More than 80 participants from all over East Africa, some traveling all the way from South Africa, UK and Sweden, came to Kampala the 5th and 6th of November, 2008, to learn more and share knowledge regarding the developments in the region. A lot of challenges and obstacles were articulated and discussed: issues like cost and affordability for end-users, illiteracy and lack of local language, challenges regarding scaling-up, regulatory issues, and consumer rights and obligations.
The main conclusion drawn from the workshop was the realization that we all need to collaborate and network more, cross sector and cross border, to generate new ideas and strategic partnerships, and through this move forward. The workshop proved that open, inclusive and neutral multi stakeholder forums are key in generating knowledge sharing, awareness building and networking among a diverse field of stakeholders.
All the participants were playing an important role in generating the M4D in East Africa Plan of Action. Still in its draft, it consists of five themes that try to address some of the challenges identified. The themes are:
- The creation of a M4D in East Africa Forum with specific working groups for continuous networking, sharing of ideas, knowledge and developments. To kick start the idea, a Google Group called M4D in East Africa (http://groups.google.co.ug/group/M4DinEA) was set up. So far, six specific working groups have been/will be created, namely: East African m-health Association, East African Programmer/Tech Association, East African m-agriculture Group, M4D Research Group, m-banking Taskforce, and East African mGovernment Group.
- To make the M4D workshop an annual event to evaluate progress, see what needs to be done and brainstorm on solutions. The M4D in East Africa Forum will facilitate in between the workshops.
- Setting up M4D Innovation Centres to pilot and scale-up projects. The innovations centres should be connected to the East African Universities (Makerere University and University of Nairobi for a start in collaboration with already initiated initiatives).
- The development of a sustainability M4D Tool Kit in mobile application projects consisting of standards, regulations, sector reviews, compatibility, funding etc.
- A M4D Lobby Group was created to lobby for the M4D agenda within governments and to get a harmonized East African regulatory framework.