Surprise! There are more ICT4D Job Opportunities than Quality Applicants

Last year, I started the ICT4D Career Network to help people start and grow their career in information and communication technologies for development. At first, I thought there would be more ICT experts than employers with job openings. Now I know better.
There are more ICT4D jobs than ICT experts
Recently, I spoke at an ICT4D Career Workshop, where employers almost outnumbered those seeking jobs. Each was hungry for quality applicants to staff their many job openings and all told of hardship in finding ICT4D experts.
In fact, I publish dream ICT4D job announcements every day, and yet there seems to be more job opportunities than I can keep up with. Yet there are still only a handful of people looking to start an ICT4D career.
You too have the needed ICT4D skills
Interestingly, most people assume they need to know how to code software or install communications hardware to get a job in ICT4D. However, the majority of employers I talk to are not looking for these “hard” technology skills. IT techies can be found all over the world now.
What employers are looking for is staff with the “soft” skills like clear, concise writing, which is always a critical skill in a development organization, and people skills, which is really flexibility and adaptability. Another key skill is the ability to tell pie in the sky tech ideas from on the ground reality, and the ability to innovate within the real life context of the beneficiaries you work with.
If you’ve been working in the developing world, or in the fast-paced technology field (and not even as a techie) then most likely you have the needed skills to success at ICT4D. So what is stopping you? Start networking and jump start your career today!
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Wayan Vota Joins the VSO International Board

VSO international board.jpg
Picture a dusty, hot Saturday afternoon in Kaduna, Nigeria, the buzz of cheap Chinese motorbikes filling the air. In the backroom of a small community foundation, I introduce myself to the two people told to me as the “hardest working loan officers at Fantsuam Foundation.” Bent over their laptops, sweat dripping on their brow, two Kenyan VSO volunteers are doing intricate financial modeling in their role as loan officers for the foundation.

This was my first introduction to of Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO) volunteers in the field and I was immediately impressed with them and VSO in general. Peace Corps volunteers work hard (I was one, briefly) but not on Saturdays. And to see Africans volunteering in Africa gave me great pride and renewed hope.

Great pride in seeing the dream of Geekcorps become a reality; Africans empowered with high-level information and communication technology (ICT) skills able to grow and succeed on their own terms. Renewed hope in the belief that through this empowerment, we all – North, South developed and developing – can work together towards greater economic and social advancement.

So it is with great honor that I announce that I am now an international board member of VSO, as part of the appointment of a new Chair and six new trustees to its International Board. My ascension to the board is part of VSO’s transition from a U.K.-based volunteering organization to a global development charity that engages people from all over the world in the fight against poverty. As Marg Mayne, CEO of VSO says:

“I’m excited to be working with the new trustees, all of whom are from outside the UK and nearly half from the global south. Their appointment shows how we’re implementing this more global approach at the highest level.”

Through its “People First” strategy, VSO is now more than just volunteering. VSO’s approach has moved away from direct service delivery to a greater focus on strengthening systems, developing policies and building capacity in the 34 countries that play host to roughly 1,600 VSO volunteers, most of them mid-career professionals with an average age of 43. A VSO volunteer is now just as likely to be someone from Kenya, India or the Philippines as they are someone from the UK, Ireland or the Netherlands.

As an international board member, I plan on upholding the efforts of those two Kenyans I met in Nigeria by contributing to the continued shift at VSO and support VSO’s global development impact with cutting edge skills and information and communication technology.

The $35 Aakash Tablet Will Fail Education Just Like the $100 OLPC Laptop Did

datawind aakash difference from olpc
Recently, the CEO of Datawind presented his case to the World Bank on why the Aakash tablet computer will revolutionize education in India. During his talk, he presented this slide as justification that his tablet was not the XO and that Datawind would be more successful in reaching a 5 million units sold milestone than OLPC.
While I agree that Suneet Singh Tuli’s business plan of selling tablets directly to consumers based on clear market advantages is more sound than Nicholas Negroponte’s idea of selling millions of laptop to governments based on a handshake with presidents, I do not see a better education plan. In fact, I see none.
What I do see is Datawind and OLPC focusing on hardware sales. OLPC started the netbook revolution – cheap laptops for everyone, and Datawind is starting a “netlet” revolution – cheap tablets for everyone. Congratulations to both. But without a serious focus on educational software and content, and the integration of both into the national curriculum and into teachers’ daily instruction, the Aakash will have the same issue as the OLPC:
It will be a cool gadget that pushes boundaries in computing, and leaves education as moribund as before.


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My ICT4D Postcard from Wuse Market in Abuja, Nigeria

Dear Mom,
Whenever you hear of how poor, hungry, or desperate Africa is, I want you to think of this photo. This is innovation happening in real time in Nigeria. Two teenagers have a business with a laptop and an SD card reader. They take DVD movies people buy in the market and convert them to digital format. Why? Because few have DVD players but many have mobile phones, and these two found opportunity moving data from one to the other.
Replicate this over a country, a continent, and believe that Africa is not a basket case, nor makers of just baskets. Africa is dynamic and money is being made everywhere.
Love, Wayan
This is my entry in Ken Bank’s ICT4D Postcards project. Join us with a post card from your perspective


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