Author Archives: hgalante

Chad National ICT Resources

1) Chad’s National ICT Policy:REPUBLIQUE DU TCHAD: MINISTERE DES POSTES ET DES NOUVELLES TECHNOLOGIES DE LA COMMUNICATION

Here is Chad’s most recent ICT Policy

Last updated in May of 2007

Created by the Ministry of Posts and New Communication Technology

This document is written in French.

2) Here is the Ministries homepage.

Language: French

Author: Ministry of Posts and New Communication Technologies. Date: August 2012

3)

–  This update was created by OAfrica.com and was last updated on 11/20/2010. Language: English

This update was created by InfoDev and was last updated May 2007. Language: English

4) Finding the policy was actually very easy. The difficulty began when searching for appropriate updates. My updates listed are external opinions more than updates on the current status of ICT’s in Chad. The use of ICT’s on Chad has not been formally reported on in over 5 years so the policy I worked with is very outdated (but still provided a nice starting point).

 


Technology for the People, By the People

I think that this class reinforced ideas of grassroots initiatives being the most effective very well. From talking about ideology in comparing ICT4D 1.0 and 2.0, to discussing existing and past programs we have touched on what makes an ICT truly sustainable. This is a concept that we learn in other International Development classes, but it has been mainly theoretical and being able to analyze something like One Laptop Per Child in depth gave us the ability to grasp how to assess ICT4D projects with regard to actual need, impact on the ground level, and sustainability. I know that I experienced this in explicit detail when preparing for my sector project and in general, we could go on and on about failed projects because of lack of needs assessment, but I think this class really helped to objectively expose some ways these flawed projects could become more effective.

A lot of the time when criticisms are made about development projects the criticism part is the only thing remembered. However, I feel that if your goal is to truly improve a field such as this more attention is dedicated to providing alternatives. This class presented examples of flawed technologies, and also successful ones, and took a “constructive criticism” perspective not just the identification of practices hindering the field. One example reflecting this include the class analyzing Kenya’s m-Pesa program (a wildly successful monetary exchange technology) and being pushed to deconstruct how and why this technology succeeded. Another example included the class talking about how to improve [not so] successful ICT initiatives created after Hurricane Sandy. Basically, I thought this class objectively analyzed projects really well and I think that’s really important in order to be a leader in this field.


Pros and Cons of Mapping

In this article by “Web 2 for Dev”, the author discusses pros and cons of the kind of mapping we are about to engage in in our class. The author cites issues such as climate change and crisis situations as some of the positives. We have, of course, talked about this in class before and have analyzed how companies like Ushahidi work. The authors presents Google and Openstreet Maps as the front runners in mapping for developing countries and suggests that collaborative mapmaking would benefit the countries, and the users much more. The author raises concerns including privacy issues with the policies that Google sets out and “tension over indiscriminate online mapping over land ownership and resource use and control.” This is a very similar concern that the Homeland Security Professor presented: where do we draw the line between mapping to help those who can use these technologies, and breaching privacy?


Security vs. Civil Liberties

In this article by CNN, the author talks about new policies put forth by Facebook in order to prevent phishing and malware. The article states that a recent survey claims 52% of businesses have experienced increased viruses and malware. The most common way to do this is to post a racy or controversial link on Facebook in the hopes that someone will click on it. Once  clicked on, the link makes you log back in and it steals your login information (just like email phishing). This is something that our guest speaker yesterday spoke about. Although he is a bit of an alarmist (and hilariously so) the point about deciding where to draw the lines between security and our civil liberties is extremely relevant to all of us. He never really delved much deeper into that (probably because he wanted to seem politically objective) but I feel that is a debate that really needs to be more prevalent. With as many people obsessed with Facebook as there are, security of your online information is an increasingly pertinent issue. What would these “fair and balanced” policies look like? How can we have the government protecting our online lives without feeling that our rights are being called into question? Thoughts?


ICT’s During Natural Disasters

In her article , over a year ago, Suzanne Choney suggested different ways to utilize the ICT’s at your fingertips during Hurricane Irene. The article is fairly informative, explaining how to take advantage of facebook, what Twitter accounts to subscribe to, and which Federal Department websites to regularly check. This is all well and good, but as Ms. Cohen put it on Thursday “we need to stop focusing on the next new shiny technology and really start bringing some value to people in need through our ICT use.” This is a great point because while the average Joe is more excited about the new Angry Birds app coming out, there are much more impactful technologies we could be initiating. One class member suggested that these disaster time services should be provided to everyone with a mobile phone – not just smart phones, and potentially provided without internet access. This is a great idea, especially considering how quickly the internet goes when a hurricane hits. Choney provides some very beneficial services, including the American Red Cross facebook page, the Dept. of Homeland Security homepage, and the @NotifyNYC Twitter page. These are all incredible resources, but when you take into account the reach they effect without a clear internet connection they lose a lot of their value.


Brain-Drain to Brain-Gain

In his article, Matthew Shaer notes the difficulties many countries in Africa have with brain drain. An estimated 20,000 professionals leave Africa each year to look for jobs in countries that are more economically successful. In an attempt to combat this brain drain, e-learning initiatives are being started to help connect students with the rest of the world while keeping their feet on the ground in Africa. “Since 1997, the Nairobi, Kenya–based African Virtual University has worked to improve access to web-based learning in sub-Saharan Africa,” and this will provide students all across that region with the type of resources the wish to find in the countries they are emigrating to. The courses provide a model called the “webinar,” which connects students and teachers through video and audio. These classes are intimate closely overseen so the teaching provided is as effective as possible.

There are some, like Conrad Coyanda-Parkzes, CEO of a telecom company called AccessPoint, who argue against these initiatives claiming that they are a band-aid solution to a very deeply rooted problem. Coyanda-Parkzes claims, “I don’t see enough lobbying for the basic stuff—electricity, the roads.” This is a great point, but at the end of the day, these students are experiencing and learning, which is something they have never done before – and that is what matters.


m-Pesa Expands on an International Level

In her article, Olivia O’Sullivan, touches not only on what m-Pesa is but also the implications of such a technology. m-Pesa, as we touched on in class, is a mobile banking system that provides the ability to exchange money between anyone who uses a mobile phone. This is incredibly useful for people who do not have time to travel to banks and deposit money, or who don’t feel safe traveling with large sums of money on them. O’Sullivan speaks about how this technology has spread to other countries that are completely capable of adopting them but haven’t yet. Moreover, she talks about the fact that this technology was started by Kenyans for Kenyans. Professor Ports posed the question in class, “Should we just let people in developing countries figure it all out for themselves?” and the answer is not yes, but I don’t think it is necessarily no either. I feel that more times than is appropriate, people doing development work take a top-down look at problems (consciously and sub-consciously) which is extremely detrimental to the work being done. Technologies and innovations created by the people that actually need them are the ones that are most effective and I think the happy medium that satisfies Professor Ports’ question is finding the balance between offering our help and support as development workers, but also really engaging those in need to find out what they want.


Carmen Sandiego Syndrome

Susan Brooke-Young defines Carmen Sandiego Syndrome as “the willingness to use a software programs for instruction even when there is little or no educational value.”  In class when we discussed Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail, it became clear that on an educational level we did not learn much from these games.  Oregon Trail was more of a guessing game and Carmen Sandeigo was more about catching the thief than learning geography.

If these games have no real educational value why are teachers constantly learning how to play these games and then trying to integrate them into their curriculum?  Educators all over the world are trying to use the most up to date technologies as tools for teaching and learning, but sometimes a game is just a game and not an educational tool.  Most of these games and apps that are labeled as “educational” are created by people with little or no educational background.  In class we criticize programs that use technologies designed by people with no background in the area (for example IT focused on installing the latest and greatest technology into their products and then using the products in developing countries).  So why do we not criticize these educational apps in our schools systems more?  The fact is that most of these games do not support student learning at all.  What they claim to be educational is not supported in the curriculum and just creates stress and time lost for teachers who try to fit in these games to their classes.

In order to avoid the Carmen Sandiego Syndrome new tools and rubrics are being created to evaluate these “educational” games and apps.


Capitalizing on Technology Across Africa

http://www.leftturn.org/gender-technology-and-social-change-across-africa

 

This article touches on being innovative with regard to technological advances, not simply relying on technology itself. The author fields the question: is providing mobile phones a sustainable way to instill social change, or is it a band-aid solution? Providing mobile phones does, in fact, increase the ability to share and receive information about important things that may be happening, but for people who cannot afford a phone (or sustain the payments) does it really make a difference? The author cites the fact that many women within one project being done in South Africa prefer to talk about pertinent issues face to face. So while this technology is providing them the ability to communicate on a larger scale they aren’t necessarily taking advantage of that (one of the differences between ICT4D 1.0 and 2.0).

I understand that this article was about how mobile phones affect the way women approach ICT, but I feel the author left out a huge factor. One of the most significant mobile features I noticed in Kenya this summer was the mobile banking (or mPesa). You can quickly and easily create an account and send and receive money in an efficient manner with this feature. I think this adds an incredible amount of independence to women’s lives and feel that if phones were marketed on this basis it may actually get the phones into the hands of these women. Once they see a tangible benefit these phones can provide, it will increase the security it will provide (by, hopefully, making them use the phones more).


Reassessing the MDG’s in Ghana

<a href="http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=161066

“>This article from Ghana Wed concerns the Millennium Development Goals in general, but more specifically, in Ghana. The article states that we need to take the MDG’s head-on and more seriously alter them to make them effective. The author talks about the economy and the fact that the MDG predicting a Sub-Saharan African Nation to double its economy was, in reality, setting it up to fail. You can’t make broad, sweeping expectations about numerous countries that differ greatly. This means that MDG’s are very difficult to be used as policy-making tools, viewing them simply as ideology is more appropriate. Yes, There are concepts in International Development that require Macro-viewpoints, however applying solutions to some of these problems in a formulaic manner can be detrimental. The author goes on to speak about (something that we touched on in class) how senior policy makers should not be the actors implementing the development projects since they are too far removed. This would be like the CEO of GM wanting to work in one of their plants (more or less). A system needs to be put into place that makes development operate more organically.