Author Archives: vmorgan92

UAE National ICT Resources

United Arab Emirates most detailed and useful ICT policy:
Last updated: 2012
Published by: ITU News
Language: English
Last updated: 2007
Published by: UAE ICT
Language: English

Other updates to the policy can be found at:

Digital economy rankings 2010

Click to access eiu_digital-economy-rankings-2010_final_web.pdf

Last updated: 2010
Published by: The Economist
Language: English

Measuring the Information Society

Click to access MIS_2011_without_annex_5.pdf

Last updated: 2011
Published by: International Telecommunication Union
Language: English

The Global Information and Technology Report

Click to access WEF_GITR_Report_2011.pdf

Last updated: 2011
Published by: World Economic Forum
Language: English

The UAE has an incredible ICT sector, one of the most developed in the world. It was easy to find information on their ICT policies because of the government’s strong support in building a foundation to become a world super power in technology. UAE was an extremely interesting country to research. It is way beyond all the other countries in its region and in most of the world. I would encourage other students to research this country to show much a country can accomplish with ICTs when it has the government’s support and money.

ICT4D Take Away

Reflections on something specific that you have personally learned this semester that you think would/will help you as a development professional.

This semester I constantly struggled with the concept of international development—what it really does is and what in means to me. I knew that helping people was something I was very passionate about, but at the same time I felt that most of the work done through international development projects had little to no significance in people’s actual lives. My other classes and organizations I worked with had taught me to constantly question service, and because of this I was constantly questioning the work of international development. It was not until the “The Zapatista Effect: Information Communication Technology Activism and Marginalized Communities” that I began to understand how ICT could actually be ICT4D.
The reason I found this article so important was because it was the first time I felt that ICT were actually used to empower people in developing world instead of to make money for people in the developed world. The Zapatista Effect demonstrates how access to inexpensive ICT allows marginalized communities to make positive change.
Before we had read this article, I felt like ICT4D was all about giving laptops to children and other poorly designed projects. The Zapatista Effect rejuvenated my belief in international development and also opened my eyes to the good that ICT4Ds can actually do. I was very skeptical about using ICTs for development in this class but now I realize how they can benefit all people.

Adam Papendieck and Ushahidi

Adam Papendieck spoke to our class on Tuesday about the latest developments in Internet and data technology: cloud computing, think clients, semantic web, open data, and of course LOLCats. His main interest is crowdsourcing and spoke about his experience working with Ushahidi. Like many students in our class, Adam’s background is in public health. He received his MPH from Tulane and is now the current Sr. Program Manager for Technology at the Payson Center for International Development and Tulane University.

Projects he has worked on:
• Creating of a web mapping application for the World Vision US corporate information portal
• Design and implementation of open source thin client computer labs in Rwanda
• Creation of e-learning platforms at African institutions of higher education
• Various crisis mapping initiatives and disaster analytics activities for the Gulf Oil Spill, Hurricane Katrina, and other events

Ushahidi was one of the projects Adam mentioned that I knew nothing about. After looking around on their website I learned a little bit more about it.
Ushahidi is a non-profit tech company that specialized in developing free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping. “Ushahidi” means “testimony” in Swahili, and was originally developed to map reports of violence in Lenya after the post-election follow up in 2008. Ushahidi now has 45,000 users to map incidents of violence and peace efforts throughout the country.

Can we have ICT4D in the Western world?

The More Things Change: Development’s Colonial Heritage

This week in class we have been discussing the true meaning if ICT4D and the lectures have left me wondering if International Development is the career path I want to follow or if it is a lost cause. I have been leaving most classes feeling that our work is unsuccessful because most of the programs we discuss have been parachute programs brought in by people who do not take the time to understand the culture of the people they are trying to help. Instead, it seems that most programs are common day efforts of relieving “the White Man’s Burden”. Are international development assistance efforts the current day colonial relationships?
This blog discusses the links between the colonial period and current day development efforts.
The part of this blog that is most relevant to our class discussion is the section about Development and Welfare. In class we were asked “Do we still call them ICT4Ds if they are implemented in America/the Western world?” I would answer NO. Development programs will never be called ICT4Ds in the Western world because of the negative connotation of the word. Regardless of how similar development aide and ICT4Ds are to Welfare and the social services welfare provides, they will never be seen as the same effort.
We view development as “improvement of infrastructure required for efficient extraction of raw materials… directed toward enhancing the economies of the colonial powers” Basically we view development as going into an area that is not up to our standards of modernity and trying to “fix” it up until the lives or the locals are as westernized as ours.
We view welfare as “applied to the provision of improved health, education, housing, and urban wages… directed toward elimination or reduction of labor strikes, protests, and rebellions” Welfare is money and services we give to people who the western world already sees as modernized—or developed. Welfare is not aid given to help project western values and ideals onto “native peoples” but aid given to help sustain a developed country’s power by making sure all people are better off than “those” people.
We would not call welfare or any other domestic ICT an ICT4D because the term ICT4D is condescending and creates the image of helping “those” people—the other, the native, the undeveloped.

Unpacking KONY 2012

Unpacking KONY 2012
Ethan Zuckerman

Zuckerman’s blog “Unpacking KONY 2012 “ describes a video and advocacy organization Invisible Children and how the KONY 2012 video worked/failed as a social media advocacy project. When the video first came out every college and high school student reposted it to all of their friends to show their support for the cause. Anyone who tried to ask questions about the campaign, organization, or true situation in Uganda was shut down immediately and hated on for not caring enough about the poor defenseless “invisible” African children.
The truth of the 2012 campaign though, was that it was advertising a problem that was no longer a huge threat, it did not mention the Uganda and American support already out looking for Kony, and it took away the voice of the locals. One of the most important lessons I have learned in International Development, Public Health, and just volunteering in the community is that it is not our job to speak for others. We are not there to tell them what the problems are and how we are going to solve them, but to offer our support and stand with them. The Invisible Children Campaign “gives little to no agency to the Ugandans or the organizations that want to help.” Invisible Children has no Africans on the board of directors and very few on the senior staff.
Our job is not to solve other people’s problems. Our job is to work with others and help empower them. American college students do not know have the answers and this video gives students the message that they were the ones in power, they were the voice of all the “invisible children”.

Malaria Drugs in Developing Countries

“Many of the drugs — even those approved by the World Health Organization — are Chinese fakes or low-quality variants that failed quality tests…”
One of the biggest problems the Health Sector faces in developing countries is eliminating malaria. But, with so many fake and low-quality malaria drugs being used, malaria is actually being accelerated! By distributing malaria drugs that are low quality causes drug resistance in the mosquitos. The drugs do not have enough potency to kill the parasite, but just enough to make it resistant. We are already using the strongest drugs we have in developing countries to fight malaria, and if we continue to produce drugs of low-quality medicines they will become useless and possibly make malaria untreatable.
The scary part is that the World Health Organization approved some of the drugs that were shown to not have enough medicine to kill the parasite. A study found that 20-42% of malaria drugs in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa were of bad or fake quality.
We cannot reach our MDG if we continue to sell fake drugs. If we continue it is possible that malaria will become incurable in many developing countries.

Mobile Banking Innovation in India

In his article, Shalini Mehta, argues that mobile phones have been revolutionary in India – but it is not enough. Less than 1% of the population that owns a mobile phone uses it for banking. Banks have even moved from using purely SMS banking methods to offering “banking services on mobile handsets through WAP-based internet websites…” in order to incentivize users to engage in this convenience offered. These methods have had minimal effect on the people of India where the adoption of mobile banking is largely centered around lack of banking services offered and the absence of a variety of languages spoken throughout India. The author goes on to touch on the importance of catering these banking systems to certain mobile platforms like IOS, Android, Windows, etc… This is necessary because a one size fits all solution is not conducive to satisfying a growing technological community. The lack of innovation within mobile banking is the classic case of complacency for an emerging market. Once the new technology is uncovered, its creators think that it can build itself. However, in order to be an effective business model, but more importantly to reach as many people as possible, mobile banking needs to be on the front lines of technological innovation.

OLPC: Jordan

As this article explains, One Laptop Per Child has been developing projects in the Middle East since 2009.   The first city it was implemented in was Amman, Jordan.  OLPC came to the attention of NGOs and UN agencies and formed a collaboration with American Task Force on Palestine to deliver the XO laptops.  Since 2009 OLPC has worked with United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and Palestinian Education Initiative (PEI).  One reason why this project was successful was because there was a want for computers in this region.  If OLPC just came in and told students that they needed laptops it would not have worked.  In 2005 PEI listed their challenges and solutions for education.

2.1.3. Track 3. In-Class Technology

The initiative will be piloted in those schools which are equipped with computer labs. Since the use of those labs are limited for teaching technology education subject, the challenge here, is how to best introduce in-class technology in the most affordable, effective, and efficient ways.  The introduction of Mobile Units (1 for every 3 classrooms) should be investigated, for the in-class subject knowledge, research, collaborative projects, enrichment or exercise. Mobile Unit may consist of one laptop, a printer, and LCD. Alternative approaches such as providing teachers with laptops will need to be evaluated. These laptops can be shared among a number of teachers.

PEI made sure that teachers got their own laptops and were educated on how to use them.  This was very important to help with the success of OLPC because the teachers were able to teach their students how to use the laptops, instead of assuming that children would be able to learn themselves.  OLPC is now working on implementing their program in other countries throughout the Middle East.

Closing the Gender Gap

University Attendance
In this week’s reading we discussed how gender is a factor in the digital divide.  In our first class we characterized the gender gap as: “Almost 2/3 of illiterates in the world are women. In the developing countries, an average of 1:2 women cannot read. There is a serious risk that the barriers that limit women’s access to the new technologies will be compounded”.  But, in the class discussion today, it became very obvious to me that gender is not the sole issue when it comes to the gender divide—gender intersects with education level, socio-economic status, and cultural customs.  Issues are never exclusively about gender.

One of the points brought up in the reading was that even if education levels are the same access is still unequal.  This could be because of geographic restrictions, social norms, or income level.  CNNs article “Mideast women beat men in education, lose in workforce” discusses that even though the gap on education is closing, the gap for the workforce is still the same.  The gap in the workforce is important for women’s access to ICTs because one of the greatest ways to gain access and learn how to use ICTs is in the workforce.  Women can close the gap on education but they will still have unequal access until all the gaps intersecting with gender are closed.  The promotion of gender equality in general is a great start to seeing an over all change in women’s access to ICTs.

“The Whiteness of Wi-Fi”

“The Whiteness of Wi-Fi”

By: Roberto Lovato

There are multiple types of digital divides when it comes to the Internet.  There are economic, geographic, generational, gender, language, educational, employment, and disabilities divides.  Lovato’s article highlights how the economic and geographic digital divides work in Philadelphia.  Ever since 1890s there has been a geographical divide in Philadelphia drawn by the railroad industry.  African Americans were forced into the poor, sewage-filled street, on the wrong side of the railroad track.

As the city grew over the past century, so did the economical gap between the two sides of the track.  Lovato refers to this as the “digital divide’s color line”.  In 2004, during a media reform movement, city leaders started a program that would give universal access to Wi-Fi to everyone in the city.  The point of this was to “create a digital infrastructure for open-air Internet access and to help citizens, businesses, schools, and community organizations make effective use of wireless technology.”  This would mean that 75% of Philadelphia’s poor would now have the infrastructure to support and provided access to this new technology that they would have never been able to afford or had the infrastructure to support.  Free Wi-Fi already existed in coffee shops, grocery stores, and other businesses in Philadelphia, but all these businesses were located on one side of the track.  The media reform movement was a success and now people all over Philadelphia, regardless of geographic location or economic status, have access to the Internet.

After universal Wi-Fi passed in the City of Brotherly Love, more movements across the country have formed to end the economical, geographical, and racial divides.  Grassroots movements have started to provide Internet and computer access to communities affected by these digital divides.

This article shows a success story about how ICT4Ds have been able to bridge the digital divides and help close the gap between the rich and poor.  Because the Internet was provided to all citizens, instead of just the wealthy or the ones living where infrastructure was available, everyone was able to use this technology.