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'Have u tried cow dung?' Smartphones help Kenyan farmers text their way out of trouble | Guardian Sustainable Business. An SMS pops up on Joseph Mburu’s screen in a Nairobi call centre. “I have mulberry trees kwa shamba, my problem is moles. Wat can i do?” Mburu, an agriculture expert, texts back. He recommends the use of a trap or poison. If that doesn’t work, try burning dry cow dung in the mole hole or pouring in one-week old cow urine, he suggests. The inquiry is one of dozens arriving in iShamba’s new call centre every day. The subscription phone service is the brainchild of Mediae, a for-profit social enterprise behind the hit TV drama Shamba Shape Up, which deals with issues relating to poverty and food insecurity in East Africa.

“If you subscribe you get market prices for a couple of crops in a couple of locations, you get weather information, and we also send agri-tips, which are very local and time sensitive,”says Rachel Cowell, product manager at iShamba. From field to phone An early pioneer in the field is OneWorld South Asia, an affiliate of the nonprofit OneWorld International Foundation.

How m-commerce is courting Latin America. Consumers in Latin America, as well as around the globe, hardly go anywhere without their phones these days. Mobile enables millions of consumers to lead a more connected life – allowing them to do many activities that weren’t possible before. At MasterCard, our goal is to develop technologies that allow consumers to pay seamlessly and safely, reflecting the reality and demands of today’s world. This includes being able to pay from any type of device -- including mobile -- through our various platforms and services. Through our MasterPass digital wallet, Brazilians are using their phones and other connected devices to store all their cards’ information in one place, and enjoy checkout shortcuts with just a click, tap or touch. In Colombia, our innovative payment solutions are allowing consumers to seamlessly connect with taxi drivers to request and pay for a ride directly through their phones – no more standing in the street and hailing cabs.

The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Africa. 1. Eneza Education For providing kids in rural Africa with a virtual tutor. The Kenyan startup, cofounded by two former members of Nairobi's iHub community, creates educational content that kids in low-income rural areas can access on low-end cell phones. Through its "virtual classroom," students between the ages of 11 and 18 can study subjects including math, science, and English, and take any of its 2,000 quizzes and more than 16,000 questions, with the option of a mini lesson if they score below 50%—all for the equivalent of 50 U.S. cents a month. They can also search Wikipedia by sending a text message, or ask teachers questions and receive a response within an hour. 2. For facilitating e-commerce in Africa. 3. iROKOtv For changing the economics of Nollywood. 4. For inspiring a generation of digital learners. 5. For redefining entertainment in Africa. 6.

For training and investing in entrepreneurs. For making solar energy affordable for the poor. 8. 9. 10. India’s off-grid, rural mobile towers are creating new businesses—and lighting up homes. Henri Winand runs a fuel-cell company. Fuel cells run on hydrogen to produce energy. So why has Intelligent Energy, Winand’s firm, just agreed a deal to manage some 16,000 diesel-powered mobile network towers in India? One reason is that the deal will bring in an estimated £1 billion ($1.5 billion) in revenue for the company over the next decade. For a business that posted a £48-million loss on revenue of £13.6 million for the last full year, the income certainly helps. But the larger reason is that Winand plans, over time, to replace the diesel generators that power rural mobile towers in India with fuel cells.

Winand can become his own best customer. Winand’s plan might just work. But running cell towers in India is not why Intelligent Energy was set up. Some 150,000 of India’s 400,000 cell towers are estimated to be off grid, or have unreliable energy supply, according to a book published by World Bank and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Preserving the Future for Lake Malawi. Overfishing and increased economic activity are depleting the fish stock in Lake Malawi, Africa's third largest lake. Between 1988 and 1992, the commercial fish catch fell by over 20 percent. This problem has major economic and environmental consequences for the future of Malawi and other countries around the lake. Bordered by Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique, Lake Malawi covers a total area of 22,490 square kilometers.1 The lakeshore people, particularly those in landlocked Malawi, rely on the lake for water, transport, recreation, electricity, irrigation, and most importantly, fish.

But pollution and overfishing now threaten this valuable resource, resulting in environmental degradation through the loss of species in the Lake. It is only by implementing concerted policy measures that this degradation can be reversed. Contributing Factors The Population Explosion High population growth rate contributes to overfishing, species loss, and pollution of the lake. Suggested Solutions Conclusion. How Mobile is Becoming a Staple in Transformative Farming. A farmer uses his mobile phone to relay messages of a good planting season. (Photo: IRRI.) By Ernie Hu For farmers who lack convenient, reliable access to in-person or Internet-based services, mobile is giving them the power to do everything from staying connected to increasing crop production. Such mobile access is becoming especially important in countries like China that have vast rural populations and whose economic stability is directly linked to investments in agriculture.

Recent reports show that approximately 596 million tons of crops will be needed to feed China’s population, which is predicted to reach 1.4 billion by 2023. According to the China Ministry of Agriculture, the country has continued to increase grain harvests, such as wheat and rice, each year for the past decade. In fact, China’s agricultural productivity has more than doubled since 1990, supporting China’s ability to produce food for 20 percent of the world’s population. Follow IBM Smarter Planet on Google+ Expanding Africa’s Digital Frontier: Farmers Show the Way | AfricaCan End Poverty. Agricultural transformation is a priority for Africa. Across the continent, the significant information needs of farmers—accurate local weather forecasts, relevant advice on agricultural practices and input use, real time price information and market logistics—remain largely unmet.

To the extent that rural regions are typically sparsely populated with limited infrastructure and dispersed markets, the use of innovative information and communication technologies (ICTs) overcome some of these information asymmetries and connect farmers to opportunities that weren't necessarily available to them earlier. Harnessing the rapid growth of digital technologies holds hope for transformative agricultural development. While much of the earlier evidence was largely anecdotal, we are now witnessing steady growth in rigorous and quantitative evidence from around the globe on the impact of ICT innovations on people's lives.

Tech hubs across Africa: Which will be the legacy-makers? | Information and Communications for Development. One of the key features of the African digital renaissance is that it is increasingly home grown. In other sectors of the African economy, such as mining or agribusiness, much of the know-how is imported and the wealth extracted.

But Africa’s 700 million or so mobile subscribers use services that are provided locally, and they are also downloading more applications that are developed locally. One of the main sources of locally developed applications is the technology hubs that are springing up across Africa. In a recent project carried out for the Botswana Innovation Hub, we worked with two of the longer established labs, the research arm of *iHub_in Kenya and BongoHive in Zambia, to create a map of tech hubs. To our surprise, there are now around 90 tech hubs across the continent, and more than half of Africa economies have at least one. How data could help Tanzania's young informal workers.

Tanzania is facing a youth unemployment crisis. The World Bank has reported that around 900,000 young people enter the country’s job market annually, but only 50,000 to 60,000 formal sector jobs are created each year. With more than 66 percent of the population under 25, this job shortage will keep rising. On the flipside, young people are adapting to their situation and increasingly seeking work and opportunities to make money in the informal sector. A study of young people across seven regions of the country found that 75 percent of participants earned their main income through the informal sector, with most earning around the poverty line.

What are the government and private sector doing in Tanzania to ensure young people can provide more for themselves and their households? How can they achieve a dividend for growth and development through the country’s young and energetic population? So what’s data got to do with all of this? Want to learn more?

Indian fisheries and mobile phones