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RE: Framework Notes

From: Nadeem Akhtar <nadeem@cewit.org.in>
Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2008 14:15:39 +0530
To: "'Stephane Boyera'" <boyera@w3.org>, "'Renjish Kumar'" <renjish.kumar@gmail.com>
Cc: <public-mw4d@w3.org>
Message-ID: <003901c8e0d6$fff4de00$ffde9a00$@org.in>

Hi Renjish, Stephane,

> Let me first emphasize on the sentence you mentioned on barriers (in 
> bold the emphasis is mine). My question to you is: Can we see the 
> barriers and solutions for mobile phones in isolation? Wouldn't an ICT 
> related initiative covering similar issues for Fixed Internet cover most 
> of the barriers and challenges that when added to the perspectives from 
> mobile phones will give us a holistic picture and thereby find the right 
> solution? Wouldn't that give us a head-start on really understanding the 
> ground realities and challenges, not only from a technology view-point, 
> but also from a socio-economic-regulatory perspective? 

[Stephane] That's an interesting debate.
I agree with you that mobile phones can be considered as a tool, or a 
branch of the ICT4D domain in general. How ICT-based services can 
improve people lives, and how to deliver these services are general 
problems, and could be considered as a whole.
We launched this group with a complete different approach in mind: 
Mobile phones are in the field, in the pocket of people, and there is a 
potential to exploit them and to provide services. Let's see how.
Of course, some topics we will consider are more general than mobile 
phones, but most of them imho will be related to the platform specificities.
I'm more in favor of practical vision and actions. Mobile phones are 
already deployed, let's see how we can take advantage of this fact. in 
5-10 years, low-cost laptops might be there, perfect then we will see 
what we could do to build on this fact. People have been working in 
ICT4D since 20 years, without real effect imho. I see now a real 
opportunity for things to change with mobile phones, and i believe that 
focusing on that platform might have more impact. Rhere are already lots 
of organization looking at ICT4D in general since long time, and i would 
be afraid that if we want to engage in a similar directino, we would not 
bring anything really new. At the opposite, i hope that people from 
these organizations (let's name some of them UNDP, TWB infodev, ...) 
would join us here, and bring their global knowledge in this specific 

[Nadeem] I believe that the focus should be on mobile phones as their usage
in developing countries is much more widespread than PCs and laptops. PC
ownership is generally high in urban and suburban areas only whereas mobile
phones are nearly everywhere. Furthermore, Internet connectivity in most
developing countries is poor. In India, for instance, there are more than
280 million mobile subscribers but the number of Internet subscribers is
about 10 million or so. Bearing this in mind, it is reasonable to think that
mobile phones can be a much more effective medium for socio-economic

> I wanted to make my point that the moment we talk about developing 
> market, somehow all our assumptions follow a stereotype that "Developing 
> market=rural=illiterate=poor". This is not always true. This is 
> over-simplification. 

[Stephane] Well i fully agree with you that there are different segments in 
societies of Developing Countries. Some of the segments are very close 
to western markets.
I understand what you are saying, and i understand also what you mean by 
starting on the third phase.
That said, i thought that the title of the group was defining its 
target. For me, economic and social development clearly applies to poor 
unprivileged populations (this is not really limited ot developing 
countries in fact), which have in average a far higher rate of 
illiteracy. So again, i believed that this group was looking at 
providing ICT services on mobile phones to rural communities and 
underprivileged populations who don't have access to services like 
helth, banking system, ...

[Nadeem Akhtar] I tend to agree with Renjish here. The rural population is
not necessarily poor and/or illiterate. In many cases, people know to
read/write in a local language which is not supported on mobile phones. That
can be a big barrier in itself. 
Received on Tuesday, 8 July 2008 08:44:55 UTC

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