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Vol. V No. 5

May 2007

The first monthly magazine on ICT4D

Story telling for knowledge sharing - iConnect series eLearning in African and Latin American countries Information for development

ICTs- a viable solution for SMEs ICT and SMEs in Egypt: A case study

Technology integration into enterprising projects

ISSN 0972 - 804X

Promoting innovations, role of ICTs in SMEs

ICTs in SMEs, Mexico

knowledge for change


Vol. V No. 5

May 2007

Mail box

Features 6

Nigeria Rocks


SME Secenario


ICTs in SMEs, Mexico

Enterprising youth Gbenga Sesan

Networking to develop the economies Ajitha Saravanan, Shambhu Ghatak, Prashant Gupta

Technology integration into enterprising projects Juan Villalvazo-Naranjo


ICT Studies on Costa Rican SMEs




ICT and SMEs in Egypt: A Case Study

21 34


Janadhar: Soochna Kutir Projects Moving towards masses Ravinder Singh

Bytes for All

ICTs- a viable solution for SMEs Dr. Zeinab Safar, Dr. Osama Elbahar


Books received


45 46

What’s on

ICT enabled business incubators from Asia

In Fact Entering into enterprising

Golden Icon Award 2005 to SENET India

Corporate Profile: FINO

‘i4d is a very interesting and useful magazine for all those who are interested in knowing how important the role Information and Communication Technologies can play in all aspects of development’ Klaus Pendl Project Officer, International Relations Unit, Information Society and Media, European Commission, Belgium

Columns 40

Connecting Indian SMEs through a portal Dolly Bhasin


Field Report

Discriminants for the adoption of ICTs Kaushalesh Lal

Enterprise management and artisan SHGs

et online.n info@i4d

23 News

Nice job of fitting the minimum equipment list and addresses of few universities in the article entiltled ‘Serving tool for the farming communities’ (Vol.V No.4). I am extremely pleased that the spirit of the article is intact! Keep up the good job and let me know if CSDMS can make best use of my experience in CR at training level. I have trained several groups in management, production and broadcast of CR based programmes.

35 ICTD project newsletter

Clarification and Disclaimer

Role of technology to expand Microfinance Manish Khera Story telling for knowledge sharing

in African and Latin 27 eLearning American countries Stories by: Ramata Soré, Paula M. Carrión, Emily Nyarko, Almahady Moustapha Cissé, Edris Kisambira, Michael Malakata

Mahesh Acharya (VU3MBV) Freelance Consultant in Community Radio, India

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Cover images credit: Mobile Computer Education Bus.jpg

The contents of the article titled ‘Challenges ahead for community radio’ published in the Rendezvous section in April issue of i4d (page 43) are entirely those of the author and not of the organisers of this important event. Editor-in-Chief

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i4d Editorial Calendar 2007 Month



Malaysian ICT for Development


eAsia Conference curtain raiser special + Communities of Practice in Telecentres


Human Rights and eAsia conference report special


Community Radio and Gender special


Promoting innovations, role of ICTs in SMEs


Lead up to GK 3 - Emerging Technologies


ICTs for livelihoods/wealth creation (BPO/KPO/Cyber cafes/Kiosks)


Government investments in ICT4D (Review of CSC, India Programme)


Lead up to GK 3 - Emerging Markets


Internet Governance


Lead up to GK 3 - Emerging Leaders in ICT4D



i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

 Editorial Information for development

Inclusive ICTs for SMEs

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 Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Switzerland Wijayananda Jayaweera UNESCO, France EDITORIAL BOARD Akhtar Badshah, Frederick Noronha GROUP DIRECTORS Maneesh Prasad, Sanjay Kumar EDITORIAL TEAM Editor-in-Chief Ravi Gupta Programme Co-ordinator Jayalakshmi Chittoor Sr. Research Associates Ritu Srivastava, Prashant Gupta, Shambhu Ghatak

On May 1, 2007, the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, inaugurating the new campus of the Institute for Studies in Industrial Development, said in clear words that the country’s industrialisation could not be dependent on large corporate groups and it required small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for both growth and employment. Observers will recognise the duality of this statement considering the aggressive neo-liberal and globalisation policies being followed at the centre as well as state levels. The prime minister spoke about the dangers “Crony (Monopolistic) Capitalism”, which tends to confer state privileges on a select few. The role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in employment, growth and development is now recognised the world over. SMEs have played a major role in the growth and development of all leading Asian economies. There is a need for a shift in favour of SMEs and micro enterprises at the policy level, to ensure a more balanced flow of investment towards the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The policy most be gender sensitive to enable women micro entrepreneurs and self help groups (SHGs) to aspire to become small and medium level enterprises. New developments are forcing SMEs to seek offshore markets, to upgrade their internal technological and organisational capacities to international standards, in order to look for contracts within more international markets. The new trading environment in which SMEs find themselves offers both a range of opportunities and threats.

Research Associate Ajitha Saravanan Designers Bishwajeet Kumar Singh, Om Prakash Thakur Web Programmer Zia Salahuddin i4d G-4 Sector 39, NOIDA, UP, 201 301, India Phone +91 120 250 2181-85 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.

Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies, 2006 Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License

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To achieve maximum gain from trade in the new scenario it is essential to improve governance, build capacity, reduce transaction costs, address non-tariff barriers, increase Internet access and facilitate trade and investment to improve the capacity of SMEs to export. Capacity building includes: access to finance; improved professional skills (IT, management, accounting and entrepreneurship); improved business infrastructure; removal of trade barriers that particularly adversely affect SMEs. E-commerce use by SMEs also lags behind Usage of technology is also a problem due to set up and usage costs lack of adequate infrastructure and IT skills. All the above-mentioned issues can be either partially or fully addressed by ICT integration in the SME sector. A more holistic ICT integration will also look towards helping in networking and building of collaborative SME clusters. SME clusters in India are not performing upto their full potential. There are about 350 modern and 2000 artisans based rural clusters in existence. ICT can significantly complement cluster-grown initiatives especially for small and micro enterprises. ICT adoption by the Indian clusters is extremely low. (30% including the IT firms, according to some industry estimates). SMEs suffer from disadvantage principally in the areas of access to information and technology, willingness to adopt new ICTs, paucity of funds, and lack of knowledge. It remains to be seen how policy interventions, capacity building initiatives and networking collaborations take advantage of the new trading environment, and harness the social potentials of SMEs, as there are also differences between developed and developing nations.

Ravi Gupta

May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |


‘i’ Opener N IGERIA R OCKS

Enterprising youth The obvious challenge is how the youth will transit from activism and policy engagement to core action that will improve the livelihoods of other young Nigerians.

Gbenga Sesan Program Manager, Lagos Digital Village Nigeria


A new found expression

Gathering for change initiatives

‘Keep quiet! What do young men know beyond music and girls?’ That was the response an innocent young man got when he sought to air his views during an early IT Policy meeting in Lagos, Nigeria. But he wouldn’t be held down. He expressed himself and got some amazing support on the need to involve youth in policy processes to ensure sustainability and efficacy of planned efforts. That was then – back in the days. The story is very much different now, in Nigeria and other countries. Almost every stakeholder has now come to see the need to include young people in processes that must endure the test of time and energy. Young people do not only ensure sustainability, they also energise processes and are the major drivers of technology- extending the perimetres of innovation. During the recently-concluded World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), young Nigerians joined forces with other youth across the world to take the WSIS message to rural communities, actively engage other youth around the world, and prove the possibility of achieving developmental goals only if young people are given a proper platform of expression. The Nigerian Information Society space was not spared by the positive energies that her youth radiated – and still radiate. These passionate young men and women held ‘National Youth Information Society Campaigns’ from one corner of the country to the other; participated in international meetings; led (and still lead) action through various efforts that empower and enhance livelihoods; and have now come together to create the Nigerian Youth ICT4D Network ( that will bridge the gap between global processes and local reality. In a book titled, ‘Global Process, Local Reality: Nigerian Youth Lead Action in the Information Society’ ( downloads/glocal.pdf), some of these youth told their stories.

The year was 2000; and the place, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. The event was a small meeting of young men and women meeting under the banner of the Electronic Club, and the topic of the day was centered on how young people can latch on to emerging technologies and ride on the wings of such to participate actively in the New Economy. Mr. Kanmi Adewara spoke extensively on the topic, and introduced participants to Philip Emeagwali -someone he described as a phenomenon. Ripples of the discussions went on to drive that year’s annual departmental week of the Electronic and Electrical Engineering Students’ Society at the Obafemi Awolowo University, with then controversial theme, ‘The Future of Nigeria’. Justice was done to the theme by Dr. Chris Uwaje, who had been introduced to the leader of the group by none other than Philip Emeagwali – after he was contacted by the young chairman of the Electronic Club. Following these strings of opportunities, a group of young people moved online to float a mailing list then known as ‘Black Pioneers’, and enjoyed dynamic Internet opportunities that were available on campus. During the holidays, young men and women would stay back on campus in holy romance with their newfound love – the Internet! It was a series of innocent efforts and expressions, but the events of that year-along with many other parallel efforts from various quarters (and some even dating back to earlier times)- gave birth to a dynamic youth movement around ICT issues in Nigeria. Building on the existing framework of youth empowerment opportunities – most especially among the organised student groups – and under the auspices of the IT Youth Ambassador’s office, a series of youth empowerment sessions were organised in various schools. Beginning with the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta in November 2001 (with a 2-part presentation titled ‘Introduction to Web Development i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

and Applications’) and growing into other regions (of the nation and the continent), the training of Youth ICT empowerment and advocacy reached 32 people-groups and meetings – including the Senate Committee on Science and Technology – by September 2003. The idea of a National Youth Service Corps Information Technology Community Development Group (InfoTech Corps) that also started within this period has gone ahead to become a popular success story in many states of Nigeria.

Novel challenges These engagements brought networking opportunities, as youth teamed up to meet the ICT challenges of the time. Beginning with the eNigeria 2003 event, a Youth Caucus was born. The Youth Caucus also derived energy from the young people who had been (and are still) involved with the ongoing World Summit on the Information Society. With some support from a non-profit organisation in Lagos, West African NGO Network, we started what was then known as the Nigerian Youth Coalition on ICTs (NYC-ICTs). The coalition implemented the National WSIS Youth Campaign and brought more visibility to the role of Nigerian Youth in the Information Society, especially as the coalition boasted of numerous networks including the Nigerian Association of Computer Science Students. Tope Oketunji was then the president of NACOSS and his dynamic inputs have been sustained to date – and improved upon by Olutayo Cyrus (the present NACOSS President and an advocate in his own right). The network was also blessed with the presence of a dynamic student who was to later become the second Nigerian IT Youth Ambassador – Edward Popoola. The gradual growth from the humble efforts of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria met with less friction as the work around Youth and ICTs became more popular. It wasn’t particularly about youth, ICTs or the young people who were blessed to be right in the middle of the happenings – it was the emergence of an idea whose time had come. It was time for young Nigerians to export the values that they had proved worthy at home. In 2002, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria had teamed up with 2 youth-led efforts in Ghana to start the African Youth Initiative – which helped kick-start the Youth and ICTs revolution in Ghana. Three years later, young Africans gathered in Ghana with a ‘twin-vision’ in mind – soak in all the knowledge one can, at the pan-African meeting, and give one’s best as young Nigerians at the preparatory meeting. And that was done!

May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |

It was reported that, ‘Bearing national symbols (flags made from a local fabric) around their necks and waists – and nation building on their minds – young Nigerians led discussions, facilitated meetings, produced newsletters, met with dignitaries, resolved issues, matched words with action, stayed up late… in order to help meet Africa’s Information Society needs’. The African Youth ICT4D Network was launched at the Accra meeting, with young Nigerians playing prominent roles to date.

Revealing landmarks In life, there are landmarks that reveal to us the strength of the past, staying power of the present and possible glory for the future. In themselves, these landmarks (or light houses) are not successful. Their success derives from their ability to engage other stakeholders in order to bring alive the principles and values that drive their own operations – and the youth remain grateful to such efforts that dot the Nigerian landscape. But as we look into the mirror (and my personal diary) each day, it is realised that the strong need and obvious challenge of building Nigeria’s Next IT Generation! The trust that the Nigerian Youth ICT4D Network will take care of these need as a transition generation empower the next generation in order to keep the flame alive and ensure that in the next few years, Nigeria’s active role (and possible leadership) of the Information Society is assured. All stakeholders must come together to equip youth or risk Nigeria’s inability to play in the new economy, and it is instructive to dare say that if one can’t compete in the information age, they will become dinosaurs in the conceptual age! It is difficult not to mention the exciting role of the Tunis Summit (WSIS phase II) in the whole process that was eventually codenamed, ‘Nigeria Rocks!’. With an active and highly informed youth team from Nigeria, the ‘Youth Pavilion’ was painted green (colour of the traditional fabric and T-shirt worn by these young Nigerians) and the whole process felt their presence through the various meetings, panels and discussions they participated in. With the WSIS process now over, the obvious challenge is how these youth will transit from activism and policy engagement (which will still be available for use over time) to action that will improve the livelihoods of other young Nigerians. If one could feel this pulse, they will hear the hearts beat: ‘S-o-c-i-a-l—e-n-t-r-e-p-r-e-n-e-u-r-s-hi-p’, ‘t-e-l-ec-e-n-t-r-e-s’, and many other ideas that will now bridge the gap between talk and action! Nigeria Rocks!



Networking to develop the economies Introduction In developing nations, mobilising SME viability has attained significant positions among many strategies of economic development. In the scenario of global, knowledge-based economy, these nations are now looking to make use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to support and facilitate SME development. ICTs have proven to be vital tools in improving the efficiency and expanding the out reach of SMEs to global market in a more innovative way. There is no universal definition of SMEs since the sector is diverse and flexible that resists any narrow categorisation. SMEs are generally defined on the basis of annual turnover, number of employees, investment in plants and machineries, assets etc.

SMEs in Asia The contributions of SMEs to employment and the countries’ gross domestic product (GDP) are by no means trivial. As of July 2006, close to 140 million SMEs in 130 countries employed 65 percent of the total labour force. SMEs already contribute bulk of growth, and SMEs could make a much bigger contribution to the Asian regional economy if efforts were made to address impediments to SME internationalisation. This could add as much as $1.18 trillion in trade over a 5 year period. It is without a doubt that ICT has enabled the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) networks to become more integrated, and more effective across longer distances, operating with more efficiency and conducting transactions in greater volume. However, it must be noted that in reality the small businesses that constitute the bulk of developing economies have yet to reap these benefits evenly as obtaining such opportunities rest largely upon the ability


of its SMEs to engage in the regional and global economic business networks which, in turn, demands provision of a pre-requisite level of access to and use of ICT. China is regarded by all SME leaders as having the most competitive SMEs. This is followed by North Asian markets including Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore. There is a lot of scope in other regions to enhance the competitiveness of the SMEs. East Asian SMEs for example provide about 70 percent of employment in the region. However, it can be noticed that the average number of people employed per SME is more in developing countries when compared to the developed economies. This means there are fewer start-ups, and the pool of SMEs from which high grown SMEs can emerge is much smaller. This makes a strong case for a major thrust on micro-enterprises to push up employment rates. On a broader scale, within and among countries in the Asia Pacific region there are growing rural-urban disparities in terms of policy support, access, affordability, and absence and relevance of practical content. The rural-urban digital divide is widening because of geographic locations, lower literacy, and lack of knowledge and awareness. Urban populations seem to be benefiting more than the rural areas from new infrastructure, applications, and services. Supporting MSME as a vehicle of self-empowerment, capable of working in both the urban and rural environment, can effectively act to connect the two environments together, facilitate knowledge transfer and encourage collaboration. The top 10 barriers (i) Shortage of working capital to finance exports; (ii) identifying foreign business opportunities; (iii) limited information to locate/analyse markets; (iv), inability to

contact potential overseas customers; (v) obtaining reliable foreign representation; (vi) lack of managerial time to deal with internationalisation; (vii) inadequate quantity of and/or untrained personnel for internationalisation; (viii) difficulty in matching competitors’ prices; (ix) lack of home government assistance/incentives; (x) excessive transportation/insurance costs.

SMEs in Africa SMEs comprise over 90 percent of African business operations and contribute to over 50 percent of African employment and GDP. SMEs sector has shown positive signs in South Africa, Mauritius and North Africa. In South Africa, SMEs constitute 55 percent of all jobs and 22 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the year 2003. SMEs constitute 95 percent of formal manufacturing activity in Nigeria. Senegal and Kenya have provided conducive environment for SMEs. Subcontracting is uncommon in Africa, but has grown in South Africa since the year 1998. Clusters of SMEs are little developed in Africa and are concentrated mainly in South Africa, Kenya Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. In Angola, Novobanco provides loans free of bank charges, without a minimum deposit and informal guarantees (property assets and a guarantor), as well as permanent contact with loan managers. During 2005, the UN Year of Microfinance, the international spotlight was firmly on SME development in Africa. Some of the initiatives for the SMEs sector in Africa are: • UK Commission for Africa: It advocated the creation of an African Enterprise Challenge Fund , to be backed by US$ 100 million of investment, and is designed to support private sector initiatives targeted at SME development. i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

African Development Bank: AfDB launched a Small and Medium Enterprise Facility in Africa (SMEF-Africa) to complement its existing franchisee to support SMEs development programme. International Finance Corporation: It published the work of its Africa Project Development Facility (APDF) to support SMEs and, in collaboration with other donors, established the Private Enterprise Partnership for Africa (PEP-Africa) to build on the work of the APDF in establishing a strong private sector in Africa. United Nations Industrial Development Organisation: UNIDO established a Cluster/Network Development Programme so as to provide access to training, information and advice on business management for SMEs.

Problems faced by SMEs (i) Political and economic instability; (ii) limitations in absolute market potential; (iii) informal or non norganised ( Bringing the SMEs into the formal sector is expected to generate increased revenue through taxation and Formalisation can help the SMEs to get protection under legislation.); (iv) standardisation and benchmarking, (v) lack of a coherent regulatory framework and a legal/policy environment which is conducive to business; (vi)small local markets and undeveloped regional integration; (vii) access to formal finance is poor because of the high-risk of default among SMEs and due to inadequate financial facilities; (viii) micro-credit institutions remain fragile and modest in size etc.

SMEs in Latin America Studies pertaining to Latin America reveals that clustering has helped local enterprises to overcome the growth constrains if attention are to be paid for the factors like external linkages and significance of global market, imbibing specialised skills, and getting access to technology, information and credit facilities. Recent changes in system of production, channels of distribution and financial markets, accelerated by the globalisation and the spread of Information and Communication Technologies too suggest more attention needs to be paid for the external linkages to upgrade the clusters to boost nations’ economy. The nature of the industrial sector also plays a role that affects the SMEs’ upgrading prospects (upgrading as innovating to increase value added). Enterprises may achieve this in various ways, as for example by entering higher unit value market niches, by entering new sectors, or by undertaking new productive (or service) functions. Obstacles for small businesses (i) Lack of data and definitional understanding, (ii) inadequate government support hindering the competitiveness; (iii) access to funding and working capital; (iv) lack of conducive legal systems for their countries (iv) market intelligence and streamlinsing the supply chains; (v) transportation infrastructure etc. Key issues in this broad study include perceptions around business climate, economic and employment forecasts and specific business practices. It also examines the importance of international commerce, the impact of free trade agreements and the influence of China. May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |

Facts about SMEs in Africa • Around 80 per cent of firms in Congo have fewer than five workers. Congo has 2,100 firms in the formal and 10 000 in the informal sector. • A 1997 survey in Benin showed that of the 666 SMEs counted, half were in commerce and the rest were mostly in construction, or were pharmacies and restaurants. Only 17 per cent were in manufacturing. • SMEs in Kenya employed some 3.2 million people in 2003 and accounted for 18 per cent of national GDP. • SMEs in Senegal contribute about 20 per cent of national value-added. • SMEs in Nigeria account for some 95 per cent of formal manufacturing activity and 70 per cent of industrial jobs. • In Morocco, 93 per cent of all industrial firms are SMEs and account for 38 per cent of production, 33 per cent of investment, 30 per cent of exports and 46 per cent of all jobs. • Micro and very small businesses in South Africa provided more than 55 per cent of total employment and 22 per cent of GDP in 2003. Small firms accounted for 16 per cent of both jobs and production and medium and large firms 26 per cent of jobs and 62 per cent of production. Source: African Development Bank and OECD Development Centre, African Economic Outlook (2004-2005). •

• • •

Lifting of trade barriers and the establishment of free trade agreements within Latin America t for promoting greater prosperity, according to 92 percent of SME executives 72 percent anticipate greater trade with China 53 percent of SME leaders have plans to expand their payrolls. To sustain the success and competitiveness, 87 percent of the region’s executives want government to provide more support and 86 percent want greater access to financing

Conclusion It is expected that the presence of global companies can help the establishment and growth of SMEs, through the use of local suppliers and distributors. Innovative initiatives for encouraging and stimulating new businesses by providing seed funding, training, capacity building and business opportunities in their supply chains provide not only social but micro economic and macro economic advantages. In both developed countries and emerging markets, franchising has been effective in ensuring business growth with private ownership and skills transfer. To help SMEs emerge, there is need for a better investment climate, improved capacity to cope with banks’ requirements, and more diverse sources of financing from financial institutions and the existing large enterprises. Business cooperatives in Africa are also keen on forming SME support network to share best practices and to cross-guarantee each other’s funding. In order to encourage investment in SMEs, there is the need to reduce SME project financing risk. Ajitha Saravanan, Shambhu Ghatak, Prashant Gupta,





Technology integration in to enterprising projects An analysis of some select projects that incorporate Information and Communication Technologies, which are discussed in terms of enhanced productivity and the competitive advantages.

As part of its commitment of society, the University of Guadalajara, Department of Engineering and Projects (DIP), has in operation a project titled, ‘e-Production Chain’, for the introduction of ICTs in the production chain development with the support of the inter-American Development Bank (BID) and the ‘Production Connection Centre (CAP)’ withthe supoort of the ‘SMEs Fund. The e-Production chain, is based on a novel (U-I-G) outline, with special attention to the enterprise clusters, by introduction of computer solutions as they are called Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Supply Chain Management (SCM) which are useful for manufacturing management, marketing and providing, and have the potential to enhance competitiveness and enable cost reduction.

Objectives To strengthen and integrate the SMEs vertically, introducing the production and management technologies as to make them competitive and linking them horizontally to give them competitiveness along the value chain in the auto parts-foundry, furniture, sectors; the sub-sector for capital goods for the agricultural and cattleraising sector, electronic and plastics sectors, through two centres, a physical one and a virtual for demonstration, and technology transfer.


Juan Villalvazo-Naranjo University of Guadalajara Mexico

May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |

To achieve the project purposes, the following components and activities have been developed: • Physical and virtual demonstration centre • ICT Training to entrepreneurs • New manufacturing management

practices introduction e-Business and e-Manufacture Web Portal development • IT applications for small and medium business development To develop the project, it was necessary to create an Information Technologies Physical and Virtual Centre, taking advantage of the physical and human capacities that the University already has through its high performance computing centre (CENCAR), which allows the participant enterprises to use applications of first level without paying the high cost for adequate hardware, the software license, telecommunications infrastructure and the specialised human resources for their management through a model of Applications Service Providers (ASP) option providing Software as a Service (SaaS). This centre offers capacities for manufacturing design, business and eBusiness management, so as to guarantee security, economy, and quality. Information networks and platforms based on the Internet will be established, where different software solutions could be accessed, and at the same time the products of the different production chains could be promoted. The important services among them are as follows: • Access to ERP solutions and eBusiness via the Internet • Access to servers for system Management via the Internet • Counseling in the implementation and training in ERP solutions and e-Business • Production process re-engineering development • Design and development of web pages • Access to a commercial portal •


The selection an internationally prestigious ERP package with the desired characteristics for the project can be justified according to the following criteria: i. Type of industry, ii. Annual revenue, number of concurrent users, number of employees, iii. Budget, iv. Language support, v. Localisation, vi. Manufacturing environment, vii. Performance, viii. Structure, ix. Server platform, x. DBMS platforms, xi. Integration, xii. Standard in the industry, xiii. Adaptation to the customer, xiv. Access to clients in small volume and standards, and in addition xv. The costs and experiences reported in the entrepreneurial environment.

Case study De Anda Industrial Group, is a 100 percent Mexican enterprise with 50 years in the market, located in Tepatitlán, Jalisco. 75 Km north-east of Guadalajara with an area of 60,000 m² and with 25,000 m² of construction, has 380 employees, dedicated to satisfy the demands of the cattle producers, being the national leader through the manufacturing and marketing of poultry and cattle production equipment, buildings, and structure. Its main products are buildings, cages, corrals, feeding systems, drinking systems, solid waste collection systems, egg collection systems, and various accessories for this industry for the production of beef, chicken, and pork.

Together with these actions, the control and protection of all the material that are moved in the plant was implemented.

The second project As the enterprise did not have product or process engineering, they did not have the real cost of the products that they manufactured, so the following project was developed. ■ Creation and development of the Engineering Department and New Products. The majority of the Mexican enterprises have people that know perfectly the products that they manufacture, and the only thing they need is to relate to innovative methods and techniques, so the following actions were taken: (i) Organising the department (ii) Hiring professional personnel in this area (iii) Looking for personnel that already worked in the company to assign them to a position in this new department. The result was the development of all of the product and process engineering and getting real manufacturing costs as the basis to start with the innovation. Nowadays this department has the following personnel: • Industrial Engineer • Industrial Designer • Control Engineer Tow persons who have more than 30 years of experience working in the enterprise and know in detail the products. These two projects were done so the conditions to start introducing the ICT’s through an ERP system were ready.

Phase 1- Understanding the business The objective of this phase was to completely understand the initial situation and functioning of the business through a compilation of information.

Analysis of present situation

Phase 2- Model design

De Anda Industrial Group has seven different business units: structures, mechanisation, wire, plastics, plated and laminated structures, which causes the organization to have more operational problems. The project started with orientation of the managers, showing them the actual situation of the business and the proposals for improvements that holds priorities for implementation before the ICT’s introduction.

In this phase the design of the future business situation is done, by defining the business performance and the process of the ERP system. Based on the generated design, an analysis of the gaps is done through which the actions and adjustments are defined in case that a natural performance with the ERP system is not achieved with certain processes or requirements being critical for the client.

The first project

Phase 3- Construction



Changing the structure of functions and responsibilities: The enterprise’s problem was that some functions were not well defined, specifically those of the persons in charge of the different business units, as they had the responsibility for raw materials, product manufacturing and the control of the finished products, and this was causing considerable waste of materials. In order to solve the problem the following actions were taken: (i) A warehouse was created for raw materials and finished products (ii) The Materials Logistics and Shipping Department were developed (iii) The plant Layout was defined

Based in the model design, in this phase the configuration of the general system, modules and users is done, as in the gap adjustments analysis done in the above phase. In the same way, the reports, formats and plant layout (process) will start being generated, as well as the conversion to an connected integrated automatic accounting system across all of the business units, according to the defined design.

Phase 4- Definition and tests During this stage the required test for the model are designed, to guarantee the optimum performance of the solution (based on the criteria of acceptance of the product) After the test there is a following i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

up of the critical points, the model is corrected and it is validated with the customer.

Phase 5- Training and deployment Once the model is defined, corrected and validated, the users are trained in the installation, configuration and use of the system according to their profile, functions and responsibilities based in the design done in phase 4. As soon as the users are trained the application start is prepared to liberate the product. In this final stage the catalogue is complemented according to the revision control, the check list is done to start, and the pilot production system is deployed.

Phase 6- Stabilisation and support This stage allows stabilisation of the system helping the end users to take control of the system. For this stage, activity reports are generated, with reports and analysis of failures, and the solutions for each one.

Conclusions Some of the lessons learned are that SMEs can adopt IT. They have to take a series of courses starting with basic information sciences (Administration of PC’s, operating systems, networks, among others). Apart from the Internet, and its applications, these actions must proceed in parallel, with a restructuring of the production processes, and administration processes. As a result of the introduction of the ICT’s the participant enterprises have the opportunity to do other innovation projects and technological improvements to improve

their production processes, as the process of re-engineering, redistribution in the plant and optimisation of the process using part of the projects already done • Users’ confidence in transactions and shopping on line increases • An important percentage of entrepreneurs spend over the average of the ICT’s The enterprises that have increased their sales have also increased their market positions; this can be related to the modernisation strategies and the development of new products. In the majority of the cases they maintain their actual market share. Doing the analysis that the chain gave us, we could find that the relations among clients-suppliers are very superficial, in the sense that they are not considered as belonging to a production chain, we consider that programs to help the entrepreneurs to be conscious of the necessity of working in a production chain to be able to be competitive are needed. The success of an ERP system is found basically in the veracity and accuracy of the information with which it is fed. At the same time we can see that a software tool to help businesses to concentrate and organise the information from different variables of marketing is needed at a national and international level allowing the discovery of new market niches. Acknowledgement: This project was supported by the InterAmerican Development Bank (BID), the program ICT4-BUS, and the Minister of the Economy through the fund for SMEs (Fondo Pyme), for the introduction of ICT’s in production chain development.

SIDBI’s financial aid for SMEs in India Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has been providing refinance to State Level Finance Corporations/State Industrial Development Corporations/Banks etc., against their loans granted to small-scale units. Since its formation in April, 1990 it was felt that SIDBI, being the principal financial institution for the small sector, should take up the financing of SSI projects directly. SIDBI has since evolved into a supplier of a range of products and services to the SME sector. These are in the form of direct credit schemes, SME-IT loan schemes, Credit-linked Capital Subsidy Scheme, Technology Upgradation Scheme for Textile Industries, Scheme for Development of Industrial Infrastructure, and Integrated Development of the Leather Sector. SIDBI offers SME IT loans under its ‘Direct Finance’ schemes. These loans are disbursed for the purposes of creation or up-gradation of IT infrastructure of an SME unit. It provides finance for numerous applications viz. hardware installation, implementation of legal software and other related softwares, network setup etc.Business enterprises and service sector entities recording profit in the previous 2 years are eligible for finance from SIDBI. SMEs can get an assistance of amount ranging between INR 0.5 to 2.5 million. One can repay the loan in EMIs at very low interest rate, spread over a maximum period of 36 months. As the up-front fee, 1percent May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |

of the amount sanctioned needs to be paid. The entire process of loan sanction from SIDBI could take a week to 10 days. The ‘Application’ and ‘Loan Agreement’ are available online at:

Documents to be submitted • • • • • • • • • • •

Duly completed application form Audited financial statements of the applicant unit for the last 2 years ITRs of the unit and promoter(s) for last 2 assessment years Bank statement of the unit for last 6 months Two photographs of each of the promoter(s) duly attested by the banker Certified copy of partnership deed / memorandum and articles of association Sanction letters in respect of the facilities being enjoyed by the unit (if any ) Net worth statements of the promoters Identity Proof(s) of promoters Residence proof(s) of promoters signature verification of promoters Quotations and forwarding note from Intel® Channel member

Sources: (i)






Discriminants for the adoption of ICTs Factors representing entrepreneurship, international orientation, causes and consequences of ICT use, sources of competitiveness, and knowledge acquisition opportunities were used in the analysis of this article.

Kaushalesh Lal Researcher UNU-MERIT The Netherlands


Introduction The study aims at identifying factors that discriminated non-ICT using small firms from the rest in Costa Rica. In order to identify those factors, a survey of sixty-eight firms was conducted during July 2004 and February 2005. The technologies that have been included in the study are: CAD/CAM, CAE, FMS, MIS, eMail, Internet, and web enabled technologies. Data was analysed in a multivariate framework. The results suggest that the managing director’s (MD’s) qualification emerged as a significant discriminant though the level of significance was at 5 per cent. The emergence of MD’s academic qualification as a significant factor is not only in line with existing literature but also supports the hypotheses of the study (Lal, 1996; Earl, 1989). Since the sample was dominated by manufacturing firms, ICT tools can be used in both peripheral and core activities. This places a demand on the MDS to be aware of the intricacies of ICT tools so that the potential benefits are fully reaped. Moreover, GMs of SMEs are never in a position to adopt technologies whose benefits are not assured. The relationship between skill intensity and the intensity of ICT used is in accordance with the hypothesis of the study. The findings also corroborate with other earlier studies (Doms et al., 1997; Rada, 1982). In fact ICTs are regarded as skill based technological change. Although several proxies of skill intensity such as experience of workers and wages paid to workers have been used in earlier studies, we have considered the number of engineering graduates. We could have used percentage of engineering graduates and ordinary graduates/postgraduates in the total workforce. But we have preferred to use only engineering graduates due to skill intensity, which is more relevant for the use of ICTs.

We are not arguing that engineers are needed to use Email and the Internet but they are certainly needed for implementing the everchanging technologies such as portal and web enabled technologies. And this might be the reason of capturing the role of skill intensity in discriminating advanced ICT using firms from the rest.

Recent studies Several scholars (Stiglitz, 1989; Kiiski and Pohjola, 2002) have emphasised that ICTs play an important role in exchange of information, knowledge, and product designs between manufacturers and suppliers of technology. One of the major contributions of ICTs in the business environment is to facilitate better coordination of manufacturing activities. Portal and web enabled tools may be the bestsuited technology to co-ordinate with foreign companies particularly. Emergence of technological collaboration as an important discriminant is a case in point. The results support findings of earlier studies (OyelaranOyeyinka and Lal, 2005; Pohjola, 2001). Technologically collaborating firms need a greater degree of interaction with the suppliers of technology than other firms. Interaction consists not only in knowing the specification of imported equipment but also in sharing intangible and embodied technological knowledge. Codified knowledge such as engineering drawing, detailed design, and so on could be exchanged with the use of advanced ICTs more effectively. Emergence of MGMNT_CTRL as one of the important discriminants substantiates the findings of earlier studies (Lal, 1996; Mehta, 2000). The use of office automation technology such as MIS might have been providing better control of information to GMs. Hence, GMs of advanced ICTs using i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

firms, who were also users of MIS, might have given more importance to better management control. Although technologies such as local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) have not been included in the study, it was noticed during the survey that a few firms were using these networking technologies, and they were found to be very effective for managerial functions.

ICT integrated work system Computer integrated assembly lines are expected to be more efficient than traditional ones. The efficiency derives from the structure and self-fault detection mechanism built in at crucial stages of manufacturing. For instance, after inserting electronic components such as Large and Very Large Scale Integrated chips (LSI and VLSI) in the PCB used in an electronic product, the input and output parametres of the module are checked at the assembly stage itself.

manufacturing firms are increasingly using their web sites for advertising latest specifications of the new technologies. This information can again be easily accessed by users of those technologies. Latest trends in design and composition of textiles are very crucial information for firms engaged in this business. Without use of the Internet, access of this kind of information was virtually impossible. Hence GMs of innovative firms might have assigned due importance to ability of ICTs in providing market information.

Labour friendly system Although one need not go into details of whether the use of ICTs contributes in labour or capital productivity, the question was mainly meant for labour productivity. Findings of the study corroborate with post-1995 studies on ICTs and productivity. One was not aware of any study until mid-1990s that found evidence of productivity gains due to the use of ICTs. However, after mid1990s there have been several studies to show that advanced ICTs yield in higher labour productivity (Brynjolfsson and Hitt, 1996; Pohjola, 2001). Productivity gains in non-production activities come from the exchange of information electronically. The information exchange can take place between workers and management, within management groups, between firm and other business partners. The productivity gains in production processes stem from the use of programmable equipment. Although SMEs contribute significantly to the national economy in terms of jobs and exports, public efforts to improve their competitiveness have been erratic or weak, so the progress towards that objective seems to be small. In terms of industrial policy, the experience of the last twenty years suggests that an overall industrial strategy should be developed with a long run perspective, more than the 4 years of the presidential term. Support programmes aimed at SMEs should be overviewed through administrations and become a long-term plan focused on cluster economies based upon technology improvements and R&D to develop new and improved ways to achieve productivity and competitiveness.

Equipping SMEs And if there is any discrepancy found between the expected and actual parameters, PCB does not proceed to the next stage of manufacturing processes. It is sent automatically to the fault correction stage of the production process. Although there were very few firms engaged in manufacturing of electronic goods, the chemical and chemical products, machinery and equipment, and textiles firms might have experienced efficiency in production processes. This can be achieved by ICTs such as FMS and CNC. Consequently, GMs of firms using such tools might have attributed high importance to efficiency in production processes due to use of ICTs. Internet facilitates in searching information to a great extent are required. Information could be related to product specifications or configuration of production technologies. With the increasing use of Internet and related technologies, industry associations have developed tendencies to provide such information to their clients through non-traditional means. The relevant information can be easily searched and downloaded by firms. Technology May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |

SMEs are relatively young companies managed by middle aged, highly educated managers. Common strategies to compete are quality and product differentiation in specific niches. Training is important but R&D has very few rooms in the SME’s agenda. ICTs are highly significant for the performance of SMEs. Although the country has been able to provide extensive coverage of basic technologies in the last fourty years (fix lines, for instance), there is some lagging behind in comparison to other countries with respect to modern technologies such as Internet (coverage and speed). Although the package of Internet services provided by National Institute of Electricity allows firms to use basic functions, lack of an adequate infrastructure is impeding SMEs to advance in the use of Internet for productive, marketing and sales purposes. In general, improved performance in productivity, time advantages, design flexibility, reorganisation and management is associated with an extensive use of advanced ICTs, supporting the idea that ICTs are essential for enhancing the competitive profile of the firm.


Conclusion It was not possible to investigate the role of policy initiatives in the context of the performance of SMEs using statistical techniques. However, firm level data allowed us to identify and analyse factors that discriminated advanced ICT using firms from the rest. The ICTs that were included in the analysis are eMail, Internet, portal, web enabled technologies, MIS, CAD/ CAM, CAE, FMS, and CNC. Firms were categorised into three groups, namely: low level of ICT using firms, moderate users of ICT, and advance ICT using firms. Classification was done by a statistical technique called cluster analysis. Clustering of firms based on their intensity of ICT use was imperative as the sample had to be divided into reasonable number of distinctive groups. Subsequently, discriminant analysis was used to identify factors that discriminated different levels of ICT using firms. Factors representing entrepreneurship, international orientation, causes and consequences of ICT use, sources of competitiveness, and knowledge acquisition opportunities were used in the analysis. The results suggest that GMs knowledge base and academic background emerged as an important discriminant. The study finds that skill intensity of advance ICT using firm was higher than the rest. International orientation of firms also discriminated three groups of firms. Findings also show that GMs that attributed higher importance to ability of ICTs in providing better management control and useful market information adopted more advanced ICTs. The study finds evidence to support the argument that the adoption of ICTs results in productivity gains and efficiency in production processes. We have not been able to evaluate the performance of SMEs as a result of the adoption of ICTs due to the lack of data. One can conclude that the government needs to encourage and provide institutional support to SMEs to participate in international markets so that they remain globally competitive. Lack of this type of support could be attributed to the present state of low level of globalisation of Costa Rican SMEs. Greater participation in global markets might enable firms to increase their contribution to the national economy. 


Call for Nominations to UNESCO-IPDC Prize The UNESCO-IPDC prize for Rural Communication was established by the UNESCO Executive Board at its 120th session, in pursuance of the decision of the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Council of the IPDC. The UNESCO-IDPC Prize for Rural Communication would be awarded for the eleventh time during the twenty-sixth session of the Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). The award giving ceremony will be held at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris (France) from 26th to 28th March, 2008. One of the objectives of the IDPC is to promote the awareness about the role communication plays in the development process. The UNESCO-IPDC Prize, consisting of a sum of US $ 20,000/ - is awarded every two years. All the applications which meet the criteria for the award will be submitted through the Chairperson of the IPDC to its Bureau, which will act as the selection jury of the prize-winner. UNESCO-IDPC Prize for Rural Communication aims to to draw attention to particularly meritorious and innovative activities undertaken by public or private institutions or by persons or groups of persons working on a personal basis or as members of staff of such institutions with a view to improving communication in all its forms—and more particularly local newspapers, radio and television programmes, printing equipment and films in rural communities and primarily in the developing countries. It is important that the nominations reach the IPDC Secretariat, by 1 October 2007, at the latest, accompanied by a detailed description of work for which the candidature is proposed, as well as supporting documentations including photocopies and / or short video on the work carried out by the candidate. Nominations shall be submitted to the Chairpersons of the Intergovernmental Council of the IDPC by the governments of member States of UNESCO in consultation with their National Commissions and by the appropriate nongovernmental organisations having consultative status with UNESCO. In support of each nomination, a written recommendation shall be supplied, which include: • a description of the work undertaken; • a summary of the results achieved; • an evaluation by reference to the criteria mentioned above. The prize-winners for the UNESCO-IDPC award have to be nationals of UNESCO member states or they shall be institutions or organisations, which have their headquarters in those States. They shall have adopted one or more particularly outstanding measures to promote rural communication in the spirit of UNESCO’s ideals by such means as: • furthering the use of local newspaper, films, radio television and / or multi-media programmes; • furthering the use of traditional forms of communication; • implementating new plans with a view to the full use or improvement of communication and its techniques and methods in ways adapted to the rural environment. The activity shall have been exercised within a period of two years preceding the submission of nominations. Source: ipdc_rural_prize_eng_letter_2007_bis.pdf

i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5


Enterprise management and artisan SHGs Introduction Athani, in the State of Karnataka, India is the heart land of Kolhapuri sandals and home to over 400 such families of artisans with a rich legacy. Footwear craft is their only livelihood. Prior to year 2000 most worked as low wage-bonded labour in footwear ‘factories’ owned by dominant traders. Their life and craft were demeaned - they lived on the very edge. Prior to 1998 skill training and technology upgradation intervention was targeted at men, apart from training some tools were provided which found their way to markets rather than application. It would not be wrong to state that the intervention was not gender inclusive , women were not reckoned as artisans even though it was an established practice that men fashion the hardy soles and women craft the intricate uppers with a role division.

ToeHold website

ASCENT initiated Project EnterPrice (Jan 1999 - Dec 2002) sponsored by UNDP with technology support from CLRI

(Central Leather Research Institute) and infrastructure by Government of Karnataka, the project objective was ensuring right price for the handcrafted footwear and transforming artisans to entrepreneurs, particularly women. The core focus was Artisans at work economic development and the core principal was - build, operate and transfer. The business front end and social back end needed constant balancing using an equality, equity and inclusive approach.

Artisans collaborative The outcome of this intense joint effort is ToeHold Artisans Collaborative (TAC). From a business perspective TAC has been an overwhelming success. The operation has achieved robust revenue growth in recent years and is achieving healthy profits, which are redistributing amongst artisans and self help groups (SHGs) of women in Athani. TAC is now a prominent player in the international market for ethnic footwear supplying international clientele in UK, Italy, Japan and Australia.

The artisans formed their collaborative called the ToeHold Artisans’ Collaborative in October 2000 with their own brand ‘ToeHold’. The brand is targeted at the niche segment or the class markets rather than mass markets for optimum profitability. The footwear is positioned as ‘fashion accessory’ and not just as craft. 150 women organized into eleven women Self Help Groups jointly exercise ownership of the collective. A Common Facility Center and Raw Material Bank with a Design Studio are set up at Athani (in two Vishwa sheds). The artisans –women and men, receive joint training in design development, entrepreneurial skills and leadership and soft skills. Artisans’ direct exposure to international markets has improved their understanding of the international customer and the demands in terms of quality, delivery commitments and design. vEach family now acts as a micro enterprise where the woman and man are ‘co-preneurs’.

3600 panorama of the ICT4D Spectrum over 1500 domain specialists May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 | 17

The financial stakes are with women but men are equal partners to all other activities and inputs. A vast collection of contemporary new designs has been developed. ToeHold Artisans’ Collaborative exports to very competitive mainstream international fashion markets. The ToeHold artisans went on to participate in the India International Leather Fair, Chennai, Delhi Shoe Fair and in the GDS International Shoe Fair in Dusseldorf, Germany and International Leather Fair in Shanghai. By now, they were more receptive to new ideas and ready to understand the concepts of costing and pricing, and so far, these teams from Athani executed export orders worth nearly USD 225,000.

A unique enterprise model This unique model of enterprise, owned and governed by the artisans through women’s Self Help Groups has taken the humble ‘Kolhapuri’ to ‘couture’ status in the trendiest mainstream international fashion markets. This can act as a learning model for similar efforts in other sectors as well. This also throws light on the importance of artisan clustering and the ways in which some 2000 already existing artisan clusters in India can be helped with successful interventions from the state and civil society organisations. The model where SHGs manage the enterprise is an idea with much applicability and can be replicated for many kinds of enterprises. For further details contact: Madura

Common approach


Product focussed approach

People centered approach

Only craft / trade focus

Enterprise focus

No environment focus

Environment - enterprise focus

Technical skill inputs

Technical and business skill inputs

Experts working the markets

Artisans and professional working together the markets

Limited / no market exposure

Intense market exposure

Skill training for individual male artisans

Skill training through groups of women

Men exclusive training activities

Women exclusive group, men inclusive training activities

No financial support, market and bank borrowing resulting in defaults and bonding to traders, further lowering self esteem and confidence

Self-help group for saving credit, freeing from borrowing and bonded work, better self esteem and confidence

Stipendiary incentives for participation

Non work allowance on selective basis, working towards self financing participation

Collectivizing for bargaining with ‘others’ continuing in the dependency location

Coming together to create one’s own destiny moving towards interdependency

Welfare approach

Empowerment approach

Decisions by external support system

Decision by artisans through participatory process

Total absence of leadership

Growing leadership

Male domination issue not being addressed

Women taking charge of institution building process in equal partnership with men

Mass Market, without high volume with low margins, Class Marketing, low volume and high margins, making it more feasible resulting nonviable enterprise Generic brand Kolhapuri- identified as Tough wearing New brand image, design and comfort combined with tough wearing with own Rough footwear brand equity -ToeHold Income often from wages, occasionally from actual profits Income from profits shared between artisan, group and the collaborative in addition to factoring labour cost to artisan’s credit Athani and artisans both not much known to outside world

Athani and ToeHold artisans are getting to be better known, drawing media attention including CNN and CNBC, Star

Kolhapuri a generic name

ToeHold Kolhapuri - Creating Brand equity with new logo.



i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5






ICTs- a viable solution for SMEs Introduction The last 10 years in Egypt have seen cellular phones reaching out to schoolchildren, civil servants of the endangered middle class, almost all kinds of professionals, and even those who do odd jobs. During the third quarter of 2005, the number of mobile line subscribers exceeded the landline subscribers-a total of 12 million against 10.3 million. Though sociologists and the media cast doubt on the benefits of this phenomenon which they deem consumerist and one that, poses danger both to peoples’ behavior and health-for one thing, due to lunatic handling-people believe it enhances their safety and boasts their opportunities. But long before being widespread or rather pervasive – more than anything else from satellite dishes to PCs – for technicians, mobiles came to be a fact of life, a key item in their toolkit, and critical factor in their livelihoods. And with the computer-literate youth holding university degrees, flocking to entrepreneurship, and sooner or later recognising the wonders of Internet, a service which leaped from 300.000 users in October 1999 to 5.000.000 in August 2005, the potential for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is increasingly expanding in regard to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Project ICT4MSMEs Part of the groundwork for ICT for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises


(ICT4MSMEs), a project recently initiated by the Egyptian ICT Trust Fund and funded by the International Development Research Center (IDRC), through ACACIA programme, was a case study conducted, by the Development and Technology Centre of Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University, to approach the reality of the sector in Egypt, beside the Arab World and Africa in general. Below are some key excerpts from the report.

The Social Development Community in Samanoud is a civil association that helps the SMEs in the local community by instructing them on using the internet for connectivity, publicity and search for information.

‘The population growth rate of Egypt is currently estimated at 2.1 percent. Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) present a promising solution to increasing the economic growth rate higher than 6 percent, in order to improve the quality of living at this high rate of population growth. Micro, Small, and Medium Size Enterprises (MSMEs) constitute more than 99 percent


of private establishments in the nonagricultural sector, claim about 80 percent of the value added, and employ two thirds of the labour force. The latest figure is low compared to developed countries, where MSMEs account for about 99 percent of job opportunities, which clearly shows the expansion potential of MSMEs in Egypt. Nonetheless, MSMEs today account for 99.7 percent of all non-agricultural private enterprises, and almost 75 percent of private sector employment of which MSMEs share 71 percent, 19 percent, and 10 percent, respectively’. ‘There is a considerable lack of publications about documented case studies on the impact of ICT in MSMEs in Egypt as well as in most African and Arab countries.’ ‘Outside the agricultural sector, Small and Medium Enterprises account for nearly three-quarters of the jobs, in Egypt. In 2001, the Government of Egypt gave US$ 70 million to the Social Fund for Development earmarked for SME development. However, a growing number of people are unemployed, underemployed or in unpaid work’. ‘The major support for SMEs is the Social Fund for Development (SFD), which alone has a share of 49 percent of the total support for SMEs. A large number of donors support the development and sustainability of SME in Egypt.’ ‘A number of barriers have been identified that hamper the penetration of


Impacting millions of lives through ICT4D May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 | 19

Many of the members of KenanaOnline's online community are entreprenurs who use their spaces on the website to showcase their portfolio, mainly artifacts, but also including poultry and agricultural products.

ICTs into the everyday life. Through the numerous discussions with the attendees of the workshops, the work team has identified the following barriers against the ICT penetration into MSMEs in Egypt. A number of those barriers are valid also for other Arab and African societies: • Lack of awareness of the ICT benefits. There is a limited awareness of the ICT applications and the benefits they offer in saving time and improving operations, management, and marketing. • Limited IT skills for managers and labour; there is a limited labour skilled to handle IT applications that could serve the industries. Computers are used as storage devices as opposed to management tools. Most software used by SMEs for accounting, financial reporting, etc. • Limited rarely available information on sources of: raw materials, product development, equipment specifications, suppliers’ information, quality requirements and standards, new designs, new colours, new paintings, and market information. • Limited networking among the industries in the same sector which limit the possibility of the creation of feeder industries and efficient global chains. • Limited marketing, is the most critical issue. The SMEs face limited exposure to local or international market needs, trends, development opportunities, trades and exhibitions local and international. • Lack of awareness of the benefits of e-Commerce for SMEs, which can offer SME’s more opportunities, facilitate orders, orders tracking, shipments and payments. • Perceived high cost of operation with IT presents a financial issue for the SMEs for the purchase of hardware like PCs & peripherals, software and specialised programmes which result in a limited availability of IT equipment. • High rate of illiteracy represent a major obstacle hindering electronic infiltration. • Language issue, which raises a need for IT development in softwares or specialised programmes using the Arabic language. • Traditional mindset and the corporate culture is a hindrance against internalising ICT into business models that are necessarily dynamic and flexible.


IT Infrastructure is an issue, even though government has made remarkable progress in enabling the environment, making it conducive for IT developments on several fronts. ICT infrastructure and connectivity represent a major challenge for e-Trade growth together with the development of the domestic infrastructure. The main conclusions of the present work may be summarised as follows: • The penetration of ICT in micro, small, and medium sized enterprises is not less than that in households. • Large differences exist between the four trades under consideration in the level of education of the owners, in the e-Readiness, and in the penetration of ICTs. The worst trade is wood manufacturing. The best, in general, is the garment industry. There is a noticeable gender gap in all organisations under study, both in education as well as labour force. A gender gap can be seen in ICT also. This is characteristic to most of the countries of the world, not to Egypt alone. Consideration of the population profile (education, labour force structure, dominant activities, local governorate resources, etc.) is an important parameter in the readiness of the MSMEs owners to adopt ICTs in their business. The attitude of the four trades considered towards ICT adoption is, in many aspects, similar to that observed in Europe and other countries. However, the reasons, backgrounds, and motives are different. There is a consensus among the MSMEs owners about the lack of training and, language as barriers against ICT penetration. However, the enthusiasm of management is, based on the experience of the work team, a more important barrier, even if it is not mentioned. The penetration of e-Commerce and e-Trade requires: (i) Raising the awareness among the owners. (ii) Intensive training for a large number of owners/employees. (iii) A number of pilot projects with detailed cost/benefit analysis. Given the fairly sufficient number of trade points (for the time-being at least), it is clear that several awareness campaigns are required to spread ICTs usage among the MSMEs in Egypt. The four trades revealed some common features in their training needs. However, they do not share a preferable time for training. There is a consensus, however, on rejecting full-time training.

Dr. Zeinab Safar Professor and Chairman, Mechanical Power Department, Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University, Egypt Dr. Osama Elbahar Professor at Mechanical Power Department, Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University, Egypt Review Compiled by: Mahammad F. Kalfat, translator and editor at the Egyptian ICT Trust Fund, email: i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5


ICT enabled business incubators from Asia Throughout the developing world, innovative entrepreneurs are working to establish businesses that are ‘ICT-enabled’—offering ICT services or, in some way utilising ICTs as a fundamental aspect of their business model. Technology entrepreneurship is key to innovation, employment, and national competitiveness. However, often the obstacles facing such start-ups seem insurmountable. Common barriers to converting an innovative idea to a viable business venture include limited and costly access to Information and Communication services, burdensome business regulations, the absence of basic business support services, the lack of advice, mentoring and best practice guidance, limited market knowledge, and lack of access to appropriate financial services. In 2002, in response to these challenges infoDev launched the Business Incubator Initiative, aimed at fostering ICT-enabled entrepreneurship and private sector development in developing countries.

infoDev-supported Incubators Some of the important infoDev supported Incubators are: Asia: China; India; Indonesia; Malaysia; Mongolia; Nepal; Philippines; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Vietnam Eastern Europe & Central Asia: Armenia; Azerbaijan; Bulgaria; Georgia; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyz Republic; Romania; Turkey; Ukraine; Uzbekistan Latin America & the Caribbean: Bolivia; Brazil; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Mexico; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Uruguay Middle East & North Africa: Iran; Jordan; Morocco; Tunisia; West Bank/Gaza Sub-Saharan Africa: Angola; Ghana; Kenya; Mauritius; Namibia; Rwanda; Senegal; South Africa; Tanzania

Asia specific incubators There are currently sixteen active grants to incubators in the Asian region. They have partnerships with various organisations and different stakeholders including government agencies, financial institutions and venture capitalists.

China Tianjin Women’s Business Incubator: TWBI is based in Tianjin. TWBI is a non-profit organisation which focusses on assisting female entrepreneurs and working for the employment of women who are affected due to economic reforms and restructuring. TWBI has created jobs for 2,000 people. TWBI facilitates an onsite microcredit, which received seed capital from UNDP and the Tianjin authorities. Yanglin Business Incubator Centre: YBIC is based in Shaanxi province and is managed by the Yanglin Agricultural High Tech Industries Demonstration Zone and the Torch Centre of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology. YBIC has graduated 15 companies. YBIC specialises in in agriculture, animal husbandry, and bio-technology commercialisation within SMEs. Shanghai Technology Business Incubation Association: STBIA work in partnership with the Asian Association of Business Incubation (AABI) to conduct evaluation of the ICT and incubator management practices of STBIA member incubators for institutional transformation of the network and its members.

India Private Ltd : A business and technology incubator, and start-up resource centre with operations close to the innovation clusters in the Pune-Mumbai corridor. IndiaCo assists early stage companies by providing business infrastructure and office space, mentoring and coaching, and assistance in raising private equity capital. The goal is to increase the success rate of start-ups by operating a network that facilitates and motivates the use of local resources to commercialise available technologies. Tiruchirapalli Regional Engineering College, Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park: TREC-STEP is the first Science Park to be promoted in India since 1986, which aims to foster knowledge based ventures comprised of young science and technology entrepreneurs. TREC-STEP has been promoted by Department of Science and technology, Government of India, Government of Tamil Nadu, Industrial development Bank of India

Know the Stakeholders Leading NGOs and Networks, Corporate leaders, Innovators, Researchers, Academia, Schools, Key Leaders in Government- Centre and States, Bilateral and Multilateral Agency Representatives, Leading Agencies in ICT4D May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |

(IDBI), Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI), Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI) and state financial and Development organisations. Society for Research and Initiative for Sustainable Technologies and Resources : It aims to build and enhance an ICT-enabled virtual incubator model for scaling up grassroots innovations. Telecommunications and Network Group: TeNeT’s expertise spens digital communications, wireless networks, computers protocols, optical communications, digital signal processing, speech, audio and video technologies, among others. The TeNet Group engages in teaching and training, product development, incubation of technology companies, telecommunications, IT policy studies and front-line research. Vellore Institute of Technology-Technology Business Incubator: VIT-TBI was established at Vellore Institute of Technology with the sponsorship of the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology. VIT-TBI assists budding entrepreneurs with incubating new technology ventures.

Indonesia Broadband Network Services : BNS is a registered private enterprise founded in 2001 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Facilities include a broadband network servicing major cities on Sumatra, Java, Bali and the Lombok Islands. BNS is a holding company consisting of several ICT companies with 13 cumulative years of experience as network system integrators, turn-key solution providers, broadband Internet service providers, Internet protocol (IP)-based multimedia operators, fibre and VSAT link providers and operators, and IP phone operators.

Programme. The aim of SLTI is to strengthen and encourage entrepreneurship, and stimulate the adoption of ICT in Sri Lanka. SLTI aims to provide opportunities for entrepreneurs throughout the country to establish and grow viable ICT-related ventures. SLTI focuses on developing programmes to assist SME enterprises to adopt and utlise ICT, technology, entrepreneur programmes for women, and distributing best practices in business incubation. Intermediate Technology Development Group: ITDG South Asia helps eradicate poverty in developing countries by developing and using technology, sharing knowledge and demonstrating results. ITDG was established in England in 1966 by Dr. Fritz Schumacher.


Information Technology Professional Forum: ITPF has been awarded a grant for the planning phase of Business Incubation System in Nepal. ITPF works with the cooperation and support of key stakeholders. It’s focus is on the integration and use of ICT in the development of SMEs.

Kenan Institute Asia: KIAsia, and the Vocational Education Commission, launched the KIAsia Business Incubator (KIAsia BI) in 2003. KIAsia BI assists aspiring entrepreneurs in Thailand, especially rural residents, who typically lack funds and basic business know-how. KIAsia BI was established in 1996 with an endowment provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Royal Thai Government, the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, and the William R Kenan Charitable Trust. National Science and Technology Development Agency of Thailand: NSTDA expects that info Dev work programme will strengthen the anchor function it plays in the Mekong Region. It focuses on increasing collaboration with other incubator projects in Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines and by transferring successfully tested components of the Thai project to the other countries.



Ayala Technology Business Incubator:TBI is part of the University of the Philippines (UP) Ayala Technology Park project, which aims to develop technology through ICT based entrepreneurship. TBI encourages new enterprise start ups and business growth in Internet technology, network technology, wire and wireless communication, data communication, digital signal processing, etc.

Centre for Research and Consulting on Management: CRC, is an autonomous unit of Hanoi University of Technology (HUT), the lead implementing institution for infoDev’s work programme in Vietnam. CRC was established in 2003 with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Asia Institute of Technology, and the Vietnam Management Development Programme. CRC’s activities include: consulting and applied research on management and economics, facilitating technology transfer, organising seminars and short-term training courses, conducting market research, services and organising business tours.

Mongolia InfoCon Company Ltd: Its activities during the planning phase are designed to build a solid foundation for establishing a business incubator in Mongolia. The proposed New Path Incubation Centre will be a joint initiative of the ongoing highly productive relationship betweeen InfoCon, The Mongolia Development Gateway and the Mongolian Academy of Science.


Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Technology (Pvt.) Ltd: It is an ICT technology incubator established in July, 2000 in Colombo. SLTI is a small non-profit organisation operating under the Concept Nursery Expansion


For more information please visit: i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

Vol. V No. 5

May 2007

Information for development

Agriculture Iffco, Airtel partner to provide farm info to farmers in UP, India Bharti Airtel has entered into a strategic partnership with Indian Farmers Fertiliser Co-operative Ltd (IFFCO) by giving them access to information related to agriculture. Initially the company is aiming at villages in UP. Airtel will provide a valueadded service. The services at present will be available to bona fide IFFCO members under the new scheme called ‘Rs 99 AirtelIFFCO SUK Pack’. This will allow the customer to talk at INR 30 paise from one IFFCO Pack to another IFFCO Pack and will provide free talktime for INR 10, with seven days’ validity. The IFFCO-Airtel rural pilot project has been launched in Danyalpur and Mubarakpur Societies in Barabanki, East UP on April 2, 2007.

Community radio A radio revolution in tribal Gujarat, India A community radio in Dang district, 400 kms away from Ahmedabad, India is bringing a silent revolution in the region. The community radio is raising awareness among the tribal populace. Drishti has initiated the first type community radio in

the region in partnership with Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS), a women’s organisation based in Bhuj in 1998. Now the radio station is successfully bringing awareness to the tribal community. According to Nimesh Khakharia, coordinatior, each programme talks about specific problems and the ways in which they can be dealt with. The aim of the radio is to educate them about various laws and rights, so that tribal people can make use of it while facing a corrupt official.

Computers, Internet access for most disadvantaged pupils of London London Grid for Learning & RM will provide desktop computers and Internet access to disadvantaged secondary pupils of London. The London Grid for Learning (LGfL) has awarded RM the contract for providing the Computers for Pupils programme for some of the most disadvantaged pupils across the capital. The programme will also enable access to Internet connectivity to the National Education Network (NEN). Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has taken this initiative to set up ICT into the homes of the country’s most disadvantaged 11 to16 years old pupils. RM will provide the PC hardware, support services and Internet connectivity. This initiative will raise educational standards and support personalised learning for all.

Education Sakhr Software, the biggest eGov education portal in Oman Sakhr Software, an electronic education portal for the Omani Ministry of Education is the biggest e-Government project in Oman. In the first phase of the project, two educational zones will involve around 200 schools and 116,000 students. The Sakhr Software offers several e-Government services for parents, student admission and registrations, student transfer, issue certificates and many more. It is also offers School Management System (SMS) for parents and students. It aims to provide two other major services, e-Learning and an Internet Portal System to establish communication between students, teachers, parents, zone administrations and others involved in the educational process.

Health Turkish Health Ministry to initiate telemedicine project The Turkish Ministry of Health will initiate ‘Tele-Medicine Practice’ which will enable digital transfer and examination of ultrasound, pathology and radiology data.

Committed to a Digital Knowledge Society? Do it through partnership and support May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 | 23

The i4d News

P&G launches education project for underprivileged children of India Procter & Gamble (P&G) has launched the Siksha project for underprivileged children of India in collaboration with Child Rights and You (CRY) and Sony. Project Shiksha, is a part of P&Gs global philanthropy programme P&G Live, Learn and Thrive, which focuses on the development of children. P&G has contributed INR 26.9 million to support the education of 33,052 children in 435 communities. The Shiksha projects are working with the State Education Departments to relook at existing education policies; are creating awareness to build more schools with better infrastructure, and more basic amenities like water, electricity, health; enrolling more children into formal schools and promotion of retention in schools; and building all round development of children.

General WEF Study: Malta Govt., second most successful in promoting ICT The World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked the Malta Government as the second most successful government in the world in promoting the use of ICT in investments, industry and IT Ministry. The study, ‘the Global Information Technology Report 2006-2007’ was published by the World Economic Forum. More investors seeking options on the global list of FDI destinations for their ICT projects will no doubt note this recognition by the World Economic Forum. Malta is providing online services and also became the world leader for high-speed monthly broadband subscriptions. The Malta Govt. has appointed its first e-Minister in 1998 and e-Malta Commission in 2000. Malta government is the second ranked government in the world for giving ICT the


mServe Nokia unveils mobile phones for rural India

Azerbaijan has shown its keen interest in cooperation with Indian companies in development ICT sector. Both countries are studying prospects of cooperation in pharmaceutical, agriculture, refining and other spheres, adding that several pharmaceutical companies of India operate in Azerbaijan. According to Heydar Babayev, Economic Development Minister of Azerbaijan, Government wants to work with Indian companies to promote ICT.

The world’s biggest mobile phone maker, Nokia has launched seven mobile phones for the emerging markets in India. Nokia has launched these mobile phones to introduce low-cost mobile telephony service to India’s rural masses. Nokia has offered entry-level phones with call-tracking and multiple phonebook capability. Nokia also launched four other low-cost GSM phones, including the entry level Nokia 1650 and Nokia 2660, and the Nokia 2630 and 2760 with features like built-in camera, an eMail client, an FM radio and Bluetooth connectivity. Most NGOs are seeing the local village entrepreneur as the best way to increase mobile penetration in rural markets. According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), India had 166 million mobile subscribers at the end of the march.

Under the project, there would be 12 sender and 2 receiver hospitals. The system will allow one to send MR of a patient in the eastern city of Erzurum to the receiver hospital in Ankara. The data will be sent back to Erzurum after being examined by experts. It will prevent any wrongful diagnosis. All information about the doctors‘ ID and education would be collected in the bank.

ties, building food security through subsistence farming, creating off-farm employment opportunities, and strengthening regional governments and local development organisations. The Sierra region of Peru has a population of 10.6 million, of which about 60 percent (6.3 million) live in rural areas. This project seeks to alleviate poverty in Peru’s Sierra region through a concerted effort to create sustainable and equitable growth, increase human capacity and security, and strengthen local institutions.

most importance in its vision for the future.

Azerbaijan keen to cooperate with India in ICT development

Liveliood World Bank approves US $ 20 million to support rural development in Peru The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a US$ 20 million loan for Peru in order to support economic growth among the rural population in the Andean highlands, or Sierra region. The Sierra Rural Development Project of the World Bank will ensure that rural inhabitants in the Sierra region have better economic opportunities by promoting ‘strategic partnerships’ and local economic development through producer-market

Iran ICT Ministry delivers rural GSM mobile phones The ICT Ministry of Iran has begun delivering of rural GSM mobile phones, which would be capable of functioning both as stationary and as mobile phones. The ICT Ministry is delivering rural GSM phone network to those villagers, that are able to take dual advantage of their phone lines. The villages that have the GSM network can request to use their stationary phone lines as mobile phone lines also. The tariffs and deposits for such lines would be the same as regular village phone lines, if they are merely used as stationary lines. i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

The i4d News

SME/SMB HP launches server for small businesses in India Hewelett-Packard (HP) has launched its new ProLiant ML 115 server powered by MD Opteron 1000 series processors for small and medium business customers in India. The cost of this server is around INR 35,000 at the retail level. The server is designed for speed and to provide total architecture with top performance. The server is especially designed for the small and medium business market to provide data security and scalability. The HP Proliant ML115 server comes with a standard memory capacity of 512 MB, which is expandable to 8 GB.

FOSS infrastructure for open digital village OneVillage Foundation (OVF) has partnered with the International Free and Open Source Software Foundation (iFOSSF) to develop ‘Telecentre Portals and Applications’ . OVF will develop its Open Digital Villages (OdiVs) in Winneba, Ghana (WODiV). OVF members organised and participated in the AirJaldi Summit in Dharamsala, India, in which they displayed one of the largest networks in the world, The Dharamsala Wireless Mesh. The local Linux User Group (Winneba Linux User Group - WiLUG) is playing a key role in the development of the WODiV. oneVillage Ghana is collaborating with University of Education Winneba Ghana (UEW), Wireless Ghana and other institutions to develop a plan for a WiMax backbone and WiFi mesh local distribution system to serve a region with two other towns and a population of 105,000.

Microsoft joins Alibaba to provide IT services for SMEs Microsoft China has signed an agreement with Alibaba Software (Shanghai) to expand strategic cooperation in eCommerce and IT services for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Under this agreement, both companies will cooperate on research and development of online services like e-Commerce, enterprise management, office automation and enterprise communication. It will provide 20 million small and medium-sized enterprises with an online software service platform built by Alibaba Software.

Technology Software for service tax returns in India Soon a new software for collecting tax returns would be available in Tamil Nadu, India. P.K. Jain, the Commissioner of Service Tax, said that there is a need for revised software and incorporating necessary changes in the ST-3 form.

While speaking at the seminar on Service Tax’ organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and the Institute of Logistics, he said that service tax payment through Internet banking is also essential. The new software is designed to guide users as they fill up each column in the form. 90 percent of Chennai based companies are using e-Filing. The service tax collection from Chennai is about INR 2530 million.

New software tracks document output Ricoh Americas (, New Jersey-based office-automation firm, has launched a low-cost application that tracks document output from copiers, printers, fax machines, and scanners. Smart Accounting, which is a PC-based application requires no central server, creates detailed reports to better manage the usage of up to 50 devices, helps small-business owners reduce administrative costs, boost productivity, and gain a competitive

advantage ( products.html). The new application, which can be integrated with both Microsoft Outlook and IBM Lotus Sametime Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing, delivers SIP-based audio conferencing for up to 300 participants on a single-serve architecture. Based on four years of customer data, Avaya estimates that businesses spending US$ 2,500 on outsourced conferencing fees stand to save more than US$ 1,000 by using an in-house application.

Telecentre US companies help Lebanese youth to go online A consortium of U.S. Companies, named as the ‘Partnership for Lebanon’ is helping Lebanese communities to provide medical facilities through Internet communication and services. The Partnership for Lebanon is a collaborative effort by Intel Corporation, Cisco

Exclusive opportunity to share, showcase, & network The global ICT Community converging On Seven development themes. Are you one of them? May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |


The i4d News

Internet postman connects isolated villages Now a postman will connect all rural areas of developing countries through wireless technology. A United States entrepreneur has introduced an ‘Internet postman’ to rural areas of India, Cambodia, Rwanda, Costa Rica and Paraguay. The Massachusetts based company has developed a technology to connect isolated villages through wireless connection to the Internet. Villagers can use pre-paid cards to write e-Mails or record phone messages and save their words at computer kiosks installed in schools and community halls. The company will provide short range Wi-Fi antennas and a hard disk on board pass through villages. The service automatically picks up stored eMails and voice messages. Once the bus reaches Internet connection area, it relays eMails and messages to their destinations through the web for the convenience of the passengers. Systems, GHAFARI Inc., Microsoft and Occidental Petroleum. The Partnership for Lebanon is building ‘connected communities’ with full access to Internet based government and social services in Lebanese villages and towns. They are developing ICT infrastructure and also providing computer training to youths. The Professional Computer Association (PCA) of Lebanon, the international aid organization Mercy Corps and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has founded the sixth community centre. Intel has, opened new Lebanese ‘connected community centre in Bourj Al Barajneh. The company has donated 15 locally purchased computers with Internet access to Bourj Al Barajneh. Intel has also installed WiMAX wireless networks in two communities and schools in the town. Intel is also donating telemedicine devices to connect the American University of Beirut Medical Centre and the Nabatiyeh Government Hospital.

Low cost computers to help rural Uganda The Ugandan government has tied up with US based company, Inveneo to launch low energy consumption computers to help rural Uganda. The computer will run for three days without recharging. User can use these computers for eight hours per day. The computer has 256MB of random access memory and a 40GB hard drive. The tiny computer is Internet-ready and includes wireless capabilities. The computer has solar panel for recharging the battery. The Inveneo computer is extremely fast due to its simplicity and low


power consumption. It has also two operating systems, Microsoft’s Windows and Linux. The Uganda Government wants the computer to go the rural schools of Uganda where there is no electricity. The cost of one computer is expected to bearound US$300.

Telecommunications Indian Government plans for free broadband connectivity for all by 2009 The Indian Government is planning to offer free, high-speed broadband connectivity to all Indians by 2009. The Indian Government is planning to offer high-speed Internet connectivity through state owned telecom service providers, BSNL and MTNL. The central government plans to achieve free broadband connectivity at a speed of 2 MB per second across the country. In US most of cities have free municipal broadband, which provides free accessibility to residents. Department of Technology (DOT) is taking few steps to make its plan for free broadband a reality. These include using the Universal Service Obligation Fund to set up an extensive optical cable network across the country and opening up the long-distance sectors to further competition. DoT is also considering allowing free and fair access to cable landing stations, permitting resale of bandwidth, setting up web-hosting facilities within the country and asking all Internet service providers to connect to the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI).

Wireless Singapore Wi-Fi Deployment offers best practices for Municipalities Worldwide We have learned a lot about what works, and what doesn’t, for municipal wireless deployments,” said Ken Chua, CEO of iCELL. “We want to share this with others who are planning wireless deployments so that they can adapt our lessons learned from this large-scale endeavour for their networks both big and small.” As with many large U.S. cities, Singapore has a challenging wireless environment with hills, narrow streets, alleys and high rise office towers blocking line-of-sight. Due to the tropical climate, most end-users prefer to receive Wi-Fi indoors, adding the challenge of penetrating building walls. In addition to handling the geographical terrain, iCELL installed advanced technical features that included Firetide’s mesh for triple-play applications, adding data traffic, voice, video and future mobile capabilities. “Singapore provides an opportunity for municipalities worldwide to learn from the experience of rolling out a network of this scale and complexity,” said Bo Larsson, CEO of Firetide. This rollout has reinforced the need for flexible, multi-service infrastructure that is capable of supporting not only Internet access, but video and voice-with or without mobility.

London city goes Wi-Fi London will soon become a Wi-Fi hot spot. The wireless network operator, Square Mile, will offer around 350,000 city workers uninterrupted wireless access to the web through laptops or mobile phones from anywhere in the city. The wireless network operator, The Cloud will provide the system and will use mesh technology to provide continuous access via a series of base stations dotted throughout the area. The service will cost around £12 per month for unlimited access. Additionally, the system will also support public services like telemetry, traffic surveillance and security systems. The company plans to extend the infrastructure across the whole of the capital. i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

Story telling for knowledge sharing

eLearning in African and Latin American countries

Presenting a series of locally written articles with Southern perspectives on the impact and the use of ICTs for Development. The iConnect series is in its third year of collaboartion and we are pleased to share stories from Africa and Latin America on eLearning written by Southern journalists.

In collaboration with: is a knowledge sharing platform for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in sustainable development. iConnect draws content from its partners, links resources and expertise and encourages collaboration. For the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD), the host of iConnect, this is a way to share experiences, lessons learned and ideas, and interact with communities and people with an interest in development and the applications of ICTs. These experiences can lead to a better understanding of the actual benefits of ICTs for Development (ICT4D). A series of locally written articles on eLearning forms the core of iConnect. The articles have a strong focus on fact finding; objective information on ICT4D practices from a Southern perspective: Southern content written by Southern journalists. i4d is the iConnect partner for Asia, disseminating the articles to their readers. For the full text of the articles, please visit

Distance Learning in Burkina Faso: Studying abroad without leaving one’s hometown By Ramata Soré Classic teaching and learning conception, demanding the attendance of students in a given place and at a given time, can hardly satisfy the growing demand for education. Thus, distance education is the appropriate way to respond to the need for continuing education and upgrading activities for a very dissimilar targeted public. Moreover, “git is an alternative way of getting education, of clearing overcrowded educational institutions” thinks Sylvestre Ou?draogo, president of the Yam Pukri Association and also the coordinator of the Yam Pukri Centre of Distance Education of the African Virtual University. He is persuaded that a quality education is the key to access modernity and innovation. This is the reason why his organisation, Yam Pukri, in partnership with the African Virtual University (UVA, has been imparting courses of Business English since 2006. These courses are given through the Internet in collaboration with the distance education programme Crossroads Café, based in the USA. “Distance training is much more interactive than classic training. Teachers make all their programmes available to the students, and so, learners can put all kinds of questions to their teachers by means of chat sessions or e-Mail messages”, assures Yélémou Tiguiane, holder of a PhD Diploma in Information obtained through distance learning. Institutes already on the go offer a certain amount of courses: studies of agronomy, law, economic sciences, health and medicine, commerce, foreign languages... Training courses allow learners to follow their studies without giving up their jobs. “They are an excellent bargain for enterprises as they do not have to do without

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the services of their employees any more to send them abroad to attend training courses”, says Yélémou Tiguiane. Anyway, even if the advantages of distance education are widely accepted, it is also recognised that training expenses are considerably high. This is the opinion of Lucien, 24 years old, who is taking an English course

through distance learning. He thinks that the costs of the courses are very high. In any case, these expenses are affordable if we consider that in the past, before distance education, people willing to learn English had to travel to England or to the United States, adds Sylvestre Ouédraogo. This remark is accepted by Lucien. At present, only very few institutes provide distance education courses in Burkina Faso, we can count less than ten in Ouagadougou. In part, this is due to the fact that


this area is not very well known by investors but most of all, the reason is that installations necessary to launch a structure of distance learning are very expensive. Nevertheless, a sudden passion for distance learning is clearly noticeable in Burkina Faso. Every day, more and more people decide to enter this informal educational system. With universities and big schools being available only in very few cities, these structures for distance education have an important role to play. “Diplomas obtained through distance education have exactly the same scientific and academic value as classic diplomas”, assures Serge Bayala, Director for Africa of the

Université Mondiale Francophone. In short, distance education always demands time, expertise and money if learners want to take all the possible profits from its possibilities. Since independence, Burkina Faso has always drawn inspiration from the French education system and distance education is not on top of the agenda. In this area, alternatives have gone from correspondence courses to educational radio and television during the 60s. The third generation appeared in the 70s and it involved using mass media resources in education, such as newspapers, radio and television. But the appearance of the Internet in the scenario and its quick development has provoked a new dynamics. In spite of the undeniable advantages of distance education, the real challenge for Africa and for other developing countries would be the capacity to propose their own contents instead of just logging on to distant servers to obtain knowledge. The generation of local content is the only way to really serve people’s interests by offering them a training based on local reality. For more information contact iConnect coordinator: Sylvestre Ouédraogo,

E-learning in Ecuador: a new way of getting education By Paula M. Carrión The Colegio Virtual Iberoamericano (Spanish American Virtual High School, CVI), an initiative of the Fundaci?n Unidad Virtual Iberoamericana (UVIA), is a new form of education conceived for people who have not been able to finish their secondary studies or that are in danger of giving up their education. Mónica Vásconez, one of the founders and current headmistress of the school, says the main incentive that gave birth to the idea of creating this education system was the fact that in Ecuador the rate of students leaving school before the legal age is one of the highest in Latin America, as only the 20 percent of the population succeeds in getting a High School Degree. “CVI is the first high school that has a platform specially conceived for the teaching of primary and secondary education via the Internet and is based on a pedagogical, methodological and technical theory in keeping with this type of education”, says Ms Vásconez. The academic programme in CVI covers the last three years of primary education and the courses corresponding to high school with four specialisations: sciences, computer science, cultural and social management and cultural tourism and sustainable development. The last two specialisations are unique in Ecuador. This project has been prepared for people older than fifteen, pedagogically vulnerable or in a risky educational situation. CVI is a self-financed institution thanks to school fees and


registration fees paid by its students, but the school is under the sponsorship of UNESCO, private companies and governmental organisations. The Ministry of Education of Ecuador regulates the running of the school and it works as any other classic school demanding the attendance of its pupils. This means that it complies with school years of ten months and that it follows the syllabuses prepared by the Ministry. “Sometimes we have difficulties to hand in our homework in due time, mainly because many times electricity is cut off in the information centres. Most of the students live in rural areas and consequently they do not have the same opportunities as students living in big cities. Most rural students have to travel for an hour to get to the info centres and when electricity has been cut off, it is not possible for them to access the platform and so, the handing over of their homework suffers many delays”, says Ligia Ipiales, a student from the mountain area speaking about her experience in CVI. “Nevertheless, we are always concerned about how to help them and how to meet the objectives of each subject in the programme,” says Paola Suntaxi, a teacher of administration at CVI. Even if the teachers are not physically present, i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

its interface is very user friendly, so much so that to use the complete platform, four hours of training are enough, according to the words of its headmistress.

How do students get connected with the school?

the students are individually monitored since each class admits a maximum of thirty students. Besides, the system provides course tutors that are teachers who live in the same community as the students. In case a student is absent from class for more than two days, the tutor goes to see him and speaks with him to find out about the reasons for his absence. In this way, the school keeps up to date about what is going on with its students.

CVI and ICTs Giancarlo Dagostini, the school technological headmaster says “CVI is built on Moodle, a free software platform, which is user friendly and easy to manage and allows us to make the necessary arrangements, according to our needs; the portal has been programmed in PHP language, SQL and Java modules.” The design is in charge of a team of three designers who, by means of Flash software, give expression to the teachers´ ideas on how to teach, for instance the water cycle, the original cultures or the periodic table. The school design is very attractive, dynamic and lucid. It is not heavy, so it can be loaded very quickly even with a dial up connection. CVI virtual classrooms are the result of careful research and of the approach of a special pedagogy for e-learning, consequently

CVI grants scholarships as most of the students come from very low income families. The students of the school live in areas where there is very little telecommunications infrastructure or none at all. For this reason, CVI has made strategic alliances with governmental organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and with private companies that sponsor the access to Internet through the telecentres. This is the case of students living in Alto Napo, who are compelled to travel for several hours in a canoe from their communities to the telecentre whenever they want to get connected with their school.

The Impact of CVI This experience has not been replicated in other countries, nevertheless, according to its headmistress, “UNESCO is particularly interested in the promotion of this initiative in Asia and Africa, without forgetting Latin America.” Marta Diaz, a student close to graduating, shares her happiness while she tells that she has been granted a scholarship to study accounting and audit through distance learning via the Internet at a university in the USA. Meanwhile, another student, José Luis Caballero explains what he thinks about the impact of CVI, “my life is now more demanding, I have realized that nowadays it is absolutely necessary to learn how to change and how to introduce innovations, so as not to be left behind. I have learnt this thanks to the lessons and to the advice of my teachers.” CVI website: For more information contact iConnect coordinator: Diana Andrade,

Developing ICT enabled education - The future for Ghana By Emily Nyarko Ghana’s education’s service has gone through several cycles implementing a range of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) programmes in its delivery. At the beginning of the millennium, education authorities in Ghana embarked on a number of projects to introduce ICTs into the Ghanaian education set up, especially at the basic and secondary school levels. At the end of the 1990s Ghana was host to a number of ICT initiatives supported by the government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The Ministry of Education in conjunction with the Ghana Education Service (GES) and other partners undertook a critical analysis and review of the utilisation of ICTs in education under the auspices of the United Nations Global e-Schools and Community Initiatives. Many lapses were identified for which the stakeholders agreed to work together to make education complete with ICTs as a facilitator. The review of how ICTs are utilised in education birthed Ghana’s current and on-going e-Schools and Community Initiative, being May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |

undertaken under a unit within the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports. This programme seeks to incorporate ICTs into all aspects of learning from kindergarten, through primary to the secondary school level. Training of teachers in ICTs and incorporating the technologies in the curricular of teacher training colleges also forms an integral part of the initiative. The e-Schools and Community Initiative has a number of focal points such as local content development, infrastructure and logistics, and training of instructors. One of the primary focuses of the initiative is generating content that is suitable for use in the Ghanaian local context. The initiative therefore encourages teachers and resource persons to design local content as part of the syllabus in the cultural setting to teach the children. Programme Coordinator Rev. Dadebo believes that the initiators and managers have created awareness to some extent but there has not been enough work towards the development of customised content. He reiterates that the imported content does not have


Ghana’s cultural concept, an example being the fact that a cold temperature may be taught in association with snow whereas that phenomenon does not exist in Ghana. The e-School and Community Initiative Secretariat has therefore brokered an agreement with a content development company for the development of such content at the cost of $600,000.Aside from that, a portal is in the works for the teaching of mathematics and science. As a result of the encouragement to teachers to develop their own content, stakeholders last year introduced an award for innovative teaching - basically for content in ICTs - as a means to enhance teaching and learning. The Secretariat is also developing an e-Library concept for research purposes and to assist in the preparation of lesson notes. Another focus of the programme is on infrastructure and logistics to support e-Learning. The Ghana Education Service under the e-Schools initiative has therefore given approval for any school to charge an amount of not more than 30,000 cedis ($3.2) per student, per term to facilitate re-sourcing schools to speed up the process. The government of Ghana has also secured a Chinese loan and is building

a national fibre optic backbone to aid connectivity throughout the country, increase bandwidth and reduce call drops and the cost of accessing Internet and telephone services. Teachers and tutors in some basic schools and teacher training colleges have also received training in the use of the software, while Microsoft has also trained vendors. About 300 teachers from all the regions have been trained in the last two years (from 2005) to help teach with the programmes from kindergarten to secondary schools. It is also the hope of the government, the secretariat and other stakeholders that the initiative becomes a success and enables the nation to meet the aspect of the Millennium Development Goals which urges nations to make available the benefits of new technologies, especially, Information and Communications Technologies. “The goal here is to build skills so that people will have enough professional value to be able to compete on the global job market,” Rev. Dadebo said of the programme. For more information contact iConnect coordinator: John Yarney,

e-Learning: An opportunity for Mali to make up for lost time in education By Almahady Moustapha Cissé The coming on stage of new Information and Communication Technologies opens new perspectives in the area of education. In Mali, e-Learning is turning more and more into an excellent opportunity for many people to get a postgraduate degree in the most diverse areas of knowledge. Thanks to e-Learning, these people can now deepen their training without having to go abroad or give up their jobs. Training specialists assure that due to its low cost and its effectiveness, e-Learning is the best option for those learners who want to go on working and studying without having to leave their hometowns. “I am very pleased with this new option. Otherwise, it would have been extremely difficult for me to get other diplomas”, said proudly and with an evident satisfaction Mrs. Fatoumata Dicko Maïga, a Malian magistrate who works in a trial court of district IV in Bamako. She is one of the rare magistrates in Mali that has managed to obtain two new postgraduate degrees in a period of three years. And this was possible thanks to e-Learning. By means of a scholarship she was granted by the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), she was able to take the courses of an initial training on Ethics of the Laws, with a specialisation in Ethics in Business and International Commerce, during the school year 2004/2005. Owner of a wholehearted personality and having a strong will and a real ‘thirst for knowledge’, Mrs. Maïga applied for a second scholarship and she obtained it, this time to work on The Rights in the African cyberspace. “This one year training has allowed me to define all the stakes and all the twists and turns of crime in cyberspace that came on stage since the appearance of ICTs, in particular the Internet”, she affirmed. As a professional of the Law, she has already managed to find out that in


Mali there is an absence of legislation in this matter: “the Malian Criminal Code only deals with computer fraud or phreaking 1 . It is absolutely necessary to go on legislating in this area”, Mrs. Maïga pleaded. She is not sparing with her praises for e-Learning: “it is not expensive, it is user friendly and it allows learners to spare a huge amount of time. Otherwise, if students had to enrol in a European university, if they had to pay for plane tickets, for tuition fees and accommodations, the project of studying to get a new degree would be extremely costly for most people like me, who do not have the time or the financial resources to carry on with postgraduate training.” i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

Université Numérique Francophone Mondiale (UNFM): an excellent framework for internal capacity development According to Professor Abdel Kader Traoré, the idea that gave birth to this Worldwide Digital Francophone University came from Doctor Cheick Modibo Diarra - a Malian astrophysicist - working at the Pathfinder Foundation. The main purpose for the creation of the UNFM was to use new Information and Communication Technologies to give initial training (graduate courses) and continuous education (postgraduate courses) targeting African students and professionals in areas related with development. The idea consisted in using these new ICTs to share knowledge and expertise. “In this way, teachers in Northern and Southern hemispheres have an excellent tool at their disposal for the transmission of knowledge and technology that, at the same time, gives them the possibility to exchange with their students in real time. This will certainly be a huge contribution for the narrowing of the digital gap existing between the two hemispheres”, stressed Professor François Housséini Tall, Headmaster of the UNFM Centre in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The idea was launched in January 2005. The UNFM exists thanks to an important network that links up not only the universities in the Southern hemisphere but also all these universities with its peers in the Northern hemisphere: Alexandria, Angers, Bamako, Bordeaux, Brazzaville, Geneva, Marseille, Niamey, Ouagadougou... “We started by choosing, here in Africa and also in Europe, academic advisers taking the lead in knowledge in different areas and we invited them to come and share their knowledge in courses that last a minimum of forty (40) hours with practical exercises, applied and adapted to the context” said Professor Abdel Kader. And he added, “the fact of the course being interactive and having an academic referral agent always present, generally to help in whatsoever the students may need, allows the learners to gain enough knowledge and capacity so as to manage very well in their usual jobs. And this is very interesting”.

The manager of the UNFM Centre in Bamako pointed out the fact that in the centre the stress is put on health. “Pathfinder Foundation has written to the Ministry of Health in order to take on learners willing to obtain basic training. That is to say, to recruit primary health care workers and assistants in order to help them get a master’s degree in intensive care nursing,” explained Professor Kader. “Otherwise, there is no possibility in Mali for those people to obtain a master’s degree.” According to the manager of the technical platform, Kalilou Sidibé, everything is working out better than expected: “courses are given live from the hospital Georges Pompidou in Paris. Alcatel sends the signal that we pick up by means of a satellite dish”. Courses are interactive, teachers and students communicate normally. Teaching is digitally imparted to the students. The teacher gives his course and students can view it on the screens of their computers. They can write direct questions to their teacher and receive the corresponding response, also directly from the teacher.

According to Yacouba Diarra, anesthetist at the Dentistry National Centre, one of the students of the first graduation class: “the master’s degree that I have just been awarded is a huge opportunity for my career. Now, I can say that I have really finished my postgraduate training. This training has been very beneficial for us all. It has allowed us to study and at the same time go on working in our different services at the hospital.” Another student, Ibrahim Diarra, added with evident satisfaction: “this training has filled a void, as there isn’t any training programme in the hospital of Kali where I work and the modules meet exactly our needs and concerns.” For more information contact iConnect coordinator: Filifing Diakite,

Local e-Educational content to meet growing student populations in Uganda By Edris Kisambira In 1996, Uganda launched an ambitious Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme, the first of its kind in Africa. To strengthen its commitment to education further, the government instituted a Universal Secondary Education (USE) programme last May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |

February (2007) essentially to compliment UPE. These two programmes aim to provide every Ugandan with an education up to pre-university level where the government will meet the cost of sending four children per family to school. As a


at Kyambogo University. The other one is the ICT-basic skills training (IBAT) programme. The two projects have now been taken over by the government. However, challenges of sustaining the same projects are a real threat because of a lack of well-outlined plans and constraints of a financial nature.


result, primary school enrolments doubled in the last decade and secondary schools now have to accommodate the dramatic increases in student population, the impact of which is just starting to be felt. To ensure that the enrolled millions get quality education, new and innovative ways to improve the quality of both the teaching staff and educational materials at all levels have had to be found. One such initiative has seen the production of some ICT-based educational content at Kyambogo University with initial help from the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) through Uganda’s ministry of education and sports. Production of ICT-based educational content (PIBEC) is the name of the project that has resulted into the production of at least eight learning modules in different subjects out of a targeted 21 modules. This means that with these modules Kyambogo University together with eight National Teachers Colleges (NTCs) can enhance teacher-training programmes. Benefits include giving teachers new teaching skills to liven up classroom teaching and produce lowcost, up-to-date educational materials that can be easily duplicated, updated and revised. The long-term aim of having 7 million students and teachers benefit from the PIBEC project in light of the booming education sector in Uganda will surely require more effort and prioritisation of development of ICT-based educational material. “What we have done is to help our colleagues at the eight NTCs and those at Kyambogo University to produce material based on ICTs that are helping them teach better as well as get the students learn better,” Edmund Segujja, the man who headed the PIBEC project said. Segujja explained that when the material is made available to the students, the cost of buying expensive books (at least for the eight modules) will be covered by the digitised educational material that has been produced to date. “Buying books is expensive as you know and you cannot have enough of them going around,” Segujja noted. “At this point, we have produced eight modules of educational material and hope to have more content developed.” The justification for implementing PIBEC with Kyambogo University and the eight NTCs is that students at these institutions end up in the classrooms of Uganda’s young generation. PIBEC was one of two complimentary ICT projects that IICD supported


Like all technology-based programmes on the African continent, financial and technology challenges continue to hamper the embedding process of the project. One such challenge is the absence of a Webmaster at the university. The university today cannot afford to have a permanent Webmaster on its payroll. It is this shortcoming that has prevented the university from uploading the eight modules on the university website. As a result, the developed content is not available online, something that is a big drawback for the project at this point in time. However, the cost of maintaining a Webmaster to manage and update the material is something the university is trying to get around. As if that is not enough, the university is grappling with developing the educational content itself. “Some academic staff members don’t want to write the material,” Segujja says. “Given that it is an individuals’ academic endeavour with no other incentive, it is a problem getting people to devote time and energy to do the job.” Internet connectivity is a challenge the university is trying to address. Connectivity is a problem because of the highly priced bandwidth by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). One would say this is a problem experienced countrywide because of bandwidth issues, but still the university needs some minimum connectivity.

Lessons learned For people out there looking for case studies, the Kyambogo University PIBEC initiative is one to look at to see what has worked and to avoid the pitfalls. One key lesson is that development of the

i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

educational material is key to the project’s success and that resources need to be put aside as an incentive for academic staff to engage themselves in content development. The project’s first objective was to produce computer-based educational materials for selected courses at ITEK (Institute of Teacher Education Kyambogo) before the merger that created Kyambogo University. Having gone through the implementation stages of the project, the university has built capacity and as a result is well versed with production of computerbased educational materials. The experience gained can quicken the process of creating new material if only the right incentives are availed. However, the level of dedication needed for the creation of content indicates that one needs money to implement any project of this kind. For more information contact iConnect coordinator: Davis Weddi,

Zambia endorses e-learning in Schools By Michael Malakata As Zambia is increasingly becoming cash-strapped to support establishment and maintenance of physical education, e-Learning has become an option with many advantages for pupils. Computers in schools, homes, and access to the Internet are improving the educational possibilities for thousands of pupils in Zambia and millions in Africa. Electronic learning (e-Learning) is basically the use of devices based on computer and communications technology for learning, and can include using computers connected to the Internet to access the posted learning or educational materials and the sending of such learning materials via Internet. With no physical contacts between the teacher and the pupil, learning according to personal preference can provide e.g. free choice of languages. Despite e-Learning proving to be effective and efficient, lack of infrastructure, equipment and financial resources has been the major hindrance to the development of e-Learning in Zambia. The Zambian government has now taken the lead in promoting e-Learning in schools by partnering with the donor community in fast tracking the development of an e-Learning programme. The Minister of Education Prof. Geoffrey Lungwangwa says the donor community and other stakeholders in the country have been involved in establishing e-Learning as a medium of attaining education and complimenting traditional forms of educational delivery. “Education for all in the country will not succeed through the government efforts alone, but all players in the education sector have to play a role in making e-Learning in Zambia a reality and hence the need for public-private partnerships,” said Prof. Lungwangwa. Lungwangwa says the Zambian government has adopted ICTs in four broader categories namely: e-Learning, computer science, Education Management Information System (EMIS) and e-Governance. At the first ever e-Learning seminar in Zambia on March 15 this year, Prof. Lungwangwa said the Ministry of Education is mainstreaming ICTs in the whole education system, from basic to tertiary level. May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |

As a way of showing Zambia’s commitment to the development of e-Learning, the Ministry of Education has set up a national committee on e-Learning under the banner ‘e-Learning Zambia’. e-Learning Zambia Chairperson Prof. Thomson Sinkala says e-Learning marks a great moment for Zambia in embracing ICTs, which is a powerful tool for delivering educational services to many people in the country.

Impact Although a growing proportion of Zambian schools in urban areas, especially along the line of rail, are using e-Learning services, there is a need to expand the service to rural areas. The education system in Zambia is hindered by lack of teachers in rural areas, making it difficult to achieve equal access to education. So far, a handful of schools in Zambia are benefiting from the e-Learning programme, including the learning at Taonga market programme that is being done to service the underprivileged whose parents could not afford to take them to formal schools.

Lesson learned The e-Learning scenario in Zambia has proven to be an efficient and effective means of delivering education services to people with low income. Internet service providers (ISP) and companies providing solar energy system can help to boost the e-Learning programme and will be extending their services to rural regions that are currently not connected to the national grid. Though there are many learning tools being used in this modern era, e-Learning has proven to be an alternative means for people to improve their skills without meeting eye to eye with the tutors. For more information contact iConnect coordinator: Tovin Ngombe, 1 Closely related to hacking, using a computer or other device to trick a phone system. Typically, phreaking is used to make free calls or to have calls charged to a different account.





Connecting Indian SMEs through a portal Introduction SENET was initiated in 1997 to build up information data bank to help entrepreneurs in SSI Sector. The access to technology related information was difficult for SMEs. 58 field offices of SIDO (Small Industry Development Organisation) had data on process and technologies including the source relating to setting up of small enterprises, but the data retrieval and updation was a bottleneck, mainly due to lack of man-power and electronic data processing infrastructure. Prospective entrepreneurs had to physically move to the field offices and interact with the available officers to get the information desired. Under SENET a database containing all these data available was setup in electronic form and web interface developed as a frontend, for easy dissemination amongst information seekers. As a part of the project we undertook many knowledge initiatives for creation and dissemination of value added information • SIDO online web portal • KnowSSI CDROM • Webcast • Bibliography on clusters • eNewsletters • Digital films The portal was designed as a single stop source to inform and educate users in respect of the SSI sector. It identifies as its clientele potential and existing entrepreneurs, associations, researchers and students. It offers a number of hyper links to other useful sites on SSIs / SMEs as well as SENET applications. It puts on the web a phenomenal interactive area for the growth and development of the Indian entrepreneur. An interactive map allows user to search the locations and the concerned persons in the organizational network of SIDO and the associated autonomous bodies. The portal is Bi-lingual portal in English and Hindi available at URL’s and

projects and disseminate knowledge created Websites and newsletters for the target SMEs. Clustering and networking can help small and medium enterprises boost their competitiveness. India has over 400 SME clusters and about 2000 artisan clusters. The objective of the subportal on Clusters ( was to highlight the Indian clusters. Information on various studies conducted by UNIDO and other agencies, policies, programmes and a huge amount of value added resources are made available to SMEs free of charge. India has a competitive advantage in the Hand tools industry because of availability of skilled labour at competitive wages and entrepreneurship skills and raw material. The world market of Hand tools is estimated to be in excess of US$ 10 billion. Though we have been witnessing an average growth of more than 17% p.a over the last 7 years, our share in the world market is still less than 1%. This is attributed to use of traditional and obsolete technology; as the industry is labour intensive and energy intensive one. It is estimated that adoption of energy efficient technologies and processes can yield in energy savings of upto 30-50%.

UNIDO UNIDO’s vision is to improve the living conditions of people and promote global prosperity by offering innovative solutions for the sustainable industrial development of developing countries and countries with economics in transition. We worked on two projects with UNIDO in the SME space ‘The Cluster Development programme’ and the ‘National programme on improving energy efficiency in the Hand tools sector’ as a part of the knowledge initiative of SIDO. To highlight these


The website ( spreads awareness of this fact, helps to document and share information on Statistics, Exports/Imports, technology seminars/workshops, best practices and other value added information. Ms. Dolly Bhasin, SPH Consultants, i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

May 2007

ICTD Project Newsletter

ICTD Project Review Workshop It is time to take stock of the ICTD project since the project is now moving into its final phase with only a few months to go before the project ends. This workshop focused on the lessons learnt which would be useful for replication and upscaling.


he United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country programme for India has set as its priority ‘the goal to work towards promotion of sustainable human development and elimination of human poverty and inequalities’. Along with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MoCIT), Government of India, UNDP conceptualized the project ICT for Development (ICTD) for the period 2003-2007, laying emphasis on the vital role that ICTs can play in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Government (NISG) is responsible for project management and monitors the progress of these projects. A Review Workshop was held at Shimla on May 3-4, 2007 to assess the current status of all the pilot initiatives and focus on the Plan of Action for the pilot initiatives for the next 6 months and the steps to be taken by partners to move towards project closure and assessment. The workshop was attended by senior officials from MoCIT, Government of India and UNDP, along with representatives from each of the project partners.

Thirteen pilot initiatives are being funded under four themes, namely - Integrated Citizen Services, Rural Livelihoods, Governance, and Women’s Empowerment. These pilots are being implemented by project partners like state governments and non-government organisations.

A brief summary of the various projects presented at the workshop, their key discussion points and outcomes have been enumerated below.

The National Institute for Smart

DRISTI, West Bengal Hindole Dutta, DPRDO, Burdwan and Ranjit Maiti, Joint Secretary, Dept. of Panchayat Raj, Govt of West Bengal presented the status

of the project DRISTI, which seeks to create IT-based solutions for all major functions of the Panchayats (village level governance units), including micro planning at village level and providing updated information to all the stakeholders for promoting transparency and accountability. The project is being piloted in Burdwan district and is being implemented by the Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Department, Government of West Bengal. The components of the project such as Gram Panchayat Management System (GPMS) and Integrated Fund Monitoring & Accounting System (IFMAS) have been installed in 129 Gram Panchayats (village level) and 31 Panchayat Samitis (block level) respectively. The applications help in generation of Debit and Credit Vouchers, cash book, ledgers, subsidiary cash books for schemes, cheque issue register, cash analysis, receipts, and payments amongst others. The use of these systems has

Make ICTs Work for People

resulted in better fund management, better utilization of fund, reduced number of CAG audit objections and has facilitated in systematizing the budgetary exercise.

also using the platform to interact with other villages. While presenting the status of the project, Ramgopal from the Byrraju Foundation highlighted that the project has implemented a low cost video conferencing The project has also facilitated device at the village level. in improving the efficiency of Emphasizing the need for Ashwini, Andhra Pradesh delivery of citizen services. community involvement, ownerVarious G2C services such as Issue The Ashwini project is building a ship and partnership, he stated of Birth & Death Certificates, Issue reliable and stable service delivery that along with the 32 villages of Trade Licence, Registration of platform offering voice, video, data across West & East Godavari Carts & Carriages, Permissions for and web facilitating information, districts the project is also Cultural Programs/ Fairs, interaction and transaction of expanding to other districts of Provident Fund for Andhra Pradesh namely Landless Agri-cultural Visha-khapatnam, Labourers (PROFLAL) Rangareddy, Nellore, payments, Generation Nizamabad and of House Tax Bills, Lease Nalagonda. Virtual liveliRent/Market Rent hood training and teleDeposition, Caste/ medicine from New York Residential/Income/ are some of the new Character Certificates, services that have been Docketing Complaints, provided on the Ashwini and status of disposal platform. The National are being offered Geographic channel has through the DRISTI also showcased the project. Ashwini project. Seated L-R: Manish Garg, Director, IT, GoHP; Deirdre Boyd, Country Director UNDP, and The project has A.K. Balani, Director DIT. The project aims to ensured that key steps increase the loading at are taken to institutionalise the the Ashwini centers to 10 hours initiatives taken under the project. urban quality @ rural prices. Being per day with 200 participants by To ensure a support system for implemented by the Byrraju September 2007. Sixteen Ashwini project implementation, posts of Foundation across 32 villages in centers will also be tested for Block Informatics Officer (BIO) and West & East Godavari districts of sustainability by December 2007. Data Entry Operator (DEO) have Andhra Pradesh, the project aims Providing new and innovative been created. Women SHGs are to empower rural population by livelihood services such as being trained and necessary providing timely access to an beautician courses, fabric painting government orders have been array of high quality services such will also be initiated under the as healthcare, education, agripassed to sustain the practice. project. culture, livelihoods training and eThe Department has conducted Governance to the chosen villages. e-Krishi a Rural Household Survey for the The community owns the The project ‘e-Krishi’ - a market entire state and the results are buildings where the Ashwini driven agricultural initiative being incorporated into the GIS centres have been set up and are through IT-enabled agri-business


module to help in improving micro-planning at the Panchayat level. The systems are being rolled out in other GPs and PS’s of Burdwan district and also in other districts of the state. Work on the GIS component has to be intensified in the coming months.

initiative. Apart from the portal, a toll-free trade call centre manned by three agricultural graduates and supported by more than 120 agricultural experts is also available to answer the farmers’ queries. All e-Krishi centers are equipped with books, IEC materials, videos to enables farmers to learn about good agricultural practices. The portal has been enhanced and now facilitates buyers and sellers to see category wise

Future plans for the project include setting up an incentive scheme for both field coordinators and entrepreneurs, if they close a transaction. A state-wide rollout of the project is also on the cards and the plan includes extending it to seven other districts of Kerala across 700 Akshaya centers. The Kerala State IT Mission has decided to continue financial and implementation support to eKrishi, after the UNDP funding comes to an end.

During the discussions that followed, there was a general consensus from the other ICTD partners present that there is a need to maintain metrics or an MIS to track the tran-sactions and results from the eKrishi project to facilitate other states to Farmers of e-Krishi learn from the project. have been forming Project e-Krishi presentation in progress The impact of the entry Bhoomi clubs in Malaof private retail food ppuram that meet every chains in the market also needs to month to discuss agri-culture postings and also provides search be assessed in the coming months related issues. Many farmers in the options. 21,800 major farmers on the e-Krishi project. district have been selling their have so far posted on the e-krishi produce such as paddy, coconut, web portal for selling their arecanut, vege-tables, banana, etc. commodities. In order to meet Mahiti Mitra through the Internet using the e- large volume demand, supply Grassroots e-Self Gover-nance is Krishi portal. aggregation is being done by the theme of Project Mahitiestablishing collection centres. Mitra, being implemented by KSITM has focused on capacity One of the major transactions that Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan, an building, conducting awareness has taken place through the NGO based in Gujarat. Sushma programmes and established portal is the procurement of 3,000 Iyengar and Manoj Solanki from strong linkages with the agri- tonnes of paddy from the farmers Abhiyan highlighted that out of culture department, IIITM-K, in Malappuram by the Civil 18 Mahiti-Mitra centers that were VUAT, NGOs and local self Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) to be set up across 380 village government institutions to resulting in a profit of INR 45 lakhs clusters, 17 are operational. enhance the success of the e-Krishi to the farmers.


Make ICTs Work for People

centres in the state of Kerala is being implemented in Malappuram district by Kerala State IT Mission (KSITM). Anvar Sadath from the KSITM and Prof. C.K Peethambaran, Consultant (eKrishi) stated that the initiative is an attempt to address the gap in agricultural flow and transaction management. The e-Krishi project rides on the Akshaya platform which is a network of 330 IT information centres equipped with broadband connectivity in Malappuram district. As of date 130 Akshaya centers have been upgraded as e-Krishi information centers in Malappuram district. A portal ( to bring together all buyers and sellers of agricultural produce as well as agriculture service providers has been designed.

Make ICTs Work for People 38

Mahiti Mitra centres have facilitated the citizens to access the entitlements due to them which were earlier difficult to access. GIS Based Decision Support System, GIS Based NRM Planning System, Household & Village level Databank and Decentralized Cluster level Planning have been developed as tools for better developmental planning. The GIS application has enabled Gram Panchayats to protect their village land rights (grazing and sweet water zones) in the face of increased land allocations for industrial activity. Fishing communities from 11 fish harbours (10,000 persons) used the information from the GIS application and maps from Mahiti Mitra, and an allied community radio initiative (also sponsored by UNDP) to get organized, and successfully restore access to sea which was cut off by one of the SEZs in the region. More than 1500 poor families, left out by the BPL list, used the Mahiti Mitra successfully to get the BPL lists revised, and include them through an application to revise BPL certificate. During the coming months focus will also placed on developing inter-personal communication skills of Mahiti Mitra operators. Future plans for the project revolve around developing creative content for


non-literate users as well as context-specific content for cattle breeders, artisans etc. and to implement a gender specific strategy and content for women users.

e-Justice The status of the project ‘e-Justice’, being implemented in the districts of Mahabubnagar (one of the least developed districts) and Krishna District (one of the progressive districts) of Andhra Pradesh state,

Project Mahiti Manthana presentation in progress

was presented by Satyajit Rao and Vishnu from the Centre for Good Governance. This project aims to generate awareness among rural and semi-urban citizens about legal provisions, roles and responsibilities of government functionaries, legal support agencies and groups and their activities.

translated into the local language Telugu. The queries are forwarded to agencies like the Legal Services Authority (LSA), which facilitate access to the justice delivery system. Additionally, paralegal volunteers are being trained and around ten agencies working in the field of social justice have been linked with. There is a need to increase the uptake of e-Justice services. In this regard, various strategies to publicize the project are being explored such as through kalajathas, PRIs, paralegal volunteers and educational institutions. The issue of citizens demanding immediate redressal of their legal issues at the e-Justice kiosks still remains. The sustainability of the kiosks after the project funding ceases needs to be addressed and hence it is envisaged that the eJustice software will be installed in other community outreach projects like e-Seva, RajIV (Rajiv Internet Village), LSA (Legal Services Authority) etc. to help in creating awareness among citizens on legal issues & demand for rights. Due to lack of space all the project presentations could not be carried in this issue. The remaining project presentations will be featured in the next issue. ICTD

Rural citizens can approach the eight e-Justice kiosks set up in the two districts with their legal problems. Forty-five key laws have been simplified and

NISG and i4d jointly hold the copyright to the articles printed in the ICTD section of the i4d magazine and website. For permission to reprint the articles please write to the Editor i4d.


Moving towards masses Background Janadhar is the e-Governance initiative of the government of Uttarakhand. Started in March 2005, the initiative was taken up with funding from the UNDP and technical guidance by the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IIT). The main objective of the project was to deliver information of public interest and services related to various government department at the doorsteps of the citizen of Uttarakhand by setting up e-Governance in the state using ICTs as the vehicle. Janadhar is being implemented through Community Multimedia Centres. These Centres are known as Soochna Kutirs that are run on the entrepreneurship model. The Soochna Kutir provides needed information to the citizens through a portal- UTTARA ( specifically developed by IIT. The portal contains a wide variety of information of the state in a centralised databank in Hindi language. ‘Soochna kutirs’ are set up at different places in Nainital district, specialy at remote and sparsely populated locations. They are owned and operated by the local computer literate youth who are called soochna kutir sanchalaks. The pro-poor IT initiatives in Uttaranchal have completed one year with liberal technical support from the Department of Electrical Engineering of Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee. The UNDPfunded the project with INR 46.1 million. The major outputs are as follow: • The development of an exhaustive portal of the Uttarakhand state/government based on n-tier architecture, with 114 websites in Hindi/English • Establishment of a data centre at IIT Roorkee for hosting this portal • Establishment of an information and service delivery system in Nainital district on a pilot scale The activities will be continuing and branching further under another ongoing project sponsored by the government of Uttarakhand with an outlay of INR 36.7 May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |

million. The data centre, which was located in Information Super Highway Centre, has been shifted to a state-of-art facilities room in Electrical Engineering Department on 27 April 2006. Simultaneously the Internet connectivity bandwidth has been increased from 512 kbps to 2 Mbps. VSAT connectivity bandwidth has also been raised to 2 Mbps. 28 Soochna Kutirs and a mobile Soochna Kutir equipped with VSAT are now operating in Nainital district.

Present Scenario Presently there are thirty one Soochna Kutirs operational in the Nainital district under the Janadhar project and, all these are run on the private entrepreneurship model. All the operators were selected on the basis of entrepreneurship qualities and social intelligence which provide them an edge over others, so that they can run these Soochna Kutirs on a self sustainable basis. The success or failure of each Soochna Kutir will depend on the personal initiative or the motivational level of the village entrepreneur. However, the project is currently facing some setbacks concerned with problems like connectivity, content, etc.

Views of village level entrepreneurs Based on the interface with the three representative village based entrepreneurs who are otherwise known as Soochna Kutir Sanchalaks it was felt that this was a wonderful initiative on the part of the government to create a knowledge based society to help the villagers to save their time, resources and money to avail the

government services. The government’s comprehensive web portal which people can access through Uttara portals in different Soochna Kutirs and download different forms available on these portals. The major obstacle is that none of these forms have online filing facilities, i.e., they have to be submitted manually. Yet another gap area is the lack of public awareness in utilising the services of Soochna Kutirs. Project Janadhar with partnership with Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee is providing the best of technology in connectivity by offering the Very Small Aperture Technology (VSAT) to every Soochan Kutir. Yet all the Soochna Kutirs do not have VSAT which means they have to rely on P.S.T.N, that has its own problem in terms of speed and frequent disconnections. Almost all the entrepreneurs collectively felt that ‘they were hardly earning any revenue at present by providing eGovernance services form the Uttara portal’. But many among them have taken personal initiatives to overcome the limitations and make the Soochna Kutir self sustainable. Sunita Mehra of the village Khairna, who is a diploma holder in Computer and Commercial Application, and has completed a course on DTP, along with short typing courses in Hindi and English, and courses in C++, HTML, DHTML and Tally which she had completed while she was studying in Mumbai, is now teaching all these courses to students of the village to bridge the digital divide and thereby making the Soochan Kutir sustainable.

Conclusion The project Janadhar, a bold initiative on the part of Uttarakhand government, is a step in the right direction to address the information needs of its citizens. However, in two years since inception the project has miles to go and many promises to keep. Reported by Ravinder Singh


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Bytes for All... Summary of discussions for the month of April 2007 With the growing emergence of Wiki on the Internet in recent times, and its increasing threat to replace traditional means of getting information, it is bound to ignite strong for and against emotions. We have an interesting debate among our readers going on this month. This will provide fascinating perspectives on wikispace. Read this and other debates below in the summary of discussions on the dynamic BytesForAll readers list.

Sixty years of e-Governance in India Our reader Dr. D.C. Mishra is compiling a book on sixty years of e-Governance in India. He therefore asked fellow readers to contribute in the form of resources on the said topic. Resources were sorted in the form of insights, photographs of early computers, anecdotes, experiences with working with FACIT and other calculators etc. Dr. Mishra defines e-Governance as the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in governance. Read the post at http:// Dr. Mishra further takes the cut off date for governance as 1947, when India attained independence. And the cut off date for eGovernance as 1956 when a digital computer was first installed at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkatta. He has also defined three phases for e-Governance in India: Phase I (1947-1984): Informaticsbased e-Government. Phase II (1984-1995): Personal Computer (PC)-based e-Government and Phase III (1995-2007): Web-based e-Government. The invitation to send in views was responded by another reader Satish Jha, with the following comments: “The periods defined in the phases of e-Governance look like a long stretch. The PC came in 1984. The Web appeared globally in 1995 and it did not start any governance process until much later. Punch cards, FACIT calculators were more used by academicians, researchers or surveying bodies that needed to crunch large amounts of data.” According to Jha, this cannot be called ‘governance’ and certainly not ‘e-Governance’. We did not have e-Governance since 1947; things in bits and pieces do not make for a holistic approach. Jha also said that ‘Informatics’ as we understand it now, is the movement of data across an electronic spectrum and not on paper. Dr. Mishra replied to these with the following: “The e-Governance cutoff period from 1947 to date cannot be called a stretch, as technology in some form or the other has always been used in governance. Read an excellent paper by Subramaniam (2005, 2006) who provides 100-year perspective on e-Governance from 1880-1980!” According to Dr. Mishra, ‘Informatics’ is neither the flow of information nor computing power but the end result. Mishra says that ‘process of number crunching by various bodies can certainly be called ‘governance’. Take the various censuses conducted. The data collected forms the bedrock of India’ planning and decisionmaking process. Without database governance is unthinkable, than


be it a paper database. As far as a bits and pieces of e-Governance not making a holistic e-Government; when do we say that a government is an e-Government? Is it when 5 percent, 10 percent, 50 percent, 80 percent is computerised? By those standards, not even 50 percent of government in today, India is computerised. So do we say e-Governance is non-existent even today? That was an interesting debate.

Gov IT Wiki One of our readers Dr. D.C. Mishra informed the readers about a thought proposed by him some time back, and that was ‘How to make use of wiki technology in e-Government if the public sector is constrained by resources as it is’. He was happy to inform that a thought that seemed a challenge before had indeed crystallised and a ‘Government wiki’ had been launched in March 2007 in the U.S.A. The name of the wiki is GovIT wiki, http:// This post drew some interesting comments from our other readers. Satish Jha, said that it was important to understand how people access, search, use and present information. Wiki and google may be changing the way people search documents. Whether it really helps depends on the way wiki is used. Even with technology like wiki available, government will organise information in its own way, completely defeating the very purpose of wiki. It is the classic case of Encyclopedia Britannica. Is it really used for what it is meant? It surely made a good showpiece. Ferderick Noronha of Bytes for all, queried whether wikis were about searching for information, or creating it collaboratively from bottom up? Ridhi Dcruz of Bytes for all opined that, the success of a wiki was its ability to get people as participants on the Web and not just passive users as in the case of e-Mail and chat. The further success of wiki does depend on people rather than technology, as they are the ones who create content. It is important that people create useful content rather than something irrelevant, for the usefulness of wiki to continue. Vickram Crishna observed that the challenge while using wikispace was not to wait for someone else to organise, but to apply technological constructs to enable one to find the data one is seeking from the huge river that is wiki. And hence, the thought that wiki is like a showpiece encyclopedia does not arise. Wiki also cannot be dismissed as worthless since it is a collaborative space and even if its sometimes vandalised by irrelevant information (are not so many other things as well), it only takes a few days to clean the house as there are enough people on the Net interested in doing so. Thank God! The problem will arise when there are less interested people and the cleaning takes longer. Then no amount of ‘laws’ and ‘authority’ will fix that problem. D.C. Mishra added another dimension to the debate saying, wikispace has contributions from all and sundry; non-specialists and self-styled specialists. As a result wiki is bland and selfopinionated. People have come to trust wiki, like an innocent tourist asking for directions on the street. But is it really trustworthy after all the arbitrary editing? i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

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Bytes for All... existed only in the realms of art, poetry, writing or music. However in the modern era, administrators can be creative, so can computer programmers. But we must not forget that the computer and the Internet are a means to an end and not the means themselves. Why is blogging and web publishing so popular? It is because they are a means for one’s creative aspirations.

Other events Pune to be the first wireless city in India Pune will be the first city, to become completely wire less; even before the Government of India’s is much-awaited spectrum policy was announced. Called Unwiring Pune, this project will enable people to access the Internet from anywhere in the city, without a cable, through their laptops or personal digital assistants (PDAs).

Wiki really has stopped growing and has reached its peak. Vickram was of the strong view that when we fall into human trappings of growth and peak, we abandon our power of critical examination. Information needs to be held outside these trappings, only then can it be absorbed and understood as knowledge. Wikipedia is timely even what if it is authoritative (because of a few self styled experts). Wiki works on the ‘Open’ model, and so far there may not be a better model to organise information into knowledge. D.C. Mishra, who started this debate, had the last word. The need for GovIT Wiki was because of information overload and in a way information denial. Ideally an e-Citizen should be able to deal with an e-Government all on her/his own. But we know through experience that government rules regarding a citizen are complex and need sorting out. That is when GovIT wiki comes into picture, hoping that future e-Governance public services will deliver better services.

Poetry in programming There was a post by Shahidul KK Shuvra on whether there are poetic elements in writing computer programmes. According to the post, poets and computer programmers are similar in the sense they create something unique. They are absent minded and engrossed always in their areas of interest, in the case of the poet, its writing poetry, and in the case of programmers, its writing programmes. As a result many a times their social and family lives suffer. Einstein said, “Imagination is more powerful than knowledge”. Mathematics and poetry are media to express connotation of a brilliant mind’s visualisation. Algorithm is a fundamental element in making programming language. And imagination is needed before formulating a programme. If the next century has no time for poetry, than the spirit of poems will be found in math-based programmes. Computer languages may well become the elements for expressing the human imagination instead of spoken languages. This post received the following reactions from our readers. Anannya Guha of IGNOU, said that there is no doubt that creativity May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |


Pakistan joins Creative Commons network Soon after the launch of the project in India, neighbouring Pakistan has joined the bandwagon too. Discussions over this issue came up in Lahore-Pakistan recently, during a 2-Day workshop titled ‘Towards an Open Information Society in Pakistan’ jointly organised by Bellanet-Bellasap and Bytesforall Network Pakistan in collaboration with South Asia Partnership-PK, SAPNepal and SAP-International. Source: index.php?title=Main_Page

Ubuntu comes to Bangladesh Ubuntu Bangladesh organised a workshop at East West University, titled ‘Linux for Home Users’. 108 undergraduate and graduate level students from 9 departments participated on this day long workshop, where various issues of FOSS and Ubuntu Linux were discussed. Source:

Mysore is Wi-Fi hotspot This city with its old-world charm has outstripped other technosavvy cities in the country, including the capital of Karnataka that is something of a Silicon Valley, to become a wholesale Wi-Fi ‘hotspot’ for wireless Internet connectivity the first of its kind in the country. Wi-Fi is short for wireless fidelity. Source:

Bytes for All: or Bytes for All Readers Discussion: bytesforall_readers To subscribe: Compiled by Archana P. Nagvekar, Bytes for all, India,


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Role of technology to expand Microfinance Manish Khera CEO, Financial Information Network & Operations Ltd. (FINO), India

Introduction To open the discussion on urban microfinance it will be apt to quote Aloysius P. Fernandez, Executive Director, MYRADA: “It is not enough to teach people to fish when in most cases they cannot reach the river.” According to a 1998 publication by Paul B McGuire, John D Conroy and Ganesh B Thapa, 25 million poor households in India required INR 150 billion over nine years until 2005. In a study conducted by Mahajan and Nagasri the demand for credit was found to be INR 9,000 per annum per household among the poor. In the Paradigm Group survey, average credit availed by each household was about INR 10,071 per annum in India. By one study, the source of more than 93.5 percent of credit is from the informal sector, where interest rates are often very high. The formal banking sector provides only 0.8 percent of the total credit. People in areas do smoothen their consumption expenditure in face of uncertain streams by their savings in reserve. But apart from savings, people in areas need access to convenient, liquid, safe deposit services which are protected against inflation. There is great need for retail financial services – cheque cashing, money orders, short-term loans, remittances, insurance saving accounts, and other services that promote asset accumulation. The available sources for financial products for the poor clusters are: Credit Societies: The number of credit societies is estimated to be over a hundred in Mumbai


Co-operative banks: There are on an average two co-operative banks in every slum area of Mumbai Nationalised banks: Some nationalised banks have branches in some slums Private banks: There are no private banks catering to this segment of society directly Informal loans: There are community loan lenders in almost all localities Some of the major challenges which intermediaries (Local Financial Institutions) face can be summarised under the following headers:

Supply dilemma The exclusion of large numbers of the population from the formal banking sector may be for several reasons from the supply side: • Persons are unbankable in the evaluation/perception of bankers • The loan amount is too small to invite attention of the bankers • The person is bankable on a credit appraisal approach but supporting the accounts and expanding branch network is not feasible and viable • High transaction costs particularly in dealing with a large number of small accounts • Lack of collateral security • Inability to evaluate and monitor cash flow cycles and repayment capacities due to information asymmetry, lack of

Technology helps in developing low cost platforms to enable last mile distribution

data base and absence of credit history of people with small means Human resource related constraints both in terms of inadequacy of manpower and lack of proper orientation or expertise Adverse security situation prevailing in some parts of slums and other such localities

Demand dilemma There are several reasons for the rural poor remaining excluded from the formal banking sector: • High transaction costs at the client level due to expenses such as travel costs, wage losses, incidental expenses • Lack of awareness; lack of social capital • Non-availability of ideal products • Hassles related to documentation and procedures in the formal system • Easy availability of timely and doorstep services from money lenders/informal sources and • Prior experience of rejection by/ indifference of the formal banking system.

Role of technology Technology can play a vital role in addressing the following concerns: Fraud proof authentication: Biometric based systems can help in customer identification without any requirement for a PIN / password as in traditional channel delivery systems. Foolproof identity: Biometric De-duping can ensure that there are no duplicate identities created for the same customer. Offline transaction: Smart card based systems can provide a highly secure off line transaction platform to run any application thereby saving on the costs associated with on line systems. i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

Shared infrastructure: Technology systems can be integrated easily with existing on line channel delivery systems like ATMS, Kiosks, Point of sale etc. Shared demographic data: Technology based processes ensure that there is one time collection of demographic data for a particular customer. Low cycle times: Electronic infrastructure cycle times associated with product features like fund transfers, Cheque/Demand draft clearing and settlement are greatly reduced.

Benefits from FINO systems for a conventional MFI Effort Head Data recording / information transfer

FINO value proposition Financial Information Network and Operations (FINO) systems have been developed with a perspective of being an ‘Independent sectoral resource’ offering a low cost last mile distribution model. The solutions are on offer on a utility model ‘Pay as you use’ concept. FINO’s solution is a comprehensive solution, which encompasses three key components: Core Banking System : CBS component, which is built as a shared back end-banking engine that provides accounting, MIS, reporting and monitoring facility for all asset and liability products that the micro sector requires. The core component comprises of three sub units viz. Channel interfaces, Product Engine and Data Repository, enabling centralized data processing and data management of remotely captured transactions in the field. Distribution Component : It enables ‘offline’ data capture from end user specific biometric enabled hybrid multi-application Smart Cards. These smart cards can hold up to 15 different types of end consumer relationships (Savings, Loans, RD, FD, and non financial relationships such as health & life insurance products etc.) on a single card. In the field, these cards can interact with various offline channel enablers like biometric enabled Point of Transaction devices (POT), Mobile POS/PDAs etc. and existing mag-stripe based online networks of ATMs, PCs, POS and Kiosks. Captured end consumer field data is periodically transferred to a centralised location using connectivity options like PSTN (GSM/CDMA options are also being planned). Credit Bureau Component : enables creation of a knowledge base and financial credit worthiness, credit rating profile of the end user.

Conclusions Â

Technology helps in developing low cost platforms to enable last mile distribution. LFI have access to application service provider based model and hence majority of capital expenditure is converted into affordable operational expense. Â Credit analysis based on past records would differentiate various customers and their needs to offer them the distinct financial products for their benefits. Â Ensuring that LFI comply to regulatory norms and scale their operations. Â Technology provides easy access and quick response to the customers through the available offline, on the field transactions.  May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |

Benefit Loan officer no longer forced to record each transaction manually Branch no longer forced to store, compile and send paper records of transactions Head / branch office no longer forced to computerise forms Fewer errors in records due to mistaken identities

General management Clearer identification of organisationof MFI wide cost drivers Improved cash management through better cash flow forecasting More easily comparable loan officer / branch performance More efficient distribution of internal resources Oversight

Reduced need for internal audits Reduced risk of fraud

Portfolio management Quick identification of portfolio trends More quick and accurate identification of problem borrowers Improved ability to spot past ‘bad’ borrowers who attempt to borrow using a different identity Credit bureau effects

Ability to identify which applicants have applied for loans with other MFIs using the FINO solution Potential for much greater cooperation between MFIs using the FINO solution in the future

Customer satisfaction Reduced transaction time Reduced turnaround times for loan applications Increased customer understanding of MFI products Reporting

End of day process of closing books much simpler Reduced effort to report performance to donors/government Decreased cost of funds as banks become more comfortable with the MFIs record keeping system Increased ease of complying with regulations


Guaranteed future MIS support Ability to cross-sell other products in the future


Books received Challenges and Achievements in e-Business and e-Work Authors: Mireille Edin, Enrica Chiozza, Brian, Stanford-Smith Published by: IOS Press, US Pages: 1674 ISBN: 1586032844 In an era of globalisation, the economy is predominantly set on business fundamentals, networking and knowledge sharing. The book aims at developing better awareness, information and reliable advice on the ever growing effects of computing and telecommunications on business and work. The book is divided into two parts. Part I has a significant aspect, dealing with the ‘challenges’ being faced by business enterprises in adapting technologies. Part II has relevant information on ‘knowledge management’ among many other informative subjects. The work mainly aims to address the needs of business managers and researchers who are pressing hard for up-todate, intelligent support to guide them in day-to-day operations successfully. Therefore, it has become indispensable to avoid the growing effects of computing and telecommunications on business and work. The book has more than two hundred essays contributed by experts from various disciplines on advances made in leading edge technologies and the implications for business and work.The ICT support, helps SMEs to keep a competitive edge in the increasingly volatile markets. SMEs, apparently play an important role as innovators and ICTs give them an opportunity to keep the edge.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Knowledge-based Economy: Challenges and Strategies Edited by: Prof. Tan Wee Liang Published by: The Asian Productivity Organisation Pages: 143 ISBN: 92-833-7023-6 The present volume is a compilation of the papers and views presented at a symposium, which was sponsored by Asian Productivity Organisation (APO). The book aims to make the policymakers, entrepreneurs, and enterprises aware about the movement of the global economy from capital-based industry to knowledge based industry. It provides ideas about the use of knowledge management and the use of ICTs in boosting


efficiency and competitiveness. It shows how advances in telecommunications, Information Technology, and the Internet have transformed the global business environment. The book also shows that knowledge assets, knowledge workers, and knowledge ventures have become the foci of attention in today’s globalised world. It explains why and how knowledge has become one of the most important forms of intellectual capital in starting and running a business today. R&D and innovation have become the primary focus of an enterprise in the process of value creation. The book suggests that there is a need to understand how to harness knowledge as intellectual property rights. Productivity and competitiveness now depend on nations being ready for the knowledge-based economy, according to the views expressed by the authors in the present volume. The book is divided into three part: the first part is based on resource papers, the second part on country papers and the third part consists of appendices.

Managing Dynamic Networks Published by: Springer Contributed by: Stefan Klein, Angeliki Poulymenakou Pages: 350 ISBN: 354025367X In recent years, the concept of inter-firm networks has reached a new momentum, especially in an organisational theory of informed systems. The wide proliferation of more advanced Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has brought intense and rapid changes in economic activities. Collaborative networks among organisations, reshaped the traditional managerial practices and created new interorganisational contexts for strategy, coordination and control, information and knowledge management. Heralded as future organisational forms, networks are often fragile, and precarious, and the organisational arrangements, are seen failing regularly. In order to investigate the new kind of realities, created by technologyenabled forms of network organisations’ and to address the emerging managerial challenges, this book introduces an integrative view on inter-firm network management. Centred on a network life cycle perspective, strategic, economic and relational facets of business networking are explored. The network management framework is illustrated on a broad range of European inter-firm network examples in various industries, rendering insights for new management practices. The volume is divided into three parts. Part I titled as ‘Framing Inter-firm Network Management’, Part II titled as ‘Elaboration on Network Management Core Themes in Select Industry Settings’, and Part III ending with a ‘Conclusion’. i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

What’s on

Indonesia 11-13 September 2007 Indo ICT Expo and Forum Jakarta Convention Centre

Africa 27-30 August 2007 Contact Centres World 2007 Sandton Convention Centre Johannesburg, South Africa

8-11 October 2007 Cards Africa 2007 Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa

18-20 September 2007 Wimax Global Forum, Hilton Düsseldorf wimaxvision/world_forum

28 June 2007 Broadband Connect Summit United Kingdom

8-11 October 2007 Broadband World Forum Europe 2007 Estrel Convention Centre, Berlin




4-5 June 2007 2nd Annual CEE Talent Management Le Meridien, Budapest

17-19 July 2007 Near Field Communication Australia Sydney generate_page.php?page_id=388

15-16 November 2007 KPO Australia 2007 Hilton Hotel, Sydney

India 17-19 December 2007 3rd Indian International Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IICAI) Pune

China 11-13 September 2007 Asia Mobile TV Congress 2007 Conrad Hotel, Hong Kong

CSDMS Events

26-29 June 2007 Energetic Materials Characterisation and Performance of Advanced Systems D-76318 Pfinztal (Berghausen)

31 July - 03 August, 2007 Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi, India

11-13 December 2007 3rd Global Knowledge Conference Kuala Lumpur

Mexico 10-11 July 2007 Digital Latin America (DLA07) Mexico City

20-22 August 2007 Government Technology Duxton Hotel, Wellington


4-5 June 2007 VoIP and Wirless VoIP: The Future Is calling Sheraton Tower

Digital Learning India 2007


eGov India 2007

Indian Telecentre Forum 2007

eHealth India 2007 mServe India 2007

eAgriculture India 2007

Community radio India 2007


27-28 November 2007 Digital Asia e-Gov Summit (DAEG07) Kuala Lumpur

New Zealand

Bulgaria 3-6 December 2007 ITU TELECOM EUROPE Sofia index.html

14-16 August 2007 Search World 2007 Amora Jamison, Sydney


19-22 June 2007 CommunicAsia2007 Singapore

USA 18-21 June 2007 NXT COMM McCORMICK Place, Chicago

Get your event listed here. May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5 |



Entering into enterprising Do we know which organisations are working in SMEs sector? How they are working and what are their contributions in this field? Here is a list provided for those who are interested to know about these organisations in detail.

Organisations ABAC: APEC Business Advisory Board APEC: Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation ASEAN: Association of Southeast Asian Nations ADB: Asian Development Bank BCEAM: The Business Council Europe, Africa, Mediterranean Business Europe: The Confederation of European Business CEI: Central European Initiative EBRD: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development ECB: European Bank Central Bank EC: European Commission EIB: European Investment Bank EIF: European Investment Fund EURO CHAMBRES: Association of European chambers of Commerce EURO MED TDS: EURO MED Trade, Distribution and Service Initiative FBE: European Banking Federation IDB: Inter American Development Bank IKED: International Organisation for Knowledge Economy and Enterprise Development IN SME: International Network for Small and Medium sized Enterprises ILO: International Labour Organisation PECC: Pacific Economic Co-operation Council OECD: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development UNESCAP: Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia UNESCWA: Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia UNECE: Economic Commission for Europe UNCTAD: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development UNDP: United Nations Development Programme UNECA: Economic Commission for Africa UN IDO: United Nations Industrial Development Organisation WB: World Bank WESNUTEK: European Network to Promote Women’s Entrepreneurship WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organisation YES for Europe: Yes for Europe, European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs

Websites content.php?ContentID=2611 craft-women/wes.htm



i4d | May 2007 | Vol. V No. 5

The world is talking. Are you listening?

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31 July - 03 August, 2007 Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi, India

Contact Details Jayalakshmi Chittoor (mob: 9811309160) email: eINDIA 2007 Secretariat Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS) G-4, Sector 39, Noida, India - 201301 Tel. : +91-120-2502181- 85, Fax: +91-120-2500060

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2007 Discuss your stories at mServe India 2007 held along with eINDIA 2007 at Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi from July 31 till August 3, 2007. Log on to

Promoting innovations, role of ICTs in SMEs : May 2007 Issue  

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

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