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Posts in category 'Emerging markets'

17 March 2012

Exploring mobile-only Internet use (South Africa)

 

Exploring mobile-only Internet use: results of a training study in urban South Africa

Using an ethnographic action research approach, the study by Jonathan Donner (Microsoft Research India) and Shikoh Gitau and Gary Marsden (University of Cape Town) explores the challenges, practices, and emergent framings of mobile-only Internet use in a resource-constrained setting.

“We trained eight women in a nongovernmental organization’s collective in South Africa, none of whom had used a personal computer, how to access the Internet on mobile handsets they already owned. Six months after training, most continued to use the mobile Internet for a combination of utility, entertainment, and connection, but they had encountered barriers, including affordability and difficulty of use. Participants’ assessments mingled aspirational and actual utility of the channel with and against a background of socioeconomic constraints. Discussion links the digital literacy perspective to the broader theoretical frameworks of domestication, adaptive structuration, and appropriation.”

The study was published in the International Journal of Communication.

Download paper (MobileActive.org)

17 March 2012

“Doing the Internet” – BoP research with youngsters in India

 

Anthropology, Development and ICTs: Slums, Youth and the Mobile Internet in Urban India” is the title of a research paper by Nimmi Rangaswamy and Edward Cutrell of Microsoft Research India.

Abstract

In this paper we present results from an anthropological study of everyday mobile internet adoption among teenagers in a lowincome urban setting. We attempt to use this study to explore how information about everyday ICT use may be relevant for development research even if it is largely dominated by entertainment uses.

To understand how ICT tools are used, we need to study the spaces users inhabit, even if these spaces are dominated by mundane, non-instrumental and entertainment driven needs. The key here is for ICTD discourse to situate insights from anthropological studies (such as this one) within an understanding of what drives a specific user population to adopt technologies in particular ways. Clearly there is a link between context and use, and understanding this may be invaluable for development research. Adopting a narrow development lens of technology use may miss the actual engagements and ingenious strategies marginal populations use to instate technologies into their everyday.

- Download paper
- Key findings (synthesis by MobileActive)

14 March 2012

UNDP Mobile Technologies and Empowerment report

mgov-primer-cover

A report, recently published by UNDP, on mobile technologies and human development, “Mobile Technologies and Empowerment: Enhancing Human Development through Participation and Innovation”, does a good job of summarizing the many ways in which mobile technologies are being used successfully as tools for stimulating development.

It’s intended to provide information and ideas for development practitioners on how mobile technologies and applications can be used appropriately and effectively in international development projects.

The aim is not to employ technology-based solutions as an end in themselves, but rather as the means to achieving desired development outcomes.

- Read review (MobileActive)
- Executive summary
- Download report

10 March 2012

Striving and Surviving: exploring the lives of women at the Base of the Pyramid

6690892257_dc2b5d7f29

On International Women’s Day, the GSMA mWomen Programme released a study called “Striving and Surviving – Exploring the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid,” reports MobileActive.org.

Drawn from 2,500 interviews with women (aged 16-64 in both rural and urban areas) living on less that $2 a day in Egypt, India, Papua New Guinea, and Uganda, the report looks at how mobile technology influences the way women approach health, economic development, and family relationships, and what mobile operators can do to reach more low-income women.

The report is divided into three parts; part one looks at the social, cultural, and economic factors that women at the base of the economic pyramid face in their daily lives, part two looks at the role of mobile technology in their lives, and part three looks at how technology can be used to further reach low-income women.

Some of the statistics pulled from the report show that when asked what the key benefits of mobile would be: [quoted from report]

  • 80% reported being connected to friends and family
  • 58% said it would be useful in an emergency
  • 40% said it would cut down on travel time
  • 15% believed it would help them feel secure
  • 93% reported that mobile phones made them feel safer, while the same proportion particularly valued being connected to friends and family.
  • 41% reported that owning a mobile had helped them increase their income or their professional prospects
  • 85% of mobile owners reported a greater feeling of independence

The study found that despite general positive feelings toward mobile technology, there are many challenges to getting mobile technology into the hands of low-income women. Gender imbalances were a major issue, as although some women had access to mobile phones through friends or family, few owned their own mobile phone. Another major issue was technical ability, as “while 77% of BoP women have made a mobile phone call, only 37% have sent an SMS, regardless of literacy levels.” Among women who were surveyed, 22% who reported not wanting a mobile phone said their reason was because they would not know how to use it.

Other concerns women listed for using mobile phones were a lack of regular access to electricity to keep the phone charged, concerns about theft, and concerns about ownership and usage costs. Furthermore, family pressure was a large influence on women’s view of technology as the report states: “In addition to doubts about the cost/benefit analysis of mobile ownership, 64% of married women who do not wish to own handsets cited the disapproval of their husbands as a principle reason for not wanting to own a phone.”

“Striving and Surviving” also examines how mobile operators can increase their outreach to women at the base of the pyramid by addressing women’s concerns. By developing family plans and reaching out to male and female customers by highlighting security and family connectivity available through mobile technology, mobile operators can broaden their customer base while getting technology into the hands of women who need it.

An interesting aspect of the report is the Portraits series, a fictionalized account of eight women from the base of the pyramid who use mobile technology and explain how that technology fits into their everyday lives. The stories are interspersed throughout the final report, but are also collected in a separate paper called “Portraits: A Glimpse into the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid.”

Although the accounts are fictionalized, they are drawn from the research that went into creating “Striving and Surviving – Exploring the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid.” The reports look at the lives of everyday women and how they use and view mobile technology.

Because the data for the report is drawn from only four countries, the GSMA mWomen Programme has made all of the research tools used to create this report publicly available at www.mwomen.org to inspire further research.

- Executive summary
- Report download
- Portrait series
- Research tools

3 March 2012

Do m-health tools really work? Testing the impact of mobile technology on maternal and child healthcare

Mobile Pics 2-41

MobileActive has posted an in-depth new case study that focuses on evaluating mobile health interventions.

Written by Kate Otto, the case study looks at testing the efficacy of using mobile phones in health care in Ethiopia. A team of researchers from The World Bank and Addis Ababa University developed a mobile tool that enables rural community health workers to improve antenatal care and delivery services, improve vaccination coverage, and facilitate emergency referrals. The team is taking the evaluation process beyond the usual survey method and are instead rigorously testing the mobile phone effects through more rigorous research.

The researchers randomly selected three Ethiopian districts and applied the tool in three ways:

  • Treatment 1: All Health Extension Workers (HEW) received mobile phones equipped to perform the three use cases (improving antenal care/delivery, vaccination coverage, and emergency referrals).
  • Treatment 2: All HEWs and two Volunteer Community Health Workers (VCHW) within each district received mobile phones; HEW phones are software-equipped for the three use cases, while VCHWs received dumbphones intended to make missed calls only.
  • Control: No mobile phones distributed.

The test is on-going, but the results will be applicable to organizations that are considering deploying mobile tools into their work. The research is not looking at developing a scalable mobile tool, but is rather examining how mobile tools are used and how they compare to existing methods

Read case study

3 February 2012

Ethnography of mobile phone use in remote Mexican village

mobilehci2011

Tricia Wang of UCSD’s Department of Sociology and Barry Brown of the Mobile Life VINN Excellence Center Stockholm presented the paper “Ethnography of the telephone: Changing uses of communication technology in village life” at MobileHCI 2011.

Abstract

While mobile HCI has encompassed a range of devices and systems, telephone calls on cellphones remain the most prevalent contemporary form of mobile technology use. In this paper we document ethnographic work studying a remote Mexican village’s use of cellphones alongside conventional phones, shared phones and the Internet. While few homes in the village we studied have running water, many children have iPods and the Internet cafe in the closest town is heavily used to access YouTube, Wikipedia, and MSN messenger. Alongside cost, the Internet fits into the communication patterns and daily routines in a way that cellphones do not. We document the variety of communication strategies that balance cost, availability and complexity. Instead of finding that new technologies replace old, we find that different technologies co-exist, with fixed telephones co-existing with instant message, cellphones and shared community phones. The paper concludes by discussing how we can study mobile technology and design for settings defined by cost and infrastructure availability.

Download paper (alternate link)

(via MobileActive)

25 January 2012

Business ethnography as a key strategy for international brands

The Brazilian Dream

Two interesting posts by Danish photographer and visual ethnographer Jacob Langvad Nilsson:

Business ethnography as a key strategy for international brands
When penetrating new markets, two critical mistakes seem to repeat themselves. The first mistake involves thinking that because it is already a big and recognizable brand, its potential consumers will be overwhelmingly impressed when the products becomes available in a new market. The second mistake is for the business to think that solely relying on macro-economic data and quantitative research methods will suffice to understand the aspirations and needs of its consumers.
If a brand builds its consumer insight on data derived from an endless list of questions, it will help little more than to re-affirm pre-conceived notions. Fortunately today, smart brand executives are becoming increasingly aware of the potential value in a more thorough use of ethnographic research. A meaningful market research today is build on immersive studies combining participant-observations with social behavior analyses to build a holistic understanding of the consumer based on patterns of behavior.

Business ethnography: the new middle-class consumer
What does a modern, informed teenager from São Paulo have in common with his New York counterpart? Probably more than with another teenager from his own country but from a smaller city like Manaus, the capital city of the state of Amazonas and Brazil’s seventh largest city. Ethnographic studies show that culture and consumer behavior across the world capitals are more comparable than within a country’s capital and its second- and third-tier cities. This does not suggest that the average, middle-class teenager from Manaus has everything in common with another from a place like Hyderabad (India), Chongqing (China), or Krasnoyarsk (Russia). However, it does imply that they are all witnessing an incredible economic development of their countries, and together, with the rest of their generation, they are in fact the driving force behind it.

22 December 2011

Design for the marginalised millions

reboot-china

Reboot, a service design firm working in the fields of governance and international development, recently spent time with three marginalized groups in China — the rural poor, ethnic minorities, and migrant workers — to research the impacts of three decades of disruptive change, and to design new services to improve their livelihoods.

Their task was to make sure that the coming mobile banking revolution — unlike too many other revolutions — is inclusive and accessible for everyone, and especially the disenfranchised populations who could stand to benefit the most.

As they work through their findings, they’ve found three key principles that will help make sure this happens:
1. Design for Trust
2. Design for Stability
3. Design for All

Read article

15 December 2011

The digital other

Nishant

In an article for DMLCentral Nishant Shah, founder and director of research for the Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society, wants to explore new ways of thinking about the Digital Native.

“Based on my research on young people in the Global South, I want to explore new ways of thinking about the Digital Native. One of the binaries posited as the Digital ‘Other’ — ie, a non-Digital Native — is that of a Digital Immigrant or Settler. I am not comfortable with these terms and they probably need heavy unpacking if not complete abandonment. Standard caricatures of Digital Others show them as awkward in their new digital ecologies, unable to navigate through this brave new world on their own. They may actually have helped produce digital technology and tools but they are not ‘born digital’ and hence are presumed to always have an outsider’s perspective on the digital world order.”

“[There is] a very important distinction between Digital Others and Digital Natives. Out of necessity, Digital Others have a relationship of production, control and design with the technologies they work with. They have a critical engagement with technology, as they code, hack, design, and create protocols and digital environments to suit their needs and resources. Digital Natives, on the other hand, have a purely consumption based interaction with the technology they use.”

Read article

21 September 2011

Digital AlterNatives with a Cause?

Digital AlterNatives
Hivos (The Netherlands) and the Centre for Internet and Society (Bangalore, India) have consolidated their three year knowledge inquiry into the field of youth, technology and change in a four book collective “Digital AlterNatives with a cause?”.

This collaboratively produced collective, edited by Nishant Shah and Fieke Jansen, asks critical and pertinent questions about theory and practice around ‘digital revolutions’ in a post MENA (Middle East – North Africa) world. It works with multiple vocabularies and frameworks and produces dialogues and conversations between digital natives, academic and research scholars, practitioners, development agencies and corporate structures to examine the nature and practice of digital natives in emerging contexts from the Global South.

The conversations, research inquiries, reflections, discussions, interviews, and art practices are consolidated in this four part book which deviates from the mainstream imagination of the young people involved in processes of change. The alternative positions, defined by geo-politics, gender, sexuality, class, education, language, etc. find articulations from people who have been engaged in the practice and discourse of technology mediated change. Each part concentrates on one particular theme that helps bring coherence to a wide spectrum of style and content.

Book 1: To Be: Digital AlterNatives with a Cause?
The first part, To Be, looks at the questions of digital native identities. Are digital natives the same everywhere? What does it mean to call a certain population ‘Digital Natives”? Can we also look at people who are on the fringes – Digital Outcasts, for example? Is it possible to imagine technology-change relationships not only through questions of access and usage but also through personal investments and transformations? The contributions help chart the history, explain the contemporary and give ideas about what the future of technology mediated identities is going to be.

Book 2: To Think: Digital AlterNatives with a Cause?
In the second section, To Think, the contributors engage with new frameworks of understanding the processes, logistics, politics and mechanics of digital natives and causes. Giving fresh perspectives which draw from digital aesthetics, digital natives’ everyday practices, and their own research into the design and mechanics of technology mediated change, the contributors help us re-think the concepts, processes and structures that we have taken for granted. They also nuance the ways in which new frameworks to think about youth, technology and change can be evolved and how they provide new ways of sustaining digital natives and their causes.

Book 3: To Act: Digital AlterNatives with a Cause?
To Act is the third part that concentrates on stories from the ground. While it is important to conceptually engage with digital natives, it is also, necessary to connect it with the real life practices that are reshaping the world. Case-studies, reflections and experiences of people engaged in processes of change, provide a rich empirical data set which is further analysed to look at what it means to be a digital native in emerging information and technology contexts.

Book 4: To Connect: Digital AlterNatives with a Cause?
The last section, To Connect, recognises the fact that digital natives do not operate in vacuum. It might be valuable to maintain the distinction between digital natives and immigrants, but this distinction does not mean that there are no relationships between them as actors of change. The section focuses on the digital native ecosystem to look at the complex assemblage of relationships that support and are amplified by these new processes of technologised change.

(via Luca De Biase)

2 September 2011

Ethnographic analysis to better address challenges in developing countries

 
Dr. Kusum Gopal, an anthropologist who has served as a United Nations (UN) Expert and Technical Advisor to government agencies, speaks to The Chronicle on challenges facing developing countries and offers solutions.

Q: You mention Ethnographic analysis – what do you mean by that?
The Ethnographic method is scientific, integrating both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Field work is fundamental to “the doing of ethnography” by anthropologists of all descriptions. Traditionally, anthropologists have identified with peoples amongst whom they reside, and, inevitably, this identification is reflected in ethnographic methods which primarily seek to privilege the world views of people and their life experiences. It involves an in-depth study of human behaviour, the choices and values that guide people’s everyday lives in their natural settings, how they interact within economic, religious, political, geographic worlds that are expressed through their cultural repertoires, in their own words.

Q: How would you describe participant observation?
Participant observation is not so much a method, but an approach to collecting information by means of the presence and the participation of the researcher. There are many degrees of participant observation – the fundamental approach that informed this ethnographic research was the method of immersion. The process of ‘immersion’ in the field by the researchers indicates committed long-term residence and polite engagement with the local communities — forming sets of relationships and activities, which are connected to the wider society. Participation is seen as an apprenticeship, as a learning process through which the researchers and their personal relationships serve as primary vehicles for eliciting findings and thoughts; relationships of intimacy and familiarity, between researcher and subject, are envisioned as a fundamental medium of investigation, rather than as an extraneous by-product, or even as an impediment. Most of the time, it is the people who tell the ethnographer what is to be done, rather than being told what they should do. Thus, one gets to grips with what people really need, whether it is clean water, or seeds for crops and so forth.”

Read interview

23 August 2011

Book: Applying Anthropology in the Global Village

Applying Anthropology in the Global Village
Applying Anthropology in the Global Village
Christina Wasson (Editor); Mary Odell Butler (Editor); Jacqueline Copeland-Carson (Editor)
288 pp. – Nov, 2011
Left Coast Press
Hardback (978-1-61132-085-5)
Paperback (978-1-61132-086-2)
[Amazon link]

Synopsis

The realities of the globalized world have revolutionized traditional concepts of culture, community, and identity—so how do applied social scientists use complicated, fluid new ideas such as translocality and ethnoscape to solve pressing human problems? In this book, leading scholar/practitioners survey the development of different subfields over at least two decades, then offer concrete case studies to show how they have incorporated and refined new concepts and methods. After an introduction synthesizing anthropological practice, key theoretical concepts, and ethnographic methods, chapters examine the arenas of public health, community development, finance, technology, transportation, gender, environment, immigration, aging, and child welfare. An innovative guide to joining dynamic theoretical concepts to on-the-ground problem solving, this book is also an excellent addition to graduate and undergraduate courses.

Table of Contents

Introduction, Christina Wasson, Mary Odell Butler, Jacqueline Copeland-Carson
1. Public Health in Global Localities: Managing Infectious Disease, Mary Odell Butler
2. Transportation and Infrastructure: Culture on the Move, Mari Clarke
3. Community Development in Globalizing Cities: Housing and Finance, Jacqueline Copeland-Carson
4. Sex Trafficking: Feminist Anthropological Practice, Susan Dewey
5. Climate Change and the Global Environment, Shirley J. Fiske
6. International Migration and Aging, Madelyn Iris
7. Neoliberalism and the Privatization of Social Services, Susan Racine Passmore
8. Internationalism and Systems Thinking in Community and Public Health, Eve C. Pinsker
9. Localizing the Global in Technology Design, Susan Squires and Christina Wasson
Conclusion: Globalization, Community Research, and the Politics of Science, Jean J. Schensul
Index
About the Authors

Ken Banks adds some further reflection to the matter, and thinks the book is a must-read “for anyone interested in how anthropology can be usefully applied in the modern world.

11 August 2011

Mobile Learning Toolkit published

Mobile Learning Toolkit
The mobile phone is now a ubiquitous item even among the world’s poorest, and in fact over 70% of the mobile phones on the planet are in developing countries.

With this in mind, a new Mobile Learning Toolkit has been launched to empower trainers in developing contexts to integrate mobile learning into their teaching.

The 98‐page toolkit contains 15 mobile learning methods divided into 4 categories that trainers can choose from depending on their needs – whether they’re looking deliver content; assign tasks; gather feedback; or provide support to their training participants.

These methods have been designed to be as inclusive as possible, with most requiring only low end devices (basic mobile phones with voice calling and SMS capability), allowing interactive learning experiences to be delivered right to the Base of the Pyramid.

In addition to the methods, an overview of mobile learning is included in the beginning of the guidebook and a set of practical tools that allow the methods to be immediately put into practice.

The Mobile Learning Toolkit was developed by the young designer Jenni Parker as part of her master thesis on Mobile Learning for Africa and during her internship with the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC‐ILO) of the United Nations in Italy (with some additional support by Experientia).

As well as a general guide, the toolkit includes recommendations for customising the methods for the delivery of a specific training course called “my.coop”, a programme currently being launched by the International Labour Organization to teach the principles of managing agricultural cooperatives in developing regions worldwide.

However, the Mobile Learning Toolkit has been designed to have a value not only within the context of this training programme, but for use in the delivery of all kinds of training within any developing context. Anyone can pick up the toolkit and be inspired to use mobile learning.

The toolkit is an open source resource that can be downloaded for free at http://jenniferparker.posterous.com/mobile-learning-toolkit.

2 August 2011

Design research: what is it and why do it?

Design research
In a long post on reBoot, Panthea Lee has laid out some basic principles, approaches, and tools of design research so public institutions can better understand how it serves their work.

As pointed out by Tricia Wang, the article is extremely helpful in its clear distinction between design research and market research:

“Market research identifies and acts upon optimal market and consumer leverage points to achieve success. Its definition of success is not absolute, though metrics are often financial. Design research, on the other hand, is founded in the belief that we already know the optimal market and consumer leverage points: human needs. Unearthing and satisfying those needs is thus the surest measure of success. Through this process, we earn people’s respect and loyalty.”

Interesting too, the case study about rural education in Suriname.

Read article

26 June 2011

Activate 2011: Technology powered by people

Activate 2011
Ken Banks, founder of kiwanja.net and FrontlineSMS, reports on how Activate 2011, the one-day conference in London on technology and development, made clear it’s not just about technology, but who uses it and how.

“As the day drew to a close, I was left with one lingering thought as I headed to catch my train home. Technology is most interesting when it’s powered by people, not the other way round. Let’s keep it that way.”

Read article

OTHER ACTIVATE 2011 CONTENT

Activate 2011: Mobiles look set to play a big role in Africa’s development
A race is on to find what mobiles can do in areas such as public health, governance and education as they are likely to be the only internet connection for most Africans for years to come

Hillary Clinton adviser compares internet to Che Guevara
Alec Ross says ‘dictatorships are now more vulnerable than ever’ due to protest movements on Facebook and Twitter

Video: World Bank Institute: We’re also the data bank
Aleem Walji, practice manager for innovation at the World Bank Institute, which assists and advises policy makers and NGOs, tells the Guardian’s Activate summit in London about the organisation’s commitment to open data.

Video: Google’s Africa policy manager: ‘Africans enjoy technology’
Ory Okolloh, Google’s policy manager for Africa and a Kenyan lawyer and activist, tells the Guardian’s Activate summit in London that Africans don’t view technology simply as a tool of development.

Video: Hillary Clinton adviser: internet weakens dictators
Speaking at the Guardian’s Activate 2011 conference in London, Alec Ross, Hillary Clinton’s senior adviser for innovation at the US state department, discusses the role of social media in the Arab Spring.

8 June 2011

WHO report on mHealth

mHealth
The World Health Organisation has just issued a major (free) report on mHealth, entitled “mHealth: New horizons for health through mobile technologies“.

Abstract
Only five years ago who would have imagined that today a woman in sub-Saharan Africa could use a mobile phone to access health information essential to bringing her pregnancy safely to term? Mobile phones are now the most widely used communication technology in the world. They continue to spread at an exponential rate – particularly in developing countries. This expansion provides unprecedented opportunities to apply mobile technology for health. How are mobile devices being used for health around the world? What diverse scenarios can mHealth be applied in and how effective are these approaches? What are the most important obstacles that countries face in implementing mHealth solutions? This publication includes a series of detailed case studies highlighting best practices in mHealth in different settings. The publication will be of particular interest to policymakers in health and information technology, as well as those in the mobile telecommunications and software development industries.

According to the Guardian, the reports “finds that 83% out of 122 countries surveyed use mobile phone technology for services that include free emergency calls, text messaging with pill reminders and health information and transmission of tests and lab results. Mobile health is already firmly established enough for the WHO to have set up a special unit five years ago, the Global Observatory for eHealth, staffed by four people in Geneva.”

27 May 2011

Book: The Internet of Elsewhere

The Internet of Elsewhere
The Internet of Elsewhere: The Emergent Effects of a Wired World
by Cyrus Farivar
Rutgers University Press
May 2011

Abstract

Through the lens of culture, The Internet of Elsewhere looks at the role of the Internet as a catalyst in transforming communications, politics, and economics. Cyrus Farivar explores the Internet’s history and effects in four distinct and, to some, surprising societies–Iran, Estonia, South Korea, and Senegal. He profiles Web pioneers in these countries and, at the same time, surveys the environments in which they each work. After all, contends Farivar, despite California’s great success in creating the Internet and spawning companies like Apple and Google, in some areas the United States is still years behind other nations.

Skype was invented in Estonia–the same country that developed a digital ID system and e-voting;Iran was the first country in the world to arrest a blogger, in 2003; South Korea is the most wired country on the planet, with faster and less expensive broadband than anywhere in the United States; Senegal may be one of sub-Saharan Africa’s best chances for greater Internet access.

The Internet of Elsewhere brings forth a new complex and modern understanding of how the Internet spreads globally, with both good and bad effects.

Review by Curt Hopkins in ReadWriteWeb

“Instead of focusing on the capital of the Web, Silicon Valley, or even on one of the Silicon Valleys outside of the original, like Bangalore, India, Farivar has taken a look at our wired world through the lenses of South Korea, Senegal, Estonia and Iran.

There is a tendency to think of the Internet as being a priori and sui generis. This is a new world so powerful and so game-changing that it effects history and culture, no matter where one stands. Farivar’s argument, and it is a well-made one, is that like any other element of the human experience, the Internet is effected by history and culture. If we ignore that fact, if we let ourselves believe that the Internet, not history, is more of a determining factor in our future, we are liable to be surprised by it to an excessive degree.

Each of the places he covers are important to our understanding of the Internet because their histories and cultures have influenced how they have embraced it. In a way, the countries he has chosen to profile are reflections of each other, Senegal of South Korea and Estonia of Iran.”

Read review

19 May 2011

Africa is becoming a test lab for mobile phone development

Vodafone in Mumbai
Lessons in innovation that Vodafone learns from its work in sub-Saharan Africa will be applied to its projects around the world.

For Vodafone, sub-Saharan Africa is proving to be the testbed for R&D development that will transition to the rest of the world. Vodafone’s emerging “Africanized” technology is highly advanced, world-class stuff; unlike other existing technologies that have slowly trickled down into African markets.

Read article

18 May 2011

Mobiles for Women. Part 2: The Darker Side.

Woman with mobile at market
Targeting women with mobile phones and mobile-based projects can bring great benefits and opportunities, as MobileActive outlined in Part 1 of its series on women and mobiles [see also this blog post].

But, there is a “darker side” to this world, which includes changes in gender relations and power dynamic, a potential increase in violence, substitution of money or a change in expenditures, invasion of privacy, and increased control by a male partner.

Read article

11 May 2011

Mobiles for Women. Part 1: The Good.

Blackberry
As mobile penetration increases across the developing world, the entry of mobile phones in the hands of women causes reactions. In many cases, mobile phone ownership empowers women in myriad ways: economic gains, increased access to information, greater autonomy and social empowerment, and a greater sense of security and safety.

But, there is a darker side. Targeting women with mobile phones can cause changes in gender dynamics and family expenditures and may relate to increases in domestic violence, invasion of privacy, or control by a male partner.

This article will look at the pros and cons of targeting women with mobiles in the developing world.

Part One (“The Good”) highlights the current landscape and identify some of the benefits of mobile tech for women. It also includes a brief discussion on some the challenges and barriers.

Part Two of this series will get at the darker side and identifies some of the potential dangers in targeting women with mobiles.