[AfrICANN-discuss] W3C Call for Participation: Africa Perspective
on the Role of Mobile
Technologies in Fostering Social and Economic Development April 1-2 2009,
alice at apc.org
Mon Dec 15 10:03:31 SAST 2008
(Apologies for cross posting)
The W3C Workshop on the "Africa Perspective on the Role of Mobile
Technologies in Fostering Social Development" aims to understand
specific challenges of using mobile phones and Web technologies to
deliver services to underprivileged populations of Developing Countries,
and to capture the specificities of the African context.
There are today more than half of the population living with less than
3$ a day, and lacking all kind of services (health, education,
government...). The incredible growth of the mobile penetration rate
last few years is providing a new hope. The potential of simple ICT
services on mobiles to improve people's income has indeed been largely
demonstrated. The aim of this workshop is to explore how to leverage
these success stories and create an enabling environment that would
drive the appearance of numerous services all over the Developing World.
People and organizations who have an interest in the role of mobile
phones and the Web in social and economic development and who wish to
participate in the workshop are invited to submit statements of interest
/ abstracts / position papers to the Workshop Committee (by email to:
team-m4d-ws-submit at w3.org).
This is a Workshop of the W3C Mobile Web Initiative (MWI), which aims to
identify and resolve challenges and issues of accessing the Web when on
This Workshop is part of the the Digital World Forum project (European
Union's 7th Research Framework Programme - FP7) which explore how to
take advantage of the new paradigm of low-cost technologies in broadband
infrastructure and devices to bridge the digital divide and connect the
W3C thanks Workshop host, the Ministry of Science and Technology of the
Government of Mozambique.
You are cordially invited to sponsor this workshop. Following in the
model of the successful sponsorship program developed for the 2006
Mobile Web in Developing Countries Workshop, and the 2008 Workshop on
the Role of Mobile Technologies in fostering Social Development, we
expect you will want to consider participating in the program for this
This sponsorship program is a marketing opportunity that enable sponsors
to showcase their organization and underscore its commitment to the
shared goals of the W3C. Sponsors reach those who are making decisions
about the future of the Web, as well as those in the public who have
come to rely on the Web as critical infrastructure for development and
to help bridging the Digital Divide. Sponsors will be associated
directly with the event which will gather at the same place experts in
mobile Web technologies, and experts in the Digital Divide in order to
use the Web and mobile phones to leverage development in rural areas of
There are three levels of sponsorship, Platinum-Gold-Silver, offering a
panel of benefits. All the details of each level are available from the
Sponsorship Program page.
This sponsorship program is designed to enable participation by
individuals and organizations with particular expertise, but who might
not otherwise be able to attend due to travel or other costs.
For further information and expression of interest, please contact
Stéphane Boyera (boyera at w3.org), or Marie-Claire Forgue (mcf at w3.org).
The deadline for requesting to take part in this opportunity is March
Since its creation in 1989 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the Web has grown
from one user to more than 1.5 billion of users in 2008, creating
services, providing information, connecting people, creating new jobs
and completely new sectors of activities. Despite this incredible
success in a such a short timeframe, there are still today more than 4.5
billion people that are not benefiting from this Information Society.
However, the Web, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
in general, has been recognized as a great tool to potentially resolve
the historical divides between developed and developing economies by
providing an infrastructure to deploy minimal services (Health,
Education, Business, Government...) to rural communities and
under-privileged populations. That is why many actions have been engaged
in the last twenty years towards bridging the so-called Digital Divide.
Unfortunately, these actions - often focussing on telecenters - have had
little success so far. This model has encountered many difficulties due
to the local conditions (lack of electricity, lack of maintenance
skills….) and very few have reach long-term sustainability and continued
Since 2-3 years a new hope is coming with the very high penetration rate
of mobile telephony in developing countries. Now a minimal
infrastructure (GSM networks) and minimal computing power (mobile
phones) are available in the pockets (or at least in their very close
environment) of billions of people, including the poorest segment of the
population. Most developing countries who missed the telephony
revolution due to lack of infrastructure and required investments have
participated in the mobile revolution directly. Can this be repeated for
the Web? Four years ago, the W3C with the mobile industry have launched
the Mobile Web Initiative to make mobile phone users first class Web
citizen, and the number of people accessing the Web from mobile phones
is growing very quickly. Would it be possible that, like for telephony,
most Developing Countries will skip the PC-Web revolution and jump
directly on the next phase, the Mobile Web?
In May 2008, W3C has launched the Mobile Web for Social Development
Interest Group to explore this direction, and understand the type of
actions that could support and leverage this transition. This is the
theme of this workshop.
For under-privileged people to benefit the Web, they need to be able to
access it, and find accessible, usable and useful information and
services that would help them, and that is worth the resource they put
to learn and connect. Therefore, it is critical to explore the two
aspects of access and content, as well as the education needs.
Regarding access, it is critical to understand the key challenges and
barriers that targeted end-users (underpriviledged populations of
Developing Countries) have to access and use mobile services. This
includes affordability, usability, illiteracy, accessibility and
Regarding content, the key question is creating an enabling environment
for the creation of information and services that people need and that
would improve their lives. In the last 2 or 3 years, we witnessed the
appearance of success stories of that demonstrated how relatively simple
services on mobile could be really helpful. However, the number of these
success stories is still low, and they are all based on a limited
technology, SMS. This workshop is aiming at identifying the issues,
barriers, needs and challenges the potential providers of
development-oriented services, mostly NGO/grass-root organizations and
governments/public sector have to develop and deploy those services, and
to exploit the potential of the mobile platform.
Regarding education, it is essential to understand what are the needs of
the different actors (NGO/grass-root organizations, IT sector, potential
entrepreneurs,...), and what kind of education material could help
disseminating the expertise and enabling people about developing
services and content on mobile phones.
As an input to this workshop, the W3C team has written a public white
paper that summarizes some of these issues. The W3C Mobile Web for
Social Development Group is also developing a set of documents which
should serve as input to potential participants.
The goal of the workshop is to provide input and feedback to the W3C
Mobile Web Initiative, and its Mobile Web for Social Development
Interest Group. The following topics are of particular interest:
* Analysis of use-cases / real-world projects on
o use of mobile phones in development projects,
o use of the Web in development projects,
o deployment of public services using mobile devices in developing
* Strengths and weaknesses of SMS technology vs mobile Web vs voice
* Regional differences in Asia/Africa/Central Europe/Middle East/South
* Challenges of integrating ICTs in rural communities
* Usability and Human-Computer Interfaces (HCI) challenges of mobile
browser and mobile content for population without technological
background and prior computer experience
* Challenges and potential solutions against illiteracy
* Usage of mobile technologies in emergency responses in rural areas
* Analysis on the way the mobile phones and/or the Web could improve
people's lives in Developing Countries (education, healthcare, etc.)
* Role of voice and multimodal technologies/applications
* Challenges of developing and deploying numerous ICT services to rural
* Comparison between different potential platforms to support ICT's
deployment (mobile phones, low-cost laptop, telecenters, and so on)
* Opportunity and challenges of ICTs in social/human development
* Challenges of sustainability, scalability and replicability
* Challenges and opportunity of integrating mobile phones in specific
domains: eGovernment projects (mGovernment), e-health projects, disaster
Who should attend ?
W3C encourages W3C Members and public to participate in the Workshop.
Workshop organizers expects that this workshop should be of particular
interest to people with following backgrounds:
* Charitable Foundations funding and/or managing Development projects
* Companies or Organizations providing ICT-related products, services,
content, applications or infrastructure in Developing Countries.
* People with grassroots experience on the use of ICT in Development
* People from the ICT for Development (ICT4D) domain
* People with a mobile background
* People with an eGovernment background
* Web experts
* Accessibility experts
* Digital Divide experts
* People expert in mobile HCI in Developing Countries
* People expert in the use of mobile phones in Development
The workshop will take place on April 1-2 2009.
The exact venue is still under consideration. Details will be soon
Statements of Interest, abstracts, position papers and presentation
slides must be in English. The workshop will have a real-time
simultaneous translation in Portuguese, English and French. Therefore,
speakers and presenters can use any of these three languages.
To ensure productive discussions, the workshop is limited to 100
attendees. Participation is open to non-W3C members. Each organization
can provide at most two attendees.
Statement of interest are required in order to participate in this
workshop (except for W3C team members). Each organization or individual
wishing to participate must submit a statement of interest at
team-m4d-ws-submit at w3.org explaining their interest in the workshop as
soon as possible and no later than February 12, 2009. The intent is to
make sure that participants have an active interest in the area, and
that the workshop will benefit from their presence. The Program
Committee will select attendants based on their statement of interests
and the number of available seats.
Each organization or individual wishing to have a position paper
published on the workshop web site and/or wishing to make a presentation
during the event must submit an abstract no later than January 12, 2009.
The Program Committee will then review these abstracts, select some of
them for presentation, and request the full papers from the authors. The
decision of the Program Committee will be notified to the authors by
January 25, 2009.
Send abstract (in valid XHTML/HTML (please use the W3C Markup Validation
Service) or PDF or Plain Text - 1 to 2 pages) to: team-m4d-ws-submit at w3.org
All papers from accepted abstract will be available from the workshop
Web site. The workshop Web site will be public, so papers and slides
must be suitable for public dissemination. Speaker slides will also be
available at the Web site after the workshop. There will not be printed
To attend, you must register by filling out a registration form. The URI
for the registration form will be sent to you after your statement of
interest is accepted.
There will be no participation fee.
Press representatives must contact w3t-pr at w3.org and/or Marie-Claire
Forgue, W3C Communications (mcf at w3.org)
The agenda will be published after the selection of abstracts by the
Please note the following dates:
* As soon as possible - Statements of interest
* January 12, 2009: Abstract submission
* January 25, 2009: Committee Decisions on participations and abtract
* February 20, 2009: Agenda and registration open
* March 15, 2009: Final presentations available and registration closed
* April 1-2, 2009: Two Days Workshop in Maputo, Mozambique
Enquiries or comments on the workshop can be sent to the public mailing
list public-mw4d at w3.org.
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