[Air-L] Africa > Mobile Phone > Powerful Instrument Of Learning

McKiernan, Gerard [LIB] gerrymck at iastate.edu
Wed Oct 7 13:00:35 PDT 2009



With the ongoing reorganization / revamping /reconfiguration of state
extension services, I am interested in past / present  / planned mobile
extension/information services in the US.


I am also interested in mobile extension / information  services in
other regions of the world as well




NY Times / October 6 2009 / In Rural Africa, a Fertile Market for Mobile


BUSHENYI, Uganda - Laban Rutagumirwa charges his mobile phone with a car
battery because his dirt-floor home deep in the remote, banana-covered
hills of western Uganda does not have electricity. When the battery
dies, Mr. Rutagumirwa, a 50-year-old farmer, walks just over four miles
to charge it so he can maintain his position as communication hub and
banana-disease tracker for his rural neighbors.In an area where
electricity is scarce and Internet connections virtually nonexistent,
the mobile phone has revolutionized scientists' ability to track this
crop disease and communicate the latest scientific advances to remote


With his phone, Mr. Rutagumirwa collects digital photos, establishes
global positioning system coordinates and stores completed 50-question
surveys from nearby farmers with sick plants. He sends this data,
wirelessly and instantly, to scientists in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
/ [snip]


The penetration of the mobile phone is far greater than that of the
Internet in Africa, especially in rural areas, making it the most
accessible communication tool, said Jon Gossier, founder and president
of Appfrica, a technology company with headquarters in Uganda./ [snip]


"I don't think the development being done now for mobile phones is going
to stop," Mr. Gossier said, "but I think we'll see a whole new
generation of applications coming out of Africa, including mobile
applications that utilize the Web."


Tracking banana disease and educating farmers on how to protect their
plantations is among several mobile phone applications being piloted in
Uganda by the Grameen Foundation, a nongovernmental agency that aims to
reduce poverty through microfinancing and new technology. 


Grameen partnered with Uganda's largest mobile network operator, MTN, to
create AppLab Uganda, an initiative to explore ways to use mobile
technologies to improve people's lives, said the program director, Eric
Cantor. / [snip]


Building applications for agriculture seemed logical in a country that
is predominately rural and reliant on small farms, he said.


Mr. Rutagumirwa is among several leaders in rural communities who were
trained by Grameen to survey and educate neighboring farmers about the
proper methods to contain banana disease.[snip]/[snip] 


David Bangirana, another village leader trained by Grameen, said he saw
potential in using networks of community leaders armed with mobile
phones like himself to educate and collect data in remote villages on
topics beyond banana disease.


Mr. Bangirana, 60, a former teacher and village chief, wears a bright
yellow T-shirt with the words "Ask Me" across the chest. His community
now comes to him with questions about farming practices and health
issues, and he can quickly find most answers using Google text messaging
and an operator service. He said he sometimes took his phone to village
primary schools to show the children the limitlessness of the
information available to them.


"The use of the mobile phone," Mr. Bangirana said, "has empowered the
community to know what they never knew and ask any question concerning
their surroundings."


Links to Full Article and Related Reports Available At 


[ http://tinyurl.com/yaazsgt ]





Gerry McKiernan

Associate Professor

Science and Technology Librarian

Iowa State University Library

Ames IA 50011


gerrymck at iastate.edu 



There Are No Answers, Only Solutions / Olde Irish Saying


The Future Is Already Here, It's Just Not Evenly Distributed

Attributed To William Gibson, SciFi Author / Coined 'Cyberspace

More information about the Air-L mailing list