(1) Ali Abdullahi, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, United Kingdom
Enhancing Agricultural Information Exchange through Mobile Phones In Nigeria
Since Nigeria’s telecommunications industry was liberalized in 2000, there has been an overwhelming increase in the rate of penetration of mobile phones from virtually zero to as high as 49% in 2009 (Pyramid, 2010). Such increase in access and use of mobile phones has included rural areas, despite the low-income status of many households. This paper examines whether, and if so how, mobile phones make a significant difference in agricultural information exchange in Nigeria. Semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were used to collect data from extension agents (N=20), farmers (N= 40) and rural enterprises (N=40) to understand their engagement with and use of mobile phones for agricultural information exchange. The results shows that 65% of the extension agents interviewed use mobile phones for their assignments, out of which 54% started using mobile phones in the last ten years, receiving on average 87 calls per week from farmers. Although, the intensity of face-to-face contact with farmers has been reduced, extension agents claimed an increase in their effectiveness and area of coverage in their extension work through the use of mobile phones. This study also found that 59% of the farmers use mobile phones for agricultural information searches, of whom 73% shared the information with other farmers. The rural enterprises emphasised increase in their income by an average of 56% through the use mobile phones for their business. Mobile phones also caused the wide spread of information from and to other markets. Information related to formal and informal innovations was readily available. However, some farmers suggested the use of self-assessment mobile services to improve agricultural information exchange among various components. Reasons for not using mobile phones according to some extension agents were associated with closeness to place of primary assignment.
(2) Oludele Albert Ajani, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
Gender, Mobile Phones, and Social Change in Nigeria
The introduction of the Global System of Communication technology in Nigeria in 2001 and the liberalization of the communication industry have transformed the mobile phone from an extreme rarity into an everyday technology to which many Nigerian citizens now have access. Using questionnaires, interviews, observation and secondary data in two major cities in Southwestern Nigeria, this paper critically examines the effects of the mobile phone on Nigerian culture and society. It interrogates how mobile phones have been interpreted to reproduce and renew traditional power hierarchies. It also examines the social variables affecting the adoption and use of the mobile phone. The paper concludes that while the technology mitigates some of the effects of inequality, it also complicates the already complex relationship between the male and female gender in the Nigerian society.
(3) Mirjam. E. de Bruijn and Lotte Pelckmans, Institute for History, Leiden University, the Netherlands.
The first news about the Mali conflict of 2012 came to us through the communication of a person in Paris, next was the website of one of the main ‘movements’ that lead this war, and third were the phone calls we received of friends from the Northern Mali area, called Azawad, or simply ‘occupied zone’ depending on the actors, who range from Tuareg rebels over Islamists and the Malian government to the international community. In a few weeks time, facebook pages where news on the situation was exchanged united people from Azawad, Bamako, USA and Europe. A similar situation in the 1990’s, when the North of Mali was also under rebellion, did not have such exposure and there was hardly communication with the outside world.
In 2003 the world did hardly know about the conflict in Chad. We then lived in Ndjamena and did not know what was happening in Central Chad, where we wanted to work. The only news was that it was not safe. Anno 2010 the youth from Central Chad is connected on facebook and discusses the troubles in their country, rebel attacks are announced on beforehand on web sites and in the media, and the president can react publicly; soldiers (child) are recruited by telephone.
In this paper we take the differences in conflict dynamics between these periods as the starting point of our questions. What has happened in the period between 1990 and 2013 that can explain this more exposed mediation of conflict? One certain change has been the communication technology ‘revolution’ in the region. Douentza (southern Azawad) received its first wireless spot in 2002, other towns in the North (Boni, Tombouctou, Kidal) were connected from 2005 and 2006 onwards. Central Chad was connected in 2006. How did this connectivity have an impact on the (inter) national manifestation of conflict in Africa? If Castle’s notion of ‘Communication Power’ is applied to this development, who is controlling communication and thus who is in power? What is the difference with the non-digitalised period? How have media -especially social media and mobile phones- become part and parcel of ‘warfare’ as a social process?
(4) Charlotte Connelly, Science Museum, London, United Kingdom
Preserving and representing mobile culture from around the world
One of the aims of this conference is to explore how the rapid spread of mobile telephony in developing countries is associated with culture. I’d like to turn this statement around and consider how we preserve these cultural changes for the historical record.
In 2014 the Science Museum in London will open its brand new gallery, Information Age. The gallery will bring communication technologies and their users to life, beginning 200 years ago with the arrival of the electric telegraph and coming right up to the present day. Mobile phones have radically changed the ways we communicate, especially in developing countries where we have seen a ‘leap-frogging’ of technologies such as the landline telephone. In order to tell the very important stories about the impacts of mobile telephony in developing countries we chose to present a case study to our visitors. After much deliberation we decided on an anthropological treatment of mobiles in Cameroon. Our research included a field trip to Cameroon to carry out interviews and acquire artefacts for display, working alongside an anthropologist, a filmmaker and an historian. We have also worked extensively with the Cameroonian community in London who are helping us tell their stories authentically and sensitively.
This project is a fantastic opportunity to preserve some of the material and social culture around mobile phones. Of all the sections of the gallery this has been the most challenging as the technology is changing so quickly and different geographical regions have appropriated the technologies in a wide range of different ways. In this paper I’ll reflect on those challenges and the role of preservation in assessing and celebrating technical achievements.
(5) Perpetual Crentsil, Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki, Finland
A Case of Double Exclusion? Mobile Phones, Poor HIV/AIDS Patients and Their Suffering in Ghana
This paper discusses challenges faced by HIV-positive persons and AIDS patients in Ghana who have no mobile phones, especially how they have difficulties accessing key information about their status. Mobile phones help HIV counsellors to disseminate information to AIDS patients faster, without transport costs, and risk of travelling to hospitals. Phones also help patients avoid the stigma and shame often associated with being HIV positive in Ghana. Drawing on an ethnographic study in 2010-11 of mobile phones for healthcare delivery services in rural Ghana, this paper shows how patients who do not have phones are marginalized, left out or excluded from accessing the benefits of mobile telephony because of barriers such as poverty, which aggravates their suffering. As vulnerable persons, HIV/AIDS patients in Ghana already face many challenges and various forms of social exclusion. AIDS-related stigma is pervasive, and patients may lack livelihood options, care, and treatment, leading to devastating psychological consequences. Justification for this analysis is based on recent scholarship cautioning against optimistic views that mobile phones will incontrovertibly improve health outcomes.
(6) Frances da-Costa Vroom, Francis Anto and John Gyapong, School of Public Health, University of Ghana
Assessing The Feasibility Of Mhealth For Treatment Coverage Reporting For The Lymphatic Filariasis Control Programme
Mass drug administration (MDA) is conducted annually in endemic areas towards eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis (LF). Challenges identified are late submission of treatment coverage data (TCD), incomplete data and lack of feedback to community health volunteers (CHVs).
An intervention trial will test feasibility of reporting TCD for the LF programme using mobile phones. The objectives are to identify barriers to timely and accurate reporting, assess CHV knowledge and readiness for ICT use, determine if mHealth will improve timeliness, accuracy and completeness of MDA treatment coverage data and create interoperability between the mHealth application and the District Health Information Management System 2 (DHIMS2).
Study population will consist of CHVs, district health management teams (DHMT), Regional Health Management team (RHMT) and the Neglected Tropical Diseases Control Programme (NTDCP) team. MDA registers and reports will be analysed to generate baseline data on timeliness, accuracy and completeness. A web-based portal will be developed and an SMS form designed. A third party content provider will facilitate a toll-free short code for SMS transmission. CHVs will be trained to send summaries of the treatment coverage data by SMS. In year one, the intervention will take place in district 1 followed by an evaluation of the intervention. The mHealth system will be deployed in both district 1 and 2 in the second year followed by evaluation in both districts. Evaluation will assess end-user satisfaction, timeliness, accuracy and completeness of the data reported. Cross-sectional studies will be conducted to identify barriers to timely, accurate and complete reporting and knowledge and readiness assessment for ICT. Data collection instruments will be surveys, in depth interview guides and focus group discussions.
Findings are expected to lead to improvement in timely submission of reports, increase in effectiveness and efficiency of CHVs. Interoperability between the DHIMS2 and the mHealth application will enhance monitoring for DHMT and the RHMT.
(7) Lorenzo Dalvit, School of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University, South Africa and Michele Cristoferi, University of Padova, Italy
Money-related uses of mobile phones in a rural area of South Africa
The success of Kenya's M-Pesa mobile-based money transfer and microfinancing service spearheaded similar services in other African countries. In South Africa, the regulatory framework requires telecommunicators to partner with established financial institutions. Less than one-fifth of the 22.5 million South Africans with a bank account (67% of the adult population) are users of mobile banking such as MTN banking, FNB's eWallet and M-Pesa SA. Besides m-banking, people in townships and rural areas appear to use their phones for a host of money-related activities. In this paper we explore money-related uses of mobile phones in Dwesa, a rural area on the Wild Coast of Transkei in South Africa. For the past six years this has been the site of a multi-disciplinary ICT-for-development project (the Siyakhula Living Lab) and a wealth of previous research is available. A questionnaire was developed and translated into isiXhosa, the local African language, in close collaboration with a group of 20 local teachers, it was subsequently administered orally by their learners to members of 495 households. Mobile banking was practiced in 40% of the households, while 70% received sms notifications from their bank. Almost every household claimed to have at least one bank account and, on average, once a week a person from each household travelled to the nearest town (40 km of gravel road away) to withdraw money. Only 37% claimed to buy their own airtime for an average of 3 Euros a week. Airtime transfer (usually by relatives working in the cities) was commonplace. Almost two-thirds (62%) used airtime transfer to top up, while 27% used it as a form of money transfer and 15% used it to make small payments and an equal percentage as a form of mobile banking. Only one-fifth claimed to use Internet-related features on their phone, but 8% claimed to perform some kind of on-line shopping. 42% claim somebody in their household makes sms purchases (music, games etc).
(8) Lorenzo Dalvit, School of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University, South Africa and Godfrey Nkwera, School of ICT, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Mobile Phone Sharing in Rural Tanzania
This study investigates mobile phone sharing in Ligera village in rural Tanzania using the domestication approach. Preliminary investigation indicates that, consistent with findings of research in developed as well as developing countries, phone sharing is common in the village. Mobile phone sharing is a practice in which a device is made available to multiple users and it includes sharing of calls, short text messages (SMS), music videos, games as well as images. The two dominant types of mobile phone sharing in developing countries are commercial (e.g. Grameen Telecom project in Bangladesh, community phone shops in South Africa and space-to-space payphones in Ghana) and non-commercial sharing, which takes place primarily among family members and friends.
A study in Ghana found that 40 percent of rural handset owners give their friends access to mobile phones while in urban areas only 15 percent do so. A recent study found that 62.1 percent of mobile phone owners in Botswana shared their handsets with family members and 48.3 percent with friends. In South Africa, more than half of the mobile handset owners shared them with family members and the phenomenon appears to be even more common in Tanzania. In Kenya, 85 percent of women who do not own a mobile phone shared the ones of their friends and family members. In Uganda, women depend on their male partners to acquire mobile phones as gifts or to make and receive phone calls, often on condition that their husbands initiate the call.
Consistent with the domestication approach informing our study, the household was chosen as the unit of analysis. In-depth interviews are currently being conducted with members of 20 households. The three research questions informing the study relate to the acquisition of, access to and use of mobile phones. The transcripts are analysed using the Nvivo software to identify trends and themes related to phone sharing. Data collection and analysis is still on-going and final results will be ready for presentation at the conference.
(9) Georges Djohy and Honorat Edja, Department of Rural Economics & Sociology, University of Parakou, Benin
Building of production network in pluvial unsettled agriculture by using mobile telephony in farming communities of Northern Benin, West Africa
This paper outlines the processes through which farmers of Northern Benin build and manage their production network by using mobile phone communications. The empirical data were collected on 120 farmers in the district of N’Dali, one of the main producers of cotton for export and food in the country. The socio-anthropological method used for the data collection was primarily the combination of innovation adoption and actor’s capability approaches. Using a semi-structured interview guide, farmers described people they call more often, after answering a “yes or no” question that they have a mobile phone and recognize using it for agricultural related communications. Results indicate that network building’s need is directly related to risk perception by producers. Twelve challenges requiring the call of different actors were regularly managed by the mobile phone: household’s management, external family’s relationship, inputs’ provision, extension and advisory services’ access, animals’ divagation management, pastoral contract, manpower access, market access, credit access, climate information and wakefulness, materials maintenance and repairs as well as leisure scheduling.
The ownership and conscious factors about real mobile telephony used for agricultural activities permitted us to categorize four producers’ models: Conscious Non-Users (CNU), No-Conscious Users (NCU), No-Conscious Non-Users (NCNU) and Conscious Users (CU). The CNUs are those without mobile phones and do not ask for any telephonic service for their agricultural activities. The NCNUs are those producers with mobile phones who do not use them for agricultural activities profitably. The NCUs are, however, producers without mobile phones who request the services of other people with mobile phones when they are being faced with agricultural related problems. The CUs however have personal mobile phones or benefit from mobile phone services by neighbours or relatives. This last category is mostly influenced by the creation and maintenance of an efficient network for resource access and the improvement of agricultural incomes.
(10) Kárita Cristina Francisco, New University of Lisbon, Portugal
Brazilian kids from a low SES: the use and influence of mobile phones in their daily lives
The increase of mobile phones in developing countries has contributed to a remarkable increase in the spread of mobile telephony around the world in the last years. In Brazil alone, according to the Brazilian Regulatory Authority (Anatel), almost 260 million mobile accesses were registered and a teledensity of 131,70 per one hundred inhabitants by the end of October. Despite the magnitude of these indices the internal market still has a lot of room to grow.
With the reduction of the mobile telephony price which includes the devices but also the tariffs, the mobile phones become gradually more accessible, not only to adults but also to teenagers and children. Also, according to the World Bank, “Mobile applications not only empower individual users, they enrich their lifestyles and livelihoods, and boost the economy as a whole. Mobile apps make phones immensely powerful as portals to the online world.”
Encouraged by this context and its presence in children’s everyday life, we were interested in verifying how children from a low socioeconomic status, from Campo Grande, state of Mato Grosso do Sul, the fourth state in the ranking of Brazilian teledensity, make use of their mobile phones.
We were interested in verifying the strategies these children use to take advantages from their mobile phones, the monthly costs of their use, the kind of devices they have, their access to mobile internet and the way their mobile phone use influences their everyday life. A qualitative research was conducted by interviewing children from 8 to 12 years old, from different poor neighborhoods.
(11) Hanne Cecilie Geirbo, Department of Informatics, University of Oslo, Norway
Mobile towers as electricity hubs – experiences from a pilot project in rural Bangladesh
In areas where other infrastructure like roads and electricity grids and are non-existent or failing, mobile network infrastructure is often present and working well. Off-grid mobile towers, which often run on renewable sources, can be used as mini power plants to provide electricity to communities surrounding the towers. In 2010, the University of Oslo and the Bangladeshi mobile operator Grameenphone started the Community Power pilot project. From a solar powered mobile tower we have extended a small electricity grid. The grid provides electricity for light in 136 households in the evenings, and during the daytime the electricity powers a Community Information Centre, where people can access computer with internet, scanner, printer and a mobile charging booth. After testing the initial concept, we are currently doing some changes to the design to improve the sustainability. I am taking part in this project as an action researcher, in the sense of aiming to contribute to the advancement of both theory and practice. My main method is participant observation. Engaging in electricity provision is a novelty for mobile operators, and I will discuss how organizational features of the mobile industry are being inscribed in the design of the Community Power grid. I will also discuss how the grid’s connection to a mobile operator have implications for what people expect it to be and become in the village.
(12) Johan Hellström, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, Sweden
M4D Innovation in East Africa – Real, Hype or Both?
One of the key debates in the academic field “mobiles for development” (M4D) is whether mobile phones (and mobile applications and services) are having any significant positive impact on economic, social and political reality in the developing world (Postill and Osorio 2010, Donner 2010). To build on this discussion, this paper seeks to problematise the mobile phone success story and hype by revisiting the Sida publication “The Innovative Use of Mobile Applications in East Africa” (Hellström, 2010). The report gave a snapshot of the state of mobile phone use and services in the East African region based on fieldwork carried out in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya during 2008 and 2009. The study identified more than 120 M4D initiatives, ranging from small pilots to a few full-scale implementations – covering simple agricultural, market or health information services to fairly advance financial and government transaction services. More than three years later, which of these interventions still exist? This article strives to understand at an anecdotal level why some projects fail while others succeed. All initiatives identified and listed in the 2010 report will be revisited to determine if they are alive or not and based on a set of criteria, a few will be selected for through analysis.
(13) Leah Johnson and Araba Sey, Information School, University of Washington, USA
Achieving scale and sustainability in mobile health projects
Advances in mobile technology have generated an upsurge in development projects using mobile phone platforms to deliver services in priority areas such as education, government and health. In cases where the programs are implemented in collaboration with government agencies, the ultimate aim is to have the government take over the project after the initial phase. To what extent have mobile health programs tried to do this, and how successful have they been? We present the results of a comprehensive review of experiences in implementing, scaling up, and sustaining mobile phone-based health projects through government institutions in low and middle-income countries. While mobile health projects provide a solution to the limited reach of existing health service infrastructure in low and middle income countries, the programs face sustainability and scalability challenges of their own. We explore questions such as: What types of institutional arrangements are required to successfully transfer projects from independent donor agencies into government hands? What degree of success (if any) have projects had in attaining full government ownership of the management, resourcing and scaling up of mobile health projects? To what extent have interventions been sustained after being handed over? What mechanisms have contributed to success or failure? Are there lessons to be learned from health projects based on other technologies?
(14) Jukka Jouhki, Department of History and Ethnology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Gender and Mobile Telephony: Ethnographic Observations from South India
This paper presents observations from of a total of five months’ ethnographic fieldwork carried out between 2010 and 2012 in the rural and semi-urban areas of Vanur Block which is a part of Villupuram district in the state of Tamil Nadu, South India. I particularly focus on the cultural meaning and gendered use of mobile phones among the lower socio-economic strata of the area comprised of fishermen, agricultural laborers and daily wage earners. Most of the informants who participated in the study belong to the Scheduled Caste (Dalits/”Untouchables”) or the so-called lower caste groups, all living around the international poverty line. In addition to gendered use, differences between generations as well as the dynamics of family and affinity related to mobile telephony are discussed. In the paper it is argued that while mobile telephony is often seen as one of the most significant factors causing sociocultural change in Indian society, there is reason to ask whether it also reinforces social divisions – between young and old, and men and women.
(15) Robert Kibaya, Kikandwa Rural Communities Development Organization - KIRUCODO, Uganda
Mobile Telephony Technologies that Support Communication and Fundraising Needs of a Rural Community Development Organization: A Kirucodo Live Experience
Looking for, identifying, linking with and coordinating collaborations easily and cheaply with potential donors worldwide has always been a great challenge to majority of rural community Development Organizations in Uganda and Africa in general. On the other hand, the utilization of modern communication tools that are mostly hosted on the internet has always been hindered in rural communities by lack of: connectivity and electricity and access to affordable ICT equipment and technologies, among others.
The introduction of mobile telephony technologies has once more restored hope to the majority of hopeless rural organizations’ managers who for the first time are able to coordinate most of their respective organizations’ activities on mobile telephony platforms ranging from simple phone calls and short messages to various online services.
The paper will explore and share live experiences from Kikandwa Rural Communities Development Organization (KIRUCODO) on the innovative utilization of modern mobile telephony and web2.0 technologies to support: a tailoring project for primary school girls and community, scholastic material donation for primary schools, beekeeping project for supporting the education of rural primary school pupils and especially girls, and rain water harvesting tanks for poor rural primary schools, among others.
(16) Mathilde Krabbe Krogholt, International Development Management, University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
The Usage of Mobile Money Services among Savings and Credit Cooperative Society members in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
The Mobile Money Service M-PESA has, since its commencement in Kenya in 2007, had great success with now over 15 million Kenyans employing it. The uptake in Tanzania has not been so rapid, since its start in 2008, but the diffusion of Mobile Money Service(s) (MMS) is steadily growing in Tanzania where access to formal financial services is lacking.
This study explores the usage of MMS among Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (SACCOS) members in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The financial utilisation of SACCOS and MMS together has had no apparent connection before the introduction of specific innovations in Kenya enabling financial transactions between the members’ SACCOS and MMS accounts.
Through fieldwork conducted in September 2012, the study explores the knowledge, usage and experience with MMS among over 300 members in close to 40 different SACCOS. Particularly the study scrutinizes whether there is a link between the members’ use of the SACCOS membership and MMS. Furthermore, it explores whether the innovations implemented in Kenya are known and appear relevant to SACCOS members and leaders.
The study results display amongst others how the biggest percentage of members applies MMS but rarely in relation to their SACCOS account. The members, however, have various ideas on how services combining SACCOS and MMS can or cannot have a potential importance to their livelihoods.
The discussion further attends to the potential of launching these kinds of services in Tanzania, the issue of financial literacy as well as the preference of members to solve financial matters.
(17) Allyson Krupar, American University of Afghanistan, Afganistan and Pennsylvania State University, USA
mEduText: A Case for Mobile Continuing Medical Education in Uganda
Rural healthcare workers frequently do not have access to and therefore cannot implement the newest lifesaving methods for the care, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, resulting in thousands of avoidable deaths each year throughout the developing world. These rural healthcare workers, particularly mid-level cadres such as nurses and lab technicians, do not have the resources to travel to training locations nor do their facilities have the personnel to support many workers leaving for traditional onsite training. In addition, the current onsite post-training support is often times costly and inefficient. Yet, the World Health Organization recommends continuing mentorship via face to face training, telephone calls, teleconferencing and internet based approaches. As such, the following research was conducted from January to June 2012 to assess new forms of post training support for rural healthcare workers in Uganda using computer and mobile phone based learning. Participants were assessed based on their individual knowledge retention, the overall facility performance following national guidelines, and their use of computer and mobile phone based tools. The project shows that computer and mobile phone based learning produces similar knowledge retention and clinical outcomes as traditional face to face mentorship, despite technological obstacles such as the lack of internet access and reliable electricity. Mobile phone based learning tools had dramatically more recorded usage as computer viruses and inaccessibility hampered the use of computer based tools. This research concludes that while this project is only a case of mobile learning for continuing medical education of healthcare workers, it highlights significant lessons that could be scaled to larger national or international projects, including the use of the healthcare workers’ own basic mobile phones, the potential for healthcare workers to network with each other via mobile phone and the roll of call centers to support this process, and the interest of healthcare workers to engage in mobile learning.
(18) Bernard Mumpasi Lututala, The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, Dakar, Senegal
ICTs and the worsening crisis in the DR Congo: the role of the Congolese Diaspora
DR Congo, as we know it, is going through a political crisis that has not slumped since its launch in 1994 during the Rwandan genocide. In fact, since then, the country has experienced two major wars: the so-called war of liberation (1996-1997) carried out by the AFDL of Laurent-Désiré Kabila to drive out Mobutu of the power, and then the so-called war of aggression (1998-2003) conducted by three rebellions (RCD, MLC and RCD-ML) against the same Laurent-Désiré Kabila. He was assassinated on 16 January 2001. After a short lull between 2003 and 2006, which helped organize free, democratic and transparent elections in 2006, there has been a succession of rebellions. In 2006, there was the CNDP rebellion of Laurent Nkunda, directed later by Bosco Ntaganda, who is to the ICC today; and since April 2012, the rebel Movement M23 which is not yet extinct at this day. Apart from these military crises, the DRC has experienced other political crises, including that caused by the results of presidential (especially) and legislative elections in 2011, considered by almost all observers as having been characterized by massive fraud, resulting in an incumbent president (Joseph Kabila) accused of usurping the victory of the main opposition (Etienne Tshisekedi) who always regards himself as being the elected President. This has plunged the DRC in a crisis of legitimacy of those in power which is at the base of many other social and political crises in the country.
More information flows to understand the causes and implications of these crises, but also their modus operandi. Social networks and other media offer their interpretation of the events every day. Almost all of these networks are managed or fed by members of the Congolese Diaspora, who post analyses there to clarify the national and international opinion, but also that of the Congolese Diaspora on what is happening in their country. A quick glance at this reading shows some significant differences between the facts as reported by the media and the reality on the ground. It also shows how some analyzes invite outright violence, and fuel or are likely to stir up the crisis for well acknowledged reasons: bring down the regime in Kinshasa and restart the process of democratization.
The objective of this paper is to show on the one hand the extensive use of social networks, including the Internet, responding to crises happening in Congo, but also and especially to show how the analyzes posted on the networks are likely to arouse or inflame crises. This will be done by making a comparison between the information that is posted by the different social networks, then between this information on the one hand, and those published by the local press, including that which is close to power.
(19) Johan Maritz, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Pretoria, South Africa
The Development, Use and Potential Contribution of Appropriate ICT-based Service Systems Supporting Home-Based Care Workers in the Leroro Community, Mpumalanga – South Africa
Rural environments suffer a number of constraints including high transport cost, irregular or unpredictable transport services, transport of low passenger and freight volumes, and low logistics service demand and supply. Rural residents, especially those residing in South Africa’s ex-homeland territories are spatially removed from employment and service centres and as a result, experience the above mentioned constraints. To address specific rural transport and logistical problems, researchers at the CSIR’s Built Environment Unit have turned to a service system approach – where ICT systems are developed to target and address specific transport related problems. The use of such systems holds the potential to overcome such constraints, and could improve the general accessibility of rural households, service workers and enterprises (e.g. to services, peers and markets). During 2008-10 the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Built Environment Unit initiated a research project focusing on a localised healthcare application that deals with and supports local home-based care workers that provide care for patients at home, whilst supplying vital health care statistics to health care professionals at the local clinic/hospital, thus avoiding the need to travel frequently.
This tele-monitoring system uses a session-oriented service technology known as Unstructured Supplementary Services Data (USSD) to deliver the services between users, service brokers or facilitators and the end users. The use of new ICTs (nICT) could speed up information flow and reduce the need for regular trips to the clinic or to a home-based care centre. The focus in this case study is to explore the potential accessibility benefits for home-based care workers if using a patient information tele-monitoring system. Analysis uses both individual and traditional accessibility measures to evaluate benefits in changes due to the nICT system. The results expected should indicate a reduction in the need to travel as a result of using the ICT system to replace the need to physically report on patient condition.
(20) Amani Millanga, University of Leicester, United Kingdom
Mobile Phone and Participatory Communication for Poverty Eradication on Public Service Broadcasting: The Case of Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC)
There is no doubt that mobile phones have revolutionised development communication in the world. The use of mobile phones as instruments for participatory communication in Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) has been growing and gaining strength in the Third World.
In this paper it is argued that mobile phones empower grassroots populations from different parts of Tanzania -- thousands of kilometres from each other -- to participate in dialogues taking place on national radio (TBC-TAIFA) and/or national television (TBC1), and make it possible for the participants to share knowledge and experiences on the causes of extreme poverty and how to eradicate extreme poverty in Tanzania as if they lived next door to each other. Further, the findings of this study show that mobile phones have made it possible for TBC journalists to interact and involve the audiences in the processes of producing programmes on poverty eradication. Moreover, the study reveals that people from different parts of the country use phone-in programmes on TBC to create awareness of the sufferings of the poorest of the poor at the grassroots. Thus, participatory communication via TBC sets an agenda, which helps to bring some social changes in areas where people raise their voices.
Although the findings show that mobile phones have made TBC communication less hierarchical, more two-way, horizontal and interactive, there are a number of constraints like poverty itself, poor network coverage in rural areas, lack of power to charge batteries and lack of confidence especially among women in the villages, which limit mobile phone users’ participation in TBC. Nonetheless, mobile phones are powerful tools which amplify poor people’s voices and facilitate the transformation of their livelihoods through TBC.
(21) Fortune Nwaiwu, Nigerian Economic Summit Group and University of Leicester, United Kingdom
Context and Capabilities: An assessment of usage of ICTs among undergraduate students in Nigerian Universities
In Nigeria, the majority of undergraduate students attend lectures on physical campuses and source their learning material from paper-based text books. The traditional approach to university pedagogy based on the UK system and inadequate infrastructure that has become characteristic of the traditional model of learning in contemporary times now significantly limits Nigerian students and businesses in global competitiveness both in human capital development and in business.
Electronic or digital mobile technologies coupled with the advent of a global information society which allows easier access to information have created significant opportunities for supplementing, enhancing and even replacing the current model of university teaching and learning but there are numerous limitations that impact on the effectiveness of these technologies.
This paper examines the key social and technical factors affecting the adoption and use of ICTs as a mechanism to improve learning in the Nigerian undergraduate context, it also aims to generate evidence about scale, character, and impact of access to ICTs based on socio-economic context and capabilities of Nigerian undergraduate students. In particular, we seek to understand how mobile technologies as a combined personal-professional device link leisure and academic activities with variable value to rural versus urban, male versus female users.
A mixed method approach was adopted, using both qualitative and quantitative techniques, as this allowed us to explore the broader trends of usage but also understand how and why certain usage patterns emerged.
The ability of mobile phones to link professional with personal life aligns well with a Nigerian urban, female culture of work that values relationships as a priority. Therefore, whilst mobile phones are used primarily for social interactions there is great potential for them to enhance the learning experience outside of the lecture theatre by, for example, integrating learning tools into social applications.
(22) Kenneth Okpomo and Samuel Johnson Moses, Eagles Protection & Safety Services, Lagos, Nigeria
The Mobile Revolution in Nigeria: A Look at How the Urban and Rural Poor can Harness its Potentials for Economic Empowerment
Revolution in Nigeria’s mobile industry started with the deregulation in 2001 which brought GSM operators such as MTN, Econet (now Airtel), Glo, Etisalat, into the market. Healthy competition has seen SIM cost, call (data package) rates and interconnect charges dwindle drastically. The cost of phone handsets has reduced and sophistication invigorated with features like WAP capability, social media, camera and video coverage versatility.
There are an estimated 80 million mobile phone users with penetration reaching virtually all parts of the country - making the Nigerian market the fastest growing telecommunications industry in the world.
This paper seeks to investigate how mobile telephony has been transforming the lives of the urban and rural poor in terms of providing opportunities for economic uplift. In an era marked by economic recession not only in the country but also globally, the paper seeks to look at how these economically-disadvantaged individuals are harnessing the potentially rich offerings of an expanding telecommunication market to etch a living in a country where official corruption has eclipsed any chances for critical infrastructural development which is the backbone for sustainable development elsewhere in the world.
For example, with electricity supply still below 4000MW, generators are adding to the cost of doing business thus diminishing the prospects for profitability. This paper will address how the urban and rural proprietors are coping with the challenges posed by these infrastructural deficiencies to break even in these austere times.
It will also explore latent opportunities in the telephone sector with a view to finding out how the National Communications Commission, in its capacity as regulator of the industry, can enact laws and policy guidelines that will not only intrinsically lead to industry growth but will also enable participants on the fringes of economic development to derive more economic returns in the multi-billion dollars sector.
(23) Chukwuemeka Okugo, Department of Mass Communication, Abia State University, Nigeria
The Influence of Mobile Telephony on the 2011 Presidential Elections in South East Nigeria
It can safely be stated that inventions in technology (of which mobile telephony is one) have invariably caused socio-cultural and political changes in developing countries such as Nigeria. Therefore, this research work entitled “the influence of mobile telephony on the 2011 presidential elections in South East Nigeria” will examine whether a causality exists between the use of mobile telephony (Social Networks &SMS) for political Campaigns and behavioural change (in terms of actual voting patterns) among the electorates, using the 2011 presidential elections in South East Nigeria as a scaffold. The theoretical guide for this work will principally be built around Marshall McLuhan’s technological determinism. The study intends to use the survey method and questionnaire as instrumentation. Focus group discussion will be employed to add depth to the data that will be generated and analysed. The study intends to use a sample size of 500 across the urban cities of each of the state capitals. Analysis will be based on percentage distributions and a non- parametric method (Chi- Square) will be used to test the hypothesis. Conclusions and recommendations will be derived from the data analysed.
(24) María de Mater O’Neill and Arthur L. Asseo, Rubberband, LLP, Puerto Rico
Digital Illiteracy among Puerto Rican Middle-Class Smartphone Users
The authors’ design firm launched a limited inquiry concerning comprehension and use of smartphones among middle class users in Puerto Rico upon detecting an apparent level of illiteracy in digital functions in various projects developed for their clients. The inquiry primarily aimed at answering whether these users are exposed to social exclusion because of their lack of comprehension of digital interaction. If such were true, what does it imply about the social contract? Four instances in the firm’s projects that revealed the incongruence in the use of the Smartphone, which prompted the authors’ inquiry, are described briefly. Structured interviews were carried out with local User Experience (UX) designers as well as an online anonymous questionnaire survey about the use of the Smartphone. Through a scenario test, the authors highlight the digital literacy of a limited group of users. The paper focuses on issues of digital literacy but discusses some aspects of the digital divide to contextualize the study. Research concerning cultural differences and mobile affordance in Iran is used to explore another perspective on the subject of use and comprehension of Smartphones. The authors understand that digital illiteracy poses a problematic situation because of: 1) the relationship between citizen rights and digital literacy, 2) the impact it can have on 21st-century necessary skills like co-location teamwork, quick access to information and content creation, among other technology inter-relationship activities, and 3) the importance of this matter to UX designers and their awareness of this possible situated occurrence, especially if they are value-driven and concerned with issues of democracy. Further research in the Caribbean is needed to understand the cultural dissonance in the HCI design and its impact on Functional Digital Literacy (one of the three strands needed for critical transferring).
(25) Joyojeet Pal, School of Information at the University of Michigan, USA
Mobiles and mobility for people with vision impairments in Bangalore
This mixed methods study of mobile assistive technology use by 52 people in Bangalore, India, examines the role of cellular technology in the empowerment and economic inclusion of people with vision impairments. We find that mobile technology significantly impacts the sense of social inclusion of people with vision impairments, although the immediate economic impacts are not as clear. We find that cellular phones take on an important role beyond just communications, as an organization tool, a storage and exchange device, social networking tool, a recording technology, and media access device. However, major failures of the technology are still more common than for mainstream cellular device users, and issues of dependence on sighted users persist.
We identify important patterns around how users purchase and use their technology. Users are very price sensitive on cellular plans, and frequently switch carriers. Despite the clear and stated value of the technology, few respondents were willing to pay for off-the-shelf versions of the assistive technology. Piracy is common, but it is neither related to the ability to pay for technology nor to individuals’ levels of education.
The use of mobile technology by people with vision impairments presents an important case in the mobiles and development literature due to the centrality of the technology to individuals’ economic and social possibilities. Unlike with much of the industrialized world where access to mobile technologies is over a generation old, almost all the respondents had never used any assistive technology into their adulthood. The access to technology thus presents an important shift from their past sense of economic and social restriction into a new set of aspirations and possibilities. Yet, working within a system that is yet to evolve in its perception of disability, respondents discuss important challenges to their participation in the public sphere.
(26) Linda Paxling, Technoscience Studies, Department of Technology and Aesthetics, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden
Future-making hybrids: a technoscientific exploration among Ugandan technology hubs
The argument for this presentation is that a feminist technoscientific approach is vital when exploring critical, multilayered issues of postcolonial ICT, gender and user design in a sociotechnical environment of mobile development, in this case entrepreneurs located at technology hubs in Kampala.
Using diffraction as a method for exploring user design, gender, and future-making among the entrepreneurs, the empirical material consists of a variety of perspectives and stories that not only tells of what is missing in terms of ICT infrastructure, smartphone technologies or national policies but also what is actually there and happening right now with hackathons, start-up companies and more women visible in the ICT sector.
The presentation will also provide examples of different design processes between the actors in the environment of mobile application development, to distinguish between different design approaches, entangle design-games and figure out how and if user-centered design comes into focus.
The purpose of the presentation is to illustrate how situated knowledges among young entrepreneurs in Kampala continuously change and re-generate into partial and contradictory experiences and how these experiences (can) turn into affirmative actions for social change.
(27) Lorena Perez-Garcia, Vrije Universiteit, Brussels, Belgium
Mobile telephony as a tool for identity reinforcement within indigenous communities in Mexico
Society in Mexico is composed of two groups of population: mestizo society, a result of the Colonial times and migrations to the country, and indigenous societies who have tried to remain as traditional as possible to protect their cultural heritage. There are 62 different indigenous groups that constitute 10% of the total population of the country.
The economic crisis and the changes due to globalisation have caused a shift in activities and reinvention of indigenous identities in order to cope with the situations brought about by neo-liberalism. Migration to the city or to the USA has been one of the main measures taken by a considerable percentage of the indigenous population in villages, therefore communication technologies become a necessity rather than a commodity.
Mobile phones are used by only 36% of the indigenous population in Mexico. However, the possibilities for communicating with peers brought by mobile devices have played a leading role in the survival of indigenous identities, as paradoxical as it might sound.
The aim of this work is to present how the inclusion of mobile telephony in the multiple identities of modern indigenous communities in Mexico has played an important role in the protection of cultural heritage and the empowerment of the indigenous communities. Furthermore, it exposes how mobile devices and data services can be used to maintain and increase the sense of belonging within the diaspora, to establish networks with the communities of origin, and through those dynamics, to empower the population to include new practices for cultural and identity preservation.
Neetesh Saxena and Narendra S. Chaudhari, Department of Computer Science & Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Indore, India.
Nowadays, cell phones are such a wireless technology that has changed everyone’s life. In this paper, we review the present state of mobile banking in different countries across the world. A brief overview of telecom policy in various countries is also discussed including India. A secure mobile banking is still a challenge in the year 2012. According to recently conducted survey by ACI Worldwide (in May 2012), 76% of Indian mobile respondents used their mobiles for banking in last 6 months and this percentage is highest across the world. However, only 38% respondents from US, and 31% from UK used mobile banking in last 6 months. China came in after India with 70% users using mobile banking followed by South Africa (61%). The global average for Mobile Banking adoption rate stands at 35%. 64% of the survey respondents from India used their mobile phones to make payment at least once in last 6 months, while Chinese led the pack with 66%. Surprisingly, only 30% of US respondents & 23% of UK respondents have made payments on mobile in last 6 months.
Mobile phones: Source of livelihood or livelihood resource?
Few would argue that information and communication technologies (ICTs) are not important tools for global and national development. Yet despite the increasing availability of ICTs, several countries continue to struggle with low-income status, and middle-income countries still have high proportions of their populations living in conditions of poverty. In this context, mobile phones have been hailed as the latest champions of poverty reduction as a result of their relative ease of deployment, low cost and usability. They are credited with creating employment, enhancing employability, and improving the income of people who might otherwise be left out or disadvantaged in the economic system. However, evidence of poverty reduction directly attributable to mobile telephony is hard to find. Furthermore, people with low incomes consistently excite and surprise onlookers with the often non-economic, seemingly mundane ways in which they use mobile phones, and with patterns of use that are sometimes at odds with the intentions of development initiatives or technology designers. One of these unexpected outcomes was the emergence of mobile payphone systems, attracting a flood of micro-entrepreneurs with opportunities for financial gain. This presentation uses data from a study of mobile phone users and payphone operators in Ghana to reflect on the potential of mobile telephony as a tool for sustaining the livelihoods of entrepreneurs operating at subsistence levels in the mobile phone industry. Implications for technology design as well as socio-economic development agendas are considered.
(29) Laura Stark, Department of History and Ethnology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Mobile banking among the chronically poor: ethnographic findings from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
In countries of East Africa in which mobile banking services are popular such as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, these services are now starting to be used also by the urban poor at the bottom of the income pyramid. In this paper I examine the use of mobile money transfers by 45 women living in chronic poverty in Dar es Salaam. Based on ethnographic fieldwork carried out in February 2013, I discuss how mobile money transfers are not being made primarily from urban to rural areas but are equally spread among kin group members regardless of where they live, since nowadays the urban poor are not necessarily better off than their rural relatives. I also argue that mobile banking services used by female neighborhood vendors in areas of severe poverty are enabling a ‘rapid response’ safety net not only among family members living in different parts of Tanzania, but also among members of the same nuclear family who live a daily hand-to-mouth existence. I also point out that poor women I studied tend to receive money from male kin members but send money onward to female kin members, an observation which calls for further research. Finally, I look briefly at how a lack of literacy among some women I interviewed affects their use of mobile phones in general, which is important for their use of mobile banking services, since such services require the reading of multiple text menus.
(30) Jakob Svensson, Centre for HumanIT and Media & Communication Studies, Karlstad University, Sweden and Caroline Wamala (email@example.com), Centre for HumanIT and Centre for Gender Studies, Karlstad University, Sweden
Mobile Communication for Development: A Critical Approach
The rise of mobile communication has been remarkable, especially in developing regions. This trend serves as the background to the emerging area of research in mobile communication for development (M4D) to which we devote this presentation. There is no doubt that the proliferation of mobile phones in developing regions has opened up a range of possibilities and new avenues for individuals, governments, aid agencies, and NGOs. Hence, we know that research on M4D is important and timely. But we also know that development is a disputed concept, criticised as well as conveying a range of different connotations. Hence the question posed in this presentation is in what areas are mobile phones are discussed as vehicles for development, and how mobile communication is related to the idea(s) of development today. To answer these questions we have gone through M4D articles in three major conference venues (M4D, ICTD and IST Africa) as well as open source journals from 2008-2012. Three dominant areas of M4D emerge out of our sample; mHealth, mLivelihood and mParticipation. Our sample also shows that M4D research often is biased towards techno-determinism and does not take larger contextual and societal factors sufficiently into account. We end this article by suggesting how to understand and study mobile phones in developing regions, something we label a dialectical approach.
(31) Sanna Tawah, Department of History and Ethnology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
The role of mobile phones in facilitating women's informal trade in the Cameroonian grasslands
Informal trade is crucially important in Cameroon, where 90% of jobs are found in the informal sector. Women’s contribution to household incomes is significant as the women undertake various activities from farming to small-scale businesses and salary work. This paper presents a case of female market traders in the Anglophone region of Cameroon, who are professionally engaged in the “buyam-sellam” market trade. The paper discusses informal market trade in relation to rotating credit circles called njangi, social and business networks and the role of mobile phones facilitating market trade. The paper will address the following questions: feminization and ‘mobilization’ of informal livelihoods in the case of female buyam-sellam traders, the importance of mobile phones to urban-rural trade, the creation of trading capital through njangi credit circles, and incorporation of mobile phones into systems of folk beliefs and religion.
(32) Primus Tazanu, Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Freiburg, Germany
The Mobile Phone, Cameroonian Transnational Social Ties and the Moral Economy of Remittances
Drawn from ethnographic studies conducted among Cameroonian migrants in Freiburg (Germany) and non-migrants in Buea (Cameroon), the paper demonstrates the claim that media transform human perception and relationships. This is done through highlighting the significance of the mobile phone to the Cameroonian transnational family. Most Cameroonian transnational families evaluate and value the mobile phone for offering new possibilities of virtual instant interaction and for providing an avenue through which the cultural practice of remittances is easily mediated. Within the latter context, the mobile phone is seen as a natural tool that links remittance requesters and the remitters. Importantly, one needs to mention the construction and the perceptions of either being ‘here’ or ‘over there’ and how these shape and influence relationships alongside the expectations embodied in the mobile phone as a communication medium. Most families demarcate and apportion responsibility for remittances to members who are ‘over there’ i.e. the migrants. These migrants are perceived to be more economically viable than the non-migrants.
But crucial questions, however, need to be asked in connection to the easy ability to request once these demarcations between being ‘here’ and ‘over there’ are made. Does instant reachability across borders guarantee that remittances are readily transmitted upon request? What are the experiences of the remitters and the requesters? These questions are vital to the understanding of the central theme of the paper that deals with the disjuncture between expectations and realities of direct communication across borders for these families. This means we go beyond the instant connectedness and relationship nurturing to ask whether people can trust using the mobile phone as a medium to acquire economic resources that are believed to transform the lives of the non-migrants. The paper concentrates on the expectations and visions of what the people think the mobile phone can do for them and the realities of instant interaction across borders for Cameroonians.
(33) Sirpa Tenhunen, Department of History and Ethnology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Gender, intersectionality and mediation: mobile technology in rural India
My paper examines the gendered appropriation of mobile technology in rural West Bengal, India. Based on long-term fieldwork in Janta village, Bankura district, I provide a nuanced picture of the contested nature of kinship and gender in order to explore how mobile phones mediate the intersectionality of relationships and ongoing processes of social change. The ethnographic fieldwork focuses on women’s activities in relation to cultural patterns entailing local hierarchies paying special attention to fluidity and change. In addition to examining general patterns of gendered phone use, I focus on instances of gendered negotiations when women are able to cross cultural boundaries or extend their sphere thanks to their phone use.
(34) James Tar Tsaaior, School of Media and Communication, Pan-African University, Lagos, Nigeria
Mobile Telephony and the Imperative of Political Resistance in a Postcolonial State
In many postcolonial states, mobile telephony participates actively in the (de)construction of modernity and the production of alternative knowledge forms in ways that have not always been sufficiently imagined and appreciated. Mobile telephony is especially implicated in this process as it has become a viable expressive site through which political resistance or dissent is communicated or articulated. This paper negotiates the focal role of mobile telephony as a social media form for the expression of political resistance in a postcolonial state like Nigeria and re-imagines the contestations of discursive power between the state and its citizens. Following the 2011 general elections in Nigeria, many citizens engaged the Nigerian state and the Independent National Electoral Commission, the electoral body to register their resistance against electoral malpractices which to them compromised the sanctity of the elections. Through the instrumentality of the mobile telephone as an expressive platform, citizens participated in live radio phone-in programmes to communicate their discontent with the conduct of the polls. This expression of dissent deploying mobile telephony, the paper argues, symbolically underwrites the political possibilities open to the public to perform rites of resistance using the mobile phone to make their voices heard. The paper submits that in a postcolonial state like Nigeria, mobile telephony provides a veritable galvanizing force for diverse publics to speak back to power and the (il)logic of its hegemonic tendencies.
(35) Michael Waltinger, Department of Media Pedagogy, University of Education, Ludwigsburg, Germany
Mobile phone usage in urban Nairobian everyday-life: Impressions and preliminary findings from the field
While a few mass media (e.g. radio) are well-established in Kenya, it has only been about a decade that interpersonal communication has been technologically mediated on a large scale by the advent of the
mobile phone. While it has predominantly brought ‘mobility’ to the telecommunications of many western countries, it has essentially brought telecommunication itself to Kenya; previously only community phones were marginally established. Being undermined by severe digital divides, this (media) setting, among other sociocultural/-economic factors, gives rise to questions such as: What is the specific meaning of mobile phones in everyday life, considering the special context and culture? Which aspects of everyday life does the technology influence and how? What are the benefits and flipsides of the medium? However, media usage and appropriation are influenced by the reciprocal references of life contexts, media competencies, and usage motives. These need to be taken into account. While there is an extensive existing body of (also qualitative-ethnographic) research on the appropriation of mobile communication technology (in Africa), most of the work so far is either conducted in rural settings or has a principal emphasis on separated, single phenomena only (i.e. economic, political, social dimensions, etc.), thus lacking a more integrative perspective. In order to depict 'everyday life-coping strategies' holistically, I will focus on all evolving aspects of everyday life in a urban community – i.e. a focused area – (rather informal settlements) in (most likely Eastlands-) Nairobi through theoretical sampling within that area.
The research follows a triangulated ethnographic approach, working with ‘natural groups’. Methods I use include: Observation and ethnographic interviews, focus group interviews, as well as a combination of visual methods and in-depth interviews. I have already studied several ‘profiles’ of Nairobi in a first orientation phase of fieldwork from October, 22nd to November, 16th 2012. The first tentative categories/dimensions – with in part ambivalent characteristics – that have emerged comprise: business, social relations, issues of gender identity, health concerns, personal security, distortion of ‘moral fabrics’, fashion and social status, educational aspects/media competencies. The next and most likely main field research-cycle will be split up into two parts: one in June and July as well as one in November and December 2013.
(36) Norbert Wildermuth, Dept. of Communication, Business and Information Technologies, Roskilde University, Denmark
Contributing to conflict prevention and transparency during the 2013 general elections in Kenya: a participant observation of the crowdsourced "Uchaguzi" platform
In my paper I will explore the implementation of citizen-led initiatives to crowd-sourced election monitoring and conflict prevention based on recent field work in Kenya. Specifically, I will present and discuss major challenges for the scaled-up utilisation of digital networked ICTs (i.e. social media, networked/online applications and mobile phones and their ‘hybrid’ combination with traditional media) with reference to Uchaguzi, a joint initiative of Ushahidi, Hivos, Creco, Umati, and SODNET, which has been implemented during the recent general elections in Kenya. The initiative sought to deliver unprecedented collaboration between election observers (the CRECO platform of Kenyan NGOs) and ordinary citizens to monitor the Kenyan March 4th general elections in near-real time. This effort, which ended with the announcement of president elect Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday 9th of March, resulted in close to 4,435 verified and online distributed reports (see https://uchaguzi.co.ke/main) submitted by voluntary election observers and ordinary citizens, the ambition being to extend the common practice of traditional election observation by seeking to engage citizens in election monitoring as citizens can be a valuable source of information for election observers to verify and amplify to the respective electoral authorities or security personnel in case of violence.
Based on my empirical cases I will critically debate the growing popularity of ICT-facilitated social accountability, transparency, verification and monitoring mechanism, based on crowd-sourced evidence and their potential for social change.
(37) Sarah Wagner, Open University of Catalonia, Spain
Reframing digital inequalities: End-user inclusion and the mobile app industry in Argentina and Bolivia
This paper concerns the relation between digital inequalities and ICT production processes, with a focus on the mobile app industries in Argentina and Bolivia. I begin with an analysis of cross-cultural technology appropriation, and identify two important factors – the ‘malleability’ of the technology and the active inclusion of end user communities. I argue that digital inequalities should not only be measured in terms of access or use, but also in terms of levels of inclusion and representation in processes of innovation, production and diffusion. ICT policy contexts in Argentina and Bolivia display strong discourses of digital inclusion, with interest in citizen participation in ICT planning, local content development, and the social inclusion of marginalized communities. However, ICT contents which target the local market are minimal in both countries. Research combines quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze the positioning of mobile content development in Argentina and Bolivia with respect to local interests. Data is presented from the content analysis of 50 software development businesses’ websites and 15 semi-structured interviews with representatives of businesses and not-for-profits involved in mobile app development. Findings suggest that the discourse of digital inclusion is more permeated within the Bolivian context: despite limitations on the mobile app market relating to internet and credit card use, developers in Bolivia were more inclined to have awareness of and interest in local social needs, and some alternative channels are being developed to connect apps and users. In Argentina, mobile apps which targeted the local market were largely commissioned by businesses, as most participants felt that app store sales were not financially viable. While business-commissioned app development was found to disconnect developers from local interests – businesses typically presented fixed requirements based on international models – app stores provided a medium of connection between developers and end users.