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The Bi-Weekly ICT4D Retrospective: Important Links for February 15 – 28, 2012

By Sabina Behague on February 28, 2012

High Tech Innovation in Africa:

My last couple of “bi-weekly links” posts have featured African innovation and hardware creation. It’s been noted that while the ideas and innovation are there, it’s difficult for African inventions to be manufactured in Africa for the simple reason that there are few high tech factories on the continent.

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Erik Hersman (aka White African aka African high-tech guru extraordinaire) writes about this very topic in his blog. In “Fab Factories: Hardware Manufacturing in Kenya,” Hersman talks about moving from Fab Lab to Fab Factory. Factories are expensive to say the least, so imagine a central factory and warehouse where machines can be rented for manufacturing and where supplies can be bought in bulk and shared by several start-ups.

Then take it a step further and establish a network of Fab Factories across the country (the continent?), along with shared retail space for people to sell their products. According to Hersman and his vast experience, it’s a viable model that’s just missing one thing: investors!

ICTD Conference Atlanta: It’s not too late to register!

The Fifth International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD2012), hosted by the Georgia Institute of Technology, is being held March 12 – 15 in Atlanta. This is the ICT4D conference, with an expected attendance of over 500 leaders in the field from around the world participating in open sessions, workshops, plenaries, demos, and poster presentations. Don’t miss it!

Rural India: Mobiles Giving a Voice to the Poor

The 2006 Maoist insurgency in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh showed journalist Shubhranshu Choudhary just how disconnected the rural, indigenous poor were from the media and the world at large. Although they were the most affected and involved in the insurgency, they had no way to make themselves heard – because of language barriers, illiteracy, lack of access to media, and so on.

Choudhary saw a need, and, combined with the explosion of mobile technology in rural India, figured out a way to satisfy it. The result is GCNet Swara,a voice portal that allows anyone with a mobile phone to listen to news and other items of interest, and, more importantly, record a message/complaint/opinion/editorial that is then broadcast onto the service.

In effect, people who previously had little contact with others outside their own village can now discourse about issues affecting them across the state and beyond.

Spit on your smart phone…

To find out if you have the flu or food poisoning. Yes, really. Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology researchers believe that by refining the technology that allows touchscreens to detect electrical charges in our fingertips, it could also detect certain pathogens in bodily fluids.

Your Idea, Knight Foundation Money:

The Knight Foundation News Challenge on Networks is open and ready to give you a share of $5 million for your ideas that build on the types of networks that fomented the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, flash mobs, and the like. Click here for more information, but please ignore the video’s smarminess. This is real money for real innovation.

To get these links faster, follow me on Twitter: @SabinaBehague

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International development professional (and mom), living in DC metro area. I am focused on ICT and education, with mad writing and editing skills, proposal development acumen, and Latin America and Africa experience.
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