Thursday, March 21, 2013

Curtains close down on CRS' 5th ICT4D conference

Judy Pyane (USAID), Ben Ray (Zerion),
Mark Davies (Esoko)
and Kwame Bentil (Image-AD) panelists
discussing business models for ICT4D
The curtains have just closed down on the Catholic Relief Services’ 5th Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) conference, held in Accra from 19 to 21 March 2013. The event, which in my view was a success, brought together religious leaders, the private sector, public sector, non-governmental organizations, and entrepreneurs involved in ICT4D initiatives. More than 150 participants shared experiences and lessons learned in implementing ICT4D initiatives across the globe. Discussions and exchange of information focused on the conference theme: "Mobile Services that Empower Vulnerable Communities"

Being from the agriculture domain, I enjoyed the presentations focusing on various aspects of  ICT4D in agriculture. Among them, the following stood out:

  • Esoko – a market information service targeting projects and businesses and helping them to collect and disseminate information across the value chains. Esoko is based in Ghana and has operations and/or partners in 16 African countries;
  • Fambook – an application developed by the Catholic Relief Service for use by field agents to register farmers, farmers groups and develop business plans incorporating profitability analysis;
  • mFarm – an integrated platform aimed at helping stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to communicate and establish business relationships. mFarm is developed by Image-AD based in Ghana.
  • FarmForce – a cloud based solution for managing smallholder farmer production and out grower schemes. Sygenta International Foundation funds FarmForce;
  • ICT for Weather and Water Information and Farm Advice – an IFAD supported project by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). The project is promoting the use of ICT-based technologies for the delivery of weather, water and crop information and advice to smallholder farmers in Africa;
  • Community Knowledge Worker – a Grameen Foundation’s programme targeting smallholder farmers and supplying them with information to improve their farming practices.  The CKW initiatives involves farmer leaders at the grassroots level and these trained to use mobile phone applications to provide information and advisory services to the farmers and to administer surveys.

Master class on Farmbook led by Shaun Ferris of CRS
After listening to several presentations and discussions, both in the breakout and plenary sessions, I was left with the following question:

Why do have too many pilot ICT4D initiatives, especially in Africa, and almost no sustainable scale ups?

If you are reading this blog post, I would be glad to have your views. Please, leave a comment.


  1. I was exploring the various applications and is interested in Esoko. I wish there is a workshop on these applications for me to take advantage of it. Thank you.

  2. Hi Emelia,
    The CEO for Esoko, Mark davies, was at the conference and he shared quite a lot with the participants.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.