Mobile Phone Appropriation in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro

Posted by VivianOnano on Sep 12, 2011
Mobile Phone Appropriation in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro data sheet 1863 Views
Silva, Adriana de Souza e, Daniel M. Sutko, Fernando A. Salis, Claudio de Souza e Silva
Publication Date: 
Mar 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This qualitative case study describes the social appropriation of mobile phones among low-income communities in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) by asking how favela (slum) residents appropriate cell phones. Findings highlight the difficulty these populations encounter in acquiring and using cell phones due to social and economic factors, and the consequent subversive or illegal tactics used to gain access to such technology.


Moreover, these tactics are embedded in and exemplars of the cyclic power relationships between high- and low-income populations that constitute the unique use of mobile technologies in these Brazilian slums. The article concludes by suggesting that future research on technology in low-income communities focus instead on the relationship of people to technology rather than a dichotomization of their access or lack thereof.

Mobile Mapping for Rapid Field Assessment of Health Infrastructure in Indonesia

Posted by cycadme on Oct 01, 2010

The rural population of eastern Indonesia generally has limited access to health services due to rugged topography, poor roads and limited health resources. Moreover, there are no comprehensive audits of health infrastructure at the district level resulting in poor coordination of health resource allocation. This project is using mobile field data collection techniques to identify gaps in health services to enable more effective and equitable delivery of scarce health resources to remote and poor regions. 

The study tested the assumption that recent changes in mobile mapping and GIS technologies have made them appropriate and effective tools for public health applications in rural, developing contexts.  Three primary factors seen to be facilitating more widespread use were: (1) decreasing hardware costs, (2) the technological convergence of GPS/mobile-phone/PDA (personal digital assistant) hardware and (3) the development of free/open-source spatial data software.  

Health department staff from West Timor learning mobile field data collection tools.

Mobile Mapping for Rapid Field Assessment of Health Infrastructure in Indonesia data sheet 2846 Views
Countries: Indonesia

Towards an African E-Index: SMS e-Access and Usage Across 14 African Countries

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Oct 09, 2009
Towards an African E-Index: SMS e-Access and Usage Across 14 African Countries data sheet 3339 Views
Albert Nsengiyumva, Ali Ndiwalana, Beda Mutagahywa, Christoph Stork, F. F. Tusubira, Francisco Mabila, George Essegbey, Godfred Frempong, Ike Mowete, Innocent Ngalina, Lishan Adam, Mariama Deen-Swarray, Olivier Nana Nzepa, Marco Machona, Robertine Tankeu, Sebusang E. M. Sebusang, Sikaaba Mulavu, Steve Esselaar, Tim Mwololo Waema
Publication Date: 
Jan 2006
Publication Type: 

The SME sector has an important role to play in the present and future economic development, poverty reduction and employment creation in developing economies (Hallberg, 2000). Stern (2002) stresses that the SME sector is the sector in which most of the world's poor people work. SME sector growth largely exceeds the average economic growth of national economies in many countries and contributes significantly to employment creation. Accordingly, governments and donors alike have recognised the important role of the SME sector for overall development. As a result, many government policies are geared towards supporting their growth through a variety of programmes that range from tax incentives to technical assistance; from regulatory provisions to policy interventions; training and other types of business development services (O'Shea & Stevens, 1998).

Arising from this, one of the key issues is to identify the current information practices and needs, as well as the obstacles that SMEs face in their daily business activities, and to provide guidance in creating relevant policy initiatives that will lead to more economic growth and employment. The SME e-Access and Usage survey was carried out by the Research ICT Africa! (RIA!) network in 14 African countries between the last quarter of 2005 and the first quarter of 2006. Its primary objective is to understand the impact of ICTs on private sector development, and how ICTs can contribute to a vibrant SME sector and economic growth in the context of developing economies.

The countries covered included Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. To this end, the SME e-Access and Usage survey was motivated by the lack of clarity about the impact of ICTs on small businesses. The literature to date has failed to create a tight link between the use of ICTs and issues such as profitability and labour productivity. There are so many competing claims against government resources and time that a vague link between ICTs and economic growth and employment creation is not convincing enough evidence for governments to commit their resources. This survey aims to change that perception by providing solid empirical evidence of the link between ICTs and business performance based on firm-level evidence.

A major contribution of this survey to the existing understanding of SMEs in Africa is its use of a formality index to categorise SMEs. Past studies have treated formal, semi-formal and informal businesses uniformly, reducing the applicability of their analysis. A formal business is fundamentally different from an informal business in Africa. A formal business pays its taxes, is more likely to export and often is included in official census of SMEs. In contrast, the primary survival strategy of an informal business is to remain below the radar screen, not to pay taxes and not to form part of any official data. Apart from the obvious survey difficulties this presents, there is a more mundane business difference: informal businesses are also more likely to sell or produce anything that might make money, in contrast to more formal businesses that have a tendency to concentrate on a single product or set of products. The implication of this is that a Cobb-Douglas production function, for example, cannot be used to analyse SMEs, unless there is a declared interest only in formal SMEs.

Of course, suveying only formal businesses would be telling half the story since about two-third of non-resource-driven GDP generation is derived from SMEs, and a large share of that from informal ones. The establishment of the link between ICTs and profitability and labour productivity creates another set of policy imperatives for governments across the continent. ICTs are only useful if they can easily be acquired and used. The key obstacle identified by SMEs towards greater possession and use of ICTs is their cost. The high cost of ICTs in Africa has been attributed to policy choices that have limited competition, and the absence of regulatory capacity to regulate abuse of market dominance in wholesale and retail pricing (Gillwald, 2005 and Gillwald & Esselaar, 2004). This requires greater regulatory capacity, something that is missing from nearly all countries included in the survey. To illustrate this, most governments are exclusively focused on the direct contribution of ICTs towards the economy in terms of profits and staff complements of major telecommunications operators.

However, as this report makes clear, it is the indirect contribution of ICTs towards economic growth that is truly transformative: “ICTs have the largest beneficial impact in conjunction with other changes, including a new set of ICT skills/training, structural changes within business models and the economy, and institutional and regulatory adjustments” (ITU, 2006: 39). This means that ICTs have to be looked at from a perspective that considers all causes of economic growth and attempts to provide a catalytic environment that uses ICTs to generate economic growth rather than the ICT sector's specific contribution towards GDP.

NGOS Need to Think Beyond Just Mobile Costs, Consider Policy: A Review by Frederick Noronha

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Aug 18, 2008

Civil society can play a large role in getting people digitally connected, say the co-editors of  the new book 'ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks'.

"However, in order to reap the full benefits from connectivity in a long-lasting manner, underlying issues of policy, affordability and technology need to be addressed," LIRNAsia's Executive Director Rohan Samarajiva and co-editor of the book with Ayesha Zainudeen, told in an email interview.

Currently Asia is the fastest growing region in the world in terms of connectivity. Between 1984 and 1993, the Asia Pacific as a region overtook the other regions of the world (mainly due to mobiles), and it continues to grow, he noted.

"The book looks at the recent experiences of some countries in emerging Asia that are improving connectivity.