Despite the dominance of western models, the
present in many developing nations has given rise to numerous
small-scale local solutions to local problems and needs. In countries such
as Kenya businessmen, farmers and labourers are coming up with their own
original methods for solving their own problems. Contract labourers, for
example, can now provide their phone numbers to potential employers and
move on, instead of having to wait for hours at a workplace in case a job
arises. Access to market information through mobile phones also provides
rural communities with invaluable information about centres of business.
The Kenya Agricultural Commodity Exchange (KACE) provides crop growers with
up-to-date commodity information - farmers can access daily fruit and
vegetable prices from a dozen markets through SMS. Many rural farmers have
quadrupled their monthly incomes as a result of direct access to this type
of relevant information.
The mobility project will focus on two key areas: the development of mobile-based programming tools, and the development of an online mobile phone programming curriculum.
Today, the bulk of mobile applications development takes place in a
desktop PC environment, with mobile devices used (if at all) for end-user
testing or compatibility checking. Desktop PC’s are used for a number of
reasons – they are readily available in the developed world (where most
development currently takes place), their keyboard and full screen makes
them ideal development environments, device emulators are available to
allow developers to ‘mimic’ mobile target devices, and the majority of
programming tools are written to run on desktop computers. However, access to personal computers is a challenge
to many people in many developing countries, making the current methods of mobile
applications development inappropriate.
Expanding on the work of Nathan Eagle at EPROM, the project will determine
the needs and structure of an online mobile programming curriculum, one
which will quite likely
be based on MIT’s Courseware model. The key objective will be to develop
easily accessible and implementable teaching aids, allowing educational
establishments throughout the developing world to integrate mobile phone
programming courses into their core curriculum. These learning tools will
cover existing PC-based environments, such as Java and Python, but more
crucially include the new tools that mobility hopes to develop for
use on the phones themselves.
The mobility concept has been developed over a six-month period,
and engaged a dozen experts in the mobile, education and technical fields,
each of whom has signed-up to the project. Partners will be announced over
the coming weeks - for the latest visit the
of this site. A one year scoping proposal has
been sent to a leading US Foundation, who have been collaboratively
working on its development with the mobility team. Project
management will be carried out by kiwanja.net until funding is secured, by
which time a full team will be put in place. It is hoped that the project
will commence by early autumn 2008.
During these preliminary stages, general enquiries can be directed to Ken
Banks, Founder of