Broadening Mobile content Sustainable Access

18 November 2009 - A Workshop on Access in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt

Agenda

Mobile content is referred to generally content that is viewed or used on mobile phones, graphics, text SMS, games etc. Mobile phones devices are used to send and receive text messages (SMS), listen to music, watch videos, shoot videos, redeem coupons for purchases, check emails and so forth. Mobile content also referred to text or multimedia hosted on websites, which may either be standard internet pages, or else specific mobile pages. Examples of user centre mobile content include mobile tickets sent to consumers via SMS. 

There is greater use of mobile with need based content. An instance is of Mobile use for agricultural marketing purposes in country like Uganda. As the information flow increases due to the mobile phone coverage expansion, the cost of crop marketing decreases, particularly more so for perishable crops, such as banana, in remote areas because the increased information allows traders to collect perishable products more efficiently. A study in Uganda found that the proportion of banana farmers who sold banana increased from 50 to 69 percent in the communities more than 20 miles away from district centers after the expansion of the mobile phone coverage. This explicitly highlights the socio-economic empowerment aspect of mobile applications in the way that better access to mobile based information content increases income distinguishing between changes to prices and market participation. This process tackles the complex interaction between mobiles, transport costs, and the availability of alternate face-to-face channels for information exchange

There are instances at large in country like Philippines, of more and more people are using mobile phones to take out and repay loans, pay bills, buy goods, make donations, transfer cash and even purchase fast-food burgers and according to the Asian Development Bank, the service is available to more than 95percent of the population. In Bangladesh, need based content is generated through mobile applications for micro finance activities and credit services delivery 

The larger issue that this proposed workshop aims to raise is appropriate and need based mobile content generation and delivery for inclusive growth through bridging information gaps. The focus shall be on access to mobile content that largely restricts mobile applications effective and optimum usage. In this, the larger issues are here. It is important to keep enhancing the reach and utility of the mobile facilitated utility based content delivery to meet regular and yet vital information and content needs of marginalized groups and communities located in remote surroundings and countryside. This shall reinforce the gaining confidence of the user communities on the mobile tool as ‘ICT application for the masses’. 

Thus, the larger issue is of mobile communications for inclusive growth with greater focus on need based and user oriented mobile content for addressing information and content gaps. There is need to rethink at mobile content applications from multiple stakeholders perspectives. The larger question is how mobile application can be effectively fit into the larger public service delivery network. This means, a consumer has ordered for a health enquiry on mobile and this has answer in a speedy and reliable way. Therefore it is important to devise national strategies that give importance to mobile applications as effective public service delivery platform. 

New Delhi based Digital Empowerment Foundation (http://www.defindia.net) is the organizer of the aforementioned workshop. DEF is affiliated and work closely with Vienna based World Summit Award. In fact, the annual Manthan Award for Best e-Content for Development organized by DEF is in consonance and guidance of WSA. DEF’s affiliation to WSA is half a decade now. DEF was associated with the two rounds of World Summit of Information Society (WSIS). The Manthan Award platform is itself a multi-stakeholder group that DEF has promoted since 2003. DEF is affiliated and associated to India based Mission 2007 platform which is a national platform to promote ICT in every village in India. DEF organized the 2009 edition of World Summit Award Grand Jury in India, hosted by Ministry of Communications & IT, India. 

Name of Key Panelists
- Mr. S. R. Rao, Additional Secretary, DIT, Govt. of India
- Osama Manzar, India 
- Prof Peter Bruck, Austria 
- N Ravi Shanker, DIT, India 
- Shahzad ahmad, Pakistan
- Ahmad yahya, ministry of IT, Egypt
- Expert from APC
- Mr. Rajen Varada, UN Solution Exchange, India
- Murali Shanmugavelan, Programme Manager, Information Society, Panos London
- Ms. Tulika Pandey, Additional Director, DIT, India 
- Mr. Madan Mohan Rao, AMPC, Singapore
- Mr. Ananya Raihan, D Net, Bangladesh
- Ms. Chitranganie Mubarak, ICTA, Sri Lanka
- Mr. Rajnesh Singh, ISOC