Last week I think many of us who work in international development were quite shocked and disappointed to learn of the scandal with Oxfam employees who paid (?) prostitutes for sex, in housing provided by Oxfam no less. Before we had time to say that this was an isolated incident, it emerged that possibly the same thing had happened in Chad with a man implicated in the Haiti scandal, Roland van Hauwermeiren. These incidents are in no way solely a problem of Oxfam, or of international development more broadly, but rather form a part of the overarching and global challenges around men who commit violence against women and girls with relatively little impunity. I believe this Oxfam story may be the start of the #MeToo movement shining its light on injustices in international development. In this blog post, I'll explain why mobile should urgently be considered as a safeguard to help prevent further abuses of this nature.Read More
Over the Christmas and New Year period, I was back in Dhaka - catching up with friends and family, but also spending time with movers and shakers in the Bangladesh ICT4D space. I spent a day with Drinkwell visiting their mobile-enabled ‘water ATMs’ in low-income communities in Dhaka, and I also spent some time with Ivy Russell and the Maya Apa team.Read More
I have been working a bit recently with colleagues in Finland, Nigeria, and Nepal on developing a more robust teacher training curriculum for delivery in low resource environments primarily through mobile. There is activity in this space so this isn't a novel idea, but I'd rather be focused on impact over originality. At least that is what I tell myself. I wrote a bit about it a few years ago.Read More
In my previous blog I outlined how and why we planned to run ‘co-creation workshops’ with a varied group of stakeholders in rural Benin, as part of a UNFPA-funded project run by OneWorld to explore strategies to tackle Gender Based Violence (G.B.V.) using ICTs. The stakeholders included rural women and men, youth peer educators, and the heads of social services and civil servants responsible for local response to cases of violence against women and girls.Read More
My friend Michael Trucano at the World Bank wrote a blog post two years ago about the pros and cons of banning mobile phones in schools. He noted that as early as 2009, France had introduced a bill to ban phones in schools. Now, that ban is a reality. Since when does France care more about mobile phones than their shrinking education budget?Read More
Is the ad-based business model destroying the Internet and, moreover, is it destroying our society?
As someone who has been a long time advocate of free ICTs like email, social networking, Google Docs, and all other things free, I didn’t arrive at this focal point willingly or with any preconceptions. Like many of you reading this post, I had simply grown accustomed to ignoring the targeted ads that followed me around online, and in fact viewed it as a fair exchange for the technologies being offered. But as technologies have continued to advance, their downsides are also becoming bigger and more visible.Read More
Earlier this week, I was a panellist at the Digital Frontiers event in London, hosted by DAI Europe. The event focused on digital inclusion, and how we can integrate vulnerable and marginalised populations into the global digital ecosystem and provide them with the information and service, and opportunities that access to digital technology can bring.Read More
Returning to a favorite (re: only) theme of mine, education, I was struck recently by the uptick in the number of foreign universities setting up branch campuses in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and presumably throughout the continent, ideally bolstering domestic capacity for graduates who can push forward development agendas requiring greater and greater access to skilled labor. The schools and university sectors are just strands of a larger neoliberal loosening of public control over what was once the exclusive purview of the public sector, but no need to get too big picture for the time being.Read More
One of the hardest things to get right when it comes to M4Dev, is content. This is especially true when working on complex and sensitive topics such as gender based violence, where even mentioning the subject can be considered taboo.Read More
In my previous blog post, I wrote about smallholder farmers and how they are more likely to experience financial exclusion because of heightened operational and risk assessment challenges. Today, I want to focus on another group of people that is disproportionately underserved by financial institutions: Women.Read More
Today is the International Day of the Girl and a really important day in the Panoply Digital calendar. Firstly, because it’s a day that highlights the challenges and opportunities that girls around the world face - something that we care about passionately, particularly in ICT - but secondly, because we’re excited to be able to announce our new publication around gender and ICT on such an important day: the Gender and ICT Survey Toolkit.Read More
How can startups in sub-Saharan Africa reap their potential in challenging environments? The October 2017 London ICT4D Meetup had some answers, which we'll summarize in four key points for this post. We also share the presentations given that night.Read More
I always get very excited about anything new around gender and ICT: new publications, new data sets, new projects, new funds or awards, and there have been a number of new gender and ICT publications that have come out recently. One of those is something I’ve been working on and was recently published by GSMA mNutrition: a toolkit and accompanying webinar on how to make an mHealth service more inclusive and reach more women.Read More
Returning to the subject of education and gender, this post is a bit more about using the data available to you to make informed decisions when running ICT4D projects. For some, these will be painfully apparent; for others, perhaps a little less so, so I am essentially writing this post for the latter group. Experts and data-savvy types, avert your eyes.It is probably best to frame this around a particular question or conjecture, so I am going to assume that one of the potential pathways for greater employability for women in some countries and in particular greater employability in "innovative" fields is research.Read More
On Tuesday 25 July, we hosted Ms Divya Joseph for a London ICT4D Meetup. Now, here's her presentation from the evening for those who were unable to make it. Please enjoy and definitely tweet at Divya if you enjoyed her insights!Read More
There was a time, early in my career, where I exhibited Tom Cruise levels of enthusiasm for the use of mobile websites in development projects. Sitting in meetings trying to convince clients that they could use a mobile site to deliver vital information and support to thousands of people at a time would trigger sofa-bouncing displays as I tried to convince them that it was possible.
And it worked - funders took the plunge, access to the mobile web has continued to grow, and I went on to lead the design and launch of over 20 mobile sites aimed at connecting audiences across Africa for fantastic projects ranging from sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), to gender equality, to advocacy.
As time went by, however, I started doing less sofa bouncing and more soul searching. Showing off a website I’d designed to some friends, I once dissolved into tears because I knew that the site itself had very little chance of making a real impact in an area I cared deeply about. Not because it wasn’t well designed, but because of a number of fail-factors which I had by then become savvy to.Read More
In the wake of the Kenya Supreme Court ruling to nullify last month’s presidential elections due to suspected vote manipulation, observers have new grounds for revisiting ways to ensure transparency at each step in the voting process.Read More
have to confess that it’s been a while since I’ve written something for our blog. Suffering from a lack of inspiration, I did a quick Google to see what others were writing about, and was greeted with a flood of articles and thought-pieces on Artificial Intelligence and education. I’m not suggesting that this a new topic, however, the summer months seemed to have inspired a lot of articles about AIRead More
Summer's almost sang its last song, but for a startup there's no rest for the weary! That's why on Tuesday 26 September from 6:30pm, I'm hosting, along with my co-organizer Dama, an exciting line up of speakers who are working in or with startups in sub-Saharan Africa. We'll have private and public sector perspectives, along with a female co-founder of a fast-moving startup in Ethiopia. Spread the word and click here to register!Read More