With the explosion of mobile handsets and the faltering of the “$100 laptop” idea, the international development community is focusing on the mobile phone as an empowerment tool, while questioning investments in computers. Is this wise? Is there a data continuum that includes both? Or should development dollars really shift to one platform at a loss to the other?
Please join us for a spirited debate where Troy Etulain of USAID will push us to envision a future where development objectives are achieved on mobile phones, while Wayan Vota will back computers, desktops even, as the true tool of choice to accelerate development with technology.
Katherine Townsend of State will moderate the discussion with an eye to finding realistic recommendations for the development community.
Our gracious host is the UN Foundation and I’ll have coffee and donuts for a good morning sugar rush to wake everyone up.
Mobile Phones vs. Computers: a False ICT4D Choice?
February Technology Salon
Thursday, February 12th, 8:30-10am
UN Foundation Conference Room
1800 Mass Avenue, NW, Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20036 (map)
Do note that seating is limited and the UN Foundation is in a secure building. So the first dozen (12) to RSVP will be confirmed attendance and then there will be a waitlist.
In northern Mali, out beyond the famously remote Timbuktu, distances are vast and communication difficult. National borders often are less than lines in the sand, and the rule of law just a vague idea. In this power vacuum, bandits still hijack convoys, Tuareg stage rebellions, and terrorist organizations can take root and train.
Yet one brave organization is connecting remote Malian communities to reduce the threat of banditry or worse. Geekcorps Mali is building links between caravans, villagers, and local government – with information and communication technologies.
Geekcorps Mali has developed an innovative ICT intervention that marries FM radio broadcasting with Internet-enabled computers and digital audio recording to give a voice to local communities. The radio stations have become beacons of objective information and a de-facto early warning system for northern Mali and even the country as a whole.
For November, we have a very special Technology Salon. In coordination with the World Bank e-Development Thematic Group and infoDev, we will have a World Bank ICT and Education Community of Practice Discussion on Total Cost of Ownership:
How much does it really cost to introduce and sustain computers in schools? A discussion of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and models of affordable computing for schools in developing countries.
Come join what we hope to be a lively presentation and discussion of the findings of both activities, their potential implications, and the underlying methodologies and assumptions underpinning the models explored in this work.
11am to 12:30pm – 6 November 2008
The World Bank “J” Building,
701 18th Street, NW, room J-B1-075
The Technology Salon returns to Washington DC this September 25th to explore an innovative initiative from USAID: ICT4D Challenges.
Akin to the contests that had Lindbergh cross the Atlantic and Rutan/Branson cross into space, ICT4D challenges (contests, makeovers, and competitions) will leverage user-driven innovation to create ICT-based solutions for major development challenges, with the incentive of cash prizes and possible inclusion in a USAID project. These challenges will spur innovation at the nexus of development and technology while forging new connections between the technology and development communities.
What better forum to explore where USAID is going with these challenges and help shape that path than the Technology Salon, our intimate and informal discussion of technology and development?
For the July Technology Salon, we’re returning to the cellular technology world, with a twist. We’ll be discussing mobile banking, m-Banking, but we’ll move beyond the handsets and the hype to discuss the legal frameworks required to make it a reality.
In some countries, text messages cannot be used as evidence in court – a problem if that’s all you have to show for a money transfer. In other regions, cross-border and multi-currency transactions is the domain of banks, not mobile operators. In either situation or more, what is the development community’s response to facilitate m-Banking?
Please join Michael Tetelman of AED, and Ann Casanova of CARANA, at the UN Foundation headquarters for a vibrant discussion of their work in overcoming legal and regulatory barriers to make local and intra-regional m-Banking a reality in the developing world.