News Archive: 2009

Here’s where you’ll find details of kiwanja’s 2009 activities including talks, conference attendances, media interviews, writing and other general news. Links to even earlier news items can be found at the bottom of the page. Please note: Given the age of some of these entries, some external links may now no longer work.

December 2009: kiwanja’s Humanitarian Centre talk now online

Last month, kiwanja’s Ken Banks was invited to speak at the Humanitarian Centre in Cambridge on his work with mobile technology, and his wider interest in entrepreneurship and mobile innovation in the developing world. The Humanitarian Centre supports innovation and enterprise amongst the Cambridge humanitarian community, and during October/November welcomed three Cambridge-based speakers to give their own unique perspectives on what is meant by ‘social enterprise’. A PDF summary of Ken’s talk is available here, and an audio version of the whole talk here [30 minutes]

December 2009: FrontlineSMS featured on BBC News website

FrontlineSMS has been featured on the BBC News website as part of their coverage of the release of the latest UN/Vodafone Foundation report (see news item below). The news report – “Aid agencies must use new tools” – focuses on technologies such as Ushahidi, Twitter,Facebook and FrontlineSMS, described as a crucial part of disaster management. Click here to read the article

December 2009: FrontlineSMS featured in latest UN report

Following their recent examination of the mHealth landscape, the UN/Vodafone Foundation partnership have now turned their attention to a new topic – New Technologies in Emergencies and Conflicts. The new study, available for download on the UN Foundation website, examines how authorities and humanitarian/aid organisations balance the opportunities and challenges of exploiting different technologies at key stages during the timeline of a crisis. The report provides a useful overview of the topic, and gives a number of good examples of how social media tools are being deployed on the ground in emergency and crisis situations. The report also highlights a number of mobile-related tools and services – including FrontlineSMS and Souktel – and provides a number of examples of how Ushahidi has been deployed in trouble spots around the world

December 2009: presenting at UK Government science gathering

Ken Banks will be one of four presenters at a gathering on 9th December discussing Science, Technology and Innovation for Poverty Reduction. The seminar is jointly organised by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, the Institute of Physics and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Ken’s talk will be on grassroots mobile innovation, and his work with NGOs and FrontlineSMS. A PDF brochure detailing the event, which is open to the public, is available here [1.4Mb]

December 2009: Guest chapter in forthcoming “SMS Uprising” book

A new book, due for release in January 2010, will contain a guest chapter from on mobile activism in Africa, and the need to build and deploy mobile tools which work in the kinds of environments most grassroots activists find themselves

“SMS Uprising” provides a unique insight into how activists and social change advocates are addressing Africa’s many challenges from within, and how they are using mobile telephone technologies to facilitate these changes. Other contributors to the book include Nigerian activist Sokari Ekine, who runs the prize-winning blog Black Looks, Juliana Rotich from Ushahidi in Kenya and Berna Ngolobe of WOUGNET in Uganda. Further details on the book, and how to order, are available on the Fahamu Books and Pambazuka Press website here

November 2009: Month of student talks continues in San Francisco

The past few weeks have seen a flurry of talks at conferences, workshops and universities, including two lined up to computer science classes interested specifically in building mobile tools for social change. The first of these talks is to students at Mills College, a nationally renowned independent liberal arts college for women with co-ed graduate programs. The second is set to take place at the University of San Francisco to a class focusing primarily on Android applications development. Details of that talk – and the homework set for the class! – are available here

November 2009: Collaboration with Ashoka on “SMS Guide”

An ongoing collaboration with the Ashoka Changemakers network has resulted in the publication of the first of three text message-related guides. The first – “SMS Quick Start Guide” – was released this week and is designed to help non-profit organisations quickly get up and running with their own FrontlineSMS messaging hub. The other guides, one of which will be a case study of Ashoka’s own use of the software earlier this year in Africa, is due out next month. The first guide is available here (PDF, 1Mb)

November 2009: FrontlineSMS wins prestigious international award    


The Tech Museum at Santa Clara University recently announced the 2009 Tech Awards Laureates. The Tech Awards is a prestigious international awards program that honours innovators from around the world who are applying technology to benefit humanity. FrontlineSMS / was one of three Laureates honoured in the “Equality” category, and one of only fifteen in total. The Awards ceremony is held later this month

Established in 2001, The Tech Awards recognises Laureates in a total of five categories – environment, economic development, education, equality and health. Laureates are recognised as having developed new technological solutions or innovative ways to use existing technologies to significantly improve the lives of people around the world. The Awards are sponsored by a wide range of partners which include Nokia, Intel, Microsoft, Accenture, eBay and Google. Full details are available on the blog here

October 2009: Interview with CNN for “anthropology innovation” article

Ken Banks, kiwanja’s Founder, was recently interviewed by CNN for an article on “Human behaviour: The key to future tech developments”. The article looks at the focus of mobile innovation at the bottom of the pyramid, and how anthropologists are helping gain a valuable insight into the way people use mobile technology. The full article can be read here

October 2009: FrontlineSMS:Credit launched at Africa Gathering

Africa Gathering in London was the chosen venue for an announcement on the launch of a new venture, FrontlineSMS:Credit, by its Executive Director, Benjamin Lyon. According to Ben, “FrontlineSMS:Credit aims to make every formal financial service available to the entrepreneurial poor in 160 characters or less. By meshing the functionality of FrontlineSMS with local mobile payment systems, implementing institutions will be able to provide a full range of customizable services, from savings and credit to insurance and payroll”. Since the announcement there has been considerable interest in the project, with a number of international NGOs and microfinance-focused organisations looking to partner up. Full details and latest news are available on the FrontlineSMS:Credit website, and via a launch blog on the website here

October 2009: at Humanitarian Centre, Vodafone and Stanford

Over the next three weeks, will be making appearances at the Humanitarian Centre in Cambridge, a Vodafone workshop in London, and at a seminar at Stanford University. The Humanitarian Centre talk is scheduled for 26th October, and will cover the background to kiwanja’s work, and the thinking behind FrontlineSMS. On 30th October, Ken Banks will be chairing a session at the first international workshop on “Expressive Interactions for Sustainability and Empowerment” hosted at Vodafone in London, discussing mobile innovation and empowerment on the margins. Finally, on 5th November, a talk is scheduled at Stanford University’s Centre on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law where Ken will talk about mobile innovation and activism. Details of that talk are available here

October 2009: Second appearance at Africa Gathering London

The organisers behind Africa Gathering London have announced that will be the first speaker of this year’s Friday night networking event. Ken Banks, Founder of, will draw on years of experience working at the intersection of technology, anthropology, conservation and development in Africa and talk about the impact of mobile technology on the continent. Tickets for the event, which is being held on 9th and 10th October, are available on the Africa Gathering Eventbrite page

October 2009: FrontlineSMS featured in Commonwealth Broadcaster

The role of FrontlineSMS in rural radio is the topic of an article in the latest edition of the Commonwealth Broadcaster, a quarterly publication published by the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (CBA) which seeks to further the concept of public service broadcasting. CBA’s interest in FrontlineSMS follows a significant increase in interest among media organisations. The magazine article can be read here (pages 16 and 17)

October 2009: FrontlineSMS at Better World by Design 2009

After an appearance at the same event last year, Ken Banks has been invited back to sit on a panel discussing “Decentralized Technology” at A Better World by Design 2009. A Better World by Design brings together a global community of innovators to Providence, Rhode Island, to reach across disciplines and unite under a common goal. Presenters share engaging stories, workshops teach creative skills, and discussions reframe perspectives. According to the organisers, “A Better World by Design is an immersive experience that deepens our understanding of the power of design, technology, and enterprise to reshape our communities and sustain our environment”. For a short introduction to kiwanja’s work in decentralising technology, check out this video of a recent talk at Georgia Tech

October 2009: Ken Banks speaking at “The Feast”

kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been invited to speak at this year’s The Feast conference, slated for 1st October at The Times Center in New York. “The Feast” is a cross-disciplinary series of programs addressing social innovation and new ways to make the world a better place. According to the organisers, “An open exchange of ideas across industries and society is necessary to produce lasting, sustainable, meaningful change. “The Feast” brings together the world’s leading creative entrepreneurs, revolutionaries, radicals, doers and thinkers to inspire more action, share best practices, and create valuable connections that will change the world”

September 2009: guest article published on BBC website

This month the BBC have been covering the arrival of the Seacom fibre optic cable off the coast of East Africa, focusing on Kenya initially and today moving on to Rwanda. The coverage – video, news, blogs, photos and opinion – is all brought together in a new “Connected Africa section of their website. kiwanja’s Ken Banks was asked to submit a guest article as part of the series, focusing on mobile technology and innovation. The article can be read here

September 2009: kiwanja keynote at mLife conference in Barcelona

Ken Banks will be making a keynote speech as part of the mDevelopment track of this year’s mLife Conference being held in Barcelona on 2nd, 3rd and 4th September. mDevelopment 2009 aims to explore the impact of mobile technology on economic and social development. Full details are available on the conference website

September 2009: FrontlineSMS demos at Cambridge/Microsoft event was recently invited to present FrontlineSMS at an Open House Festival organised by Cambridge University and Microsoft Research. According to the organisers, the conference on Human Computer Interaction (HCI) “celebrates the people who use technology, the people who create new technologies, and the relationship between them”. The centrepiece of the conference was an Open House Festival involving the many Cambridge laboratories and start-up companies creating new displays, devices, games, communications and ubiquitous computing technologies. The main event runs from 1st to 5th September in Cambridge, UK

September 2009: at Nokia World 09

Nokia World 09 is described by Nokia as a dynamic experience, co-created by the community, arranged by Nokia and focused on developing new business opportunities. The event offers products, services and solutions that connect communities, help realise potential, entertain and celebrate people’s lives. kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been invited to speak – and take part in a Q&A session – covering mobile technology, grassroots innovation, mobile applications development and FrontlineSMS. Full details of the main event are on the Nokia World website

August 2009: FrontlineSMS featured on the BBC News website

“Any attempt to rig or interfere with Afghanistan’s election could be caught out by a system that allows anyone to record incidents via text message. The text messages are collected via a free-platform known as FrontlineSMS, developed by UK programmer Ken Banks”. On the eve of the 2009 Afghan elections, the BBC News website reported on Alive in Afghanistan, a project which used FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi to help citizen monitoring of the elections. The full BBC report can be read here. Congratulations to Brian Conley and his team for putting together such a great initiative

August 2009: Debut TV appearance for on VoxAfrica TV

kiwanja’s Ken Banks was recently contacted by the Production Co-Ordinator at VoxAfrica TV, a Pan African, bilingual, independent TV channel which broadcasts throughout the African continent via satellite. Following Michael Joseph’s recent comments that mobile technology has had a greater impact on Africa’s development than international aid, the producers were keen to explore the state of ICT across the continent. The one hour live programme, Shoot the Messenger – which was hosted by Henry Bonsu – also featured appearances from Tim Unwin (Royal Holloway), James Mbugua (Radio Africa), Samuel Burke (Hearts to Africa) and Mariéme Jamme (SpotOne Global Solutions Group and Africa Gathering). Click here to watch a video of the programme

August 2009: FrontlineSMS:Medic featured in Economist video

During a recent Economist interview on predicting pandemics, Nathan Wolfe – a global virology expert – talked briefly about his work with FrontlineSMS:Medic, who are helping set up a data collection network as part of his work in Cameroon. You can watch Nathan’s full video interview here

August 2009: FrontlineSMS at the 6th Annual Youth Assembly at the UN

FrontlineSMS will be profiled at the 6th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations, due to take place at the UN headquarters this month. The background and uses of the software will be profiled during a panel discussion during the “Innovations for Change! MDGs in Action” session. Full details on the Assembly, and a draft program, are available on their website

August 2009: Talk on building mobile applications at the CCC

Early this month sees the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Workshop on Computer Science for Global Development at Berkeley, California. The aim of the workshop is to build a community of interested researchers to develop a field of legitimate academic inquiry through the establishment of a set of values, methods and metrics of evaluation that can unite research in this area, and create bridges to existing sub-areas of Computer Science research. Ken Banks will be giving a talk at the conference, discussing the design and development of mobile applications for developing regions (a similar talk is available here)

July 2009: to speak at George Washington University

Ken Banks has been invited to speak at the “Fifth International Workshop on Political Management for Change Projects”, an event being held by the Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University later this month. More than a hundred leaders from different parts of Latin America and Spain will attend sessions which seek to begin an exchange of information on the application of technologies to address the type of problems participants face in their everyday activities

July 2009: FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi help monitor drug stocks in East Africa

Medicine stock-outs are a potentially lethal problem in a number of African countries, yet governments insist they don’t occur. Recently, activists in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia started using FrontlineSMS and the Ushahidi platform to start surveying clinics in their respective countries, checking stock levels of essential medicines. The project is being run by Michael Ballard and Claudio Midolo, both Open Society Fellows from the Department of Design + Technology at Parsons the New School for Design in New York. Further details are available via the blog

July 2009: Ken Banks interviewed by Project Diaspora

Ken Banks, Founder of, has given a wide-reaching interview with Project Diaspora. During the interview with Siena Anstis, they talk about the thinking and history behind kiwanja and FrontlineSMS, and issues and challenges working in the social mobile field

July 2009: Ken Banks keynote to postgraduate students at IPID

The 2009 Annual Conference of the International Network for Postgraduate Students in the Area of ICT4D (IPID) is due to be held at Royal Holloway, University of London on 11th and 12th September, and will be hosted by the ICT4D Collective and UNESCO Chair in ICT4D. The conference aims to provide postgraduate students opportunities to present short papers about their research in a supportive environment where they can gain positive feedback from other participants, and to provide an opportunity to discuss key themes of interest to ICT4D postgraduates. Ken Banks, Founder of, has been invited to make a keynote opening speech at the conference. Further details nearer the time

June 2009: kiwanja interviewed by Clark Boyd for Discovery Channel

Clark Boyd recently interviewed Ken Banks as part of the “Wide Angle” series. In the short interview, Ken talks about kiwanja’s background, and gives advice to others looking to work in the ICT4D and mobile fields. The interview, along with a brief introduction, is available on Clark’s blog here

June 2009: Brad and Angelina support FrontlineSMS project in Cambodia

Researchers from the University of Canberra are working with the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation (MJP), an organisation founded by philanthropists Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, to trial a cost effective text-messaging system built around kiwanja’s FrontlineSMS software. The project with the University of New England is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research to help improve the lives of some of the poorest people in Cambodia. Full details are available via the Blog

June 2009: kiwanja keynote at International m-Libraries Conference

Ken Banks was recently invited to give a keynote address at the second International m-Libraries Conference, held and sponsored by the University of British Columbia in conjunction with Athabasca University, The Open University and Thompson Rivers University. The Conference aimed to explore and share work carried out in libraries around the world to deliver services and resources to users “on the move” via a growing plethora of mobile and hand-held devices. The conference brought together researchers, technical developers, managers and library practitioners to exchange experience and expertise and generate ideas for future developments. A short blog post by one of the attendees is available here

June 2009: Panel appearance at Cambridge University, UK

Cambridge University’s Technology Ventures Conference 2009 is one of many events planned to mark the 800th Anniversary of the University. Under the overarching theme of “Innovative Technologies for Global Challenges”, the conference seeks to explore “the myriad of challenges we are facing in this historical period – global needs for clean energy, a need to eradicate diseases in poor countries using cheap medical technologies, an increasing need to find a way out of the current financial climate, and personal needs to keep everyone connected and in touch with their data, anywhere and anytime”. Ken Banks has been invited to sit on the Technologies for Sustainable Development Panel along with representatives from Aptivate, Inveneo and Vodafone

June 2009: kiwanja keynote at Humanitarian Technology Challenge

Ken Banks, Founder of, will be giving the opening keynote address at this month’s “Humanitarian Technology Challenge (HTC) in Washington DC. Organised by theUN Foundation, the Vodafone Foundation and the IEEE, the two-day event aims to introduce definitions of three key challenges identified by humanitarian and health experts, and kick off a solutions development process that will continue through an online, collaborative platform after the conference closes. The solutions development process will then continue into 2010, with product development and piloting expected in 2011 and 2012. Copies of the slides from the talk are available here (PDF, 2.5Mb)

June 2009: FrontlineSMS:Medic sweeps the board at N2Y4

FrontlineSMS:Medic, the student-run project adapting kiwanja’s FrontlineSMS software for rural healthcare settings in the developing world, has just won three awards at the annual N2Y4 NetSquared event in California. You can read more from the team themselves on their blog. Congratulations from everyone here, and commiserations to FrontlineSMS:Alerts and IJ Central, who both also had FrontlineSMS-based projects in the competition

May 2009: FrontlineSMS and featured in the Guardian

Following an appearance at Africa Gathering in London last month, FrontlineSMS and have been featured in the Guardian, one of the UK’s main daily newspapers. In the article – Talking about a revolution –  Guy Collender looks at the application of mobile technology for social change

May 2009: FrontlineSMS helps media track Malawi elections

FrontlineSMS is being used to help the media track and co-ordinate their reporting of the May 2009 Malawi elections. The African Elections Project (AEP) Malawi focuses on developing the capacity of the media through the use of ICTs, and mobile-enabled AEP Malawi team members are working across the country, using voice and SMS to stay in touch with a central newsroom based in Blantyre. This newsroom is equipped with a copy of FrontlineSMS, which is helping manage incoming and outgoing SMS to and from newsroom members, and helping auto-manage and disseminate news via SMS to subscribers. Further details are available via this kiwanja blog post

May 2009: Hope Phones launched by team behind FrontlineSMS:Medic

The student-led team behind FrontlineSMS:Medic have launched a handset recycling scheme designed to equip Community Healthcare Workers (CHWs) in developing countries with mobile phones. According to the project, “every cell phone given to community health workers connects distant patients to a medical clinic. A $10 cell phone will give 50 families access to emergency medical care, health information, transport services, and clinic resources”. Further details, and information on how you can donate your own phone, are available on the Hope Phones website

May 2009: FrontlineSMS:Medic appearance on CNNMoney

“A Stanford student is revolutionizing health care in rural Africa using cell phones and text messaging”. Josh Nesbit’s “Mobiles in Malawi” – which has since spurred the creation of FrontlineSMS:Medic – has been profiled on CNN. Josh, who took a copy of FrontlineSMS, 100 recycled mobile phones and a laptop to St, Gabriels Hospital in Malawi, now writes about his work via The CNNMoney video is here

May 2009: interviewed by BBC’s “Digital Planet”

Ken Banks has been interviewed by Gareth Mitchell on Digital Planet, BBC’s technology show broadcast on the World Service. In a slight departure from previous appearances – which concentrated on mobile technology – in this interview he talks about the ‘battle’ between proprietary and open source software in Africa. The interview, which can be heard here, was followed up by an article on the BBC website, and a discussion on Slashdot. Dr Cheikh Modibo Diarra, Chairman of Microsoft in Africa, was also interviewed for the show

May 2009: Interview on FrontlineSMS at Africa Gathering

Filmed at the Africa Gathering event in London in late April, this short interview between Ken Banks and Jonathan Marks covers the history, thinking and use of FrontlineSMS, and contains some priceless footage of over 100 Africa Gathering attendees doing an impression of the FrontlineSMS \o/ logo

May 2009: “Mobiles in Malawi” project profiled on Discovery Science

Josh Nesbit’s “Mobiles in Malawi” – which has since spurred the creation of FrontlineSMS:Medic – has been profiled as ‘Video of The Week’ on the Discovery Science Channel. Josh, who took a copy of FrontlineSMS, 100 recycled mobile phones and a laptop to St, Gabriels Hospital in Malawi, now writes about his work via The Discovery video is here

May 2009: FrontlineSMS to demo at “Thinking Digital”

Thinking Digital is an annual conference where the world’s greatest thinkers and innovators gather to inspire, to entertain and to discuss the latest ideas and technologies. FrontlineSMS will be demonstrated and discussed during the “Show and Tell” session on the first day (this session aims to focus on “jaw-dropping demos of mash-ups and home-made technologies”)

May 2009: “Computing at The Margins” talk

Ken Banks will be speaking about mobile technology, mobility and nomadicity at an event being organised by Georgia Tech this month. The Computing at The Margins Symposium brings together leaders from academia, industry, government, and the non-profit sector to discuss the scientific challenges of creating technology aimed outside the affluent, well-connected, infrastructure-heavy settings that have been the focus of so much computing research

May 2009: kiwanja invited to sit on Vodafone emerging markets panel

Ken Banks has been invited to sit on the Advisory Panel for Vodafone’s Socio-Economic Impact of Mobile (SIM) programme. SIM has been running for five years and provides advice and peer review on papers focussing on the developing world. The Panel brings together a mix of academics, business, policy people and NGOs. Other Panelists include Professor Marc Ivaldi (University of Toulouse), Professor Rajiv Kumar (ICRIER, New Delhi), Ilkka Lakaniemi (Nokia Siemens Networks), David Porteous (Bankable Frontier, Boston), Amanda Rowlatt (ex-DFID and now DWP) and Professor Howard Williams (ex-University of Strathclyde and now ITU)

May 2009: kiwanja set to appear at Berkeley human rights conference’s Ken Banks has been invited to attend a conference at the Human Rights Centre at the University of California, Berkeley this month which aims to “convene leading thinkers and practitioners to share best practices and develop new strategies for incorporating technology to address human rights abuses”. Called The Soul of the New Machine, Ken will sit on a panel with Joel Selanikio of DataDyne, Steve Wright of the Salesforce Foundation, Erik Hersman from Ushahidi and Robert Kirkpatrick from InSTEDD discussing the use of mobile technology in human rights data collection

April 2009: FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi to demo at ICTD2009

The final conference appearance of a frantic four week spell sees kiwanja join forces with Erik Hersman to demonstrate FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi at the annual ICTD2009 conference in Doha. In addition to the demo session, Ken Banks is sitting on a panel discussing the “Opportunity and Challenges of the Mobile Web for Social Development”. Fellow panelists include Stephane Boyera (W3C), Jesse Moore (GSMA), Jonathan Donner (Microsoft Research), Gaetano Borriello (University of Washington) and David Edelstein (Grameen Technology Centre)

April 2009: Public Radio International (PRI) reports on FrontlineForms

The recent launch of FrontlineForms, an SMS-driven data collection tool for FrontlineSMS, has been covered on the Public Radio International website. Described as “one of the most interesting and useful mobile phone tools I’ve ever written about”, the piece is based on an earlier interview with Clark Boyd at National Public Radio, the article looks at the use of FrontlineSMS in the field, and the potential for the new data collection tool

The article, and an audio clip of the original radio interview with Clark, can be found here

April 2009: contribution in new Boston Review publication

Described by Publishers Weekly as “a refreshing take on the fortunes of Africa in the current century, and a fascinating compendium of some of the leading theorists of African development” – Africa’s Turn is a new publication by the Boston Review which emerged from an earlier magazine discussion on the progress of development in Africa

Economist Edward Miguel writes the main article, discussing his time working in Busia, a small Kenyan border town, where he noticed something different starting in 1997: modest but steady economic progress, with new construction projects, flower markets, shops, and ubiquitous cell phones. In Africa’s Turn?” he tracks a decade of comparably hopeful economic trends throughout sub-Saharan Africa and suggests that we may be seeing a turnaround

Responding to Miguel, nine experts gauge his optimism. These include Olu Ajakaiye, Robert Bates, Paul Collier, Rachel Glennerster, Rosamond Naylor, Smita Singh, David N. Weil, Jeremy M. Weinstein and Ken Banks (a snippet can be read online here)

April 2009: FARA interview with Ken Banks

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa recently interviewed Ken Banks on the use of mobile technology in activism, and more specifically the use of FrontlineSMS for climate change campaigning and delivering information to rural farming communities. The short informal video, which was made during the recent W3C Workshop in Mozambique (see news item below), can be viewed here

April 2009: kiwanja at the Global Engagement Summit

Ken Banks, Founder of, has been invited to take part in this year’s Global Engagement Summit (GES), an annual student-run event held at Northwestern University in the US. Ken mentored two students working on social- and environmental-change projects, took a workshop focusing on appropriate technology, lead a small group discussion on technology and social change, and met students interested in careers in the development field. A blog post, written by’s Nathaniel Whittemore, drew comparisons between kiwanja’s work and the objectives of GES

April 2009: speaks at W3C Workshop in Mozambique

Following successful workshops in Bangalore, India (2006) and Sao Paulo, Brazil (2007), the W3C Mobile Web Initiative held their Africa-based workshop in Maputo, Mozambique on 2nd and 3rd April. Africa Perspective on the Role of Mobile Technologies in Fostering Social Development aimed to understand specific challenges of using mobile phones and Web technologies to deliver services to underprivileged populations of developing countries, and to capture the specificities of the African context.’s Ken Banks is a member of the Program Committee, and spoke at the event about the challenges in adopting mobile technologies among grassroots NGOs

March 2009: FrontlineSMS:Medic profiled in the Guardian

The Guardian newspaper in the UK has published an article on FrontlineSMS:Medic, a student-led initiative which sprung from the exciting work started by Josh Nesbit’s “Mobiles in Malawi” (now initiative last year. The article looks at the impact of FrontlineSMS on St. Gabriel’s Hospital, discusses future plans, and includes short video interviews with Medic’s co-founders. The Guardian piece can be read here

March 2009: interviewed by The Independent’s Ken Banks has been interviewed by The Independent newspaper for a special supplement on ‘ICTs and globalisation’. The interview centred around the spread, use and application of mobile technology in the developing world. The Independent is the UK’s youngest compact newspaper, first published in 1986. A link to the article – “Closing the digital divide” – is available here

March 2009: Ken Banks interviewed by PRI’s “The World”

Ken Banks has been interviewed by Clark Boyd for Public Radio International’s “The World” weekly radio programme. Ken and Clark – who has reported on FrontlineSMS before – touched on the history of FrontlineSMS, the impact it is having among a number of social change projects around the world, the launch of the new data collection tool – FrontlineForms (see news item below) – and the addition of new language support. The interview can be heard here (MP3, 8Mb)

March 2009: announces the launch of FrontlineForms

On 2nd March, and Masabi – the FrontlineSMS developers – announced the launch of FrontlineForms, a data collection tool which seamlessly integrates into the existing FrontlineSMS platform. Providing an end-to-end SMS data collection solution, FrontlineForms removes the need for high-end data collection devices, or internet connectivity in the field, both key barriers to entry for grassroots NGOs. You can read more on the blog, and reviews on the Ushahidi, Afromusing and Aid Worker Daily websites. To hear PRI’s radio interview, see the news item above

March 2009: IREX to host talk on FrontlineSMS and mobile technology

The IREX “Technology Serving Civil Society Speaker Series” is a bimonthly event that brings a unique, locally-focused perspective to international development policy dialogue in Washington, DC. Initiated in April 2007, the series hosts practitioners with “grassroots experience using technology in innovative ways to increase the effectiveness of community and civil society initiatives throughout the developing world”. Later this month the speaker series will host Ken Banks from and Alex Ngalande from Saint Gabriel’s Hospital in Malawi, who will talk about the impact of FrontlineSMS on patient care since it’s introduction last year. A summary of the talk is available on the IREX website

February 2009: FrontlineSMS featured in latest UN mHealth report

FrontlineSMS has been featured in the latest UN Foundation report – mHealth for Development: The Opportunity of Mobile Technology for Healthcare in the Developing World. The document examines issues at the heart of the rapidly evolving intersection of mobile phones and healthcare and seeks to explain mHealth’s “scope and implementation across developing regions, the health needs to which mHealth can be applied, and the mHealth applications that promise the greatest impact on health care initiatives”

February 2009: FrontlineSMS featured in ICT Update magazine

The use of FrontlineSMS in the agriculture sector has been profiled in the current edition of ICT Update magazine, which focuses on market information systems. The article profiles a Gates Foundation-funded project in El Salvador using the software as part of a wider SMS-driven market trading system, and another in Aceh run by Mercy Corps providing market prices and other agricultural data to smallholder farmers. The full article can be read here, and a separate “Techtip” section on how to download and use FrontlineSMS here. A short video explaining the FIAGRO project in El Salvador is also available on the FrontlineSMS Community pages

January 2009: FrontlineSMS helps HIV/AIDS education in DRC

Based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rien que la Vérité was born in 2006 when some of the finest musicians in the Congo united to produce a CD of songs speaking against the spread of HIV/AIDS. Since 2006, the platform has produced 14 music videos, a documentary, and an all-day stadium concert. In its present incarnation, Rien que la Vérité is touching the lives of the people of the Congo through their television screens as they follow the lives of a Kinois family on a locally-produced TV drama. Last December, producers began using kiwanja’s FrontlineSMS system to connect Rien que la Vérité with their audiences, allowing them to engage with the programme on a range of issues raised in the programmes. Full details are available via a guest post on kiwanja’s blog – see Sitcoms+SMS: Tackling HIV/AIDS in the DRC

January 2009: Work set to start on kiwanja’s Clinton Commitment

This month sees the start of work on kiwanja’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGi) ‘Commitment’, made last September at their annual gathering in New York. The Commitment – “The FrontlineSMS Ambassadors Programme” – centres around outreach efforts for FrontlineSMS. Initial stages will focus on the health work being carried out by Josh Nesbit in Malawi. Further details are available on the Blog

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