Latest News

1.    West Africa’s wait for high-speed broadband is almost over

A cable linking West Africa to Europe will not only make it less frustrating to use the internet but could help achieve millennium development goals on education, health and the environment in December, when the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) broadband cable comes online. The France Telecom-led $700m system will use high-speed fibre optic technology to link Europe with 18 countries along the west coast of Africa, as well as landlocked Mali and Niger.

The Guardian has more here.

2.    Frontline SMS releases Version 2

Over the last two years, FrontlineSMS has focused on gathering user feedback and comments and planning a roadmap for its software. The new release is designed to make it easier to create and manage common SMS activities like announcements, conducting polls and automating replies to incoming SMS.  Indigo Trust awarded two grants to Frontline SMS in 2011, for more information see our recent blog.

Democracy, Transparency and Accountability

3.    Launch of the Internews Crisis Map for the Central African Republic

The “Integrating Local Media and ICTs into Humanitarian Response in CAR” project is a collaboration between Internews, Ushahidi, the Association of Journalists for Human Rights in Bangui and UNOCHA–RCA, and funded by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund. This is an innovative system that comprises a bounded network of trusted local media organizations who gather real-time first-hand information from affected populations to create a two-way communication flow with humanitarians to improve emergency response, community participation and community resilience.

Interested? Read more here.

4.    Zimbabwean Man Takes Matters Into Own Hands to Fight Graft

Tawanda Kembo has set up a whistle-blowing website where members of the public who have paid a bribe can come forward and report it. Kembo says that more than three thousand cases of bribery have been reported on the site ipaidabribe.org.zw in only two days.

You can find more here.

5.    Ethiopians protest new bill that criminalises VoIP services

Ethiopians are focusing on a controversial new bill which criminalises the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services such as Skype and Google Talk. Netizens are especially furious over the country’s state owned Ethio-Telecom, which proposed the new bill. Meles Zenawi’s government claims that the new bill is meant to prevent external security threats.

Read more here.

6.    Civil societies in Ghana launch e-directory website

The website was jointly built by UNDP and the West Africa Civil Society Institute to map out CSOs based on regional location and areas of specialisation. It seeks to stimulate greater collaboration, networking, information sharing and capacity building. It is available at: http://www.civilsociety.org.gh

You can find more here.

Developments in the Local Tech Community

7.    IT entrepreneurs find surprise success in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camps

Sheik, aged 22, has never left Dadaab, but that has not stopped him learning how to create and host websites, set up a small business and teach others how to use computers. A visiting journalist suggested that Sheik get a dotcom domain to enable him to design websites and earn a living. His clients have included community groups, schools and international organisations. Computers have given Sheik – a father of four – a means to support himself and his family.

The Guardian has more here.

Technology and Health

8.    Mobile technology to fix hand pumps in Africa

In August, Oxford University researchers will start a pilot project in Kenya to install new, low-cost data transmitters that work in a similar way to mobile phones. These Smart Hand Pumps will automatically send a text message to the district and national water managers, so they know when and where there is a problem, as well as when the problem has been fixed.

For more read here.

 Technology and Youth Empowerment

9.  African Development Bank teams up with Mobile Accord to gauge impact of programmes on young people

In an effort to better engage technology to support its initiatives around Africa, the African Development Bank has announced a strategic partnership with Mobile Accord for the processing of mobile-based surveys using GeoPoll, the polling platform that uses text messaging to collect data from mobile subscribers.

The partnership with Mobile Accord, which will make it the first time that the concerns, hopes and aspirations of African youth will be heard on such a large scale, will enable the bank to “feel the real pulse of the youth and the development impact of AfDB, because we can gather more accurate information in real time,” according to AfDB Chief Economist Mthuli Ncube, in a press release.

Read more here.

Technology and Agriculture

10.  Technology revolutionizes agriculture in Cameroon

A growing number of farmers in Cameroon are employing information and communication technology to revolutionize their work. Technology experts say that advancements in technology offer farmers an array of options to improve their businesses. Still, challenges exist, such as a lack of access to technology, ability to use it, and awareness of how it to apply it to agribusiness.

Tantoh Dieudonne Nforba, 33, is a farmer in Nkambé, a small city in the Northwest region. He says that he employs various forms of information and communication technology on the job. With his mobile phone, Nforba exchanges strategic information with customers, other farmers, agricultural authorities, government figures and extension workers – field workers who serve as a link between the agricultural experts and researchers who develop new technologies and the farmers who implement them. He also participates in talk shows on the radio and TV to disseminate information about his produce and services.

For more read here.

Other Interesting News

11.  Many Kenyans share mobile phones, study finds

Most rural Kenyans do not own mobile phones, and women are less likely to own phones than men, a new study has revealed. The study was carried out by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Harvard School of Public Health, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), and the University of Oxford.

You can find more here.

 12Orange Money hits 4 million subscribers

Orange Money, a mobile phone-based payment service specially designed to meet the needs of customers in Africa and the Middle East has hit 4 million subscribers, adding 1 million users in the past six months. The service was first launched in Côte d’Ivoire in December 2008 and has since been made available in Botswana, Cameroon, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger and Senegal. Orange Money allows customers to transfer money via their mobile phones; make mobile payments for utility bills such as electricity, water, television; buy mobile phone credit from any location; and facilitates savings and insurance.

Read more here.

 13.  How mobile is boosting business in Africa – BBC news article

Across the African continent, internet penetration is low, computers are often too expensive to purchase, and online business transactions can be logistically complicated to execute. But the surge in mobile phone use – there are currently 695 million mobile phone subscribers in Africa – has given Africans a simple and pervasive means of sharing information and conducting business.

See BBC for more.