best projects”
  • but any project gets displayed and can be contacted from anywhere
  • give a voice to people who didn’t have a voice before

  • create an account
  • add an idea or browse the ideas
  • comment on ideas, vote for ideas
  • it’s also possible to “improve” ideas

Spread the word – social media, traditional media, connections, always looking for partnerships

Q & A:

Seems like a big bottom up approach – why has it taken us so long to find out that we have to ask the “ordinary” people on the ground

  • There is no infrastructure, sometimes people speak different languages we don’t understand
  • People have a sense of control, they want to do their project, not anybody else’s

How do you make sure qou can implement the ideas which are on the top?

  • During the next year we want to make our peacecorps volunteers check the projects
  • We just work on the ideas until they are good enough for real world impact

How do you handle big organizations buying in the idea?

  • We are trying to get people from every side involved, we are trying the best we can

Does it help democratize communities as well – do communities come together at non expected places?

  • Our goal is for that to happen
  • A lot of communities still happen offline

The failure of many projects is that they don’t have a community buy-in & participation

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Africa Gathering London – Friday, presentations 2

Notes from the Africa Gathering London – “sharing ideas about positive change” – an event about business, IT, social causes and Africa.



The future of humanity

Where do we get our commerce from? Scarcity

  • A lot of revenue from oil and cars
  • Oil prices go up and down – which cause other people to lose money

We live in a consumer society – but what if there are no consumers?

People – the society gets older

Trustworthy people – are abundant

  • Many people are getting informed and inform themselves
  • trying to control that is hardly possible
  • it’s about the context

5 billion people of 7 billion are not engaged in enterprises

Entrepreneurs are working in relationships, not alone

  • Nintendo increased their market share by engaging the community

We all want to contribute

  • More doers
  • Less talkers
  • Globally aware, locally focused

Happy Planet Index

  • Costa Rica on top


  • you don’t want to just survive in this world, you want to thrive in it
  • starts with trust
  • find the commons – confluence of gifts and commerce
  • be vulnerable and open
  • be authentic
  • assist others & loyalty


  • idea: Company Happines Index
  • happy companies – happy ecosystems
  • happy companies make happier workers

but the 5 billions are missing in this picture which are not entrepreneurs

  • need for a happiness leapfrog?
  • we need the developing world to save us
  • the rain forests keep us alive, we have to conserve them to survive
  • rain forests create rain, not the other way round
  • reforestation of the planet is important, it’s simple, doable, sustainable – please support the movement


Sean MoroneyAITEC

Events in over 50 African countries “ICT exhibitions and conferences”

  • e.g. how to use the newly available bandwidth in East Africa

ICT events in Africa still work in isolation

  • associations & industry connections are lacking
  • people want to keep their ideas for themselves
  • top-down scenario with a strong disconnect between traditional and new developments
  • Real-life gatherings such as this Africa Gathering don’t really take place in Africa
  • it’s tough for young professionals and researchers

Professionals in Africa work in isolation and under extreme pressure

  • it’s hard for them to find people to collaborate
  • skilled people are in huge demand

Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem

It’s beautiful that so many non-Africans talk about the future of Africa here

Internet is becoming more and more important in Africa

Dictatorships and authoritarian regimes add internet as third battlefield

What is needed in Africa

  • young people
  • mentoring
  • democracy

This event shows young people how to become part of “good gangs” – teaching how to be creative and innovative

Q & A:

How to encourage and motivate the leaders to give the mentoring?

  • the leaders can’t give what they don’t have; events like this here might help – for the lead
  • Also informing and educating people in general helps – power and responsibility

Are things getting better in Nigeria – concerning spam, identity theft, …

  • people are aware that there is a problem, there’s a project called “rebrand Nigeria”
  • many Nigerians work hard, these people do not represent all Nigeria

Maybe the reason is the crisis in leadership – same as here? What can we do to inspire business leaders?

  • more inspirational input, professional development events & networks


Teddy RugeProject Diaspora – Mobilize – Engage – Motivate

How many people in the diaspora are making a difference by investing in fellow Africans?

Project Diaspora

  • Motivate people who want to invest in Africans
  • Engage those who are doing for Africa
  • Mobilize that want to do something but don’t know how

In the US there are 4-6 millions members of the diaspora

The missions of the project

  • making sure that the money goes to community development projects
  • if the money is given to the community, everybody is better off, not only the person you had in mind

Does Africa understand the benefits of customer service?

  • a way of survival – if I please you I will eat today
  • all products salesmen in Africa sell are shaped for the community needs
  • a lost customer is a lost revenue opportunity

Customer service as path to prosperity

The word needs to be spread that African time is not fast enough & quality needs to be high enough for the West – customer service can be learned

Africa is defined by a single story only – mostly problems and poverty, but it can be so much more

Customer service as the core of Africa’s digital future

  • complaints about customer service online
  • based in Kenya

We have potential to move forward

Comments, Q & A:

How do orgaizations in the west know who / how / when to trust?

  • Get somebody who speaks the language and knows the customs, he/she will understand

Let’s start to celebrate success sories

Organizations in the west have to involve

  • don’t just throw money
  • success indicators, control

Try to give education to the people, communicate with Africans, learn from them

Education is the only thing I would ask for aid – it’s an investment

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Africa Gathering London – Friday, presentations 2
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Africa Gathering London – Friday, presentations 1

Notes from the Africa Gathering London – “sharing ideas about positive change” – an event about business, IT, social causes and Africa.


Ed Scotcher – Introduction

Africa Gathering is already in place almost a year and has grown into this event – giving space for people to present their projects which might not be that big, but still innovative and important

The money which is made is going to a prize for a project which is presented

Mariéme Jamme

We are the leading platform in London today to share ideas about Africa and innovation

Africa is a great continent, a lot of things happen there, we are here to find out how to improve our continent


Leon BenjaminWinning by Sharing

Personal background – child of different cultures, coming from the IT sector

Biggest story of the 21st century – from industrial age to a networked one

The things the basic institutions nowadays needed to survive are mostly gathered around command and control

Advances in technology, prosperity, but at what cost?

The cost of command & control

  • Diabetes – e.g. appeared in India with Modern work and life models
  • Work Rage – stress, suicides
  • Inequality – no more middle class, huge wage differences, rising poverty
  • Environment – business “owns” the environment

Animals have a different way of living and have totally different needs to survive

  • Self-organization
  • Transparency
  • Trust

P2P production values

  • Open Source Software – also Google, Facebook, … couldn’t exist without it
  • P2P lending – microfinance
  • Prosperity without growth – economic prosperity other than GDP growth
  • Creative Commons – crowdsourcing
  • Open democracy

Guide for entrepreneurs

  • Different thinking about ownership structures – Visa, a chaordic model; Ricardo Semler, Semco employee contract; txteagle, separation of work
  • Different thinking about labour models – fractional work, “the future is about less”,

We need antibodies

  • we need different types of leadership
  • P2P, self-organized
  • power from the bottom, not from the top
  • Ubuntu – I am because we are

Q & A:

What steps need to happen in Africa?

  • Connectivity – the penetration of mobile phones is not yet enough


Ken BanksFrontline SMS – The business of social mobile: Mobile empowerment and the art of invisibility

Empowerment – build something, then take a step back and let other people take over

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Centralised vs. Decentralised communities

  • Many people have fantastic ideas, but they can’t realise them because they don’t have access to certain resources
  • We have to do something about it

Who has control over the stuff communities are producing? Who is controling?

  • The local people vs. the professionals

Long tail theory

  • High tech, expensive, infrastructure heavy solutions vs. easy, cheap, free local solutions
  • In rural, poor areas, the easy solutions tend to work, but the complex ones don’t


  • already documented on this blog e.g. at the April Africa Gathering notes
  • empowering people in various countries – e.g. monitoring elections, working with Ushahidi visualizing stuff

FrontlineSMS Medic

  • “Text messages saving lives”
  • Students in the US set it up
  • Out there and running

People run it themselves now, the community is present

Important things to think about when starting a project

  • hardware requrements
  • make it run on its own
  • make it cheap or free
  • forget the internet
  • assume there’s no technical knowledge
  • provide space to connect
  • be multi-discipliary
  • appropriate technology, low tech
  • collaboration, not competition
  • connect with your users

New concept FrontlineSMS Credit

  • One system, microcredit solution
  • Presentation tomorrow

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Africa Gathering – Aftermath

Africa Gathering London is over – and it was a really great event. We (Karola, Martin & me) were only there from Friday to Sunday, but heard many interesting talks, had great discussions and met amazing people.

Our movie got great response and we were featured in many blogs including Erik Hersman’s, Ken Banks’, Mobileactive, Jürgen Eichholz’s, Putting People First, Cian O’Donovan’s and Alasdair Munn’s as far as I noticed so far.

Below you can read our sum-up of the presentations, Karola’s photos from Africa Gathering can be viewed here.

Thanks to Ed Scotcher for organizing the whole thing and all the participants for making this event an unforgettable experince. It’s really inspiring what projects there are out there – I hope my notes gave a small impression of them.

Next Africa Gathering will take place in Brussels in September – and I’m sure we will attend it again, with new projects, more members and the same enthusiasm.

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Africa Gathering – Aftermath
was published on 27.04.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Afrca Gathering – Panel discussion

Notes from the talks of Africa Gathering taking place in London, England on 25 April.


Panel Discussion
Juliana Rotich, A J Munn, Erik Hersman, Matthew Ncube

Erik Hersman – White African, Afrigadget, Ushahidi; USA, Sudan, Kenya

Alisdair Munn – tcg The Communication Group, trying to enhance understandning social media tools; Zimbabwe, UK

Juliana Rotich – Ushahidi, Global Voices Online; USA, Kenya

Matthew Ncube – Twitter, Mathematics; Zimbabwe, UK (thanks Jürgen)

Out of the technologies we’re seen today? Are there barriers to achieve these projects we’re seen?

Erik: There’s probably a lot more going on as we see. One of the problems – a lot of these projects have been running from outside, it would be great to have more projects run by Africans.

Alisdair: The gap between we want to do, the costs is big – Africa knows best what’s good for Africa. We should have the understanding that they are able to do what they want on their own. There needs to be more participation.

Matthew: Information is not really shared. It is difficult to find out about innovative ideas in many parts of Africa. But there some big and strong ideas we are yet to find out about. It’s not the dark continent, there’s a lot of things going on we don’t know about.

Juliana: Somebody’s probably asking – why is it called Africa Gathering, why is it happening in the UK? If you want to see what African ideas look like – go to a BarCamp on the continent, there are many taking place.

Q: What technologies do yo ufind most useful to stay connected with Africa?

Alisdair: Skype, email, mobile phones, but the way I connect is different. Mobile phone has huge power.

Erik: 75% of developers of own open source main tool are Africans. Main tool to stay connected: Skype channel. Also blogs themselves. Power of blogs is immense, mobile phones of course as well.

Q: Can Africa’s economy growth of the next 5 years base on technology?

Matthew: Education is vital. A lot of young Africans have to be connected to the rest of the world, curricula all over the world have to influence education in Africa as well. Sometimes textbooks are outdated as information is changing so fast – education in Africa has to take that in consideration.

Alisdair: Technology has a role to play, use is relevant. But it has to be lead through people-centered research. Scaling things up makes them often los relevance. A lot has to be done to understand the differnet cultures & areas.

Erik: There’s many technologies for different people, a lot of tools, not the one big technology. In Africa there’s a lot of inefficiencies.

Q: What are the examples that resonate with you the most when taking mobile technology in account? What’s the next big thing?

Matthew: I think we’re quite fortunate to live in a cabled world in the UK. That technology doesn’t exist in many parts of Africa. Next big step will come in the form of WiMax. Reaching a wider audience at faster speed.

Alisdair: In Africa there’s a lot of wasted intelligence. One interesting idea: geographically relevant search, comission based microconversation platforms, there’s a lot of ways social media can be relevant.

Erik: The ability to make payments has large potentials.

Q: How far are we from direct money transfer – e.g. sending airtime internationally? How long will that last?

Q: An observation – make ICT women friendly, don’t exclude them by making ICT too masculine. Women have a great deal of inluence, especially in rural areas.

Q: We’re prototyping in Sudan with a cross border mobile based cash solution.

Q: WiMax will be very interesting also for mobile payment.

Q: Appropedia – Wiki for collaborative hardware devices.

Q: Comment – hear a lot about importance of good governance, a lot of it is about empowering poeple. Next big thing – using technology into the hands of more and more people so they have a voice.

Erik: That was what Ushahidi was built for. I think there will be more of that stuff happen.

Alisdair: Things are changing – technology enables people to be less reliant on countries – they will become more accountable.

Q: There was a mobile conference just last week, lots of interesting discussions.

Q: We have to get African artists to take part in development as well.

Juliana: list of Africa-related conferences on Whiteafrican

Ed: Is Ushahidid purely open source & free? What’s your business model?

Erik: Ushahidi will continue to be open source for all the time. Team gets money by customizing the project for companies.

Ed: What is your dream system concerning m-payment?

Juliana: An open API is vital – extending the functionality. Africa Liberation Card – coming out of Ghana.

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Afrca Gathering – Panel discussion
was published on 25.04.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Africa Gathering – Talks 3

Notes from the talks of Africa Gathering taking place in London, England on 25 April.


Nick Short – University of London Veterinary College
How mobile technology is being used to improve veterinary services in East Africa

Healthy animals for healthy people & vice versa

Founded VetAid 70 humanitarian health works

people got mobile phones in the past 20 years

What can be done?

  • Using GPS enabled Androis phones
  • feedback location based data (disease, mortailty, vaccination, climate, status)
  • relevance to wider community


  • Push out updates into the community
  • Location based relevance – adapt to languages
  • Context sensitive
  • Podcasts and Videocasts – possible to hear and see what’s happening
  • New web 2.0 communities

Appropriate technologies & solutions for all

Q & A:

Online collaborative community – does the use of mobiles mean you don’t have to wait for landlines?

  • Mobile phone is only 160 characters,

Interacting with students on the ground – in what extent did you use also with the local knowledge?

  • It’s hard to tap the knowledge and make it available – but we try to, we learn as much from them as they from us.


Niall Winters & Kevin Walker – London Knowledge Lab
Village e-Science for Life: Participatory Design of ICT for Rural Agricultural Villages in Kenya

Knowledge Lab: partners with University of Nairobi & several English

Aim: Enable rural communities in sub-sharan Africa to use andvanced digital technology to improve agricultural practices and literacy levels

Research in Kenya – initial findings

  • many people used computers
  • few have heard of email
  • very few knew English
  • farmers need information
  • farmers and schools like to take photos to publicise their successes & problems


  • mobile resource kit for farmers & schools
  • provision of training using the devices
  • making results public

Next solution

  • Wireless sensor network to monitor humidity, …

Findings so far

  • ownership issues
  • traditional expectations / non-traditional approach
  • sustainability – business model required
  • flexibility / adaptivity

Background – research methodology:


  • western assumption
  • not appropriate for LDCs

Social studies of science

Why did the aforementioned project work?

  • Value to the community
  • Ownership and access by community
  • Potential for adaption
  • provide a role for the community in use and maintenance -> sustainability
  • no unnecessary complications

Q & A:

It’s hard to do perticipatory on the ground for people who don’t speak the langauge – we got somebody who went don there for us – “participatory design from a distance”

Which devices are there out in the field?

– Macbook, existing devices, open source software


Alex Petroff – Working Villages International
Building Pease in Eastern Congo – A Village of Hope

Often small change in Congo get overwhelmed because even if it’s a really good idea, the other problems are way too big

New approaches necessary who do not repeat the errors of the past

Focusing on widespread small-scale ownership

Adam Smith: small farmers made Britain wealthy

Congo: affected by “Africa’s First World War”

Started a project in a very poor region after the war – no technology at all available

  • Improved in agriculture, diversity of vegetables
  • Growing techniques are new

Upscaling was possible – 20 villages, 100 farmers with all different types of crops

“Grow everything you need” – the community has more commodities, no trade with foreign markets – back to autarcy

Now: Ox-program because fuel is too expensive – tractors have generally been a failure in Africa

  • biogas digester -> power supply

three new exiting technologes:

  • firewood – bad for environment; solar ovens haven’t worked -> earth ovens powered by solar power (Scheffler oven)
  • solar powered heating
  • kerosin lamps – bad for environment -> LED light bulbs

Right now – payroll of all the people working there is coming from local revenues, not anymore from the US

Q & A:

What did you do to motivate to do that?

  • Had the same question in the beginning? Bottom-up is not always working – you must have leadership & a plan. E.g. Bolivia: they get the money from the government, but they don’t have a vision what do with it. Furthermore there’s a necessity of startup capital.

Scale & land ownership – who owns the land the project is taking place?

  • In the beginning it was a company town model. Over time the farmers get land & a house free of charge. the project takes place on small farms – and the land is owned by the community, they can’t sell it, they can just give it back to the community.


Simon Berry –
An amazing story that shows how the convening power of the internet can turn the head of a global brand… and get them to act.

Video: You can buy coke everywhere – but 1 in 5 children dies from dehydration & diarrhea before the age of 5 – so we want to use Cola’s distribution network to get these children access to medication

Everywhere you are – you will be eventually asked if you want a Coca Cola

In the same area 25% children die before turning 5 years of very basic diseases

Idea: Let’s deliver oral rehydration sources (ORS) via Coke crates and also spread the information about these devices

Launched different campaigns on different platforms to gather people for that cause

Facebook groups

  • started to grow
  • within three days unknown people started to join

IPM blog – users can suggest items to go on the program on Saturday on BBC

Getting back to Facebook and making people call Coca Cola

Met with head of Corporate Social Responsibility of Coca Cola

  • 2 results: they were going to do some purely economic research
  • how about a progress report on the blog?
  • Creating three blog posts


  • FlickR groups was created
  • Blog was created – platform for discussion, fertile place
  • Impressive social media response
  • Application to Goole 10 to the 100
  • Video was created by community in 4 days

Anyone with an idea can do it

Trip to Tanzania with Cola people to review the situation

  • own prototype for medicine box “aidpod”
  • starting discussions with distributors about the prototype
  • good response

In the mean time a lot of support by traditional organizations & the community is still growing

Just last Tuesday: Coca Cola said YES to trial of the prototype, at least they are planning for that

to be continued …

Join the Facebook group!

Q & A:

Exisitning channels should be used for distribution – isn’t Coca Cola getting a lot of publicity too? What for do they need Coca Cola anyway?

  • Facts are: 20 years ago you could get Coca Cola anywhere – in the mean time we have failed to address the issue of child mortality. Frankly I don’t mind if Coce sells more, if the issue of child mortality is resolved.

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Africa Gathering – Talks 3
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Africa Gathering – Talks 2

Notes from the talks of Africa Gathering taking place in London, England on 25 April.


Ken / FrontlineSMS o/
Mobiles in Africa – How technoloy is driving social and economic change
Mobile technology empowering grassroots NGOs – FrontlineSMS and field-based case studies

25 years in IT, projects in 8 different African countries

Pattern emerging: Mobile adoptionby users & NGOs is driven by formal & informal conomic activity

  • shops & people just putting up businesses
  • exciting activities
  • people selling airtime, fixing phones, charging phones

impact of mobile phones is as revolutionary as roads, railways…

the majority of reports fail to specifiy which applications are used or how other NGOs can start running similar projects


  • easy solution for NGOs to use mobiles, not necessary to have internet
  • it provides a communication platform, not a tool for something particular
  • it empowers innovators and organizers to do what they desire to
  • basically just allows you to send and receive messages
  • examples: Nigerian election monitors, security alerts to fieldworkers in Afghanistan, spreading news in Iraq, rural healthcare network in Malawi, …

Online comunity for FrontlineSMS is about 470 people now – talking to each other, giving adivce

Why it works

  • Local ownership
  • Local Awareness
  • Free & works on available hardware
  • Replicably & scalable
  • No need for internet
  • Easy to ues
  • Responds to their needs

Logo – o/ – signifies empowerment

Lowering the bar

  • creating versions which work from USB
  • Mobile applications
  • MMS version

Tag line – how can we help the disadvantaged

Q & A:

Technology – is it quite basic? Just sending messages between phones? How to get the numbers? Free SMS?

  • I don’t deal with that – the users do, they work out how to deal with it best

How can you monitor that? How does this SMS response work?

  • software is keyword-driven – can be posted to a website, sent be email, automatic response, call some totally different tool

What do you think about scaling? Is it possible?

  • It’s a big issue – how to scale stuff? Scaling can work horizontally – not one central big implementation but many small ones


How we’re creating access to basic phone services for more than a billion people earning less than two dollars a day
Connect the Unconnected

Working in telecommunication for 20 years – with the mobile operators (Zain, Vadacom, Safaricom, …)

Current mission: connecting the unconnected

What does Movirtu do

  • Research & dissemination of information how people use phones at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP)
  • Innovative infrastructure for mobile operators
  • consumer services

Who are the unconnected? People below $2 income a day

  • 3.5 bn people not connected
  • without phone
  • but still using phone services
  • spend 5-20% income on mobile services

Barriers to entry

  • handset prices
  • airtime prices
  • sim card costs for operators

Ways to get to a phone – shared phones

  • public phones, person to person sharing
  • nearly as many shared phone users as regular users

The problem

  • Identities – shared phone users don’t have an “identity”, they’re hard to get hold of
  • creating an identity for these people
  • e.g. email exists behind the hardware – mobile numbers depend on the hardware
  • why not take the phone number away? – put the phone number back in the network & use phone as network clients
  • you can do everything as if had a phone – but you don’t need to buy one
  • buy airtime for your account – get a free number, access your account with any phone


  • community phone – people using their own number
  • brand: sending free phone numbers to people

Q & A:

We can’t do projects without the operator; to get this working is quite complicated

There is a system around called Pigeon – SW based solution which does basically something similar. Why is it necessary to get so deep into the protocols?

  • It’s necessary to be able to make outbound calls as well; we’re faking a whole SIM-card, because of all the security our there it has to be quite complex


Sian Townsend – Google
Conducting mobile user experience research in sub-Saharan Africa

At ICTD in Quatar: a lot of questions what is Google doing there – so this information should be shared in this presentations

Displaying asked questions by people via sms about diseases, agriculture, …

What is User Experienced Research?

  • deals with all aspects of user interaction
  • user experience, feasibility engineering, product management
  • what do people actually need?
  • about the whole experience of a user – how it looks, how it makes you feel, make it easy to use

2 tyes of research: tactical (optimising) and strategic (innovative)

Tactical: trying to find out what people exactly do when using a devices, where they get confused, …

Strategic: do people have unmet needs, understanding existing patterns, …

What is Google doing in Africa?

  • Offices in Kenya, Egypt, Unganda, Senegal
  • Launching search in African languages – 38 African languges
  • Google SMS in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria – keyword based
  • Google Maps in several countries – user generated content
  • Research awards for students, literacy project, gadget competition social stuff Google does with 1% of the profit

A rising tide lifts all boats – any success is good – snowball effect

Mobile is the technology to work with currently – but ecosystem is complex (operators, …)

What new products to build? How do you know you want something if you don’t know it?

  • Field studies – using FrontlineSMS
  • collecting data, mapping them – user journeys
  • what happens when you first give people the opportunity to use a technology?
  • creating a lot of pilotes – many iterations

Q & A:

The sms-questions/answers were translated to English

What about the 100 best ideas?

  • Delayed, coming back to that

Why do people trust the answers of Google?

  • The operators brand helps the applications behind that (trust in the operator)

How are maps verified?

  • The satellite images can be used to trace the streets

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Africa Gathering – Talks 2
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Africa Gathering – Talks 1

Notes from the talks of Africa Gathering taking place in London, England on 25 April.


David Hollow – ICT4D Collective / RHUL
The $100 laptop in Ethiopia – A case study

ICT for Education:

How to assess impact? How can ICTs make an impact in such extreme poverty?

Why impact assessment?

  • How do we know if our interventions have any benefit?
  • Variety of approaches
  • Operate in partnerships with people there
  • Engaging in ICT 4 Education projects, but then stepping back and evaluating what was happening

XO laptop in Ethiopia

  • What’s the educational challenges? Far not all children go to school, lack of textbooks & learning materials
  • 5000 XO laptops in use
  • Impact of the textbook reader on the XO laptop – monitoring and evaluation

Lessons learned:

  • content: educational content would be useful
  • teacher training: students are more advanced then the teachers – more training necessary
  • integration: laptop is not integrated in courses
  • frustrations: it’s not used for studying – a tyo rather than a tool; teachers have problems too, they don’t know how to use the laptops

what to do?

  • text book reader: options to provide a bridge, pupils can use  them & teachers see the benefits
  • technical challenges: mesh network & translating all the documents from textbooks to virtual
  • teacher training (pedagogical & technical)
  • plan for integration
  • more communication to parents & community
  • adjusting focus on secondary students
  • government shifted their approach from authoritatian to a more collaborative one

wider application

  • partnership requires transparency, expectations, communication
  • there are unanticipated outcomes

reflection on own projects

  • bring in self reflection
  • do we asses the impact of what we’re doing?
  • are beneficiaries engaged in decision making processes?
  • what methods are used?
  • are we conscious of power & aspiration in our projects?
  • do we see ICT as our tool and development our objective?


difference between children and teachers?

  • children were more willing to learn

what did children actually learn?

  • main thing: how to take photographs, how to play tunes

development of Akili? in Etheopia?

  • was developed in Switzerland

was there anybody responsible for translating the textbooks?

  • large team of people

why secondary education rather than teachers?

  • because of the volume of students – the sums involved

trying to connect to academics – you chose to work for a top-down orgaization, what could we have done better to make you work with a bottom up organization?

  • there are many projects I wanted like to work with, rationale was to engage with a large scale project to better assess impact


Nkeiru Joe – International Law department, Virije University Brussel
Staying connected to Africa: an ecosystem approach as a response to the “solutions temptation”

Law, Africa & development – international law can achieve linkage

There are myriad problems when looking at international law

Solutions temptations – always going for the simplest solutions

Connecting everybody to technology – is it really great?

Submarine cabels provide Africa with big amounts of information – the issues connecting the cabels (connecting Africa with other areas) cannot be addressed within the continent alone

Has to be addressed by international law – there need to be standards in place

Who is liable for damage of the cables? Who protects the cables? A system in international law has to be put in place

UN-convention is in place – there has to be influence influence to hold the parties accountable

Norms and law can create the framework to include everyone in ICT4D

Why solutions need law?

  • There need to be capable agencies in place
  • Solutions can only come from within – local people have to be incorporated
  • International law = “watchful parents”

without addressing issues structurally = digging deep, sustainable solutions can’t be found

Q & A:

are landlocked states also addressed by the law of sea?

  • yes, they are

landlocked – geographically disadvanteged states – is there any pressure on coast states to share infrastructure with these states?

  • yes, e.g. Zimbabwe can lay a cable to the sea through any country as long as they are not causing any damage

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