Workshop on Collaboration in East Africa: Project Planning

Co-located at 1st International Conference on “M4D” – Mobile Communication Technology for Development, http://m4d.humanit.org/
December 11-12, 2008, Karlstad University, Sweden

Sponsored by SPIDER (Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions)

Background

As countries of East Africa work towards creating the East African community, mobile operators are also responding by creating networks that ignore traditional national boundaries. For example, it is now possible to make and receive a local call using a Zain SIM card anywhere in East Africa without worrying about roaming charges. While mobile phones are predominantly used for voice calls and SMS, they have the potential to be leveraged for other mobile applications. Unfortunately, mobile applications and services beyond voice are still few and/or limited geographically.

For mobile applications and services to be successful in East Africa, there is need for multi-institutional cooperation both at the regulatory level as well as within the private sector. This is the case because successful applications will touch on many areas that have historically not been regulated by a single entity; e.g. for mobile payment applications telecommunications regulators will need to collaborate with financial regulators, and mobile operators need to work with financial institutions. Therefore, there is a need to bring together various players from different sectors to explore avenues of collaboration to create successful mobile applications.

Kampala: Outcomes and Plan of Action

In an attempt to bring together relevant stakeholders and to chart a way forward regarding M4D in East Africa, a workshop was organised in Kampala November 5-6, 2008 (http://m4d.kcl.co.ug). Participants from various key institutions, companies, and organisations from the East African region were present with the general objective to discuss and explore the current and future use of mobile applications in East Africa. Collaboratively, the participants identified obstacles hindering the success of mobile applications and generated a way forward as a response. The Plan of Action (still a draft) can be found here (http://groups.google.co.ug/group/M4DinEA/).

Karlstad: Objectives and Participants
The SPIDER workshop held at the M4D 2008 conference in Karlstad December 11-12, 2008, will build directly on the Kampala workshop, identifying actors within the SPIDER network that can contribute to filling out some of the gaps identified in Kampala. The Karlstad workshop will have as its goal to discuss the Kampala outcomes as well as define projects and draft proposals for funding where this is necessary.

In particular, the goals of the Karlstad workshop are the following:
• Bringing the knowledge and experiences presented in Kampala to Sweden
• Experts (academics and practitioners) within SPIDER’s network + some additional experts meet around the Kampala theme
• Selected project ideas/proposals raised in Kampala are investigated and discussed to form strategic alliances with already formed groups in East Africa for further collaboration.

The workshop will naturally also produce a short report to be disseminated through, e.g., the web sites of SPIDER, the Centre for HumanIT at Karlstad University and the Kampala workshop site. It will also present the results and outcomes at the M4D 2008 conference.

The participants at the workshop will be summoned from public sector, private sector, and academia. It is also necessary to provide for expertise in such diverse fields as International Development, Data Security, Programming, and Business Development.

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