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"Dumbphones" To Get A Bit Smarter With Wikipedia Zero

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, October 28 2013

Times have been tough for Wikipedia. Earlier in October the Wikimedia Foundation disabled a ring of more than 250 fake accounts used by a public relations firm to write and edit company pages. The scandal has prompted at least one writer to wonder if Wikipedia is getting worse. Other have pointed to the fact that there are 20,000 fewer active contributing editors now than in 2007, and blame the “crushing bureaucracy” and “abrasive atmosphere” created by the current collective, which is 90 percent male. In spite of the recent bad press, the beleaguered site has announced a new pilot program called Wikipedia Zero, which will provide access to 70 million new users without computers, smartphones or data plans.

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Can Facebook Zero Aid Development Work in Africa?

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, October 28 2013

Usha Venkatachallam, founder of a technology consulting company, divides her time between Washington, D.C. and Coimbatore, India, but the global nature of her development work has recently led her to Uganda where she is working on creating a digital health platform in Apac, a remote rural area of the country. Part of the project will utilize Facebook Zero, which Venkatachallam says will prove useful for engaging users in “resource constrained environments.” Read More

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Can Data Solve Africa's Food Problem?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, October 16 2013

Farm in Malawi (Wikipedia)

Africa is not living up to its agricultural potential. Less than a quarter of arable land in sub-Saharan Africa is being cultivated, while more than 190 million people in that region live chronically undernourished. The region is woefully less mechanized than the rest of the world, and problems like Aflatoxins impede trade, costing Africa more than $450 million in lost profits. Solving these problems requires investing in equipment and infrastructure, but often farmers cannot get the necessary bank loans because a lack of agriculture data prevents lenders from determining risk.

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Ghanaians Push For Internet Access and Data Journalism

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, October 14 2013

Ghanaian civil society organizations have banded together in a push for greater Internet access in the country. Earlier this month 30 organizations called on the government to make Internet penetration a priority. The call took place turning a workshop on Internet freedom in Ghana organized by the Media Foundation for West Africa with support from a UK-based organization, Global Partners and Associates. Ghana's Communications Minister, Dr. Edward Kofi Omane Boamah, has voiced his support for the organizations' plea.

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SIM Card Registration Newest Assault on Privacy and Freedom of Expression in Zimbabwe

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, October 9 2013

Harare, Zimbabwe (Wikipedia)

As of October 1, Zimbabweans have 30 days to register their SIM cards with their service providers, or risk a fine or imprisonment of up to six months. The Zimbabwean government is also establishing a single subscriber database of all the subscribers' personal information. The government justifies these measures as necessary to safeguard national security, but human rights activists in Zimbabwe say that they pose a threat to citizens' privacy and free expression.

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Cameroon's Award-Winning ICT Blogger Explains Why Digital Media Still Lags

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, October 7 2013

Around the world, bloggers have often stepped up to fill the void that traditional media either will not fill or cannot fill. Many of them, like Cameroonian blogger and multimedia journalist Dorothée Danedjo Fouba, take their responsibilities as bloggers as seriously as any journalist. In an interview with fellow Cameroonian blogger Dibussi Tande, published by Global Voices Online, Fouba said, a “good blogger must already have the intrinsic qualities of all good journalists.”

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Ushahidi Responds To Westgate With Two New Emergency Response Tools

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, September 30 2013

Once again, violence has compelled the Kenyan organization Ushahidi to build new tools for disasters and emergencies, natural or otherwise. Ushahidi launched their popular mapping platform in 2008 so that people could track reports of post-election violence. Since then, they have also launched SwiftRiver and Crowdmap, and have built a backup Internet generator called BRCK. The Westgate Mall attack, so close to their home base, in a way sent them back to their roots: figuring out how to respond best to, and mitigate the worst effects of, violence.

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Enthusiasm For Mobile Money In Togo Spills Out Onto Street

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, September 17 2013

Mobile money makes some dance for joy (khalidinho1/Flickr)

The only time banks get people dancing in the U.S. is in cheesy commercials. Not so in Togo, where Biz Tech Africa reports Moov sales agents were dancing on a vehicle driving down the streets of Lomé, spreading the gospel of mobile money. Moov is a cell service provider in Togo and they recently launched a mobile money provider called Flooz.

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Nigeria Gets Its First Open Data Portal

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 12 2013

Since 2010, Edo State in Nigeria has set a day aside dedicated to technology and the state. The 2013 Edo State TechDay kicked off today, September 12, with the theme “Fostering Governance with Technology.” At the event (which has grown into a two day affair) Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole revealed Nigeria's first Open Data Portal.

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Getting Social About Water To Save Lives

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 5 2013

Every year more than 750,000 children under the age of five die after contracting diarrheal disease. Many of those deaths could be prevented if only the children had access to safe drinking water. A new smartphone app called mWater will try to tackle that problem through what they call social water monitoring. USAID thinks there's something to the idea: they just invested US$100,000 in their pilot project in Tanzania.

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