June 2007


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Philippines Govt. to set up electronic kiosks for farmers

The Agricultural Department of Philippines is planning to set up electronic kiosks across the country to help farmers.

The department is preparing proposals on the e-Portal system for submission to software developer, Microsoft Corporation. Under this project, computer centres would be set up across the country for farmers to check market prices of their commodities and seek business partnerships using the Internet. The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) presented the agricultural based ICT projects, which also include “Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture,” and “Mobile Internet Bus to deliver online services to farmers”, and “Farmers' Information and Technology Services Centers”. Microsoft is providing computers, licensed Microsoft software and training for computer programmers.The company is planning to partner with Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture (Opapa) and other ICT projects in Philippines.


Indian parliamentary panel: Promote community radio in villages

The Indian parliamentary committee has asked the Union Government to take urgent steps to give extensive publicity to the concept of community radio in the villages of the country.

A parliamentary committee has expressed dissatisfaction about the fact thatonly 20 community radio stations are operating in the country and only 63 agencies have expressed their interest in the medium. According to the committee report there should be wide publicity of the community radio concept in rural areas, especially among NGOs, small institutions and communities. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has allowed NGOs, village communities and civil bodies to operate stations under its liberalised community radio policy.


HDFC Bank plans to start rural operations in India

HDFC Bank is planning to provide financial services in rural areas of India, where 70 percent of country's population lives.

The bank is using a two-stage hub-and-spoke model to reach out to its prospective rural customers. In the initial stage, the bank will have a full-fledged branch equipped to deal with the needs of the rural economy. In the second stage, the bank is planning point-of-sale machines capable of cash deposits and withdrawals, and allowing its customers a limited number of free transactions through ATMs of associated co-operative banks and public sector banks. Additionally, the bank is also rolling out specific rural products like tractor loans, kissan gold cards and warehouse receipts.

The Bank will offer all the urban-centric banking products, including saving accounts, fixed deposits, automobile loans, foreign exchange facilities and loans against gold to its rural customers. The bank is planning to set up 100 rural branches by the end of this year. 



Uganda Govt provides solar computers to rural schools

The Uganda Government has approved the proposal to provide solar powered computers to children in rural schools.

The government has approved the production of solar-powered computers for use in rural schools. This project would be a first of its kind  in Uganda, to provide computer skills to children in rural schools. The computer is powered by a small battery. Inveneo, a US firm based in San Francisco, will produce the computer. The cost of solar powered computer is about $250. It has Internet reception capability and is compatible with both wireless and intranet. 

Katha brings mobile school for street children of India

The Tamasha Roadshow Van, a mobile school initiative, is a silver lining for street children of India. Katha, a non- governmental organisation (NGO) has initiated the Tamasha Roadshow for street children. The Tamasha Roadshow van steers away from the monotonous educational methods and teaches street children through fun-filled methods. More than 7000 kids have been benefited from this schools-on-wheels programme.

The NGO has been successful in enrolling nearly 3000 children in the mainstream schools of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) with just three vans and nine teachers. The NGO is also organising various workshops on candle making, card making and painting. 

Intel, OLPC offer laptopsfor Nigerian students

OLPC, is a non profitable organization, which is committed to the design, testing and shipping of 15 million low cost child-friendly laptops to developing countries. Intel, just like OLPC, tested its low cost laptop, Classmate PC in Nigeria.

Eight countries including Nigeria, and South Africa have signed contracts to buy more than eight million machines in the first year of roll-out. The Education Trust Fund (ETF) is supporting Intel on the implementation of the pilot project, while Intel is also involved in teacher training, curriculum development and overall mentorship. The Classmate PC project in Nigeria is the first ICT based project, which delivers ICT based learning for secondary education in Nigeria. It involves a fully developed e-classroom designed to create an ICT enabled environment for teaching and learning. The OLPC machine is Linux-based and has a 500MHz processor and 128MB of DRAM, with 500MB of Flash memory. It lacks a hard disk, but has four USB ports and wireless broadband that allows the machines to work as a mesh network and form an ad hoc local area network.


Microsoft helps Malaysia for online system

Microsoft is helping Malaysia to build an online system, which is aimed to develop the country as global trading hub of halal goods and services.

Malaysia's Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) signed a memorandum of understanding with Microsoft Malaysia at the World Halal Forum 2007 to develop the system. The system is based on Microsoft's Office Open XML and it is designed to be a one stop for trading halal goods and services. It will encompass a repository of information on halal and related market intelligence and a centralized Web-based system to facilitate the international halal certification process. The Malaysian halal trading hub is expected to service the 57 member states under the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), an inter-governmental body where members aim to safeguard the interest of  people in the Muslim community.  



AIIMS' telemedicine project reaches Africa

Soon the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) will extend its consultancy services to patients in Africa. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India will install tele-medicine equipment at AIIMS to connect it with various hospitals in Africa.

The project will connect all 53 nations of the African Union through satellite and fibre-optic network. AIIMS has identified 12-15 locations, where telemedicine equipment would be installed. The MEA will soon provide the network through satellite and fibre-optics and wireless links at AIIMS. The network will connect five universities, 53 learning centres, 10 super-specialty hospitals and 53 remote hospitals in the African countries.

The African network, which will cover the countries would be based on VSAT star network and connect with India through under-sea cables. The network will provide tele-education, and tele-medicine through tele-conferencing services. A data centre to manage and maintain records, storage and back-up facility, and retrieval mechanism for the medical facilities will be provided in the hospitals. 

First satellite based telemedicine network launched in Bulgaria

The first satellite based telemedicine network would be implemented in Bulgaria. ND SatCom has partnered with Interactive Technologies to implement the first satellite-based telemedicine network based on ND SatCom's core technology platform SkyWAN.

Interactive Technologies provides the meshed VSAT network to the Bulgarian Armed Forces for applications like live video transmissions of operations, videoconferencing, teleconferencing and file transfer between military hospitals and medical centers of competence. The company has selected ND SatCom for this project because ND SatCom's SkyWAN platform supports a wide range of applications like video conferencing, IP video and VoIP, needed in this project.


Now mobile phones will guide blind people

Soon mobile phone will guide blind people in finding their way. Sweden based company, Mobile Sorcery AB is developing the software, which will guide sight impaired and blind people with voice advisories from their mobile phones.

This is the first hight-tech software related navigation system project, which is a part of Stockholm's Project of Easy Access for the visually impaired program. The software is for the prototype system, which uses a Nokia 6300 Symbian phone with earphones and a separate GPS unit linked to the mobile phone through Bluetooth SIG technology.

Another Swedish company, Astando AB will provide an application, which is linked to a geographic information system (GIS) to the guidance system. The navigation platform locates users and plots a path to the destination by using a highly detailed GIS, created and maintained by the city for street maintenance and traffic management purposes. The voice enabled guide alerts users for upcoming turns and obstacles through early warning rather than instructing every move. 

Nokia unveils mobile phones for rural India

The world's biggest mobile phone maker, Nokia has launched seven mobile phones for the emerging markets in India. Nokia has launched these mobile phones to introduce low-cost mobile telephony service to India's rural masses.

Nokia has offered entry-level phones with call-tracking and multiple phonebook capability. Nokia also launched four other low-cost GSM phones, including the entry-level Nokia 1650 and Nokia 2660, and the Nokia 2630 and 2760 with features like built-in camera, an email client, an FM radio and Bluetooth connectivity. Most non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are seeing the local village entrepreneur as the best way to increase mobile penetration in rural markets.

According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), India had 166 million mobile subscribers at the end of the march. Mobile service providers have identified the rural market as the  big opportunity. The Indian government is also subsidising roll-outs of mobile services in rural markets, and has proposed that operators share infrastructure to reduce costs. 


World Bank grants US$156 million for Vietnam rural transport

The World Bank will provide US$156 million to Vietnam, as interest free credit to fight poverty, help ethnic minorities and develop transportation in remote areas.

The World Bank has signed an agreement with the Vietnam Government for the programme, named as Program 135 Phase 2 (P135-2). The International Development Association, a lending arm of the bank will provide the first amount worth $50 million.

The programme is designed to support socio-economic development in some 1,644 of the poorest communes and 2,500 poor villages. In the second phase of the funding, around $106.3 million will be used to upgrade the construction of some 3,100 kilometers of rural roads in 33 northern and central provinces. The project is co-financed by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), which will provide $25.4 million for road maintenance. 

Mobile phone to monitor health aspects

UK based Leeds University has developed a mobile phone, which will measure a patient's vital signs and also deliver the results straight to the GPs. The prototype mobile phone will allow patients to monitor their own health and receive advice from experts.

The next generation mobile phone has a Bluetooth connection, which will 'talk' with wireless devices attached to a patient and take measurements like vital signs, glucose levels, or blood pressure. Even users can see more detailed information by connecting through a website. This new technology will reduce the cost of monitoring and improve clinical outcomes. The main application of the device is to help patients who are suffering from chronic conditions to take control of their own health. Patients would also be able to use the phone to track their own health progress, by manually entering nutrition-related data or by taking psychological tests on the phone.                                                  

Open Source

Open Source software to improve Indian civic services

The e-Government foundation of India has developed an open source software to improve the management of municipal services. While speaking on `Improving municipal e-Governance for service delivery for citizens' organised by the Centre for Policy Studies and the Visakhapatnam Centre of the Indian Institute of Architects, Srikanth Nadhamuni, Managing Trustee of the foundation, said the software has a transparent system to improve the credibility of civic bodies and the quality of service. The geographic information system helped in complaint distribution/density zeroing in on problem areas.

BT, Microsoft launch web based platform for SMBs

British Telecom (BT) and Microsoft have launched a web based platform for small and midsized businesses (SMBs).

BT Applications Marketplace services allows independent software vendors (ISVs) to market their hosted applications directly to small business customers by using Microsoft's Connected Services Framework. Applications Marketplace uses a means of delivery known as software as a service (SaaS). BT announced a major internal reorganization, which is designed for the telcom major to develop and roll out new web-based applications. Applications Marketplace is part of BT's $15.98 milion investment in delivering SaaS. BT's model is to allow ISVs to build a “Tradespace”, or sales site. A Tradespace can be used to market new applications to SMBs, many of which will be subscription-based and hosted.

IACC, World Trade Center to promote SME sector in India, US

The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) has partnered with a US based organisation to help with economic activities in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in both of the countries. IACC has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a US based business development organisation, World Trade Center, Rhode Island. Under this agreement, the IACC logo will be included in the India Business Programme . So far around 13 US based companies are interested to invest in India. According to Dennis McCarthy, managaing director of the World Trade Center, approximately 35 American companies would be interested to invest in India.

Microsoft India develops split computer screen technology
Microsoft's new technology will allow two users to work independently on the same machine, sharing both the processor and monitor.

The technology is basically developed for small businesses and schools in developing countries to reduce the cost of computer. In home, more than one family member can use the same computer. The working prototype uses a standard 19 inch screen, but it can also work on 15 and 17 inch screens. The solution is a software, so there is no need to buy a new PC. Users can simply install the software and a second mouse and keyboard plugged in for operation. The software enables two sessions of Windows to share the processor of computer. It divides the screen in the half, which is running on one operating system. Even users can move their cursor to the other of the screen, which will open the door on sharing and collaborating with documents. Even both users can open a third area, which is called an 'airlock', where users can place their shared files and resources.


NASRDA will launch Nigeria Communication satellite

The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Abuja will soon launch the first Nigerian Communication Satellite, named

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