ICT for Development

Today, I invite you to join the conversation on an article, which I just published on the issue of “Learning by sharing – how global communities cultivate skills and capacity through peer-production of knowledge“. I posit in this paper, that commons-based peer learning offers a trigger to enhance skills, competencies, connections, capacities, and the agency of people and their organisations on a global scale – from the global peer-to-peer university to a worldwide expert community of biogas digesters producers. It provides the freedom to learn – by sharing the world’s wealth of knowledge.

What do you think? Do you know additional examples of global -based peer production for human development? What are your thoughts on how to link sustainable human development to solutions that scale, empower, benefit, and increase ownership? Is peer-to-peer learning a potential game changer?

I cordially invite you to read the article and to join the conversation: You have two options, either you discuss the article on the group on „Digital Society“ of the Alumniportal Germany, which hosts the original of the article (registration needed, check box on left side of following website).

–> View and comment on the Alumniportal / Group on “Digital Society”:

Or you might leave a comment on my personal blog, where I reproduce the article as well. You can “like it” or RSS it there as well

–> View and comment on personal blog:

I just heard about the upcoming “Rural Broadband Day” in Berlin on March 25th 2014. According to the organizers, the one-day conference on the status and new developments regarding economic, regulatory and technical aspects of broadband delivery and utilization in underserved areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America. If you need more information, check the site and contact the persons named there.

The rapid spread of mobile phones and ICT infrastructures around the world have brought tremendous opportunities and growth. This is all the more true in developing countries where ICT is being promoted as a powerful tool for economic development. Indeed, inclusive business models using ICT expand access to goods, services, and livelihood opportunities for those at the Base of the global economic Pyramid (BoP) in commercially viable, scalable ways.

A workshop dedicated to ICT that took place during the 13th International Business Forum on Green and Inclusive Businesses addressed the opportunities and challenges for inclusive businesses integrating ICTs, mainly mobile-based technologies, into their products or processes across sectors like IT, energy or agriculture.

This workshop consisted of two main parts: a highlight on inclusive business enablers and entrepreneurs’ case studies.
First, the GIZ presented a forthcoming practitioner guideline on ICT-enabled inclusive business approaches featuring best practices, challenges and case studies. Cavit Yantac, DPE Lead at Microsoft Turkey, provided insights on Açık Akademi, an e-learning platform in Turkish language on software development skills which teaches people from all backgrounds how to develop applications. And Tayo Akinyemi, Director of the pan-African network of tech innovation hubs AfriLabs, explained how powerful hub’s incubation could be to help start-up entrepreneurs.

Then, three entrepreneurs – all African – introduced their respective ICT-based inclusive businesses (Adam Abate, Apposit, Ethiopia; Ahmed Cisse, Tongtong, Senegal; Amine Chouaieb, Chifco, Tunisia). They also discussed in groups the major obstacles that they were facing in their businesses with all workshop participants: access & trust in ICT, capacity building, scaling up as well as logistics.

From the discussions that ensued among the workshop’s diverse participants, a host of best practices emerged:
• Scaling up should be done through partnerships to benefit from binding innovative technologies with mature business processes that generate stable revenue.
• Trust and behavioral change should be fostered by addressing customers in an innovative and context-appropriate way.
• The lack of basic IT literacy (demand side) can be bypassed with the recourse to intermediaries. More advanced IT skills (supply side) can be learnt through language-adapted MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) or at technology hubs where local stakeholders are brought together.

For more information, please contact Stephanie Ludwig ( and Thorsten Scherf (

Written by Matthieu Bourlet who attended the International Business Forum 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey through the Student Reporter conference reporting program. Student Reporter is a journalism incubator and online media outlet for business, economics and sustainability stories.

The two-day practitioner workshop on Nov. 6th-7th in Berlin will provide practical guidance for companies on how to leverage ICT to improve their inclusive business models that target low-income communities in developing and emerging countries. It is particularly geared towards company representatives from the ICT, energy, pharmaceutical, agricultural, microfinance and microinsurance sectors. Click here to find out more.

Feel free to also join our webinars on Oct. 9th, 16th and 23rd at 5pm CET. During the webinars, leading entrepreneurs will share their insights on how to leverage ICT for inclusive business models in the microfinance and microinsurance industries (Oct. 9th), the agricultural sector (Oct. 16th) and for B2B-services (Oct. 25th). In particular, they will discuss how using mobile technologies has changed or improved their business models, assess which factors contributed to the success of their ICT-based solutions and engage with participants on ‘do’s and don’ts.’

To register and find out more on the webinars and workshop please visit

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has stated in a new strategy paper, that “Information and communications technology (ICT)” are “key technologies for sustainable development”.

In the paper (BMZ Strategy Paper 2 | 2013e), the ict@innovation programme is featured and serves as example to highlight the priority area of “IT sector development” and to stress the potential of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) for sustainable development.

The strategy affirms that, “local experts play a key role in operating, upgrading and troubleshooting complex ICT applications to safeguard their long-term sustainability. Free and open source software (FOSS) is available to users without paying licence fees and grants them the right to use, change, localise and improve the software. FOSS is becoming increasingly important in developing countries, where it opens up new business opportunities for IT entrepreneurs. Together with the global ‘open source movement’ which is currently gaining momentum, FOSS offers new long-term resources for local ICT-based processes and product innovations. German development cooperation offers comprehensive capacity development measures for SMEs working in the field of ICT …”.

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The 5th BoP-Sector Dialogue ICT “Connect the BoP – Leveraging Information and Communication Technologies for Inclusive Business” will take place on September 9th at 6:30pm in the BMZ Berlin, opened by State Secretary Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz.

The high availability of mobile phones in developing countries allows people with low-income to access innovative products and services. At the same time, mobile technologies allow companies to broaden their existing business models and enter new markets. The evening event provides a platform to discuss the opportunities and challenges that arise for companies adopting ICT-solutions to improve their inclusive business models. During the event, the BMZ’s Strategy Paper “ICT – Key Technologies for Sustainable Development” will be presented, alongside current research findings on the subject. Business representatives and experts will discuss these findings in a subsequent panel discussion.
The event is highly relevant for anyone with an interest in ICT and inclusive business, particularly company representatives from the ICT, energy, pharmaceutical, agribusiness and insurance sectors. Additional events will follow in fall 2013, including a series of webinars and a Practitioners Workshop on the 6. and 7. November.

Want more information on the event and how to register? Visit our website

re:publica is à priori a German blogger conference. Over the years it has however morphed into an international gathering of more than 5000 people from more than 50 countries with a common interest in the following themes: Digital business and innovation, social media, research & education in the Internet, campaigning, culture, media and ultimately, the “res publica”.

So re:publica 2013 was a good place to talk about the ‘Open African Innovation Research & Training Network’ and the upcoming ‘Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest’ and interwoven ‘Open A.I.R conference on open innovation and intellectual property’ in Cape Town from 9 to 13 December.

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Deadline extended until 12 May.

The Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn and the German Society for Computer Science in Agriculture, Forestry and Food Industries (GIL) are inviting contributions for a workshop on 20 September 2013, organised as part of the 43th  Annual Conference of the German Society for Computer Science (GI) in Koblenz, Germany.

The workshop will provide a selective overview of the current and future use of mobile phones and mobile internet in the agriculture sector in industrial and developing countries. The availability of mobile telephony in rural areas enables a multitude of new economic applications and services. Of particular interest is the comparison of mobile phone usage in countries that differ considerably in their economic conditions and telecommunications infrastructure. The workshop will present and assess the impact of these mobile solutions – as well as the technological foundations – in industrial and developing countries.

Contributions are welcome for the following topics:

  • Technologies for mobile phones and mobile internet
  • Special features of mobile telephony in agriculture and rural development
  • Mobile solutions in agriculture, agri-business and management of agricultural development projects
  • Mobile solutions in climate and environmental protection
  • Apps and location-based services for the agriculture sector e.g. mobile payment systems, information services for farmers or ‘virtual’ markets
  • Data collection and sensing through mobile phones
  • Transferability of mobile solutions from industrial to developing countries and vice versa
  • Social and economic impacts of mobile telephony and mobile internet

Contributions can be submitted in English or German.

Further information on the workshop and the submission process can be found here.

Great news: Yesterday, UNCTAD launched its latest Information Economy Report. Free and Open Source Software is discussed extensively in this years’ edition, which has a focus on “The Software Industry and Developing Countries”. Also great news: the FOSSFA/GIZ capacity building programme ict@innovation is featured prominently, both in the report and at its Africa launch, which was held yesterday at the United Nations Conference Center in Addis, at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The embargo has been lifted on the document and I recommend its reading to all FOSS activists and businesses.
Congrats to everyone, who has been steering those processes in the past year! Cheers, Balthas
Excerpts of the report and its press release, which I liked (among others):

The Zambian BongoHive innovation hub developed a phone app that allows citizens with access to a smart phone to comment on the latest draft of the constitution.

The BongoHive initiative only started in May 2011 by providing weekend workshops for software and application development and entrepreneurship boosting ‘out of the box’ thinking. By the end of 2011 a group of BongoHive members decided to develop an app that would coincide with the launch of the draft of Zambia’s new constitution.

The free of charge Zambian Draft Constitution App aims at addressing the lack of knowledge of Zambian citizens on the nation’s laws and principles. By providing easily accessible content for mobile phones and tablets it wants to make sure that its users will get a working knowledge of the draft constitution in order to form an opinion and eventually give feedback during the reviewing process. It allows users to search the draft constitution by keywords, to share areas of interests with friends via social media channels like Facebook or Twitter, and even to send feedback directly to the constitution review commission.

In its third attempt to write and ratify a constitution, the Zambian government this time seems to be determined to draw on citizens’ participation. The app will help the government to reach more people that can give direct feedback. However, only 60 out of 100 Zambians subscribed a mobile telephone (check ITU data). For an inclusive feedback of all citizens, the government obviously needs to apply different channels, too.

Making their constitutions more accessible to their citizens via mobile applications is a path that is currently also followed in India and Nigeria. The “Nigerian Constitution for All” project has already received more than 80,000 downloads and is free of charge. So is the Indian version that is funded by the Ministry of Education.

For more information on this topic, check out articles by Lisa Goldman and Sean Robson.

Today, we have released the new issue of the ICT4D-Newsletter, including:

Throw a glimpse!

What do the problems of climate change, global access to affordable medicine and software, food security, and crop availability for poor farmers have in common?

In all of these fields, more and more people are looking at how a collective building and owning of key knowledge can help solve protracted global problems. A global core of these people just met in a Belgium university town at the „First International Thematic Conference on the Knowledge commons“. (for more on the term, see wikipedias Knowlegde commons entry”).

It is quite tough for me to sum up such an endeavor. I will still try and do so by picking some issues related to my own main interests, mainly „global knowledge cooperation“ and „harnessing the knowledge commons for open innovation“. I will complement that with a totally non-exhaustive and personal „list of quick links“ on how to save the climate, solve the food crisis, fight pandemics and increase food security with commons approaches.

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“The example of Wikipedia gives us a taste of how we will likely generate our knowledge in the future: Radically different from the last 500 years, with an entirely new form of global networking and cooperation in areas such as culture, education, technology and business. The Internet plays a central role in this new form of knowledge generation. Anyone with access to the Internet, and who has language skills, can join the discussion on specific issues, plan, swap ideas and get together with like-minded people. Such “open models” of global knowledge co-operation and open innovation hold tremendous opportunities for development cooperation. ”

For more on how ICTs and the Internet can be drivers of open knowledge co-operation and a global knowledge commons , please check the following compilation of articles by GIZ Global Connect, which provides concrete examples and models such as energypedia and ict@innovation. The  reporting was just released in three languages:

- English: Global Knowledge Sharing – “The Wisdom of Crowds”
- Spanish:  La cooperación global en conocimientos como “la sabiduría de muchos”
- German:  Globale Wissenskooperationen als „Die Weisheit der Vielen”

One word on ‘GIZ global connect’. This service addresses participants,  alumni and partners of GIZ  capacity development programmes. The website provides the GIZ community with information on alumni events, follow-up seminars, news, expert chats, network features, and a large community function enabling peer-to-peer networking though social networking tools. To join the community, check the registration info.

Last week, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)  announced a new LPI certification and training project throughout the 22 countries in the League of Arab States.

This is certainly good news for ICT capacity building in general and even more interesting for the community of ict@innovation, which has been building training capacities around Linux Administration in Africa since 4 years. It looks like there is a lot to share between the pan-African community of 200+ Linux Admin trainers of ict@innovation and the new Linux training partnership in the Arab world. According to the Linux Professional Institute (LPI), which is partnering with ITU in the Arab region, the new programme aims at establishing 132 Linux “Train the trainer” centers on all three levels of Linux professional Institute Certification.

More information on ict@innovations’ African Linux training community:

More information on the initiative of ITU and LPI in the Arab world:

The German Government via its Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) released a call to fund research partnerships between German Research institutions and partners in Subsaharan Africa. One of the main goals is to build  African ICT study courses and to fund exploratory measures / pilot measures in  “Applied information and communication technologies (ICT)”  via German-African research partnerships.

If you are a German institution and looking for educational partners in Africa for the call, please check the network “ict@innovation – Creating Business and Learning Opportunities with Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in Africa”. Through this African expert network, you will have access to over 500 ICT multiplier all over Africa, which work at universities, training institutions and other educational institutions as well as the business community.

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GIZ contributes by its programme ict@innovation to the 5th African Conference on FOSS and the Digital Commons (Idlelo 5) as an integral part of the cooperation with FOSSFA and a contribution to the development of ICT in Africa. As such we will be hosting several sessions including workshops on community empowerment, African FOSS business models, a bootcamp on Linux system administration (together with Linux Professional Institute of Nigeria) as well as an award for “The Best FOSS Business Innovation in Africa”.

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Interesting news from Vietnam:  Mr Vu The Binh, a long-standing GIZ partner and Alumnus is co-founder of a new non-profit, non-govermental organization for the Vietnamese FOSS community, called VFOSSA (Vietnam FOSS Asscociation, VFOSSA is engaged in international cooperation programmes and work in Vietnam. For more information on some of GIZ’s capacity building action in Southeast Asia in the past years, see

Special Session of the 32nd International Geographical Congress IGC2012: Information and communication technologies for development and human well-being: perspectives from six continents.

The IGC is the global conference for geographers worldwide, and Germany is host country in 2012. We, the UNESCO Chair/Centre in ICT4D at Royal Holloway, University of London and Mark Wilson from Michigan State University are organising an ICT4D session and would welcome abstracts/papers from colleagues (academics and practitioners from all different disciplines) working on ICTs, development and well-being, in the global South and/or the global North. The deadline for abstracts is Jan 8, so please send them in soon.    

The full Call for Papers has been posted here:

If you want to submit a paper please submit an abstract of up to 250 words to Dorothea Kleine ( and Mark Wilson ( and/or the online registration form at by 8th January 2012.

The Sector Project ICT4D on behalf of BMZ and with the support of GIZ’s ict@innovation team has just released it’s IT Sector Promotion Toolbox. The Toolbox, together with its explanatory Manual, introduces a methodology and a set of practical tools to promote the IT industry in developing and emerging countries. Relying on German Development Cooperation’s instruments and project experience, the Manual and the Toolbox provide a strategic “roadmap” for IT sector promotion which can be flexibly adapted to accommodate future changes in resources, global markets and technologies. They have primarily been designed for the staff of ministries and agencies involved in economic development, for managers and staff members of IT clusters, associations, networks, communities of practice and chambers of commerce. They should serve as orientation for staff of donor organisations involved in private sector development, economic development, and employment promotion as well as in information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D)/development informatics. 

The Manual and the Toolbox could be found on the “IT Sector Promotion Tools” page of this blog.

The programme ict@innovation of GIZ and FOSSFA  is proud to announce the first regional Training of Trainers on “Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Business Models” in Western Africa to be held in Abuja, Nigeria, from October 24 to November 4, 2011. This Training of Trainers is designed to enable interested people, institutions and businesses to act as trainers on the subject of building a business with Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). It follows-up on a series of training programmes in Southern and East Africa, which have formed the “African FOSS Business Models (FBT) community” of

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