News Archive: 2010

Here’s where you’ll find details of kiwanja’s 2010 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 2010: FrontlineSMS featured in care2

“The ubiquity of the mobile phone now seems to be a global given and as its availability spreads, so too does its potential for global good. Meet FrontlineSMS, the developers of simple software that allows mass SMS messaging on mobile devices. FrontlineSMS has been used in places as distant as Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq, and the Philippines, on projects as varied as fair elections, weather warnings, and health services – all by local nonprofits”. Read more in this ‘Trailblazers For Good’ article here

November 2010: Ken Banks invited to “Emerge 2010” in Oxford

“Emerge is co-designed and co-organized by The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University’s Said Business School and Student Hubs, a youth-led organisation working in universities across the UK to achieve a step change in student engagement with social and environmental issues”. Ken Banks has been invited to speak on the “Disruptive Innovations in Mobile Tech” panel with Chris Locke, Managing Director of the GSMA Development Fund. Further details are available on the conference website

November 2010: FrontlineSMS and HarassMap featured in Fast Company

According to Fast Company, “A new Egyptian website promises to use social media to combat sexual harassment. But will it work? The newly launched HarassMap just came online this week as a self-proclaimed system in Egypt for reporting incidences of sexual harassment via SMS messaging”. The platform is powered by a combination of Ushahidi and FrontlineSMS. The full report is available here

November 2010: kiwanja keynote at m4d2010 in Kampala

Ken Banks has been invited to give the second keynote at the M4D2010 conference taking place in Kampala, Uganda on 10th and 11th November. M4D2010 aims to provide a forum for researchers, practitioners and all those with interests in the use of mobile technology in development. Further details available here

November 2010: FrontlineSMS talk at NetSquared Cambridge

There is huge potential for mobile phones to provide previously unavailable services to communities in the developing world in areas such as agriculture, health, education and more. This NetSquared event has been arranged so attendees can learn about the opportunities that exist and the tools that are making this change happen. kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been invited to speak about his experience establishing FrontlineSMS and to share how it is being used to support many different international development projects. The event – scheduled for November 23rd – will bring together technology specialists and international development practitioners, all keen to explore how technology can be used for social good. Further details available here

October 2010: Ken Banks at Pop!Tech 2010

kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been named a member of the Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellows Faculty for this year’s annual gathering in Camden, Maine. FrontlineSMS has formed something of a track record at the event. Ken, founder of FrontlineSMS, won a Fellowship in 2008. Josh Nesbit, Executive Director of FrontlineSMS:Medic was awarded a Fellowship in 2009, and this year Ben Lyon – Executive Director of FrontlineSMS:Credit – was named a Fellow. This year’s conference runs between October 20th and 23rd and is themed around Brilliant Accidents, Necessary Failures, and Improbable Breakthroughs. Follow @kiwanja on Twitter for live updates

October 2010: invited to speak at National Geographic

“Meet four gifted individuals recognized by National Geographic for making a difference early in their careers. This season’s Emerging Explorers Salon, moderated by Benjamin Shaw, Executive Producer for the weekly radio talk show National Geographic Weekend, features transformative ideas that are influencing the world. Scientist Saleem H. Ali promotes a pragmatic, inclusive form of environmentalism. Mobile technology innovator Ken Banks developed software that enhances the communications ability of people without access to the Internet. Agro-ecologist Jerry Glover uses biodiversity to improve food security. Activist Kakenya Ntaiya, in the face of daunting obstacles, founded the first primary school for girls in her region of Kenya”. Details of the public event, due to take place later this month in Washington DC, are available on the National Geographic website

October 2010: Brainstorm Magazine tackles open source and Africa

Brainstorm Magazine have published an article on open source in Africa, and our work with FrontlineSMS, based on an interview last month with Ken Banks. “Winning the Future” is available on the Brainstorm website here

October 2010: kiwanja Founder interviewed by CNN was recently interviewed by CNN for a feature on the use of social media in next year’s Nigerian elections. The article – “Goodluck Jonathan – The Facebook President” – is available on the CNN website here

October 2010: National Geographic profiles kiwanja’s work

Ken Banks recently spoke with National Geographic on the role of mobile technology and anthropology in global conservation and environmental efforts. The comprehensive article – “Solving eco challenges with grassroots messaging” – also touches on the role of FrontlineSMS. The full interview is available on their website here

September 2010: FrontlineSMS at The Festival of Nature

Delegates of November’s “Communicate” conference in Bristol (UK) will get a chance to hear about the role of mobile technology in conservation. According to the organisers, “Communicate is a conference for environmental communicators attracting a cross-sector of representatives from environmental and conservation organisations, business and CSR, policy makers, media, and national and local government bodies and natural history filmmakers”. Further details of kiwanja’s talk and a conference schedule are available on the official website

September 2010: keynote at Mobile Web in Africa 2010

Ken Banks has been invited to give a keynote address at the start of the second day of the “Mobile Web in Africa 2010” conference in Johannesburg later this month. Ken will talk about the adoption and deployment of mobile technology in the NGO sector, and detail best practice and learning from his experience working with FrontlineSMS. Further details of the event are available on the conference website here

September 2010: FrontlineSMS at LSE “Growth Week”

FrontlineSMS, and kiwanja’s wider work with mobile, was recently featured on a special panel hosted by the London School of Economics as part of “Growth Week”. According to LSE, “This session, moderated by Diane Coyle, OBE, of Enlightenment Economics, features a panel of researchers and practitioners sharing ideas and experience from the field, discussing a range of case studies from literacy and conditional cash transfer programs in Niger to SMS-based communications for rural hospitals in Malawi”. Further details of the event, and a link to audio and video of the 90 minute public discussion, is available here

September 2010: Voice of America profiles FrontlineSMS

Ken Banks was recently interviewed for a special “Voice of America” special which profiled this year’s National Geographic Emerging Explorers. The short interview is available via the VOA website here

September 2010: blog included in Guardian’s Global Development

Funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Guardian recently launched their new Global Development site to focus on global development, with particular emphasis on the millennium development goals. The site also aggregates news and blogs from around the World Wide Web which deal with development issues, and kiwanja’s “Build it Kenny, and they will come…” blog was selected. More on the Guardian website here

August 2010: The Daily Maverick on FrontlineSMS

kiwanja’s Ken Banks was recently interviewed by the Daily Maverick, a South African-based news site which promotes a unique blend of news, information, analysis and opinion. In the interview, Ken talks about the background to FrontlineSMS, and discusses some of the problems it seeks to solve for grassroots non-profits. The full article – “FrontlineSMS: Mass communication where the Internet ends” – can be read on the Daily Maverick website here

July 2010: Prospect Magazine highlights FrontlineSMS in Afghanistan

“Mobile phone ownership is widespread and radio stations have flourished, but the Americans still keep a tight grip on the media. It’s time to consider a more open approach”. A special report in this month’s Prospect Magazine discusses the growing interest in social media in the development of Afghanistan, and highlights the use of FrontlineSMS as one particular tool with potential. The full article can be read here

July 2010: FrontlineSMS-powered Oxfam health project in Armenia

According to Oxfam in Armenia, “More than 50,000 SMS alerts have been sent to our beneficiaries on Basic Benefit Package of Health Care Services provided by State. We have positive feedback from our beneficiaries from rural communities of Armenia. Although Government committed to insure information dissemination about the package provided by the state in the health care on rural areas. But it is not the case in many rural and isolated communities of Armenia. In many cases words of mouth and information booklets provided by Oxfam partner STC were the only source for information about health rights in these rural and isolated areas”. Watch the seven minute video on the project here

June 2010: Survivors Connect FrontlineSMS project featured by Ericsson

“Slavery. Looking back in history, we associate it with the very worst traits of human behaviour. But slavery and human trafficking are not confined to history – they are happening right now. Human rights organization Survivors Connect uses text messaging and other connectivity to tackle the problem and help survivors”. Read the full article on the Ericsson website here. Further details are available on a FrontlineSMS guest post, written by Survivors Connect’s CEO, Aashika Damodar

June 2010: New version of FrontlineSMS released

This month saw the release of the latest version of our FrontlineSMS messaging platform. Version 1.6.14 includes numerous bug fixes, along with a range of new features including a “Translation Manager” which allows users to translate the software into their own language. Further details of the new release are available on the FrontlineSMS blog here

June 2010: National Geographic Award for kiwanja’s Founder

“National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers Program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring young adventurers, scientists, photographers, and storytellers – explorers who are already making a difference early in their careers. Each year explorers are chosen from fields as diverse as anthropology, space exploration, mountaineering, and music”. Ken Banks was named a 2010 Emerging Explorer for his work in mobile, and will attend an event this month in Washington DC to collect the Award. Full details and a write-up are available on the National Geographic website. Further news items appeared in the Cambridge Evening News – the local paper where he now lives – and the Jersey Evening Post – the Island of his birth. An audio interview about the Award is available in the “Digital Planet” news item below

June 2010: Ken Banks interviewed by the BBC’s “Digital Planet”

Following news of his National Geographic Emerging Explorer Award (see earlier news item), kiwanja’s Ken Banks was invited to speak with Gareth Mitchell and Bill Thompson on the BBC’s Digital Planet, a program broadcast on the World Service which covers technology and its impact around the world. A podcast of the interview, which appears as the first segment in the programme, is available here

May 2010: at Google Zeitgeist 2010

This month, Google hosted their fifth annual Zeitgeist Europe 2010 event, where over 400 of the most influential business leaders and key visionaries from across Europe came together to share their perspectives on technological innovation at the event outside London. kiwanja’s Ken Banks was invited to sit on a panel discussing technology/business for social good, and appeared alongside colleagues at Kiva, DFID and Starbucks. A video of the panel is available via a Blog post here

May 2010: Ken Banks to talk at Thinking Digital 2010

Ken Banks has been lined up to talk at the “Thinking Digital” conference this month in Newcastle, UK. According to the website “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”. Ken will talk about his work in Africa, the history of and FrontlineSMS, and his approach to working with mobile technology in the developing world. More on the Thinking Digital website here

May 2010: “Where Books Are Few” talk at m-Libraries conference

Following a talk at The Second International m-Libraries Conference, held at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver last year, was invited to speak at a gathering in London this month about the use of mobile technology – and FrontlineSMS – in providing information to rural communities in developing countries. At the end of the event a new book – “M-Libraries 2: A virtual library in everyone’s pocket” – was also launched, containing an opening chapter by Ken Banks

May 2010: FrontlineSMS at University of Edinburgh ICT conference

“New information and communication technologies (ICTs) have taken Africa by storm. By far the highest uptake has been of mobile phones, and while rates of internet uptake in Africa have been slower, in many countries technologies that enable mobile internet access are now beginning to enter the mass market. New applications, and in some cases new devices, are also being introduced, at times in partnership between technology companies and development agencies. ICT seemingly embraces every aspect of the development spectrum, and has led to increased academic interest in the Information and Communication Technology for Development, or ICTD/ICT4D discipline”. As part of their 2010 Annual International Conference, Ken Banks was invited to speak about kiwanja’s work with FrontlineSMS, and how we might better build mobile tools which work “on the margins”. Details of the conference are available on the University of Edinburgh website here

May 2010: Omidyar Network announce new FrontlineSMS funding

“Omidyar Network today announced a $350,000 grant to FrontlineSMS, a U.K. based non-profit that provides free software that turns a laptop and a mobile phone into a simple, low-cost means of two-way, group communication. Omidyar Network’s two-year grant will enable FrontlineSMS to reach millions more individuals and foster new services to provide information critical to their health, livelihood and ability to hold their governments accountable”. Further details are available on the Omidyar website

April 2010: interviewed by the New York Times

Ken Banks,’s Founder, has been interviewed by the New York Times for an article on the differences between developed and developing country innovation. The article – “The Triumph of the Ordinary Cellphone” – is available on the NYT website here

April 2010: Conference talk on FrontlineSMS in Kenya

FrontlineSMS, and the use of – and potential for – mobile-based agricultural systems will be discussed in a special workshop in Nairobi later this month. The Foresight Project on Global Food and Farming Futures is asking how a future global population of nine billion people could all be fed healthily and sustainably. The project will look out to 2050 and take a global view of the food system, considering issues of demand, production and supply as well as broader environmental issues. FrontlineSMS, and ICT4D in general, will be discussed on the second day. More on the initiative is available via the Foresight website

April 2010: FrontlineSMS featured by World Watch Institute

The World Watch Institute have joined the “mobile phones/appropriate technology” debate in an excellent article in the May/June edition of their magazine. In it, John Mulrow argues that, if carried out appropriately, Schumacher’s original concept of local initiatives, local ownership and local innovation can be applied to today’s mobile world, despite mobile phones being a technology often designed, developed and controlled from the ‘outside’. This is one of the best articles yet on mobile vs. appropriate technology, and is well worth a read. FrontlineSMS also features strongly, as does’s appropriate technology ethos. “Think Mobile, Act Local” is available as a PDF here

April 2010: UK Foreign Secretary visits Cambridge Hum Centre

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, paid a visit to the Humanitarian Centre in Cambridge this month to discuss the work of the growing number of organisations based there. During the visit, Ken Banks – Founder of – spoke about our work with mobile technology, and the uses of FrontlineSMS by non-profits around the world. The visit was covered on the Humanitarian Centre website here and in the local Cambridge newspaper

March 2010: FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi in Guardian Editorial

The Guardian have once again picked up on the unprecedented use of social media in the recent Haiti earthquake, and featured the use of tools such as FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi in a recent Editorial. The piece, entitled “The internet: The new face of disaster reporting”, can be read here

March 2010: FrontlineSMS at the Alliance of Youth Movements, London

At the 2010 AYM Summit in London, attendees will explore how youth activists can better utilise online and mobile tools to diminish violence. The Summit, which is being held at the InterContinental Park Lane in London from March 9th to 11th – is supported by Access 360 Media, Causecast, Edelman, Gen Next, Google, Howcast, the Legatum Institute, MeetUp, MTV, the Salesforce Foundation, and YouTube, among others. Ken Banks will sit on two panels at the Summit – one dealing with the use of technologies such as FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi to crowdsource information, and the other discussing wider lessons to be drawn from using social media in campaigning. Details of the event are available on the Alliance of Youth Movements website

March 2010: FrontlineSMS featured in the Guardian podcast

During the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit in London earlier this month (see News item below), the Guardian newspaper interviewed about FrontlineSMS – it’s history and uses – and the wider impact of mobile technology in the developing world. The podcast can be listened to, and downloaded from, the Guardian Tech Weekly site

March 2010: In-depth interview on FrontlineSMS with Afrinnovator

Afrinnovator is “about one thing – telling the stories of African startups, African innovation, African made technology, African tech entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs. Our mission is to ‘Put Africa on the Map’ by covering these kinds of stories from all over Africa”. In one of our more in-depth interviews, Afrinnovator talks to about our work in mobile, Africa, innovation and FrontlineSMS. The four part exclusive interview is available on the Afrinnovator website

March 2010: Kings College talk on mobile, innovation and entrepreneurship

kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been invited to speak to students at Kings College London on the role of mobile, innovation and entrepreneurship in the developing world. The talk was organised by Kings College London Social Business Society, in collaboration with King’s College Department of Management. You can read more about the talk, and reserve a place, via the Kings College website here

March 2010: Talk lined up for re:publica next month in Berlin

FrontlineSMS will be represented at a social media/activism conference in Berlin next month, where will share lessons and best practices of working in social mobile. For further details visit the re:publica website

February 2010: BBC interview on “World’s cheapest mobile”

Ken Banks was recently interviewed by the BBC following news of Vodafone’s ‘$15 mobile for the developing world’. Announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the phone is claimed to be the cheapest in the world and is aimed specifically at emerging market users. The full article can be read on the BBC website here

February 2010: FrontlineSMS to feature at activist conference

FrontlineSMS will be on the agenda for women activists in the Middle East, who are set to gather later this month for a conference on social media. The aim is to help women innovators from the MENA region take their causes to the next level through social media and emerging online tools. Further details available here

February 2010: at Tech4Society

Tech4Society is described as a “celebration that explores the cutting edge of global technological social change. It is an event where rural meets urban, low-tech meets high-tech, and where the lines between business and social, education and creation, begin to blur”. Ken Banks will be taking part in panel discussions on innovation at the event, due to take place over three days in Hyderabad in India. Further details are available on the AshokaTech site

February 2010: Ken Banks to talk at London School of Economics

Ken Banks has been invited to speak at the London School of Economics’ Department of Management this month. His talk – “Mobile technology, grassroots NGOs and the entrepreneur: The picture from Africa” – is open to the public and is scheduled for Thursday 4th February. For more details, and to arrange an invitation, click here

February 2010: Interview with BBC Click on Ushahidi in Haiti

The use of social media and crowdsourcing in the current Haiti crisis has been unprecedented, and Ushahidi – the crowdsourcing/visualisation tool which emerged from Kenya’s recent post-election violence – has been at the forefront of co-ordination efforts. As part of their coverage of events, BBC Click invited kiwanja’s Ken Banks to their London recording session to talk about crowdsourcing and social media. The short three-minute programme segment is available here

February 2010: “SMS Uprising” presentation at Cambridge University

Following the publication of “SMS Uprising” last month (see earlier news item for December 2009), Sokari Ekine – the books’ Editor – will join Ken Banks for a talk on its contents and conclusions at the Centre of Governance and Human Rights at Cambridge University. Details of the event, scheduled for 1st February, are available on the Centre’s website here

January 2010: RANET FrontlineSMS guides in English, French, Portuguese

RANET actively work to help meteorological offices around the world utilise the internet and new internet technologies. As part of their work, RANET have been investigating the use of SMS, and have produced a number of guides – in English, French and Portuguese – on the use of FrontlineSMS for their members. Further details and links to the guides are available on their website here

January 2010: FrontlineSMS featured in The Guardian

FrontlineSMS, and, have been featured in The Guardian in an article discussing mobile technology in Africa. “Whether it’s checking market prices of crops, transferring money or simply making a call, mobile phones are transforming Africa. But could this new technology end up bypassing the poorest?”. The full article – “Are mobile phones Africa’s silver bullet?” – is available on the Katine Chronicles Blog here

January 2010: Farmer Voice initiative looking to mobile

Farmer Voice, a Gates Foundation-funded initiative, recently held a one-day workshop at the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University in the UK. The initiative brings together best practice in farmer feedback systems for agricultural development, and the workshop investigated ways and means of assisting farmers communicate better with agriculture-based initiatives. Ken Banks was invited to discuss the use of mobile technology, and to present the work of FrontlineSMS users in agriculture. A video of some of those uses – compiled by the Gates Foundation – is available here, and a link to the Farmer Voice initiative here

January 2010: BBC coverage on the use of technology in Haiti

kiwanja’s Ken Banks has been interviewed by the BBC as part of a website feature on the response by the technology community to the Haiti earthquake. The article – “Social networks and the web offer a lifeline in Haiti” – can be read here

January 2010: Judging complete for the 2010 Global Mobile Awards

Ken Banks has just completed helping judge entries for the Social & Economic Development category of this year’s Global Mobile Awards, which takes place in Barcelona next month as part of Mobile World Congress. The Awards honour the “excellence and innovation in mobile communications worldwide. The mobile industry’s leading annual awards include categories for Mobile Entertainment, Marketing & Advertising, Mobile Services, Innovation and Technology, as well as the Green Mobile Awards and Best Mobile Contribution to Social & Economic Development”. The Awards ceremony this year will be presented by Stephen Fry

January 2010: Guest article in HCI “Interfaces” magazine

Following a recent internal talk at Vodafone in London on the design and application of mobile technologies for development, the Editors of Interfaces magazine invited kiwanja to contribute an article to their forthcoming edition, based on the theme of “Globalised, localised and repackaged – Challenges for the future”. For the article, Ken invited Joel Selanikio from DataDyne to co-author, based on their shared interest and learning in the mobile applications development space. (Joel has recently been named a Top Innovator by Forbes Magazine). You can read more about Interfaces here, with a link to the article available via a blog post here

January 2010: Rockefeller announces new funding for FrontlineSMS

Last month the Rockefeller Foundation announced a one-year $150,000 grant to The kiwanja Foundation to continue its work developing FrontlineSMS. The funding will allow an expansion of the software development team, and increased outreach, development and support of the user and developer communities. The funding was initially announced on the blog here

January 2010: Ken Banks appointed Inveneo Advisory Council member

kiwanja’s Ken Banks has joined Inveneo’s Advisory Council along with Gerry Douglas (Baobab Health Trust), Clyde Rodriguez (Microsoft) and Ethan Zuckerman (Global Voices, Berkman Center at Harvard Law School). Inveneo’s mission is to get ICT tools such as computers, telephony and Internet access to those who need it most – people and organizations in rural and highly underserved communities of the developing world. You can read more about Inveneo here

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