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Development Innovation Ventures: Seed Funding for Scale from USAID

USAID has just announced a very compelling program for all those who want to see scale in international development. The Development Innovation Ventures Annual Program Statement (a type of RFP) is soliciting proposals in all development sectors - from economic growth to agriculture to anti-corruption activities - that have potential to reach this outcome:

The Dangers and Opportunities of Girls in Cyberspace

"Girls in Cyberspace: Dangers and Opportunities" (PDF) from Plan USA examines both the challenges and empowering possibilities facing girls when accessing ICTs (Information Communication Technologies). In many ways, technology has facilitated girls’ ability to do what they were already doing: connecting, learning and sharing. ICTs have also increased their opportunities to do these things and to interact beyond their immediate communities.

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ICTworks Interview: Clement Nyirenda, a Malawian ICT Blogger in Japan

Now what could be more surprising than a Malawian blogging about ICT in his country while studying in Japan? How about the high quality of Clement Nyirenda's ICT Blog posts? As a frequent reader, I've always had a few questions I wanted to ask him, and recently got the chance to quiz Clement on his life and work.

Clement Nthambazale Nyirenda in Japan

1. So how does a Malawian wind up in Tokyo? How did you get a Japanese Government Scholarship?

Hive Colab: Software Developer Coworking in Kampala

Hive Colab is an open, collaborative, community owned, work environment for young tech entrepreneurs to focus on projects, access the internet, have a quiet professional environment to develop their ideas in, hold events and generally collaborate. Something very similar to what our friends are doing with the iHub in Nairobi.

$100 Million USAID Opportunity for mHealth in Malawi

Check out this 5-year, $100 Million RFA released by USAID, "Malawi Support for Integrated Service Delivery."

Reading this RFA I couldn't help but think about recent Technology Salons that showcased how SMS text messaging can empower healthcare implementers and patient beneficiaries to communicate better and faster, and an earlier Salon with Baobab Health about healthcare in Malawi:

Low-Cost ICT Devices for Educational Systems in the Developing World

Back at the turn of the century, education was gripped by the diffusion of amazing hand-held devices for children. These tools, at first considered an expensive and delicate novelty, soon became standard for every child in wealthy education systems and from there defused around the world to nearly every classroom.

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This is actually a description of slate tablets in the early 1800′s, but it could aptly describe the technological revolution we are seeing in education today with low-cost ICT devices.
The rise of ICT devices

Open Innovation Studio: Socal Enterprise Collaboration in Cape Town

In a world of increasing complexity organisations cannot afford to rely only on their own expertise and research. They need to associate, collaborate and share. And innovation is a network-endeavour. It relies on having visibility of and access to the right mix of talent, knowledge, resources and finance.
Open innovation is about combining internal and external ideas as well as internal and external methodologies to advance the development of new models, technologies and services.
To allow this to happen, Brightest Young Minds, a youth driven non-profit organisation, has developed the Open Innovation Studio:

Human Capacity Puzzle Pieces in ICT4D Projects

Many computer labs go unused because no one in the community sees the need to use computers and therefore they have not even learned how to use them. Yet the community cannot return the computers nor afford their upkeep.
However, this is not the case regarding a computer lab near me in Kenya. The organization that sold the computers to the community provided intensive training to the lab managers. The youth center that owns the lab has plans to hold classes, as well as use the lab as an information center to educate on and prevent drug abuse and HIV/AIDS infection for the community. This demonstrates that they both had an idea of how to use the computers and had thought of activities for which they could be used.

6 Lessons ICT4D Practitioners Can Learn From PlayPumps Failure

Children playing on merry-go-rounds can pump ground water to a storage tank, and ads on that tank can pay for pump maintenance. That's the simple idea behind PlayPumps International, which went from a small South African effort to a multi-donor cause célèbre to most recently, a poster child for good intentions gone bad in Africa.
play-pumps.jpg

What Kenya ICT Board Content Grants Mean to Mwananchi

Attending the Tandaa symposium in May 2010 organised by the Kenya ICT Board to enhance digital content, film and animation, I was impressed by the cue to creating local content simply described by Dr. Ndemo Bitange the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication.

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In plain words he said "unlike in other developed countries where their potential is realised, there is a lot of power for Kenyans to seize up, through enhancement of digital content."

Microsoft Should Offer Discontinued Kin Phone to Developing Countries

Back in May Microsoft launched a new mobile device that struck somewhere in between a feature phone and a Smartphone. Yesterday, barely a month after the Kin launch, Microsoft pulled the plug on Kin saying it was integrating it's Kin and Windows Mobile development teams.
Discontinued Kin Phone

4 Key Challenges and Solutions to ICT Deployments for Rural Healthcare

In February 2008, The Health Metrics Network (HMN) convened experts in Geneva after many months of focused organizational, advocacy and educational efforts in several countries.

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The goal of the event was to test interoperability of core elements of a district-level health solution that would be repeatable across the dozens of countries in which HMN is currently working.
Inveneo participated in this meeting and what follows is a brief discussion of four key ICT challenges identified by the HMN working group and how Inveneo is seeking to overcome them.

Are Kenyan .KE Domain Names Too Expensive?

Recently, Moses Kemibaro present the marketing plan for the .KE top-level country domain, managed by the Kenya Network Information Centre (KENIC). In his presentation, he asks an intriguing question: Are .KE domain names really expensive?
KE Domain Name Prices
Now I wasn't at the presentation to hear his thoughts, but from the slide show, I will assume that he feels that .KE domain names are not that expensive. I respectfully disagree.
.KE domain names are way overpriced

How Open Source Software Makes Money for Coffee Grower Cooperatives

In Kenya, coffee farmers are concerned about getting a fair price for their beans, and worry about "ghost kilograms" - the undercounting of raw and processed bean weights - that can happen with handwritten accounts.

So the Kenya Coffee Producers Association (KCPA) looked around for a coffee bean accounting system they could utilize to accurately track coffee sales to factories, and help the factories themselves manage coffee production. Yet they found proprietary software applications just too expensive.
The Open Source Solution

Apps 4 Africa: a Contest for African Software Developers

Over the past few weeks myself, Solomon King of NodeSix.com, Joshua Goldstein an Appfrica Fellow, Jessica Colaco at the iHub in Nairobi, Philip Thigo and John Kipchumbah at SODNET (Social Development Network Kenya), and a number of very dedicated individuals from the United States Department of State have been working behind the scenes to put together a contest for African software developers called Apps < 4 > Africa.

The Availability of Prepaid Mobile Data Plans in All 53 African Countries

Kevin Donovan and Jonathan Donner believe that prepaid ICT access models are more appropriate for poorer consumers and the availability of prepaid mobile data will be a key driver of inclusive mobile Internet usage. To prove their thesis, they've complied an amazing Ushahidi Map of the availability of prepaid mobile Internet in Africa.
mobile-internet-image.jpg

Government ICT Seriousness Rankings: Kenya Most Serious About ICT

When it comes to ICTs, Government's role is to create and sustain a conducive environment through regulation and legislation.
In addition, a sound government strategy should also consider making strategic investments (aka stimulus plans in the financial and economics world), promoting home grown ICT private sector and addressing appropriate skills development in the education and training sector.
Lastly, any government strategy or intervention should recognize and address the critical facets of the ICT eco-system which I would roughly categorize as infrastructure, content and applications and services.
Government ICT Seriousness Ranking

Win Government Contracts with Solar Power Computing

Electrical power is an issue across Africa - or more accurately, the lack of reliable, affordable electricity is one of the greatest barriers to the adoption of information and communication technologies.
But good businessmen look at barriers and see opportunity. If rural areas lack a reliable national power grid, then develop solutions that do not need that electrical infrastructure and capture market share from technology vendors still waiting for KPLC or NEPA.

Solar Power Computing

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