Technology Salon


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a discussion at the intersection of technology and development

More Tech Salons About USAID

  • Every African Woman Should Have Access to Broadband – But How?

    San Francisco | By on March 20, 2012 | Comments Off on Every African Woman Should Have Access to Broadband – But How?

    If we are serious about ICT as an accelerant for social and economic development, and we know that a) women are the key to investments in family health and education, and b) broadband connectivity is a major ICT catalyst for both, then we should be working towards a world where every African woman can have…

  • Mobile Money is Better than Cash at the Bottom of the Pyramid

    Washington DC | By on December 7, 2011 | Comments Off on Mobile Money is Better than Cash at the Bottom of the Pyramid

    Open your wallet right now. Most likely, you have a debit card, a credit card, a health insurance card, and access to the massive financial infrastructure that these three cards represent. The ability to store, save, use, and borrow money anywhere in almost limitless fashion, without worry about amount, theft, or even making change. Add…

  • How Mobile Financial Services are Transforming the Economics of International Development

    Washington DC | By on November 22, 2011 | Comments Off on How Mobile Financial Services are Transforming the Economics of International Development

    Terms like mobile money, mPayments, and M-PESA are all the rage in International development these days, but what do they really mean for the national development of countries we attempt to help? Menekse Gencer of mPay Connect will lead us in a discussion of mobile financial services, the full gamut of finance that is now…

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  • How USAID Could Learn – and Grow – from Failure

    Washington DC | By on June 22, 2011 | Comments Off on How USAID Could Learn – and Grow – from Failure

    I am Charles Kenny, and I spent part of yesterday at a United Nations Foundation meeting with Dr Maura O’Neill, Chief Innovation Officer at USAID.

    There was a lot of discussion of development applications using mobile phones (m-development) and how to do them better – things like interoperability and collecting models in an ‘m-app marketplace.’ And there was the usual back-and-forth between those who wanted to see more transformative projects where IT reformed whole agencies and ministries and those who thought that way madness (or at least obscene overruns) lay.

    But I thought the most interesting discussion was around learning from experience -particularly in an area where technology is evolving rapidly, so a robust evaluation may not be completed before the project itself looks as dated as an integrated rural development scheme or a structural adjustment loan. The randomized trial result suggesting limited evidence of educational spillovers from a distribution program of Nintendo 64’s might not carry too much weight for those wanting to hand out Wiis as part of a youth fitness program.

  • The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has a proud history of transforming development through science & technology. As part of the ambitious reform effort, USAID Forward, USAID is developing a set of Grand Challenges for Development, a framework to focus the Agency and development community on key barriers that limit breakthrough development progress….

  • What Would a USAID Grand Challenge Look Like?

    Washington DC | By on November 23, 2010 | Comments Off on What Would a USAID Grand Challenge Look Like?

    US Government agencies have issued a number of Grand Challenges to spur science, technology, and innovation. There is even to solicit new challenges and solutions from the public. USAID is also looking at Grand Challenges, and had a recent conference to discuss them: Transforming Development through Science, Technology and Innovation.

  • Building an mEducation Alliance for Development

    Washington DC | By on September 23, 2010 | Comments Off on Building an mEducation Alliance for Development

    As part of this month’s Educational Technology Debate on mEducation initiatives, the Technology Salon will be looking at ways to apply mobile phones in education, and scale them across organizations with an mEducation Alliance.

  • How to Build Better Global Development Alliance Partnerships

    Washington DC | By on April 29, 2010 | Comments Off on How to Build Better Global Development Alliance Partnerships

    On April 15th, we had a lively discussion on public-private partnerships with Robert Schneider, Senior Alliance Advisor, in the Office of Development Partnerships, Private Sector Alliances Division at USAID. Rob is the ICT partnerships lead for ODP/PSA, or as many may recognize better, the Global Development Alliances (GDA) office.

  • How to Create Private Sector Alliances with USAID

    Washington DC | By on March 25, 2010 | Comments Off on How to Create Private Sector Alliances with USAID

    Global Development Alliances (GDA’s) are USAID’s innovative public-private alliance model to mobilize business and civil society to stimulate economic growth. Yet GDA’s and Private Sector Alliances (PSA’s) can be confusing and intimidating, especially when a proposal deadline is approaching too quickly. Successful alliances take commitment, so invest a morning of your time learning how to…

  • “Sustainability” and “Scale”: What’s that really mean for ICT4D?

    Washington DC | By on October 9, 2009 | Comments Off on “Sustainability” and “Scale”: What’s that really mean for ICT4D?

    What do you think is the single most important issue at the intersection fo technology and development? Recently, the twin issues of sustainability and scale have come to the forefront in many conversations, with both peaking in October in several forums:

    ict4d sustainability
    Is it only about money?
    • Sustainability: This month’s Educational Technology Debate is focusing on ICT4E sustainability and at an IADB meeting, virtually everything that USAID does was suggested to be unsustainable.
    • Scale: I was recently reminded that while there is an incredibly vibrant mobile phone industry, after 15 years of PDA and mobile phone pilots there are few, if any, sustained mobile technology development projects that are more than 5 years old, continued after funding ended, and scaled beyond pilots.

    But what do we mean by “sustainability” and “scale” in ICT4D?

    Now here’s the real issue. What might be our shared definition of both “sustainability” and “scale” with information and communication technology programs in international development?

  • With the explosion of mobile handsets and the faltering of the “$100 laptop” idea, the international development community is focusing on the mobile phone as an empowerment tool, while questioning investments in computers. Is this wise? Is there a data continuum that includes both? Or should development dollars really shift to one platform at a loss to the other?

    cell phone africa
    The primary development platform?

    Please join us for a spirited debate where Troy Etulain of USAID will push us to envision a future where development objectives are achieved on mobile phones, while Wayan Vota will back computers, desktops even, as the true tool of choice to accelerate development with technology.

    Katherine Townsend of State will moderate the discussion with an eye to finding realistic recommendations for the development community.

    Our gracious host is the UN Foundation and I’ll have coffee and donuts for a good morning sugar rush to wake everyone up.

    Mobile Phones vs. Computers: a False ICT4D Choice?
    February Technology Salon
    Thursday, February 12th, 8:30-10am
    UN Foundation Conference Room
    1800 Mass Avenue, NW, Suite 400
    Washington, D.C. 20036 (map)

    Do note that seating is limited and the UN Foundation is in a secure building. So the first dozen (12) to RSVP will be confirmed attendance and then there will be a waitlist.

  • Let’s solve his ICT4D challenges

    The Technology Salon returns to Washington DC this September 25th to explore an innovative initiative from USAID: ICT4D Challenges.

    Akin to the contests that had Lindbergh cross the Atlantic and Rutan/Branson cross into space, ICT4D challenges (contests, makeovers, and competitions) will leverage user-driven innovation to create ICT-based solutions for major development challenges, with the incentive of cash prizes and possible inclusion in a USAID project. These challenges will spur innovation at the nexus of development and technology while forging new connections between the technology and development communities.

    What better forum to explore where USAID is going with these challenges and help shape that path than the Technology Salon, our intimate and informal discussion of technology and development?