​Smart Africa returns – with a focus on Rwanda


Rwandan President Paul Kagame (center) and Minister Jean Philbert
Nsengimana (left) work with children during the recent
“Smart Rwanda Days” conference in Kigali.

“Smart” is in. So is digital. According to President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, “digital innovation has leveled the playing field, making it easy for anyone from anywhere can compete in the global economy. Today, ideas do not have borders and therefore countries cannot be landlocked.”

Earlier this month, the Government of Rwanda convened a “Smart Rwanda Days” conference, bringing together participants from seven countries. During the two-day event, attendees were asked to “take the pulse” of digital development across Africa – as well as within their own countries – and then set concrete roles and responsibilities for current members of the Smart Africa alliance (Burkina Faso, Mali, South Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Gabon). The event was co-sponsored by the International Telecommunications Union, the African Union and several private-sector companies.

The Smart Rwanda Master Plan (SRMP), developed by the government in consultation with representatives of civil society and private sector, in February 2014, calls for better services to citizens through e-government and ICT education at all levels. The Plan includes a specific focuses on broadband networks and tertiary education, as well as fostering investments, innovation and creative local content to strengthen ICT. “Africa is on unstoppable move forward that tremendous progress is being made, but also the room for increasing speed and impact is limitless,” said Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwanda’s Minister for Youth and ICT.

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Top 4 Ways ICTs Can Help Defeat the Ebola Crisis

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is increasingly becoming an international crisis. Recently the World Health Organization counted 5,843 cases of Ebola patients and 2,811 deaths. Even more tragic, the number deaths occurring outside hospitals are not usually recorded, meaning the numbers could actually be significantly higher. The CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) predicts there if we don’t do anything to stop Ebola in its tracks, the world will have 1.4 million cases before we hit February 2015.

How does this Ebola outbreak compare to others in the past?

So what can the ICT community do? ICTs (Information and Communications Technology) have already made drastic positive differences to healthcare workers around the world, and defeating the Ebola crisis should be no different. Here are four ways aid workers should embrace ICTs to make a bigger impact:

  1. More drones should be used to airlift medicine and supplies. Since aid organizations are continuously crossing borders and healthcare workers don’t always have proper equipment to keep themselves safe, a flying drone can prove useful to send medical supplies to remote locations. It would act as a simple way to either stop or slow down the spread of the Ebola virus. Drones would in no way replace doctors, but they could provide a safer alternative than people travelling to  dangerous areas just to deliver materials.
  2. A 24-hour helpline of doctors should be readily available by Skype, Google Hangout, or video chat. Online video calls would be able to provide consistent and accurate medical information to those living in rural areas. They would also decrease the need for doctors to be on the ground all the time. Finally, residents living in rural areas would be able to report cases more quickly, therefore allowing the WHO and other organizations to collect more accurate numbers on the outbreak.
  3. Apps providing correct information on Ebola should be offered to local community leaders. Fear and cultural insensitivity sometimes deny international aid workers access to areas where often their help is most needed. The answer? Provide local community leaders the same information via apps so they can share it with their own neighbors and friends. This can be done easily on any mobile device, and the apps should be made in or translated into local languages and dialects. In addition, the articles, content, and news stories on the app should be updated nearly every day, making the latest news and information available to entire communities.
  4. Access to social media will help sensitize others to the seriousness of this outbreak. So many west Africans enjoy Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and other social networking sites. These social media tools should be put to work since users are already enjoying those platforms. As one writer puts it, “Using modern day technology to sensitize the public on the virus, its prevention and particularly the importance of early intervention could be key in preventing the continuation of deaths in high numbers.”

ICTs can make a profound impact on scaling back the devastating effect that Ebola has had on Sierra Leone and other parts of western Africa. It’s time to nail down the best strategies to save precious lives around the world.

Inveneo has been working to provide the best ICTs for communities in need for over 10 years. If you would like to help Inveneo continue its ICT projects around the world, please donate today!


Go to Source. Reprinted from ICTWorks

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Delivering Solutions for Growth: Promoting Competitiveness and Innovation through Activist Strategies

After all the gloom, there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

Front-loading the impact of its double-barreled motto, “Global Challenges, Global Solutions,” the Annual Meetings season may have finally gotten the grim “challenges” part over and done with. This week – starting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, livestreaming via “World Bank Live” from the Bank’s Preston Auditorium – we’re about to explore one of the most promising solutions now inspiring the development community: the pro-growth, pro-jobs Competitive Industries and Innovation Program (CIIP).

The competitiveness conference will brighten the mood after last week’s barrage of bad news, which seemed relentless throughout the week as downbeat economic and geopolitical forecasts dominated the debate at the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund. From Jim Kim’s exhortation that the world’s inadequate response to the ebola crisis must be strengthened, to Christine Lagarde’s stern warning of an “uneven and brittle” era of “prolonged subpar growth [with] excessive and rising inequality,” there was plenty of disheartening data. Lagarde offered a deflating new coinage: “the New Mediocre.”

The sobering numbers within the IMF’s new World Economic Outlook underscored the sense that the global economy (and especially its wealthier countries) may indeed be stuck in an era of “secular stagnation.” So did the conclusion by Financial Times economic scholar Martin Wolf that the once-buoyant, now-humbled leaders of the global economy are in “an extraordinary state” of not just a gnawing malaise but a ‘managed depression’.”

As if all that weren’t dispiriting enough, the news late in the week that the world’s leading financial regulators were holding an unprecedented “stress test” of their crisis-response system – to analyze whether its newly strengthened safeguards can indeed protect against the risk of another cross-border crash of the financial system – made some skeptics wonder, “What do those guys know that we don’t know?”

Amid all the dreary news about the futile quest for elusive growth and the imbalanced rewards in a class-skewed society, one could be forgiven for feeling downcast. Yet Largarde’s rallying cry – “With the risk of mediocrity, we cannot afford complacency” – should remind optimists that we mustn’t let momentary doubts induce a drift toward the do-nothing paralysis of laissez-faire. An array of nuanced, pro-active strategies can help revive growth and jump-start job creation – and the World Bank Group conference this week will bring together some of the world’s leading economic-policy scholars to explore those strategies.

The “New Growth Strategies” conference – on Tuesday, October 14 and Wednesday, October 15 – will explain and expand upon the pro-growth thinking that undergirds the Competitive Industries approach. Targeting investment at the sector and industry levels to strengthen productivity and unlock new job creation, a wide range of analytical, investment and advisory projects are already under way – in both low-income and middle-income countries – through the Competitive Industries and Innovation Program (CIIP), which is convening the conference.

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Please RSVP Now: Is 3D Printing a Relevant Technology for Development?

3d-printing

IREX Tech Deep Dive – RSVP now

Just as the Internet changed the communications world in the 1990’s, 3D printing is set to change the physical world. We are already way beyond trinkets and keychains. Cheap 3D printers can create prosthetic arms, and even living ears and livers, not to mention metal parts worthy of aviation grade uses.

This new technology can revolutionize the way that we make products, by bringing the factory into the community and allowing computers and the Internet to become the new conduit for skills, innovation and creativity in manufacturing.

Or such is the promise of 3D printing in development. However, what is the reality? And how might it be applicable to the development context, where the poor are often the last ones to benefit from new technologies? Amidst the hype, there are serious questions to ponder:

  • What are the 3D printing opportunities in developing economies?
  • Where could 3D Printing be catalytic or transformational in development?
  • Who is using it now? And what lessons are already learned?
  • What funding and support is needed to develop a successful 3D printing program?
  • How do we ensure that 3D printing value chains are inclusive, and communities can own their own 3D destiny?

Please RSVP now to join the next IREX Tech Deep Dive to explore the potential potential and pitfalls of 3D printing in development. To help us navigate where we are headed, we’ll have three thought leaders sharing their knowledge and opinions:

RSVP-Now

Please RSVP now to join this active, practical event. We’ll have an overview of the state of 3D printing and its usage across the development spectrum, a lively brainstorming on what the future of 3D printing might look like, and small teams creating frameworks for how to get us from the present to the future.

We’ll go from talk to action in just one morning!

3D Printing for Development
IREX Tech Deep Dive
8:30 am -12:30pm
Wednesday, November 5th
Washington, DC, 20005

We will have hot coffee and a catered breakfast for a morning rush, but seating is limited RSVP now, before its too late. Note that this event is in-person only, and RSVP is required to attend.


About IREX Tech Deep Dives

IREX Tech Deep Dives are an interactive discussion series on technology for development hosted by the Center for Collaborative Technologies at IREX in partnership with Kurante.

We convene small groups of established experts to have critical and substantive discussions on the application and impact of new and emerging technology solutions and their relevance to international development.

Participants will gain new insights on current technology trends and gain practical insights they can apply immediately, and over the long term. RSVP now to join us!


Go to Source. Reprinted from ICTWorks

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Connectivity equals opportunity: PPPs narrow the "broadband gap"


A billboard announces the arrival of high-speed broadband internet
in downtown Nukua’lofa, the capital of Tonga. Photo: Tom Perry / World Bank

You don’t need to be a grandparent or even have a particularly long memory to recall a time when information and communications technology (ICT) devices were luxuries only a few could afford, if not something lifted entirely from the pages of science fiction. Reform of the ICT sector happened fast, both in broadband and mobile, and we all feel it in our personal and professional lives. The extraordinarily rapid uptake of mobile telephony in developing countries is the most compelling element of the
ICT story, but it’s only partly about the technology itself.

The real plot twist lies in why reform took off so quickly. Simply put, the incumbents did not see mobile services as threatening. Telecom companies thought of it as a fancy, add-on service that would be useful for rich people but unthreatening to the standard business model. However, the new technology was able to fill gaps in countries where there was no service at all, and it was able to make very rapid inroads. Elsewhere, people would have gone through a more traditional rollout of fixed network and then mobile; in developing countries, mobile became the main service because incumbent service was so poor. Mobile moved in because the incumbents had not done their job.

This shows that the most important element of progress in ICT is the creation of an environment where competition can flourish. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are key players in this chapter of the ICT narrative. We see this in articles and interviews throughout Handshake, which examines PPPs in broadband and mobile/telecom (which together comprise our definition of ICT) and the services this infrastructure makes possible. In other words, we’re looking at PPPs whose infrastructure creates connections and whose services deliver connectivity.

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Time for Africa to increase its contribution to space economy – Pandor

The African continent had to move away from being a “client” in terms of accessing scientific information to rather having customers coming to the continent to access its information, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said on Monday. Speaking at the opening of the tenth African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment conference, in Johannesburg, the Minister noted that while Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries still dominated the space economy, times were changing.
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Does the design and implementation of proven innovations for delivering basic primary health care services in rural communities fit the urban setting: the case of Ghana’s Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS).

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Does the design and implementation of proven innovations for delivering basic primary health care services in rural communities fit the urban setting: the case of Ghana’s Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS).

Health Res Policy Syst. 2014;12:16

Authors: Adongo PB, Phillips JF, Aikins M, Arhin DA, Schmitt M, Nwameme AU, Tabong PT, Binka FN

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Rapid urban population growth is of global concern as it is accompanied with several new health challenges. The urban poor who reside in informal settlements are more vulnerable to these health challenges. Lack of formal government public health facilities for the provision of health care is also a common phenomenon among communities inhabited by the urban poor. To help ameliorate this situation, an innovative urban primary health system was introduced in urban Ghana, based on the milestones model developed with the rural Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) system. This paper provides an overview of innovative experiences adapted while addressing these urban health issues, including the process of deriving constructive lessons needed to inform discourse on the design and implementation of the sustainable Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) model as a response to urban health challenges in Southern Ghana.

METHODS: This research was conducted during the six-month pilot of the urban CHPS programme in two selected areas acting as the intervention and control arms of the design. Daily routine data were collected based on milestones initially delineated for the rural CHPS model in the control communities whilst in the intervention communities, some modifications were made to the rural milestones.

RESULTS: The findings from the implementation activities revealed that many of the best practices derived from the rural CHPS experiment could not be transplanted to poor urban settlements due to the unique organizational structures and epidemiological characteristics found in the urban context. For example, constructing Community Health Compounds and residential facilities within zones, a central component to the rural CHPS strategy, proved inappropriate for the urban sector. Night and weekend home visit schedules were initiated to better accommodate urban residents and increase coverage. The breadth of the disease burden of the urban residents also requires a broader expertise and training of the CHOs.

CONCLUSIONS: Access to improved urban health services remains a challenge. However, current policy guidelines for the implementation of a primary health model based on rural experiences and experimental design requires careful review and modifications to meet the needs of the urban settings.

PMID: 24690310 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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