There is a widespread agreement that ICT services, especially mobile ones, have the potential to play a major role in furthering social and rural development in developing economies. Market penetration and rural community adoption of basic mobile telephony and services have been extremely rapid in recent years. This is opening up lots of new opportunities, but in order to realize the full potential of mobile ICT services, however, important challenges and obstacles must be overcome. This is what the VOICES project sets out to do.
The Mobile Web for Social Development Roadmap, recently published as a result of the EU-FP7 Digital World Forum project, makes it abundantly clear that realizing the full potential of mobile ICT and Web services requires addressing two big types of challenges:
- The leveraging of content that is locally relevant to actors and entrepreneurs who are of key importance to on-the-ground social and rural development.
- The removal of a range of access barriers (notably, limitations related to access channels, literacy, and languages) that currently hamper information/knowledge sharing and associated community building especially in rural areas.
The VOICES project
intends to make a major step forward, by an integrated bundle of activities that will resolve several key challenges as outlined in the Mobile Web for Social Development Roadmap
. The VOICES objectives are to deliver the following results
and advances and show their value particularly in the African context: