Author Archives: ICTworks

TRAI to India’s Poor: Let Them Eat Cake

India’s digital elite is rejoicing with the news that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has officially banned zero-rating, where telecommunications service providers offer select content for free in an effort to boost subscribers. The cheering isn’t really about zero-rating itself. No the reason I’m writing about an arcane policy that most digital development practitioners had not even heard of a year ago, is because Facebook is involved, and Facebook is evil. Or so the digital elite of India has decreed, usually on Facebook. A Pyrrhic Victory To hear the digital elite of India tell it, Facebook is an evil cyber-colonizer, eager to suck the very digital identity of India away through its Free Basics program that violated a Utopian version of net neutrality that hasn’t existed in any country trying to bring millions of poor citizens online

Posted in ICT4D, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

You Are Invited to Digital Development: From Principle to Practice

On February 29th, we will celebrate the Principles for Digital Development as a foundation for how technology should be utilized in international development programs to increase impact. This one-day event will showcase how we can move from principle to practice. Digital Development: From Principle to Practice will feature three exciting keynote presentations from these thought leaders: Ann Mei Chang, Executive Director, U.S. Global Development Lab at USAID Christopher Fabian, Co-founder, UNICEF Innovation Unit Kate Wilson, CEO, Digital Impact Alliance We will also feature lightning talks from USAID, DFID, SPIDER, CRS and others on how the Principles are being implemented in donor organizations and implementing partners, and then convene learning lunch tables around each Principle to share insights on how to apply them to our work. The afternoon breakout sessions will focus on overcoming tensions between Principles when we move from idea to reality, including: Design with the User vs

Posted in ICT4D, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Need Funding? Here Are 3 New ICT4D Calls for Proposals

We all would love more cash for our great digital development ideas, so the hunt for new investors and donors is never-ending. Luckily, we’ve found three new opportunities to increase your resources and have greater impact. Be sure to sign up to get emails about new donors or investors as we find them. $9 Million UNICEF Innovation Fund Congratulations to Chris Fabian for raising $9 million for the UNICEF Innovation Fund to investment in rapidly changing technologies such as blockchain, 3D printing, wearables, sensors, artificial intelligence, and renewable energy, and taking a strong stance on Digital Development Principle 6: Be Open: “The purpose of the UNICEF Innovation Fund is to invest in open source technologies for children,” says Christopher Fabian, UNICEF Innovation Co-Lead. The Innovation Fund will focus on organizations based in UNICEF programme countries working in three portfolio areas: Products for youth under 25 to address a range of needs including learning and youth participation; Real-time information for decision-making; and Infrastructure to increase access to services and information, including connectivity, power, finance, sensors and transport

Posted in Aid, Aid & Development, General Global Health, ICT4D, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Institutions and Connectivity: Wasted Resources or Big Impact?

When I started my company, Rugged Communications, a few years ago, speaking with investors and institutions about the importance of connectivity felt like pulling teeth. There seemed to be a stubbornness to stick with traditional development methods, like digging wells and making latrines for rural people in developing countries. Since then, I have seen an unbelievable emergence of a number of serious institutions, like Facebook, CraigConnects Foundation, The UN Foundation, The GSMA, The Microsoft Foundation, and others, embracing and moving towards the connectivity and digital divide ecosystem. However, these organizations seem to feel uncertain about how to best engage in this sphere.

Posted in ICT4D, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Recommendations for Foreign Assistance in the Digital Age

In the past two decades alone, advances in mobile technology and digital connectivity have completely revolutionized how we interact with the world around us. They also provide unparalleled opportunities to deliver social impact and economic returns to millions of people in developing countries, while engaging new actors in the development process. How can digital tools and advances help developing countries break through to the next level of economic gains? According to Booz Allen Hamilton, the “digitization” of developing economies could yield as much as a $4.1 trillion increase in GDP among the most underserved 3.9 billion consumers. We’re already seeing promising signs of this digitization in Africa.

Posted in Aid, Aid & Development, ICT4D, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

The Rise of Mobile Money Services in Somaliland

In 2009, Somaliland’s biggest mobile network operator, Telesom, launched their mobile payment service “ZAAD”, and today more than 10% of the 3.8 million inhabitants are subscribed to the service. As with normal mobile money systems, you can transfer, receive, and deposit money with ZAAD. The mobile money service is used for different purposes such as paying for your groceries, dinner at the restaurant, or your electricity. Other money payment transactions include livestock trade, merchant payments, and bill and salary payments. Recently on a trip to Somaliland I took through the streets Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, my Somali colleague and I wanted to purchase some traditional Somali fabric.

Posted in Aid, Aid & Development, eHealth, mHealth, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

8 Economic Barriers Responsible for India’s Gender Digital Divide

The mobile phone is one of the most widely used information and communication technologies in the developing world. For instance, in India, as of December 2013, there were more than 900 million mobile phone subscribers (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, 2014). However, in the male-dominated Indian society with 940 females per 1,000 males, only 30% of mobile phone owners were female, which indicates the presence of a gender digital divide in the country. In Inequalities creating economic barriers to owning mobile phones in India Factors responsible for the gender digital divide, Devendra Potnis, assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, investigated the factors responsible for the inability of 245 female slum-dwellers in India, who earn around $2 a day, to own a mobile phone.

Posted in Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

How To Stop Paying Per Diems for ICT4D Project Participation?

In the research article Paying Per Diems for ICT4D Project Participation: A Sustainability Challenge by Terje Aksel Sanner and Johan Ivar Sæbø of Univeristy of Oslo, Norway, the authors note what we all have experienced. By paying for attention, ICT4D projects obtain immediate responses from an understaffed government system, which sooner or later will have to retract its attention to cater to other equally important tasks. Yet for ICT4D practitioners, the number of workshops and participants are measurable indicators by which projects are evaluated, and are crucial to obtain, keep, and grow international donor funding. The researchers note that the use of per diems to attract project participation is certainly not the only obstacle to ICT4D sustainability. Other obstacles include: Underdeveloped technology and support infrastructure.

Posted in Funding, ICT4D, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

How Can We Harness the Internet of Things for Global Development?

I am a firm believer in the coming sensor revolution in development. We can now develop very cheap yet smart sensors, and as we saw at the MERL Tech conference session, “Sensors for MERL: What Works? What Does Not? What Have We Learned?”, our peers are already deploying them for development objectives. That’s why I’m excited about the new report by Cisco and the ITU on sensors for international development

Posted in Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Please RSVP Now: How Can We Use IoT for Development?

After more than a decade of discussion and anticipation, the Internet of Things is now firmly on its way. But don’t let the name fool you, the “Internet of Things” is not a single, unified network of connected devices. IoT is really a set of technologies enabling a miniaturized, embedded, and automated environment of devices to communicate constantly and automatically with each other and the world. These technologies can be put to work to benefit us all, yet connecting devices is only a means to an end – the really interesting impact arises when we focus on the human context in which these technologies must work. Please RSVP now to join USAID, Cisco, FHI 360 and over 100 of your digital technology and international development peers on January 29th to explore the exciting opportunities and difficult trade-offs involved with using sensors and the Internet of Things to improve development outcomes

Posted in Aid & Development, General Global Health, Technology, WASH | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

5 Insights from MERL Tech

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in the 2015 MERL Tech conference that brought together over 260 people from 157 different organizations. I joined the conference as a “visual note-taker,” and I documented the lightning talks, luncheon discussions, and breakout sessions with a mix of infographics, symbols and text. Experiencing several “a-ha” moments myself, I thought it would be helpful to go a step further than just documenting what was covered and add some insights on my own. Five clear themes stood out to me: 1) There is such a thing as “too much data”2) “Lessons learned” is like a song on repeat 3) Humans > computers 4) Sharing is caring 5) Social impact investment is crucial. 1) There is such a thing as “too much data.” MERLTech 2015 began with a presentation by Ben Ramalingham, who explained that, “big data is like teenage sex

Posted in Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Be Honest: You Hate Free Basics Because It’s Facebook

Yes, it is true. You don’t like Free Basics simply because it is a Facebook initiative. You may feel the need to hide your anger behind flowery language or odd metaphors, but the reality is that you think Facebook is inherently evil and therefore anything it does must be evil. Especially if Mark Zuckerberg personally promotes it. It’s okay if you admit your dislike

Posted in Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Please RSVP Now for Digital Development: From Principle to Practice

“The Principles for Digital Development represent a commitment not only to innovation, but sustainable results,” said USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah in 2014 when USAID helped publish the Principles as a set of guidelines on best practices for development programs that utilize technology to increase impact. Original endorsers of the Principles included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the United Nations Development Program and the World Food Program. Since then, over 500 people representing more than 100 organizations have participated in detailed discussions and hands-on workshops to move the Principles from a general framework of how to do development better, to concrete guidelines, toolkits, and best practices we can use in every development program.

Posted in Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

The Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs of Choosing an M&E Platform

At the recent MERL Tech conference, Tania Lee (Caktus Group), Tom Walker (Engine Room), Laura Walker McDonald (SIMLab), and Lynnae Day (Oxfam America) led a session called, “The Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs of Choosing an M&E Platform.” They’ve written up their reflections and learning from that session focusing on project design, tool design/research, and getting things off the ground, whether that means finding external help or building a custom solution. Choosing a tool: where to start? Many organizations come to a procurement process with a favourite platform in mind, either from prior experience or because they’ve heard compelling marketing or stories. Starting from the tool means that you are not being true to what really matters – your needs and those of your users. SIMLab and Caktus Group use an Agile methodology that prioritizes a general sense of direction and strong knowledge of the user, and uses that to get to a prototype that actual users can test as early as possible (whether you’re building a tool or configuring an existing one).

Posted in Aid & Development, ICT4D, mHealth, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed