Holistic development and multi-stakeholder engagement with a pinch of systems theory; a recipe for acknowledging complexity


A day like today 10 years ago I decided to quit my job in IBM. I no longer wanted to wake up every morning and work 10 hours to make someone in the US richer and richer. I had volunteered in Peru and Mozambique during the summer holidays and I knew I wanted to work in development. I had however witnessed how private companies can influence policies, move governments and transform the lives of people in developed and developing countries, and it was that sweet spot between development and the private sector that was most appealing to me.

Luckily for me, the development industry has undergone a profound change over the last decade and has moved closer to that sweet spot. Old funding models and narrow focused interventions are no longer the norm. Donors are increasingly requesting Public Private Partnerships where private companies need to provide co-funding for the implementation of a program. Nowadays development objectives (including a theory of change) and business model design (including pricing) are two sections of the same project proposal. An agricultural program now needs to put women equity at its heart, focus on nutrition and food security while achieving economic, social, technological and environmental sustainability. This holistic approach can promote transformational and long lasting change, but it is also much more complex to develop, manage and evaluate than “old school” donor funded programs.

Having managed a small component of a multi-country (14) multi-million (24) multi-partner (40) program that aimed to integrate agriculture and nutrition goals using mobile phones, while attempting to demonstrate ‘impacts at scale’ and value for money, I can tell you: getting to the end goal is not a walk in the park. While I was still involved in the program I was approached by a researcher from Ottawa University, interested in analyzing this complex program using a systems approach to understand the relationship between its numerous sub-components and its different development goals. The result was an academic paper that has recently been published in Food Security (Springer), which will hopefully influence donors and academia to revisit their approach to complex development programs and to ensure that the sweet spot between development and businesses becomes sweeter in the years to come.


Here I leave you the abstract and a link to the paper.

International development programming is increasingly integrating agriculture and nutrition goals, while attempting to demonstrate ‘impacts at scale’ and value for money. These multiple goals create complexities, both from a conceptual viewpoint and a more operational perspective. This article uses systems theory to examine the mobile Nutrition program (mNutrition), which aims to improve nutrition, food security and livelihoods for rural women and children, through mobile phone-based information services.  The paper specifically uses mNutrition’s work in Malawi as a case study. The systems approach reveals that, as a complex system with numerous sub-components and tensions among different goals, the mNutrition program tended to minimize connections between its sub-systems (such as content development and mobile service development processes) in order to speed up movement towards the global planned outcomes. We argue that this is likely to have multiple impacts on outcomes, including on overall effectiveness and the relevance and sustainability of the mobile message content.

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Holistic development and multi-stakeholder engagement with a pinch of systems theory; a recipe for acknowledging complexity
was published on 27.02.2018 by Alvaro Valverde. It files under global, sub saharan africa
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Modern software development workshops at the UEM Maptuo

The ICT4DMZ project is now running quite a while and after three amazing weeks in Maputo we are one big step further to reach our goals. Philipp and I (Paul Spiesberger) tried to bring the students of the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Maputo on the right track.

In more than eight workshops we gave them the tools and the knowledge to start programming for their projects. At the beginning we tried to find out on which level their skills are and what we can expect. From that point on we knew that we will have to give them a short introduction to modern software development in a team as well. Up to that day the students were exchanging code with Dropbox and they had almost no structure or/and organisation for their teamwork. At that time we were glad that Florian and Anders did great work a few months ago. They helped them with team roles and project documentation a lot. So it was not necessary to cover that important part too. In order to give them an easy tool to handle their code and the organisation of their projects, we introduced them to GIT and Bitbucket. The students were impressed by the GIT workshop and we were happy to see over the next days that some of them were porting their “Dropbox projects” to their new GIT repositories. Working with Bitbucket-Issues was not that successful at the beginning, but we are sure that this will change over time. From that point on we were ready for programming and we split up the group by the two projects:

Complaint Center

The goal of this project is to create a website which can handle complaints about a company or a product. It should gather information or feedback and help to improve their services. Philipp started with a short tutorial about the PlayFramework and helped to set everything up. After that he assisted with his expertise as much as he could.

Philipp with students


The other group is working on an Android app for students to find POI like lecture rooms, Wifi hotspots or public power plugs at the UEM campus. I started to teach them the basics of Android programming and helped them to set up the project. Since Java programming and developing for Android are quite different, it took a little bit longer to write the first line of code. I tried to explain step by step the important parts and assisted as much as I could.

Paul with students

In total we worked about 27 hours in three weeks with the students. We had some troubles finding the right time slots for all students, since they had different time schedules during their weeks. Especially at the beginning we did some workshops twice, so no one missed the introductions to the technologies. After that, not all students attended to our workshops all the time, but we were never alone.

From now on, we will assist via Skype and e-mail remotely from Austria. We have a good feeling for the outgoing of the projects and hopefully the students keep engaged in the next months as they were during our workshops.

Group picture UEM

During our stay we also helped the UEM to use Moodle for a first test run. We hope that in the future this modern way of IT supported teaching will be expanded to other lectures and faculties to strengthen the teaching abilities at the UEM.

In addition Philipp and I were working hard on our master thesis. Philipp is doing research on big data for emerging countries and for that he conducted some expert interviews. I am interested in user interface design for mobile devices in emerging countries like Mozambique. So I did a survey with students to find out their mobile phone usage and habits.

Of course we also found time to travel and to take a look at this beautiful country. When you talk to people in Mozambique, experience the beautiful landscape and take the time to look behind the curtain, then you get the feeling that this country is moving fast forward. The question is in which direction. The currently discovered massive resources (minerals, oil, gas) can have a positive or a negative impact to the society. There is also a new party growing really fast and it is gaining more and more influence. In the last few months the country was almost slipping into a new civil war. But one week before we arrived, they managed to find a compromise and elections are going to happen in the future. But I think that despite the fact of great poverty, corruption and the lack of education, Mozambique has the ability to find the way to a great and rich future.

3 women

Last but not least I would like to say thank you to Emilio Mosse and Andrei Shindyapin. We are lucky to have this partner and friends in Maputo, who are willing to share their valuable time and love with us. Also a big thank you to the students for their great effort and time!

Philipp and I are excited to continue the work and we are looking forward to meeting our friends in Maputo again.

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Modern software development workshops at the UEM Maptuo
was published on 03.03.2014 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under sub saharan africa
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Hello Africa goes to Barcelona this weekend

We are very pleased to announce that our documentary received an invitation to be showed at the NOW festival in  Barcelona, at the CCCB (Centre de Cultura e Contemporània de Barcelona).

The festival is going on between 26-27/3, and Hello Africa is to be screened on Saturday 27 March, 19:00 in the main foyer, listed under the New Activism category.

The festival describes itself like this:

NOW is a reflection on the present based on the scientific, technological, artistic, social and spiritual transformations that are taking place at the start of the 21st century. It is a process of research, creation and dissemination that aims to bring together different local and international agents involved in the actions that are promoting a change of paradigm in the information and knowledge society and in globalised cultures.

If you want to follow the event on Twitter, the hashtag is #now10. There is also a live streaming of the ongoing events on their webpage.

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Hello Africa goes to Barcelona this weekend
was published on 25.03.2010 by Anders Bolin. It files under global
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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Aftermath

Yesterday, 16 September, the workshop Mobile Innovations for Social and Economic Transformation: From Pilots to Scaled-up Implementation, initiated by the eDevelopment Thematic Group (eTG) of the World Bank took place.

It was already the 7th workshop we covered on our blog, Twitter and social media since we started our partnership with eTG, and the topic was especially interesting for us – considering the unique role of mobile phones in developing countries nowadays.

The workshop was split in six parts, each having as leitmotif a certain sector where mobile services are used.

There are some photos which Oleg Petrov took during the event on the ICT4D.at Flickr account.

The speakers came from various sectors – the World Bank, private and public sector, the academia and practicioners in the field.

Many of them claimed what I also already heard in several other conferences – the technology is there, now we have to focus on applications and business models. Although several successful projects were presented, there were general complaints that often such projects don’t bypass the “pilot” stage and don’t achieve sustainability. The topic of scaling projects to reach more audience and higher impact was also mentioned several times. More evaluation on impact and sharing information on failures of projects was identified as two ways to overcome this problem. Also the concept of private-public partnerships and searching strong, committed partners for implementing mobile solutions was put forward once more.

More detailed information can be found in the blog posts linked above and on Twitter. Under the hashtag #mobile09 the lively online discussion surrounding the event can be followed – several contributors gave this event quite a drive. The comments there had a more critical viewpoint on mobile phones as the big solution for all problems.

What was interesting for me personally was that obviously there is no real large scale project out there which is profitable so far. M-Pesa is the only one which scratches the border but also has trouble creating revenue. Impressive non-profit examples where projects which used mobile phones for delivering services to the poor and as enhancements in education.

So all in all the event gave a feeling that there is potential for more to come in the mobile sector and several great examples were given – but the “killer application” is obviously still to come, or maybe there’s even no need for it, because it’s so easy to set up an own, localized application.

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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Aftermath
was published on 18.09.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 6

Notes from the World Bank eDevelopment Thematic Group workshop on “Mobile Innovations for Social and Economic Transformation – From Pilots to Scaled-up Implementation on 16 September in Washington DC.


Session 6: Mobile Innovations in Governance


Introduction: Alfredo Gonzalez, WBI

Mobile technology has created at elections in various countries to raise voice and awareness

Fighting corruption is a big issue for ICTs


Mobile Phones for Good Governance – Scaling Up Issues

Ed Campos

Philippines is the SMS capital of the world – the reason is that technology came and broke the landline monopoly and everything changed

Mobile phones give the possibility to tap the voices of people you probably wouldn’t have heard

Problem with governance is the service delivery – especially in the regions locally

  • mobile telephony and ICTs can help a lot here
  • example in the Philippines where mobile phones were used for ensuring transparency in the education system

Mobile technology is a mechanism to bridge the demand-supply side very fast


Johan Hellstrom, ICT Specialist Stockholm University

East Africa as cast study

What is good governance?

  • impossible to define – depends on the context
  • relationships between three actors: state, market and civil society
  • communication between these actors is really the key point

Why mobile phones?

  • huge potentials
  • penetration rates, access, reach
  • easy to use, interaction
  • costs, efficiency
  • no other option?


  • not mGovernment, it’s good governance with mobile technology
  • interaction, reaction, action
  • bottom up participation
  • empowerment

East Africa: mostly pilots – many examples

  • Much usage which was not planned
  • Crowdsourcing

Recent example:

  • big incident
  • hard to get information – except on Twitter
  • crowdsourcing information with the help of Ushahidi


  • why are there so many pilots and yet so few that have been scaled-up?
  • why do many projects start from scratch instead of building on existing solutions?
  • why are there many subscribers but yet so few users of existing applications?


  • infrastructure
  • affordability – who pays for good governance services?
  • content – who is creating the content?
  • surrounding supporting system
  • enabling environment
  • documentation – on the pilots, success, failure, more collaboration

East Africa:

  • markets deregulated but operators still too powerful

Success factors for scaling:

  • design phase: end-user driven, use existing patterns
  • implementation phase: more research on business models, proper marketing to build a critical mass


  • design for scale
  • don’t be afraid of failures, don’t force success – but document
  • service delivery instead of projects approach
  • but: scale is not success, usage is not impact

Q & A:

best practices to design for scale?

  • designing by knowing that there is something beyond the pilot and what you want to achieve

governments are also afraid of the powers of new technologies


Boris Weber, WBI

Using Frontline SMSat WBI

  • east and fast to use
  • great communication tool
  • but relying on one network admin, maybe this can change in the future

Citizen feedback to service providers:

  • Long route – involving governments representatives and a lot of bureaucracy
  • Short route – citizens can give direct feedback

Why are we still doing citizen report cards same as 30 years ago?

  • automated process could make process quicker
  • improve performance
  • give providers the possibility to focus on evaluation and feedback

Idea – having feedback on a public service

  • various channels
  • government civil society work with data

Live sample of feedback mechanism / rating via SMS

Mobile phone – ICT tool with the lowest gender gap, reaches also out to illiterates, …

  • everybody can give feedback

Next step: participatory budgeting

  • priority areas to spend money one
  • specific projects make it too complex – but still citizens can be kept informed
  • increasing number of participation

Participating citizens in the decision process has the potential to change a lot


Katrin Verclas, Co-Founder and Editor, MobileActive.Org download presentation

mLearning is where mHealth was 3 years ago and mHealth is where mFinance was 3 years ago – so what is mGovernance?

there’s very little happening, save a few areas e.g. elections

mobile phone is the most ubiquotious compared to ant other media

  • but a lot of hype is happening in this field
  • danger of people being disappointed
  • one has to be careful about what mobile technology can deliver and what it can not


  • bringing people together using mobiles for social change
  • repository of projects

Use of mobiles interesting in this session

  • accountability & transparency
  • media reporting
  • organizing / advocacy

Report on mobile phones in citizen media

  • citizen media bringing minor but significant changes


  • one of the few areas where ICT are largely used
  • monitoring as an established procedure, mobiles as enhancing it
  • example: Ghana 2008 – went very well

Key issues:

  • Incredibly promising and exciting
  • Commercial, competitive, very fluid field
  • Privacy and security
  • Fragmented platforms
  • Many pilots, no scale
  • Impact unclear. Much trial and error
  • Focus on apps but not on an enabling environment
  • Lack of open platforms and applications
  • Significant capacity issues (NGOs and Gov)
  • Lack of capable intermediaries
  • Little knowledge of what works in what setting
  • Data alone may be largely useless unless it provides the right information delivered through the right channel in the right form at the right time.

A framework

  • Additive versus transformative
  • Contextual and user-focused
  • Sustainable (unsolved)
  • Driven by demand – Build it and they will come does usually not work
  • Localized but shareable
  • Built on open standards?
  • Built on existing knowledge


  • Targeted (and outsourced) R&D
  • ICT innovation marketplaces
  • Venture funds and public private partnerships
  • IT, mobile, data, information visualization, etc
  • User adoption studies and contextual research
  • Nokia and Microsoft
  • Better topographies (and case studies)

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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 6
was published on 16.09.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 5

Notes from the World Bank eDevelopment Thematic Group workshop on “Mobile Innovations for Social and Economic Transformation – From Pilots to Scaled-up Implementation on 16 September in Washington DC.


Session 5: Mobile Applications in Agriculture and Rural Development


Introduction: Tim Kelly, Lead ICT Policy Specialist, WB

The dilemma bread vs. mobile phones was never a real dilemma – mobile phones help us to make better, cheaper, … bread


Framing the Topic and Learning from Experience
Kerry McNamara
, Consultant, ARD

The question is different from sector to sector

What we’re talking about are wireless – what are the opportunities for expanding wireless coverage

Impact of mobiles – letter a = access

  • more people have access to a mobile signal than ever
  • that’s changing our whole work

affordability, appliance – SMS as the most simple application

Changes don’t happen because of the mobile device but because of the ecosystem the device creates

Not what we can do – but what we should do

We tend to focus on the applications

  • making agricultural markets more efficient
  • although evidence may not be solid

We want people to have access – but we should think beyond the device & beyond the hand of the individual

The best interventions begin with a definition of the problem and clear design principles

  • the problem is not the technology
  • ICT is only the tool – we have to look how ICTs can help

We should talk about mobility, not about devices

  • Combination of mobility, distance and time is interesting
  • we shouldn’t be too fixated on platforms

How is information broadly understood? How can it be transformative?

We need to think about policies and regulations

Often in the last 10 years fascination with gadgets has cost us good development practice

What is to be replicated when trying to replicate a project? How much does the local context matter?

In the ICT4D community we tended to engineers solutions – we have to focus more on enabling the environment for innovation


David Edelstein, Director of ICT Innovation, Grameen Foundation

Microfinance has been around 1000 years, but technology can make it a lot more efficient

Grameen foundation – how can the mobile phone be used to improve the people’s lives?

  • different domains – also cross-domain
  • services that can be scaled and are sustainable

Using phones to collect information – and also disseminate information

Providing services over mobile phones

  • several criteria how the foundation identifies initiatives
  • specific project implementation process – rapid prototyping

Crucial for success – having the right partners with high level engagement

Service of the Grameen foundation in Uganda:

  • weather services
  • agriculture information
  • marketplace for farmers

Live demo of the Google SMS search

Community Knowledge Worker Initiative


  • Understanding needs – consult the user early and often
  • Be creative
  • Fail fast
  • Usability – trusted intermediary
  • Right partners


Aparjita Goyal, Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

Example project E-Choupal – service to cut out intermediaries and buy directly from soy farmers – as a business strategy for a private company

  • Internet kiosks where the local prices are posted on a website
  • Ware houses = hubs established in town – farmers going there to sell directly to the private company
  • Improvement of the situation of farmers – higher average revenue for the farmers
  • Farmers with good quality sell to the private company – downward pressure on the price


  • increase of soy price of 2-3%
  • the further away the kiosks are from the market, the lower the impact
  • farmers are responding to increased price


ICT in Agriculture Sourcebook
Kerry McNamara

Skipping this point due to lack of time – website


Q & A

Mobility is an enabler – timeliness in agriculture; the killer apps are in this sector

Bundling information – transaction – eGovernment services can be powerful but are all served on different platforms

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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 5
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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 4

Notes from the World Bank eDevelopment Thematic Group workshop on “Mobile Innovations for Social and Economic Transformation – From Pilots to Scaled-up Implementation on 16 September in Washington DC.


Working Lunch & Session 4: Mobile Innovations in Education


Introduction: Mike Trucano, Sr. ICT Policy Specialist


Reaching Out to Transform Education
Mohamed Ally
, Professor, Athabasca University

Some people in developing countries prefer buying a phone than buying food or clothes

Mobile learning (= education & training) has become more and more interesting for many countries

We’re moving from the e-world to the m-world

  • one issue: going from electronic libraries to mobile libraries
  • mobile education will help people achieve better basic education
  • mobile learning as a prerequisite for the other mobile services
  • need of more teacher training for mobile services

Many marginalised groups need access to education

We underestimate people from developing countries or living in remote areas in their abilities and interest in technology – e.g. Hole in the wall project by Sugata Mithra

Digital divide is something of the past

  • how to provide learning materials for the people?
  • without content they won’t use the device
  • How to get teachers to prepare well designed mobile learning materials?

Examples of mobile learning projects

  • language training
  • accent reduction
  • games for HIV/AIDS information
  • teacher support

Mobile education has a major role to play in goal 1-8 of the Millenium Development Goals of the UN

Education should be free & is a human right – Open Access mobile learning initiatives

Mobile education to prevent intellectual starvation – can save a lot of problems the world faces now, as well

With mobile technology ‘education for all’ is in reach

Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world


Improving Quality of Education through Innovative Use of Mobile Technology
Kate Place, Program Manager, International Youth Foundation, BridgeIT download presentation


  • access to digital video content ‘on demand’
  • teacher training & support
  • learner centered

Projects in the Philippines and Tanzania


increase educational quality & student achievement in primary schools in math, science, English and life skills through the innovative use of cellular & digital technology

Improving learning outcomes with the provided material – integrate BridgeIT in the education systems, improve teachers performance & learning gains


  • 1st system: SMS ordering and satellite download
  • 2nd system: mobile only with 2.5 / 3G network – eliminating a lot of middle steps

Enhancing existing education with integrated ‘on demand’ videos

  • Only few training needed for the teachers


  • better learning results
  • more participation
  • higher motivation
  • increased attendance


  • complexity of startup operations
  • cost of initial investment – equipment, teacher training, developing videos, …
  • technology constantly evolving
  • project management
  • transition of ownership


  • other uses for classrooms – community education, …
  • prices decrease – possible scaling
  • dissemination of new content


Commentary: MobileActive.org representative

Mobile education and mobile learning is about where eHealth was about 5 years ago

Transition from E to M – there are huge numbers of rural communities getting mobiles who had no possibility to access the internet before – big shift

Wonderful pilotes going on but interesting point

  • how have mobiles been used as a basic platform for literacy
  • a lot more happening in the informal than in the formal sector


Q & A

BridgeIT: works only on Nokia? can videos be shared between teachers? can teachers upload own content?

Benefits include ensuring teachers present more of std. curriculum. So, main effect of intervention not tech?

Often local governments cannot increase the budget of education, what to do there if you want to introduce mLearning?

  • Rethinking the model of education – keeping the cost down by enabling the student to learn from everywhere
  • The mobile phone is never going to replace the classroom

Who is paying for the content provider? How is the business model?

  • so far BridgeIT is quite expensive but we are working on decreasing the cost of the package – projectors instead of TVs, solar power, …
  • there is already a phone out there which has an integrated projector – this will bring down the cost

Donors keep financing content – what is your advice not to use donors money recreating content?

  • Changing the attitude of teachers – who say they only use their own material, motivating them to share their content

What are lessons learned on using mLearning for literacy?

How are experiences on issues of scaling up?

mLearning is a great way of complementing education – education is not about only access, traditional approaches should not be be substituted

  • the role of the teacher will change – he will not disappear but become a facilitator, social software makes a difference, in social networks pupils form groups and interact; schools are nothing traditional, hundreds of years learning was a 1 to 1 tutoring, with mLearning we’re going back to that
  • it depends on which level you’re looking at – at primary and secondary level teachers are still very important; in higher education, distance education is definitely possible

What about staff / on the job training?

  • World Bank wants to look at that – actual practices

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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 4
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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 3

Notes from the World Bank eDevelopment Thematic Group workshop on “Mobile Innovations for Social and Economic Transformation – From Pilots to Scaled-up Implementation on 16 September in Washington DC.


Session 3: Mobile Innovations in Health


Chair Introduction: Arleen Seed, Senior eGovernment Specialist


Mobile Communications for Health
Brendan Smith, Senior Consultant, Vital Wave Consulting

focusing on technology in emerging markets

past years – sharp rise in in interest for eHealth solution & explosion in mobile phone usage

mHealth (n) – the delivery of health care services via mobile communication devices

  • e.g. digital patient data – mHealth may provide the lat mile access for that

mobile phones reach further into developing countries than any other technology

there’s a broad array of mHealth solutions

  • education & awareness
  • epidemy tracking
  • emergency
  • data collection
  • remote monitoring
  • diagnostic & treatment support

mHealth is implemented in developing countries around the world

different target groups

a lot of projects focus more on health system outcomes than health outcomes

there is a huge need for research on outcomes of mHealth projects

  • to establish a proof of concept
  • beyond the pilot state

most projects use data collection technology, not so much SMS or voice technology (only 5%)

  • voice calls are expensive in most developing countries

more sophisticated applications also cost more and require higher capacities

case study:

  • text to change in Uganda
  • 15000 mobile phone subscribers
  • 40% more people tested for HIV

Conclusion – advice for strong and sustainable mHealth projects:

  • Forge strong partnerships
  • Be accessible
  • Design with the end user in mind and maintain a focus on usability
  • Build a long-term funding plan
  • Set measurable goals
  • Collaborate with other mHealth organizations


Rwanda Case Study
Pamela Johnson
, Co-Founder and Chief Health Officer, Voxiva
Ruton Hinda, TRACplus
Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Voxiva SARL.

Founding Voxiva: Connecting the internet and the mobile phone can make a difference

IT has transformed financial services in a substantial way – there is a similar possibility in health which has just begun

TRACnet platform:

  • builds on existing telecom infrastructure
  • collecting real time information from the field via mobile phone, …
  • communicate
  • analyzes data and visualizes it
  • get feedback in real time
  • identifying shortage of medicine
  • Strong partnerships are vital

Access and use

  • widespread access- 1000 user at 219 facilities throughout Rwanda
  • multi-channel access using a national toll free phone number, web, a PC client, a mobile phone client
  • 90% facilities reporting by IVR


  • more than 95% routine reporting


  • 99% uptime
  • secure, access controlled, redundant datacenter infrastructure hosted in Rwanda managed 24/7
  • TRACnet leverages a standard based infrastructure evolving into open standards from scale and interoperability

Challenges & opportunities:

  • in the last 10 years all the health centers have gotten mobile phone coverage, in the next decade they all will have high bandwidth connectivity, health centers and schools get more and more connected,  many more changes with unforeseen consequences
  • Sustainability of large scale systems: very different as in private sector
  • Complex architecture also creates more problems – passwords, interoperability, …

e-SOKO: mobile based agriculture information system in Rwanda

  • based on TRACnet approach
  • improving efficiency very much


Commentary by Andi Dervishi, Global Practice Lead, Investments in Payments, IFC

Parallels to the mBanking session & challenges for investors

  • it’s a big big market as everybody on earth is a potential consumer of these services
  • there has to exist a core electronic backbone – but does not exist yet in the health sector
  • general regulation around healthcare is obsolete, there has to be more freedom for companies to operate more freely
  • bottleneck – the business will only move with the pace of the government

data problem in eHealth system, it’s more complex and bigger

  • also limited to information services only as doctors and nurses are still in charge, they only have to be informed


  • Establishing the core electronic backbone
  • Integration of core health system with big players in place


Q & A

Challenges and successes in cooperating with the ministry of Health?

  • critical mass of human capacity to work with private sector – finding out the needs of the beneficiaries, quite much work
  • understanding of all pieces for health solution work, understanding of technology, opening up the minds of certain people

Rwanda has an eHealth strategy – does Ghana have one too?

Is there a focus on women?

  • Often women are the primary decision makers on health care; study in rural Uganda: women valued their mobile phones very highly

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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 2

Notes from the World Bank eDevelopment Thematic Group workshop on “Mobile Innovations for Social and Economic Transformation – From Pilots to Scaled-up Implementation on 16 September in Washington DC.


Session 2: Mobile Innovations in Financial Services


Chair Introduction: Arata Onoguchi

How can the payment industry support the World Bank with projects and vice-versa


DRC ex-Combatant Allowance Payment Project
Roisin De Burca
, Senior Social Development Specialist, WB

Miyanda Mulambo, Managing Director, Celpay Zambia Ltd.

Project in DRC – transition between military and civil life

  • Payments for ex combatants via mobile and available cash in the country – Celplay http://zm.celpay.com
  • Problem: question of supply and demand
  • the project is working now


  • Celpay operating in Zambia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, … – actually a mobile payment company
  • Operating since 2002
  • Business model – not a bank but a technology company
  • partner with banks that hold the money, agents and mobile operators
  • services e.g. corporate payment solutions
  • providing services which make cash transactions obligatory

Project – how did it work?

  • paying out 25$ to ex-combatants
  • facilitated with an application developed by Celpay
  • registration of area of living at a central point, getting an ID card and a PIN
  • possibility to collect the payment at the living area with the ID and PIN at a Celpay agent
  • good for people without mobile phones and bank accounts
  • one of the biggest challenges: one of the first programs like that all around the world, we were learning as we went by
  • hard to find agents as there were few people starting businesses right after the war
  • a lot of resistance from certain parts of the government – corruption tends to be a big problem and certain people didn’t like transparent solutions

There are various ways to apply this application

Q & A:

was there a standardization for the cell phones?

  • works on pretty much every mobile phone

entry of mobile network operators in the mobile payment space a problem for independent payment providers?

  • will indeed be a problem, but operators often have the primary goal to keep their providers
  • there will always be a need for innovative solutions


Banking the Poor via G2P Payments
Sarah Rotman, Associate Microfinance Analyst, CGAP

A lot of people get money from their governments

  • not on an account which allows them to save
  • they have no possibility to save money or spend only half

The officials who are dealing with them are not really caring about this financial inclusion of the poor

Financial inclusion is desirable for the state as well

  • mobile payments
  • credit/debit card payments

Electronic or mobile payment is even significantly cheaper and may reduce corruption

Small savings accounts are expensive for basic banking, they need either large number of recipients, large sums or frequent long term schedule of payments

Case studies of Brazil, South Africa

There are certain conditions that need to be enabling & interesting to try out

  • the nature of the flows
  • regulatory openness of agents
  • a government body must stand behind it and promote it
  • donors can help design experiments – measurement of usage of financial services, impact on welfare, and understanding business case for providers

Interesting to watch the coming years


Commentary: Andi Dervishi, Global Practice Lead, Investments in Payments, IFC

The mobile part is already there – we are delivering to an old need but we are revisiting the topic of electronic payment, mobile is only the channel

in eCommerce a lot of players have come up in the last years

in the industry the process of handling electronic money is in place now

government has to think about regulations enabling the industry to create innovative solutions for this old problem


Key Areas of Mobile Payments / Pre-paid Value Card Solutions
Harish Natarajan, Payment Systems Specialist, WB

prepaid card

  • no banking relationship required, easy to get
  • PIN code
  • can be used in an offline manner

chip cards need to be distributed, issued / loaded, used for paying / withdrawing of money

mitigating fraud – e.g. getting the card for a particular usage

enhanced user experience because people don’t have to get in the queue for getting funds but use the ones already on the card

several success stories in several countries

the technology is there, the various players would be ready, big potential


sociology of a card vs. a cell phone is very different – which technologies are better to reach the people intendeed to? does technology really make no difference?

  • mobile channel is a lot channel of course, but we should be aware that the technology is already there, we have to clear our minds from the implementation channels to talk about the service again – business perspective rather than technology perspective

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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 2
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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 1

Notes from the World Bank eDevelopment Thematic Group workshop on “Mobile Innovations for Social and Economic Transformation – From Pilots to Scaled-up Implementation on 16 September in Washington DC.


Session 1: Overview of Mobile Innovations Space and Enabling Environment


Chair Introduction: Deepak Bhatia, Lead e-Government Specialist, GICT

There are a lot of mobile projects in place, but what does it take in terms of scaling up mobile solutions and really creating impact


Oleg Petrov – Social networking and the webcast

Twitter, blog coverage by ICT4D.at – hashtag for Twitter is mobile09


Opening Remarks: Philippe Dongier, Sector Manager, GICT
The Opportunity for Mobile Services in Developing World

There are many impressive stories how mobiles are used

The World Bank believes that mobile technology is the way forward

But there has been no major impact, the potential of ICTs has not yet been realized so far

Mobile technology may change this in the near future – it’s quite transformational, every sector has to be creative to find solutions to also transform the own sector and realize the opportunities


Brooke Partridge, CEO, Vital Wave Consulting

M-Pesa: example for the incredible potential of formally addressing basic needs

It’s not the technology itself, but what it can do what is exciting

Subscriber market gets saturated very quick, 64% of users are in the developing world

Pressure for mobile operators: offering more mServices in developing countries

There are about 3.5 billion individual subscribers in the world

Development of m-Services because new subscriber market is saturated and people desire for basic services

mServices to meet basic human needs and for social services, especially in developing countries

A lot of mServices can be provided by simple technology such as SMS

  • there are a lot of examples in BRIC countries which are already in use and successful
  • but a lot of them are pilots and have not been scaled

Benefits of scaling services:

  • increased revenue of provider -> increasing incentives to create services
  • reaching larger populations
  • reduced unit costs
  • more efficiency by investing in improved technology

Examples of projects that are reaching some scale:

  • mFinance: M-Pesa – sms based mobile account & money transfer; very successful but very unique and faces its own challenges
  • mCommerce: Souktel Jobmatch – mobile job marketplace, 8000 total users

Value chain for mServices – very complex in terms of organizations involved, problematic for scaling

The technology for mServices is there, what needed is innovations in business

Opportunities and best practices for scaling:

  • stay in national borders
  • transfer pilot programs to more formal organizations
  • rigorous ROI analysis
  • keep it simple
  • development of government regulations

Challenges to scale:

  • legal concerns, interoperability & regulations
  • priorities & risks
  • infrastructure & leadership
  • ecosystem

Opportunities for World Bank impact – investments to enable scale in the private sector, funding & oversight of mServices business case

  • research, analysis & evaluation – national policies, user behaviour, impact
  • mServices Solution Development Toolkit


Commentary: Yong Huyn Kwon, Sr. Information Officer, GICT

several themes we have to think about

governments play big role in the early stages, but private sector comes in later

several questions that are hard to answer

  • are private and public sector doing their job well?
  • are all sectors cooperating with each other?
  • are there mediators or enablers who take the leading role in communication between the sectors?

it’s difficult for the private sector to play the role the public one should play

when we think about people in developing countries – are they only costumers or owners of their own industry?

industry regulation is a big issue

several problems are hard to solve for the private sector alone – cooperation with the public sector is essential

Rajendra Singh, Sr. Regulatory Specialist, GICT

A lot of changes are taking place in the mobile industry

  • Nokia considers itself no more as the absolute leader
  • iPhone has changed the market

World Bank is involved in most sectors in developing and also aware of mobile technology

Unique possibility to make development projects more efficient

Big challenge for policy makers & regulators – the whole market is changing


Q & A

relation between income & mobile footprint – how was that calculated?

mGovernment applications in Africa – isn’t the tipping point between SMS and mobile web coming closer? what are you suggestions concerning that?

  • Brook; it’s not time yet due to infrastructure and devices
  • Phillipe: depending in the field we want to work there is potential – e.g. equipping health workers with modern devices and targetting them specifically

technical question concerning the real number of mobile subscribers (3.5 bill) – what was your methodology? I think it’s too high

  • taking numbers from the ITU of subscriptions, 90% of total are the addressable market in a population, everything above that was considered to be duplicate

Moldova: mobile carriers get 40% of revenue, value added services should be offered; quasi monopolistic situation, we need regulations

  • World Bank already does research on real impact and regulations – that’s what the support of the World Bank should look like

is scale the only possibility to achieve profit or are private-public partnerships also an option?

if we are concerned about scale – what about the interoperability of mobile devices; how do we really pick up every user of mobile devices when there are so large gaps in the user groups;

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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 1
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