Featured Research: Making Sense of Mobile Phone Use in Ghana

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Sep 30, 2011

ICT4D and M4D projects often focus on how mobiles can be used in developing countries, but the success and usefulness of these projects depends on the value mobile users place on their phones, and how they use them. "We Use It Different, Different: Making Sense of Trends in Mobile Use in Ghana," looks at how Ghanians use mobile phones in their day-to-day lives, mainly focusing on why survey participants started using a mobile phone, how they use it, and how they view the value of mobile phone ownership.

Featured Research: Making Sense of Mobile Phone Use in Ghana data sheet 1962 Views
Countries: Ghana

‘We Use It Different, Different’: Making Sense of Trends in Mobile Phone Use in Ghana

Posted by kelechiea on Sep 13, 2011
‘We Use It Different, Different’: Making Sense of Trends in Mobile Phone Use in Ghana data sheet 1755 Views
Araba Sey
Publication Date: 
Mar 2011
Publication Type: 
Journal article

Drawing on ideas from the sustainable livelihoods approach to poverty reduction and the concept of technology appropriation, this article discusses findings from a mixed methods study exploring mobile phone use in Ghana. The results suggest that most respondents value their phone for the connectivity it affords with a variety of personal and professional contacts. In this sense, the mobile phone is not an overt means of poverty reduction for respondents but an integral part of their lives, in which it serves multiple functions. The study contributes empirical data to the emerging body of research on mobile phone communication in African countries

New Research! How MoTeCH Uses Mobiles for Maternal Health in Ghana

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on May 03, 2011

The Grameen Foundation recently released an in-depth report on the state of MoTeCH, a multi-part project that uses mobile technology to send pre- and post-natal health information to Ghanaians and allows community health workers to collect and share health data. Launched in July 2010 in the Upper East Region of Ghana, the system rolled out the next phase of the pilot in April 2011 in the Awutu Senya distract in the Central Region of Ghana. The report, "Mobile Technology for Community Health in Ghana: What It Is and What Grameen Foundation Has Learned So Far," takes an honest look at the progress and challenges the organization has faced while implementing a long-term, large-scale mHealth project.

Mobile Midwife

New Research! How MoTeCH Uses Mobiles for Maternal Health in Ghana data sheet 2954 Views
Countries: Ghana

Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) Ghana

Posted by jasonhahn on Apr 06, 2011
Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) Ghana data sheet 3501 Views

MOTECH in Ghana has developed two interrelated mobile health services:

“Mobile Midwife” application: This service enables pregnant women and their families to receive SMS or voice messages that provide time-specific information about their pregnancy each week in their own language. This information is a mixture of: Alerts and reminders for care seeking (e.g., reminders to go for specific treatments, such as prenatal care or a tetanus vaccination). Actionable information and advice to help deal with challenges during pregnancy (e.g., tips for saving money for transportation to deliver at a health facility, what is needed for a birthing kit, nutrition information). Educational information, including milestones in fetal development, promotion of good health practices, and songs about breastfeeding. Voice messages are delivered in English or local languages. Two languages of the Upper East Region, Kasem and Nakam, were supported for MOTECH’s first implementation, and two languages of central region, Senya and Fante, will be supported in Awutu Senya. SMS messages are all delivered in English.

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

The project aims to determine how to use mobile phones to increase the quantity and quality of prenatal and neonatal care in rural Ghana, with a goal of improving health outcomes for mothers and their newborns.

Brief description of the project: 

Can information delivered over a mobile phone improve someone’s health? Can it improve the quality of care received in a rural clinic? The Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) initiative in Ghana is a partnership between Ghana Health Service, Grameen Foundation and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the project aims to determine how to use mobile phones to increase the quantity and quality of prenatal and neonatal care in rural Ghana, with a goal of improving health outcomes for mothers and their newborns. The MOTECH system was launched in July 2010 in the Upper East Region; a replication in Awutu Senya district in Central Region will happen in April 2011. Further opportunities for scale across Ghana will be assessed in the second half of 2011. If successful, it is intended that MOTECH will be launched nationally in Ghana, and that this will become a showcase for replications throughout Africa and the world. The software system used in Ghana is available via OpenSource license and can be used for implementing a wide range of mobile health applications.

Target audience: 

Expecting and New Parents

Detailed Information
Display project in profile: 

Electronic Delivery of Social Cash Transfers: Lessons Learned and Opportunities for Africa

Posted by Katharine_v on Sep 17, 2010
Electronic Delivery of Social Cash Transfers: Lessons Learned and Opportunities for Africa data sheet 1987 Views
Katharine Vincent
Publication Date: 
Feb 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The electronic delivery of cash can be achieved through a variety of mechanisms - debit card, smart card or cellphone, using a range of financial infrastructure -banks, automated teller machines (ATMs) and point-of-sale (POS) devices. This brief outlines recent experiences from across Africa, with a focus on Kenya, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland.

The benefits of electronic delivery systems to both governments and recipients are well known in terms of improved cost efficiency and flexibility of access, so this brief emphasises issues that are relevant to private sector partners, who are vital to the introduction of such systems.

The rapid penetration of cellphones in Africa, including both signal coverage and handset ownership, makes distribution of cash transfers by cellphone an increasingly viable proposition, as shown in Kenya through the M-PESA mechanism. Additionally the availability of cellphone signal has been instrumental in facilitating use of ofline smart cards for electronic delivery of cash transfers in Malawi and Namibia.

The growth of financial infrastructure and opportunity for banks to increase their market share has increased the favourability with which banks view potential participation in government-to-person cash transfers.

Evidence from Malawi and Swaziland shows that cash transfer recipients who are provided with bank accounts to receive their cash transfers tend to then use them to save money and to receive person-to-person transfers (e.g. remittances) – thus making further use of financial infrastructure and services.
In terms of scalability of electronic delivery systems, the time- and cost-intensive nature of the payment mechanism setup relative to the operating costs means that the incentive for private sector partners to engage is much greater for long-term programmes than short-term pilots.

Undertaking cash transfer programme registration formalities concurrently with private sector partner registration procedures (in terms of opening bank accounts or distributing SIM cards or smart cards) thus makes sense, wherever possible. It is also imperative that contractual obligations for the government implementer and private sector partner be agreed upfront, smart cards) thus makes sense, wherever possible. It is also imperative that contractual obligations for the government implementer and private sector partner be agreed upfront, desmart cards) thus makes sense, wherever possible. It is also imperative that contractual obligations for the government implementer and private sector partner be agreed upfront, defining respective roles and responsibilities, together with a grievance procedure in case of non-compliance.

As well as the growing base of evidence from projects and programmes in Kenya, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland, other countries that have expressed interest in the use of electronic delivery systems include Ghana, Lesotho and Mozambique.

In Search of a Mobile Telemedicine Platform: A Few Open Source Applications

Posted by Nadi.Kaonga on Apr 26, 2010

As part of a "Mobile Telemedicine" initiative undertaken by the Millennium Villages Project in Ghana, I have been researching and documenting existing software platforms that enable and support remote consultation activities.

How is mobile telemedicine defined?  According to the the Rockefeller Foundation,

Telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve patients’ health status or for educational purposes. It includes consultative, diagnostic, and treatment services.

Mobile health information technology (mHealth) typically refers to portable devices with the capability to create, store, retrieve, and transmit data in real time between end users for the purpose of improving patient safety and quality of care.

MoTeCH: A Mobile Approach to Maternal Health Care

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Feb 10, 2010

In an effort to bridge the gap between community health workers and patients, the Grameen Foundation is in the midst of a two and a half-year project called Mobile Technology for Community Health (MoTeCH). MoTeCH, a joint initiative between the Grameen Foundation, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Ghana Health Service, is working to determine how best to use mobile phones to increase the quality and quantity of antenatal and neonatal care in rural Ghana.

The project is two-fold.  One service targets what Tim Wood, director of the Grameen Foundation’s Mobile Health Innovation and ICT Innovation divisions calls “pregnant parents,” and another targets community health workers.

MoTeCH: A Mobile Approach to Maternal Health Care data sheet 9870 Views
Countries: Ghana

SMS As A Tool in Election Observation

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Oct 09, 2009
SMS As A Tool in Election Observation data sheet 4792 Views
Ian Schuler
Publication Date: 
Apr 2008
Publication Type: 
Journal article

In a short time, SMS messaging has demonstrated an impressive ability to help election-monitoring organizations overcome many logistical challenges to effective election oversight and protection of citizens’ rights.

The speed of communication and processing the flexibility and the coverage SMS can provide gives monitoring organizations a powerful tool for organizing volunteers and responding instantly to an evolving election environment. These tools allow groups to quickly collect a rich dataset of election information.

When combined with a reporting methodology that utilizes a representative sample of polling stations, SMS reporting contributes to a deep understanding of how elections are conducted across a country and whether the results reflect the will of the people. When shared with the public, these insights help citizens recognize their right to information about the electoral process. When citizens have more information about the electoral process and understand the degree to which elections represent their will, they are more likely to participate in the process and are better able to demand elections in which they can have confidence.

In contentious and politically tense situations, the ability to comment immediately on the conduct of the election can help to stabilize a potentially volatile postelection environment. Election-monitoring groups using SMS can quickly identify violations of citizens’ rights and alert authorities in time to have problems remedied on election day.

In addition to election observation, SMS has been used in other ways to protect the right to vote, such as voter education and voter registration. SMS text messages have provided a way for citizens to lodge official complaints and informal opinions on an election. However, citizens’ rights to transparency and accountability do not end with elections. It is easy to imagine how SMS could be used between elections to engage citizens and to protect civil rights. Citizen groups with experience collecting and providing information on elections might use similar methods to advocate for citizen interests in other areas. These tools could be used to monitor government service delivery and identify corruption. By systematically deploying to schools and clinics and reporting on resources available, groups would be able to determine whether their government is living up to its promises and identify areas where government managers are diverting resources.

SMS also could be used to report unfair and exploitive practices by police and government officials between elections. These exercises would experience different logistical challenges than election observation. Nonetheless, a cheap, easy, and ubiquitous tool like SMS could play in important role in making governments accountable to their citizens every day.

Ghana mHealth Ethnographic Study Shows Promise of Mobiles to Support Community Health

Posted by LeighJaschke on Sep 09, 2009

The recently released mHealth Ethnography Report is an important addition to the growing body of knowledge about the potential for community health initiatives supported by mobile technology. As we have noted before, much of the health care in rural communities is provides by community health workers, largely untrained paraprofessionals. 

The report hones in on the potential of SMS/text messages and voice services accessible via mobile to reinforce outreach services and support for these community health workers.  The authors assess the initial state of information, communication, and mobile phone use for maternal and newborn health in the health sector and the general population in the Dangme West District in the Greater Accra Region.

It indicates that mobile phones are already used by many healthcare workers and by the general population to seek health related information or coordinate related transportation in emergencies.

SMS Critical in Election Monitoring in Ghana

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Dec 07, 2008

The CODEO Election Observation Center for the all-important 2008 Ghanaian election is a busy place.  Data operators are sitting on rows of computers monitoring incoming SMS messages from 1,000 polling stations around the country.  Mobile phones are ringing constantly with calls from the observers in the field.   Maps of the 230 constituencies in Ghana adorn the walls of the modern building at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center in Accra.  

The Observation Center, affectionately called the "OC"  by CODEO staffers, is the technology hub of the massive amounts of qualitative and vote count data that is pouring in from the more than 4,000 election observers deployed by CODEO, the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers.  This makes it by far the largest deployment of election observers in this year's election.  Mobile technology, and text messaging in particular, is playing a critical piece in relaying both qualitative data on how the election is being conducted, and quantitative data that will verify the official results issued by the Ghanaian Election Commission.

When a Doctor is Just a Cell Phone Call Away

Posted by CorinneRamey on May 25, 2008

Roberta Lamptey Nartey, a family health practitioner in Ghana, used to rely on the walkie talkies of the security guards to communicate between hospitals where she worked. Once she wanted a woman who had had a severe asthma attack transferred from the Korle Bu Polyclinic to the surgery unit of another hospital. Nartey left a message with the night nurses to transfer her patient and wrote a note in the patient's chart, but to her chagrin, the asthmatic patient never appeared in the surgery unit. "I told the security man at the Surgical Unit to send a message to the security man at the polyclinic using his walkie talkie," Nartey wrote. "The security man at the polyclinic then went to the female ward at the polyclinic to remind the nurses on the morning shift that I was waiting at the Surgery Ward." After several layers of communication, Nartey's patient finally made it to surgery.

Using SMS to Fight Fake Drugs in Ghana

Posted by CorinneRamey on Nov 01, 2007

Imagine buying drugs to cure malaria, only to find that the ineffective medicine contains a mixture of chalk and starch. Or imagine taking counterfeit birth control and finding yourself pregnant, or getting inoculated for meningitis -- as was the case with 2,500 people in Niger -- and finding that the vaccine was deadly.