The Connected World

Connecting the people who are not yet connected.

Despite major technological advances in the 21st century, more than 4 billion people in the world remain excluded from the Information Society. Amongst these are billions of people in rural areas who are vulnerable to food insecurity, climate change and economic hazards.

For most urban people in the world, information is usually just two mouse clicks away, but in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa there is no internet, there are no computers, there is only spoken information. To make communication and access to information work in this context, new solutions have to be developed, together with the local users.

In collaboration with the Network Institute, CIS-VU initiated the Web for Regreening in Africa (W4RA), a research program aiming at improving knowledge sharing in the less connected parts of the planet.

W4RA research aims at supporting the work of local communities, by co-creation of innovative, contextualized ICT solutions. The community-based approach takes user problems and needs as the starting point. We discuss with farmers what barriers they encounter, what ideas they have, and then we jointly decide which applications to build, using the Living Labs approach.

W4RA has an extensive international network: North-West University and CSIR in South Africa, Amrita University India, University for Development Studies in Ghana http://www.uds.edu.gh/, industry partners (IBM, Orange), policy institutions (The World Resource Institute http://www.wri.org/) NGOs, farmer organizations in Mali, and Burkina Faso, SME’s (2CoolMonkeys, SBC4D, Réseau Marp.

W4RA supports and works closely with the international partnership African Regreening Initiatives.

The annual symposium “Perspectives on ICT4D” is co-sponsored by the VU Computer Science department, the Network Institute and the Dutch research school SIKS.