News from the Field

One of my colleagues has been producing some general updates from the world of ICT in Africa and we thought it was a good idea to share them with you.

Major News

Open Government Brasilia 2012

On the 17th and 18th April, Brazil hosted the first annual conference on open government, bringing together more than 50 countries and organisations with a belief in the power of transparency.

Tim Davies has the following observations which arose from the OGP conference:

  • The quality of Right to Information really matters
  • Whistle blower protection is an important factor in the journey from openness to impact
  • We’ve not yet cracked culture change and capacity building, or large scale public engagement
  • There is a need to distinguish e-government, from open government
  • We need both data infrastructures, and accessibility ecosystems, for open data
  • We need to develop a deeper dialogue between technologists and issue activists
  • Monitoring should ultimately be about change for citizens, not just commitments and process.

More can be found at Tim’s blog.

The Guardian has a collection of interesting articles on the OGP conference.

Democracy, transparency, and accountability

ICT and the coup in Mali

While the internet is inundated with blogs, tweets and videos from other countries, Malian internet users remain silent. The capital, Bamako, is still affected by serious power cuts as the fuel required for power stations runs out. Under these circumstances, the priority is not sending messages, but finding information about the new leaders of the north.

For example, the Facebook group ‘Collectif des Ressortissants du Nord’ (The Northern Citizens’ Collective) or COREN, has mobilised the people of Mali throughout the entire territory, with the page being used to announce upcoming events as well as to demonstrate solidarity. You can find more here.

Developments in the local tech community

Mxit reaches for change

Africa’s biggest social network, Mxit, has embarked on its re-launch with a key appointment to expand its social development programmes in order to “affect large scale social change across the continent”.

Mxit has appointed a leading figure in the use of social networks for activism, to head up a new “social impact” division called Mxit Reach.

Marlon Parker, founder of Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs) and, avid social change and e-democracy campaigner, will head up Mxit Reach. You can read more here.

World Bank backs Kenya web innovators with Sh4bn

Kenya’s quest to become the global hub for mobile phone applications has been bolstered by a grant of Sh4.5 billion ($55 million) from the World Bank. The money will be used to help developers come up with simple solutions for everyday use, especially in health and education. To read more, click here.

Kenya’s iHub Receives $150,000 Funding From Google

Kenya’s tech and developer community space, iHub  announced that it has received funding of USD $150,000 from Google to support infrastructure developments.

According to iHub, ‘this funding will help accelerate our mission in catalyzing technology innovations within the iHub by providing them with the infrastructure and skill-sets to fuel their innovations to the next level.’ More can be found here.

Technology and health

Kenya minister encourages mobile health

Medical Services minister Anyang’ Nyong’o is calling on Kenyans to embrace information technology in the provision of and access to health services. Read more.

AfDB launches eHealth Award to seek African ICT health solutions

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has launched a competition for innovative and sustainable information and communication technology (ICT) solutions for the health sector in Africa. Read more here.

Technology and youth empowerment

Young people present first-ever ‘crowdsourced’ recommendations for AIDS response in UN history

Youth leaders from around the world presented a set of youth-defined recommendations that will guide the UNAIDS Secretariat’s work on HIV and young people through 2015. The recommendations were received by UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé at an event in the Paiko community near Abuja.

Based on the voices and views of more than 5000 young people from 79 countries, the recommendations resulted from CrowdOutAIDS, an innovative youth-led policy project initiated by UNAIDS. Leveraging crowdsourcing technology and new media tools, the five-month project enabled young people to fully participate in the development of strategic recommendations for the UNAIDS Secretariat’s youth agenda. Read more.

Other interesting news

African Ministers Commit to Strengthening Science and Technology in Africa to Boost Employment and Growth

More than 30 African ministers of education and science attending the First African Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) for Youth Employment, Human Capital Development and Inclusive Growth, unanimously pledged to put ST&I policies, strategies, programs and plans into action over the next five years.

The experts’ meeting considered strengthening ST&I by improving science, technology and mathematics education, enhancing scientific research and ensuring that higher education systems are equipped to meet the demand for jobs, especially among young people. It also highlighted successful experiences on how to nurture innovation and entrepreneurship, tap into existing ST&I knowledge, and cultivate a dynamic innovation eco-system in Africa. Find more here.

 Aid officials aim to use apps and Twitter as new tools in disaster relief

The UK government will fund projects that explore how social networking technology can help rescue work. The Guardian has more.

How Africa tweets

Courtesy of the Guardian Data Blog

With thanks to Visaly Muthusamy for writing this blog post.