Archive for month: January, 2013

Arthur Attwell at TEDxAIMS: “Tech spreads slowly”

Categories: Africa, Articles, Events, Featured - Tags: , , ,

In a presentation at TEDxAIMS on 20 January, Arthur Attwell argued that the idea that “technology spreads quickly” is a common misconception. As wealthy, technology-oriented people, it suits us to say “technology spreads quickly”, but for most people in the world, new technology arrives late and slowly. The speed at which technology spreads is of course relative to our individual perception of time and progress. If we choose to believe it’s quick, argues Attwell, then we risk building products that our customers can’t use.

From the talk:

For instance, we’re told and we believe that the mobile web is moving like lightning through Africa. Then why, according to our recent census, do 65 per cent of South Africans have no Internet access at all? Why, five years since M-PESA revolutionised low-cost banking in Kenya, do we still not have a mobile-banking service in South Africa that the poor can afford?

Last month, a report said that broadband access in South Africa had more than doubled in the last two years. Is that fast? Well, it sounds fast. But if we remove the celebratory tone from the press release, maybe it isn’t. Broadband penetration increased from 5% to 11% of South Africans. So, here’s the most revolutionary, democratising, business-enabling technology ever invented and in two whole years we shift the needle by a measly 6 per cent.

New technology spreads slowly.

Read the full presentation here.

The Aakash and the future of electronic publishing in India

Categories: Featured, India, Interviews

On the 11th of November, 2012, India presented version 2 of its Aakash tablet. The device comes with a 1 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM and a 7-inch screen. One of the most striking things about the Aakash is its reduced cost: the Indian state will pay 41 dollars for each appliance, while students will be able to get one at the (subsidized) price of 21 dollars.

The scale of production promises to be huge: at least 220 million tablets will be turned out over the next 5 years. Despite the difficulties faced by the first version, the Aakash will no doubt become an essential digital reading platform in developing countries.

To discuss and delve into these topics, Octavio Kulesz talked to Vinutha Mallya. Vinutha is currently Consulting Editor to Mapin Publishing, and a Contributing Editor to Publishing Perspectives. She also serves as a visiting faculty member to India’s National Book Trust’s publishing course, and as an advisor to the annual Publishing Next conference.

[Read the interview]

 

Ken Banks on inconvenient truths for M4D

Categories: Africa, Featured, News - Tags: , , , ,

Ken Banks has written a superb article on mobile technology in developing countries (M4D). He is concerned that:

1. Everyone is still excited by the potential of mobile
2. The same projects surface over and over again as proof mobile works
3. Mobile is still largely seen as a solution, not a tool
4. It’s up to the developed world to get mobile working for the poor
5. The top-down mindset is alive and well

Banks is the founder of kiwanja.net, which “helps social innovators, entrepreneurs and non-profit organisations make better use of information and communication technologies in their work”. He’s also a key contributor to the revolutionary FrontlineSMS. In his article he argues:

Development is changing, powered by accessible and affordable liberating technologies and an emerging army of determined, local talent. A local talent that is gradually acquiring the skills, resources and support it needs to take back ownership of many of its problems – problems it never took original ownership of because those very skills and resources were not available.

Well, now they are. The ICT4D community – education establishments, donors and technologists among them – need to collectively recognise that it needs to ajdust to this new reality, and work with technologists, entrepreneurs and grassroots non-profits across the developing world to accelerate what has become an inevitable shift.

Read the full post here.