Author Archives: elladove

ICT4D; Lessons Learned

In today’s world, ever globalizing use  information communication technologies is shaping development across sectors and countries. While many aspects of ICT4D will remain salient, I believe the application of crowd sourcing technologies is what we will see shape the future of international relations, development, and economies. Since the beginning of industrialization, nations have shared and stolen technologies from others. With the practically unlimited access to shared knowledge and ideas we have today, expanding and acting upon the base of shared information seems to be the most inevitable approach to future growth. In class we participated in crowd sourced mapping, in disasters we see the applications of crowd sourcing in emergency aid and relief, and in other sectors of economic development we see crowd sourcing that ranges from knowledge acquisition, market analysis, and social engagements. We see success where multiple minds work towards a collective effort, and this is the practice that has impacted me the most about ICT4D.

For my personal gain and professional development, I believe this class has helped me the most by demonstrating my own ability to learn new technologies and utilize them in a real way, whether it be JOSM, WordPress, or Twitter. I know my generation is supposed to be at the head of the tech game, but I am an anomaly to this rule. However, learning, and gaining proficiency in these areas has showed me my own ability to move forward in the professional world without fear of technological barriers, I at least knows its worth a shot. On the note of crowd sourcing, I do believe I will continue to seek opportunities to utilize crowd sourced information in my future careers and projects, hopefully gain a more complete perspective of the task at hand.

While I appreciate many of the frameworks we have discussed in class I find the capabilities approach to be the most useful. I have always been a member of the “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” school of thought. I believe the capabilities approach builds on this idea. When bringing in different aspect of ICT to a region, bringing in tools that are most applicable to the skills of the people and the infrastructure of the nation seem to be they will be the most sustainable. Just like we can teach a man to fish, we can teach a man to use technology, but doing so in a way that draws on inherent or existing capabilities will allow the technology to dig the deepest roots.

 

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Cyber Crime; A threat to Zambia’s economy and the MDGs

A recent report in Zambia Daily Mail “Cyber Crime: a Threat to Economies” connects te rise of internet and globalization to the rise of cyber crime throughout the world. This growing surge pose a global threat, affecting developed as well as developing countries including Zambia. Zambia’s population frequently uses  email, chat rooms, social networks, and other forms of global communication. This opens the doors to cyber crimes. A report published by the Global security Agenda states the cyber threats use computer networks to harm the reputation of individuals or organizations and include issues such as copyright infringement, fraud, hacking, account thefts, identity thefts, computer viruses, unsolicited mail known as spam, and other on-line crimes. They report that cyber crime is responsible for loses of more than US$105 billion worldwide annually.

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In Zambia, the Police Service’s Cyber Security Bureau (CSB) arrested a Lusaka resident while his Australian accomplice bolted after stealing US$ 235,000 from people who wanted to buy cars on-line in 2010. The Deputy commissioner of Police at the time responsible for ICT, Solomen Jere, said the suspects had been stealing large amounts of money from un-knowing online car buyers. This was done using false advertisements on the internet inviting people to buy cars online. Other cyber scandals in Zambia include those who have fallen victims to fraudsters using exchanges of emails and phones calls to swindle money, claiming there were jobs or other offers available, demanding bank account numbers and other personal information. Another common crime involves “sexting”. This practice, very popular among the younger population and part of the problem is that once the picture is sent, they lose control  and the pictures go viral on the Internet. As a result scholarships and other opportunities have been lost. Kids are also often used as middle men, to access private computers and accounts.

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In Zambia, the authorities say US$582,000 has been set aside for combating online criminal activities. Further steps are being taken by partners with the countries newly established partnership with International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to establish a watch and warn centre with a computer system which will regulate mail activities on the internet. Such actions have been seen on a regional level as well, with the South African Development Community (SADC) meeting to develop a harmonised legal framework, combining the ideas of  Botswana, Mauritius, South Africa and Zambia. The goal is to allow for continued use of ICTs to reach the millenium Development goal, with out enabling the threat of Cyber Crime to get in the way.


From Matatus to Mobile Phones; Kenya’s Growing Tech Success

Throughout the semester we have discussed multiple application of ICTs that aid the the development of nations around the world. While many of these are practical and goal based, I stumbled across and fun an innovatice applicaction of information communication technologies that boosts the economy of the given nation, connects customs of the country to the world and is a catalyst for fun.images-3

The African nation of Kenya has been at the forefront of ICT development for a long time, with incredibly high rates of mobile phone use relative to the rest of Africa. A newer start-up had been in the video game world. As mentioned in the Eocnomist’s Article Upwardly Mobile, Kenya has taken one of their craziest ways and turned it into enterntainment. In the capital city minibuses called matatus fill the streets moving with homicidal turns, twists, starts and stops. Signals are seldomly used, and brakes are used sparingly. With all the excitment they have to offer, Planat Rackus, a Nairobi based start-up, released “Ma3Racer”, a mobile phone game where each user steers a matatu down the street, with the quite unrealistic goal of avoiding pedestrians. Within a month of the games release, .25 million people in 169 countries around the world had downloaded the game.

This game brings the exciting street life of Nairobi to the world, but also demonstrates the growing trend of starts-ups popping up in the past few years. These companies are part of a quiet tech boom in Kenya happening alongside the coffee and safari industries the nation is known for. In 2010, Kenya’s tech related exports reached $360 million, and Nairobi is now known as the “Silicon Savannah”. However it still hold one crucially differential factors from its silican counterparts. Almost all of the tech firms have desinged their programs from mobile phones rather than computers. Why, well for ever 100 kenyans, 74 have cell phone, and nearly 99% of internet subscriptions in Kenya are on mobile phones

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As a result of the nation’s tech success, investors ore flooding in. Ranging from small firms like Nailib and 88mph Ngong Road, to Kenya’s largest bank, Equity Bank, opening an “innovation centre” the city has become a melting pot for innovation and growth, focusing most of the investment funds on on mobile technology. GSMA, a global association of mobile operators, is about to open an Africa office, also on Ngong Road.

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The tech investment is spurring an increase in Aid, inspriring NGO’s to focus on devleopment of the tech economy alongside agricultural and humanitarian assistance. This growth focuses on solutions to many local problems, but also holds a valuable spot in the global stage, with braggign rights to platforms like M-PESA and Ushahidi. Head of Google in Kenya, Joe Mucheru, says “We need to solve the nitty-gritty first and then we can invent new things”. This is where we say programs like M-Farm, a service that gives farmers access to markt prices via text, and allows them to group and sell products. This helps Kenya, and can be exported to other poor coutnries.

Over all the movement towards mobile phone application development in Kenya will allow the nation to continue to grow in all sectors of the economy, regardless of there geographic position or underdeveloped past.

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Twitter Post Revolution, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Social Media Now.

While we hear over and over that social media played a hugely vital role in the politcal and social revoultions that took place in the middle east, exactly how big and how lasting was the impact? An article from Mashable, entitled What Happens to Social media After a Twitter Revoultion analyzed just that. twitter-revolution

War is still going on in Egypt, Libya, and Syria, though its no longer the biggest storyline of our nightly newscasts. Two social media analystics firms, Crimson Hexagon and Sanitas international did a three month study where they looked at the tweets coming out of these three nations. They wanted to look into what happens when the drama mellows, the flags stop waiving, and life resumes.  By crafting a study of specific words on twitter the analysts could see what the citizens were talking about now. The main discovery of the study is that after the uprisings brought down decades-old regimes, “citizens in Egypt and Libya use social media to talk about revolution and state-building in two distinct registers: instrumental and interpretative,” according to the study’s abstract. Essentially in Egypt citizens are expressing their views of the current political atmosphere and talking about the new institurions and how to build a new government. In Egypt they are looking forwards and backwards. In Libya the scene is different. The people seem to be struggleing more, after Gaddafi’s death in 2011, people were taling about military clashes and state building, and still about “the punishment and fate of Gaddafi’s family,” and “the crimes of the Gaddafi era,”, showing they were astill angry. In Syria, where the nation is still at war, most tweets were about war clashes, violence, coping with death, and calls for international intervention. The infographic below expresses these results.

 

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An Innovative Approach to Food Security

Radio National, a segment of abc.net.au, recently broadcasted an interview with Mark Wahlqvist from Monash University on their program Ockham’s Razor. In the discussion the issue of food security was evaluated. Walqvist argues that food security is a growing concern around the world, and that in order to combat the growing phenomena a fundamentally different approach is necessarry. This approach must consist of support from national governments, international organizations, and assistance from the local and commuity level. More emphasis needs to be placed on biodiversity and ecology of local areas in relation to the functioning food ststem. A way to encourage these types of innovation come with connecting the communities at hand. While Walqvist’s Australia may have access to advanced ICTs enabling the farmers to community, developing regions are relying on other ICT.

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According to Dr. Hilde Munyua in a report published for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, food security can only be achieved “when all people at all times have access to sufficient food for a healthy and productive life, and has three main components: food availability, food access, and food utilisation” In order to obtain this reality an effective and efficient agriculture system, that suppies food utilizes natural resources in a sustainable manner needs to be put into play. The information revolution is just one way the issue of food security can be alleviated. By increasing the spread of knowledge of rural development, we can increase one of agricultures most important inputs. Knowledge and information are basic ingredients of food security and are essential for facilitating rural development and bringing about social and economic change. These communities need information on new technologies, early warning systems in relation to drought, pests, and diesease, credit, market prices, and their competition. These systems of rural information sharing must place emphasis on the local communities. Traditionally the information has been spread through radio, print, television, film, and mobile phone messages. New ICTs, however, have the potential of getting vast amounts of information to rural populations in a more timely, comprehensive and cost-effective manner, and could be used together with traditional media.Telecommunication and internet can completely change the global agricultural industry. It worked with the Green Revolution in East Asia, why not spread the word?

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Kenya’s Plan to Become Africas ICT Hub by 2017

Kenya has always been a bright star on Africa’s horizon, and more recently they have been improving their reputation with an innovative and aggressive plan to become Africa’s ICT Hub by 2017. The plan seeks to spur the development of 500 tier-one technology companies, the creation of 20 global innovations and 50,000 new jobs. Kenya also hopes to generate $2 billion dollars annually, up from $860 million IT spending recorded in 2011. How We Made in; Insight into Business in Africa interviewed Paul Kukubo, the CEO of the Kenya ICT Board, the governement agenicy in charge of positioning Kenya as an ICT destination, to find out how feasible the nation’s amibitions are.

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The interview makes some bold statements about the nations plan, inluding:

1. “The plan has at its core vision that by 2017, Kenyabecomes Africa’s most globally respected knowledge economy.”

2. “We need to continue strengthening education in ICT so that people can come here to find talent.”

3. “Konza is already unlocking so many opportunities in the private sector. It is creating linkages with the financial sector, construction sector, health sector, education sector and with development partners. Institutions that serve the middle class and the poor should actually be built to the best and highest standards, not the other way round.”

The Konza Technology City project is a planned high-tech hub inspired by Silicon Valley. Other key areas of focus include marketing and brand awareness, and intruducing more start-ups. The Infographic below highlights the action plan, and does an excellent job of showing the logisitics and feasiblity of Kenya’s effots.


Foundation Profile: ITIF

In researching Chile’s National ICT Policy I came across the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. This foundation, with its slogan Smart Ideas for the Innovative Economy, is a non-partisan research and education institute with a mission to formulate and promote public policies to advance technological innovation and productivity internationally, in Washington D.C., and across the United States. For all intents and purposes the ITIF is a “think tank” that focuses on innovation, productivity, and digital economy issues.

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Since 2006 this 501(c)3 non-profit based in Washington D.C., has been crafting effective policies that boost innovation and encourage the widespread “digitization” of the economy, steps they believe are critical to ensuring robust economic growth and an improved standard of living. Response had been varied, while some legislatures and public figures understand and support the need for ICT development, others are les aware of the vital roles these technologies will play in our global future, what we need to do, and what is possible to do. Some say IT “doesn’t matter”, the ITIF says it certainly still does. In order to keep this message strong the ITIF’s goal is to help policy makers at the federal and state levels better understand the nature of the new innovation economy and the types of public policies needed to drive innovation, productivity, and broad-based prosperity for the American people.

Publishing policy reports, holding forums and policy debates, advising elected officials and their staff, and serving as a resource for the media are just some of the ways the ITIF fulfills this goal. Along with stringently opposing policies that hinder achievement in the IT world. Current projects include Innovation Fact of the Week, Policy Maker’s Tool Box, and the Innovation Files. Their most recent report “The Whole Picture: Where America’s Broadband Networks Really Stand” analyzes the issue true to its title. Of high value is their “2012 StateN New Economy Index”imgres

From exploration of the foundations website, the ITIF seems to remain fairly unbiased. Funding comes from a range of donors including: ITIF contributors have included the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, Cisco, Communications Workers of America, eBay, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Google, IBM, the Information Technology Industry Council, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and Bernard L. Schwartz. ITIF’s research has also been funded by U.S. government agencies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In September 2010, ITIF received funding from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to study means for improving voting accessibility for U.S. military service members who have sustained disabling injuries in combat, according to Wikipedia. This range shows that the organization is not solely back by like-minded IT firms or Government agencies alone.