This is the output of the real-time captioning taken during the IGF 2014 Istanbul, Turkey, meetings. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: My name is Andrew Wyckoff. I'm Director of Science, Technology, and Industry at the OECD. It's my pleasure to be Moderator for this workshop on Content for Development, Diversifying the Global Content and Apps Markets.
First of all, I want to thank all of you. Some of you who may be giving up a little bit of your lunchtime to participate in this workshop. I find it a very important topic and one that we are going to unpack over the next hour or so.
As all of our economies move into what are commonly called knowledge based economies, nothing is more important than information as a raw material that then gets processed into whatever we call content and various applications.
Some of the work we have done at the OECD, looking at this broadly says these types of intangible assets: software, R&D, intellectual property, are worth more than the tangible assets: machinery, equipment and structures. When you see what moves in the economy, it is these intangible assets that contribute more to growth and productivity than the traditional tangible equipment.
ACTs allow us to produce and disseminate and preserve and use knowledge in ways we could have never thought of before. By doing so, we maximize the benefits both economically and socially.
In 2011, the OECD report with ISOC and UNESCO, looking at local content, we observed two large trends: one, local content is growing very quickly across the world; and two, its composition is changing. It's no longer dominated by the large Developed Countries. In that analysis, we identified a few key steps for fostering the creation of local content, certainly basic literacy, critical thinking ability, are essential.
On top of that, there is a need for media, information and digital literacy skills. We recommended in that report that policymakers should also focus on connectivity, network infrastructure, and as you will always see in a OECD report, promoting competition to lower access prices in order to support the dissemination of local content.
Not surprisingly, we showed a strong correlation between local content, infrastructure and access prices, although we had difficulty getting to causality. But this means that means local content and dissemination is crucial, we find, because it creates a triangle of improving communication relevant knowledge between industry, social learning and innovation, which in turn, creates a virtuous cycle and influences the rate of technology adoption.
Today, we are here to discuss this in much more of a practical way where we have a series of panelists who have proven capability and experience in these areas. I want to introduce each of them just before they speak and I want to start off with His Excellency, Minister Diego Molano, the Minister of Information, Technologies, and Communications from Columbia. Minister Molano? Please, if you will start us off and then I'll move to Helani Galpaya.
>> DIEGO MOLANO VEGA: Thank you. Good morning, everybody. Thank you all for being here, for moving your lunch to later hours and joining us today.
Do I have -- how long do I have?
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: 10 minutes.
>> DIEGO MOLANO VEGA: 10 minutes. Is there a clicker?
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: I do not.
>> DIEGO MOLANO VEGA: Clicker? Thank you. I have slides if you can help me out with this.
The issue that I want to comment to today is on this tool that we have in our hands, which is ICT, to reduce the single most important problem in the world, which is poverty. What we should do in terms of policies, especially what should we do as the whole industry to activate that tool?
Let me show you what this is about in this very short video. This is one of the poorest areas of Latin America, in the Columbian Pacific area. This is African Columbia population mainly. This is an area poorer than many African countries.
In Columbia in the government, we took office three years ago and our main goal, of course, the first one is achieving peace in a conflict for more than 50 years. The main issue to achieving peace is reducing poverty. Four years ago, 38% of Columbians were under the poverty line. And we focus on helping people to leave poverty. We have taken people out of poverty 2.4 million people in four years. That's the main goal of our ICT plan, how with technology we can help to reduce poverty.
In order to do that, we focus on developing the whole ecosystem, the whole ICT ecosystem. And that ecosystem has four elements: infrastructure, services, applications, and users.
In the case of Columbia, the issue of infrastructure, making sure that infrastructure is deployed everywhere. That's already solved. And it is also a good example. We deployed fiber everywhere, even connecting municipalities in very remote areas in the Columbian jungle. And we are deploying IT networks in every single municipality so that today, people from the base of the pyramid are already connected.
That doesn't mean anything. Of course, the connection has some value. There are some applications, especially related to education of these people. But the main bottleneck is applications, building the networks is not enough. Connecting people is not enough. And we are proving that in Columbia already.
You saw that in the video. Look at the farmers. They grow plantains and potatoes. What is the value of Internet for those plantain growers? What is the value of Internet to those fishermen that you saw in the video? What is the value of it? There is no value. Why? Because there is no applications for them.
Let's take the single most popular business in the whole developing world, which is the little mom-and-pop shop, the little shop. You see those shops everywhere in Latin America, Asia, Africa. We have more than 500,000 of those shops in Columbia. Let's ask them to use Internet. They say, what for? And I would talk to them a few years ago and they would say, look, yes, Internet is there, but I don't want to use it because this is kind of weird for me. So there is no value for me there. So I would tell them, look, you can manage your inventory here in this application in the Cloud and they would say, what for? I have my inventory here in this little notebook the same way my father did and my grandpa did. So we tell them, you can also manage your accounting here in this application also in the Cloud. And they would say, well, what for? I would say, you know, you can file your taxes there. They would say I don't want to pay taxes.
So, there is no value in the net for them. Today, Internet is still a tool for the rich because there is no applications for the poor. So the challenge is how we develop applications. Again, expanding infrastructure is not enough. The value of it is in applications.
So, in Columbia, that is the focus we have now. Developing applications for that base of the pyramid, applications that have social impact. In order to do that, we have to develop the applications ecosystem, a local ecosystem.
And we have a great opportunity in Columbia. Because of course, in terms of those ecosystems, there are many efficient ecosystems -- application ecosystems in the world. For example, the Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is a perfect ecosystem. You know what? Those guys in the Silicon Valley have no clue what a poor person is. They have no clue what the life of a fisherman is. They have no clue what the base of a pyramid is. We know what it is.
And that is the opportunity we are now working on and realizing that opportunity. Because, those guys in the Silicon Valley have no clue what a small company is in Africa or Asia or Latin America. We know what the problems of those small companies are and we have to solve those problems using technology. So, we have to develop those application ecosystems locally.
American's big companies are not coming to Latin America or Asia or Africa to solve our problems. We have to solve your problems ourselves. In order to do that, we have to create the right talent. Talent is the first key success factor of these ecosystems. Talent, how we train more engineers and more technicians? How do we develop ideas, skills, among the whole society? That is the test that OECDs embarking upon, IT skills as well. So talent is one element.
The second is how you encourage entrepreneurship, but not in the Silicon Valley way. We have to create our own entrepreneurial systems. We cannot copy what happens in Silicon Valley or other successful ecosystems. We have to adapt. We have to, what we call -- we have to platonize the models. In Spanish, it will be platonizar.
We have to always create the right financial mechanisms. We cannot have the venture capital funds of the Silicon Valley going there. We have to create systems to finance those ecosystems, and we have to take into account the real value change, the realities that we face. And we have to transform those realities with technology.
So that is the challenge we have. And then, if we don't do that, we are going to be missing the opportunity to use technology to solve our problems. And the gaps are going to increase. We have to keep on closing the gaps and the next step, again, is creating this local ecosystems to create local applications.
We have many, many examples in Columbia. We have many, many examples on how we are already delivering results on applications for our base of the pyramid in terms of business or applications for agriculture, for subsidized housing, for justice, for health to do some inclusion. So, that is the challenge we have and that is what I wanted to talk about in this opening. Thank you.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Thank you for a great launch of this session and some fascinating things. I hope we follow up on those. Let me now turn to Helani Galpaya the CEO of LIRNEasia.
>> HELANI GALPAYA: Thanks , Andy. My organisation works in south Asia, Southeast Asia, and sometimes in the Pacific island, and we worry about people at the bottom of the pyramid, that is the people -- or the base of the pyramid, as the Minister said. Socioeconomic classification DNE. The poorest of our societies.
These people are mostly not online. In our surveys of representative sample surveys in these countries, we see an exception in countries like Indonesia where there is very high Facebook use. And when I say very high, we are talking 9% of the bottom of the pyramid. So higher than every other country that we work in, but still not very high for the numbers you're used to.
Every other country is below that. We need apps, interesting things to get these people online, but we need a whole lot of other things to get the apps working. In some of the work that we have done on application ecosystems, together with some colleagues in India, there are a couple of things that need to come together, right? The demand, which is primarily about the user, literacy of the user, ability to pay. Do they know about the Internet? Do they know what they can do with it? In our surveys, we have 27% of the bottom of the pyramid in India who never heard of the Internet. So there is a big barrier to cross. Other countries have similar numbers.
Then, there is the whole issue of who is developing these apps? Do we have a critical mass of application developers? Network operators? And people who can develop a number of apps? What is the distribution system? What platforms are we selling through the Apple and Android platforms? That's not going to really work at least in the short term for the bottom of the pyramid because they don't have credit cards. We have metric operator promoted, sort of operator app stores, which seem to be working as well, Android platform. But there doesn't seem to be enough marketing and advertising money spent on these things, so there are other issues that people face. There is a payment platform issue. And then there is the whole supporting ecosystem.
Let's briefly talk about or touch upon three countries. So our biggest neighbor -- I'm from Sri Lanka -- is India. Big player in the global software market. Punches well below its weight in the app development market. There are lots of software guys in India writing apps for foreign companies. They are getting venture capital funding -- can you hear me? They are getting -- Sorry, we had the opposite issue in the previous panel. They are getting venture capital funding being bought by Facebook, so there is real money coming into it. These are developing apps for foreign companies for developed markets.
There is not much happening for the local people. Now don't get me wrong, there are people who download iPhone apps in India. These people are not the BOP, base of the pyramid. They are rich people with credit cards, right? So when you look at some of the reasons why, there are sort of capability issues. Indian software app developers are great at doing certain things but they are not really great at designing good user interfaces. There are cases of companies trying to find good user interface designers and can't find them. You have to go from company to company to find that particular skill. So it's not a core competency that has developed.
People who develop apps talk about the enormous amount of time they spend optimizing the app for network optimization and performance, because 3G just about came into the market. 4G is, I don't know, barely available. So they are worrying about things that people in other countries don't have to worry about necessarily when they are doing an app. They are not working about the look and feel. They are trying to optimize for other things because the regulators have not done their job.
Then, if you're trying to make a cash payment while you're using an app, the central bank requires something. It's called a one-time pin, SMS verification that your bank has to send. So you're in the middle of application doing a financial transaction and you need to leave the app, go to your SMS where there is a app, get that thing and go back to that. Now your handshake has ended. The network is bad anyway, if you're lucky your handshake still remain. These are practical problems in these countries that people face.
In Sri Lanka, we did have problems with using Paypal, and the entrepreneur from Sri Lanka joining remotely can clarify whether this is still an issue. So these are other problems that people have. So the solution to that has been sort of multifold. There is an emerging company called apps daily. What they do is, they commission and develop apps but they actually sell them physically through stores. They are in 80 or 100 sort of different cities. There are 1,200 touch points. It's called Apps Daily. And they sell through people who sell smartphones. So, when a consumer comes in, they rely on the shop owner as sort of the advisor, the discovery he performed at this point, where, what kind of phone, how much is it? What kind of data plan? Along with that, by the way we have these couple of apps and we can sell it to you. It can back up your contacts. It Give you virus protection. It can do X and Y. It can keep your private photos private. It looks and feels like you're buying a software. It actually is a packet of that size. It has a download on to the computer at the point of purchase and people pay 2400-500 rupees for that. That's about $50. So this is not the .99 cent app. People pay money for these types of things, right? So that's one model.
In Sri Lanka, we've had a different type of effort to get apps developed and promoted and that was our third largest TeleCom operator, which ran sort of -- essentially they ran an ad saying we are having this event where you can learn how to develop an Android app. They had 2000 people wanting to get in. In the end, they ended up training 1000 people. They said if you develop the app, I will give you 70% of the revenue. I will keep 30%. I'll promote it on my own walled garden app store, and they actually came up with a decent number of apps in the short time that they ran this. They worked with the software vendor, which actually provided these young hackers and techies with the test platform. So they could actually optimize their app as if it was running on the network. For free. And if it became popular, they could make money.
Now making money is a challenge because of payment issues, so unless it is third party advertiser driven, you are not going to make money. You're going to come a cool ranking in the developer community but you aren't making a lot of money.
In Myanmar, which is just starting out, we have one of the new license holders running competitions for app developers, and they actually provide incubation services. So not just technical help but how to write a business plan and how to promote your app and I think they selected 5 or 10 as of like last month and are incubating these people for the next 6 months and trying to roll them out.
However, again, payment remains a big problem there. We talked to one entrepreneur who sells cars and apartment rental in Myanmar. One of his other sideline businesses is allowing his foreign bank account, because he was steering the past few years overseas, for other app developers to make money, because you can't send money to Myanmar easily. Most people don't have credit cards. He has a Singapore bank account. Other app developers use his account. He makes 10% of that money. He is providing a service for other people because there are huge problems for people to operate in these countries.
So, what do we do? I think a lot of, even in India, we've have seen Governments getting into app development, trying to run camps for app developers together with Microsoft. We have seen this. They are not a bad thing, but I think if these three examples show to you that operators and private sector people are willing to do the capacity building, the incubation and the funding of app developers, right? The government needs to make sure that there is enough spectrums so people are not worried about whether your handshake is going to end, when you're using an app so app developers can have reasonable assurance that is certain apps can be run with the data requirements they want. They should put the data out that the Government has.
India's most popular quote/unquote application is the railway booking service. That's on USSD and SMS. Why should it? If realtime railway scheduling was available, this can be another app that some young entrepreneur develops but it can't be done because the government has the data.
I think I'll stop there. Thank you.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Sorry about that. Helani, thank you very much. And I think you've identified a number of
real-world practical obstacles that again as Minister Molano said, is pretty far from Silicon Valley and underscore, maybe some of the practical considerations that need to be made to have local content and applications get developed.
That is a good segue, I think, into we are going to engage remotely to entrepreneurs who have actual real-world field experience in developing these apps. The first comes from Asia. His name is Indy Samagiva. He is the Director of YAMU. He will explain, I presume. And I presume our technicians are bringing him online as we speak. He'll be followed by someone from Latin America, Danielle Anderse, who is a Computer Science student and an app developer himself. We'll start with Indy.
>> INDY SAMAGIVA: Hi. I hope you can hear me. I'm sorry the videos are coming through. Can you hear me?
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Welcome. We hear you loud and clear.
>> INDY SAMAGIVA: Thank you. Yamu means "Let's go." It's a city guide, so it's like Yelp or something like that. We have writers that cover the city actively. We don't actually focus on the bottom of the pyramid. We focus on people that can get online already that can afford to eat out.
For us, apps is just part of the customer lifecycle. We have a print magazine and we have a website and those are still a lot stronger than apps. But we do see people moving towards that. But it's still not our main channel at all.
The benefit in the developing world that we get from apps is that it works without a data connection, which is a big things for a lot of our users including myself. I think that's what sets a lot of apps apart in the developing world.
In Sri Lanka, there's a lot of hype around apps. Companies love to releases. They love to do with releases, but maintaining daily users is really hard, including for us. A lot of apps were just launch and just disappear. It's like a hype thing. People like the word app but they're not necessarily using the technology.
One of the problems we have around apps is payments. There is simply no way to do in-app payments. PayPal doesn't work with us, Google Play doesn't work here, Apple doesn't work here. Honestly I don't know if they ever will. So it's hard for us to -- like we do pizza delivery, but we have to cash on delivery or we have to do credit card on delivery. We can't do payment out of the app.
One interesting thing about the Sri Lanka market is Microsoft is trying to catch up here. So they actually offer money and support the app developers. They say that they'll promote your app at points-of-sale which shows how competition between these big guys can be good for small developers here. Honestly, if there was more competition between different app stores, they might have incentive to pay attention to us like Microsoft does.
So I won't take too long. Like I said, long term we see -- in Sri Lanka, we see it growing rapidly. We went from, I would say zero apps and very few smart phones two years ago to everybody on the bus has one now. So we're just hanging around and waiting for the industry to grow. That's all for me.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Indy, thank you very much. I think that is very helpful and adds to our discussion. Again, I think you touched on a few things that Helani touched on too; particularly, the barrier of payments, which seems to be a non-insignificant issue. I think we are almost ready to go to our second in-the-field developer, Danielle, coming to us from Columbia. Danielle, are you there?
>> DANIELLE ANDERSE: Yeah. Can you hear me?
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Danielle, Welcome to Istanbul and to the IGF. We welcome hearing about your local experience.
>> DANIELLE ANDERSE: Okay. So I have worked in the (Inaudible) that are brought by Diego Molano that is right there. I have developed to applications. The first one is an application for an emergency ACT here in Columbia. This app is enabled to the common citizen to report several kinds of natural disasters and emergencies. These reports include geo-location, a picture taken by the user, and all that data is actually sent to their servers and strategized their actions.
The second app is more for the farmers market, for the mom and pop shops like Diego told us. It's actually a showcase where they can show their fruits, their vegetables, and they can try to compete against big supermarkets. Because in here in Columbia, there are great approaches in these markets but they are cheaper. But people don't buy it because they don't know how easy it is to buy from them.
We actually got some help from the Government. We got paid by them for each of these applications, and they gave us support. They gave us mobile devices, which is nice. That was at the first event. That is about all the help they gave us. It was very helpful. We will be grateful if they maybe will give us some help in user interfaces, like another panelist said, they need to call engineers to design those interfaces and it is the key to get to the real customer. And that's it.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Danielle, that is very helpful. I take from your discussion you've got some specific thanks to the Government of Columbia, but also some recommendations on next steps that they could undertake to further develop the apps area. And if I heard you correctly, you were talking about user interfaces and more of the direct implementation; is that right? Maybe we lost Danielle.
>> DANIELLE ANDERSE: I am here. Yes. We first were three engineers, but we didn't have an idea about designing interfaces. So, we had to subcontract the app designer in order to finish it up, both of the apps. It will be really nice to help us in that topic.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Okay. Thank you. And thank you again for getting up pretty early in the morning to join us. It is 4:00 a.m. there.
Thank you, Danielle. Let me now turn to Bonface Witaba and he is an e-learning tutor.
>> BONFACE WITABA: Thank you very much. My name is Bonface Witaba from Kenya. First of all, I will briefly talk about our Africa wide programme, whose main aim is to promote the creation of solutions through ICG.
For the benefit of everyone, AFRINIC is the regional Internet agency for Africa and Indian Ocean. They have a grant wide programme whose main aim is to encourage and support the development of solutions to information and communication needs in the African region. It supports degrees, first of all innovation, access and promotion and the e-development and then freedom of expression. Part of the programme is -- (Inaudible) -- and Asia Pacific;
usually partnering organisations such as IDRC, SETA and the AFRINIC. And to my point, my Kenyan scenario. I represent the Witaba Foundation. We run a initiative called Helping Educational Resources for Schools. The main aim of the project is to seek the integration of ICT into the current education curriculum. The current government recently launched the initiative to provides free laptop for primary schools in Kenya, but there was the issue of content. So we decided to take it up to ourselves to fill the gap of content by creating free, high-quality digital creative commerce to provide them to schools through our centralized portal. The main aim is to break the lockbox of communication and provide incumbent ICTUs to primary schoolkids.
We envision this project will be able to equalize access to learning content both to educators and learners. Our projects currently is targeting 250 pupils from two schools, but we aim to scale it up to 1000 classrooms, about 50,000 students. And then, again, just to mention for the benefit of everyone, just the other day we were on a watch for the innovation and development for the project. Thank you.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Thank you very much, Bonface. And let me now end by turning to Konstantinos Komaitis, a Policy Advisor to the Internet Society.
>> KONSTANTINOS KOMAITIS: Thank you very much, and good afternoon, everybody. I would like to thank the Columbia Government for their kind invitation and because I know that local content is close to their heart and there has been an ongoing work. Which I find particularly interesting that over the past few years, local economy has been picked up in such a fashion, because at the end day, local content is inextricably linked to development and ever since. The Internet, commercialization of the Internet issues of content, of course, have proven to be extremely beneficial in whatever sense we might see them.
So, Andy mentioned the report that the OECD and UNESCO and the Society did in 2011, and one of the issues was also identified at this point in time, we really cannot provide a clear definition of what local content stands for. So, I would like all of you for the purposes of this meeting, of evolving discussions to think of local content in the widest of senses from blogs to applications, to whatever essentially is relevant for locally or distributed locally.
So when I am talking about local content and when I am thinking about local content, I always associate it with incentives. The first word that comes into my head is providing incentives. And in order to do that, and I'm going back to what the Minister said, something I found particularly interesting, the question that is being asked from the fishermen and the farmers. What does the Internet have to do with me? I am waking up at four o'clock in the morning, and I am going, and I fish, and it's really hard, and I go back and I try to sell my fish locally in my own region.
This reveals the fact that we need to do more in order to be able and make people understand the values of the Internet. And one of the values for the local fisherman or the local farmer is the fact that they can learn from one another, right? They can exchange information. They can disseminate that information. They can produce information that similar communities in other parts of the world can take them, adopt them, reject them, go through the deliberative process that will allow them actually to understand how these similar communities are working in other parts of the world.
So, the Internet Society has been doing a lot of work in the context of local content to the extent of building infrastructure that will allow the production of this content. And by that infrastructure, I'm referring to the Interim Exchange Points, or occasionally you will hear them referenced as IXPs. And basically they are boxes that allow the traffic to travel locally.
Right now in many parts of the world, in Africa, for example, it is very clear case. The traffic from Kenya needs to go through Paris or Germany to bounce back to Kenya. This is very expensive for all the parties concerned in this traffic exchange, if you want, and especially it is something which raises the cost, which a lot of people cannot afford and which, as you can understand, does not provide those incentives that are necessary for people to engage in the production of this content.
So this is the first point. The second point -- and again, I am going to revert back to what the Minister said. It's this misconception that the Internet is a tool for the rich and there is no application for the poor. To an extent he is right. Because we have seen this Internet developing so much in the northern hemisphere, in the western part of the world, there is a lot of investment. We are fortunate enough in Europe to be able to have affordable and fast connections and we are able to interact with Internet in a way that other people are not allowed to.
So when I'm speaking to people, especially in Africa and we are talking about the Internet, one of the things that they tell me that has stayed with me is, you do understand that in parts of my country at 6:00 p.m. we don't have electricity? It's as simple as that. That's where it stops.
So, it is very important that we make sure that we make sure that we provide access to people to the extent that they are able to learn the Internet and to understand what it stands for and to start interacting.
And last but not least, and this is a couple of last points. I am fascinated by the application and the potential of this apps environment, everything it has and everything that it has done. But before this apps environment that is the Internet, architecture and the design of the Internet, that allows those apps to be developed and work on the Internet, you wouldn't be able to create those apps. Nobody would be able to create those apps, the talent that we just heard them joining us remotely, if the architecture and the design Internet was not what it is. By that, I mean the openness of the Internet and idea of permissions and innovations; the fact that you don't have to ask anyone's permission to create that app. It is very important that we tell people about this benefit. We tell people that they can create things on the Internet because of the way they the Internet is designed.
It is equally important for policymakers and regulator and Governments understand that in order to encourage us all, the ups and downs, is also expecting this very basic architecture. So, in creating the local ecosystems that are very violate for local economies, for regional economies, and eventually for the global economy, we need to do it in a way that we respect the Internet and we respect also -- so we don't over-regulate it. We don't create clusters. We don't create obstacles that would keep the people it from engaging with this tool and be able to create local content that then can be disseminated and people like me, that are fascinated with what is happening around the world, can take it and actually learn from it.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Thank you Konstantinos. Now we've gotten through the panel, as well as two remote field practitioners. I'd like to open it up to questions and comments and get a dialogue started here with all of you, who again, we appreciate you cutting your lunch short to join us.
I have a question. And is there a question whether we have a roving microphone? So the gentleman three rows back. That would be you to start with and then we keep going. I'm happy there are many questions the panelist should know. I'm prepared with my own. Please, start.
And if you could just introduce yourself briefly and then direct, if you have a question from one of the panelist, which I hope you do, direct it directly to who it is that you're addressing. Thanks.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Off Mic)
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: We are starting here. I'm sorry.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Off Mic)
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: My apologies. Sorry. We will start with the gentleman who has the microphone in the third row and then we will move to you, sir. Please.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Yula and I work for the Swedish International Development Agencies, SIDA, with the ICT for Development. We are very interested in this issue of local content being developed. We clearly see the link to poverty reduction.
My question actually goes to all of the panel but maybe some of them may be more inclined to answer, and that has to do with two issues which we sometimes debate about local content development, one being local or national tech hubs whether you see this as a good way of enabling local content and if you have any good or bad experiences of working together with these tech hubs. And second one being, related to Open Source software. Is that something that you have experience with in terms of a local content? Thank you.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: I'm unsure which of our panelist want to take that. I think Bonface maybe not a bad source of how some of these initiatives you seen maybe useful or not. But also Open Source is a general question of does that help to lower the barriers? Do we want to start with Bonface and maybe Minister Molano?
>> BONFACE WITABA: Once again, from the Kenyan perspective, it is good you asked Open Source because for the last four years I have been involved in Open Source initiatives. We had the ICT innovation for Africa. The initiative actually is part of the creation of content in ICT hubs. For instance Kenya right now is one of the top countries in development, many youth have taken up the challenge of trying to come up with local solutions, thinking globally but acting locally to provide solutions to the problems they see every day in society.
For instance, have got an application or an app called (?) whereby schools can subscribe and can be able to get content through mobile phone. According to a report again, Africa is the continent with the most access to mobile phones. So if we could use that as much as we like, we probably hide behind computers, but if we use the devices to use it creatively, maybe for LANing, or for sharing information, it will be great for the community as a whole. Thank you.
>> DIEGO MOLANO VEGA: About tech hubs. They are very important. You have to -- one of the key success factors of the applications ecosystems is that they are local. They are not nationwide. In the past, in terms of technology, countries were competing. The U.S. was competing against Germany or Japan. It was in the past. Today, the competition is among cities or regions; Silicon Valley versus Boulder in Colorado versus Shanghai or Tel Aviv or Guadalajara. This is not about countries, it is about cities. So, part of the success is, of course, creating those local ecosystems and tech hubs are a must.
However, we have to focus because they have to define also special capabilities to do that. And we are working on that, on encouraging local ecosystems to grow with some focus; because if they try to address the whole market, they are going to fail. So, for example, in Columbia, we are developing hubs, local hubs for applications for health, for e-Government, and so on and so forth. The whole ecosystem is aligned.
In terms of Open Source, of course in our ecosystem there was Open Source software. But you have to create the whole ecosystem because if you develop applications using Open Source but there is not enough talent, you cannot make them sustainable. Or if the buyers do not have enough support of Open Source , they are going to fail.
In the case of the Columbia government, we are technology agnostic. So, for us, any technology is fine. We cannot make decisions or policies that favor one or another in technology, but we just favor all of them creating and supporting the ecosystems.
>> HELANI GALPAYA: So it's difficult for the iPhone, for the app developers, to participate in the iPhone app store because you need to get approved. You can't just launch your own thing. It is difficult for users because you need a credit card so it doesn't work for the bottom of the pyramid. So there is no question that the Android platform has been a key driver in getting apps adopted among people who don't have credit cards or to the small extent that it has.
On the other hand, it is not the cure all either because of the openness, what that means is there is multiple versions and variations, and on iPhone, you just develop it for three screen sizes right now. Most of the things. There is a huge variation in the size and type of phones you develop for Android and therefore, that is an extra effort if the users, app developer, want to develop an app, that works on 100 different forms that are available that can use the app. They have to believe backward and laterally compatible and that is additional effort.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Thank you. If I can take the question from this gentleman here.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you for giving me the floor. I'm from Bangladesh and work in (Indiscernible).
The biggest barrier we are facing, there is now app based going on around us, Android in other platforms. Do we have any accessibility extended for application development for the Androids and others, because we can see accessibility for web accessibility or content like different extenders or just for current things? But how we can ensure the content and applications which are now talking about the apps. So ensure that people with the disability access, do we have any standard for that.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: We are having a little difficulty hearing here at the podium. Let me turn to my panelist and Konstantinos, maybe you can repeat the question back and make sure we have it right, and then try to answer.
>> KONSTANTINOS KOMAITIS: If I understood your question, and please jump into correct me, is how the application that was being created is able to assist people with disabilities to engage, either by creating or interacting with applications? Am I right in understanding your question?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes.
>> KONSTANTINOS KOMAITIS: So I think this goes back to the original point is and there are so many ways to do so. I think that the previous panelist nailed it. We have different types of platforms encouraging the development of different types of applications and we see this happening a lot. For example, we heard, and this was quite true, within the Apple environment it more difficult for application compared to an Android environment.
Having said that, there is also the case where in the Apple environment you might have more tools to create applications for people with disabilities compared to an Android environment.
So, what is required is, and because we are really heavily depending on this apps economy, we need to, and this is probably where policies and the government can engage with the big companies to ensure the platforms become flexible with potential use, change. The terms of development in these applications also can change, that allow some very specific needs of very specific companies to be addressed in a more streamlined way.
And it goes back to the idea that I'm not sure when it happened -- I am not sure. But I'm not really sure why we adopt stop this misconception that there is only a certain pool of people that can accuracy apps and those people need to have a credit card or those people need to be located very close to the Silicon Valley. The Internet is -- offers unbelievable capabilities to everyone. And it actually invites the creation of these great tools that can help these communities. What I say issues is when it comes to policymaking in creating this local ecosystem, this is a critical place to start. To put pressure on these developers to actually offer the app so those communities can create specific tools that can help them.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Please.
>> DIEGO MOLANO VEGA: That question is very important for people with disabilities. Let me tell you a quick story. Four weeks ago, we were in a rural area of Columbia with the Delegation of the U.S. Government and U.S. companies looking at expanding technology in the Columbian base of the pyramid. We went to an Internet community centre, one of the 900 centres we have and there was a blind person there. And part of the Delegation was a guy from Facebook, one of the global people in Facebook.
In Columbia, we passed a law, and in Columbia, any blind person can download for free any software that frees the screen, the equivalent to JAWS. I'm sure your friend knows what I'm talking about. Every license costs about $1500, but in Columbia it is free for everybody. So any blind person can download that software and that use the Internet.
And that has had a huge impact among the blind community and blind person's community in Columbia. But then this guy, who says, who is blind, he says, look, my job is training other blind people on using the software. And he said, look at this. This is a guy from Facebook and the guy really got really upset, the blind guy. He said, how come it looks like Facebook is our enemy? And we actually, we had filmed a short video addressed to Mark Zuckerberg. And then they realize how Facebook has not taken into account blind people. And the guy said, look, I'm using – five years ago, was way easier to use by blind people than now.
And that's exactly what he is talking about. Are we developing content, general content that could be used with this kind of tool to make the browsing to blind people easy? That is critical. In Columbia, for example, we closed a deal with television producers and movie producers. Why? Because we also have a programme in which blind people go to the movies. But adapting the movies for blind people is complicated. Now before they produce the movies, they are conscious that they have to do it in a way that it is easy to adapt to audio describe movie later.
Or perhaps, one of our successful programmes in Columbia, deaf people and mute people talk on the phone for free, everyone of them through a programme we have in the Government. But the issue there is, do we have -- and the way we do it is online translators. We have teleworkers but then the problem we have is, we don't have enough translators. So, how we train translators because we have the jobs there but we don't have the people to fill them in.
So, we have to really work hard on making sure that technology is ready to be used by people with disabilities.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Thank you Minister. I think I'm going to call on this side for a second or two. So, Lorrina, if you could introduce yourself, and hopefully a distinct question. We have about 15 more minutes. If you could address it to one of the panelists.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm from Tunisia. My intervention is more of a comment on a topic that you touched on that is critical, which is the digital financial services for the poor. I just wanted to mention that recently the ITU has launched a focus group that's open, open to everyone to work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Digital Financial Services, and the focus group looks at some of the topics that were mentioned by various interventions today in terms of providing a standard for transfer of money using mobile technology.
The issue today is most of the mobile technology transfers are siloed within an operator and cannot be trans-operator or trans-country. And the second issue that the focus group addresses is the dialogue between the ICT regulator and the central bank, the bank regulator. So I think that foundation of the very light weight standard could allow the application developers to be able to develop applications and have these digital financial services to reach the 2.5 billion adults that have no bank accounts and no access to finances. Thank you.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: I think it goes to an important barrier we have been talking about. I'd like to come back to that. Again, I welcome a show of hands, those who have questions. I have a woman in the third row.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Richa from Hong Kong, and I would like to draw your attention to maybe one of the largest source of local content, that is public sector information. In all the countries which are represented on the panel, this kind of public information that is held by the government could be a great source for apps and service development, and I know India already has a law and Sri Lanka and Kenya also. So, that is very rich source and very valuable source of information, which is very often underutilized. And I think that that could be a great start for developing local content.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Here is one I couldn't agree with more, to the point where we are actually -- we dedicated work way back in 2008 on this that we are revisiting. But I think you're right, particularly as we move forward in this era that is called big data, that government sits on a lot of it and by opening that up, you can feed a lot of very useful applications, just easy things like, transportation schedules for public transit and so forth, that have tremendous use. Other comments? Questions? If not -- gentleman in the front row, please.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hello. My name is Peter and I'm the Chairman of the World Summit Award. We work globally within the United Nations World Summit on Information Society Process in to look at how people find actually the best Internet content and what are actually the contents from various different kind of countries.
I have a question regarding the intervention from the Minister from Columbia regarding the hubs. In which way are hubs actually also content focused and what are the business models, which people in those hubs use? I mean obviously when you have let's say open knowledge and governmental content, like traffic information, this not high quality content, but when you're just getting into the content depth and you're working with complex narratives then the issue becomes much more interesting and also challenging.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: If you could restate the exact question.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I was interested in the hubs which you were referring to and how much they are also addressing the technology side and the content side and what are the business models people have for high quality content?
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: If I could add to that if you don't mind, just, how much these hubs go beyond just the technical and more to the mentoring and business environments and some of the other maybe non-technical aspects of innovation we have been talking about.
>> DIEGO MOLANO VEGA: In the case of Columbia, we have a few hubs that are just being created. And we are -- some of them, they are specializing in different industries. Basically what we are doing is putting together technology with local need. For example, in an oil production area, the focus is technology for today oil industry, ICT for the oil industry. We have created one in a place which is focused on ICT for cattle growing. In the coffee area, for example, we have one focused on agriculture. So, in that area, there is universities that focus on the use of technology for coffee growers. And then we also increase demand. So coffee growers have tablets and cell phones and we deployed infrastructure in their farms so they can have access to Internet basically what we do is not just incentivizing the growth of hubs with technology but they have a strong link with the economic environment and the leadership of the private sector, they cannot be led by the government. If they are led by the Government, they die out.
So, that is important and they have to be built bottom up. It cannot be the Government say, let us do this and this. It has to be built bottom up from the region itself with their local talent and local interest.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: I'd like to take the opportunity of being the moderators here to ask a few questions of the panelists and I'd like to start off with Bonface. Because we talked about how kind of skills are the fundamental element to a lot of what is local content development or innovation more broadly, and I'd love to hear about the Open Educational Resource for schools initiative that you have been associated with. OER, to help improve the educational capabilities.
>> BONFACE WITABA: Thank you. OER for schools is an initiative by the Witaba Foundation whose main aim is to seek the integration of ICT into the canyon educational curriculum. This was basically inspired by the government's initiative to launch the one laptop per child initiative for primary schools.
I have a Docket that was cosigned -- did not really tackle the issue of content. So we feel that there was a gap that needed to be filled. Thus we decided to take up the initiative to try and leverage content and provide high-quality creative commons open educational resources, digital books, by putting together a team of content creators and educational curriculum creators so that we can be able to achieve the vision to provide the contents once the laptops are issued to the schools, because yes, a laptop without content is like a toy, to be sincere. But if we give a laptop with contents for a child, we are empowering the child because they'll be able to promote deeper learning and understanding and at the same time -- because in Africa, most of the time we say that the education sector has limited resources, learning or training resources.
So even the teachers will have an easy time because content is already there. It's open to everyone. Any intellect who wants to come on board will be able to contribute. Because this is an open license model, no copyrights.
We allow to borrow content from other content creators as long as you attribute them, and then you can share and reuse under creative Commons license.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: We've tried to be a little innovative in this session both with remote participants and we also have a remote question, I think, coming in from the Internet.
>> REMOTE AUDIENCE MEMBER: It's a question from Café. Following the discussion thus far, alternatives solutions that have been mentioned rely on access to the Internet. In country where access to the Internet isn't reliable, how can these solutions to be implemented? Thank you.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: This sounds close to what Helani was talking about. I would be interested in her thoughts but those of any of the other panelist as well.
>> HELANI GALPAYA: How can apps work when reliable access to the Internet doesn't exist? That's the question, I think. Yeah? Well, they don't. Really. You use VAP, you use USSD, you use whatever works on your 2.5G connections. When you've got higher speeds, you can run graphic intensive, well-designed applications. So, sorry. You just need to solve all of these other problems as well.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: I'm going to move to start to close the session but what I'd like to do is hear from each of the panelists with very simple, if you could, interventions. Of all the problems we have been talking about this afternoon, what do you think is the most important one to solve and your idea for how we go about solving it? If you don't mind, I'd love to start with Minister Molano who I know is very quick on his feet.
>> DIEGO MOLANO VEGA: The single most important problem is talent, talent at two different levels. Professional talent in IT. IT engineers, Computer Science engineers. And also technicians. That is a huge problem in most countries, in Europe, in North America, in Latin America, in Africa. We don't have enough technical people.
The second problem is IT skills. We need doctors that understand technology, nurses that understand technology, accountants, even lawyers that understand technology. Everybody should be a little bit of an IT professional, every single person. And that is the issue.
So, how to solve that issue is quite complicated. Because the problem of talent and professionals today is young people do not want to pursue these careers. There are different reasons and we have to reposition these careers. We have to make these careers more sexy. You know? We have to include the sex appeal of these careers.
And of course, we, in terms of IT skills of people, we have to work very hard and increase and change the curricula in universities and making sure that everybody is the new students are also being trained in technology and for the old ones, we have to create problems to train the people and develop those IT skills.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Konstantinos?
>> K. KOMITIS: Thank you. I'll be very brief. Infrastructure, both at the technology level, meaning IXPs. And we heard about what we can do when the Internet is not reliable? Build more IXPs, allow the traffic to run more locally so it not expensive and is more stable and also infrastructure is the level of the socioeconomic level policies and incentives that allow people to engage and create this local content via blog or app.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Thank you very much. Bonface?
>> BONFACE WITABA: Just to echo the sentiments of my colleagues. One is policy. Policies are responsible for making strong commitments towards something. So for instance, I'll give an illustration may be just to go a bit out of topic. In Kenya, right now there is policy where local content on television or radio has to be about 40% has to be Kenyan. So if you promote policy, set policy, you will be able to make people adhere to a certain law.
And then the second issue is human resource. Do you have the technical capacity to deal and develop apps that can be able to provide local solutions. It is said that necessity is the mother of all intervention. So is there the need to educate that maternal -- mothers with information on maternal health or such things. If so, ought we to provide through mobile or apps such as health. And if we are able to provide them, do they have access? So access is the big issue.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Thank you. And Helani?
>> HELANI GALPAYA: Different players. I think the regulators need to get their act together, give out enough spectrum. Take away the bottlenecks on the Internet value chain so prices come down and speeds increase. I think the government needs to put out as much data, digitized and as close to realtime as possible so people can play around with it, open data and create apps. I think the Central Banks or financial regulators need to work with the Telecom regulators and banking platform people and make sure that we can get payments to young developers.
If you do those three things, the other two people I didn't talk about, which is the private sector and the hackers and developers, have enough incentive. App developers want to make money. They can't do so right now. The private sector, especially the network operators, their voice revenues are going down. They need to drive data revenues up. Apps do that. They will do enough training and get the ecosystems going as long as the frameworks are there and that is what the government and the regulators should do.
>> ANDREW WYCKOFF: Thank you very much. Let me draw this to a close and just say I think we had a great discussion with four different continents participating, some of them here at the table. I want to thank its participation of the panelists. But I also want to thank the remote participants, some of whom got up very early in the morning to participate. I'd like to thank you for what has been a sacrificing part of your lunch hour but also active participation. And last but not least, the technicians who helped to make this one happen. Thank you very much. Have a good afternoon.