Tag Archives: CTO

Thanks to Teta Diana – a Rwandan star in the making


One of the very best things about my role as Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) is that I have the privilege to meet some extraordinary people from all across the Commonwealth, from Ministers and CEOs to street children, farmers and musicians.  It is truly amazing to have the opportunity for my life to be touched by their energy, passion and enthusiasm.  To be able to help bring incredible people together, and encourage them to work collaboratively to use ICTs to make the world a better place, is just fantastic.

I have always believed in working hard and playing hard!  The CTO’s conferences are therefore very much about having great discussions, but also getting to know each other in ways that one simply cannot (yet) do over the Internet! A valuable lesson that I have learnt in my time at the CTO has most definitely been the importance of the politics of the dance floor – and there are far too many embarrassing photos around to show this!

singers 3Our recent Commonwealth e-Governance Forum in Rwanda was just such an occasion, and shows above all the importance of friendship in international relations.  Back in 2013 I had the privilege of attending the Transform Africa conference held in Kigali.  As with so many international events (but sadly all too often not in my own country!) the government hosted some spectacular networking events in the evenings, none more so than a festival of dance and music held one evening in the Milles Collines hotel that showcased the very best of musical talent in Rwanda.  It was there that I first saw Teta Diana perform, and was captivated by her talent and personality.  So, when we were discussing our own Commonwealth e-Governance Forum I mentioned to a very special Rwandan friend that it would be amazing if he could arrange for her to perform at our event.

Incredibly, he did, and the photos below try to capture something of the very special evening event that he ensured was laid on for delegates (and thanks very much too to Rwanda Online who sponsored the evening):

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The star of the event, though, was absolutely Teta!  She has risen already to be one of the real stars of the Rwandan music scene, combining magical performances of traditional Rwandan music with more mainstream jazz, RnB and reggae.  She is an amazing ambassador for Rwanda, performing at various official events, and is now eager to take her passion for the way in which music can bring people together to a much wider audience internationally. She is definitely someone to look out for – and I really hope that fellow musicians and promoters in Europe will find ways through which she can bring her talent and personality to a much wider audience.  The links below provide an introduction to her music and her life:

Teta Diana is a very special person, determined to do very special things for Rwandans and for the spirit of the music that lives within her.

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Reflections on government-led infrastucture development in the ICT sector in the Caribbean


CTUI had the privilege of being invited to moderate the session on government-led infrastucture development at the Caribbean Telecommunications Union‘s 25th anniversary event held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, this week.  It provided an excellent opportunity to discuss in quite some detail the balance between private sector and state investment in the ICT sector, and ways through which infrastructure could be made available to some of the poorest and most marginal communities.  As a moderator, I always see my role primarily as being to facilitate some lively, and hopefully provocative, discussion, and so I tried to say very little myself during the session. Reflecting afterwards, though, particularly in the wider context of the Commonwealth as a whole, the following broad observations seem appropriate:

  1. There is very great diversity within the Caribbean, but nevertheless I did sense that there was much greater appetite here for the state to play a significant role in infrastructure development than is encountered in many other parts of the world.  It was very refreshing, for example, to hear the term “public utilities” spoken about almost with reverence.  The all-too-often accepted “development mantra” that privatisation of public utilities will ensure that they are much more efficient and thus deliver on the needs of poor people and communities, was not one that seemed to be widely accepted.  The belief that states have a clear duty to serve the interests of all of their people, and that this cannot be achieved through privatisation, was healthy and very different from the views that I all too often encounter.
  2. It was, though, clear that old business models are already failing to deliver sufficient profits for many of those involved in the sector, and that new models are required.  I find this particularly exciting, because I firmly believe that there are many exciting ways through which both public services and private benefit can be achieved, through a closer working relationship between companies and governments.
  3. The role of regulators is particularly important at this interface.  In particular, and recalling a session at the ITU’s Telecom World in Doha that I chaired last December, there is a need for regulators to think of themselves much more as “facilitators” than as “controllers”.  This applies not only in terms of providing the context through which the private sector can generate profits across all sectors of the economy, and thus enable governments to generate greater taxation revenues, but also through facilitating public awareness and understanding.  I was thus impressed by the way in which TATT (the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago) provides a considerable amount of information directly to consumers on such matters as “Cyberspace Dangers”, level of services expectations, and complaints procedures.
  4. Nevertheless, throughout the conference, I gained the impression that all too often conversations across the Caribbean have tended to happen in silos, and this was certainly the case  in the session on government-led infrastructure!  I was impressed that most panel sessions had speakers drawn from government, the private sector and civil society, but I got the feeling that the positions of each “sector” were often rather far apart.  There needs to be much more effective dialogue between the different sectors across the region (and indeed elsewhere in the world as well) if innovative solutions are to be developed to enable everyone to benefit from Internet connectivity.  To do this, there needs to be a cadre of well qualified and effective brokers who can facilitate such discussions.  This is one of the key roles that I believe the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation can play.
  5. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face very problematic challenges, not least because of their small market size.  This reinforces the impression that I have previously gained from discussions at the UN’s SIDS conference in Samoa last year as well as work that I have done in the Pacific islands and elsewhere in the Caribbean.  In particular, I am convinced that traditional arguments about competition bringing the price of delivery down for consumers simply don’t apply in many such circumstances.   It really does not make sense to expect two or three operators to compete to deliver services in tiny islands.  Again, the precise business models need to be thought through very carefully, but where there is a social and political appetite for public utilities still to be delivered by governments, I see no logical reason why state-owned entities cannot provide value for money efficient ICT services in small island states.
  6. One of the most interesting discussions during the session was the ways through which existing government infrastructure can be used to reduce costs of rolling out ICT infrastructure, notably fibre.  In particular, the Puerta Rican El Zum initiative sounds especially interesting, in that it intends to deliver fibre connectivity through the sewers that link to most houses in the country.  Whilst this is not a solution that would suit every country, the idea of using the vast network of existing public infrastructure as a means through which to bring connectivity to the home is indeed appealing.  Likewise, I am more than ever convinced about the value of shared infrastructure solutions, and I see this as being one of the most significant things that governments can insist on in trying to reduce costs, especially in rural low-density contexts.
  7. This still, though, leaves the challenge of reaching the most remote, sparsely settled areas of any country, and few clear solutions or recommendations were received on how this could best be done. The debate over whether or not Universal Service/Access funds are effective continues apace, and I think that this increasingly reflects political dogma rather than actual practical reality! The reality is indeed often that money in such funds is either not used effectively, or sometimes not used at all, but the notion that taxation of some kind should be used to benefit the poor and marginalised is still a powerful one (the GSMA reports on such funds provide much helpful evidence).  The size of many Caribbean, and indeed Pacific, islands is nevertheless also one advantage for them, in that being small means that the distances required for roll out of fibre, or in provision of mobile broadband services, are not particularly large, and are thus relatively cheaper than those of large land-locked states.
  8. Finally, we had an interesting debate on the potential of mobile app development in the Caribbean and small island states more generally.  On balance, there seemed to be some agreement that the potential for app development to bring large numbers of people into the productive economy is very much less than some might advocate; thus 1.6% of app developers make more money than the remaining 98.4% combined (Financial Times).  (Incidentally, Mobile Vision has some useful statistics and data on the app sector).  There were, though, suggestions that there could be some potential in the Caribbean for local app developers to work on locally relevant e-government applications.

Overall, it was a fascinating discussion that raised many interesting ideas.

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Beyond the Digital Divide: Developing Local Capacity to Deliver Local Content


Below is a slightly revised text of the interview that the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) did with me on the occasion of the CTU’s 25th Anniversary (photo with SG Bernadette Lewis of the CTU when signing a mutual co-operation agreement with the CTO a while back) 

CTO CTUBy 2016, one per cent of the world’s population will own more than half of its wealth. The staggering projection, from a recent study by anti-poverty group Oxfam, made headlines just as the World Economic Forum was getting started in Davos last month.

One concern for Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) Professor Tim Unwin, who was at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting, is that the rapid spread of information and communications technologies is not helping to reduce that growing gap between poor and rich.

“The difference between the least developed and the most developed is getting greater. In that way, you can say that ICTs are actually increasing inequality,” he said, in a telephone interview from the annual gathering of top political and business leaders in Switzerland.

As head of a body bringing together perspectives of telecoms stakeholders from across the 53 countries of the Commonwealth—about one-third of the world’s population—Unwin is deeply concerned about that growing digital divide, and the dual impact of technology development on the world’s poorest.

Developing Caribbean capacity

“One of the things that always strikes me when I visit the Caribbean is how much more advanced and successful and connected it is than many other parts of the Commonwealth,” he said.

While the islands’ size is a source of some economic challenges, it also provides some advantages.

“The islands are relatively small, so it is not so problematic to get universal connectivity, as compared with, say, Nigeria or Pakistan,” Unwin said.

But Internet access and connectivity alone won’t reduce the gap between poor and rich. For Unwin, the real priority is not simply to increase the quantity of Internet users but to improve the overall quality of Internet usage. Two major issues affecting quality, he said, are bandwidth and cost, which is where Internet service providers and industry regulators play such a critical role in the region’s Internet system.

“What you can do with large bandwidth compared with low bandwidth is incredibly different, particulary with the rapid increase in applications that use video and large amounts of data. And the second variable is cost. That’s where regulators play a crucial role in helping to ensure that markets operate as effectively as possible.”

Delivering Caribbean content

The point of developing local capacity, Unwin was quick to point out, is to deliver local content. The potential of the underlying technology is only realised if it is used to facilitate the delivery of other services, such as digital banking, online education, mobile health or e-government. But that is easier said than done.

“Content development is quite expensive and resources aren’t always put into that. It’s much easier to lay a bit of fibre than it is to develop the content that is going to go over it,” said Unwin, who also sits on the advisory board of the m-Powering Development Initiative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

One obstacle to developing local content, he said, is the lack of functional relationships between government ministries or even ministerial departments, which would need to harmonise their operations in order to produce high-quality local content.

So significant is the difficulty involved in developing relevant local content that there is a great temptation to simply import content from abroad, and sidestep the growing pains of building local capacity. But shortcuts are dangerous, Unwin said, citing the example of MOOCs, or massive open online courses, which are web-based courses aimed at unlimited participation through open access.

“I’d like to challenge some of those who think that things like MOOCs are the solution for the education of small-island states. I completely disagree because MOOCs can be a form of cultural or intellectual imperialism. The fact that people can get access to courses from richer countries is problematic, to me. What we want to have is locally developed, locally produced content, that is indigenous to users in Caribbean countries.”

The challenge for Caribbean societies, therefore, is to define and produce content that is appropriate and relevant, to enable solutions that align with development priorities.

“You have to make sure you have the right content in the right formats for the right people. If you’re just importing content from outside, you’re not building the knowledge-base of your own countries.”

Beyond the Divide

One of the CTO’s key partners in helping the region to face up to this challenge is the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU). The two work together on policy development, and have collaborated closely at significant international gatherings, including meetings held by the International Telecommunication Union.

“We believe, as does the CTU, in the real importance of avoiding duplication and overlap. One of the things we respect about the CTU is their openness to working collaboratively,” Unwin said.

The CTU was established in 1989 by the heads of Caricom governments, to support its members in leveraging telecommunications for social and economic development. Unwin explained the importance of the CTO in helping the CTU pursue that mission in a globalised environment.

“Across the world, there are different regional telecommunications unions, sometimes working in isolation and therefore unable to learn from each other. So, what’s happening in Africa may not be known in Asia. Or what’s happening in the Caribbean may not be as well known to people in the Pacific. One of the things that the CTO can do is bring together perspectives from people from many different parts of the Commonwealth, so that together we can do far more than any one of us could do by ourselves.”

Several Caribbean ministers were among 30 official delegates from across the Commonwealth who signed an agreement outlining shared principles for the development of broadband, at the CTO’s first-ever Commonwealth ICT Ministers in London in March of last year. The CTO is working with the Organisation of American States and the CTU to help Caribbean states seeking to take that commitment forward, Unwin said.

At one upcoming workshop, organised in partnership with the Antigua and Barbuda government, Unwin will focus on how technology can help improve quality of life for people with disabilities.

“Last time I was in Port of Spain,” he said, “we ran a workshop for young people on how they can use technology to build their entrepreneurial skills and contribute to the economy.”

Partnering with Success

Unwin returned to Trinidad and Tobago this month to speak in the CTU’s 25th Anniversary ICT Week, from February 2nd to 6th, at the Hyatt Regency.

The high-level event is a forum for government ministers, regional policy makers and other stakeholders to share perspectives on the importance of ICTs to Caribbean development. Prime Ministers of Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada will attend. Mr Irwin LaRocque, Secretary General of Caricom Secretariat, and Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, are also expected to speak.

The event will celebrate the achievements of CTU members and the contribution of strategic partnerships, like the one with the CTO, drawn from within and beyond the region. The last two days will feature workshops organised in partnership with the Internet Society, the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry, the International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers, the Organisation of American States, the University of the West Indies, The American Registry of Internet Numbers, the Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, and Arkitechs.

Among the highlights of the five-day event will be the signing of new agreements between the CTU and the International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation and the ITU.

Inter-organisational relationships clearly account for a big part of the past achievements of organisations like the CTO and the CTU, and form the fabric of their future success. If the partnership between the CTO and the CTU is a pattern for success, then strengthening those relationships may well be the key to the future of all regional development.

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On deciding to leave after one term of office as Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation


The advertisement for my replacement as Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) has precipitated numerous questions as to why I am leaving.  So, I thought it might be helpful – not least to applicants – if I briefly tried to explain my decision here.  In so doing, I should stress right at the beginning that many members of the CTO’s Council and our Executive Committee were rather surprised by my decision, and did their best to try to persuade me to stay on.  I am immensely grateful to them for their support.  It is a huge privilege to be Secretary General of the CTO, and I have learnt a phenomenal amount doing the job.  I have also met some absolutely outstanding people – and to be sure, some less outstanding ones! The chance to lead an international organisation, committed to using ICTs to support people across the 53 countries of the Commonwealth is absolutely amazing, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges that this has involved. However, there are two fundamental reasons why I have decided  to serve only one four-year term. These are what I have shared with members of our Council:

  • First, it is very important for there to be clarity and certainty over any transition in leadership of an organisation.  Changes of Chief Executives – or Secretary Generals – must be handled with very great care so that there is a smooth hand-over, and that confidence and trust in the organisation remains high.  I am going to be 60 this year (the truth is now out!), and I would like to have the opportunity to be considered for other jobs before I retire!  Sadly, some international organisations still have relatively low upper-age limits, with the UN, for example, having a mandatory age limit of 62!  Hence, I took the view that I should not stand for a second term as Secretary General of the CTO.  I simply felt that it would have been destabilising and damaging to the CTO if I had indeed been appointed for a second term, and then people had heard that I might be applying for various other jobs a year later, whether or not I actually got them.
  • Second, I think that eight years is too long for a single person to head an international organisation such as the CTO.  With such a long term of office, there becomes a real danger that the incumbent can begin to treat the organisation as his or her personal fiefdom, and I do not think that this is a particularly healthy situation.  Having just completed a three-year plus three-year stint as Chair of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, I am all the more convinced that six years (in a three plus three format) should be the maximum term of office for heads of organisations.  Fresh ideas, and new ways of doing things are definitely needed after this length of time!  I also think that any organisation should be bigger than its leader.  After a long period at the helm, there is a very real tendency for a leader and ‘their’ organisation to be seen as being very closely associated if not one-and-the-same, and I simply do not think that this is particularly healthy for the organisation.

I know that not everyone agrees with these views, but two of the things that I have sought to bring to the CTO have been trust and transparency, and it seems to me that both of these are absolutely central to the decision I have made. Of course there are other reasons as well.  The strategic plan that we created back in 2012 had at its heart an expansion in membership.  The aim was to bring back countries and organisations that had previously left the CTO, such as India, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.  Without them, the CTO is but a fraction of what it could be!  Not least, the additional membership fees would enable the CTO to expand its staffing and thereby deliver more and better services to all of its members.  Furthermore, since people can only be employed at the CTO if they are nationals of Full Member Countries, the absence of these countries means that the organisation is more restricted in its employment potential than need be the case – and membership is only £20,000 a year! Despite encouraging words, and indeed promises from some countries to rejoin, these have not yet materialised. Having banged my head against a brick wall on this, and one or two other matters, for nearly four years, I think it is time that I moved on and let someone else build on the foundations we have laid. As I began, let me conclude by stressing once again that the post is an amazing one.  It provides an opportunity to work with some fantastic people, to deliver real on-the-ground solutions that can help poor and marginalised communities use ICTs effectively for their development aspirations.  When eventually I leave in September this year, I know that I will have many regrets.  I have done my best to lead the CTO forward, so that it will be in a better position than when I started.  It is now time for someone else to take the CTO forward so that it can indeed achieve its full potential. Oh yes, and the deadline for applications is 26th January!

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ICT Manager post at the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation


The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) is advertising for an ICT Training Manager, with a closing date of 24th May. The Manager will serve as Head of its Capacity Development and Training Division. This exciting opportunity would suit applicants with a background in delivering effective capacity development and training in the ICT sector, preferably on an international level.

The key role of this position is to enhance and manage the delivery of the CTO’s capacity development and training programmes, both for member organisations and other entities working in the field of ICTs. It is expected that applicants will manage the appropriate delivery of relevant courses, and also undertake some of this training themselves. The role requires close liaison with the Head of Membership in managing and delivering the CTO’s distinct Programme for Development and Training, which currently forms a part of the Capacity Development and Training portfolio. Experience in the delivery of online training would be an advantage. Applicants must be from Full Member Countries of the CTO.

It should also be emphasised that the CTO is proactive in encouraging diversity in the workplace, and particularly encourages applications from women.

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Closing dates approaching for exciting jobs at Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation


The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation is currently advertising vacancies for three exciting roles, as well as opportunities for Professional Fellowships.  The closing dates are rapidly approaching!  These are ideally suited to people who want to make a real difference on the ground in the use of ICTs for effective development

Manager, and Head of Capacity Development and Training Division
Closing Date: 15th September 2013

Manager, and Head of Events and Conferences Division
Closing Date: 20th September 2013

Senior Officer, Operations Division
Closing Date: 20th September 2013

Commonwealth Professional Fellowships
Please share with colleagues and friends who might be interested, and encourage them to apply!  Do note that all applicants must be from Commonwealth countries that are Full Member Countries of the CTO.

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CTO is currently advertising for post of Head of Research and Consultancy


The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) is seeking to appoint a Manager to serve as Head of its Research and Consultancy Division. This exciting opportunity would suit applicants from diverse backgrounds, including academia, the private sector and the international development community. Ideally, candidates for this role will have worked for at least five years within a university research environment, a top-tier consultancy, or within the research department of a leading company within the Telecoms, Media, or Technology sectors. The key role of this position is to manage the delivery of the CTO’s research and consultancy work, both for member organisations and other entities working in the field of ICT for Development. It is expected that applicants will be able to attract new research and consultancy projects, and also to undertake some of this work themselves. The appointment will be at Manager level with a starting salary in the range £36,000-£38,938, and it will be permanent subject to satisfactory performance and a 6 month probationary period. The closing date is 1st September 2013.

Outline Job Description:

The successful applicant will:
  • Lead, manage and motivate staff in the Research and Consultancy Division
  • dentify appropriate research and consultancy opportunities for the CTO, and manage their effective delivery
  • Undertake research and consultancy work in their own areas of expertise
  • Manage the CTO’s priority areas and their advisory boards
  • Manage the CTO’s alumni networks
  • Ensuring that the CTO’s website is updated in all areas of its research and consultancy activities
  • Be responsible for the effective control and management of the Division’s finances, in collaboration with the Finance and Administration Department
  • Lead relationships with relevant entities in one or more of the CTO’s regions
  • Lead the CTO’s work in one or more of its priority areas.
  • Assist in any other aspect of the CTO’s work as assigned by the Secretary General, or by the Head of the Operations Department

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Barriers to learning through mobile devices in Africa


Screen-Shot-2013-06-07-at-17.36.39-300x159I had the pleasure of participating in the Planet Earth Institute‘s discussion on mobile technology for education in Africa, held on 5th June at the House of Lords.  It’s interesting how such occasions, where one has to speak on the spur of the moment about important issues, provide a spur for innovative and creative thinking.  The mix of the people, and the sharing of ideas really can generate new thoughts.

The main point that I tried to convey throughout the event was that it is the learning that matters.  Far too many initiatives are technology-led, rather than needs driven.  Hence, mobile devices are absolutely not the solution for African education, although they can indeed help to deliver certain new kinds of learning opportunity.  After all, as I mentioned, many years ago I engaged in mobile learning when I read books on long car journeys!

Screen-Shot-2013-06-07-at-17.31.05At one point, we were asked to think about the barriers preventing the spread of m-learning in Africa, and I want here to expand a little on the five ‘Cs’ that I came up with.  To be sure, they are a little contrived, but I do think that if these barriers can be overcome, then some real progress can be made:

  1. Connectivity.  To me, this is one of the biggest challenges for any ‘mobile-‘ initiative.  Certainly people have developed simple SMS based learning solutions, and games that can function on basic phones and devices, but the difference between these and what can be done on smart-phones is huge.  Smart-phones enable engagement with the wealth of resources on the web, and offer a completely different learning experience for people of all ages and backgrounds – if they can afford them (Cost!).  So, providing mobile broadband solutions that everyone can access seems to me to be the most important challenge facing those who want to deliver high quality learning experiences through mobile devices.  Hence, initiatives such as the work of the Broadband Commission and the Alliance for the Affordable Internet are of particular importance – but we must turn the rhetoric into reality!  That’s one reason why the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation has placed such emphasis on the importance of mobile broadband in its current strategic plan.
  2. Charging (electricity).  By this, I mean the importance of ensuring that it is easy and cheap to charge mobile devices everywhere.  Electricity is absolutely essential for all digital technologies, and is all too often insufficiently considered when developing such initiatives.  For those off the main grid, it is essential that simple, cheap and accessible means of recharging devices are developed and shared widely across the continent. Likewise, developing batteries that last much longer than at present is also an important consideration.  My experiences in 2011 in rural China have given me lots of ideas about how this can be achieved – and where there are supplies of running water I have been very impressed with some of the micro-hydro initiatives that have been developed in south-east Asia.
  3. Communication rather than content.  I have often written about this, but it seems to me that the really innovative thing about mobile-phones is that they enable entirely new ways of communication.  Yet, far too often they are seen primarily as devices to supply/enable content consumption.  I believe passionately that learning should not simply be about learning and regurgitating – yet our education systems seem to focus more and more on encouraging people to take on board accepted ‘truths’.  Learning, should be about thinking for oneself, and coming up with new solutions to old problems!  This is often best achieved through communication and interaction – the debating of ideas – and not just through digesting existing knowledge.  Far too often, digital technologies associated with learning have reinforced regurgitation, rather than encouraging new ways of thinking.  Hence, I want to shift the balance towards using devices for communication – they are, after all, mobile phones – rather than just for content consumption.
  4. Calculating (effective monitoring and evaluation).  This is a bit contrived, but I could not think of a better ‘C’ for ‘monitoring and evaluation’!  By ‘calculating’, I mean that we need to calculate the impact of our initiatives on learning achievements.  Although many people talk about the importance of monitoring and evaluation, there is far too little good and effective work in this area.  If we do not understand the real effects, including the unintended consequences, of the use of mobile devices in learning, then we cannot really determine how best to implement initiatives at scale.  We must also be much more open about our failures so that others can learn from our experiences.  Hence, the lack of quality monitoring and evaluation is a real barrier.
  5. Commitment.  This is hugely important.  There must be real commitment to using mobile devices effectively for learning, rather than simply using content provision as a means of selling more mobile devices!  I fear that all too often, ‘m-‘ initiatives are driven  too much by commercial interests, often in alliance with those who see ICTs as some kind of silver bullet that will transform society for the better, rather than by the real health, learning or governance needs and aspirations of people.

At the end, I was asked by Lord Boateng to sum up my thoughts about barriers, and simply said that the biggest barrier of all was our imagination!  If we really focus on the learning, and develop innovative solutions whereby everyone can use mobile devices to enhance their lives, wherever they are living, then, and only then, can we talk about real m-development.

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Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation – vacancy for Head of Operations Department


The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) is seeking to appoint a new Head of its Operations Department, managing the delivery of its three operations divisions (research and consultancy, capacity development and training, and events and conferences).  This exciting opportunity would suit applicants from diverse backgrounds, including the private sector and the international development community.  The appointment will be at Director level with a starting salary in the range £60,000-£66,150. Closing Date 15th February 2013.

The successful applicant will

  • Manage the CTO’s Operations Department, consisting of three divisions, with heads of these divisions being direct reports:
    • Research and Consultancy
    • Capacity Development and Training
    • Events and Conferences
  • Develop the Operations Department’s activities in line with the CTO’s Strategic Plan, so as to deliver effective, value for money services for the CTO’s members and others
  • Ensure that the Operations Department delivers on its financial targets
  • Contribute to the activities of the Operations Department in areas of own expertise.
  • Be responsible for oversight and development of one or two of the CTO’s six niche focus areas
  • Be responsible for oversight and development of the CTO’s activities in one or two regions of the Commonwealth.
  • Provide support and report directly to the Secretary General of the CTO
  • Liaise closely with the Head of the Finance and Administration Department and the Head of Corporate Services to ensure effective collaboration between Departments in delivering the CTO’s mission.

The successful applicant will have the following proven experiences and characteristics:

Essential

  • Excellent timely delivery against business targets
  • At least ten years of management experience within the broad field of ICTs, preferably with a development focus
  • Successful management of small teams charged with delivering ambitious financial targets
  • Strong sense of the need for accuracy and precision in delivery
  • Ability to set high individual and team standards
  • At least ten years direct experience of two or more of the areas of activity of the CTO’s operational divisions
  • An excellent team player, committed to helping staff build their careers within an organisation
  • Excellent international networking skills across different groups of stakeholders in ICT for Development

Desirable

  • Strong affinity with delivering ICT based activities through multi-stakeholder partnerships
  • Good knowledge of Commonwealth organisations and agendas
  • Experience of working in a multi-cultural environment and preferably in two or more regions of the Commonwealth (Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Pacific)
  • Fluency in the English language, as well as working knowledge of at least one other language.

Application procedure

The CTO is committed to providing a challenging and stimulating workplace, where all staff can fulfil their career ambitions in a diverse and supportive environment. It places considerable emphasis on the importance of teamwork, alongside its commitment to delivering the best possible value for money services to all of its members. People work for the CTO primarily because they believe in its commitment to using ICTs to help make a difference to the lives of some of the poorest and most marginalised people in the Commonwealth.  All employees must be citizens of Full Member Countries of the CTO at the time of employment.

All applications, including a curriculum vitae and a letter of application should be submitted to recruitment@cto.int by 15th February 2013.

Full details are available at http://www.cto.int/about-the-cto/working-with-us/current-vacancies/director-and-head-of-operations-department-full-time/

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Broadband in the Pacific


The Pacific Broadband Forum 2012, convened by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Oganisation and the International Telecommunications Union, together with regional partners PITA, PiRRC and SPC, is currently being hosted by the Fijian Ministry of Communications on Denarau Island, Fiji.  This morning’s session provided a wealth of information about the current status of broadband roll-out across the region.  Sadly, my fingers and brain were insufficiently co-ordinated to record everything that was said, but I hope that the following notes may be useful for those interested in ways through which ICTs are being developed in the region:

Cook Islands

  • No policy and regulations in place for broadband
  • There is a national ICT policy – based on 6 platforms
  • New national sustainable development plan – will have to align with this.
  • Legislation: 1989 Telecom Act; new draft bill in consultation; SPAM act 2008; electronics transactions bill; evidence act (needs to be updated); cyber crime legislation in development. But most need training in implementation.
  • Many challenges – budget, lack of implementation capacity, lack of consultation with stakeholders
  • Need to establish a regulator

Federated States of Micronesia

  • Connected with fibre optics with the Kwajalein to Guam (USA) since 2005 (spurs to Marshalls and elsewhere)
  • President Mori said need to connect all islands, and a regulator
  • 2007 ADB issued report on liberalisation, regulation and community service requirement
  • Hantru cable became operational in Pohnpei – eight 20 Gbps capacity to Guam; other islands are not yet connected.
  • Close links with World Bank who have conducted studies and due diligence
  • Optimising on current investments.
  • Debt servicing of DSDA loans that enabled what was originally done.
  • There will be sector reform to liberalise the market
  • Next challenges – to endorse the policy and the FSM Congres will need to endorse World Bank Assistance and the Telecommunications Sector Reform.

Kiribati

  • 33 atolls over 3.5 million km2; population of only 112,000
  • relies on satellite
  • fixed line 4.14%, mobile 1.04%; internet 2.07%
  • prices of telephony and internet are very high
  • monopolistic market TSKL sole ICT provider
  • World Bank funding for ICT review and advice
    • Policy and legal support
    • Regulatory support
    • Outer islands connectivity support
    • Project management support
  • 9 telecentres funded by government; PACRICS provided internet connectivity in 10 secondary school

Marshall Islands

  • 68,000 pop, 34 islands
  • broadband – 2 urban cities have cable installed; gsm sites in four islands. Telecentres. DAMA sites.  Aim to cove all country by end of 2012.
  • ICT policy should be in place by end of August and will provide for market liberalisation, regulator, cybercrime
  • Only 1% of submarine cable in being used
  • Remote area is getting connected for e-health, e-learning and climate change
  • Difficulties: connecting the unconnected; teamwork; perfect competition; consumer satisfaction; move small
  • Challenges
    • Costs of backbone
    • Geographical challenges for operations
    • Quality and reliability
    • Costs of bandwidth
  • 2008 National ICT Policy
    • NICTA regulator
    • Aims to have efficient ICT infrastructure as backbone
    • Open competition
  • 2012 National Broadband policy
  • LNG Fibre cable project announced – cable is piggy backing on the pipe

Nauru

  • Population less than 10,000
  • Regulator – enabling environment
  • Challenge of ability to provide broadband – only one service provider.  Bandwidth to increase by 30% in next month.  Talking with O3b to increase
  • If you cry hard enough you are bound to be heard.
  • Need to lay the foundations and have regulations in place
  • Major reforms in last decade in telecoms sector.  Telecom Act 2005 established regulator in 2006 which introduced competition
  • Competition has worked even in a small island
  • PM Chairs national IT committee – it is important to have leadership from the top
  • Draft masterplan for broadband supported by ITU
  • Universal access policy
  • Shared infrastructure
  • c. 95% coverage
  • Looking at 2nd submarine cable

Niue

  • Just one island – the Rock (260 sq kms); population 1600.
  • Telcom Niue – sole provider and regulator; two ISPs
  • Fixed line 60%; mobile 30% (only introduced July 2011); broadband 1% (introduced April this year)
  • Bills before Parliament (SPAM, Cybercrime, Draft ICT Policy)
  • Issues for Niue: very small market means lack of service and difficulties of setting prices; satellite bandwidth, but costs are too high for us; capacity building.
  • Free wifi access – arrangement with manager of top level domain nu – to develop access on the island.
  • OLPC has not really worked that well – laptops breakdown very easily and no back-up; and not managed properly. Children took them home and did not bring them to school except when they were broken.
  • Future plans – looking to develop services.

Palau

  • 240 islands; population 20,000
  • mobile coverage 98%; internet subscribers 6%; fixed broadband 2%
  • 113 mile long underground and submarine SONET cable connecting 3 islands.  Using VSAT to reach remote islands.  Radio also used in isolated areas for emergency.
  • PNCC (Palau National Communications Corporation) provides the majority of communications services
  • Palau Mobile Corporation commenced operations in 2006 and offers GSM services (3G hopefully will roll out next year).
  • Palau Telecoms licensed for Digital TV and internet – yet to start mobile service
  • Skyfy yet to offer services, but is licensed
  • Mobile services can reach 98% with mobile density being 80%
  • 2011-2014 Palau National ICT Policy (thanks to ITU)
  • Expanding broadband and international fibre optic cable connectivity

Solomon Islands

  • Cable plan 2013
  • Setting up 50 GSM sites
  • 3G services launched by Telekom and Bemobile
  • establishment of universal access fund policy
  • costs high

Tuvalu

  • No-cable islands dreaming for cable
  • Population 11,000; landlines 1182, mobiles 2525, Internet 4000
  • Monopoly
  • Current activities: e-government, national ICT policy, cyberlegislation, licensing
  • Challenges: funding, human capacity, geography (500,000 sq miles), high costs of ICT, poor energy supply
  • Plans: strengthening outer island connectivity, disaster risk reduction (very vulnerable – one tsunami would take us all across to Fiji), offsite backup

Vanuatu

  • Been challenged in court and politically, but has come through that as an independent regulator
    Minister was ‘in bed with’ one of the telcos and has now been taken off – so ICT responsibility is in the Prime Minister’s office.
  • Technical advisors funded by the World Bank and AusAid.
  • ICT for all (7 goals)
  • Very strong Universal Access policy in draft – has been sitting on Minister’s desk for a year – but will hopefully now go through (only raises funds from operators for specific projects)
  • Zero rate importation tax for all ICTs
  • 2015 access to broadband connectivity for 85% of population
  • Spectrum available 700 MHz LTE and 3G
  • Submarine cable being led by Interchange
  • Employment is growing in the sector – now 2500
  • Telcentres in Rensarie and Melsis high schools; Nebul and South West Bay health centres – need to provide many additional services in the centres.  Quite slow take up; importance of the manager; potential for agriculture.
  • All stakeholders must work carefully together
  • High schools and health centres are a priority
  • Using mapinfo to find the most cost effective way to deliver services

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