By Forrest Wilhoit, Africa Broadband CoordinatorThe Ebola crisis of 2014-2015 resulted in tragic loss of life across West Africa and caused massive global alarm. It also revealed the power of communications technology – and the significant problems that can result when communications networks fail during a crisis.In Liberia’s national response to Ebola, the fragility of … Continued
Can serious online games empower youth to develop the civic knowledge, awareness, and motivation they need to become engaged citizens who work together to improve their communities? The beta release of OurCity—a new free Facebook city-building and civic education game—is being piloted in Jordan for the next few months to find out.
NetHope supporter Intel announced a new public-private partnership called the Women and the Web Alliance during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. The partnership aims to introduce more than 600,000 Kenyan and Nigerian young women to the Internet and engage them in using it as a tool for social and economic empowerment.
News reports about the problem of human trafficking—the illegal trading of human beings—in Albania have been so shocking over the years, they seem like science fiction. To make better use of technology to change this harsh reality, NetHope developed an anti-trafficking Android app for worldwide use in partnership with World Vision and the Vodafone Foundation with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding. NetHope chose Albania for the app’s first implementation under the local name “Raporto-Shpeto” (“Report-Save Life”).
As a father of four, I am very familiar with remittances. When my first son went off to college, I gave him an envelope of cash. My second child got a monthly check in the mail from Mom and Dad. Never one to wait for the mail my third child opened a joint account with us so I could make deposits locally and he could make withdrawals at the local bank branch on campus. With my fourth, we moved to the world of interoperable ATMs; deposits and withdrawals then happened on any street in any city and even abroad. Now, we are in the digital age and any transfers can be done online with immediate effect.
I have been thinking a lot about this evolution in my own family as I watch the leading role remittances are playing in the growth of mobile money systems around the world. M-Pesa was created initially to serve the market for remittances in Kenya. M-Pesa now is used by over 15 million Kenyans and in 2011 Safaricom reported that value of transactions processed through the M-PESA platform was equivalent to 20% of Kenya’s GDP. In Central America, Tigo Money makes remittances easy and even advertises its service on bags of Frito Lays chips sold in small markets around Guatemala as witnessed by Hamilton McNutt, a member of NetHope’s Payment Innovations team who traveled to Guatemala in March.
This blog is part of a NetHub series that looks at technology trends that will help to shape a bright global future. Read more on the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting and NetHope here.
In the developing world, billions of dollars in cash is exchanged every month between governments, companies and donor agencies for various reasons: salary, social welfare payments, cash-for-work programs, emergency relief and money transfers. The majority of these payments are given in physical cash, but advancements in technology and network capabilities have introduced safer, speedier, more reliable and transparent ways for exchanging those funds.
Replacing physical cash payments with electronic payments provides improvements for governments and communities alike. For instance, when the Government of Afghanistan started paying government employees and police officers through mobile phones via a grant from USAID, it immediately cut out so much graft that some employees actually thought they were getting at 30 percent raise. Mobile money also makes it easier to tax the transactions and root out ‘ghost’ payrolls.
As recent events in the Middle East have foretold – large scale democratic and social change can harness technology as a tool to give youth a voice and active role in their communities. This phenomenon of wide scale change championed by youth will not just be a marker of the Arab Spring but one that will continue to have a wide effect on the future trajectory of the emerging and developing economies.