West African Forum on Agriculture and ICT

Below is a recent announcement by Burkina NTIC and IICD of the forthcoming forum ‘The marketing of agricultural products through ICT’ which is to be held in Ouagadougou. After coming across the announcement I was keen to join the Ning social network/ knowledge sharing platform which is available at http://agri-tic.ning.com/. At the forum I was trilled to find the training videos by TV Koodo, introducing the agricultural market information systems launched by Burkina NTIC and IICD.

The videos are in French and admittedly, my French is not good enough to warrant commenting on the content. But even considering only the visuals of the training materials I think that they clearly demonstrate the challenges to the deployment and introduction of ICTs in Africa. Communicating the relevance of the Internet, Web 2.0, mobile applications, etc. to end users such as African farmers and traders can be a considerable callenge. Enabling und users to find value in ICTs and convincing them to invest in pricey devices can be a challenge comparable to the development of technologies and their localisation to the languages, literacy levels and information needs of African users. This challenge is compounded in the case of the introduction of market services by the fact that users’ value from the service is rooted in network effects.

TV Koodo chooses puppet tv presenters as carriers of the instructional message. This choice demonstrates the significance of efforts to make e-/m- learning technologies more accessible and more responsive to the needs and educational backgrounds of African users. The coupling of learning technologies with ICT services geared towards enabling market transactions, could hold the key to the adoption, the popularity and the value derived from market services.

IICD: Social Network Used to Prepare West African Forum on Agriculture and ICT

Burkina NTIC has launched a social network platform to prepare West Africa’s first regional forum on marketing agricultural products through ICT. The event will take place 23-25 November in Ouagadougou, and the platform will help deepen the discussions and share the outcomes with a wider international audience. Burkina NTIC is the national ICT for development network.

Social Network Used to Prepare West African Forum on Agriculture and ICT
The typical method of collecting market price information in Burkina Faso.

Information exchange about farming techniques, markets and market prices is key to improving the agricultural sector. IICD has supported farmer organisations in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mali since 1998 to help improve the production, processing and marketing of their produce through the use of ICT. Not without success. Earlier this year the Malian farmer organisation of COPRAKAZAN was awarded by the national government for doubling its profit and declared to be an example to other farmer organisations in the country.

The forum ‘The marketing of agricultural products through ICT’ aims to increase the impact of the lessons learned and build the national network for ICT and development in Burkina Faso. The event is organised by Burkina NTIC, in particular its ICT cluster Agriculture.

The organisers will collect best practice examples of marketing agricultural products through ICT, to understand where the opportunities are and to draw lessons for the future. Best practices will be gathered from Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries.

The forum will bring about 45 participants together from various agricultural institutions in Mali and Burkina Faso, and IICD project partners. Agriterra and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation SDC will also attend, as well as resource people from the SEND foundation in Ghana, IT company Manobi from Senegal, ANOPACI from Ivory Coast, and the regional trade platform ESOKO (TradeNet).

The Ning social network platform is being used to gather ideas and best practices from experts throughout the region to discuss at the forum. After the forum the platform will be used for further sharing and documenting of experiences and views on the marketing of agricultural products through ICT. A Ning platform is a free social networking tool to help people build their own online social or professional network. The platform is moderated by Burkina NTIC, and membership is open to all: http://agri-tic.ning.com/.

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