I am posting my presentation from the Academy of Management Africa (AFAM) 2014 conference, held in January 2014 in Gaborone (Botswana).
The argument I am trying to make is that mobile telephony and radio broadcasting are capable of triggering change within the institutionalized production process of Ghanaian smallholder agriculture. I believe the argument is valid and interesting, and I have put in a lot of work since January in improving it. I think key elements of the argument are understanding the information ecology of rural Ghana, understanding existing information access practices and understanding social learning.
The biggest compliment I got from the reviewers was worded as follows, “This is a rough or preliminary draft of a paper that could be developed into something well worth reading.” God bless!
The paper abstract for AFAM 2014 reads:
Agricultural sector transformation and rural economic development can be recognized as processes of learning, through which improved industrial processes and rural institutions evolve. The focus of our interest are the transformative opportunities offered by IS innovation for the delivery of advisory services in the Ghanaian agriculture sector. In considering IS innovation experiences and opportunities, we focus the fields of horizontal and vertical organizational actors within the Ghanaian agricultural sector. IS innovations are capable of transforming the sector by introducing in these fields new symbolic meanings, new perception of relational systems, new routine operational scripts or new information technology artefacts.
In the post “Integrating Radio and Mobile Telephony” I commended on Nokia’s recently released device 5030 mobile. Here I am reproducing an atricle and video on the topic, produced by Mr. Jonathan Marks and broadcast via Jonathan Marks’ videos on Vimeo.
Nokia on the Importance of Radio
Mark Selby has been giving a talk at several conferences about the importance of radio to the mobile industry. Given his background (including World Radio Geneva) it is perhaps not surprising that he’s interested in forging partnerships between Nokia and broadcasters. By the end of 2008, Nokia says they had sold 425 million devices with digital music players. In addition to that, thay say they have sold 700 million devices with built in (FM) radio capability. Phones like the N85 even have a built in FM transmitter so you can play the music in the car on the existing car radio (its super low power, but handy to have).Part of my current projects involve working with community stations in West Africa to build sustainable business models that bridge both the radio and mobile industries. They have a lot in common, but currently the gulf in terminology is keeping great ideas from happening.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
In the last week Nokia released the model 5030. It is a model developed by the Nokia team based in Beijing and targeted explicitly at the mobile phone maket in the developing world. The device combines the well-established information and communication technology of radio with mobile telephony, a technology only recently available for wide use by people in developing countries. The Nokia 5030 should begin shipping in the second quarter of 2009 with an estimated price of €40 before taxes and subsidies.
The Nokia 5030 is branded as bringing “radio to the people”. The model exemplifies convergence by combining the functionalities of a mobile phone with those of a portable radio receiver. It features an internal FM radio antenna and a powerful loudspeaker.
This mobile phone model can be used either as a radio with 24 hours of listening time between charges, or as a phone with 10 hours talk time. It is available in graphite or red, and needs to be laid on its side in radio mode. The device also packs a flashlight, and speaking clock and an alarm. More importantly it supports 75 languages, 500 person phone book (and space for up to 250 SMS messages) and the ability to phone share and track pre-pay usage.
The inclusion of an FM Radio or some other audio entertainment platform on a mobile devices certainly isn’t a new idea. It has been available as an option on many devices for some time now, and these devices are been becoming incrasingly affordable to users in developing countries. So what (if any) is the significance of the release of the Nokia 5030?
I think that the Nokia 5030 is a device showing signs of technology producers taking into account the user requirements of people in developing countries. Still, manufacturers such as Nokia need to show much greater underastanding of the limitations to communication in the environment where these people (especially rural dwellers) live. Although it is a start the Nokia 5030 is a long way away form constituting a comprehensive information and communication device for the developing word. To say the least, such a device would enable people not only to receive wireless communication but also to transmit it. In areas with scarce mobile phone cover transmission is the remaining sticking point. If Nokia see the solution to communication in less developed countries through the integration of mobile and radio I am wondering if there might be a comprehensive solution they can offer. For a demonstraton of the problem, we need to look no further than the clear dichotomy between the use of mobile telephony and the use of VHF for the delivery of medical services in rural areas. That dichotomy can be readily traced in many of the “mobile health for development” initiatives.