[AfrICANN-discuss] W3C Call for Participation: Africa Perspective on the Role of Mobile Technologies in Fostering Social and Economic Development April 1-2 2009, Maputo, Mozambique]

alice 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 
the move.

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 
important meeting.

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 
developing countries.

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 
15, 2009.


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 
internationalization/localization issues.

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 
using ICTs
* 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

Workshop Dates

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 
Program Committee.
Important Deadlines

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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