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Why ICTs?

Why ICTs particularly mobile

The use of ICTs among poor people is growing rapidly. Coverage reaches further than roads, electricity, sanitation and clean water. ICTs - and in particular mobile technology - provides access to information and communication; it complements successful development initiatives, drives innovation and empowers communities and individuals to co-create new solutions.

How are ICTs used to support development?
  • To improve access to markets, financial services and employment;
  • To improve access to affordable, quality services such as education and healthcare;
  • To improve service delivery by governments, the private sector and NGOs, and to make these services more responsive to citizen needs;
  • To improve security , emergency/disaster relief and efforts to protect human rights;
  • To support improvements in accountability, transparency and participation by allowing citizens to publicise their concerns, share ideas, and hold governments to account;
  • Technology is an important education tool for large, dispersed, low-income populations with limited budgets.
  • Mobile phones create more than 5 billion human touch points around the world. In the developing world, mobile cellular penetration rates had reached 68% at the end of 2010.
  • Between 2000 and 2008, the rate of growth in mobile penetration was fastest in Sub Saharan Africa.
  • Waves of liberalisation in mobile networks has led to 87% of the world’s mobile markets being either partly or fully liberalised.
  • Competition among mobile operators has resulted in the rapid extension of mobile networks, falling prices of services and mobile handsets, and innovative business models.
  • Given efficient markets, it is estimated that by 2015, only 4.4% of populations across Africa will live in the “coverage gap” - people with no telecoms access.
  • Kencall is a farmer’s helpline established in Kenya, that provides cheap advice to farmers about farming and livestock strategies. 43% of Kencall’s users have no other means of accessing expert advice.

  • The e-seva project in Andhra Pradesh, India provides more than one hundred services, ranging from the payment of utility bills to the registration of motor vehicles.

  • Ushahidi allows citizens to report on any incident – from violence to essential medicine stockouts – have it mapped, aggregated and publicised.

  • Esoko is an market information exchange that allows annyone to distribute or collect market information over their mobile phone. With up to date information from across the country, businesses and individuals can access prices, browse offers to buy or sell, or advertise their own products and services.

Why you should attend?

ICT4RD 2011 will bring together key innovators, implementers, social entrepreneurs and thinkers from across the developing world to explore how information and communication technology innovations can benefit rural populations in Sub-Saharan Africa? 
The audience will include:
  • Governments looking to learn from policy and programme success in other countries;
  • Investors and funders looking for evidence based results and opportunities to scale solutions that generate both social and financial returns;
  • NGOs looking for innovative ideas to strengthen existing projects - looking for the secrets of scale;
  • Corporations interested in quantifying the opportunity at the base of the pyramid and strategies for tapping into its potential;
  • Social entrepreneurs looking for the partnerships and investment necessary to take successful pilots to scale;
  • Researchers seeking evidence of impact to demonstrate the value of mobile phones on the lives of the poor.
Why are so many ICT4D/ICT4RD projects stuck in pilots? What are the secrets of those projects and products that have broken free and are successfully scaling and replicating?
ICT4RD2011 will look at the current state of ICT4RD projects, products and policies, but also create an environment for matchmaking and deep knowledge-sharing; and to fundamentally contribute to the successful use of ICTs in the realities of rural development.

“Over three-quarters of the world’s poor live in rural areas with the majority depending on agriculture for their livelihoods. Improving outcomes for the rural poor depends on increasing agricultural productivity, linking better to markets, improving rural infrastructure, and facilitating off-farm employment.” - World Bank 2010

Rural populations in Sub-Saharan Africa account for 67% of the total population and rural poverty is deepening:
  • Populations are ill-equipped in terms of infrastructure;
  • Economic opportunities and financial services are limited. They are still largely based on agriculturebut there is some diversification with remittances becoming increasingly important;
  • Social services such as health and education can be up to 10 times more difficult and costly for rural access compared to urban populations;
  • Rural populations are at greater risk of "shocks";
  • Transparency and accountability of public service delivery is harder to track.

Why Rural?

The diversity of rural people’s livelihoods calls for differentiated agendas for rural growth and rural development in different contexts, with robust attention to smallholder agriculture, but also greater recognition of the importance of non-farm self-employment and wage labour (both in agriculture and off-farm).” 
IFAD Rural Poverty Report 2011
The poorest people live in the desert or on semi-arid land that makes up almost 40 per cent of the land base of this part of Africa. However, more than 85 per cent of the rural poor live on land that has medium to high potential for increased productivity.

  • Only 29% of roads in Sub-Saharan Africa are paved 

  • Only 25% of the population has access to electricity 

  • There are fewer than 3 landlines available per 100 people.