Yesterday, 16 September, the workshop Mobile Innovations for Social and Economic Transformation: From Pilots to Scaled-up Implementation, initiated by the eDevelopment Thematic Group (eTG) of the World Bank took place.
It was already the 7th workshop we covered on our blog, Twitter and social media since we started our partnership with eTG, and the topic was especially interesting for us – considering the unique role of mobile phones in developing countries nowadays.
The workshop was split in six parts, each having as leitmotif a certain sector where mobile services are used.
- Part 1 focused on an Overview of Mobile Innovations Space and Enabling Environment
- Part 2 focused on Mobile Innovations in Financial Services
- Part 3 focused on Mobile Innovations in Health
- Part 4 focused on Mobile Innovations in Education
- Part 5 focused on Mobile Applications in Agriculture and Rural Development
- Part 6 focused on Mobile Innovations in Governance
The speakers came from various sectors – the World Bank, private and public sector, the academia and practicioners in the field.
Many of them claimed what I also already heard in several other conferences – the technology is there, now we have to focus on applications and business models. Although several successful projects were presented, there were general complaints that often such projects don’t bypass the “pilot” stage and don’t achieve sustainability. The topic of scaling projects to reach more audience and higher impact was also mentioned several times. More evaluation on impact and sharing information on failures of projects was identified as two ways to overcome this problem. Also the concept of private-public partnerships and searching strong, committed partners for implementing mobile solutions was put forward once more.
More detailed information can be found in the blog posts linked above and on Twitter. Under the hashtag #mobile09 the lively online discussion surrounding the event can be followed – several contributors gave this event quite a drive. The comments there had a more critical viewpoint on mobile phones as the big solution for all problems.
What was interesting for me personally was that obviously there is no real large scale project out there which is profitable so far. M-Pesa is the only one which scratches the border but also has trouble creating revenue. Impressive non-profit examples where projects which used mobile phones for delivering services to the poor and as enhancements in education.
So all in all the event gave a feeling that there is potential for more to come in the mobile sector and several great examples were given – but the “killer application” is obviously still to come, or maybe there’s even no need for it, because it’s so easy to set up an own, localized application.
eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Aftermath
was published on 18.09.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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