Information and Communication Technologies
Information and communication technologies (ICTs), including mobile phones, are increasingly seen as critical tools to improve public health and health outcomes in Africa. Several experiments, including some launched almost ten years ago, are starting to show progress:
In Rwanda, an mHealth system dubbed TRACnet monitors epidemic diseases. TRACnet has been financed since 2004 by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and Rwanda's Ministry of Health, and has helped track HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Health workers are equipped with a mobile phone and access TRACnet through SMS menu prompts, requiring them to document and monitor the status of patients in the health clinics under their jurisdiction. The system has helped create a registry of all health workers, their patients, rural clinic locations, staffing, assets, and medical supply inventories. Key factors in TRACnet’s success include sustained financing, scaling-up to all agents in all villages, and use by health workers in their daily work.
Information and communication technology (ICT) has become an engine of growth and is opening up major opportunities for transformational change. This technological revolution is driven by a continuing exponential decline in the cost of communication and information, and it is likely to continue to drive innovation and wealth creation. As the World Bank Group seeks to end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity, the key questions are: Can ICT contribute substantially to achieving these goals? Where is the evidence? Can we systematically think about the challenges and opportunities? What is needed to realize ICT’s potential?
Do you believe that information & communication technologies and innovation can help end poverty in your country? Share your reflections and get your voice counted by policymakers and development professionals.
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The Mauritanian Minister of Economic Affairs and Development, Mr. Sidi Ould Tah, has just signed the WARCIP agreement (Mauritania Program for Regional Communications Infrastructure in West Africa), a program financed by the World Bank that aims to connect all regions of the country to high-speed Internet by 2015 (for more details: www.warcip.mr). This signature represents for me a new step toward achievement of this project on which I have been working for two years now.
In a recent post on digital identities, we argued that information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be a force multiplier in achieving the World Bank’s goals of ending extreme poverty within a generation and promoting shared prosperity. Mobile devices are also a critical part of this as they can facilitate and strengthen evidence-based approaches to tackling problems of relevance to the poor.
On June 17-18, there will be a high-level meeting in Kigali entitled Smart Rwanda Days. This event is being hosted by the Rwandan Ministry of Youth and ICT to finalize their vision for a Smart Rwanda and launch it with the support of a broad community. To ensure that they are moving forward with the best ideas possible, they are looking for your ideas and suggestions, which you can enter here.
The Smart Rwanda vision looks to build on all the great work currently happening in Rwanda -- and make it smarter by applying lessons from all over the world and leveraging the latest in modern thinking to specific target areas.