Africa in Social Media Age: Looking in to the Prospect and Challenges

This post would like to forward in recognizing the power of social Medias compared with the conventional Medias for public participations in good governance and democratic systems as well as bring ti the light on possible threats on the platform including ever grown provoking and ethnic engagement of users. And to bring attentions to all stakeholders on how virtual community at grass root level work at the community to fully exploit the potential of social media as well as collaborate with users towards making social media more Abuse Free, People Centered and Constructive.

The applications and effects of social media have grown with the expansion of communication infrastructure and youth preference. Recently social Medias are widely used by public officials, political parties and activist to interact with the community. Before the coming of social media, space in newspaper and airtime on radio and television were limited and expensive; thus youth, specifically cannot express their opinion nor participate in political affairs.  Online social networking sites such as Facebook have brought new hopes and opportunities by connecting youth with politicians and common interest groups to share information and opinions.

Studies have suggested that youth are now using social media to seek for political information, mobilize common interest groups, create user-generated content and share political views. The new platforms provides a great opportunity to politicians to reach out to their citizens and voters. The technology also link and facilitates interaction between community and elected parliamentarian representatives by providing a public online ‘Wall’, a space where community members can easily write comments in favor or against their political leaders’ decisions. More youth are showcasing stronger reliance on it as their online platform for securing political information they need to make an informed political decision. Hence, targeting and tailoring political messages online to the youth through social media and what motivate youth to develop an interest in politics became an important factor in future campaign strategies for Political parties in their day to day activities as well as during election seasons.

Researchers also argue that social media has a great potential to increase government outreach, enhance problem solving capacities and improve decision-making processes. Citizens´ demand for a transparent government is fermenting a new age of opportunities through social media, web-enabled technologies, mobile technologies and e-government. With the emergence of social media, citizens became able to be journalists themselves avoiding unnecessary mediation of traditional media. As scholars put it: ‘The powerful have been spying on their subjects since the beginning of history, but the subjects can now watch the powerful, at least to a greater extent than in the past’. Any one could become potential citizen journalists, if equipped with a mobile phone that can record and instantly upload to the global networks regarding any wrongdoing by anyone and anywhere. Social media is seen as technologically and financially accessible to youths. Citizens no longer have to be passive consumers of political party propaganda, government spin or mass media news, but are instead actually enabled to challenge discourses, share alternative perspectives and publish their own opinions.

In this age of widespread communication and political consciousness, social media allows citizens not only to influence public debate, public opinion and public policy, but, on a more direct level, also to get the chance to tackle matters of consequences, for example to address deficiencies in infrastructure projects, improve project planning and uncover cases of corruption.

The rapidly advancing world of information technology affects all spheres of life but none more so than politics and the replacement of authoritarian governance with democratic governance. Easy access to information from around the world promotes liberty, competition and choice.  It can also be used to advance respect for the rule of law and human rights and other indices of good governance such as equality and free and credible elections.  Use of the new social media enables group thinking to promote concepts such as the independence of the judiciary, the development of civil society, multiparty systems and democratic institutions which are participatory, transparent and accountable.

Political leaders can rise social and political issues and outline public opinion, and the media can give a voice to those who previously did not have one. It will also provide members of parliaments with the information they need to hold their representatives accountable in a more transparent system of governance. While the public can use the social media to influence political debate, can also be used by political parties to mobilize voters.

Challenges of social Media and way forward

But the ever growing threat that hinders for harvesting the advantage of social media in different parts of the region needs great attentions and further research and strategies shall be raised from the virtual communities for avoiding polarized and extremist generated contents perpetuated among us. If anyone done research, Content generated by polarized that are highly incite usually done with posts came from fake profile including with names of celebrities and public officials. And Fake profiles lack regular posts in the timeline and with limited number of friends in their own circle while they are actively comments on posts came from anyone in the virtual space.

Whatever the importance of the post; the comments from these intruders (the one with the fake ID) came up with provocative and insane comments based on once ethnic and religion lines. While this remarks at the comments of public posts usually controlling enough to hijacked/diverted the main discussion of the group and leads most of the users’ time with making angry response.

If it is not systematically approaches, came with awareness campaign and useful strategy,  Social Medias will have its own threats in fuelling the virtual problem towards the real on the ground conflicts. In response to this calamities social media companies and regional organization have to initiate to work with social media users to come up with user friendly reporting systems for inappropriate content as well as filtering server for provocative contents in local language in an effort of making the platforms remain benefiting its users at large for social interaction and common cause.

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Role of Social Media for Good Governance and Democracy: Literature Review and Personal Observation in Horn of Africa

Social media refers to web-based platforms that allow users to create, share, rate and search for content and information.  These tools become ‘social’ in the sense that they are created in ways that enable users to share and communicate with one another. This includes mixture of web-based technologies and services blogs, micro-blogs, social sharing platforms and social networking services.

This blog part would like to review the role of social media platforms in nation building in the horn of Africa and to a wider region at large. Recognizing the power of this Medias compared with the conventional Medias for public participations in good governance and democratic systems as well as giving attentions to threats related to the technologies including commonly observed provoking and racial remarks/ comments. And to bring attentions to all stakeholders look forward how virtual community at grass root level and social-media giants shall collaborate towards making social media more people centered, developmental, a media for the voiceless and in an effort to build proactive democratic systems while at the same time making sure  the , zero abusive foot-print by embarrassing all basic human rights.

Trends of Internet Penetration in the Region

The applications and effects of social media have ever grown with the expansion of ICT and youth preference to engage actively in politics of respective nations in the horn of Africa and to the regions at large. Facebook, one of the biggest social networks was created in 2004, the biggest video sharing website Youtube did not exist before 2005 and the most popular micro blogging site like Twitter only traces back to 2006. Following this, it has been widely used by public officials, political parties and activist to interact with this ever growing virtual community, which was not a common one decade ago. As we can see from the figure below the trends of internet penetration in the region have been grown since its introduction, this by far shows there is an ever growing population of the virtual community in the region that could be a played a great role to shared commitment towards building a democratic systems and good governance in this fragile region.

Year Kenya Sudan Uganda South Sudan Djibouti Ethiopia Eritrea Egypt* South Africa *
2016 45% 26% 19% 17% 12% 4% 1% 33% 52%
2015 45% 26% 19% 17% 11% 4% 1% 33% 51%
2014 43% 25% 18% 16% 11% 3% 1% 32% 49%
2013 39% 23% 16% 14% 10% 2% 1% 29% 47%
2012 32% 21% 15% 12% 8% 2% 1% 26% 41%
2011 28% 17% 13% 9% 7% 1% 1% 26% 34%
2010 14% 17% 13% 7% 7% 1% 1% 22% 24%
2009 10% 14% 10% 5% 4% 1% 1% 20% 10%
2008 9% 11% 8% 3% 2% 1% 1% 18% 8%
2007 8.0% 8.7% 3.7% 2.0% 1.6% 0.4% 0.4% 16.0% 8.1%
2006 7.5% 5.0% 2.5% 1.8% 1.3% 0.3% 0.4% 13.7% 7.6%
2005 3.1% 1.3% 1.7% 1.4% 1.0% 0.2% 0.3% 12.8% 7.5%
2004 3.0% 0.8% 0.7% 1.3% 0.8% 0.2% 0.3% 11.9% 8.4%
2003 2.9% 0.5% 0.5% 1.0% 0.6% 0.1% 0.3% 4.0% 7.0%
2002 1.2% 0.4% 0.4% 0.8% 0.5% 0.1% 0.2% 2.7% 6.7%
2001 0.6% 0.1% 0.2% 0.4% 0.3% 0.0% 0.2% 0.8% 6.3%
2000 0.3% 0.0% 0.2% 0.3% 0.2% 0.0% 0.1% 0.6% 5.3%
Population

 2016

in million

47.25 41.18 40.32 12.73 0.90 101.85 5.35 93.38 54.98

* Egypt and South Africa used as a comparison, since the two African nations have high internet penetrations rate and study shows that more than 90% of peoples who have internet access have used social medias.

The data for the above figure are collected from http://www.internetlivestats.com/internetusers

The term “Horn of Africa” is not only a geographical expression but it is rather a geopolitical concept. The Horn of Africa proper consists of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, the Sudan and South Sudan. Stretchily, it also encompasses Kenya and Uganda. Some are convinced that the nations of the Horn of Africa are endowed with a dynamic, youthful and entrepreneurial population and an abundance of natural resources. Yet, for too many years, peoples of this region have been suffering from hunger, conflicts, poverty and growing inequalities and instabilities. The twin problems of poverty and conflict have various and complex causes. sine from history so far scholars put it as most of the wars / conflict in the Horn of Africa during the past decades have been described in terms of ethnic conflict, both by the adversaries themselves and by external analysts. Sudan civil wars have been characterized as ethnic conflicts with cleavages along religious, racial, cultural, and linguistic lines. The various civil wars in Ethiopia, Somali conflicts and Djibouti have also linked to ethnic conflict.

Good governance

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) defines governance as “the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels. It comprises the mechanisms, processes, and institutions, through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences”. One of the fundamental principles of good governance is transparency, which ensures that the decision-making and the subsequently due process monitoring and implementation of this information is freely available and directly accessible by all stakeholders.

The United Nations Development Program views corruption as “the misuse of public power, office or authority for private benefit – through bribery, extortion, influence peddling, nepotism, fraud, speed money or embezzlement”. Corruption does not necessarily appear only in monetary terms. When an official fails to deliver the services that were paid by the government, this may be defined as “quiet corruption”. Quiet corruption thus may include deviations that can be potentially observable, such as being absent from work, but also deviations that are hard to observe, for example to bend rules for personal benefits, or to deviate from the expected conduct

Political Participation

Historically, citizen’s participation in the political processes has been considered a fundamental element of an ideal democracy. Thus, participation represents a significant component in political communication and democratic institution.  Recent reports indicate decreasing youth participation in political activities such as low turnout at elections.

two decades ago, there has been serious academic concern about the low political participation among youth in many parts of developed and developing nations, thus, some scholars have identified this as a threat to good governance particularly in developing nations. Before the coming of social media, space in newspaper and airtime on radio and television were limited and expensive; thus youth, specifically cannot express their opinion nor participate in politics through the old media.  Online social networking sites such as Facebook have brought new hopes and opportunities by connecting youth with politicians and common interest groups to share information and opinions.

Studies have suggested that youth are now using Facebook to seek for political information, mobilize common interest groups, create user-generated content and share political views. Facebook provides a great opportunity to politicians to reach out to their constituents and voters. The technology also link and facilitates interaction between community and elected political representatives by providing a public online ‘Wall’ a space where community members can easily write comments in favor or against their political leaders.

More youth are showcasing stronger reliance on it as their online platform for securing political information they need to make an informed political decision. Hence, targeting and tailoring political messages online to the youth through Facebook and what motivate youth to develop an interest in politics should be an important factor in future campaign strategies for Political parties in their day to day activities as well as during election seasons.

Social media vis-à-vis Good governance and Democracy

Researchers argue that social media has a great potential to increase government outreach, enhance problem solving capacities and improve decision-making processes. Citizens´ demand for a transparent government is fermenting a new age of opportunities through social media, web-enabled technologies, mobile technologies and E-Government. With the emergence of Web 2.0 technologies and new media citizens became able to be journalists themselves avoiding unnecessary mediation of traditional media. As scholars put it: ‘The powerful have been spying on their subjects since the beginning of history, but the subjects can now watch the powerful, at least to a greater extent than in the past’. We have all become potential citizen journalists who, if equipped with a mobile phone, can record and instantly upload to the global networks any wrongdoing by anyone, anywhere.

Freed from the necessities of professional media and journalist skills or the centralized control and distribution of industrial mass media organizations, social media is instead seen to be technologically, financially and accessible to youths. Equipped with social media, the citizens no longer have to be passive consumers of political party propaganda, government spin or mass media news, but are instead actually enabled to challenge discourses, share alternative perspectives and publish their own opinions. In this age of widespread communication and political consciousness, people expect political participation and accountability much more than they did in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. social media allows citizens not only to influence public debate, public opinion and public policy, but, on a more direct level, also to get the chance to tackle matters of consequences, for example to address deficiencies in infrastructure projects, improve project planning and uncover cases of corruption.

Social media can be empowering to its users as it gives them a platform to speak. It allows anyone with access to the Internet the ability to inexpensively publish or broadcast information, effectively democratizing media. In terms of time, Social media technologies allow users to immediately publish information in near-real time. There is a growing prospects that shows social media must be used by Parliaments, Parliamentarians, governments and political parties as they are highly effective tools to involve and inform citizens in public policymaking and in the formation of governments.

The rapidly advancing world of information technology affects all spheres of life but none more so than politics and the replacement of authoritarian governance with democratic governance. Easy access to information from around the world promotes liberty, competition and choice.  It can also be used to advance respect for the rule of law and human rights and other indices of good governance such as equality and free and credible elections.  Use of the new social media enables group thinking to promote concepts such as the independence of the judiciary, the development of civil society, multiparty systems and democratic institutions which are participatory, transparent and accountable. Such media empower and unite people.  Political leaders can rise social and political issues and shape public opinion, and the media can give a voice to those who previously did not have one. It will also provide members of parliaments with the information they need to hold their representatives accountable in a more transparent system of governance. While the public can use the social media to influence political debate, he said they can also be used by political parties to mobilize voters.  More generally, the social media can also be used to enable faster responses to crises.

The way forward

In general, there is a strong assumption in the literature that social media have a tremendous power to improve transparency, accountability, good governance and democratic system coupled with my observation in the ground. But the ever growing threat that hinders for harvesting the advantage of social media in different parts of the region needs great attentions and further research and strategies shall be raised from the virtual communities for avoiding polarized and extremist contents generated ideas perpetuate among us.

The research questions for further study should include what is the motivation behind posting and commenting so provokingly and in a polarized way, how the majority of the virtual community who have worked for the common goals in politics usually to bring democratic systems and good governance by using social media  shall not be influenced / diverted by this incite posts from fake identities and how institutions responsible for these platforms ( like Facebook) shall came with better options / solutions for users in reporting towards intruders posting inappropriate contents.

If everyone can make little research in this concerns Content generated by Polarized and incite contents usually done with posts came from fake profile usually including but not limited to names of celebrities and public officials. The appearances for fake profiles are lack of regular posts in their own timeline and with rare number of friends in their own circle but surprisingly they are actively comments on posts came from anyone in the virtual space.

whatever the importance of the post to bring the issues for discussions for developing good governance and democratic systems; the comments from these intruders (the one with the fake ID) came up with provocative, insane and with a very nature of sensitive like racism / ethnic/ religious based insulation  remarks that have usually controlling enough to hijacked/diverted the main posts/discussion as well as it has leads most of the users in that space busy with making angry response to this comments.

Even if the virtual communities have aware of the importance of social media in building democratic systems and good governance that would take part  a role/ bring a light for multi-party systems, inclusive development, self-determination / identify, transparency, corruption, systematic exclusion and other issues that came to be important for the prospects of each nations and toward this region ; if we are not systematically approaches and give attentions to intruders came with   ethnic and religious polarizations and extremism that usually done for the purpose of dismantling / diverting the virtual community in the social medias would have its own threats and consequences for fuelling the online drama towards the offline conflicts.

In response to this calamities social media companies and researchers in the region need to initiate to work with social media users at grass root to come up with user friendly reporting systems for inappropriate content includes contents with local language so that the platforms would maintain/remain for the advantage of the peoples at large for interaction, building of democratic systems and good governance.

Vote for #SEYOUM from #ETHIOPIA: #YOBLOCO award online public evaluation vote

SEYAAs smallpng

Dear All in My Network
I am pleased to announce that my blog has short listed for public evaluation vote in #YoBLoCo blogger Awards in individual blog category and appreciate to vote for me http://www.yobloco.info/submission?filter=individual&group=country select a blog box with name SEYOUM #ETHIOPIA
Here is a Short overview on procedure of voting process
• Select the 2 blogs you want to vote for by clicking on the check-box “Vote” (in orange)
• Provide your email address
• Click on Vote!
• Check your email and confirm your vote by clicking on the link sent in the mail. Copy and paste the link in your browser if needed. Note that, if you miss this step, your vote will not be counted as valid.
Thank you for your voice
Best

The aims of this blog competition are to:

o Put into limelight issues, successes and challenges faced by youth engaged in agriculture, in urban and rural areas;
o Encourage the production of information and the use of new information and communication technologies by young farmers groups and organizations interested in the youth in agriculture question;
o Promote the sharing of information on the issues of agriculture and rural development in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

Thank you Again for your time and support

ICT for Agriculture: A lesson for Ethiopian Research and Extension System

Application of Information and communication technology for agricultural Knowledge management can play a pivotal role in enhancing agricultural productivity and addressing the problem of food insecurity. If properly managed, it enables appropriate knowledge and information to reach knowledge intermediaries and smallholder farmers in a timely manner. Such delivery of knowledge and information undoubtedly minimizes the risk and uncertainty smallholder farmers face from production to marketing of their produce. But, to effectively engage in agricultural knowledge management, adequate mechanisms are needed for generating, capturing, and disseminating knowledge and information through the use of effective processes and institutional arrangements.

Information and communication technology (ICT) can play a critical role in facilitating rapid, efficient, and cost effective knowledge management. However, ICT application in Ethiopia remains low in comparison with several African countries. For instance, in a number of Sub-Saharan African countries, smallholder farmers get technology-related advice as well as location-specific market information on inputs and outputs through ICT kiosks. Furthermore, mobile telephone service is being successfully used to deliver agricultural information to users.

In Ethiopia, public agricultural extension services have been in action for about half a century. Studies show that Ethiopia has the largest agricultural extension system in Sub-Saharan Africa, and third largest in the world after China and India (Swanson and Rajalahti, 2010). According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF 2010), a total of 8,500 farmer training centers (FTCs) have been established and 63,000 field extension workers (known as development agents-DAs) have been trained. The current extension approach, therefore, follows FTC-based extension system.

To speed up technology adoption, the government of Ethiopia should harnessing its public extension service delivery system and particularly the agricultural extension system and provide an enabling framework for utilizing advances in information and communication technology to deliver agricultural extension services. Using available ICTs will not only improve information and knowledge management for extension workers and farmers but optimize and rationalize public resources devoted to agricultural extension services.

The FTCs are positioned to facilitate agricultural knowledge and information exchange among researchers’ extension workers and farmers. Woreda level agricultural offices are responsible for managing the operation of FTCs with the support of zonal and regional agriculture bureaus and are the frontline administrative structure for implementing agricultural extension services in the country. So far the main method for linking different actors including: agricultural researchers, development agents and farmers working at different level merely depend on traditional communication channels.

 ICT can play a crucial role in benefiting the resource-strapped farmers with up to date knowledge and information on agricultural technologies, best practices, markets, price trends, and weather conditions.

Experts in public and private research and extension system could easily connect, collaborate and established working online and offline platform using the ICT tools. The experiences of most countries indicate that rapid development of ICT, which facilitates the flow of data and information, has tremendously enhanced the knowledge management practice in agriculture.

However, currently, among the various ICT related initiatives, radio is widely used to share and inform users on agricultural issues, including new and upgraded farming techniques production management, market information, and other issues. Due to its strategic importance in reaching the majority of the smallholders, only attempts are being made to strengthen the delivery of knowledge and information through this media.

Countries Experiences in using ICT for Agriculture

ICT kiosks: success story in India

eChoupal is an initiative of ITC Limited (a large multi business conglomerate in India) to link directly with rural farmers for procurement of agricultural produce like soybeans, wheat,coffee, and prawns. eChoupal was conceived to tackle the challenges of Indian agriculture, characterized by fragmented farms, weak infrastructure, and the involvement of numerous intermediaries.

The company has already established over 10,000 eChoupal kiosks (centers), across several agricultural regions of the country each with a computer and Internet access where the farmers can directly negotiate the sale of their produce online with ITC Limited. These eChoupal centers also enable farmers to obtain online information and recommendations on good farming practices. In addition, they can place orders for agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilizers. This helps farmers to improve the quality of their produce and realize better prices. Each ITC Limited kiosk is run by a villages, generally within about a 5 km radius. These farmers bear some operating cost but, in return, earn a service fee for each e-transaction done through their eChoupal.

Case Study : M-Farm Ltd in Keyna

There is a small set of new, successful Kenyan start-ups in mobile farming. An example is M-Farm Ltd., a “software solution and agribusiness company” whose product concept is based on the necessity of providing relevant, ready-to-use information to farmers across the nation as a whole. Developed in 2009 and led by Jamila Abass, M-Farm has started its operations with the mission of empowering Kenyan farmers, whose problems include misbehavior of middlemen with respect to the price of produce, ineffective mechanisms for information on market prices, and the relatively high cost of farm inputs.

To alleviate these problems, the company developed an SMS-based technology, through which farmers only need to send an SMS, to access several services in m-farming: they can get information pertaining to the retail price of their output, buy their farm inputs directly from manufacturers at favorable prices, and be matched with optimal buyers for their products. The product was designed to address informational asymmetry and a lack of coordination, which minimize the bargaining power of farmers in their interaction with middlemen. By providing a SMS-based technology for information and communication, M – Farm attempts to provide an easily accessible solution to the problem: the platform also enables farmers to sell collectively, and aggregate their orders when they need to connect with farm input suppliers.

The rates of adoption of the M-Farm platform are remarkable, especially for a new venture focused on the specific segment of the national farming community. As reported by CEO Jamila Abass, M-Farm recruited more than 3000 subscribers (adding to the initial 2000) in the first month after that project was launched. Abass reports that most of the individuals subscribing to M-Farm doubled their profits as a result of the application, and created new, stable market relations with other customers of the same platform.

aimed at reaching these goals: for example, the RapidSMS case cited above is aimed at the improvement of child health and nutrition, and therefore relates directly to MDG no. 4, as well as to no.1 (eradicating global poverty and hunger). The case of WelTel Kenya1, aimed at combating HIV/AIDS as per MDG no.6, constitutes remarkable progress towards the use of mobiles in this field, given its capability of acting on therapy – rather than solely on prevention, as many ICT-based toolkits deployed in the past. The MDGs constitute, therefore, a useful framework to tailor development projects, and to establish specific targets for mobile-based intervention.

 Case Study : M-Krishi – TCS’ Mobile Agro-Advisory Service in India

Conceived in 2006, for agents operating in agricultural markets in India, M-Krishi (“M” stands for “Mobile”, and “Krishi” means “agriculture” in several Indian languages) is a mobile platform developed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), in order to provide personalized advice to farmers on low-end mobiles. This experience mirrors at least two of the traits that we have reviewed in the Sub-Saharan African context: firstly, the necessity of targeting agricultural markets as a specific segment of the economy, and secondly, the choice of providing a custom mobile app based on low-end technologies, due to the low propensity of developing county farmers to purchase high-tech mobiles. What makes the M-Krishi experience unique is that this platform provides personalized advice to farmers. As a result farmers gain access to information on the weather, soil, fertilizer and pesticides that correspond to their plot of land.

The initiative for M-Krishi stemmed from appraisal of farmers’ needs, which clearly addressed the necessity of an integrated system to answer specific queries. The product has been conceived as a mobile agro-advisory system that would allow farmers to send queries to agricultural experts in their local language, and receive information from them in the same language, overcoming the barrier of illiteracy often found with respect to ICT projects in developing nations.

The business impacts reported at M-Krishi are quite impressive: according to TCS, expert advice to farmers using the service has increased yield by 20%, and reduced pesticide costs by almost 40%. Furthermore, TCS reports increased awareness of farmers of new technologies such as Integrated Pest Management, which is likely to result in further yield increases. Further, seeing an opportunity to reduce costs, stakeholders approached the company to start paid pilots in order to reach more farmers.

Case Study : Intuit Fasal in Bangalore

Conceived in 2010, Intuit Fasal is an initiative in Bangalore, southern India, at the laboratories of Intuit, an American software company primarily focused on developing applications for small businesses. Deepa Bachu, the director of emerging market innovation at Intuit, developed the concept of Intuit Fasal (where Fasal means “harvest” in Hindi) in order to maximize the power of technology for optimizing agricultural markets in Karnataka. Fasal is a free SMS-based product that enables farmers to connect with potential buyers and to access real-time price information. Developed on the basis of an ad hoc algorithm, Fasal functions as a “basic supply-and-demand calculator”: once farmers have registered for the service, a profile of their produce and activity is captured, and the service starts sending personalized messages. The system knows when the farmer is ready to harvest, and starts providing several things: price information, advice on techniques and connection with potential local buyers.

What makes Fasal special is its capacity of exploiting the resources and intelligence of a global software innovator, traditionally focused on business segments, to develop agricultural markets in a developing nation. This service has reached more than 500,000 users who earn an average of 20% more income because of the technology. Once again, the traits of innovation revealed above with respect to m-agriculture are portrayed by Fasal, whose complex algorithm does not need complex devices to be operated: simple mobile phones are sufficient for the use of this platform, whose informational activity is performed entirely through the use of voice message and SMS.

ICT4AGR IN ETHIOPIA: The way forward

Effective knowledge and information management in the agricultural sector will be achieved when the right knowledge and information is delivered to the farmers and other stakeholders at the right time in a user-friendly and accessible manner. To realize this, farmers should be involved in the knowledge management process as knowledge generated in a participatory manner has a greater likelihood of being accepted and acted upon by the farmers. This participatory approach will also enable the integration of traditional or tacit knowledge of farmers with the modern forms of knowledge, and further enhance the utilization of knowledge disseminated to smallholder farmers.

Implementing modern approaches to knowledge management in the Ethiopian agriculture sector will not be without challenge. While recognizing that the country has several institutions and organizations engaged in the creation and dissemination of agricultural knowledge and information,

 Effectiveness is inhibited by the coverage and inadequate usage of ICT. Ethiopia is currently far behind several African countries in the coverage and usage of ICT services, and efforts are needed to scale-up investments in physical ICT infrastructure and services across the country. At present, radio stands out as the most utilized medium among the various ICT platforms. In the many countries reviewed however, other modern and innovative ICT-based knowledge management systems have been fully embraced to generate and disseminate agricultural information to stakeholders along the agricultura value chain. Some initiatives aimed at using modern ICT tools such as web portal are underway albei at small-scale. Government should capitalize on the potential role that ICT can play in improving the productivity and output of smallholder farmers and should implement bold measures to harness and turn the potentials into real development benefits.

The major challenges inhibiting the use of ICT in disseminating agricultural knowledge and information which includes the low level of access to ICT infrastructure and services, need to be addressed. The existing potential for extending the current ICT infrastructure to reach rural farmers, coupled by the presence of wide area radio service coverage across the country, should be exploited to implement ICT-based knowledge and information dissemination in the short-term. Policy and investment priorities that government and its partners should consider in order to promote cost-effective knowledge management in agriculture have been highlighted. Priorities include extending the existing ICT infrastructure to reach FTCs and woreda agricultural offices, establishing rural ICT kiosks establishing and strengthening community radios, integrating ICT at all levels of education, and making ICT hardware affordable to the users. Mobile phone platforms offer good opportunity for reaching farmers and knowledge intermediaries, and their use for disseminating knowledge and information should be explored and enhanced and design of interventions should benefit from existing lessons and experiences of many countries in Africa and Asia. These initiatives, we believe, will assist the government to rationalize its expenditures in the sector, streamline the agricultural extension system, speed up agricultural transformation and attain the objective of doubling agricultural production and productivity by the end of the GTP period in 2015.

Can Ethiopia Maintain Its Great Progress Toward Food Security?

Cross-posted from IFPRI.org
By SEYOUM MENGIST

Nearly 30 years after the 1984 famine that left more than 400,000 people dead, Ethiopia has made significant progress toward food security. Some of these recent successes include a reduction in poverty, an increase in crop yields and availability, and an increase in per capita income—rising in some rural areas by more than 50 percent!

What happened to cause this breakthrough, and what steps does the country need to stay on track?

Food and Agriculture in Ethiopia: Progress and Policy Challenges, a recently released book by IFPRI Senior Researchers Paul Dorosh and Shahidur Rashid, discusses this. According to the authors, one reason for Ethiopia’s recent economic accomplishments is sustained agricultural growth. In the 1990s, agricultural growth averaged nearly 3 percent. In the next decade, it grew to 6.2 percent. Calorie malnourishment—insufficient diets or diets deficient in vitamins and nutrients—fell from 66 percent in 2000 to 46 percent in 2005. Over the same time period, the prevalence of underweight children younger than five years old dropped from 47.2 to 38.4 percent. A permanent shift from an environment prone to severe food crises to a stable and well-nourished one is possible—if the country maintains this agricultural growth.

One measure Ethiopia has already taken is establishing the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA). As described in an article in IFPRI’s Insights magazine, the ATA combines the “analytical capacity of a research organization with the political and economic power of an implementing organization” to enact policies based on three common factors for success: strong government support, financial support from both government and large-scale donors, and projects that target the day-to-day financial concerns of Ethiopians as well as national economic goals.

According to the book’s authors, Ethiopia’s future is bright—if it takes concrete steps to:

sustain growth in crop and livestock production
increase market efficiency through better roads and wider access to electricity and information
provide effective safety nets to protect the most vulnerable households
maintain stability of the Ethiopian currency, the birr
manage the country’s demographic transition, as people leave rural areas for the cities

Some solutions are straightforward. For example, increased use of fertilizer, irrigation, and improved seeds can improve crop productivity. Fertilizer use was a large factor behind the cereal production increases in the 2000s, but it is still low: less than half of farmers used fertilizer in 2007 and 2008. And further research shows farmers rarely irrigate or use improved seeds. Others, such as achieving sustained macroeconomic stability, are more complicated and require, as do all new solutions, well-researched policies to implement them.

Ethiopia, by many measures, has made great progress since its great famine of 1984. But, say the authors, there is still work to do: namely continuing with thoughtful agricultural policies informed by research that, in turn, will help create a stable, food secure nation.

Social networking sites as a media of communication

What are social networking sites

The media affects What we think about self image and what others should look like. Modern communication media now allow for intense long-distance exchanges between larger numbers of people communication , one of them is SNS. A social network service is an online platform that focuses on building of social networks or social relations among people. SNS make it possible to connect people who share interests and activities across political, economic, and geographic borders. SNS have a future of profiles, Friends, comments, and private messaging but they are vary greatly in their features . Some have photo-sharing or video-sharing capabilities; others have built-in blogging and instant messaging technology

Examples of social networking cites

Like flicker, word press, YouTube, Facebook, twitter, wiki , google doc

Function of Social Networking sites

• Work Connections
One form of social networking that’s growing in popularity is corporate social networking
• Keeping in Touch
Social networking provides a great way for you to stay in touch with people who may have moved away.
• Get Feedback
you can use social networking to get feedback on ideas immediately
• Share Multiple Points of View
Different exposure can help you to learn to look at things from different angles, and be more tolerant of other people’s opinions, things that go a long way in the working world.
• Talking to Students , Teachers , online forum
many student organizations have specific social networks designed to help students connect.

So ..Throughout the years, participants of social networks have:

• Found romance
• Formed new businesses
• Enhanced their existing businesses
• Received assistance when in trouble
• Found new jobs
• Received job recommendations
• Made friends
• Connected with old friends
• Received free lodging on vacation

From the web 2.0 learning opportunity organized by CTA and ILRI I have learned

-how to collaborative write a paper
-how to integrate different sites like igoogle
-how to organize your are of interest for update like Rss and alert
-how to join professional networks
-how to use advanced web 2.0 tools to make blogs and micro blogs more attractive and usefull

for more information 1 2

web 2.0 learning opportunity @ ILRI for rural development start today may 23 , 2011

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation EU-ACP (CTA) in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), will host a 5-day Web 2.0 Learning Opportunity staring on Monday 23 May 2011. Participants will be introduced to selected web 2.0 applications and learn on how to use them.