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Information and Communication Technologies

Replacing a Three Day Walk with the Push of a Button

Charles Hurpy's picture
Madagascar is big—it’s the fourth largest island in the world, more than twice as big as the United Kingdom. Madagascar’s size, its tropical climate, dense forests and steep hills, combined with a lack of money for infrastructure deployment and maintenance, means there are isolated pockets of people all over the country without easy access to cities, to information, to the world.
 
Until recently, mobile and communications services were confined to a few, mostly urban, areas. That left people living in rural areas cut off. When we were in Madagascar, working on this project, we saw many rural communities in dire need of essential infrastructure and services. People in some villages live far from any road, or rely on dirt tracks that turn to impassable mud ways in the rainy season, without access to electricity, hospitals, or banks.
 
So, in this environment, access to mobile communications cannot be considered a luxury anymore—it’s a vital service that overcomes physical barriers and infrastructure gaps. With mobile service, people can contact family members in case of an emergency, call for medical help, and transfer money via their cell phones.  Farmers—a large majority of the country population works in agriculture, and especially the poorest—can use the internet to check market prices for their produce, or get information on fertilizers.  Schools with connectivity can reach the world, giving students access to information ranging from Victor Hugo’s novels to Fermat’s last theorem. Phones can be vital tools for health and well-being.

Can recycled 3D printing filament lead to a successful social venture?

Cecilia Paradi-Guilford's picture
 3D printing filament from PET plastic, ReFabDar 
The World Bank recently launched the ReFabDar initiative together with COSTECH and the Ethical Filament Foundation to test the opportunity of turning Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic waste into value through collaboration across the recycling industry, local innovators and entrepreneurs, makers and tinkerers, and by leveraging 3D printers and new, low-cost PET extruder technology. PET is the most common thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family used in fibers for clothing, containers, and other products.

The initiative, funded by the IC4D Trust Fund at the World Bank and launched last September, aimed to assess the feasibility and the market opportunity to turn PET plastic waste into 3D printer filament that can be sold locally or globally, and to then print unique and local marketable products, which could be then traded and sold by waste collectors back to their communities. It also aims to build local capacity on making and digital fabrication in countries like Tanzania. More background on the initiative can be found here.

MaliAppChallenge 2016 : la première grande compétition d’applications mobiles au Mali qui a mis l’Education à l’honneur

Charles Hurpy's picture
Also available in: English
Lors de la grande compétition d’applications mobile MaliAppChallenge, organisée à Bamako le 9 mai 2016, la jeunesse du Mali a montré à tous qu’elle est prête à prendre pleinement part à la révolution numérique qui commence à arriver dans le pays.
 
Malgré une tension palpable et bien compréhensible, les huit équipes finalistes ont fait preuve d’un enthousiasme réjouissant, lorsqu’elles ont présenté leurs prototypes d’applications devant un parterre d’officiels du Mali et du reste de la région du Sahel, ainsi que de nombreux acteurs de la communauté des TIC au Mali. Ces jeunes se sont investis pleinement, ayant bien conscience des enjeux : les équipes gagnantes allaient recevoir des smartphones et des tablettes, des possibilités d’incubation, des offres de stages, des formations… Bref, de quoi se lancer dans l’entreprenariat numérique, avec des ressources très difficiles à mobiliser en temps normal.
 
Ces projets d’entreprenariat ne fournissent pas qu’un début de solution au problème dramatique du chômage des jeunes dans le pays. Les démonstrations ont illustré, les unes après les autres, que ces applications avaient un véritable potentiel transformationnel, que ce soit dans les secteurs de l’agriculture, de la santé, de l’éduction. Deux des équipes ont notamment choisi ce thème de l’éducation, et ont chacune gagné l’un des quatre prix mis en jeu :
  • le 2e prix pour l’application Univ Kibaru, qui a pour ambition de faciliter la communication entre universités et étudiants, au sujet par exemple de changements d’emplois du temps ou d’opportunités de bourses scolaires
le prix du public pour l’application Orient Key, axée sur l’orientation scolaire et professionnelle destinée aux étudiants (annuaire d’établissements scolaires, guide des filières et matières enseignées, forum de discussion, etc.)

MaliAppChallenge 2016: The first major mobile applications competition in Mali to raise the stature of education

Charles Hurpy's picture
Also available in: Français
At the MaliAppChallenge, the major mobile applications competition organized in Bamako on May 9, 2016, Malian youth showed everyone that they are ready to participate fully in the country’s burgeoning digital revolution.
 
Despite the palpable and quite understandable tension, the eight finalist teams displayed keen enthusiasm when they presented their prototype applications to a panel composed of officials from Mali and the rest of the Sahel region and several players from the ICT community in Mali. These young people were fully engaged, well aware of what was at stake for the winning teams: smartphones and tablets, incubation opportunities, internships, training… In a nutshell, they would have the tools needed to become digital entrepreneurs and resources that are typically very difficult to mobilize.
 
These entrepreneurial projects are not only a first step in tackling high youth unemployment in the country. Each of these demonstrations showed that these applications had the potential to be truly transformational in either the agriculture, health, or education sectors. Two of the teams opted to focus on education, with each winning one of the four prizes on offer:
  • The second prize was awarded for the Univ Kibaru application, which seeks to facilitate communication between universities and students, on matters such as timetable changes and academic scholarship opportunities;
The popular choice award was won by the team that presented the Orient Key application, which focuses on academic and career guidance for students (e.g., directory of academic institutions, guide on courses and subjects taught, a forum for discussion).

How coding bootcamps are helping to tackle youth unemployment

Cecilia Paradi-Guilford's picture
 
Photo Credit:  RutaN


The International Labour Organization estimates that 73.4 million people aged 15-24 do not have a job (43% of global youth), and three times as many young people are underemployed. At the same time, 40% of employers report skills shortage for entry level vacancies, according to McKinsey (Social Initiative 2015). Hence, skill gaps have become an issue to both employers and the unemployed.  This trend is exacerbated by technological advancements which are rapidly replacing manual jobs, leaving millions of young people unprepared to participate in the 21st-century knowledge economy.  

Three aspects of the skills gap problem need to be addressed in order to find a sustainable solution: urgency, proficiency in technology, and job market readiness. The 2016 World Development Report finds that returns to education are particularly high for ICT-intensive occupations. The wage premium for working in ICT-intensive occupations is around 5% for both men and women in developing countries (WDR 2016). This suggests a tremendous potential of technology education for reducing poverty and boosting prosperity in the developing world.

Sustainable Development Goals and Open Data

Joel Gurin's picture
Sustainable Development Goals. Source: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org

The United Nations (UN) has developed a set of action-oriented goals to achieve global sustainable development by 2030. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were developed by an Open Working Group of 30 member states over a two-year process. They are designed to balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.

To help meet the goals, UN member states can draw on Open Data from governments that is, data that is freely available online for anyone to use and republish for any purpose. This kind of data is essential both to help achieve the SDGs and to measure progress in meeting them.
 
Achieving the SDGs
Open Data can help achieve the SDGs by providing critical information on natural resources, government operations, public services, and population demographics. These insights can inform national priorities and help determine the most effective paths for action on national issues. Open Data is a key resource for:
  • Fostering economic growth and job creation. Open Data can help launch new businesses, optimizing existing companies’ operations, and improve the climate for foreign investment. It can also make the job market more efficient and serve as a resource in training for critical technological job skills.

Heading to #UNGA? Read how to make the #SDGs a success

Mariana Dahan's picture


As you are on your way to UN General Assembly for the official launch of the SDGs, read this: approximately 2.4 billion people in the world today lack official identification (ID), including children up to the age of 14 whose birth has never been registered and many women in poor rural areas of Africa and Asia.

Being able to prove one’s identity is more than a convenience; it is based on fundamental human rights and extending it to the disenfranchised is also instrumental in achieving many of the other SDGs. SDG 16.9 aims to “provide legal identity to all, including birth registration, by 2030,” and represents the first time that documenting identity has been officially stated as a global goal. The international community should join forces to achieve this goal, as attaining it will also be a key enabler of many other SDGs.

Can we shift waste to value through 3D printing in Tanzania?

Cecilia Paradi-Guilford's picture
A waste collection site in Dar es Salaam, 
Tanzania. Photo: Cecilia Paradi-Guilford
Plastic waste, in particular PET, which is typically found in soda bottles, is becoming abundant in African cities. In Dar es Salaam, one of the most rapidly urbanizing cities in Africa, BORDA found that about 400 tons of plastic waste per day remains uncollected or unrecycled.  Although about 98 percent of the solid waste generated per day can be recycled or composted, 90 percent is disposed in dumpsites.
 
At the same time, the recycling industry has started to grow because of new initiatives, community organizations and private companies. There are a few organizations that repurpose waste into arts and crafts, tools or apply it as a source of energy – such as WasteDar. However, the majority collect or purchase plastic waste from collectors, primarily with a view to export, rather than recycle or reuse locally.
 
Socially and environmentally, waste management is one of the biggest challenges for an increasingly urbanized world. Waste pickers can earn as little as US$1-2 a day in dangerous conditions with little opportunity for advancement. They make up some of the most disadvantaged communities living in deep poverty.

Through a new market for sorted waste materials, these communities may access higher income generation opportunities in a sustainable manner. This presents an opportunity to explore turning this waste into value more close to home.

Joining forces to make IDs accessible to all

Mariana Dahan's picture


​Being able to prove one’s identity is more than a convenience; it is based on fundamental human rights.

​Identification (ID) is indispensable for ensuring access for individuals to educational opportunities, financial services, health and social welfare benefits, economic development, as well as allowing electoral participation for citizens.

​Yet in the developing world, more than two billion people lack an official ID. The problem disproportionately affects children and women, from poor rural areas in Africa and Asia.
 
The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda highlights the role of robust identification systems and their importance to development — specifically as one of the proposed SDG targets (#16.9), but also as a key enabler of the efficacy of many other SDG targets. Although there is no one model for providing legal identity, this SDG would encourage states provide people with free or low-cost access to widely accepted, robust identity credentials.
 
Regardless of the modalities to achieve it, unique identification — together with its associated rights — is becoming a priority for governments around the world. The international community should join forces to support this goal. 

Partnerships and opportunities for digital jobs

Saori Imaizumi's picture

Also available in: Español | Français | العربية


What are ‘digital jobs’? If you have access to a computer, Internet and online or mobile payment, can you get a job? The answer is yes, but having basic literacy and computer skills are essential. Knowledge of English is also a big plus.  
Earlier this year, the World Bank and the Rockefeller Foundation organized a “Digital Jobs Africa Forum” to discuss the potential of digital jobs in creating employment in Africa.
 
Digital Jobs Africa is a seven-year, US$100 million dollar initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation that seeks to impact the lives of one million people in six African countries (South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, and Egypt) by catalyzing ICT-enabled employment and skills training for high-potential African youth who would not otherwise have access to sustainable employment. Launched in 2013, the initiative works in close partnership with stakeholders from the private sector, government, civil society, and the development community.
 
In partnership with the Digital Jobs Africa Initiative, the World Bank has undertaken a number of activities to increase and enhance opportunities for digital job creation in Africa, including development of an information technology (IT) park in Ghana, capacity building for digitization of public records, and online work/microwork awareness building and training in Nigeria. Recently, the global online outsourcing study was also released to analyze the holistic picture of rapidly growing online outsourcing market (please visit www.ictforjobs.org for more information).
 
These successful collaborations have resulted in a renewed commitment to a strengthened partnership between the Rockefeller Foundation and the World Bank on the digital jobs agenda to develop skills for youth, as well as to create digital jobs across sectors including agriculture, e-commerce, education, and transport through co-financing catalytic and innovative activities.

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