Author Archives: hfritchi

Morocco National ICT Resources

National Strategy Documents
  • E-Morocco 2010 Strategy: Accomplishments, Perspectives & Action Plans Reference Book (Summary Version).
    • Last updated: October 2007
    • Created by: Kingdom of Morocco: Ministry of Industry, Trade and New Technologies: Department of Post, Telecommunications, and Information Technologies
    • Language: website is in French but scroll down and you will see the document link- the document linked is in ENGLISH
  • Digital Morocco 2013
    • Last updated: June 2010
    • Created by: Kingdom of Morocco: Ministry of Industry, Trade and New Technologies
    • Language: ENGLISH! All other versions I have found are in French… this is the first English version released a few days ago… I am so jealous!
    • French Version

Government Websites

External Resources

Finding ICT resources for Morocco is relatively easy! Morocco is included in most of the comprehensive reports on ICT in developing countries that are available on blackboard. It was helpful knowing French to navigate some of the websites but not necessary. I highly recommend selecting this country… Telecommunications was Morocco’s highest sector of FDI in 2010 so there are a lot of exciting things happening!


Digital Divide and ICT4D: Bridging the Gap

This semester in IDEV4100 ICT4D at Tulane has been a wonderful experience. It was great to learn about applicable resources in the development field and be a part of the information dissemination process through twitter, blogging and mapping. The most valuable lesson I learned in ICT4D and something that I thing is crucial in the overall study of the field is the concept of Digital Divide. I have visited and researched the country Morocco a lot over my collegiate career and have always been amazed by the gap between urban and rural areas in terms of development, income, and resources. Through this class, I have realized that a large part of this problem could be attributed to the digital divide and lack of ICT infrastructure in those rural areas thus restricting development in other areas such as economics and health. With G8 countries being home to 15% of the world population and 50% of world Internet users, this is a crucial area of ICT4D that needs attention. This can be addressed by tackling access (technology and bandwidth), skills (personal and professional), policy (use and filtering), and motivation for individuals. By limiting barriers to access such as gender, age, geographic restraints, education and economic status, development projects could uncover a whole new potential in available populations who have access to the NECESSARY resources.

Outside of the area of the digital divide, the most important lesson I personally learned that I feel will help me in my (hopeful) career in development is that importance of using what populations already have. In previous classes when I have been tasked with creating development solutions, I have always had exorbitant budgets bring in all new people, equipment and ideas. After this class, I realize that it is beneficial to the developer and the target populations to use what people already have to ensure education/learning curve, affordability, and acceptance of the development project. Mobile phones are already are being used across the globe at an increasingly high rate and development projects should take advantage of this incredible resource already in place. It would be much more efficient to create programs that people can access via mobiles than trying to set up computers in internet cafes and get Internet connection. By the same token, the “leapfrog effect” is very important to consider here. Areas such as sub Saharan Africa have skipped many previous technological developments and are now steadily picking up the use of mobiles. This illustrates the important of knowing your target population and where they are in the ICT line of development.

This was a great semester to see development in ACTION and learn some valuable lessons that could be applied in areas outside of ICT. It seems to me that the idea still stands that some of the most important things are knowing your target population, creating accessibility for all, and working for a true knowledge society across the globe.


Cloud Computing in ICT4D: Vietnam

         In class this week, we discussed cloud computing as one of the top emerging trends in Information and Communication Technology today. Broadly, Cloud Technology is using computer resources that are delivered over a network, without needing the necessary hardware or software making it a great option in developing countries. I was interested in looking at how this was specifically applied in developing countries and came across this blog describing a pilot project in Vietnam. This project was developed to help sugar cane farmers communicate with factories about deliveries and payment. Due to the sensitivity of time between the time the sugarcane is harvested and when it is received at the factory, it is crucial for farmers to communicate with the factory to discuss pick up times and amount of cane needed. Previously, farmers were attempting to call the factories and had trouble with their calls going through or not getting the information in a timely manner. Cloud computing allows the farmers to receive a response in 1-2 minutes. By beginning their texts with a keyword such as NATL, the SMS messages are routed appropriately and can be responded to with the requested information. The diagram below details the exact mechanism of the message response and delivery.

          Fred Chong, the author of the blog and one of the main computers on the project identifies SMS messaging as being critical to the success of a project like this in developing areas due to the remaining spottiness of service making phone calls difficult, low costs of sending SMS, the large availability of cellular network infrastructure in rural areas, long mobile battery life as opposed to computers, and suitability for rugged, roaming lifestyles of farmers. This program has led to higher quality sugar cane and greater profits for these Vietnamese Farmers. Chong looks forward to a bright future in this work and calls it “one of the most fulfilled computing project I’ve ever done”. Check out the video in the blog for more information and to hear from the farmers themselves!

 


Cybersecurity: A GLOBAL Issue

During our class lecture this week as well as in some of the readings, there was particular focus on the cybersecurity needs of individual countries and the dangers posed by others. While this is increasingly relevant in todays’ world, I think it is equally important to look at the effort of the global community against cybersecurity and the need for global partnerships between countries to team up and defend the world against individuals involved in this field. As detailed in this article published by the United Nation Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the growing “borderless exchange” and ICT penetration forces global cooperation on cybersecurity issues.

In response, the United Nations Economic and Social Council hosted a conference on “Cybersecurity and Development” with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) at the end of last year in New York City. The goals of the discussion included

–          Addressing the current events and challenges related to cybersecurity through international policy

–          Identifing global strategies and best practices to tackle cybersecurity in an international effort

–          Investigating a “global response” to cybersecurity

The panel identified a few stakeholders in a global initiative such as this to be member states, the private sector, civil society organizations and law enforcement agencies around the globe. A crucial issue that was further detailed as part of this response is the disparity between developed and developing nations in their capacity to response to cyber-attacks. This was one of the main drivers behind the initiation of this meeting as it is critical to develop a partnership for cybersecurity resources with developing countries to avoid their vulnerability being used as a stage for weakness and point of entry that could affect the globe. Specifically, the group discussed the idea of developing an international treaty to collaborate on national laws pertaining to computer crimes as a possible global solution. In his concluding remarks, the ECOSOC President stated that “cybersecurity is a global issue that can only be solved through global partnership. It affects all of our organizations…and the United Nations is positioned to bring its strategic and analytic capabilities to address these issues.” and it is critical this is remembered in future response, not just on the national level.


Status Updates in Morocco: Arab Spring

As we discussed in class this week, social media played an integral role in the Arab Spring, specifically as a means to publicize injustices and elicit response across borders and cultures. Because I am doing my country project on Morocco, I thought it would be interesting to see how social media influenced Arab spring participation throughout the country. I know that the movement significantly impacted Morocco as the country credits its first budget deficit in years to increased spending by the government to ward off any social unrest from regional turmoil. This article in Morocco World News, written by a native Moroccan, documents the role played by social media in the movement and the reaction of the Moroccan people.

Mohamed Kharbach, a native Moroccan, credits the real start of the Arab Spring with the Wiki Leaks reports that exposed corruption, torture, and other heinous government acts  which began a “growing curiosity and Mounting thirst for information” among the Arab world. Kharbach says Arabs, specifically Moroccans, turned to the internet mostly through social media. He says that youth in the area began sharing information instead of mindless rambling. Ghaddafi called the facebookers in Libya “just kids gibber” but I, personally, was in Morocco when Ghadaffi was killed and the celebration in the streets looked to be a little more that “gibber” to me. Kharbach believes that the information sharing and event dissemination of the Arab spring would not have reached Morocco without social networking as a way to inform the people of events such as the bloodshed in Syria and danger in Libya through Facebook and Youtube.

Outside of the Arab Spring, Kharbach credits the recent democratic election for heads of state under the King to the internet as a means of raising public awareness. From this article, it seems the Moroccan people are grateful for the progress made through ICT, especially in the sense that is has allowed for peaceful collaboration in many areas as a way to make a unified stand.
Ps. In the article, Kharbach uses the term “netizen” quite frequently. This term is defined as “an entity or person actively involved in online communities and a user of the internet”.  


#Sandy- ICTs Role in Hurricane Sandy

For the sector project this past week, our group presented on ICTs in Disasters and Humanitarian Aid. We described that ICTs can be used for disaster preparedness, disaster response and disaster recovery as a way to warn individuals, mobilize aid, coordinate stakeholders, and locate individuals- just to name a few. With Hurricane Sandy hitting the Northeastern United States this past week, ICTs played a key role in the preparedness and recovery processes. This blog outlines some of the key ICTs that were used during and after the storm to increase efficiency and minimize damage.

–          Twitter: Recommended by FEMA as one of the best ways to communicate and receive data. The Washington Post even ran a story on how to use twitter when you lose internet due to the high volume of users and capability for information dissemination. Also, Twitter s “promoted tweets” were donated to organizations such as the Red Cross so their vital information could be disseminated to twitter feeds across the country

–          Apps such as “Public Stuff” are donating their back-end resources to local governments to use for relief aid.

–          Tracking Apps- Apps such as the Red Cross were used to track the storm to enable individuals to be as prepared as possible for when the storm hit.

–          OpenStreetMaps: program utilized by New York City to allow residents to identify evacuation zones for certain areas to avoid confusion.

–          Maps/Tools: Google offered these services for disaster responders to coordinate need, location and resources.

–          Webcams: webcams were used to get live footage of areas to keep people updated on loved ones and to dissuade people from going outside and “checking”.

–          Open Content: News organizations such as the New York Times took down their paywalls during the storm and post-disaster which allows individuals to access these news sites for free and keep up to date without needing a subscription.

–          Text: Text services were opened up by FEMA to allow citizens to text a number to locate their nearest shelter.

Clearly, ICTs were heavily used in the past few days as the storm hit and in the immediate response. However, I think we will truly see these resources come into play as cities begin to rebuild and and the recovery process is managed and evaluated.


Truth in Disaster: “I can’t live without my cell phone”

        Cell phone use has become increasingly important in disasters to warn, react and recover. Phones, both fixed and mobile, allow messages to be delivered quickly and play an integral role in warning before a natural disaster. Mobile phones, specifically, have the capability to send Short Message Services (SMS), which can send data even when phone lines are congested and can quickly be sent to large groups of people. This choice of mobile technology for disaster preparation and response has been tested with the recent earthquake in Haiti when mobile phones helped coordinate humanitarian aid effort, find lost family members and stay up to date with news and conditions.

           This article from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti details exactly how cell phones and radios saved lives post disaster. Thomson Reuters Foundation’s AlertNet humanitarian news service provided residents with the first-ever Emergency Information Service that offered free, practical SMS messages. This service allowed Haitians to:

  •          Direct injured residents to open hospitals
  •           Help search and rescue teams coordinate response
  •           Information alerts through SMS (publicized through radio)
  •           Information to reduce disease risk, find missing persons and protect vulnerable populations

       One of the reasons that this ICT was so effective was the ability to get the SMS networks back up and running within almost a day of the earth quake. Free re-charging was also offered at local mobile carriers.

This experience of cell phones in Haiti prompted FEMA to issue a blog about using cell phones in an emergency here in the United States. FEMA advises citizens to:

  •         Store useful phone numbers (family and emergency)
  •           Utilize twitter through SMS without needing an account
  •           Bookmark useful mobile sites
  •           Backup your battery

Stay safe, stay charged, stay connected!


OLPC: Morocco

Looking at the current and future implementation of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program in Morocco is interesting when you consider the strong digital divide there. There is a great separation between urban and rural areas in terms of access to energy, education, and resources. Furthermore, with the language being split between French and Arabic, it is hard to implement in a countrywide approach, not taking into the account the needs of the different areas. Currently, the program has not been implemented but it is interesting to look at the steps being taken and what factors are influencing the success of it.

This blog created by a contributor to the OLPC program in Morocco encourages people to get involved with the process and offer proposals to be considered when implementing the program. This is an incredible resource for people who start using the laptop as there is a lot of troubleshooting as well as encouraging local support through mailing lists and updates. In December 2009, there was a conference in Rabat, Morocco proposing the implementation of the program and discussing the benefits. While the implementation is still in the works, I think it is important to look at the feelings of the people and the infrastructure in place to see if Morocco is ready for this technology.

This blog post was written by a Moroccan w0man, Asmaa Kabbassi, who feels that the unequal distribution of education between urban and rural areas will make mass implementation of the program too difficult and leave children out of the knowledge sharing, regardless of if they have the laptop. She also acknowledges the language barrier that very few children speak English and the system may not conducive to productive leaning as most of the schools do not have the resources to get their teachers trained with the technology, let alone the students.

A resource that could help solve these problems of  lack of support and rural populations getting left behind is the “OLPC Arabic Forum” that shares ideas, experiences and allows experts to give feedback of the users of OLPC laptops in Middle Eastern countries. It offers XO manuals in Arabic and a way for people to connect all over and share knowledge, which is an incredible step in itself.  I would not be surprised to see OLPC implemented in Morocco in the coming years but more resources such as these need to be in place to bridge the gap.


Energy Access and ICT

Fast Facts: Universal Energy Access (UNDP)

       As we learned in class this week, energy and sustainability are key physical infrastructures for successful ICT implementation. Energy access is critical for the use of popular application such as mobiles phones, radio and internet. This access, however, is something that is divided between male & female, rural & urban, and wealthy & poor. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimates that around 1.4 billion people have no access to reliable electricity networks and recognize this issue as critical to the MDGs and thus ICT. The UNDP goal is for universal access to energy by 2030 which they plan to achieve by some concrete objectives.
The plan is to intervene across the globe, specifically in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa where access is the lowest, by:
  • Strengthening policy consistent with environmentally friendly development
  • Mobilizing financing options to make energy more accessible
  • Enhancing energy delivery options to widen the range of the service offered
 
      Over the past 20 years, the UNDP has supported 2,500 projects in over 150 countries all working towards the same goal of universal energy access. It is important to remember in our study of ICT that there are many critical infrastructures that underlie successful projects and we must pay attention to their presence and progress. I invite you to view the UNDP: Fast Facts- Universal Energy Access in the attached PDF for more information about specific projects and plans.

Learning from Mistakes in ICT4D

In recent years, it has been realized by development professionals as well as policy makers, that failed development programs can, at times, be as useful to ICT4D as for creating successful initiatives. By analyzing ICT4D projects that have been deemed “failures”, development programs can learn from past mistakes and take away knowledge that could make their programs have successful with their implementation. This idea of learning from failure is rooted in the Fail Faire, a conference and workshop that allows people to present failed projects and lessons they learned in order to help others in the ICT field create more efficient programs. This review by ICTWorks of the Fall Faire UK 2012 examine the eight most important lessons to take away from the presentations.

1. “Failure will Happen”… failure is important in every program to learn from your mistakes and tailor the program to fit perfectly to your population- something that can only be achieved through trial and error!

2. “Timing is everything”… when you have a good idea- move quickly! You never know what new situations will arise or roadblocks will be put in your way. Keep full speed ahead!

3. “Know your target market habits”… spend time learning about your target population and learn the true needs of the community. A program in Sri Lanka thought farmers would benefit from trading via SMS when really it was the women and children who would use it most for social networking.

4. “People are proud of their heritage”… People want to be involved in the project and like things exactly as they like it… and rightly so! A Microsoft translation program in Tanzania went awry because the language had a Kenyan accent… something that could have been easily avoided.

5. “Take the money and run”… Money is key to programs and a program should never be too humble to accept it! Donors are key to any project and organizations should plan far enough into the future to ensure sustainability.

6. “Plan for succession”… Include many actors in a program and spread out the responsibility so the success of the project won’t just fall on the shoulders of one person and the program can continue with the natural flux of key actors.

7. “Be convinced of your convictions”… Believing in your project with unwavering conviction is a key to success. Dedication is shown through persistence and that is something that is important to donors, participants and employees alike.

8. “The only constant is change”… Every day, every person, and every experience  are different and programs and leaders should be ready to mold as needed. The Haitian Proverb says it best with “beyond mountains, there are mountains.”

Collaboration within the ICT4D world is key to success and learning from failure together can benefit everyone across the board.