Digital Content

The Vodafone Group Foundation has announced support for OneWorld’s pioneering work using mobile phones in Africa for sharing local knowledge. The system to be piloted in Kenya and South Africa will focus on vital information for local communities like market prices and HIV/AIDS.

This project is part of The Open Knowledge Network (OKN), a major cross sector initiative emerging from the G8 Digital Opportunity Task (DOT) Force, aimed at overcoming the digital divide through the provision of local content. The OKN will connect existing knowledge centers in developing countries into a new network to unlock the potential of the poorest communities to use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for development.

"Distributing OKN content by SMS and voice will expand the reach of the OKN in impoverished communities in the developing world where mobile penetration is rapidly increasing", says Ann Longley, Mobile Product Manager with OneWorld International. "The Open Knowledge Network aims to promote content and information exchange on knowledge that can make a life or death difference to the majority of the world’s population - from AIDS to education, agriculture to human rights. Mobile telephony will be a critical communication channel in this initiative."

The project will take the form of a 6-month pilot study in Kenya, Senegal, South Africa and India and will be designed to achieve proof of concept with a view to integration across the OKN network. The pilot will use commodity market prices delivered to phones via SMS and voice as market research identified market information as one of the most critical information requirements for the key target groups.

Providing relevant, accurate and timely information via mobile phones is expected to enhance the quality of life and life chances for the small businesses and poor families in the communities who will be invited to take advantage of this service. These advantages should be set in the context of the broader OKN initiative. OKN aims fundamentally to harness the power of ICTs to enable marginalised people to make positive changes to their lives. The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) focusing on poverty, hunger, education, gender, health and environmental sustainability provide a framework within which to qualify the impact that the OKN intends to make.

John Logan, Director of the Vodafone Group Foundation says, "The Foundation is pleased to support this ground-breaking work. It has a strong fit with our global aim to share the benefits of mobile technology as widely as possible and we are de-lighted to have OneWorld as a partner."