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Kenyan Farmer Uses Internet to Boost Potato Farm

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

The rise of social networking websites (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites) during the past few years has swept across the internet. The popular Facebook (www.facebook.com) site alone has over 350 million users worldwide. In Africa, there are more than 67 million people with access to the internet – just over 6 percent of the population (http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats1.htm). And this phenomenon has even begun to penetrate and influence life in poor places with weak internet infrastructure. A farmer in Kenya, Zack Matere, has boosted his potato crop by turning to Facebook for help.

On his farm in Seregeya near Eldoret, Kenya, Matere used the internet to find a cure for his ailing potato crop.

“I cycled 10 kilometres to the local cyber café, Googled (www.google.com) ‘potato disease,’ he told the BBC, “and discovered that ants were eating the potato stems.

“I checked again and found that one of the solutions was to sprinkle wood ash on the crop.”

Matere also used the internet to find a buyer for his rescued crop, and has been able to triple the price he gets for tree seedlings he sells.

Zack believes he is a bit of pioneer: “I think I am the only farmer in the area who uses the internet.”

He uses his mobile phone to access the internet and it costs him about US 0.66 cents a day to do it.

This is a lot of money for small-scale farmers so Zack has a plan to tackle the cost. He will share the information he uncovers on the internet with other farmers in the community by posting it on local community notice boards.

He has noticed some important realities about how people he knows interact with the mobile web. He has found most people do much more with the Net than surfing the mobile web alone at home.

“The internet is quite an individual pursuit. But a notice board is more of a group thing.

“So if I post an item on a notice board on potato disease, for example, the community can read it, talk together and come to a decision.”

One example of the kind of intelligence Matere is able to glean from the internet is reports of cartels deceiving farmers by buying potatoes in over-large 130 kg bags instead of 110 kg bags. Matere takes this information and translates it into Swahili and posts it on community notice boards.

Matere also has to fend off other people looking to use his community’s water supply, which he has done by photographing interlopers with his mobile phone and then posting the photographs on Facebook.

“When they came before, I took photos of what they were doing, posted them on my Facebook page and was able to get assistance,” he said.

“I got in touch with Forest Action Network (http://www.fankenya.org/) and they came back to me quickly saying they would help me protect the catchment area.”

He has also discovered there are more profitable ways to make money for farmers.

“There is a lot of money in tree seedlings or bee hives. So if we can get these young people to use the land in an environmentally (friendly) way, they can get even more money than through farming.”

“I have 400 Facebook friends and I think some of them can buy the honey.”

Matere is philosophical about the future: “I am now seeing the practicality of the internet here in rural Kenya. The problem is I am the only one. That is why the notice board is important. All we need is a bit of relevant information to help us.”

“Once it is made simpler and is more in the local language with more local content, people are going to access the internet here,” he predicts.

Published: April 2010

Resources

1) A blog with news and tips on how to use the social networking tools for business opportunities. Website:http://www.socialnetworking-weblog.com/

2) Four stories on how social networking radically improved business prospects for some people. Website:http://www.bnet.com/2403-13070_23-219914.html

3) A Business Week article on the good and bad of social networking for business. Website:http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/aug2008/sb2008086_346094.htm

4) Txteagle: A service in Kenya that is paying people to do tasks and translations with their mobile phones. Website:http://txteagle.com/index.html

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.

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ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Web 2.0: Networking to Eradicate Poverty

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

The internet phenomenon of Web 2.0 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0) – the name given to the wave of internet businesses and websites such as YouTube (www.youtube.com), Facebook and MySpace transforming the way people interact with the ‘Net – has also given birth to two new development-themed social networking websites.

This powerful tool to bring people together is galvanizing the resources of entrepreneurs and those who want to help the poor like never before. The sites are becoming a new weapon in the fight to eradicate poverty.

Social networking websites use various tools and applications (or ‘apps’ for short) to enhance the ability of users to connect and get things done. By bringing together a community of like-minded people, they are able to shorten the time it takes to organize and kick-start events. Web 2.0 can be used to build communities and social and business networks. By being able to store vast quantities of information online, it becomes faster to work and reduces the painful delays brought on by slow connections.

All these new tools are making it easier and easier for entrepreneurs to work from home, in internet centres, or anywhere there is a wireless connection – and it is slashing the costs of managing a business. All the applications are online so there is no need to be hidebound by one operating system or hardware capability.

Two newly launched social networking sites are targetting the poverty-eradication community.

One is named after the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) concept as conceived by C.K. Prahalad. The BOP is the 4 billion people at the base of the global economic pyramid. As Prahalad sees it, they represent a vast market of unmet needs for entrepreneurs to tackle.

New social networking website BOP Source hopes to make the money meet the market. Started by Jenara Nerenberg, BOP Source wants to put social networking tools into the hands of the world’s poor. It is a place to post business ideas and collaborate with others to make them happen. It is also a tool to educate businesses about the BOP and what the poor need done. And it hopes to help NGOs broaden their relationships with their constituencies and companies.

While marketers can learn about the needs of the BOP, individuals can directly express their needs on the website and seek out the right people to solve problems.

Another social networking website is Business Fights Poverty. Already at 1,000 members, it is a multimedia offering, with podcasts, videos, interviews and discussions about the role of business in addressing development goals.

Published: November 2008

Resources

  • BOP Source is a platform for companies and individuals at the BOP to directly communicate, ultimately fostering close working relationships, and for NGOs and companies to dialogue and form mutually valuable public-private partnerships that serve the BOP. Website: http://bopsource.ning.com/
  • Business Fights Poverty: Business Fights Poverty is the free-to-join, fast-growing, international network for professionals passionate about fighting world poverty through good business. Website: http://businessfightspoverty.ning.com/
  • Afriville is a Web 2.0 service and an African Caribbean social network. Afriville is a community website along the lines of the famous MySpace. Users are free to message and post profiles. The difference is that the user is able to choose how closed or open the networks are. The site features a state of the art music management system which allows African and Caribbean artists to get straight in touch with their fans.
  • Both Yahoo! And Google offer extensive free online tools for entrepreneurs and businesses that integrate seamlessly with their email services.
  • Kabissa: Space for Change in Africa: An online African web community promoting and supporting the transition to Web 2.0 services in Africa. Offers lots of opportunities to meet people throughout Africa and learn more.
  • Global Voices: An initiative from the Reuters news agency to aggregate the global conversation online from countries outside the US and Western Europe.
  • Information, Knowledge and Communication: Web 2.0 in Development Cooperation Bonn, Germany, 27-28 November 2008, Gustav Heinemann Haus. Website: http://www.eadi.org/index.php?id=994
  • 3rd IEEE/ACM International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD2009). Website: http://www.ictd2009.org

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Southern Innovator’s online archive portal was launched in New York City, U.S.A. (home to the UN’s headquarters) in 2011 (southerninnovator.org).
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ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Social Networking Websites: A Way Out of Poverty

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Social networking websites also known as, Web 2.0 – the name given to the new wave of internet businesses and websites such as YouTube and MySpace that are transforming the way people interact with the Web – has been dubbed the social web for its power to bring people together. The label has been derided as a marketing gimmick by some, but many argue there are a number of characteristics to Web 2.0 that make it something different and a valuable tool for entrepreneurs seeking ways out of poverty.

The new Web 2.0 applications offer many free software tools stored online, from accounting and business related tools, to new multimedia ways to communicate for free. Unlike Web 1.0 sites, which offered information to passive users, Web 2.0 sites allow interaction and comment. These qualities have meant Web 2.0 can be used to build communities and social and business networks. By being able to store vast quantities of information online, it becomes faster to work and reduces the painful delays brought on by slow connections.

All these new tools are making it easier and easier for entrepreneurs to work from home, in internet centres, or anywhere there is a wireless connection, and is slashing the costs of managing a business. All the applications are online so there is no need to be hidebound by one operating system or hardware capability. The number of internet centres has increased significantly all over Asia and Africa, bringing the power of Web 2.0 to millions more people.

Linking mobile phones and the internet is also remarkable. It is becoming more and more possible in Africa to send messages to weblogs via text messaging, to post photos and videos, or to stay connected with a community, advocacy or business group via messaging to its website.

“Web 2.0 is a pre-occupation of ours that can be beneficial in fighting poverty,” said Tobias Eigan, founder and co-executive director of Kabissa.org, a web portal dedicated to promoting Web 2.0 in Africa. “It is really relevant for Africa. It makes the internet a read and write function, it is more user-friendly – that dynamic is going to make a big difference. It is so much easier to upload content with Web 2.0. It will build the capacity of local institutions and society and that will improve the lives of people – it will be much easier to fight poverty with this connectivity.”

Two other champions of the Web 2.0 way out of poverty are Waleed al-Shobakky, science and technology reporter for alJazeera.net, and Jack Imsdahl, a consultant and technology commentator. While they admit subsistence farmers and the illiterate will not directly benefit, those who are students or are working in proximity to computers will definitely benefit. They point out how rapidly mobile phones have been taken up by the poor and that this is being driven by the new services they offer.

There are still profound obstacles to more rapid take-up, however. Internet connection speeds will have to get better and more will need to be invested in this area. Web 2.0 tools will also need to be adapted to local languages if they hope to get past those who speak major web languages like English.

Entrepreneurs in the global South can now easily sign up to a vast array of e-newsletters that are sent to email accounts and keep on top of trends and innovations in their field. The relative anonymity of these email lists mean subscribers are less likely to be judged on their physical circumstances.

Published: March 2007

Resources

Afriville is a Web 2.0 service and an African Caribbean social network started by two Nigerian web entrepreneurs in their twenties, Folabi Ogunkoya and Lawrence Bassey-Oden.

Afriville is a community website along the lines of the famous MySpace. Users are free to message and post profiles. The difference is that the user is able to choose how closed or open the networks are. The site features a state of the art music management system which allows African and Caribbean artists to get straight in touch with their fans.

“We have created a solid app(lication) with features that will give the big players a run for their money,” said Ogunkoya.

African entrepreneurs have already stepped in with other Web 2.0 offerings. These include: Mooziko.com (an African YouTube), Afribian.com (news sharing), Afriqueka.com (social networking), Yesnomayb (online dating).

Both Yahoo! And Google offer extensive free online tools for entrepreneurs and businesses that integrate seamlessly with their email services.

Kabissa: Space for Change in Africa: An online African web community promoting and supporting the transition to Web 2.0 services in Africa. Offers lots of opportunities to meet people throughout Africa and learn more.

Alexa: Here can be found a detailed break down by country in Africa of web use and site popularity and trends.

Digital Divide Network: A website linking together initiatives and offering opportunities to debate current issues and problems.

Global Voices: An initiative from the Reuters news agency to aggregate the global conversation online from countries outside the US and Western Europe.

Free Web 2.0 tools for entrepreneurs:

Wikis: Here is a detailed article on wikis – collaborative websites that allow authorised users to rapidly and easily change the content of pages – and a detailed list of free or low-cost wiki services.

>> Blogging (an online diary):

Blogger.com – A free, easy-to-use, online service owned by Google.

BlogPlanet.net – Blog from your mobile phone, free.

Blogsome.com – An easy-to-use, free service with good support for photos.

Movable Type – An open-source, free, easy to use, online publishing system popular with bloggers.

WordPress – Another easy, free, and popular online publishing system popular with bloggers.

>> Aggregators (these are programmes that gather links and resources off the web):

AmphetaDesk – One of the first news aggregators to really catch on, it’s still popular.

Bloglines – Allows bloggers and webmasters to search, subscribe to, publish, and share RSS news feeds online.

Del.icio.us – Aggregate content from your favorite Web sites and share them with others.

Feed Demon – The news you want delivered to your desktop.

Technorati – A real-time search engine that keeps track of what is happening in the world of blogs.

Techsoup.org is an excellent resource for all the latest developments in Web 2.0 and how to access free or low-cost resources. Being based in the US, it gets the inside scoop on cutting edge developments in Silicon Valley.

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

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This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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India 2.0: Can the Country Make the Move to the Next Level?

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

With the global economic crisis threatening to cause turmoil in the emerging markets of the global South, it is becoming clear that what worked for the past two decades may not work for the next two.

For India, the legacy issues of poverty still need to be addressed, and the country’s impressive information technology (IT) industry – which has driven so much of India’s growth – will face stiff competition from other countries in the global South. Some argue that if the IT industry hopes to keep growing and contributing to India’s wealth, things will need to change.

Unlike China, where heavy investment in infrastructure and a strong link between government and the private sector has driven the impressive manufacturing boom in the country, in India the government has de-regulated and taken a back seat, leaving the private sector and entrepreneurs to drive the change and do the innovation.

Many believe various areas need urgent attention if India is to continue to enjoy good growth rates in the coming years. Areas in need of attention include infrastructure, healthcare and education (thesmartceo.in), in particular the knowledge to work in the information technology industry of the 21st century.

One of the founders of Indian outsourcing success Infosys (infosys.com), executive co-chairman Senapathy Gopalakrishnan, told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, “So many people’s lives have been changed by IT in India.

“People from the middle class and lower middle class have become global employees and have the opportunity to work with some of the best companies in the world. But the challenge for India is that this industry can only create so many jobs. IT is not going to solve the unemployment problem in India.”

But the coming next wave of change in information technology is an opportunity to be seized to reduce unemployment if enough people are educated to handle it.

According to Gopalakrishnan: “I strongly believe, and it’s backed up by data, that there is a shortage of computer professionals everywhere in the world, including India. The application of computers is growing dramatically and will continue to grow dramatically over the next 20 to 30 years. We have to train and create the workforce necessary to grow this industry.”

Various media stories have called this next phase India 2.0. If India 1.0 was the highly successful information technology outsourcing industry developed in the late 1980s, through the 1990s and 2000s, then India 2.0 is the next wave of IT innovation being driven by Big Data, automation, robotics, smart technologies and the so-called “Internet of things.”

Big Data is defined as the large amounts of digital data continually generated by the global population. The speed and frequency with which data is produced and collected – by an increasing number of sources – is responsible for today’s data deluge (UN Global Pulse). It is estimated that available digital data will increase by 40 per cent every year. Just think of all those mobile phones people have, constantly gathering data.

Processing this data and finding innovative ways to use it will create many of the new IT jobs of the future.

“We are living in a world which is boundary-less when it comes to information, and where there is nowhere to hide,” continues Gopalakrishnan, “If you have a cellphone, somebody can find out exactly where you are. Through social networks you’re sharing everything about yourself. You are leaving trails every single moment of your life. Theoretically, in the future you’ll only have to walk through the door at Infosys and we’ll know who you are and everything about you.”

Unlike in the late 1980s, when India was the pioneer in IT outsourcing for large multinational companies and governments, competition is fierce across the global South. The mobile-phone revolution and the spread of the Internet have exponentially increased the number of well-educated people in the global South who could potentially work in IT. China, the Philippines, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana are just some of the countries heavily involved in this area.

If India fails to meet the India 2.0 challenge, it risks seeing its successful companies and entrepreneurs leaving to work their magic elsewhere in Asia and the new frontiers of Africa, just as many of its best and brightest of the recent past became pioneers and innovators in California’s Silicon Valley.

India’s IT sector contributed 1.2 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 1998; by 2012, this was 7.5 per cent (Telegraph). The IT industry employs 2.5 million people in India, and a further 6.5 million people indirectly. IT makes up 20 per cent of India’s exports and, according to the National Association of Software and Services Companies (nasscom.in), the industry has revenue of US $100 billion.

India is now the IT and outsourcing hub for more than 120 of the Fortune 500 companies in the United States.

Out of India’s 3.5 million graduates every year, 500,000 are in engineering – a large pool of educated potential IT workers. India produces the world’s third largest group of engineers and scientists, and the second largest group of doctors.

IT has become a route that catapults bright Indian youth into 21st-century businesses and science parks and to the corporations of the world.

One visible example of the prosperity brought by IT services in India is the booming technology sector based in the city of Bangalore (also called Bengaluru) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangalore).

Reflective of the contradictions of India, Bangalore has 10 per cent of its workforce now working in IT, but also 20 per cent of its population living in urban slums.

The nearby Electronics City (elcia.in) is considered “India’s own silicon valley and home to some of the best known global companies.”

To date, aspects of India 2.0 are already taking shape.

One company is called Crayon Data (crayondata.com). It uses Big Data and analytics to help companies better understand their customers and increase sales and deliver more personal choices.
Edubridge (http://acumen.org/investment/edubridge/) is helping to bridge the gap for rural youth with varied education backgrounds and long-term jobs. Edubridge trains youth for the real needs of employers to increase the chances they will get a job. This includes jobs in the IT business process outsourcing sector and banking and financial services.

Infosys is working on innovations for the so-called “Internet of things,” in which smart technologies connect everyday items to the grid and allow for intelligent management of resources and energy use. Infosys is developing sophisticated software using something called semantic analytics – which analyses web content (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_analytics) – to sort through social media and the Internet to track customer responses to products.

Elsewhere, former Infosys Chief Executive Nanden Nilekani is involved in a Big Data innovation to address the problem of social and economic exclusion of India’s poor. Called Aadhaar (http://uidai.gov.in/), the government-run scheme is gathering biometric data on every Indian to build the world’s largest biometric database. After being enrolled and having fingerprints and iris scans taken, each individual is given a 12-digit identification number. So far 340 million people have been registered with the scheme, and it is hoped 600 million will be registered by the end of 2014.

The idea is to use a combination of access to mobile phones and these unique ID numbers to widen access to all sorts of products and services to poor Indians, including bank accounts for the millions who do not have one. Many people, lacking any identity or official acknowledgment they exist, were prevented from engaging with the formal economy and formal institutions. Being able to save money is a crucial first step for getting out of poverty and it is hoped information technology will play an important role in achieving this.

Published: March 2014

Resources

1) India 2.0 by Mick Brown. Website: http://s.telegraph.co.uk/graphics/india2.0/part-one#top

2) Electronic City Bangalore: Regional information portal for Electronic City, an industrial technology hub located in Bangalore South, India. This portal is becoming the most favourite haunt of ECitizens living and/or working in Electronic City. Website: http://www.electronic-city.in/

3) Electronics City Industries Association: Welcome to the Electronics City, India’s own silicon valley and home to some of the best known global companies. Located in Bangalore, the Electronics City was conceived way back in the mid-1970?s as an Industrial Estate exclusively for Electronics Industries. Today the industrial estate boasts is an oasis of large, medium and small industries spanning software services, hardware; high end telecommunications; manufacture of indigenous components; electronic musical instruments, just  to name a few. Website: elcia.in

4) Godrej E-City: Situated in Electronic city and connected through NICE road and the elevated expressway, Godrej E-City brings your workplace and other major conveniences within your immediate reach. Your travel times become shorter and hassle-free. You have more time for your family and yourself. It’s time to move closer to happiness. Website: https://www.godrejproperties.com/godrejecity/overview

5) Infosys: Infosys is a global leader in consulting, technology and outsourcing solutions. As a proven partner focused on building tomorrow’s enterprise, Infosys enables clients in more than 30 countries to outperform the competition and stay ahead of the innovation curve. Website: http://www.infosys.com/pages/index.aspx

6) Tech Hub Bangalore: partnering with the UK India Business Council to establish TechHub in Bangalore.TechHub is a community and workspace for technology entrepreneurs with 1000’s of members, building the most exciting startups in Europe. We have physical community spaces in London, Manchester, Bucharest, Swansea and Riga and have members from over 50 countries.The Bangalore site will be part of a wider scheme in partnership with other British firms such as Rolls Royce, ADS, Bangalore Cambridge Innovation Network, BAe and PA Consulting with the aim of forging stronger links between the UK and India. Website: http://www.techhub.com/blog/techhub-expands-to-bangalore/

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022