Announcing MobileActive08: Unlocking the Potential of Mobiles for Social Impact

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Mar 13, 2008

We are happy to announce MobileActive08, a three-day conference on mobile technology for social impact to take place October 13-15 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Organized with our amazing colleagues at Sangonet in South Africa, the theme of the 2008 event is "Unlocking the Potential of Mobile Technology for Social Impact." MobileActive08 will convene 250 civil society, development and technology practitioners interested in the use and application of mobile technology in civil society. This will be the largest international civil society event to date focusing on this topic.

Participants include non-profit practitioners using mobile phones in innovative and creative ways or considering mobile applications in support of their activities, mobile technologists, researchers studying the use of mobile phones, government officials, donors and representatives from the telecommunications industry.

We are especially pleased to welcome IDRC as a major supporter of the event. IDRC has been conducting research in how mobile telephony is advancing development and civil society goals, and is emerging as the major knowledge center of research on mobiles in health and development.

Some background on MobileActive08: There are now close to 3.5 billion mobile phones in circulation around the world. In many countries, especially the developing world, mobile phones are the easiest and least expensive medium to communicate and are far more pervasive than the Internet. Mobile phones are also bridging the digital divide in developing countries at a rate much faster than most other interventions to date.

The recently released UNCTAD "Information Economy Report 2007-2008" states that there were 50 million new mobile subscribers in 2006 in Africa, and in 2007 the total number of mobile subscriptions reached an estimated 200 million. Mobile telephony is practically replacing fixed lines in many countries and penetration rates approach 20% in many places.

As readers know, NGOs and other development practitioners in various parts of the world are increasingly using mobile technology in support of their work. However, there is a dire need to share lessons learned to date and explore the most effective use of mobiles to achieve social impact.

At MobileActive08 participants will explore how mobile phones are used to advance civil society and development work, assess the current state of knowledge in the use and effectiveness of mobile technology to advance social action, and investigate trends, needs and investment opportunities.

The conference is intentionally designed to be cross-disciplinary as learnings and experiences span various disciplines in this emerging field. However, specific attention will be given to the role of mobile technology in health, human rights, economic development, advocacy, education, citizen journalism and democratic participation.

The conference website with detailed information about the event, registration information and a call for sessions will be available by the end of March 2008. In the meantime, please save the date!

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