Updates from the Field

Major news

1.    Africa unites to strengthen IT across the continent – ICT Alliance is launched

The Africa ICT Alliance’s (AfICTA) main aim is to bring together key ICT players from six African countries to achieve mutual social and economic goals. The founding countries of the Alliance are Nigeria, Gambia, Egypt, Kenya, Tunisia, and South Africa.

The Alliance’s goals are to:

  • support effective local and continental advocacy;
  • improve digital literacy;
  • partner with the African Union and related agencies to achieve Information Society targets;
  • engage African ICT professionals and experts in global ICT governance dialogues and enhance Africa’s competitiveness in the sector.

You can find more here.

2.    The e-learning Africa conference took place between the 23rd and 25th May, and a report has been released

Key findings from The eLearning Africa 2012 Survey:

  • The number one factor constraining the African eLearning sector is lack of bandwidth
  • The top consideration for African organisations is access to appropriate content
  • The most important change agent is the government
  • The top motivation for using ICT is to improve the quality of teaching.

Interested? Read more here.

Developments in the local tech community

3.    Orange Launches 2012 African Social Venture Prize

The African Social Venture Prize will reward three projects or enterprises addressing the needs of the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ market in Africa through technology.

The digital projects range from e-health and mobile banking, to digital and mobile applications for education or agriculture and represent huge opportunities for social development.

You can find more here.


Technology and health

4.     Mobile health to be incorporated into healthcare courses

From March 2013, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will begin two courses on incorporating mobile technologies into global health fieldwork.

“The students coming into global health today are challenged with the need to think of the potential appropriate use of these technologies in the resource-limited areas where we work,” said Dr. Labrique.

The New York Times has more.

5.      Mobile phones cut time needed to report malaria outbreaks from weeks to minutes

Mobile phones have cut the time needed to report malaria outbreaks in Africa from weeks to minutes, allowing more timely government responses, researchers say. The results of the first year of a mobile disease response pilot program were reported last week by Hewlett-Packard and their partners.

“We see technology having a profound impact on disease surveillance,” said Paul Ellingstad, HP’s director of global health. While it can take three to four weeks to get a report of cases of malaria to a district health clinic, and then to the Ministry of Health of a respective country, cellphone reports can speed up the process to a matter of minutes, meaning the respective government can immediately send bed nets and alert citizens to take precautions.

More here.

6.      Mobile phones revolutionize HIV testing in Africa

Scientists who carried out the study in Zambia found that the turnaround times for delivering a diagnosis for HIV by SMS were almost twice as fast compared to traditional postal methods.

The average time for a result notification from a testing lab to a health facility fell from 44.2 days to 26.7 days.

You can read more here.


And finally…

7.      Why the future of mobile lies in the developing world

The continued double digit growth of mobile in developing countries represents a tremendous business opportunity. While companies in Silicon Valley fight over trying to develop the top app in a certain category, huge untapped potential still remains in the developing world. Working in this space will require businesses to be able to think through the design of their applications from a different viewpoint. Their end users will have different motivations, experiences, needs and constraints. While handset manufacturers will need to build a phone whose battery lasts, app developers will need to build appropriate apps that use little bandwidth.

Tech Crunch has more.

8.   The Guardian has visualised the data from the African Economic Outlook 2012 report

They have created an interactive map that displays each country’s GDP growth since 2008.