Thursday, July 12, 2007 Mobile Knowledge for Social Change

Cellphones are changing the world in more ways than one. ICT for Development initiatives are now increasingly highlighting the use of cellular, wireless technology rather than standard personal computers (i.e. 'telecenters'). But then again, with technological convergence going on at fast pace, who could tell the difference between a cellular phone and a personal computer anymore? As a cellphone ad says: "[cellphones] are what computers have become."

So if computers with internet connection could play a role in addressing development issues, then cellphones with GPRS/3G/4G connection should potentially play bigger roles. Cellphones are predominantly personal, so instead of fostering 'community development' (which is prone to elite capture), they do a great job in fostering something more essential: 'individual/personal development.' They're cheap(er than computers), handy, easy to use, and very contextual to the user. The rate of cellphone ownership is increasing at an exponential rate in many developing countries. In Indonesia, the number of cellphone subscribers have reached 30% of the population, and 90% of the population are covered by cellphone coverage/signal. is an online community and a wiki for sharing ideas on how to use mobile communications for social and environmental benefits. Here you can learn (and contribute) stories of how to use the cellphone for:
  • civic engagement (i.e. monitoring a presidential election and reporting child rights violations)
  • economic empowerment (i.e. mobile-banking and rural microfinance)
  • education (i.e. using mobile games to build HIV/AIDS awareness)
  • environment (i.e. mobilizing volunteers to respond to disasters)
  • health (i.e. collecting vital health data), and
  • humanitarian relief (i.e. sending donations through text message)
The idea for came from Ndidi Nwuneli, founder and CEO of LEAP Africa, a Nigerian NGO dedicated to nurturing a new generation of African leaders.

"Groups like ours would really benefit from a resource that shows us how to use mobile technology to carry out our work more effectively," said Ndidi at a Nokia stakeholder event of NGO and corporate leaders. was created in response to Ndidi’s request, with support from Nokia and Vodafone. And since a large part of its intention is to help groups like Ndidi's, also has information and practical examples for NGOs on “how to” use mobile technology in their daily work, including
* Collect field data
* Distribute information
* Manage finances
* Manage your organization
* Respond to emergencies
* Track people/products

Check it out.


  1. Acette Technologies in partnership with Derdack of Germany provides a mobile-banking solution called BankSmart. For use of the application in respect of social causes, I am aware that the licences are offered at special prices.

    May be you should check out for use in your initiative.


  2. Roger,
    Thanks for you input.