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The Bi-Weekly ICT4D Retrospective: Important Links for March 28 – April 10, 2012

By Sabina Behague on April 10, 2012

OLPC in Peru: This is not breaking news. The controversy over the effectiveness of OLPC has been the topic of much debate since its inception in 2005. A new evaluation of the OLPC program in Peru by the Inter-American Development Bank shows some very disappointing results. The government of Peru spent $224M to provide 850,000 laptops to schools throughout the country, yet test scores remain low. Much head scratching has ensued, but why?

The above link provides additional links to the continuing debate, which lead to ever more profound discussions about why it’s not working and how to make it better. So why, having seven years of OLPC experience to draw from, why didn’t the OLPC Peru program look at lessons learned from the past, or even try to do so? What happened to teacher training? Curriculum reform? Monitoring and evaluation? How could they overlook these and other so obvious factors??

Kenya ICT Leader: Africa Review reports that the World Bank has approved $55M to help Kenya scale up its ICT4D efforts throughout the country. Education and health, transparency and governance, job creation and economic growth – these sectors and more have seen vast improvements in Kenya over the last decade, much of them due in large part to developments in mobile technology. Pongezi Kenya!

Microsoft in Zambia: It looks like Zambia may be joining the ICT revolution in Africa soon thanks to the efforts of Microsoft and the Zambian government. According to Biztech Africa, Microsoft is opening an office in Zambia, which means lower prices for software, and it is also considering setting up an ICT lab at the University of Zambia. The government has set out objectives and priorities for furthering the development of ICT4D throughout the country.

Poorest Poor Still Overlooked: This is not surprising. According to this Future Tense article in Slate magazine, the poorest of the poor can’t afford mobile phones or the services they provide. For example, although M-PESA had reached 65 percent of Kenyan households by 2009, a $5 transaction carried an 8 percent fee, which is prohibitively expensive in poorer, rural markets. Now comes the surprising part. Multiply this example by the millions of poor living on less than a dollar a day, and in our efforts to bridge the digital divide we may be inadvertently be causing a greater global economic divide. This article calls for an urgent need to develop truly universal low-cost mobile connectivity at the regulatory and policy level if we (the ICT4D community) really want to do our jobs right.

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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