Panel 36

The Interplay between Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) and Mobilities practices in Africa

Panel organisers: Nima Shidende, School of Informatics, University of Dodoma, Tanzania.
Faraja Igira, Faculty of Mathematics and Computing, Institute of Finance Management, Tanzania.
Hector Mongi, School of Informatics, University of Dodoma, Tanzania.
Christina Mortberg, Linnaeus University, Växjo, Sweden.


Multiplicities of mobilities are very common in the African continent and manifests through rural-urban migration, labor, south to north migration, and refugees’ movements across African countries. It also manifests through small scale mobilities which do occur within the individual countries such as, children migrating from home to street (street children), beggars moving around residential areas or town centers, movements of HIV positive clients’ between healthcare units to avoid social stigma attached to HIV, movement of healthcare clients between healthcare units in search of better maternal and child healthcare services, and mobility of disabled citizens in urban/rural in search of better path. Mobility has some aspects of empowerment in the perspective of the individuals practicing it since they view those physical movements as a means of accessing better opportunities such as jobs, safety, privacy and social services.

There are insights in the Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) literature on how Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) affect the opportunity for migration and how they affect its outcomes. For example, the use of mobile phones, internet, and social media has proved to simply communication and interactions of migrants with their family/friends residing in their home countries. However, previous literature provides more understanding of how ICT shape mobility and less on how mobility shapes ICT design and adoption.

This panel aims to advance our theoretical, methodological and empirical understanding on the interplay of ICT4D and mobilities practices. Specifically the focus is on how mobilities practices are impacting design, adoption, implementation and use of ICT tools. Key focal areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Case studies depicting design and implementation Information and Communication Technologies to support mobilities.
  • Theoretical or methodological approaches for understanding the influence of mobilities on design, adoption and usage of ICT.
  • Impact of different multiplicities of mobilities in shaping information management practices/knowledge exchange practices in different organizations.
  • ​Information technologies design approaches that take mobilities practices into account.

Approved abstracts panel 36

1.Crowd-sourcing Techniques for Pedestrian to Create a Safer Mobility with Transitory Obstacle Information

Author: Daniel Sinkonde, The University of Dodoma, Tanzania.

Pedestrians with disabilities in urban areas of developing countries including in Africa encounter serious mobility obstacles that need urgent solutions. It is estimated that by 2050 nearly every 2 out of 3 persons will be living in urban areas. This paper focuses on the association between crowd-sourcing techniques and mobile crowd-sensing in monitor the accessibility of paths for pedestrian in a community. This study adopts the design science methodology and applies three driving theories: the characteristics of a smart city, the data information knowledge action result (DIKAR) model and a credible data quality framework. The control specification will be developed to ensure that high quality spatial data is collected through participatory crowd-sourcing. Findings summarize the relationship that exists between crowd-sourcing techniques and mobile crowd-sensing in alerting persons with mobility challenges of their paths for decision-making. The report presents the enormous challenges faced by the community, especially with mobility challenges (with wheelchairs or walking aids) on the accessibility of paths, in order to meet the ordinary demands of everyday movement. Therefore, this study focuses on the improvement of the condition of the accessibility of paths through the use of participatory crowd-sourcing as a spatial data collection method.

Key words: Accessibility of paths, Crowd-sourcing, Geospatial Crowdsourcing, Mobility challenges, Smart Cities

2. Hausa Migrants, Communication Strategies And Place-Making In Sabo Locations, Southwestern Nigeria

Author: Yomi Ogunsanya, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.

My proposed study investigates the nexus of migration and place-making by focusing on the experiences of Hausa migrants living in or maintaining a semi-permanent residency in Sabo locations, Southwestern Nigeria as traders, tanker drivers and in other diverse socio-economic capacities. It explores how these migrants deploy such information and communication technologies and media forms as cell phones, digital TV, Hausa movies, Hausa music on CDs/VCDs/DVDs, recorded tafsir (Qu’ranic exegesies) and Hausa radio programmes, and such public cultures as hira (a street side conversation group) and dangurama (a dance in nightclub-like setting) to create a sense of home in a ghettoised community that bears all the traces of a ‘diaspora’. The Hausa are one of the three main ethnic groups in Nigeria, but in southwestern Nigeria, they are a minority group and something of ‘cultural outsiders.’ In my interviews and observations, it is clear that they regard themselves as ‘diasporans’ within southwestern Nigeria. They reflect themes found in diaspora communities in many parts of the world: a commitment to home, a collective memory and idealization of home, and an aspiration to return home (Gupta & Ferguson 1997:39 etc.). My work, therefore, will demonstrate, a là Kiliçkiran (2003), that people who are physically separated from places they know as ‘home’ have a profound desire to re-create a home-place (called place-making) in order to produce a distinct cultural diaspora, and that information and communication technologies as well as the flow and consumption of media artifacts play a pivotal role in their realization of this aspiration. The study is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Sabo locations in Ibadan, Oyo State, and Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria, among Hausa migrants. Sabo locations are migrant settlements found in most places in southern Nigeria and in the north. In the north, they are dominated by other ethnic groups order than people of Hausa extraction.

3. Strategic Caring in the Begging Style Involving Children as Guides in Tanzania and Use of ICT: Asset on Basic Education Access

Author: Abdallah Jacob Seni, Department of Educational Foundations and Continuing Education, University of Dodoma, Tanzania.

This paper explores the strategic caring used as a coping mechanism in the unique begging style involving children as guides in the Dodoma Municipality, Tanzania. The paper contributes to literature that report on experience how children, amidst dreadful experiences of guiding visually impaired beggars cope and at least improve their access to primary school education. Qualitative research approach was used to obtain in-depth data which were collected through interviews, direct-non participant observations and artifacts which were drawn by community members in order to aid depicting issues under the study more vividly. The findings showed that guiding over the weekends, part time guidance, help up to the begging point, saving what was gained through begging and use of a stick in case of an absence of a child constituted strategic caring. Moreover, it was revealed through interviews that the strategic caring mechanism could employ the use of ICT (in terms of mobile phones and CDs) to enable young carers of visually impaired adult beggars to fulfill their guidance role and at the same time attend schools. However, it could be argued that young guides are not passive when they face difficulties rather they develop coping mechanisms though the coping mechanisms might not be uniform due to differences in their categories. The paper recommends that the government should set aside sufficient resources to educate people with disability including those with visual impairment in order to make them independent and in the long run alleviate the phenomenon of limited access to and poor participation in basic education among young carers of visually impaired adult beggars.

Key words: Strategic caring, young carers of visually impaired adult beggars, coping mechanism, improving their access to basic education, Information and Communication Technologies

4. Open Source Software As A Mobility Enhancer Among Academic Library Users In Selected Academic Libraries In Nairobi Metropolitan, Kenya

Authors: Jared O. Otieno, Library, Kenyatta University, Kenya & David Nzuki, Management Science Department, Kenyatta University, Kenya & Peter Philip Wambua, Department Of Human Resource Management, Kenyatta University, Kenya.

Technology has always been embraced as an enabler of human capital progress since the invention of the first machine. The capability of technology is very visible in the modern time unlike the period before the information age. Information is quickly becoming the fifth factor of production after land, capital, entrepreneurship, and labor. Therefore, every competitive society should ensure effective flow of quality information to all its members. However, this kind of information flow has not been fully realized in Africa due to a number of factors, which are mainly associated to the cost of information production, management, and dissemination which have inhibited timely access to quality information produced in different parts of Africa. These inhibitions are some of the reasons which informed adoption of Open Source Software among academic libraries in the management of their information resources across Africa. The libraries of academic institutions are charged with the responsibility of gathering, managing, and disseminating state-of-the-art information to both academic faculty members and non-academic members of the society besides students, researchers and other interested stakeholders for the purpose of increasing their knowledge and productivity. These libraries are key players in the promotion of productive mobility across Africa as they strive to provide unlimited access to quality information. This study employed descriptive research method to investigate how Open Source Software such as Koha and Dspace have facilitated effective access to quality information across six (6) academic libraries located in Nairobi Metropolitan, Kenya. The sampled respondents reported that key features of the software such as user-friendliness, cost-effectiveness, and scalability enabled them to access the required information with a greater degree of ease irrespective of geographical location and time zone. Approval rates of the library services which were provided through the OSS software solutions were quite high. The paper recommends strategic adoption of OSS among academic libraries in Africa as well as continuous improvement on library systems’ usability features for further enhancement of information access and usage.

Keywords: Academic libraries, Open Source Software, mobility, information access

5. Constructing the Field for Informing ICT Design for Mobile Populations

Author: Nima Shidende, School of Informatics, The University of Dodoma, Tanzania.

Research strategies are among the techniques employed by design facilitators to generate knowledge for informing the design of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).  This knowledge is not context free and thus, design facilitators are urged employing proper research strategies (e.g. ethnography, participatory design, action research, etc) that foster engagement with population studied in order to have in-depth knowledge of the contextual issues. Moreover, it is asserted that design facilitators who use engagement techniques through continuous involvement and reframing of field and design practices through the design process, are more likely to generate contextual knowledge that meets the needs of their participants. Nevertheless, research indicates that design facilitators might face challenges when they use the aforementioned research strategies in geographically distributed settings due to possibility of existence of minimal interactions and absence of continuous engagements with their participants. Similarly, mobile populations (e.g. street children, beggars, refugees) are in constant movement across different geographical localities. The use of recommended research strategies for generating the knowledge on the context of mobile populations could provide a similar aforementioned challenge to their design facilitators. This study provides insights on techniques for constructing the field in order to generate knowledge on the context of mobile populations since there are minimal insights about the phenomena in the African literature and eventually inform the design of ICT for mobile population. The research design employed is interpretive and qualitative strategy for data analysis. Empirical materials were gathered through interviews and document review methods. Findings indicate that design facilitators who are researching mobile populations need additional research techniques for engaging some categories of mobile populations not only due to their characteristics of being mobile but also because they lead uncertain lifestyle. The article concludes by recommending future research strategies for informing the design of ICT for mobile populations in the African context.

6. Exploring Prospects of Mobilities Practices within the ICT4D Research in Africa: Implications for Future Research

Author: Faraja T. Igira, Faculty of Computing, Information Systems and Mathematics, Institute of Finance Management, Tanzania.

Researches within the Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) field recognize that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are capable of both enhancing and impeding mobility practices in Africa. Though there exists research on the relationship between ICT and mobility practices within the ICT4D field globally, Africa is still underrepresented. The tension between intricacies of local ICT use and the dynamics of mobility in the African context calls for different approaches in ICT4D research. Based on the literature review, this paper explores the prospects of mobilities practices within the ICT4D research in Africa and identifies directions for future research. The current landscape of the ICT4D literature in Africa is surveyed by examining a range of research articles published from the year 2010 to 2017. The results are discussed in terms of the key mobilities challenges addressed, the role of ICT in addressing those challenges, and theoretical and methodological approaches used. The paper proposes a Developmental Work Research (DWR) approach, which is an interventionist approach that builds on the principles of Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT). The DWR approach enables practitioners, content and process specialists to work together and develop solutions that address complex mobility challenges. The main contribution of this paper is in addressing a gap in the ICT4D literature in the context of African countries. The paper also reveals the value of a DWR approach for the ICT4D research.

7. Living the Silicon Valley Dream in Nigeria – Reflections on Realities of Tech Start-up Hubs in Abuja, Lagos and Ibadan

Authors: Eugenija Kovaliova & Mante Makauskaite, AfriKo – Africa Research and Consultancy Center.

In August 2016 Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, visited Nigeria and met with developers and entrepreneurs in one of the TechHubs – Co-Creation Hub – in Yaba (or Yabacon), which is referred to as Lagos’ Silicon Valley “equivalent”. This brought significant international attention as well as high expectations for Nigerian start-ups, who seemed to start believing that they can live a Silicon Valley Dream in Lagos, Abuja or other places around the country despite the power shortages, slow connectivity to Internet and other infrastructural challenges. A number of TechHubs in Nigeria (and other African countries) has been indeed booming[1] and providing with a promise for a prosperous future of young “techpreneurs” who will solve Africa’s problems through various ICT4D applications. However, besides general mapping of TechHubs in Africa, there is little research whether this promise can be delivered, what are the local, international and diaspora players within this field, their motivations and potential impact. One can notice that mobility plays a role in this context, as the community of “techpreneurs” is dominated by returnees with certain global connections, experiences and knowledge from ‘abroad’. On the one hand these connections bring resources, on the other – generate risks of losing touch with local realities. As Ola Brown, founder of Flying Doctors, puts it, Silicon Valley-ism in Africa has actually held us back as we continue to build great products that aren’t useful to our people. AfriKo, through its current project oriented towards connecting Nigerian ICT entrepreneurs with Lithuanian ICT expertise, is researching the Nigerian TechHubs ecosystem. The stories of various Tech Start-Ups incubators and accelerators, collected during AfriKo fieldwork in Lagos, Abuja and Ibadan, will lay the ground of the paper and will attempt to open a larger discussion on local entrepreneurial eco-systems, the various stakeholders involved, evolving local and global connections.

8. Addressing Human Mobility and Water Pollution in Africa: A Case of Monitoring with Semi-Automated Sensors in the Lake Victoria Basin

Author: Hector Mongi, The University of Dodoma, Tanzania.

Water pollution is a grave health problem in Africa, especially in urban areas. Polluted water resources have been highlighted as a source of serious diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea and typhoid. While urbanization is expanding rapidly, availability of clean fresh water to increasing human population has remained a widening gap. In this paper, a case is described of how increasing human population in the areas around the Lake Victoria has led to a design of semi-automatic sensors to address migratory point-to-point pollution characterized by the mobile nature of human subjects. Exploratory secondary data is analyzed for visualization of population growth trends in emerging urban areas around the Lake Victoria. Primary data collected from selected areas within the Lake Victoria Basin part of Tanzania is described. Finally, a semi-automated sensor within the larger integrated Water governance systems; with the potential to monitor migratory point-to-point freshwater pollution is demonstrated. The paper concludes that, while human population and mobility is essentially uncontrollable, current and projected expansion of urbanization demands new and concerted efforts. The usage of mobile sensors would offer a significant support to other mechanisms in place especially in collecting, transferring, analysing and reporting real-time information about the status of pre-determined point-to-point pollution hotspots.

Key words: Human mobility. Semi-automatic sensor, point-to-point pollution, Lake Victoria Basin

9. Enhanced M-health Solution to Reduce Undesired Mobility of PMTCT Service Consumers

Authors: Christina Muro, Abraham Macha and Ramadhan Duma, School of Informatics, University of Dodoma, Tanzania.
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Stigma attached to the HIV disease is one of the obstacles affecting PMTCT service provision since it affects communication between health providers with PMTCT clients. Evidence shows that some clients refuse to provide their mobile number or contact information because of the fear of lack of privacy and confidentiality. Moreover, fear of stigma makes clients seek services in remote facilities which are undesirable practices as they increase time and unnecessary expenditure of money. Numerous mobile health (m-Health) solutions have been developed and deployed in developing countries’ settings to improve access to PMTCT service. However, our literature review indicates that there is none which offers secure delivery of information or communication between PMTCT health providers and clients. The aim of this article is to determine critical factors that hinder successful implementation of m-Health solution. The study took place in Dodoma region of Tanzania constituting health facilities offering PMTCT services. In-depth interview and observation methods were adopted to inform the study. The study found out that the use of m-Health solutions in PMTCT programmes still enforces undesired mobility of PMTCT clients. Two factors were found to hinder successful use of mobile phones: (i) the clients’ custom of phone sharing with relatives, neighbors and friends, (ii) the clients ‘custom of charging phone in public places due to lack of accessibility of electrical power and, (iii) the use of insecure SMS practices which might lead to disclosure of their HIV status information to other people such as those whom they are sharing the mobile devices. Consequently, clients tend to move from one health facility to another in search of privacy and confidentiality. Thus to reduce undesired clients mobility and enforce clients privacy and confidentiality, this study suggest the need to implement secure m-Health solution through encrypting all communication and information between PMTCT section and PMTCT clients.

10. Design Principles for Mobile Platform to improve Labor Mobility: Solution towards Youth Unemployment

Author: Carina Titus, Abraham Macha, & Anthony Mwombeki, University of Dodoma, Tanzania.

Recently, African countries have undergone a remarkable ICT revolution with intensive use of mobile phones and internet in all aspects of life, hence providing job opportunities for youths. Despite this progress, youth unemployment remains one of the major problems facing African countries. The major hindering factors are limited access to information on the type and location of Internship/jobs available, the inability of the employers to verify and validate qualifications and skills of job seeker and applicants’ lack of the knowledge on how to start their own business as well as finding suitable platforms to do their businesses. Based on the above challenges, there is a need for finding out to what extent does advanced technologies especially mobile phones can reduce youth unemployment by offering more jobs through labor mobility and providing a platform for their businesses. One of the interventions is to fill the gap of by providing the design principles to improve labor mobility of unemployed youths in Tanzania. This study aims to propose the design principles of the mobile platform to support labor mobility in the African context. Data collection was conducted through interviews to unemployed youths as well reviewing the relevant literature. Collected data were analyzed using content analysis technique. Results show that the following are design principles to support labor mobility: (i) The system should be multi-lingual in order to support its usage by informal skilled workers, (ii) the system should be designed for usage by featured phone and smart phone system since they differ in ownership, (iii) the mobile platform should be integrated with social media data since there is increasing tendency of service seekers to use social media platforms while also most youths are the best fans of the platforms.

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