Andrew Hyde of TechStars retweeted a simple thought by Deb Louison Lavoy on why pay phones could not be used for micropayments. I thought I’d share this on my blog for your thoughts.
This reminds me of an equally interesting project called Question box that converts discarded phone booths in rural villages into a knowledge re-sources.
The idea was simple:
Users place a free call by pushing the green button. They connect to an operator sitting in front of an Internet-enabled computer. Users ask the operator questions. The operator goes online and finds their answers, translating them into the local language.
Question Box brings relevant information to people who cannot access the Internet directly. It overcomes barriers of illiteracy, language and limited penetration in rural India and Africa. Villagers have access to immediate, relevant information using the most simple mode of communication: voice.
While this is great, Question Box’s successful pilots coupled with Deb’s post brings up an interesting question. Can these same discarded phone booths also serve the purpose of collecting micro payments? – Phone booths already have the ability to collect money and transmit data over phone lines.
With little modification, phone booths could serve to kick start micro payments in rural Africa for those still be disconnected to the banking and communication grid.
These are my $0.02 ; your thoughts welcome ..
tag: afrigadget, appfrica, jobsworth
Today’s San Francisco Chronicle has a wonderful story about the U.N. considering mandating the right to water.
This is in part a response to water riots in Bolivia, Mali, Uruguay, Argentina and South Africa where the governments were unable to anticipate or explain unusually high water rates brought on by privatization of water services.
While private industry is critical to better purification and delivery systems, water must remain a public resource so as to prevent its exploitation. Classifying water as a human right would send the right message – that Governments have an obligation to allocate adequate resources that provide equal access to water for all their citizens.
Enshrining water as a right sounds innocent. But it carries multiple implications. On one level, such a right would put nations on notice to upgrade water systems to make sure all their citizens have access. It’s an inarguable ideal for a human necessity.
Poor nations, the real audience for the water-as-a-right campaign, have experienced a confusing spin cycle of rich-country ideas. First, foreign aid failed to improve water deliveries, as weak governments weren’t up to the task of rebuilding. Then a new wave of aid from the World Bank and the United Nations came with a condition: Here’s the money, but it needs to be handled by private companies with the management and experience to pull off an infrastructure rebuild.
source: Is there a right to water?, San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, December 26, 2008
Why write about Africa? There are many reasons why people choose to blog about Africa, but few have ever been challenged to share their reasons. Interestingly enough, African bloggers have been responding to a wonderful post by Théophile Kouamouo, a blogger based in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), who started a meme asking why you blog about Africa:
Why do you blog about Africa? Do we blog for the diaspora and for the world at large, cut off from our contemporary on the continent? Is blogging about Africa done in the same way as blogging about Europe or Asia? Does the African-oriented blogosphere have something specific to offer to the world version 2.0?
To understand why I write about Africa, there are a few things you must know about me:
- I am a third generation Kenyan.
- Like many in his time, my father’s grandfather came to Africa as a laborer for the great East African Railway from India. The journey was hard, their future was uncertain but he was determined to find his destiny in a land that his forefathers would have known little about.
- I am also an Indian.
- My mother comes from a state where the seeds of peaceful revolution were planted by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, later known as the Mahatma – this state, Gujarat has been the powerhouse of Indian Industry ever since.
- Lastly, I’m American educated. I believe strongly in mankind’s responsibility to protect some basic inalienable rights for every human being as outlined in the American Declaration of Independence , “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness “.
I write about Africa because I believe in Africa; I believe in the dream of a self reliant and prosperous Africa; I believe in the unwavering strength of its people, and the richness of its cultural history. My Africa is undergoing a revolution – a silent revolution, a peaceful revolution, an information revolution. The youth are vocal and demanding a better future. Rather than look at the west for answers, it is engaging the west to define it’s own future. Lastly, I write about Africa because its my home – and this is why I write about Africa.
Why do you blog about Africa? I’d love to hear from you …