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Vol. IV No. 3

March 2006

The first monthly magazine on ICT4D

Entrepreneurship for development

Media Lab Asia: Story Retold Information for development

w w w. i 4 d . c s d m s . i n

ICT boost income amid hostile policies ICT for Agriculture in Tanzania

Associating gender with ICT policy

ISSN 0972 - 804X

ICT policy

Women’s Networking Support Programme

i4d in a dialogue with ICTD advisors knowledge for change

Asia 2006

We invite stakeholders from NGOs, governments, private sectors, donors and development agencies to join this forum and exhibition for taking stock of Asian Telecentre movement, the issues of sustainability and capacity and showcasing best models to

April 26 - 28, 2006, Rama Gardens Hotel and Resort Bangkok, Thailand

An exhibition of latest e-Solutions, services and corporate firms combined with technical sessions for policy makers, practitioners, academicians and industry leaders to showcase the best practices in


Vol. IV No. 3



Media Lab Asia: story retold Entrepreneurship for development Prof. Alex (Sandy) Pentland


March 2006




Jean-Paul Bauer


Prof. Subhash Bhatnagar


Books received

Pervez Ahmed


Integrating ICT into education Tools for policy makers The ICT in Education Team of UNESCO, Bangkok


Cyber law in India Public policy instrument for ICT and eBusiness V.Govindarajulu

15 18

ICT for agriculture in Tanzania

42 41 42

Bytes for All What’s on

Aloyce Menda


ICT policy in Albania


Ausra Gustainiene

Workshop on Rural Knowledge Centre, 22-24 February, 2006, Bangladesh.


ICT policy in Indonesia

How to get started and keep going

Public Internet centre governance

Special Pullout

Rudi Rusdiah


Nigerian ICT policy ICTs take anti poverty stance

Women’s Networking Support Programme Associating gender with ICT policy Katerina Fialova

News Search ICT4D news by date in the sectors of governance, health, education, agriculture and so on.

31 ICTD project newsletter

E-mail Subscribe to daily, weekly, monthly newsletters online or send request to Research e-Learning projects from India. Learn more about FLOSS Print edition The past issues of the magazine are available online

Cover image credit: Rumi Mallick, 2005

R.Muthuveeran, Chennai, India.

This is with reference to the monthly magazine ’i4D’ received by the Development Section of the Canadian High Commission, New Delhi. We really enjoy reading your publications. Your magazines make an excellent reading and keeps us updated and informed with various issues in the ICTs sector in India. We request you to kindly send one copy of this magazine, as well as all other publications of yours, addressed to the Head of Aid. We would be happy to circulate one copy among our staff. Leena Subramanian, New Delhi, India

Gbenga Sesan


This is Muthuveeran from MSSRF chennai, working as Project Associate (ICTSocial Science). I am involving the ICT project implementation division. I got a chance to go thru I4D magazine that has great inputs and lot of information. Also I can disseminate the information those you publish as articles that enhance the rural community knowledge. I would be grateful to you If you send that monthly magazine to the following address. So kindly send the magazine.

In Fact e-Strategies at a glance

ICT boost income amid hostile policies

Gender-focused ICT policy making

23 News

The knowledge society Knowledge technologies in knowledge


... Just some random thoughts.... which need more debate by those more knowledgeable on the entire Media Lab Asia saga. The article by Micheal Best in January 2006 of i4d was interesting and insightful. Thanks Ravi Gupta and the team at i4d for carrying this (there’s some interesting debate happening in that magazine...) Frederick Noronha

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ICT and evolution process


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ICT Policy




ICT and Microfinance


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Cultural diversity, localisation and ICTs


Media and ICTs


ICTs and SME


Gender and ICT


ICTs for the disabled



i4d | March 2006

 Editorial Information for development

Pursuing 3 ‘P’s

ADVISORY BOARD M P Narayanan, Chairman, i4d Chin Saik Yoon Southbound Publications, Malaysia Karl Harmsen United Nations University Kenneth Keniston Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA Mohammed Yunus Grameen Bank, Bangladesh Nagy Hanna e-Leadership Academy, University of Maryland, USA Richard Fuchs IDRC, Canada Rinalia Abdul Rahim Global Knowledge Partnership, Malaysia Walter Fust (Chair) Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Switzerland Wijayananda Jayaweera UNESCO, France EDITORIAL BOARD Akhtar Badshah, Frederick Noronha EDITORIAL TEAM Editor Ravi Gupta Editorial Consultant Jayalakshmi Chittoor Sr Assistant Editor Saswati Paik Research Associate Ajitha Saravanan Designer Bishwajeet Kumar Singh Web Programmer Zia Salahuddin Group Directors Maneesh Prasad, Sanjay Kumar i4d G-4 Sector 39, NOIDA, UP, 201 301, India Phone +91 120 250 2180-87 Fax +91 120 250 0060 Email Web Printed at Yashi Media Works Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi, India i4d is a monthly publication. It is intended for those interested and involved in the use of Information and CommnicationTechnologies for development of underserved communities. It is hoped that it will serve to foster a growing network by keeping the community up to date on many activities in this wide and exciting field. i4d does not necessarily subscribe to the views expressed in this publication. All views expressed in this magazine are those of the contributors. i4d is not responsible or accountable for any loss incurred directly or indirectly as a result of the information provided.

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The information society must be reshaped if it targets to deliver greater developmental impact. ICT is shaped by social and political forces, it can not automatically provide significant benefits for the central developmental goals of poor countries. At the same time, ICTs rarely have any major impact on developmental goals of poor countries. The effective impact requires leadership from developing countries and their partners. Here lies the relevance of e-Policy. Policy is the path or principle of action adopted or proposed by a government, party, business, organisation or an authentic individual. But, in any nation, using the wrong tools by relying only on market forces may limit the benefits of ICT to some consumers, who can afford to purchase them rather than expanding to include all citizens who have the right to communication and information. Like any other policy, in case of e-Policy, focus needs to be specified for three major aspects: Policy for where? Policy for what? Policy for whom? e-Policy and e-Strategy can’t be without three ‘P’s: Purpose, People and Prospect. Over the last few decades, there have been numerous shifts in vision and policy styles in the ICT sector. During the 80s, especially from 1984 to 1989, the emphasis was on expansion of basic telecom services. In the very next decade, this shifted to sector reform through privatisation and deregulation and liberalisation of international markets. In 1996, the Information Society and Development Conference, hosted by South Africa, presented major challenge to the mainstream sector reform vision while argument was made for the inclusion of developing countries in the policy agenda. From 1997 to 2003, attention was shifted to the growing digital divide between rich nations and the developing world. Since then, policy emphasis is mainly focusing on attempting to align ICTs to broader development objectives and on assessing the impact of ICTs on the Millennium Development Goals. It must be stated that despite the involvement of several important stakeholders, including the UN and some of UN agencies, academics, civil society advocates and activists, the results have not yet been very encouraging. It was clear at the conclusion of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis, that the development issues and particularly questions of finance had not received enough attention. There must be specific roles for national governments, private sectors, financial institutions and civil society to play to make ICT effective in development. The follow-up programme for the WSIS has provided a significant chance for the international community to make progress on this challenging problem of aligning ICTs with development and putting high technologies at the service of humanity. In this issue, we have made an attempt to present the views of some experts in the field of e-Policy and e-Strategies from various corners of the globe. Let’s see what the experts are thinking regarding these important issues and challenges.

Ravi Gupta February 2006 |



Entrepreneurship for development Though an administrative mess and a flop by bureaucratic standards, the interesting thing about the shortterm interaction of Media Lab Asia with the MIT, Indian NGO community and India’s IITs is that it had a surprisingly large impact.

Michael Best’s recent memoir of Media Lab Asia ( provided an inside view of an organisation torn by conflicts between big egos. Certainly the Media Lab Asia suffered, however I think that the article missed the most interesting part of the story: how did the world change because of the short term interaction between MIT, the Indian NGO community, and India’s IITs? MIT tends not to evaluate its programme primarily by bureaucratic standards — papers written, patents issued, because it believes that real impact happens organically, involving student entrepreneurs who make links between their efforts and an outside community of supporters. Consequently, MIT often asks what happened to the students as a result of the programme, to see if there were new initiatives created, and to measure the impact of those new initiatives. If we apply this standard to the Media Lab Asia – MIT collaboration, we gain a very different impression from that painted by Best or by Government of India measures. To cover the diverse range of outputs flowing from the Media Lab Asia – MIT collaboration, I will divide my discussion on impact into five categories: policy changes, companies created, awards received, places operating, and educational initiatives.

Policy changes

Prof. Alex (Sandy) Pentland MIT Programme in Developmental Entrepreneurship MIT Media Laboratory, USA


There were two main policy changes in which Media Lab Asia played an important role. The first was the deregulation of WiFi, which lead to the current explosion of WiFi connectivity in India. This change began by a specific request from the MIT board members that the Government of India (GoI) consider deregulation of WiFi communications. After intense discussions with the GoI, it was first deregulated to allow ‘campus’ wireless connectivity, and later to allow more general applications.

The second policy change was through MIT and Media Lab Asia’s support of nLogue’s SARI experiment, primarily through salary support for Mike Best and his students. The Sustainable Access in Rural India (SARI) experiment demonstrated the viability of wireless connectivity (and specifically of n-Logue’s CorDECT wireless connectivity solution) in rural India. This lead to changes in the rural telephony regulations, and allowed n-Logue’s CorDEC service to rapidly expand and to become a significant generator of export income for India.

Company creation A second category of impact is companies created. MIT is justly proud of being one of the most entrepreurial universities in the world, and of having major impact on the world economy through companies spun off from the university. This entrepreneurial spirit seems to have been brought to Media Lab Asia, and rubbed off on the students of the IITs and other participating organisations. A partial list of Indian and Indian-led companies formed or significantly aided include the following : • Dimagi is an award-winning company that provides PDA and mobile telephone based healthcare solutions for rural communities. This company, which provides software used by the governments of many east-African countries, grew from experiences in the Ca: sh Project, collaboration between Media Lab Asia and the All India Institute of Medicine to provide digital tools for rural health workers. http:// • United Villages and First Mile Solutions are companies providing extremely lowcost wireless connectivity in places such i4d | March 2006

as Orissa, northern Cambodia, Rwanda, and elsewhere. The technology was inspired by Media Lab Asia’s DakNet rural connectivity project., http:// • TeleDoc is an award-winning organisation that is probably the world’s first ayurvedic telemedicine organisation, providing traditional Indian medical service via mobile telephones. This initiative grew from experiences in Media Lab Asia’s Baachit Community Systems Project, which explored the role of digital media in Indian village life. • Airtight Networks, which provides WiFi security and management, grew from the experiences of some of the principals in Media Lab Asia’s Digital Gangetic Plain Project. This project, which provided WiFi connectivity along a hundred-kilometer corridor in Uttar Pradesh, provided the experience and inspiration that led to Airtight. • JT Maps is a company offering GPS-based mapping tools for rural India. This company grew from the experiences of its principles in Media Lab Asia’s GramChitra GPS mapping project. • Finally, as mentioned before, n-Logue ( was critically aided by MIT and Media Lab Asia’s support of the Sustainable Access in Rural India (SARI) Project. What is important to note is that none of these are direct spinoffs: no one took Media Lab Asia software or business plans and started a company. Instead, the explorations within Media Lab Asia provided individual students with an understanding of the problems and opportunities intrinsic to providing digital services in the Indian and rural context, and gave them a network of supporters that allowed them to convert these insights into real companies.

Awards With all these spin-off activities, one would expect that the participants would collect a certain amount of recognition around the world. And this has been the case. A selection of awards received by Media Lab Asia’s offspring include: • World Summit Award in e-Health, awarded to TeleDoc, • 2005 Indus Technovators Award for Grassroots technology, to Dimagi, • Top Brands with a Conscience, awarded to First Mile Solutions, • Ars Electronica’s ‘Digital Communities’ Award, to First Mile Solutions, • Stockholm Award to Health Net, a collaborator of Dimagi. Of course many of the Media Lab Asia students have gone on to brilliant careers, winning many personal awards and distinctions.

Places operating Media Lab Asia’s offspring are operating in many parts of the world. The health services operate in India, Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Africa (among others) affecting more than 100 million people. The connectivity services currently operate in India, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Costa Rica, as well as providing services in many developed countries. Learning and educational initiatives operate in India, Ghana, Norway, South Africa, Costa Rica, and impoverished areas within several of the developed countries. March 2006 |

University labs A final category of impact includes reproduction: Media Lab Asia has left organisations with similar goals at several universities. These include IIT Bombay’s Developmental Informatics Laboratory (http:/ /, the KanpurLucknow Lab at IIT Kanpur ( about.htm), and the Media Lab at IIT Kharagpur (http:// Each of these focuses on the needs of the poor, and encourages an entrepreneurial perspective in their students. MIT has also benefited from the relationship. MIT is now less likely to be directly involved in development projects, and more likely to foster development through its students and courses. One example of this shift in focus is MIT’s new Programme in Developmental Entrepreneurship (, created by myself and the founder of Grameen Phone, Iqbal Quadir. Another example is the decision by MIT’s students to add an entrepreneurship for development track to MIT’s famous $50k business competition, to encourage the creation of social ventures ( Because the $50k has been copied at universities around the world, one might reasonably expect that the idea of business plan contest to foster entrepreneurship for development will also spread to universities around the world.

Summary Media Lab Asia was an administrative mess, and by bureaucratic standards it was a flop. But the interesting thing is that this short term interaction between MIT, the Indian NGO community, and India’s IITs still had surprisingly large impact. Real change happens organically, with participants becoming entrepreneurs and linking to others in the community. This suggests that future programme should be designed to encourage entrepreneurship for development perhaps if everyone encouraged their local university to set up a version of MIT’s $50k entrepreneurship for development competition, we could really change the world. „

e-Sri Lanka The Strong political regime, during 1983, initiated the ICT policy through the National Computer Policy of 1983 (COMPOL). Policy of COMPOL implemented as ‘ Compute and Information Technology Council of Sri Lanka act of 1984 (CINTEC) (later it changed as ‘Council for Information Technology’ but retaining the acronym CINTEC). ICT was initiated to accelerate development, increase in efficiency, transparency, accountability, customer satisfaction, to reduce transaction cost and to promote local software, Sri Lanka has taken some major steps. ‘e-Sri Lanka’ project launched in 2003, which established the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA). This programme has seven major components as (i) ICT Investment and Private Sector Development, (ii) Reengineering Government, (iii) Building National Information Infrastructure, (iv) Human Resource Development, (v) e-Society, (vi) Technology, Architectures and security standards, (vii) eLeadership and policy making.



K-technologies in knowledge economy The knowledge workers need to be innovative, therefore, they would have to continuously update their knowledge and skills through lifelong learning.

Pervez Ahmed Professor of Computer science Al-Barkaat Institute of Management Studies, UP, India


The second half of the 20 th century transformed the industrial society into an information society. The current century is witnessing a transformation of information society into a knowledge society. In knowledge society, a new economic form is emerging which is being referred as knowledge economy. Products and services of information and knowledge technologies are the base of this economy. The ingredients of these products and services are data, information, knowledge and wisdom. To understand the nature of this economy a better understanding of these ingredients is a must. In physical terms these ingredients are weightless. That is why knowledge economy is also being referred to as weightless economy. In technical terms, their meaning can be understood in the context of Information Technology. In knowledge economy, the basic commodity is knowledge. Knowledge generation, production of knowledge products and their commercialisation create wealth. The knowledge economy grows with the accumulation of knowledge. Information Systems and Intelligent Systems systemise and expedite the knowledge creation and accumulation processes. In this context, these systems (information as well as knowledge systems) themselves are the knowledge products. In order to succeed in the knowledge economy, a special class of workforce who can create and use such systems, is required. This kind of workforce is being referred to as knowledge workers. Their educational and training requirements drastically differ from the workforce of traditional economies like agricultural and industrial economies. To succeed in the knowledge society, societies must invest in all aspects of education and training of their knowledge workers.

Data, information and Information Technology Observations yield data or facts. We use symbols to represent data. The sequence 08 09 07 08 00 20 05 13 16 05 18 01 16 20 21 18 05 of digits (symbols) 0 to 9 is an example of data. A transformation, when applied on a data set yields information. If in the above sequence every pair of symbols represents a letter. (For example the pair (01) represents letter ‘A’, (02) represents letter ‘B’, …, (26 ) represents ‘Z’ and (00) represents a blank), by applying the transformation (given below) on the sequence, we obtain the text string ‘HIGH TEMPERATURE’. The string conveys information about the measure of the temperature of some entity.

Transformation Begin with the leftmost symbol of the sequence, while not end of sequence repeat the following block• Convert each pair of symbols into a number (For example the pair (08) is converted to number 8, (09) is to number 9, and so on.) • Map each number into a letter (For example the number 8 maps to letter H, 9 to letter ‘I’, and so on.) The technology that creates tools and techniques for capturing, representing, organising, storing and retrieving, and transforming data elements into information is referred to as Information Technology.

Knowledge, knowledge technology and wisdom Consider a temperature measuring device has been installed in a hospital to monitor the temperature of patients. The device has observed the data sequence given in the last i4d | March 2006

section. If the device has the ability of transforming the data into information, it may transform the recorded data into information ‘HIGH TEMPARATURE’. We can make this device intelligent if we make it learn the concepts like ‘high temperature increases the chance of death’ and ‘call a physician when there is an increased chance of death.’ These concepts are knowledge. They are gained from experience. We can make the device to acquire them over a period of time or learn them from a teacher. The technology that gives the learning ability to a device (or systems in general) is referred to as knowledge technology. More precisely, the knowledge technology is the technology that creates tools and techniques for transforming information into knowledge and, in turn, knowledge into wisdom. Wisdom is the awareness of the useful knowledge. For example, if a device always calls a physician and/or seeks help from resources that might save a life, it is a wise device.

IT and intelligent systems The data management process involves capturing, gathering, organising, storing and retrieval of data elements. An information extraction process associates known concepts that are embedded in the transformation rules with the data elements. Using the extracted information from the data, the knowledge discovery process discovers knowledge and deduces rules of wisdom. The process of information extraction from the data, and discovering knowledge and deducing wisdom in the figure. These processes are based on the relationships between Information Technology and Knowledge Technology. The IT

Data Facts

Information Facts in context

facilitates the knowledge creation process. It provides effective and flexible processes for data management and information extraction. These two processes collectively constitute the information system that essentially transforms the observed data into information. On the contrary, an intelligent system transforms information into knowledge and wisdom. These systems discover knowledge from information, deduce wisdom rules from knowledge, and use these entities to their advantage. The thinking ability of the intelligent systems gives them power to apply existing knowledge, generate new knowledge, transmit knowledge and work with knowledge effectively. Such systems help in knowledge accumulation and creation and maintenance of intellectual assets like digital book libraries, computer software libraries, digital (still/video) image databases, databases of useful observations, and so on. Usage of intelligent systems strengthens the knowledge economy because they themselves are the items in the inventory of the knowledge products. March 2006 |

Knowledge products and knowledge workers The products of knowledge economy are data, information, information systems, knowledge, meta-knowledge, intelligent systems, hardware and software tools. These tools help in producing the knowledge products and they are also needed for data handling and creation of information, information system, knowledge and intelligent system. The knowledge products are kept on electronic media like hard disks and Internet servers. Therefore, all the hardware and software items needed for storing and dissemination of data, information and knowledge are knowledge products. The software products are the most important commodity of knowledge economy. A software product is a set of symbolic instructions. Knowledge workers are symbolic analysts. They manipulate symbols. The WINDOWS is a perfect example of knowledge product. Its sale has created enormous wealth for the Microsoft, an American company. The WINDOWS is operating system software. It manages hardware and software resources of a computer system and it allows external entities to interact with the computer through devices like keyboard and mouse. Why we consider it a knowledge product? The answer is that the WINDOWS started with a little knowledge of user behaviour and rudimentary design. It reached to its present maturity level after a long period of experimentation. Over the years, the data on user behaviour, technological advancement and the performance of the functions of earlier versions of operating systems were thoroughly explored to gain the knowledge needed for better functionality of an operating system. This knowledge led to the improved design. The search for better functions of operating systems is still on. Improved versions of operating systems keep on appearing periodically.

THINKING ? Knowledge


The process of improving the functionality of all the software systems is more or less the same. Observations and analysis of the field data give insight that helps in quality improvement. The implication of this aspect of software development process is that the learning and knowledge creation from observations have become a factor of prime importance because they improve the software quality to give the competitive edge.

Knowledge society A knowledge society is the society that emphasises on knowledge centric activities, where the knowledge is created and technological advancement is achieved. Here, economic growth is measured in terms of knowledge accumulation. The knowledge is created through knowledge centric activities. The knowledge centric activities make technological advancements. The technological advancements create environment that encourages innovations. Innovations lead to increased returns on investments. Increased returns on


investments encourage research and development. The research and development paves the way for further technological innovations. In knowledge economy, innovation is the key to success. The reproduction of knowledge products will lead to nowhere. Therefore, societies must invent new knowledge products, if they want to succeed. In order to attain some degree of success, a knowledge society must, at least, have efficient telecommunications systems, high computer literacy rate, well developed information and information technology industry, strong communications and media industry, and focused education and training systems.

Impact of knowledge economy The efficient use of computers is strengthening the information societies day by day. They are continuously gaining expertise in information and knowledge processing and microelectronics technologies. This is gradually placing them in dominating positions in the arena of world power and continuously widening the digital divide gap. Now, knowledge-divide is further strengthening these dominant societies because they can create and apply knowledge effectively. This trend poses new challenges to the thinkers, educators and administrators of all the societies to formulate effective policies and discover processes to prepare their societies that can meet the challenges. The challenges are due to the unique nature of knowledge economy because it progresses with the new technologies and it allows sharing information and knowledge at the speed of light. These challenges can only be met with the efficient force of knowledge workers. Here efficient means the knowledge workers must be creative. This force can be prepared through investment on education and on creation of life-long learning and research and development environment. In knowledge economy, there is no limit to the area of activity. Workers from every walk of life can be trained as knowledge workers, but they must have enhanced creative ability that can be attained by focusing on basic education with emphasis on ICT, lifelong learning and creation of environment where technology is easily available and used. The impact of


the knowledge economy is that it is creating new form of relationships between people and their expertise. It demands that people must constantly update their knowledge and skills. On the other hand, institutions and organisations have to reform their way of creating wealth. Knowledge is being exploited for more rapid development. Outsourcing of IT related services are helping workers of marginalised societies. The benefits of e-Business and e-Service have started reaching to less privileged societies which are demanding for new skills. Thus, there is a need for creating a world class technology enabled learning system that must help learners of all ages at all levels so that their future is not insecure in the competitive world. In addition to this, not only the learning system should fulfill the demand of skilled knowledge workers but also it should allow continuous learning and innovation so that they should be able to use contemporary technologies and create future technologies.

Education in knowledge society Learning is the sole objective of the conventional education. IT has introduced new concepts like unlearn and relearn. Here, ‘unlearning’ means forgetting momentarily about the functions of a system that is no longer in use and ‘relearn’ means learn the unlearned functions whenever that system comes in use. An example of this scenario is the use of computer programming languages. A programming language is a software system. It is used to implement the software products. There are thousands of programming languages. They are designed to implement the software for different application domains like business, scientific and artificial intelligence applications. To implement a software product, a programmer should know only the domain specific programming language. He/she does not require remembering languages applicable to the domains other than the domain under consideration. In practice, programmers implement software from different domains, therefore they must learn to unlearn programming languages that are no longer applicable at a given point of time — learn (or relearn) them whenever they may need them. In the knowledge society, knowledge

workers are the pillars of knowledge economy. Educating them is a very challenging task as they are expected to update their knowledge continuously. This continuous or lifelong learning is another new dimension that IT is adding to the education. In this system, teachers locate the knowledge source and guide the learners to the right knowledge source. They prepare personalised learning plans. Teachers are themselves lifelong learners. On the other hand, learners learn by doing and by interacting with each other. The performance evaluation guides learners towards improvement in future. The learning opportunities are open to learners over the lifetime.

How to compete? First of all, the new realities of knowledge economy. In this economy has to be accepted our future prosperity depends on the way we meet the challenges are met. The knowledge economy is fundamentally different from the traditional economy, because its products are weightless and they are produced by highly skilled workforce. In order to compete in the knowledge society, we need strong institutions with high quality human skills and infrastructures are required. Innovation and creativity are central to sustaining the competitive advantage. Therefore, our emphasis must be on such human skill development that enhances the learning capability. This requires not only formal education but also continuous training, lifelong learning in narrowly focused specialties, vocational training, problem solving skills, inter-personal communication skills required for teamwork along with adaptive temperament. This may require such changes in the educational system that may ensure a complete understanding and use of information and knowledge technologies. Besides, the knowledge of knowledge generation processes the other equally important aspect of the knowledge economy that is the integration of all knowledge sources such as the knowledge about customers, competitors, products, capital resources and people. For the integration of varied knowledge resources, one must have a flexible yet fast communication network in which knowledge can be propagated and accessed timely.  i4d | March 2006


Tools for policy makers As part of a strategy for integrating ICT into education in the Asia-Pacific region, UNESCO has developed a ‘Toolkit’ to guide policy makers throughout the planning process, assisting them to prepare astute and effective policy.

Whenever Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are mentioned, many people immediately think of computers and the Internet. However the term ‘ICT’ covers a wide range of forms of technology, and can be defined as ‘technologies which are used to transmit, store, create, share or exchange information’. This broad definition includes the technologies like radio, television, video, DVD, telephone (both fixed line and mobile phones), satellite systems, computer and network hardware and software, as well as the equipment and services associated with these technologies, such as videoconferencing and electronic mail. Due to the attributes of ICT in terms of increasing the speed and ease of communication, while also reducing costs of information exchange and enabling a communication flow between even the most remote communities, it has been recognised that these technologies can serve as useful tools in education. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) acknowledges, however, that it is vital for policy makers, educators and managers to be aware of how ICT can be used successfully in education. There are numerous cases which demonstrate that unless implemented judiciously, investing in ICT can be a waste of scarce resources. In addition, experience has shown that without integrated policy development, sustainable professional development, curriculum integration and close monitoring and evaluation, ICT in education initiatives invariably fail. March 2006 |

Integrating ICT into education Developments in ICT and the emergence of knowledge societies are changing the ways we live, work and interact. Our educational systems must respond accordingly, not only in providing learners with ICT skills, but in harnessing the potential advantages ICT offers in widening access to education and improving teaching and learning. With these considerations in mind, in 2002 the UNESCO Bangkok office established the ICT in Education programme, which provides advice and guidance in the integration of ICT into education systems and in the utilisation of ICT to enhance the reach and quality of teaching and learning. The ICT in Education programme, funded in large part by Japanese Funds-inTrust (JFIT), focuses on six key, interrelated areas: policy, training of teachers, teaching and learning, non-formal education, monitoring and measuring change, and research and knowledge-sharing.

UNESCO’s ‘Vision 2008’ The UNESCO ICT in Education Unit has the goal that by 2008 all of the 45 memberstates in the Asia-Pacific region will have: 1. A national ICT in education policy; 2. ICT as a component of pre-service teacher training; 3. The beginning of a process of developing relevant, multilingual and appropriate educational content, especially for disadvantaged groups; 4. Networks for sharing of knowledge and experiences;

5. Key indicators developed and used to monitor development and to form strategies. Over the past four years, the UNESCO ICT in Education Unit has made much progress towards achieving this ‘Vision 2008’. One of the core initiatives of the programme is the ‘ICT in Education Policy Project’.

Need for astute and effective policy Rapid developments in ICT in recent years have had an impact on educational needs, in terms of both the content and the delivery of educational services. This has put increasing pressure on decision-makers to agree to the acquisition of new technologies. At the same time, forms of ICT are multiplying, with an increasing array of ICT options for policy-makers to choose from when making decisions about integrating ICT into education. In the face of these developments and options, and in order to make successful use of ICT in enhancing the reach and quality of teaching and learning, policy makers need to be both aware and informed about how ICT can be of best value in their country’s education system. They also need to develop a supportive policy environment and framework at the national level for the integration of ICT into their education systems.

ICT in Education Policy Project The goal of the UNESCO ‘ICT in Education Policy Project’is to extend the


reach and improve the quality of education (in cost-effective ways) through improved decision-making about the integration of ICT into education. The project seeks to raise awareness among policy makers of the issues surrounding the integration of ICT into education, highlight lessons learned and best practices, and raise the capacity of decisionmakers to make informed choices regarding the integration of ICT into education. As part of this project, meetings and training workshops have brought together high-level education policy makers, planners and practitioners from across the Asia-Pacific region to develop their awareness of the issues involved in the integration of ICT into education and to discuss their needs and preferences. At one of these workshops in 2003, the participants, recognising the need for a systematic approach to integrating ICT in education in the region, recommended that UNESCO develop an ‘ICT in Education Toolkit’ for policy makers.

ICT in education policy makers’ toolkit The ‘ICT in Education Policy Makers’ toolkit’ is intended to be a usable and contextualised device, containing relevant information about the integration of ICT in education, which can be used by Ministries of Education, international organisations and researchers. The toolkit will also be used by UNESCO in its advisory services to its member-states in their ICT in education work. The toolkit is designed to guide policy makers throughout the planning process and provide policy options. In each participating country, the online toolkit is supported by a country facilitation team composed of education experts. An overview of the different tools in the toolkit that are available to policy makers is shown in the diagram below. The process of developing the toolkit has involved a participatory preparation and testing process. The basic outline and features of the toolkit were discussed by participants at a workshop on ‘Developing the ICT in Education Policy Makers’ Toolkit’, held in

March 2004. Based on these discussions, the framework and content of the toolkit were then developed by UNESCO’s project partners, the Academy of Educational Development (AED) and Knowledge Enterprise (KE) Inc. In March 2005, the first version of the Toolkit (version 1.1) was reviewed by over 150 participants, including ICTin-Education specialists from research institutions and international organisations and policy-makers from several Ministries of Education in the Asia-Pacific region. Based on the feedback received, Toolkit versions 1.2 and 1.3 came out in April and July 2005, respectively. In September 2005, toolkit version 1.3 was introduced to train educational planners from three Asia-Pacific countries (Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand) during the first ‘Toolkit Training Workshop’ which was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand. At this workshop, the participants not only learned to use the toolkit, but provided feedback and recommendations for further refining the toolkit. Through their involvement in the workshops and in the process of preparing the toolkit, participating policy-makers have enhanced their capacity to develop appropriate ICT in education policy and strategies. In 2006, a series of toolkit training workshops and high-level policy makers’ fora are planned. In addition, this year, UNESCO, in cooperation with the Information for Development (infoDev) programme of the World Bank, will launch the ‘Pacific Regional ICT in Education Programme’ in Fiji on 23-27 October, 2006. This event will include a one-day high-level discussion with Ministers of Education from the Pacific region and a four-day intensive training session for education experts which will train them to utilise the online toolkit effectively. There will also be an on-line collaboration between the ministers, training participants and ICT experts to fine-tune national policies and plans using the toolkit. A similar scheme will be implemented in the Asian region in 2007 and 2008.

Invitation to participate Addressing the ICT in Education policy-making needs of all 45 Asia-Pacific member-states at the same time is challenging. At present, UNESCO’s ICT in Education activities have reached only 24 out of 45 member-states. Nevertheless, UNESCO encourages all Ministries of Education of the Asia-Pacific region to participate in a specialised training session on the policy toolkit. In 2006 the ‘ICT in Education Policy Project’ will receive support from infoDev, on top of continuing backing from Japanese-Funds-In-Trust (JFIT). UNESCO welcomes the participation of other donors and organisations wishing to contribute to the ‘policy project’, including through improving or maintaining the online ICT in Education Toolkit, developing related materials such as the off-line version in CD format or handbooks for policy makers, and sponsoring training workshops for Ministries of Education. NGOs and private organisations wishing to contribute to UNESCO’s ICT in Education programme can get involved through advocacy support, certification training and workshop sponsorships. „ (For further information, contact Cedric Wachholz,; or Benjamin Vergel de Dios, The ICT in Education Team of UNESCO, Bangkok


i4d | March 2006




Public policy instrument for ICT and e-Business Rapid diffusion nature of the digital technology enables related crimes to escape the grip of cyber laws. Hence there is an urgent need to develop more technologyeffective cyber laws much ahead of the rapid technological changes.

V. Govindarajulu Chairman (Honorary), Centre for Public Policy Sustainable Natural Resources Trust, India.

March 2006 |

ICT is about knowledge economy that involves information generation, storage, retrieval and transmission worldwide, by synthesis of computers and database, internetworked, through satellite telecommunication and digital electronics. India is fast catching the ICT industry by means of business process outsourcing (BPO) with developed world, most notably, the US. Large number of trained IT personnel, relatively at low wages, besides favourable IT policies and liberal promotional and tax incentives, by Government of India and many state governments did result in the development of ultra modern IT hub centres, known as software technology parks of India (STPI), across the state capitals and lead cities. They did play an important role in attracting substantial investment from MNCs, including Indian companies, to develop IT services in the country.

Economic impact of ITES India’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2004 was $692 billion whose value addition was predominantly contributed by service sector (52%) followed by manufacturing (26%) and agriculture (22%). India’s export value of ITS was $2 billion (i.e., 30% of all service exports) in 1996 which increased six fold to $12 billion (i.e., 70% of all service exports) in 2000. Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) revenue, in the country, was $ 28 billion in 2004-05 and it is likely to reach $36 billion in 2005-06. The ITES sector accounts for 4.8% of GDP in the year 2005-’06 with exports accounting for two-third of the total. The ITS exports is targeted to reach $60 billion in the year 2009-’10. However, for sustainability of the IT sector, the costbenefit ratio and incremental capital-output ratio of the IT sector, in relation to other national economic sectors, need to be realistically assessed and maintained.

Digital technology: All encompassing nature Digital technology, popularly known as ICT, brought radical changes, the way people think and interact in the domains of productive work, economic value addition and exchange of goods and services, including knowledge and culture. Computers, Internets, satellite telecommunications and websites did enable paperless commercial and business transactions a practical reality. Such transactions are popularly called as e- Commerce, e-Business and e-Governance. ICT and ITS are all encompassing, radically influencing, all sectors of national economy, ranging from agriculture, resource prospecting, mining, manufacturing, education, R&D, technology transfer, FDI, finance, banking, insurance, trade, health, entertainment, culture, transport, communication, defence, state administration, law and order, justice and international relations.

Legal framework: limiting nature People are still hesitant to adopt digital technology as preferred medium of eGovernance as its accessibility is still restricted to a small section of the privileged people and the law to protect (intellectual) moveable property and confidentiality of the information transmitted is still in the early stage of development.

UN Model Law United Nations Commission on International Trade Laws (UNCITRAL), vide its Resolution No.51/162 dated 30th January, 1997, urged its member states to adopt its Model Law on Electronic Commerce, 1996. India, as a member country, did initiate amendments to its existing laws and introduced Information


Technology (IT) Bill, 1999 in the Parliament. The model law, as a public policy instrument and guidelines for action, provides equal legal frame work for managing the users of e-Communications and as well as the users of paper documents. Lately, World Trade Organisation (WTO) is also developing a legal frame work that could enable multilateral trade dealings through the medium of eCommunication.

Need for amending existing laws Presently, there are many legal systems viz, Negotiable Instruments Act, Evidence Act, Banking Regulation Act, RBI Act, Indian Penal Code etc. that recognise paper based written documents that bind the contractual parties to respect (intellectual) moveable property rights and confidentiality of the information. To facilitate eCommerce and e-Governance, there is also a need for amending the legal framework to protect property rights and confidentiality of the information through paperless e-Communication.

Developing cyber laws The Government of India (GoI) proposed to initiate several actions as follows: (1) to accord legal recognition to electronic records and digital signatures that enable conclusion of contracts and creation of rights and obligations through electronic media, (2) to develop a regulatory regime to oversee the certifying authorities that issue digital signature certificates, (3) to adopt civil and criminal liabilities for contravention of the provisions of the proposed cyber law viz., ‘The Information Technology (IT) Act’, (4) to recognise use of electronic records and digital signatures in government offices and its agencies and facilitate e-Governance, (5) to bring related amendments to Indian Penal Code 1860 and Indian Evidence Act 1872 to deal with the offences relating to transactions based on eRecords as well as paper documents as in the past, (6) to amend Reserve Bank of India Act 1934 to enable funds transfer via electronic medium between financial institutions and banks and (7) to amend Banker’s Book Evidence Act, 1891 to give legal recognition for books of accounts in electronic forms maintained by the banks.

IT Act in India The IT Bill and the proposed amendments to the related laws were widely discussed in the Parliament and State Legislatures to arrive at broad national consensus. The IT Bill was finally passed by both the houses of Parliament and received Presidential assent on 9th June 2000 and became the cyber law of the country viz. IT Act, 2000. The Law applies to whole of India and extends to the offences committed outside India as well by any person whose digital system (computers and Internets), from which the information transmission originates, is situated in India. The GoI also amended the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 in 2002 to be in harmony with IT Act 2000 and facilitate e-Commerce through digital negotiable instruments like e-Cash and e-Cheque as legal documents.

Complementary to cyber laws Today, the cyber law is the application of IT law in combination with a host of public policy guidelines, rules and regulations besides invoking the provisions of various other laws as amended specifically for the purpose. The entire gamut of cyber laws could be visualised as follows:


• • • • •

• • • • •

The Information Technology Act, 2000, The Information Technology (certifying authorities) Rules, 2000 The Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal (procedure) Rules, 2000 The Information Technology (certifying authorities) Regulations, 2001, The Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal (Procedure for investigation of misbehaviour or incapacity of Presiding Officer) Rules, 2003, The Information Technology (other powers of Civil Courts vested in Cyber Appellate Tribunal) Rules, 2003, The Information Technology (other standards) Rules, 2003, Ministerial Order on Blocking of websites, The Information Technology (use of electronic records and digital signatures) Rules, 2004, The Information Technology (security procedure) Rules, 2004.

Trends and prospects Digital technology is rapidly changing worldwide. But the cyber laws that protect the IT sector are still in the infancy stage and unable to match the emerging needs of the technological changes. The IT Act, 2000 is broad and primarily intended to authenticate electronic records and digital signatures. The IT law is effective to a limited extent only in curbing certain offences like hacking and obscene publications through electronic media. However, the IT law is still weak in curbing many other new forms of economic crimes through digital means which include phishing, identity theft, credit card fraud, cracking, cyber squatting, spam and DOS attacks. Many IT industries suffer huge losses to the extent of $250 billion a year due to the parallel economy and digital crimes that escape the grip of cyber laws in addition to rapid diffusion nature of the digital technology. There is an urgent need to develop more technology-effective cyber laws much ahead of the rapid technological changes. It means constant monitoring of the emerging digital technological changes and limiting nature of the existing laws worldwide and take proactive measures to legislate more effective cyber laws on continuous basis in co-operation with international bodies like UNO and WTO. Besides, there is a real danger of software engineering and ITES/ITS emerging more capital intensive, by automation, in the advanced countries, thus obviating the need for BPO with brains from developing countries like India. Further, the developed countries, especially the US, are on the verge of restricting by legal means, their IT companies, from sub-contracting, through BPO, with developing countries, like India and China, to protect and reserve employment opportunities to their own labour force. Such a situation will make IT industries in India, which at present is export driven through BPO, unsustainable. In order to make Indian IT industry more sustainable it should integrate itself with Indian economy through business process internal sourcing (BPI) within the country and business process intra-sourcing with other developing countries by regional economic co-operation. To achieve this, people and society in the country, as a whole, should be, not only IT literates but also IT educated. In addition, the hardware and software systems should be made available even to the common people in the country at affordable prices. This requires adoption of more people friendly IT policies, promotional incentives and legal framework.„ i4d | March 2006






ICT boost income amid hostile policies If a peasant can send a 40-page trade document from Tanzania to Cuba for just 40 cents of one US$, there is no doubt that modern ICT are cost-effective and hence efficient in poverty reduction.

Much have been said about how the ICT can be used to reduce poverty, improve lives and empower people. However, in Africa where majority of population is rural, how modern ICT can effectively enhance the livelihood of small-scale farmers who form the spine of most African economies. With a population of 34.6 million, Tanzania resembles most developing countries particularly in sub-Saharan Africa that suffers from economic problems due to rampant rural poverty and poor performance of agricultural sector. Proper application of modern technologies, like biotechnology and ICT, can rapidly reduce these problems, says the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its 2001 Human Development Report (HDR). However, some new technologies particularly biotechnology should be applied with great care, cautioned the UNDP emphasising that risks accompanied by new technologies need to be assessed case by case.

CROMABU for small farmers

Aloyce Menda Journalist, Africa

March 2006 |

Though the idea existed since 1999, the founders of the Crop Marketing Bureau (CROMABU) in Tanzania premeditated the UNDP 2001 HDR and in September of the same year designed a project to gather and disseminate relevant information regarding crop prices in local and international markets. Basically the project ( is aimed at empowering small-scale farmers economically by enhancing their access to price information and insights in trade flows. Apart from motivation by the UNDP report, the project was established to respond to demands for alternative options after government withdraw from direct involvement in crop marketing and production in rural areas. Tanzania like

many past socialist states embarked in economic reforms from 1990s that paved the way for cooperation with international donors particularly the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The international donor community imposed conditions for credit facilities. Among these is liberalisation of markets and structural adjustments. The central and local governments loosen their control on micro- economy to concentrate on macro-economic management and hence allowing the prices of farm inputs, produce and livestock to fluctuate freely. These reforms had to deal with an apparent real exchange rate appreciation that is partly associated with the reduction in real producer prices of main export and food crops. It helped in reducing inflation rates and as a result the costs of inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides increases while the costs of most agricultural products decreases. This means peasant farmers with few assets are at risky of falling deeper into poverty, resulting in low agricultural production. Another effect of the reforms is that small-scale farmers are unable to compete with large-scale agricultural operations and powerful importers. Moreover, what seems to draw serious concern from the rural producers’ position is the modus operandi and stability of the rural institutions as they grow out of the reforms. State monopolies that covered retail and wholesale trade, agricultural marketing (state marketing authorities and co-operatives) have been exposed to unfair market competition. Meanwhile, the marketing of agricultural produce, extension, supply of inputs, input subsidies, and pricing continue to fluctuate. Local markets for traditional cash and food crops, livestock and other farm by-products


are few and although private operators (including middlemen or madalali in Kiswahili) are able to enter this new market system, most are too profit-minded and careless about producers’ poverty plight. Deemed as the spine of the economy since independence from Britain in 1961, the agricultural sector is poorly performing and its current contribution to GDP is only 50 per cent though it employs over 70 per cent of labour force in Tanzania. According to government statistics, an overall, real agricultural GDP has been growing at an average rate of only about 3.5 per cent per annum since 1981. The current crop marketing system does not guarantee enough returns to complement production costs and hence discourages small-scale farmers who constitutes the bulk of producers in this sector. Even the few large-commercial farmers are discouraged by agriculture and trade policies. The Ministry of Agriculture said in March 2001 during the national agricultural conference, that the sector faces a multitude of problems, which hamper its rapid growth. According to the ministry, the problems includes low priority accorded to agriculture in public resources allocation and disbursement; poor rural infrastructure; farmers’ limited capital and access to credit; inadequate support services; weak and inappropriate legal framework; land tenure and tax policy. Covering 937,062 square kilometers of country size, Tanzania has a huge potential for agriculture with an estimated 43 million hectares suitable for farming. However, only an average of 6.3 million hectares are cultivated annually mostly by small-scale farmers. Largescale commercial farms account for less than four per cent of all farms in Tanzania.

ICT and CROMABU While stakeholders in agricultural sector are demanding the government to ensure a fair-competition policy, for agricultural marketing and distribution, CROMABU is levelling the ground by use of modern ICT to empower farmers. Based in Magu area of Mwanza near to the southern shores of Lake Victoria, the four-year old CROMABU project is supported by the Dutch International Institute for Communication Development (IICD). It is steered by a board of directors composed of local and foreign ICT experts and businesspersons. It is managed by Mrs. Naomi Massele, a professional agriculturalist with experience in management of rural agricultural and industrial projects. The manager is answerable to the board of directors. According to Mrs. Massele, CROMABU comprises three components. These are the Internet cafe that serves the targeted community; the price information services; and community development through information and training. She said 16 villages are the main targets of the project though the information circulates further. The youth, particularly primary and secondary school leavers are employed as a channel of communication between CROMABU and the targeted small-scale farmers in Magu. Information on crop prices gathered from local markets and prices of foreign markets downloaded from the Internet sources are compiled by CROMABU and stored in a database. Eventually a simple price index is prepared in Ki-Swahili language and disseminated to farming villages. CROMABU distributes market statements with price index regularly. The youth take them to targeted villages using bicycles provided by the project.


Credit : My%20New%20Hulbam/Big%20eggplant%20harvest-highres.jpg

Another communication method used is through the CROMABU community-training centre for peasant farmers and youth groups. The youth trained by this centre are charged fees but could pay part of it through temporary employment by collecting data from the local markets. They are also engaged in information dissemination to farmers. The CROMABU’s development phase will end in September 2006 and is regarded by IICD as a pilot project to be replicated in other rural areas with crop marketing problems.

ICT fighting against poverty Poverty remains the greatest problem in Tanzania like most countries of the Sub-Saharan region. Most of these countries face huge external debts and their social services are weak. More than half of 49 Least Developing Countries (LCD) are in Africa and like Tanzania most have formulated Poverty Reduction Strategic Papers (PRSP) to please donors and get aid. Currently, the World Bank supports 25 active projects with commitments of US$1.7 billion in all major sectors in Tanzania. Despite these efforts, Tanzania is still poor with a per capita income of about US$290. Nevertheless, according to the World Bank and other development partners, the government’s firm commitment to poverty reduction, led to a couple of development results, which brought the country closer to reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) : • Net enrolment rates for primary schooling increased from 58.8 percent in 2000 to 88.5 percent in 2003; • Female literacy increased from 58.9 percent in 1995 to 69.2 percent in 2002 (male literacy increased from 85 percent to 90 percent over the same period); • The percentage of the population with improved access to water increased from 32 percent in 1990 to 58.3 percent in 2003 (68 percent in urban areas and 48.5 percent in rural areas); • The results of a household budget survey released in 2002 indicate that basic needs poverty has declined during the past decade from 39 percent to 35 percent (with significant differences, however, between urban and rural areas). Today, UNDP, IMF, the World Bank and most of international donor agencies believe what the UN says. And that is: modern ICT i4d | March 2006

can help poor countries fight poverty. But the question is how can ICT be used effectively to reduce poverty!

ICT - efficient and cost effective Before thinking of ICT project one should comprehend the multidimensional concept of poverty. Beyond a lack of income, poverty also refers to disadvantages in access to land, credit and services (such as health and education), vulnerability (towards violence, external economic shocks, natural disasters, powerlessness and social exclusion. According to the year 2002-’03 government commissioned study titled ‘Tanzania Participatory Poverty Assessment’ (TzPPA), impoverishing forces arise from social, economic and political processes. The study concludes that the macro-economic reforms that pushed the government to withdraw from running production and market operations is among impoverishing forces. This has affected rural population in three main areas namely: changes in marketing systems; lack of price control; and inadequate extension services. Since modern ICT facilitates efficient creation, storage, management and dissemination of information by electronic means, they are powerful tools for fighting some of these impoverishing forces. If a peasant can send a 40-page trade document from Tanzania to Cuba for just 40 cents of one US$ (Tsh 400) instead of paying US$ 50 (Tsh 50,000) to courier, then there is no doubt that modern ICT are cost-effective and hence efficient in poverty reduction. According to experts, four characteristics describes the powers of modern ICT in poverty reduction: • Interactivity: For the first time ICTs are effective two-way communication technologies. • Permanent Availability: The new ICTs are available 24 hours a day. • Global reach: Geographic distances hardly matter any more. • Cost-effective: For most areas the relative cost of communication have been shrunk to a fraction of previous values. The CROMABU project is aimed at doing exactly that. With NGO set-up, the project generates income from its communitytraining centre for peasant farmers and youth groups. It also charges fees from institutional clients in Magu such as NGOs for training and the Internet café.

Impact of ICT Small-scale farmers have benefited a lot from the project. The Internet services have helped them get best markets for their produce namely cotton, groundnuts, maize, beans, finger-millet and sunflower. When prices are low in Tanzania, the Internet enables them to secure direct buyers from aboard some of whom are sometimes ready to pay above the world market price. Recent Press reports said that small cotton farmers in the neighbouring Bunda district situated about 450 kilometres from Magu in eastern shores of Lake Victoria refused to vend their products for shillings 180 (US$ 0.18) per kilogramme to any buyer. They heard that prices are much better in Magu and hence would rather retain their cotton, which after all is imperishable product. They anticipate buyers with good prices would eventually come! Another example of a simple ICT project that propels rural development in Tanzania is that of Wino locality in southern highlands of Tanzania. There is not even a telephone or power pole March 2006 |

in sight, not even a satellite dish, but the people in Wino locality are capable of sending and receiving e-mails from all over the world. These people have ICT project that applies old fashion short wave radio. A data modem and a laptop allow a classic ‘codan’ radio transceiver to send binary files through robust error-checking protocols to a receiving station, Bushlink, where the file is put out on the Internet. Bushlink is one of two commercial providers in Tanzania, offering publicly accessible radio e-Mail networks to many locations in sub-Saharan Africa. Wino Development Association (WIDA), Wino Savings and Credit Co-operative Society (SACCO) and Wino Agricultural Marketing Co-operative Society (WAMCS) have used effectively the e-Mail services since February 2002. The source of the energy for the equipment is a 50w solar panel and two 12 volts batteries. The e-mail services have helped WAMCS search for best markets for Wino farmers’ produce namely coffee, groundnuts, maize, beans, finger-millet, sunflower and timber. When coffee price was low in Tanzania, the e-mail system allowed WAMCS to secure a buyer through a Fair Trade Coffee Register, who was prepared to pay above the world market price. The Wino ICT project is supported by Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). SIDA has received a request to look into a scaling up of this project by promoting, attracting and training rural entrepreneurs to run such low-cost projects.

Limitation of ICT Despite remarkable successes of WINO and CROMABU, the challenge remains on content issue. Most web contents are in English, which is a language of elite in Tanzania. Currently, about 70 per cent of all Internet content is in English and only 12 languages out of the world’s 6,000 or so accounts for about 98 per cent of the total web content. Ki-Swahili language, which constitutes over 80 per cent of the local media and public information contents in Tanzania, is not among the 12 languages. In other words, Ki-Swahili is among more than 5,900 world languages, which constitutes only two (02) per cent of the Internet content. Ki-Swahili is the official national language of 122 tribes of Tanzania, and over 95 percent of the population can only speak, read and write in either Ki-Swahili or tribal languages and hence can not comprehend most of the contents in the Internet even if the get access to it. ICT projects in Tanzania faces the common problem of low capacity and costly Internet connectivity. Today the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has licensed less than a dozen companies to provide public data communication services including Internet bandwidth. According to the current National Information and Communications Policy of Tanzania, these data operators have isolated initiatives of connecting their Points-of-Presence (PoPs) to the global Internet backbone. As a result, Tanzania lacks cheaper and high capacity connections to the global Internet. ‘All connections, regardless of data service provider are small capacity international links that connect to the global Internet back-bone in different countries such as Norway and the United States’, says the policy.„





Gender-focused ICT policy making The Albanian experience can inform other countries’ attempts to incorporate a gender perspective in ICT policy processes.

Albania’s national ICT strategy is one of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe, with a marked effort to include women’s needs and views. Gender incorporation in ICTs was part of Albania’s attempt to address growing disparities in income, gender and geographical location. What can we learn from their experience for future gendersensitive ICT policy framing? ‘ICTs have enormous potential to benefit girls and women in terms of enhanced income-generation opportunities, employ-ment, and improved quality of life, but because technologies are not gender neutral, it is important to advocate for ICT strategies to reduce and manage the potential for ICTs to create economic and social exclusion and reinforce existing social disparities’, says gender and ICT activist, Gillian Marcelle. Marcelle’s advice needs to be heard in Central and Eastern Europe, where the gender dimension is a missing element in most national ICT policies. Unfortunately, as Marcelle points out, this doesn’t mean that such policies are gender neutral.

Albania among the leaders

Ausra Gustainiene Senior business consultant, ‘Ernst & Young’ in Vilnius, Lithuania


‘Information and communication technologies were seen as powerful tools that can assist to bridge these disparities and support the socio-economic development of Albania’ – says Yevgeny Korneev, an ICT policy expert currently working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Albania. Analysis of experiences around the world shows that ICTs can have a dramatic impact on achieving specific social and economic development goals when used appropriately and with a people-centred approach in mind. Therefore, in order to take advantage of the potential of ICTs, countries need to elaborate a national vision or strategy that reflects the

needs of various stakeholders, including traditionally marginalised groups.

Long way to gender incorporation A national ICT strategy is best developed through a consultative process involving a wide range of stakeholders. This principle was applied in Albania, where during 2002–2003, the UNDP, with the assistance of the Open Society Foundation, supported government and other national and international stakeholders in the formulation of a comprehensive national ICT strategy. The Government of Albania launched the participatory ICT strategy process at a national conference. Following the conference, several expert working groups were established, with the participation of a few well-known women from the IT sector. Government-assigned facilitators of the strategy process used UNDP guidelines for ‘gender mainstreaming’. They also looked at specific examples of other countries’ ICT policies, mostly from Nordic countries where gender-mainstreaming is a more common policy making practice . These provided the basis for ensuring non-discriminatory and equal access for all stakeholders involved in the process of ICT strategy development. Policy makers approached stakeholder inclusion from a broad human rights perspective. Therefore in addition to ensuring women’s participation, representatives from ethnic minority groups, the elderly, and people with disabilities were invited to contribute to the national ICT policy framing process. Whenever possible, policy makers also tried to attract civil society organisations’ full participation in the consultative process. ICT policy makers involved a women’s organisation in the review to ensure an appropriate approach to gender issues. The i4d | March 2006

Albanian Association of Professional and Business Women examined the national ICT strategy for proper formulation of gender and equality references. They also reviewed the action plan and indicators for monitoring and evaluation of the national ICT strategy. Even though the national ICT strategy development group made an attempt to incorporate gender, the final version of Albanian ICT strategy refers to women only once, in reference to universal access.

Lessons from Albanian ICT strategy development The Albanian experience can inform other countries’ attempts to incorporate a gender perspective in ICT policy processes. Governments should form working groups with diverse stakeholder participation, including gender mainstreaming experts as well as representatives from local women’s movements, in order to draft gender sensitive ICT strategies. Women’s NGOs should be included early-on. Timing and sustained presence of women’s representation was a critical factor in the Albanian case, where gender issues faded away by the time of the official submission of the strategy framework to the Council of Ministers for final review and approval. Involving local women’s groups in all stages can lead to more efficient incorporation of gender into ICT policy and ensure more tangible national results. Also as highlighted in the ‘Bridging digital divide: A Report on Gender and Information and Communication Technologies in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States’ report published by UNDP and UNIFEM, awareness of regional and local women’s organisations on gender and ICT issues is very limited. Capacity building for local women’s organisations and gender advocates in ICT policy issues is necessary in order for them to actively participate in the process and to understand the change associated with ICTs on such critical issues as women’s access to jobs and business opportunities, political participation, or sexual exploitation. Indeed all individuals involved in policy development

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and analysis have an important responsibility to ensure that government policies, programmes and legislation are equitable for both women and men. To fully carry out these responsibilities, those involved in policy development and analysis should have an understanding of gender issues. The skills and knowledge to do this effectively could be developed through training, life and professional experiences, or specifically designed tools. Gender sensitivity training for all actors involved should be an integral part of the policy framing process, especially in such areas as ICT, which is seen as genderneutral. Perhaps the Albanian national ICT policy could have fulfilled it’s aims of gender inclusiveness if the policy makers involved had gone through gender sensitisation sessions in the beginning of the process. (This article was published on APC WNSP gender and ICT policy monitor„

Japan - ‘e’ to ‘u’ In Japan the phrase ‘johoka’ is usually translated as ‘Informatisation’ and denoting change in an informationoriented society – has been a slogan of Japanese government since 1970. The strategy of ‘e-Japan’ was announced in November 2000, the ‘IT Basic Law’ (Basic Law on the Formation of an Advanced Information and Telecommunication Network Society). Japan implemented ICT policy in 2 phases with 2 strategies. Particularly e-Japan Strategy II emphasises ‘IT utilisation and applications while setting forth goals for realising an ‘energetic worry-free, exciting and more convenient’ society’. At the beginning of 1997, Japan adopted a New OA system called New Kasumigaseki WAN. As a result, by 2002 Public Administration network system emerged to Local Government WAN (LGWAN), where all the government network systems are connected to Kasumigaseki – WAN. Resident Code with 11 digits were issued to all residents of Japan, by August 2002. It intended for the use of personal March 2006 |

identification for 93 administrative processes, which includes insurance for unemployment, passport, pensions, welfare claims for childcare. By August 2003, citizens were able to avail the copy of residential registry documents in any municipality of Japan and IC smart cards were issued on demand basis with flexibility to add information of additional services. The policy of u Japan was initiated in 2004. The components are as follows• Ubiquitous - anywhere, anytime, anyone, anything, • Universal - gentle to people, touching heart, • User-oriented - needs seeds, prosumer, • Unique - active individual, vitalising society and business. These policies have enabled Japan to be in lead position in the world of electronics.




Public Internet centre governance APWKomitel (Associations of Community Internet Centre), work closely with various ICT and Police Departments in Indonesia aspiring to develop a good Internet policy for both (cybercafe) in urban areas and (telecentres) in rural areas. Internet governance and global Internet penetration The popular target of World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) was to increase the Internet penetration globally as set by MDG (Millennium Development Goal) and Internet Governance. MDG was declared at U.N. summit on the turn of second millennium. The target was to reduce poverty, illiteracy, and world famine to that of half by the year 2015. They are the basic human rights that were often conveneniently forgotten in the growing eras of industrial advancements. It is trusted that the new millennium, which demarks the beginning of an era for the ‘information eonomic’ has requisite capabilities of putting an end to the poverty with its technology initiatives that indeed is a big task and social responsibility for the ICT sectors and industry. Increase in global Internet penetration were declared clearly in the paragraph six of WSIS Geneva Plan of Actions (WSIS GPoA), where all villages, schools, universities and libraries have to be wired by using Community Access Point (CAP) by 2015. ‘APWKomitel’ refers CAP as ‘Public Internet Centre’ (PIC) for communities. In Indonesia, it is commonly referred as ‘telecentre’ in rural areas that usually runs on nonprofit mode and government sponsorship, whereas the ‘warnet’ (cyber cafes), developed in cities and urban areas, were operated by the SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises) on profit basis. The set goal also aims to bring fifty percent of the world’s population under the cover of the ‘information society’ by the year 2015. This poses a big challenge for


developing countries, as their Internet penetration is usually very low. For instance, Indonesia had 2 millions Internet subscribers (1 percent) and 12 millions Internet users (6 percent), a ratio of 6:1. Indonesia, with a population of 220 millions and moreover, with a projection of more than 20 millions intending to be Internet users by the end of the year 2006. It is still considered to be an insignificant number, as it ranks fourth among the world population. Increase in network penetration continues to be a favorite agenda with the government in setting their national blue print ahead. Government policy is to open market for competition and forcing incumbents to reduce their price on interconnections. This will further reduce the cost of Internet bandwidth, proliferating further penetration and investment. This is the reason why, many countries still focus and prioritise on these physical targets more in order to give a boost to their campaign and budget rather than on other preferred policy issues such as Internet governance.

It is observed that the progress and development towards information society has became a race between people who intend to use Internet both positively as well as negatively. It is sad to see, a group of people, under the same radar, use Internet for the wrong purposes, termed as ‘cybercrime’ indulge in spamming, carding (unauthorised used of credit card), unsolicited email/black mail, child/woman pornography, drugs etc. Here, policy and Internet governance can play an important role in ensuring that the Internet is put to a better purpose and serve as useful tool for mankind. Unfortunately, in many developing countries, surf in the ‘WorldWide-Web’ (WWW) means chasing madly after the ‘Wild-Wild-West. Considering that, some countries, including Indonesia still have ‘cyber law’ draft pending in the parliament which is yet to be effective to police the positive use of Internet. The Information Society is also left with no law to protect them, especially in the public domain or access.

Quality vs quantity of Internet

Public Internet Centre (PIC) (warnet/cybercafe/ telecentre)

Increase in penetration rate relates more to the quantity and physical infrastructure side of the development. On the other hand, it is the moral and social obligation of development, on how to safe guard better quality, safer Internet and sensible use of the Internet, thereby achieving the aims of WSIS and MDG, where societies have put much more hope on the Information Technology and the Internet to make the future a better world.

In Indonesia, statistics shows that 42 percent of Internet-user access from ‘warnet’ (Indonesian term for cyber cafe). APWKomitel, with it supportive member strength of cyber cafes and telecentres, takes decisive steps on such PIC development and socialisation. Besides promoting quantified goal of increasing penetration and development of more warnet (PIC), it is also committed and concerned to the moral and social issues of how to have a better and i4d | March 2006

Time being, installation of web cam has been suggested, as digital camera is the cheapest available method to collect photo ID of the users in cybercafe/PIC. Photo ID is also difficult to tamper with, since it is not easy to hide one’s face or change appearance, while entering a cyber cafe.

Privacy vs public security

safer environment for these PICs. Majority users of these PICs belong to younger generation who are at ease to adopt emerging technologies and environment hoping to amass the floodgate of opportunities awaiting at the window of the net. APWKomitel, with its concern and motto ‘Where the eGeneration@’ observes the unfortunate threats lurking (cyber-crimes) behind these opportunities in public places (PIC). Since many of these warnet and telecentres are not keeping a register of its random users, it has little information about who are using its facility in a particular day, time and terminal. It is even more difficult for investigator or police to trace-route a crime from a public domain (PIC), if there is no Log and registration enforced. ISP and PIC must have a policy or code of conducts (CoC) to retain IP or log of user data, to prevent crime being performed in the PIC. Further, many Internet companies such as Yahoo, Google and Hotmail provides free email, where anyone can easily register his or her mailing account without a proper ID, as these email registrations do not have the tools to check the ID of the email registrants in many of the countries. These companies are concerned more with quantity of the users rather than the quality of them. Many of these Internet users remain anonymous adding to the danger of irresponsible use of their act in cyberspace, because they can use nicknames and there are hardly any laws to check them from sending spam, blackmail or any other cyber-crime. Spam does more damage in the developing countries as it consumes scarce and expensive bandwidth that is being provided to the users.

Photo/user authentication tools APWKomitel had worked out with its partners and members to find solutions for registering user identification in public facilities (PIC). The solution must be affordable, since many of our members are SMEs and some are nonprofit organisations, which cannot afford expensive peripherals for registering and logging the users facilitating the public utilities. The solution also has been effective, cheap and easy. Our research has found that the use of social security and ID card is not effective, since in Indonesia many fake ID are often used by the criminals and there is no centralised single identity numbering system for validation and control. Moreover, there are more than 4,000 municipal/district local government with their own island of database and there is always possibility that a citizen can have two ID from different local districts. The central government is trying hard to unify and harmonise registration. However, it may take years for the system to be in effect. March 2006 |

It is always a tussle between user-privacy and public-security. It is instructed to put these webcam at the cashier or reception area of the warnet (cybercafe) and not at the working area that erodes the privacy of the internet user at PIC. Such surveillance cameras are commonly sighted in ATM booths or public terminal or supermarket nowadays. APWKomitel has come out with solutions for of the surveillance systems called ‘Millennia eBilling Systems’ for cyber cafe or telecentre with less than 20 PC (licensed) or stations for USD 100. The system requirements are Windows based PC connected to a local-area-network and Internet router. With this software, cyber cafe/PIC can monitor, the bill and log each of the user or client. The tools are ready for public utility and the challenge of the policy lies in ensuring its efficiency for the purpose of internetgovernance. „ Rudi Rusdiah APWKomitel, Indonesia

Cyber shopping triggers e-Commerce boom in India With online shopping gaining momentum as Indians becoming increasingly tech savvy, cyber cafes are the new hubs where e-Commerce is thriving, says a new survey. The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI) revealed after a survey that the number of cyber cafes have increased to 105,350 in 2005 as against just 18,000 cafes in 2001. The survey also predicted that the number will swell by 40 percent every year. The report states that cyber cafes have fast evolved into popular access points for e-Commerce and visitors are using them increasingly for doing business and not just for chatting or mailing purposes. The survey revealed that over 47 per cent of the visitors have shopped online more than once during the last six months. While 36 per cent have shopped between two to four times, 23 per cent visitors made purchases more than 10 times. Giving a state wise breakup, the survey stated that 31 per cent of the people of Maharashtra, 16 per cent in Tamil Nadu and 11 per cent in Delhi were using cyber cafes as shopping points. One percent each from Bihar and Punjab were using the kiosks for the purpose. Book purchases topped the list at (31 per cent), electronic gadgets (41 per cent), railway tickets (37 per cent), music (25 per cent), jewellery and movie tickets (14 per cent each) and beauty products (10 per cent).





ICT: A magnifier of endeavours Jean-Paul Bauer IkamvaYouth, Cape Town

As promised earlier in November 2005 issue of i4d, we are providing here the interview What are main focus of your organisation? IkamvaYouth aims to broaden the postschool opportunities of disadvantaged youth in Khayalitsha. It does so by implementing the following three core programmes: • Computer literacy training for academic support, job skills, and career guidance, • Supplementary Tutoring to complement the schooling system, • Mentor programme ensuring that each member of IkamvaYouth has a plan (for study/internship/learnership/job/ entrepreneurship opportunity) for the year following their matriculation. Which focus of your organisational activities is/are most interesting to you? I am interested in finding innovative ways for using technology to support IkamvaYouth in achieving its ambitious aims. I believe that there are many processes on the administrative side of IkamvaYouth that can benefit from the appropriate use of ICTs. One of the biggest challenges is how to achieve this on a shoe string budget. However, more interestingly I enjoy it when I can help our learners use ICTs to give them a voice, and, thereby giving them confidence in them selves. An example of this is helping one of our learners to publish their poems on our website. In which activities you would like to involve yourself more for development of society? I am interested in exploring how technology


of Jean-Paul Bauer, one of the winners of Youth and ICT Award, 2005. Mr Bauer is currently IT Director of IkamvaYouth and technology consultant to (an international ICT policy NGO). IkamvaYouth is a by-youth, for-youth, non-profit organisation based at the Nazeema Isaacs library in Khayelitsha, Cape Town that aims to broaden the post-school

opportunities of disadvantaged youth in Khayelitsha. It seeks to address grass - root level problems and to build e-Literacy and communication skills enabled by ICTs. In IkamvaYouth, he has been central to the development of the IT set-up currently in place. He has also played a crucial role in managing the project.

can be used to build virtual communities that focus on raising the social awareness of the participants with respect to each other and their environment.

as primary health care and education are more pressing problems than access to ICT. I do however think that ICT’s are an excellent support to well thought-out and designed development programmes, be they in the health, education or infrastructure development sectors. I view ICTs primarily as being a magnifier of endeavours. If the endeavours are designed badly from the beginning, no amount of ICT is going to convert failure into success, they will more likely just accelerate the failure. The converse is however also true. That is, a well defined and managed project’s success can be amplified through the use of ICT.

What are the main inspiring factors behind your recent success? First and foremost the absolute dedication of our volunteers and learners to IkamvaYouth. There are also more personal moments, like when I realise just how much one of our learners has developed and grown by being a part of IkamvaYouth. If you are given a task to inspire the youth for the betterment of the society and surroundings, how would you like to proceed towards that goal? I think one of the primary tasks in achieving this goal would be to make the youth conscious of their surroundings. This consciousness should not be confined to the negative effects and symptoms of our society, but should also include the positive movements taking place in our society. Most importantly, we need to start focusing on solutions to the problems and not on the problems themselves, and how each individual can contribute to the solutions. Do you think that ICT is a right way to achieve the Millennium Development Goals? If so, why? I don’t think that ICTs are by themselves a good driver for development, as needs such

Have you ever involved yourself into any ICT project? If so, can you please share some experiences of it in brief? I have recently been involved in an attempt to bring the Internet to a location that does not have any direct Internet connectivity. We overcame this potential insurmountable obstacle by using a caching technology that gave the location a virtual, albeit very small subset of the Internet. This solution was only considered after failing to find sponsorship for an Internet connection to the site. This has taught me that one should always look for the nonobvious solutions before giving up on an attempt to use ICTs in development projects. „ i4d | March 2006

Vol. IV No. 3

March 2006

Information for development w w w. i 4 d . c s d m s . i n

Agriculture Podcasts reach Peruvian villages In Peru’s remote Andean mountains, villages like Chanta Alta only have electricity for two hours a day. Despite this, a new pilot project is using pod casting to get important agricultural information to farmers. The farmers do not yet have the means to listen on portable MP3 players. But UK charity Practical Action has married old and new technology to podcast twice-monthly updates to eight information centres in the Cajamarca region. If the Peruvian podcasts are successful, Practical Action has plans to roll out similar schemes in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

405 Indian hamlets log on to IT highway The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) in Coimbatore city has chalked out a pilot project to provide broadband Internet connection to 405 villages in Coimbatore district. As part of the project, Internet centres would be established, while a hub would function at the TNAU campus. The villagers would be offered tele-medicine, teleeducation and tele-agri business management through the web. Queries related to agriculture would be clarified by professors at TNAU, while questions pertaining to health and medicine would be forwarded to the GH there.

Community Radio Radio towers in Indian cities In an effort to upgrade infrastructure, the March 2006 |

Indian information and broadcasting ministry’s standing finance committee has cleared a project for setting up towers in seven cities. The estimated cost of the project is above Rs 18 crore and towers will be set up in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Jaipur. The project has already received cabinet clearance. This upgradation comes after the bidding for the second phase of FM radio has been completed and is part of an exercise to upgrade equipment with 165 frequencies being allotted now and the existing 108 frequencies from phase I.

Education IDRC announces Open Archive Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has announced plans to create an Open Archive, the first among Canadian research funding organisation. The Open Archive will provide full access over the Internet to IDRC’s rich research archive. The Open Archive will help Southern researchers to engage in the international dialogue on important development issues and increase the impact of their research, it will streamline and centralise the capture of IDRC project outputs and research documents.

New IT for education institutions in Rwanda Access to the Internet by students will soon be eased after all institutions of learning access state-of-the-art technology to be installed soon. The Ministry of Education in Rwanda has already finalised a work plan in which Sun Microsystems, a giant American software development company will

have internet accessibility technology in all educational institutions. The software THIN client allows the targeted users (educationists) to access home web pages on a high-tech screen that does not require connection of high power consumption computer accessories like a processor and keyboard to operate. The technology is cost-saving and this will be very essential for Rwandan rural schools where there is unreliable and insufficient power supply.

Computer keyboard with Nigerian languages Nigeria has recorded a major achievement in Information Technology (IT), with the invention of a customised keyboard that provides the option of writing in Nigerian languages. The equipment, which is known as Konyin keyboard, was developed in Nigeria by Lancor Technologies, with the sole aim of promoting Nigerian languages through integration into the global information super-highway. The new technology has the ability to create words in three major Nigerian languages, namely Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. It is a facility with hardware and software that uses 63 alphanumeric keys with four shift Keys. The new technology represents a significant step in allowing languages with more than 26 alphabets to use a single keyboard layout for easy and direct access typing. For instance, an average African country like Nigeria encompasses more than 10 languages. When one combines all the unique alphabets needed to cover these languages you may need more than 26 alphabets. The uniqueness of this innovation is that the Konyin keyboard is one keyboard with one layout that accomodates many languages.


The i4d News

Raghav’ss rradio, Raghav’ adio, v villagers’ illagers’ joy A young chap, Raghav Mahato, from the state of Bihar in Indian sub continent gears up to broadcast his home bred, FM radio station. Raghav and his friend run the indigenous radio station from an unassuming thatchedroof carrying a sign-board ‘Priya Electronics’ (a repairing Shop).Hardly educated, Raghav’s curiosity with the radio began in 1997 when he started out as a mechanic in a local repair shop. By 2003, Raghav’s, dexterous hands worked out miracles in launching a FM station. It was a perfect launch as an impoverished state like Bihar, where many areas lack power supplies; the cheap battery-powered transistor remains the most popular source of entertainment. Many people are now keen to take over Raghav’s technology to which he is reluctant for the gripping fear of being mishandled.

e-Commerce Uganda bourse goes electronic A Central Depository System (CDS) designed to connect with the CDS at the Nairobi Stock Exchange has been developed to facilitate electronic trade at the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE). The East African Securities Regulatory Authority has been working towards integrating capital markets in the region since its inception in 1997. When implemented, a regionally interactive CDS will be a major step towards achieving this goal. The Bill only awaits parliamentary approval before the system takes effect.

e-Governance Commonwealth Business Council boost The drive towards e-Governance for Kenya and other African countries has received a major boost from the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) and EzGov Europe. Both organisations have signed a MoU, aimed towards bankrolling this project, whose key motivation is to improve service delivery in government. The MoU will see both organisations work together to deliver electronic service delivery solutions for


e-Government to Commonwealth countries and other government markets worldwide. The CBC and EzGov partnership will help governments realise the advantages of e-Government through open, scalable and flexible solutions.

First e-Governing learning centre at Ghana Eastern region of Ghana is to adopt electronic-governing learning centre in Ghana for the first time to make use of ICT to move fast with governance and development at the grassroots. The project aims at a paperless system of administration at both the Eastern Regional Co-ordinating Council (ERCC) and the 17 municipal and district assem-blies to improve their output so as to ensure efficiency, quality service and enhance accountability. O n c o m p - l e t i o n , t h e project would link the assemblies to a central data management centre to enhance their service delivery. Eastern region would be the first of its kind in Africa with the assistance of the assemblies to ensure the pace to roll out the project as on the schedule.

Mexico city offers new computers for old guns Mexicans are being invited to exchange their weapons for computers under a quirky new idea to curb rampant crime in Mexico city.

Authorities in one of the city’s 16 districts are offering a new computer, out of 150 donated by a charitable foundation, for each gun handed in. People often have a gun at home, which could perhaps be for self-defense, but sadly it becomes a family tragedy when it is not used properly. The computers-for-guns programme, which echoes past schemes in other city districts that offered groceries for guns, will target some of the district’s most crime-hit areas.

Electronic tax system in Nigeria Kwara State Government in Nigeria has concluded arrangements to introduce Electronic Tax Receipt, in an effort to boost the State Internally Generated Revenue. The effort would help to checkmate tax invasion and fraud. Already, the state has improved tremendously on its internally generated revenue of N74 million, in herited from the immediate past government to over N160 million monthly. The new system would carry all the details and could be viewed on the state’s website.

Health ICT for enhancement of rural health in Lisbon Technology has the potential of enhancing both quality and cost efficiency not only in the larger centers but also in rural clinics and hospitals as well. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) has generously started an innovative grant programme for rural health enhancement in Lisbon. Lisbon Area Health Services has used the funds provided by the BCBSND in purchasing a computed radiography machine and a Digital Subscriber Line, which will digitally transmit images to a radiologist’s in Fargo. Patients will have final radiologist readings sent to their personal physician within hours, rather than a week. The focus of the grant programme will continue to address the high priority health needs of rural populations.

i4d | March 2006

The i4d News Mapping veins as a human bar code

Police have computers-to-go

A small medical supply company called Luminetx in US has developed a new method of palm-reading that it hopes will rival fingerprinting or retinal scans as a way to perfectly identify individuals. The technology is based on an infrared scan of the blood cells running through veins, which is then analysed by a computer. Luminetx originally developed the technique as a way to help doctors and nurses find veins in patients needing injections. The medical tool developed by Luminetx uses the infrared scanner to detect veins up to half an inch under the skin, analyses the data in real time with a Pentium 4 computer, and then projects a digital image back onto the skin. The resulting ghostly greenish image looks a little like a cartoon X-ray, showing the precise locations of veins under the skin.

Now Rock Island police in USA will have one of the most advanced mobile computer systems in the Quad-Cities. The mobile data terminals are going into marked squad cars so officers can communicate with one another without radios and have access to computer-based records in their cars. The new Rock Island equipment is more advanced and uses wireless technology to make it faster with a key. than the old radio-based system. If the dispatchers are busy with the public and handling calls, they don’t have to take time to look up records for the police officers. Police say the technology is still growing.

Livelihood CARD to help IT job aspirants in Indian state The Andhra Pradesh State Council for Higher Education (APSCHE) in India, in association with the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), is organising a Career Awareness and Recruitment Drive (CARD) to hone the skills of graduates aspiring to enter the IT industry. The programme was the first of its kind in the State and the country. It was meant for final year students and unemployed (and underemployed) graduates. Even graduates from a rural background will stand a chance in the race to get jobs in the IT companies. In other parts of the State, such as Vijayawada, Tirupati, Warangal and Anantapur, such programmes would be organised later in the year.

Ugandans to get jobs on Internet Ugandans seeking casual jobs (Kyeyo) abroad will start doing it via the Internet instead of travelling overseas. The newly launched Easy Learning Centre for ICT in Jinja will help graduates search for jobs online. Under the system,

March 2006 |

Kyeyo seekers would do their work online and be paid while at home. The new employment plan would succeed because European employers prefer using Africans because they provide cheap labour.

Open source Open source training to business community The Go Open Source campaign in South Africa has set up a formal training programme to promote the use of Linux and open-source software in the business community. The project aims to help small and medium technology companies gain the skills they need to supply open-source products to their customers. It will also give them the business skills to build sustainable livelihoods despite specialising in software that is generally free to use and does not earn them any recurring licence fees. The initial aim is to train 1000 engineers in open source and its most well-known iteration, the Linux operating system.

Google at work on desktop Linux ‘Goobuntu’ Google is preparing its own distribution of Linux for the desktop, in a possible bid to take on Microsoft in its core business desktop software. A version of the increasingly popular Ubuntu desktop Linux distribution, based on Debian and the Gnome desktop, it is known internally as ‘Goobuntu’. It could be for wider deployments on the company’s own desktops, as an

alternative to Microsoft, but still for internal use only.

Open source support to Russia from IBM IBM is offering free software and educational resources for developers in Russia. The move is intended to help encourage the creation of new applications based on open standards and open source. IBM middleware, WebSphere Application Server Community Edition and DB2 Universal Database Express-C will be available through free downloads. Plans for a developerWorks Russia include tutorials, forums, emerging technologies and blogs.

Technology Disaster alerts in Indian languages in mobile phones The Minister for Science, Technology and Ocean Development in India, Kapil Sibal launched the Natural Disaster Information System (NDIS), a first of its kind pilot project aimed at alerting people about any impending natural disaster. The project developed under private public partnership by the Technology Development Council (TDC) and Bangalorebased Geneva Software Technologies was a landmark one intended for public good. It will help in minimising the fury of natural disasters. The project was taken up by the National Disaster Management Authority after the tsunami on December 26, 2004. The system could be marketed internationally.


The i4d News

Pigeons get cell phone backpacks Acoording to a report in New Scientist magazine, a flock of pigeons fitted with mobile phone backpacks is to be used to monitor air pollution. The 20 pigeons will be released into the skies over San Jose, California, in August. Each bird will carry a GPS satellite tracking receiver, air pollution sensors and a basic mobile phone. Text messages on air quality will be beamed back in real time to a special pigeon ‘blog’, a journal accessible on the Internet. Miniature cameras slung around the pigeons’ necks will also post aerial pictures. The data they send back will be displayed on the blog in the form of an interactive map.

Telecentres Microsoft to roll out 50,000 kiosks Software major Microsoft Corporation India has announced its rural IT initiative ‘Saksham’ under which the company would partner with non-governmental agencies, including Drishti, Jai Kisan and n-Logue, to roll out 50,000 kiosks over the next three years. These IT kiosks will provide information and services related to health, education, communication and agriculture, besides Government-to-citizen services, including land records. The company will also develop a rural portal powered with content and applications aimed at rural segment, by working with regional and local Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), including Astrowix, Idealake, and Vortex.

Telecommunication Korean task force for digital broadcasting The government of South Korean is to launch a task force to spearhead the fullfledged introduction of digital broadcasting service in the country. The task force will consist of other government officials and experts from related industries such as broadcasters and other private sector figures. Digital broadcasting promises to provide high-quality, interactive and diverse broadcasting contents to meet the needs of more sophisticated TV viewers in the country.


Telephony in Indian villages The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in India will provide Rs 451 crore from the universal service obligation fund to set up public telephones in 66,822 villages under the Bharat Nirman programme. Under the Bharat Nirman scheme, the government also plans to support private operators for the provision of additional rural community phones in villages that are without PCOs, and have a population of more than 2,000. According to DoT the 66,822 villages are spread over 13 of the 24 telecom circles in the country — Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, the Northeast, Orissa, Uttaranchal and Rajasthan.

Wireless ‘Office on the go’ in Malta Go mobile is currently the only operator in Malta to offer a working wireless office solution for mobile devices such as PDAs and Smart Phones. Moreover, the company is Malta’s sole provider of EDGE, thus giving users of its wireless office application faster download and upload speeds. Go mobile provides service the way it is named, ‘Office on the go’. Corporate clients can benefit from secure, real-time wireless synchronisation between their mobile devices and their office server. Therefore, clients can access their office e-Mail, calendar, contacts and to-do lists securely from anywhere on their mobile device by means of ‘Office on the go’.

Free Web voice messaging After SMS and instant messaging on the Internet, Orb Networks has launched what it claims to be the world’s first software for free Web voice messaging. The software will enable users to users to send voice messages to any email or Skype contact. According to Orb Networks, users can create and send voice messages from any Web browser or directly from the Skype interface, using the software. V4S voice messages can be played back from any device with a streaming audio player, including mobile phones and PDAs. Voice messaging fills the gap between realtime voice conversations and text-based messaging solutions.

General Strict ICT measures in Thailand Thailand’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has taken a vow to take strict measures against operators of online games shops and pornographic websites in response to complaints that many computer game shops nationwide violate the law by allowing teenagers under 18 years old to play games later than 10pm. According to ICT Minister Sora-at Klinpratoom, shop operators found guilty will face severe penalties. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had assigned Minister attached to Prime Minister Office Newin Chidchob to direct a crackdown on those shops and the ICT ministry to look into the sites accessed by young people, especially pornographic websites.

A site for bird flu Flu Wiki (, launched in June 2005 is a web site for the information of global human flu epidemic. Melainie Mattson, the writer, claims perhaps Flu Wiki, is an online collaboration project to help local communities prepare and cope with the pandemic. It is a complete authority in English on pandemic influenza. Volunteers have translated critical information into French, Spanish and Turkish. Norwegian may be next.

i4d | March 2006


ICTs take anti poverty stance The eNigeria event for 2004 took a new look at the relevance of the industry within the scope of national development, prioritising IT in poverty reduction – with the deliberate effort of including the rural population.

Catching up with the information society Nigeria has a lot of catching up to do as far as the information society is concerned. With the physical boundaries that separated nations, melting off due to the emergence of a boundless information society, any people-group, nation or region that does not line up with the expectations of the new economy – which is primarily driven by ICTs will experience lonely moments on the island of insignificance. This was well stated by Dr. Philip Emeagwali when he said to Africa and Nigeria, ‘Africa must get onboard…Right now!…Africa will be either on to the Information Age or off to the dark Agricultural Age…Africa is suffering from knowledge apartheid that forces its children to eat the crumbs from the dinner table of the information-affluent nations’. Nigeria’s active participation in the information society informs the need to develop and implement national ICT policies (and strategies), with special consideration for meeting the goals of the

United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which United Nations’ member States agreed to, in order to address the major issues that confront human existence and sustainable development, especially poverty eradication (as stated in the MDGs). It is even interesting to note that Nigeria is among the nations that the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa is discussing on the need to merge its Poverty Reduction Strategic Plans (PRSPs) with the National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) plans.

Africa takes the first steps The African Information Society Initiative (AISI) is a common vision for Africa’s quest to bridge the digital divide. It was adopted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Conference of Ministers responsible for economic and social planning and development and subsequently endorsed by various high-level Ministerial and Organisation of African

Gbenga Sesan Programme Manager, Lagos Digital Village, Nigeria Credit: March 2006 |


Unity (OAU) Heads of States and Governments’ meetings including the 1997 G-8 Summit. Its vision was revised during the African Development Forum 1999. AISI serves as a mechanism for achieving the MDGs in Africa, incorporating seven of the eight MDGs in the AISI framework document, and recommends the mainstreaming of ICTs. This informed the strong support that the AISI gives to the development of national ICT policies and strategies through its National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) plan, which helps nations link to national, regional and global development goals – including the MDGs.

One African nation at a time In 2000, thirteen African countries had ICT policies but the number increased to sixteen in 2002. The number of countries without ICT policies and strategies reduced from twenty-one to sixteen within the same period. The 2003 report of the sub-committee on ICT and governance presented at the third meeting of the Committee on Development Information (CODI III) reveals that countries like the Central African Republic, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Malawi and Uganda were in the process of completing their national ICT policies and went further to identify countries that have completed the ICT policy development process and are ready for implementation. These include Burundi, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The Nigerian peculiarity Recent developments and the nature of developing national ICT policies and strategies have revealed that ICT policy decision making processes are continually built on these national attempts, especially as the world moves towards bridging the digital divide – between and within nations and regions. For Nigeria, the peculiarity of the ICT scene is represented by the not-too-deliberate decentralisation of government efforts around ICT issues. The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology houses the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the Ministry of Communications is the supervising agency of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and the Ministry of Information hosts the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC). While all of these agencies coordinate ICT efforts within the framework of the true definition of (new) ICTs, many perceive the ‘primary’ ICT agency to be the duo of the NCC and NITDA. NITDA is responsible for the implementation of Nigeria’s Information Technology Development Agency while the NCC is the driving agency for the Telecommunications Act. The NBC supervises the National Broadcasting Code but it is yet to be seen as very influential on the Nigerian ICT scene as it is perceived as the government’s channel of information propagation and national orientation only. This, of course, is subjective and would be subsumed within intellectual discourse and reality checks as Nigeria moves on to begin the review of its National Information Technology Policy and design the National ICT Strategy.

Anti poverty stance Nigeria is a rich country considering the many resources it boasts of, but the people are largely poor. About 70% of Nigerians, most of



whom live in rural areas, live below the international benchmark of $1 a day. The oil boom has helped Nigeria boost its foreign reserve and budgetary stamina, but the people are yet to see the manifestation of this in reality. The government has since launched different programme to help the population overcome poverty. Such efforts include two central efforts that seem to hold the potential of reaching the population at the grass root level: the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) along with the State and Local-Government Strategic Plans and the eNigeria 2005 Action Plan. The eNigeria 2005 Action Plan has made substantial contributions in the relevant area. The event of eNigeria is an annual exercise of the National Information Technology Development Agency that brings information technology stakeholders together in Nigeria’s capital city for the purpose of advancing the dynamics of the industry. However, the event for 2004 (the third edition) took a new look at the relevance of the industry within the scope of national development, hence the theme being related to the relevance of IT in poverty reduction – with the deliberate effort of including the rural population. In preparation for the event, all local governments (lowest level administrative government involvement) were invited in order to ensure active participation of the rural population. The participants drafted resolutions that would help NITDA with the review of the National IT Policy, in order to consider an anti-poverty stance that is empowered by ICTs. Many people in Nigeria have asked why the country must invest in or support ICT growth while issues such as power supply, people purchasing power and livelihood are still obviously underserved. Nigeria’s ICT Policy relevance to the major issue of poverty eradication is still in its development stage even though there are island efforts that move in the same direction and will have to involve every possible stakeholder, including all government agencies (such as Health, Education, and others), the private sector, and civil society that is in its wider definition, non-governmental organisations, media, UN agencies/development partners, academia and specialised groups such as youth, women and specially-abled networks. „ i4d | March 2006


ICTs to build a vibrant knowledge society Prof Subhash Bhatnagar Adjunct Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) and Advisor on eGovernment for the World Bank in Washington DC.

How would you like to analyse the contribution of ICT in modernising different sectors of the economy? India’s focus on growth of the ICT sector has paid rich dividends in terms of export earnings, employment generation, and its image of an emerging economy. Large corporations are becoming competitive by deploying enterprise wide solutions to integrate data and make planning and decision-making data based. A significant proportion of small and medium enterprises have also begun to use computers for maintaining accounts. The progress on e-Government is uneven. Some of the well administered states in southern and western India have implemented a number of statewide applications whereas in other states there is very little progress. There has been a considerable informatisation of the urban society through expanding telecom services, TV channels and access to Internet. However, the contribution of ICT in modernising the rural economy of India which contributes 20% of the GDP, supports viability of the population is quite marginal. How e-Governance projects serve the purpose of the community in developing countries, where connectivity is a major problem? March 2006 |

Many e-Government applications demonstrate the efficiency with which services can be delivered to the citizens. e- Government applications have cut the processing time from several days to a few minutes. Cost of bribes, wage loss, and several visits to government offices are minimised. In the absence of high Internet penetration, services are delivered online by operators from service centres located at convenient places. Publication of budgetary allocations and expenditure on the web, systems for tracking status of applications for a variety of licenses, sharing citizen’s charter and performance data on the web are all known to increase accountability. However, progress on outcomes such as lessening corruption, greater empowerment and e-Democracy has been very slow, even for urban populations. How would you like to define ‘knowledge society’? Knowledge society defines a broader role for ICTs as a tool for life long learning for citizens, enabling knowledge workers to improve skills and their capacity to innovate by accessing knowledge via the Internet from the public domain. Individuals have more freedom and greater possibilities for selfrealisation. Individuals can be empowered in dealing with the governments and service providers through improved channels of interactive feedback. Communities can be empowered to participate in planning processes through access to information and using the Internet for advocacy of views. Countries develop a comparative advantage that is based on application of knowledge rather than only cheap labour. What are the main barriers for building ‘knowledge society’? How those can be overcome? Lack of access to technology is seen to be the biggest barrier. Teledensity in India is

mere 10% (cell plus fixed lines) and there are very few high band width connections. There is uneven access across regions, rural and urban population, and a large gap between access to men and women. More than 80percent of all Internet connections are situated a dozen large cities. In India for centuries, knowledge has been passed on from one generation to the other through written texts, folklore, wordof-mouth, religions and customs. The knowledge, however, remained preserved geographically and hierarchically. Although many experiments have shown that ICT can break such barriers and poor people in rural areas can learn to use computers but the motivation to share knowledge continues to be weak. There has to be a pro-active, concerted move by the government departments, private sector and allied institutions to share information in an interactive manner. Enactment of freedom of information act is a good first step. The information available on government websites is limited, is of little value and is often redundant. There is an over emphasis on Internet technology to the exclusion of some powerful technologies such as community radios. The literacy level and skills to use computers and Internet is extremely low. Some interesting experiments like Akshaya in Kerela have shown the way on how to bridge the gap. Same language subtitling of popular entertainment programme on TV has yielded good results in helping to recognise alphabets and words in experiments in India. Language is one of the major barriers to the access of knowledge. Each day over two million pages are added on the Internet globally but over 85 percent of the content on the net is in English. Moreover, much of the content is not suited to the needs of rural populations in India.


What should be the priority to Knowledge Management (KM) projects? Access to knowledge can impact effectiveness when individuals feel enriched (with new ideas, solutions to problems) and are able to seek information at the time and place where it is needed. Individuals need to trust the information before the distilled knowledge is applied to a specific action. KM Projects can at best hope to create large electronic networks which will then support the emergence of human networks keen to consult each other and begin to value and trust the information/knowledge that is pooled and disseminated. Knowledge management initiatives should supplement traditional networking through face to face contact, rather than supplant such initiatives. KM initiatives need to be integrated with the core work of organisations and communities. High profile KM initiatives tend to become dysfunctional. Documentation of indigenous knowledge and sharing it within and across client communities is a potentially powerful idea, but one that is difficult to implement. Projects like Honeybee in India offer another way of capturing indigenous innovations by organising walks of teams of volunteers through clusters of villages to learn about and document rural innovations. The documents are then widely disseminated through print and digital media. What should be the policy focus for promoting a knowledge society? Policies need to be designed to encourage competition in the telecom sector. A holistic view needs to be taken of several converging technologies. Since universal service obligation has not worked, other incentives have to be provided for promoting telephony in rural areas. There is some action on enhancing access to Internet in rural areas. Focus needs to shift to development of local content and capacity building. Policies need to promote appropriate technologies rather than hanker after Internet alone. Community radios, educational TV and wide casting may have a very useful role in building and empowering rural communities. When rural women learnt to video tape the poor progress of rural projects in Kenya and showed the clips to decision makers in far away cities, the response was quick and positive. Promulgation of freedom of information act is a step in the right direction. However, civil servants should not be allowed to curtail its effectiveness. e-Government should be promoted as it can advance the agenda on governance and fiscal reform, transparency, anti-corruption, empowerment and poverty reduction. Do you think that public-private partnership may play a major role in promoting the knowledge society through effective policy implementation? Public-private partnership is likely to play a very important role. Entrepreneurship is needed to create a demand for knowledge and information amongst the rural population. Creation of a large number of access points for electronic services requires large investments, managerial competence and innovation. Private partners can bring the necessary funds and innovative energy to create the infrastructure and keep it viable over time. The mind set


within government agencies needs to change to encourage partnership by structuring agreements that provide for a fair return on investments by the private partner but any profiteering can be regulated. What role the NGOs and grassroots organisations should play in knowledge creation and diffusion? The rural populace lacks the life skills required to filter through the vast information available on the Internet and identify information most relevant to them. The role of intermediaries in interpreting the information needs of rural communities, collecting the information from public domain sources and dissemination of the information in local text and idiom is very important, as has been demonstrated in pilots in Kothamale and in Pondicherry. Making content appropriate to local communities will require a decentralised approach to content development. Some of the existing institutions that serve rural clientele such as extension workers, dairy, leather, and handloom cooperatives can play a significant role in developing content, provided that Internet is ubiquitous enough to deliver this content to rural populations. For making governments accountable, experience in developed countries has shown that merely creating a good website/ on-line portal does not guarantee its use by the citizens. Conscious efforts are required to drive citizens to the portal through advertising campaigns and education. Intermediaries that can analyse such information, and highlight exceptional conditions which deserve citizen’s attention are needed. As an alert watchdog, traditional media needs to highlight such information and generate wide spread debate around significant issues of public concern. The web is a new medium for the traditional media reporters. Through workshops and seminars they need to be made aware of the detailed information made available on the web. „

ICT policy in Malaysia Malaysia being a middle-income economy is able to shift from agrarian society to industrial society in a single generation (during 60s to 80s). ICT have played a dual role the development of Malaysia, one is product sector and another one is as strategic enabler. Malaysia took two major initiatives to address both the issues of economic competitiveness and social equality, such as Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) targeting economic development and National Information Technology Agenda (NITA) targeting social development. In 1996 National Information Technology Council (NITC was formed in 1994) came out with National IT agenda, which a people centered approach to development. ITA was operationalised with five e-Trusts model. They are e-Economy, e-Public services, e-Community, eLearning and e-Sovereignty. To develop the nation from the industrial society to developed society, Malaysia has a plan called Vision 2020, three phase migration strategy is planned to attain goals of vision 2020.

i4d | March 2006

March 2006

ICTD Project Newsletter

Pilot Phase in Bijoli Gaon

Creating rural entrepreneurs through ICT ICT use for sustainable livelihoods The groups that face the greatest difficulty in getting remunerative employment in the developing world are young people (ages 15 to 24) and women. This is an especially serious problem for individuals who come from poor families who tend to have little education; the consequence is low productivity jobs with very little pay, keeping them and their families trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty. India lives in its villages where the rural population accounts for 74 per cent of her total population. Providing jobs in rural India remains a challenge till date. 15 million jobs are required outside the agriculture and government sectors every year in the country. This immense economic need has a huge impact on society and the environment as individuals, especially youth who migrate to larger towns and cities, in search of

employment. Unsustainable consumption practices are also leading to the rapid depletion of natural resources. Both the Government of India and NGOs have been focusing on rural entrepreneurship as a key route to solving the need for economic and social empowerment. Small, local enterprises together account for a large number of jobs in the country and have shown the positive impact that they can have on individuals and communities. The limitations of existing programmes have been the lack of meaningful and viable enterprise options and the inadequacy of market, technical and financial linkages. Most important, is the need for capacity building support throughout an enterprises’ life cycle, a facility that is largely non-existent. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has the possibility to

remove some of the constraints as it substantially enhances the delivery of services at much lower cost than current resource intensive solutions. Sporadic initiatives across the country have shown the potential of ICT as an effective tool. The project – ‘Creating Rural Entrepreneurs through ICT enabled Enterprise Development Services’ is designing, testing and delivering a full scale roll-out of a comprehensive and relevant entrepreneurship development and support facility to be delivered even at the lowest level of available infrastructure, and tailored to the needs and capacities of the rural communities of India. By using ICT, the cost of development and creation of the service and its peripheral support functions can be spread over the vast population of rural India, driving down, over time the cost of delivery of the service. The power of the service to deliver the necessary services is further enhanced through the use of ICT, which allows customisation of the service, once established, to the economic and market needs of individual communities and environments. The proponent organisation is Development Alternatives, an NGO based in New Delhi. The comprehensive and unique ICT based Enterprise Development Service (EDS) proposed will support entrepreneurs through every stage of the business life cycle. The primary components of the service are an Enterprise Package for technical training and market and financial linkages, an Entrepreneurship Development Programme for understanding business set-up, planning and management and an Ask the Expert service for on-going business support, all in the local language. Additionally, an outreach programme for


identifying potential entrepreneurs will be required to enable the service. Inclusive of a 3 year post pilot period, the project will train around 8,500 entrepreneurs by linking them to markets, building their capacity through training and mentoring, helping them to access finance and providing them with knowledge sharing platforms through TARAgroups and an Ask the Expert service, all in the local language. They in turn will create employment opportunities, typically hiring 5 people to work in the enterprise. Entrepreneurship will have a substantial impact on the standard of living of the entrepreneurs’ families, typically enhancing their health, education levels and providing a safety net. The wealth they create will have a trickle down effect within the local community over a period of time. Equally, successful entrepreneurs will act as role models for others to follow.

Goals and objectives of the project This project will use ICT to: • provide opportunities for rural entrepreneurship through complete enterprise solutions, with a target to creating large numbers of local jobs; • develop a localised delivery mechanism that links to government and bank entitlement schemes for the potential entrepreneur and support the

EDP Pilot phase in Niwari

TARAkendras owner to ensure sustainability of the model; • develop powerful delivery engines and support framework to create multiple enterprise packages that can be customised easily for a new geography or client group.

Project methodology In order to deliver the objectives of the initiative, it is imperative that the design of the EDSS be customised to the capacity and ability of the broadest segment of the rural citizens to be served by this market. Each aspect of EDSS, including content, media selection, pedagogic approach, and much more must be created ab initio, since no previous models using ICT exist. The pilots have been designed to rigorously test, refine and prepare the final product, and generate the necessary feedback to do so. As a result, the pilot is being delivered in three phases with extensive participation of the community: In the first phase the focus will be on the content and on the style and media selection for the content. During the pilot the learning process as well the effectiveness of how the content is assimilated will be monitored so that refinements to optimise the programme delivery can be incorporated at every phase of the pilot process. The EDSS will be validated first by existing, successful entrepreneurs at the target sites. These entrepreneurs have been identified after extensive personal interviews and have been selected from diverse backgrounds and businesses. They will give their feedback on the structure, relevance, accuracy, completeness, flow and presentation of the EDSS components. Additionally, potential entrepreneurs will also be identified and


delivered each of the products and will be required to provide structured feedback on the value and utility and all other aspects of the course, including on their ability to learn from the computer. During the pilot phase the project team will also asses the efficacy and quality of the learnings absorbed by the participants. Based on the feedback and other learnings from phase I of the pilot, the content will be refined and each component translated to the most appropriate multi media format to ensure the greatest benefit for the learner. Once the revised addition of the programme has been completed, Phase II of the pilot will follow a similar approach as outlined in phase I to ensure that every aspect of the service has been optimised. Additional changes will be incorporated as required. Phase III of the pilot will finalise the product, undergo any further field trials as indicated during the process, and deliver a finished product which will be translated into appropriate local languages for the larger scale rollout. At this stage the programme will be ported to an LMS system.

The project status The project is currently in Phase 1 of the Pilot stage, but it aims to achieve a full scale roll out during July 2006, targeting to attract 300-500 entrepreneurs. While the primary focus will be mainly on youth, women, SHGs, landless and small land holders between the ages of 18-35, the project may attract a more widespread array of individuals. For the initial phase two enterprises have been identified: (i) a non-traditional farm based activity: Broiler based poultry and (ii) non farm based activity using natural waste: Micro Concrete Roofing. In the next phase, many new enterprises packages will be developed for both farm as well as non-farm based activities.

The project team is supported by domain experts for specific industry areas such as poultry and MCR and in specific areas such as marketing, finance, communication and multi-media, pedagogy etc.

The MCR Enterprise Package (MCREP) – Phase I of the pilot During this phase, the MCR Enterprise Package (MCREP), being developed, has been validated with the existing entrepreneurs for content and delivery. Feedback from the potential entrepr-eneurs has also been gathered. Refin-ements of the package are currently being incorporated prior to Phase II of the pilot. The findings and responses are as follows: 1. Phase I of the Pilot, which has been conducted with both existing and potential entrepreneurs has demonstrated widespread acceptance of the product. Improvements or modifications in content, media and pedagogy are currently being incorp-orated prior to Phase II of the pilot. 2. Specific feedback has reflected that even existing entrepreneurs can benefit from specific components of the package to expand their existing business. The proponent organisation will evaluate whether a continuing education product can be designed to enhance the viability of existing entrepreneurs. Development Alternatives is evaluating whether a portfolio of new products can be designed around the existing technology to offer the entrepreneur new revenue and business growth opportunities at a marginal capital investment. Both of these oppor-tunities will be addressed outside the framework of the EDSS programme. 3. Existing and potential entrepreneurs seek continuing support services and while they require industry specific technical skills, growth of their businesses is heavily dependent on acquiring the softer skills of sales, marketing, customer service and finance and accounting.

4. Entrepreneurs also need a simple and effective process for asking questions and receiving answers. Soft skills, customised to the needs of the particular enterprise, are an integral part of each package. Additional support services required by entrepreneurs were anticipated as part of the programme and are delivered through the Frequently Asked Questions and Ask –the – Expert components. 5. Existing and potential entrepreneurs expressed a need for more transparent and accessible financing mechanisms. The feasibility of in house development of appropriate financing mechanisms in partnership with appropriate third parties is yet to be explored.

Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) - Phase I of the pilot The EDP is a general study course designed to assist potential entrepreneurs in identifying, developing and operationalising a new business, and existing entrepreneurs to expand their business. The product is designed to provide skills and necessary knowledge to start, manage and expand any business – a ‘rural MBA’ for 10th pass and higher educational qualifications independently of the specific technology or needs of a business. Currently, the EDP being developed has been validated with the existing entrepreneurs for content and delivery. Refinements of the package are currently being incorporated prior to Phase II of the pilot. Findings and responses from

the Phase I of the Pilot which are under evaluation include: • Established entrepreneurs from a wide-spread array of small rural businesses felt that the pro-duct had to deliver specific benefits for their particular business, however the same entrepreneurs identified the soft skills as being of value to them; • Since the EDP product does not call for a widespread customization for each business, the soft skills, most in demand will also be packaged to assist existing entrepreneurs to grow their business; • The EDP product is designed to provide potential entrepreneurs with the tools of business identification, startup, operations, marketing, sales finance, business planning etc; • While potential entrepreneurs see benefits from the programme, many would prefer a programme linked to a specific industry or business, they want the proponent organization to help them decide on a business and train them in the context of the business; • The EDP programme was designed to build the potential entrepreneurs capacity In order to ensure that large scale benefits are delivered from the EDP programme’s capacity building value, a market development challenge was faced to mobilise potential

EDP Pilot Phase in Orcha


and existing rural entrepreneurs to ensure that they benefit from the programme. The Ask the Expert (a continuous web based help service for the entrepreneurs) software has been fully field tested with selected services. The software is ready for launch and when the EDSS products are launched in July 2006, it will be in place to provide the necessary support. Content collection of Frequently Asked Questions database for the MCR product is complete. The EDP and Poultry FAQ will be completed during the Pilot and incorporated in the database prior to launch. All TARAkendras have all the necessary hardware and software to deliver TARAhaat’s large portfolio of products and services. The EDSS products have been designed to be delivered over systems and software which is already in place or downloadable of the net (e.g. Flash + Media player). No additional software or hardware to run the EDSS packages is currently envisaged.

Poultry enterprise package The third enterprise package, to be selected from the agriculture based industry sector, is for small scale poultry farming. The poultry enterprise package will be launched in Bundelkhand. The product will be designed to be flexible; however, designing a smaller and therefore more easily project that can be financed will allow a larger customer base to derive benefits from the programme. The pilot phase I will be launched in March 2006. However the learning from the other two product packages will be incorporated into the product prior to the initial pilot. Currently content is being validated by external experts, and the input for multi media, film and content are complete.

Replication: possibilities and ways The pilot project will create a framework and internal skill to deliver additional enterprise packages in the future which can be developed and delivered

in a more rapid and affordable pace. The strength of the pilot project is that the extensive use of ICT allows for easy replication. While the focus of this pilot is on women, SHGs, unemployed youth, landless and small land holders, the experience from this project and the enterprise packages can be adapted to meet the needs of other audiences e.g. other CIGs as well as contextualised to other geographies. The methodology and software developed can also be applied to develop numerous other enterprise packages having a multiplier effect on the number of rural enterprises created. Development Alternatives and TARAhaat have already began to identify extensions and a broadening of the existing packages as well as identify new specific industries which can deliver rapid and large scale benefits to the rural economy. For the development of enterprise packages, EDP, FAQ database and Ask the expert module, generic templates will be developed. These templates will allow the Development Alternatives Group to address enterprise opportunities in additional industries, including manufacturing, trade and services. While the packages have been developed in Hindi, TARAhaat has the in-house capacity to convert these packages to other languages. Independently of this programme a separate team has been addressing the need to develop enterprise packages for individuals. While this programme, which trains rural marketing associates, is currently designed to deliver enterprise packages without the benefit of multimedia, in a more traditional class room environment, it will eventually be ported to a more innovative multi media based platform, which can be easily replicated for the same kind of industries. This programme, since December 2005, has delivered training to over 40 unemployed youth of whom over 50% are currently employed. Another ICT based initiative of TARAhaat, TARA Akshar enables illiterate women to easily attain functional literacy and writing


skills in less than 31 days, and has enormous benefits for SHGs, will be leveraged to provide basic enterprise skills by 2007.

Ray of hope for the ‘hope’less Each technological revolution provides general-purpose, pervasive technologies and new organisational practices for a significant increase in productivity in existing sectors and this combined best practice is referred to as a technoeconomic paradigm. This was the case with the deployment of the mass production paradigm in the 20th century, and currently, the early phases of the ICT and flexible production paradigm. A techno-economic paradigm articulates the technical and organisational model for taking the best advantage of the technological revolution and results in the rejuvenation of the whole productive structure. In India, this unique project may show the way how ICT can help to prosper the socio-economic status of the people from the grassroots level in a different manner.n For further information, contact : Note: Reproduced from the Detailed Project Report

Copyright note on the ICTD newsletter published in February, 2006 issue of i4d: The published report in the February 2006 ICTD newsletter titled ‘Developing Community Radio Skills for women in villages of Mysore’ was the complete report of a workshop held by Mahila Samakhaya, Karnataka, IT for Change and Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) within the context of the ICTD programme’s Mahiti Manthana project which seeks to empower disadvantaged rural women organised in SHGs through the use of ICTs. NISG and i4d reserve the right to reprint articles produced for the ICTD section of the i4d magazine and website, with due credits to NISG and i4d. Please write to the editor for any request of reprints.


Associating gender with ICT policy Given the under-representation of women in ICT policy and decision-making processes generally, ICT policies and regulations are on average silent on women’s needs and views. What’s gender got to do with IT strategy processes, or consult women’s groups The Association for Progressive Communications Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) realised early on that it was necessary to have an eye on policy development around ICTs. Borne out of a need for peer-support in Internet and computer work in the early 1990’s, the network noted that because the Internet was so new and its potential so immense, it was necessary to emphasise the importance of women’s participation in all aspects of this emerging technology – from basic access, training and awareness to decision-making and development. APC WNSP joined other gender media activists in insisting that the ‘new technologies’ form part of government agreements in the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. The small achievement of Paragraph J in the Beijing Platform of Action, put ICTs on women’s movements’ agenda and made governments accountable, at least on paper. However, building awareness of the importance of gender considerations in ICT policy has not been an easy task. In the past 10 years, the gender and ICT advocacy movement has grown internationally and regionally. Punctuated by a series of regional and international events, beginning with Beijing to the most recent World Summit on the Information Society in 2005, a rightsbased, gender and ICT agenda has steadily gained legitimacy. Nevertheless, gender and ICT advocacy remains on the fringes of both the women’s movement and the ICT for development sector. Given the underrepresentation of women in ICT policy and decision-making processes generally, ICT policies and regulations are, in average, silent on women’s needs and views. Very few governments involve women in national ICT March 2006 |

on the potential impacts of the policies on women’s lives.

Grounding ICT policy in women’s realities Even when gender is recognised as a critical dimension of ICT policies, some actions are notably missing. One example is the recent WSIS process, where the financial mechanism proposed neglected to include a gender dimension within its articulated efforts to address development issues. In Uganda, APC WNSP member ISISWICCE notes that the the national ICT policy has interesting elements, such as making computer purchases tax exempt. However, the ICTs that women use such as recorders or mobile phone technology, do not apply and are not accessible. Taxes on a women’s radio station surpassed the station’s entire budget. Enabling access in Uganda takes on different dimensions when scrutinised from the perspective of women’s needs, use and priorities. The long-term implications of ICT policies are difficult to decipher generally, and there is still limited analysis of how women’s rights are affected by ICT policy and technological concepts. Indeed, ICTs have brought new dimensions to more ‘traditional’ women’s rights issues such as violence against women (VAW), economic empowerment or health and reproductive choices. For example, women’s movements must now deal with issues of cyber-stalking, pornography on the Internet, digital voyuerism and SMS (Short Message Service) harassment. Although the underlying issue of unequal power in gender relations remains central to the understanding of these sophisticated permutations of VAW, the enabling role of

the ICTs behind them must be made visible and challenged.

Changing the way to see ICTs Women on the ground and their issues of concern are the centre of the APC WNSP’s ICT advocacy activities, and it approaches advocacy from many different spheres. In 2005, the APC WNSP launched its Gender and ICT Policy Monitor,, to build awareness about ICT policy from the point of view of women’s critical concerns as identified in the Beijing Platform for Action, encouraging visitors to examine ICTs from a different perspective. A tool for both women’s rights activists and policy makers, provides resources and insights from Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe. It attempts to spell out policy implications to ensure that ICT policy meets women’s needs and does not infringe on their rights. Over 500 resources collected by regional editors demonstrate that key gender and ICT issues are similar everywhere, but priorities are distinct in every region. For example, a number of studies analysing gender and ICT issues are available from South Asia, but viewpoints and realities of women, living in Central Asia or Arab countries, are not documented. Since technology is often seen as genderneutral, there is also little content exploring gender aspects of issues perceived as more ‘technical’, such as security, intellectual property rights, or Internet governance. In many policy content regulations initiatives, whether they be government-legislated or self-regulated, disempower women, women and children are approached as passive victims needing state or law enforcement protection, e.g. most policy debates around


Credit: compclub2.jpg

pornography. Some governments use this discourse to control and restrict freedom of expression and information. This may lead to restrictions of the activities and communications of civil society in general, and makes it difficult for VAW survivors to access secure spaces where they can network and communicate. An Iranian women’s group recently reported that words related to women, gender, or sexuality are in the top of a keywords list subject to state censorship. But more often ‘illegal and harmful’ content filtering initiatives based on keyword databases unintentionally end up preventing access to sites which focus on sexuality and women’s sexual and reproductive health. Policy processes on all levels must be monitored as they will have important implications for women. International and regional language document plays out in national strategies that affect women’s everyday realities. For this reason, provided detailed coverage of WSIS Phase II, to bring the women’s movements attention to financing and Internet governance, and to assess the results of the seven-year WSIS process. Interviews with key gender and ICT advocates, Jacqueline A. Morris from Trinidad and Tobago and the Brazilian feminist, Magaly Pazello, helped make connections about the relevance of WSIS in women’s lives and the challenges faced by gender advocacy.’s Feminist Talk, an open platform for feminist discussion and on-site reflection of ICT policy processes was a hot blogspot during WSIS. It provides space for women’s personal, reflective and informal accounts of the different policy events and encourages sharing of views on particular gender and ICT issues.

Bringing the issues home APC WNSP developed a series of issue papers to take an in-depth look at the interconnections of women and ICTs. In 2005, the series examined the relationship between ICTs and poverty reduction; trafficking of women, and VAW to provoke discussion, deepen understanding and seek solutions. The documents provide inputs for lobbying and indeed strengthened the language of important advocacy positions such as that of the WSIS Gender Caucus on Internet Governance submitted during WSIS Prepcom 3 and the Berlin Declaration on Women Claiming the Information Society.

Tools and training Tools like Gender Evaluation Methodology for Internet and ICTs (GEM) are provided by APC WNSP to help understand the


implications of ICT initiatives in regards to issues that concern women in their own context. Lessons from GEM applications have demonstrated that access to and use of ICTs is a symbolic and real centre of power, and have informed national policy advocacy. APC WNSP has identified national-level policy advocacy as a priority post-WSIS. Gender advocates in Macedonia, Zambia and Uganda have asked for assistance in language or in understanding the implications of local policy proposals, and as many governments begin developing their ‘e-Strategies’ more requests for orientation and support are made. To respond to this growing need, the APC WNSP plans to undertake various capacity-building activities and the development of tools and resources which can assist local advocates in articulating well-defined gender strategies and programmes. Training for women’s groups in the practical application of ICTs in support of women’s networking, campaigns and solidarity efforts, as well as in safe and secure online communication, deepens APC WNSP advocacy efforts. For example, the Women’s Electronic Network Training (WENT), which takes place every year in Africa, offered hands-on training in free and open source software (FOSS) in 2005. FOSS is promoted in our ICT policy advocacy, as it has the potential to change the way women relate with ICTs, allowing for more control over the tools they use.

Celebrations In order to celebrate innovative strategies and recognise the work and achievements of gender and ICT advocates, the APC WNSP launched the Gender and ICT Awards in conjunction with the Global Knowledge Partnership in 2003. ‘Pallitathya’, an innovative mobile helpline programme via cell phones for underprivileged women in rural Bangladesh beat thirty other entries from all over the Asia-Pacific to win the 2005 GICT Awards focused on ICT initiatives which promote women’s economic empowerment and development. The next round of the Awards will highlight the use of ICTs in redressing all forms of violence against women.

A human rights gender and ICT agenda The APC WNSP gender and ICT advocacy work has been strengthened and informed by working jointly in networks with communications activists and other gender and ICT advocates worldwide. The WSIS process was a significant catalyst to enable greater political investment and engagement by women’s rights advocates in the field of ICTs, despite limited involvement from the wider women’s movement. There are still many gender dimensions to be explored, requiring a larger and diverse participation from multiple women’s movements. Particularly at the national level, gender and ICT advocacy networks are still small and lack capacity. The engagement of women in ICT policy-making, as well as the information for development community and policy makers to recognise the gendered impact of ICTs, is critical. The examples of shackled freedom of expression and association experienced by local organisations in Tunis during WSIS Phase II demonstrates the urgent need to incorporate a human rights framework into national ICT policy, legislation and practices – the one that also takes gender justice on board.„ Katerina Fialova Association for Progressive Communications Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP), Czech Republic, i4d | March 2006

Books received ICT Policies and e-Strategies in the Asia-Pacific A critical assessment of the way forward Published by: ELSEVIER, A Division of Reed Elsevier India Private Limited, New Delhi, India Edited by: Phet Sayo, James George Chacko and Gopi Pradhan ISBN 81-8147-513-5 Pages: 208 At the time when the nations in the Asia-Pacific region continue to conceptualise, implement and monitor their ICT policies and e-Strategies, the analysis of the best practices, modalities and strategies is most important. This book provides overview of ICT policies and e-Strategies currently implemented by various countries of the Asia-Pacific region. It features revised versions of the papers presented in the Asian Forum on ICT Policies and e-Strategies in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, held by UNDPAPDIP in 2003. Apart from those papers, the book also consists of an introductory chapter that provides idea about the emerging trend of e-Strategies within the Asia-Pacific region. This book is a part of a three volume series, all of which stemmed from the Asian forum. The three volume series may initiate further discussion among the policy makers, private sector and civil society representatives, development and donor agencies on the role and importance of the ICT policies and e-Strategies.

Promoting ICT for Human Development in Asia 2004 Realising the Millennium Development Goals Published by: NASSCOM and UNDP Pages: 96 ICT seems to be an indispensable tool in the fight against poverty. Although the nations of the Asia-Pacific regions are on the process to utilise the potential of ICT to change the course of development, but the benefits of ICTs have not yet progressed at the same pace across the nations throughout the world. This book is a country study of India, one March 2006 |

of the ninestudies in the Asia-Pacific region undertaken to feed into the Regional Human Development Report on ‘Promoting ICT for Human Development in Asia’. The study was initiated with the aim of examining the question of how best can ICTs be utilised to bring about social transformation and development. It reveals the ways in which ICTs can be harnessed to best address the key critical concerns and sectors of human development focussing on the very important sectors such as poverty eradication, health care, education, human resources and environmental management and economic development. This book provides a review and assessment of the progress made so far in India in drafting and implementing its national e-Politics and e-Strategies towards national development goals and thoughts and also the MDGs.

An Overview of ICT Policies and e-Strategies of Select Asian Economies Published by: ELSEVIER, A Division of Reed Elsevier India Private Limited, New Delhi, India Author: Emmanuel C Lallana ISBN 81-8147-753-7 Pages: 47 This publication is part of UNDP-APDIP’s ICT4D series. This study is useful to promote the countries of the Asia-Pacific region to learn from each other while incorporating the ICT strategies into their development goals. This study provides an overview of ICT policies in nine Asian countries such as India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, the Singapore, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. The entire study has been divided into three chapters. The first chapter focuses on the current state of infrastructure development in the nations. The second chapter reviews the current ICT policies in the countries under study and the third chapter presents a comparative picture of ICT policies. The study emphasises on the need of the government’s role in ICT development to implement appropriate e-Strategies and e-Policies in all the nations. This study will help the readers a clear idea about way of shaping legal and regulatory environment in selected countries to take the advantage of ICT as a development tool. „


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Bytes for All... Debate of the Month 5 Key Issues for Next 10 Years Satish Jha invited Bytes For All readers to contribute their thoughts on what they considered were key issues for the next 10 years. Here’s a summary he prepared based on his findings. Poverty: It is now being increasingly appreciated that the poor are a huge untapped opportunity for businesses. Governments have tried with little success. Transforming the existing business models to address the needs of the poor creates a new market that triggers its own growth impulses. The model can be extended to eradicate worst forms of poverty in a manageable span of time. Energy and Environment: Energy situation needs fresh perspectives where leadership from India can bring in a new holistic approach to marrying energy needs with environmental concerns. Healthcare: Given the current state of understanding of common diseases it is possible to get rid of the most widespread diseases that cause avoidable suffering for a large number of people in developing countries. We need to create healthcare models that can bring down the cost of disease management and within the reach of the poorest. An Indian leadership in this area can bring the possibility of making a difference of an order of magnitude. Learning: Even the poor recognise education and learning the most significant way out of the cycle of poverty. It is inability to access education that has kept most of them from getting out of it. New technologies make it possible for everyone to become literate and acquire skills appropriate to make them productive members of society. Water: Four billion people in the world do not have access to potable water benchmarked to what is available through the public system in the urban world. A project based approach can bring them closer to having clean water that can hugely impact the healthcare costs and disease management as well. Disaster Relief: Recent disasters from Tsunami to earthquakes to hurricane have tested our capacity to quickly offer relief and contain suffering. Disasters are no longer local and need global response to mitigate their worst consequences. Digital Divide: Digital technologies offer us opportunities that never existed in ramping up our efforts to make the world literate, universal access to acquiring appropriate skills at costs that extend the frontiers of those who can access them. Its flip side creates a divide larger than any that we have seen and managing it well can help us achieve what seemed unthinkable just a few years ago.

Courtesy: Hasin Hayder,

Search Bengali keywords in Google Google comes up with the capacity to search Bengali contents on the web. One can now put Bengali key words in Google and find relevant Bengali pages or links. Courtesy: Nazrul Islam, 7460

Digital communities prize up for Prix Ars in 2006 Prix Ars Electronica will again be awarding the ‘Digital Communities’ title in 2006. The Digital Communities category is open to smart, successful ways of deploying digital technologies to solve social problems. Prizes include One Golden Nica with 10,000 Euro, two Awards of Distinction with 5,000 Euro each and up to 12 Honorary Mentions will be awarded by the Jury. The deadline for submissions is March 17, 2006. Courtesy: Sunil Abraham,

Book: e-Commerce and small enterprise A set of online/downloadable guidance handbooks dealing with eCommerce in small enterprise in India is now available here. Courtesy: Richard Heeks,

Book: Wireless networking for the developing world We are proud to announce the completion of a 250-page free book, jam-packed with information about building wireless networks in the developing world. Courtesy: Tomas

Book: Towards an African e-Index Research ICT Africa! has recently launched the book entitled ‘Towards an African e-Index’ which documents a research initiative investigating both individual and household ICT access and usage in sub-Sahara Africa. Courtesy: Frederick Noronha, 11/16/african-e-index-shares-alike/

Book: Internet Handbook for Journalists UNESCO has published a handbook for journalists of developing countries on the use of Internet for journalistic purposes. Courtesy: Irfan Khan

Events, Releases and Announcements

Special Report on Information Society: The Next Steps

First Bangla Blog now online

The Report looks at how the ICT landscape is changing in the developing world and what lies ahead.

The first ever localised bangla blog has been hosted by a NorwegianBangladeshi joint venture company This blog features popular online keyboard parsers, virtual keyboard for novices and most surprisingly a phonetic Bangla keyboard which transliterate English into Bangla.


Courtesy: Nadia Afrin, informationsociety

Panacea Dreamweavers’ Tamil Freeware The Panacea Dreamweavers’ Tamil Freeware suite includes R4U (Tamil-English word processor), Mugavari (Tamil-English address i4d | March 2006

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Bytes for All... book), Sangam Pro (NGO management package), Selvam (accounting software), fonts and dictionaries.

Disaster Information System launched The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the Oxford Internet Institute at the Oxford University have joined hands and launched the website, supported by Consumers’ Union WebWatch and sponsored by Google, Lenovo and Sun Microsystems to fight ‘badware’. Courtesy: Dr D.C. Misra,

Online meetup by National Association for the Blind The National Association for the Blind in New Delhi has been conducting a weekly programming workshop moderated by Arun Mehta. Different people here are learning different languages at different speeds. Courtesy: Frederick Noronha, index.php

OS Edubuntu is available for free Edubuntu is a complete Linux-based operating system, freely available with community based support. Edubuntu is fundamentally different from traditional proprietary software, you have the right to modify your software until it works the way you want it to. Courtesy: Frederick Noronha,

Goa Knowledge Commission website launched The Goa Knowledge Commission, constituted by Government of Goa on November 10, 2005 has launched its website on February 2, 2006. Courtesy: Dr D C Misra,

Call for papers on the Digital Commons Asian Conference on the Digital Commons from April 18-20, 2006 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Natural Disaster Information System (NDIS) is a first of its kind pilot project aimed at alerting people about any impending natural disaster.

ICT4D The 1$ Encyclopedia Think of wikipedia content available on CD for offline viewing. Wikipedia certainly can replace Encarta/Britannica for students who can not pay hefty amount. Courtesy: Thejesh GN, thread.html

100 NGOs meet for Asia Source Asia Source was an eight day hands-on workshop aimed at building the technical skills of NGOs in South and South East Asia held at the end of January. Its primary goal was to act as a focal point in increasing the practical uptake of FOSS desktop and tools amongst the voluntary sector in South and South East Asia. Courtesy: Guntupalli Karunakar,

Rampal Knowledge Fair A Knowledge Fair 2006 took place in Rampal from January 20-21. It highlighted new ways to introduce ICT in rural villages. Courtesy: MD. Arafatul Islam, =158999&sys=3

GEP: Network to build opportunities for young people Global Education Partnership is a network of educators, development professionals, business people, and visionaries which won the 2004/05 APC Hafkin Prize. Courtesy: Fredrerick Noronha, 01/23/stories/2006012300200300.htm

Building analytical capacity among 8-18 year olds The goal of this project is to create a comprehensive curriculum for learners aged 8 to 18, which develops their analytical skills through the use of software and software engineering tools. Bytes for All: Bytes For All Readers Discussion: bytesforall_readers Bytes for All RSS syndication: RSS Bytes for All Readers Forum RSS syndication: Bytes for All Summary Archive: Bytes for All discussion summary compiled by: Zunaira Durrani, Bytes for All, Pakistan March 2006 |


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How to get started and keep going For fostering the rural prosperity, all over the developing world a new concept of Rural Knowledge Centres (RKC) has been emerged through which villagers can proceed towards poverty alleviation by increasing their household income. To aid the implementation of this government initiative and bridging the acute digital divide that exists between rural and urban areas, Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication recently conducted a three days training workshop, from 22nd Feb to 24th Feb, 2006 at YPSA Human Resource Development Centre (HRDC), Sitakund, Chittagong, focusing on establishment and management policies of Rural Knowledge Centre under the title of ‘Rural Knowledge Centre: How to Get Started and Keep Going’.

Promoting Rural Knowledge Centres (RKC) Mr. AHM Bazlur Rahman, Chief Executive Officer, BNNRC and Mr. Golam Nabi Jewel, Consultant, BNNRC and e-Activist played the roles of Training Coordinator and Focal Trainer respectively. Besides, Mr. Debobroto, Head, ICT4D unit, YPSA also conducted some sessions in the training. The inauguration ceremony was graced by local elected body Al-hazz Abul Kalam Azad, Municipal Chairman, Sitakund upazila. Mr. Jalal Uddin Ahmed, Upazilla Nirbahi Officer (UNO), head of local civil servants attended the unadorned concluding session. A total of 19 participants from 10 development organisations of which nine are working in the coastal belt of Bangladesh attended the training. At the training workshop, Ms. Shipra Sharma, Research Officer, One World South Asia and Mr. Bibhusan Bista, Technical Officer, Bellanet South Asia (Nepal Office) were present as participant observer. In a participatory way at the training workshop, the participating organisations


tried to determine the information needs of their respective areas in a prescribed framework provided by the organisers. Besides, they tried to distinguish probable activities administrable through RKC within their working periphery. Finally, an action plan under which the participating organisations will start the process of RKC establishment, was developed.

Targets and outputs Being a network mandated to work for narrowing the digital divide, BNNRC took this initiative for addressing her obligation to strengthen the ICT movement in Bangladesh. This is the first course of this type introduced in Bangladesh. This course was designed and organised aiming to aid achieving the five following targets: (i) ICT matrix depicted in PRSP (within 2015 Bangladesh Government is determined to build telecentres in every village), (ii) WSIS action plan, (iii) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), (iv) Action plan prepared by Bangladesh Caucus in OWSA ARM-2006 (one Rural Knowledge Centre in every union by 2015) and (v) National ICT Policy, 2002. One of the outputs of this training workshop will be a well structured, comprehensive and user friendly guide along with a national curriculum which will help in establishing, managing and organising further Rural Knowledge Centre all over Bangladesh. Comparing to other parts of Bangladesh, situation is relatively worse in

disaster prone and more vulnerable coastal region when we talk about initiatives facilitating access to information. In this context, currently the biggest challenge the country is facing is in shaping and determining the usage of ICT in these areas. It needs to develop a replicable course of actions that can assure success of this endeavour. So, almost all the participants selected for the first batch of this training workshop, came from organisations working in the coastal belt of Bangladesh. This training workshop successfully instigated interest among the members from government offices, donor community, civil society and ICT practitioners. The next training workshop on establishment and management policies of Rural Knowledge Centres will be arranged in the next June, 2006. For ensuring optimum use of recently launched fiber optic cable and positive advancement of the livelihood of rural populace, BNNRC expressed her optimism of conducting such training in every three months and thus aids the spreading of RKC through out the country. BNNRC feels RKC can play a significant role in empowering the target beneficiaries of all development initiatives. Standing on today’s ground, she no longer believes that ICT is a privilege only to the financially able or solvent populace, but wants to declare that it is one of the very basic rights for every human being irrespective of wealth, age, race, nationality or religion.„ i4d | March 2006


e-Strategies at a glance National ICT policies and e-Strategies - of few SAARC countries ICT




Bhutan • • • • • • •

Teledensity 3.1% Internet since 1999 Network digitisation in progress Rural connectivity being pursued Mobile phone introduced Establishment of Ministry of Information and Communications (2003) Development of ICT White Paper based on Digital Opportunity Initiative (DOI)

• • • • •

Ministry of Information and Communications National ICT Policy Sector ICT Policies formulated Bhutan Information Technology Strategy (BITS), 1999 ICT Master Plan (2001)

Maldives • • • • •

Teledensity 10.85% Information Technology Development Project (ITDP) Government Network of Maldives (GNM) Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MCT) being planned and developed 30% overall telecom access including mobile

• • •

Email subscription growth ~ 150% per year (1995-2002) 22 ISPs Teledensity 1.4% (2003) expected to increase to 15% by 2017 Six VSATs, eight radio paging service provider 50% of 3,914 Village Development Commissions (VDCs) have telephones (Feb, 2002) Fibre optic network planned 70,000 mobile subscribers (mid-2003) – low due to high cost

• • • •

• •

Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology National ICT Policy in process National Centre for Information Technology (NCIT), 2003 – Policy implementation Administrator of GNM Telecommunications Policy 2001 – 2005 in place

Nepal • • • • • • •

• • • •

Ministry of Science and Technology High Level Commission for Information Technology National Communication Policy, 1992 -15 strategies National Strategy Paper on ICT (National Planning Commission) Telecommunications Policy, 1999 IT Policy, 2000 BOT Emphasised (permitted FDI up to 80% stake) Currently Telecom Policy being revised to suit expansion of ICT applications and industry

Pakistan • • •

Teledensity 2.87% (2003) Mobile density 1% (2002) 1,700 cities have Internet access (2003)

Sri Lanka • Teledensity 8.0% • Three fixed-line operators • Four Mobile phone operators • 32 ISPs • Telephone services to 595 rural sub-post offices underway

• • •

Pakistan IT Commission 11 Working Groups under auspices of IT Policy (2000) e-Government considered extremely important

• • •

Ministry of Economic Reforms, Science and Technology National Computer Policy, 1983 ICT Road through eSL initiative Objectives of eSL policy, 2003 - Implementation - Infrastructure and environment - Human resource - e-Government - ICT for development

Source: ICT Policies and e-Strategies in the Asia-Pacific, A critical assessment of the way forward, published by ELSEVIER, A Division of Reed Elsevier India Private Limited, New Delhi, India (2004). SAARC refers to South Asian Association for Regional Cooporation.


i4d | March 2006

Asia e-Learning Network, Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme, British Council Thailand, Centre for Good Governance, Commission on Higher Education, The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, National Electronics and Computer Technology Center, NSTDA Online Learning Project, The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation, SEAMEO RIHED, The Singapore infocomm Technology Federation, Software Industry Promotion Association, Software Park Thailand,, The University of Washington Centre for Internet Studies, National University of Singapore, Rangsit University, The University of Malaya Faculty of Economics and Administration, University Teknologi MARA, Danish Technological Institute, Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies, GIS Development, Ministry of ICT and Ministry of Education of Royal Thai Government

are all partnering for the Asian Telecentre Forum 2006

Are you joining in?

April 26 - 28, 2006 Rama Gardens Hotel and Resort Bangkok, Thailand

ICT Policy : March 2006 Issue  

i4d encompasses the role and relevance of ICT in various development sectors such as Rural Development, Gender, Governance, Micro-finance, E...

ICT Policy : March 2006 Issue  

i4d encompasses the role and relevance of ICT in various development sectors such as Rural Development, Gender, Governance, Micro-finance, E...