Rural Mobile Services: Experiences in developing rural services in Uganda


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Presentation by Dorothy Okello (WOUGNET) at the CTA ICT Observatory: Mobile devices in wireless environments - Wageningen, 2-4 November 2009

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Rural Mobile Services: Experiences in developing rural services in Uganda

  1. 1. <ul><li>“ Rural Mobile Services ” </li></ul><ul><li>… Experiences in developing rural services in Uganda </li></ul><ul><li>Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>CTA Observatory, 2 – 4 November 2009 </li></ul>
  2. 2. Presentation Outline <ul><li>Introducing WOUGNET </li></ul><ul><li>WOUGNET Activities </li></ul><ul><li>WOUGNET’s Mobile Services </li></ul><ul><li>Challenges of Mobile Services </li></ul><ul><li>Recommendations </li></ul>
  3. 3. Introducing WOUGNET <ul><li>Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) is a non-governmental organization initiated in May 2000 by several women’s organisations in Uganda </li></ul><ul><ul><li>to develop the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) among women as tools to share information and address issues collectively </li></ul></ul><ul><li>WOUGNET’s vision is a society in which women are empowered through the use of ICTs for sustainable development </li></ul>
  4. 4. Introducing WOUGNET cont’d <ul><li>WOUGNET mission is to promote and support the use of ICTs by women and women organisations in Uganda </li></ul><ul><ul><li>take advantage of ICT opportunities to effectively address national and local problems of Sustainable National Development </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Presently, WOUGNET has over 100 women organisations as members and over 500 women as project beneficiaries </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many women organisations are in urban areas and/or district towns where there is some Internet access but some in rural areas. Majority of project beneficiaries are in rural/underserved areas </li></ul></ul><ul><li>WOUGNET has three program areas </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information Sharing and Networking; Technical Support; Gender & ICT Policy Advocacy </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Information Sharing and Networking <ul><li>Information Sharing and Networking program aims at providing relevant information to urban and rural women and sharing of experiences for purposes of improving quality of lives </li></ul><ul><li>Electronic mailing lists and e-news, WOUGNET Update Newsletter </li></ul><ul><li>WOUGNET websites: </li></ul><ul><li>Print newsletters: “WOUGNET News” and “East Africa Dimitra Newsletter” </li></ul><ul><li>Online and face-to-face discussion fora including Facebook and Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>Resource Centres with variety of information on ICT / Development </li></ul><ul><li>SMS campaigns and networking </li></ul><ul><li>Access for Development Projects </li></ul><ul><li>“ Enhancing Access to Agricultural Information using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)” project based in Apac District with partners in Gulu, Lira and Oyam Districts, Northern Uganda. In partnership with CTA </li></ul><ul><li>FAO/Dimitra Project with goal to empower rural populations and to improve the living conditions and status of rural women </li></ul><ul><li>Citizen journalism in Africa (CJA) project with goal to increase the capacity of organizations to write and disseminate information. In partnership with Hivos/European Union/SANGONeT </li></ul>
  6. 6. Technical Support <ul><li>Providing technical assistance to members and internally within WOUGNET via TechTips, WebDesign for WOUGNET members, and access to ICTs </li></ul><ul><li>Research into innovations in ICT appropriate for members needs and circumstances, e.g., use of SMS for mobile advocacy </li></ul><ul><li>Provision of localized trainings in ICT use and application to women and women organizations and Hivos partners regionally, e.g., on use of Web2.0 tools </li></ul>Aims at supporting women organisations to access, utilize and apply ICTs in addressing their development problems
  7. 7. Gender and ICT Policy Advocacy <ul><li>WOUGNET serves as secretariat for the Uganda Women’s Caucus on ICT (UWCI) to undertake advocacy activities geared towards addressing gender concerns within the ICT Policies and programs. </li></ul><ul><li>Program aims at building capacity of network members to effectively influence the formulation and implementation of gender sensitive ICT policies and programs. </li></ul><ul><li>Activities are also aimed at improving ICT policy processes in Uganda so that there is increased availability of and/or improved access to timely and relevant information. </li></ul><ul><li>Exploring and documenting ways in which women and women organizations are using and applying ICTs for sustainable development using the Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) - researches, sharing women’s experiences ICT use on WOUGNET/ partners’ websites. </li></ul>
  8. 8. WOUGNET’s Mobile Services <ul><li>WOUGNET has integrated mobile services since 2005, including mobile phones, community radio and wireless networking </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of mobile phone application </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In EAAI project, mobile phones used by women farmers and project staff to reach extension workers, participate in radio shows, and contact each other – via phone calls and SMS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SMS campaigns conducted for 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence and as pre-conference on ‘ICTs and Poverty Reduction’. Messages also posted on WOUGNET blog. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Weekly radio show on farming in partnership with Radio Apac in Northern Uganda. Panelists include rural women farmers, farming experts and local policy makers </li></ul>
  9. 9. WOUGNET’s Mobile Services …[2] <ul><li>Local wireless networks have been established </li></ul><ul><ul><li>at Secretariat in Kampala (for use by guests/members) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>at Kubere Information Centre in Apac (for sharing of internet access and for demonstration purposes) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wireless ‘internet’ modems have become popular of recent </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet ‘dongles’ been made available to project partners leading to increase in online participation for WOUGNET/BROSDI Citizen Journalism in Africa project </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet ‘dongles’ enable hands-on Internet training irrespective of location – so long as in operator network </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. WOUGNET’s Mobile Services …[3] <ul><li>Seek to apply concept of community wireless networks to expand access in affordable way for KIC and partners </li></ul>
  11. 11. Challenges of Mobile Services <ul><li>Infrastructure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Costs of ownership of mobile infrastructure, including mobile phones, radio sets, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Availability and affordability of equipment for wireless networks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Affordable and available energy solutions (e.g. ‘Kasana’ phone that charges via the sun) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Affordable broadband Internet (e.g. due to on/off network for ‘dongles’, high cost of satellite bandwidth) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Services </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Costs of mobile services, e.g. airtime for phones and radio shows </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Timing of radio shows, e.g. due to multiple roles of women </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gathering, repackaging and disseminating relevant information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality of service, e.g. poor unclear connection, dropping connection </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Challenges of Mobile Services …/[2] <ul><li>Skills </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Literacy e.g. limiting opportunity for SMS use which can be cheaper option than voice call </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited skills in information repackaging to format messages in manner appropriate to channel/service being used e.g. radio messages vs SMS messages, dissemination messages vs interaction messages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Local technical people e.g. to setup and maintain wireless networks </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Recommendations <ul><li>Capitalise on wireless/mobile ability to increase outreach of ICT services and opportunities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Promote low cost, low energy mobile devices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promote use of community wireless networks as ‘last mile’ solution and as means of reducing internet access costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Capacity building in repackaging of relevant information for dissemination and interaction via mobile services such as SMS and radio </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Policy advocacy for favourable (and affirmative) environment for setup of rural wireless services </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Thank You for Listening <ul><li>For more information about WOUGNET, visit </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>