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"Internet Lite"
July 2020

Internet lite - the digital child of the Basic Internet Foundation and the Non-discriminating access for Digital Inclusion (DigI-project), is a three-year innovation project, funded by The Research Council of Norway and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The DigI-project is coming to an end. 3.5 years in a project with 11 partners from 9 countries was extraordinary, covering a variety of disciplines such as OneHealth, Digital Health, Health education, Internet access, Platform development, Business Models and many strategic discussions. Out of the many highlights, we’d like to focus on:
  • The success of digital health promotion (DHP), bringing digital health information to rural areas, and achieving a knowledge increase of up to 60%;
  • The low operational costs (OPEX) of less than 20 USD per month for providing Internet Lite, the free access to information;
  • The adoption of our solution by communities across Tanzania, in Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda, asking for a total of 80 info spots to be deployed in the next months;
  • A Letter of Intent for connecting 10 schools in Tanzania, where we have a large collaboration including the Universal Communication Service Access Fund (UCSAF), Vodacom Foundation and Tigo as mobile operators, in addition to UNICEF Tanzania;
  • A strategy for bringing the White Paper of the Norwegian Government on “Digital transformation and development policy”, identifying access, skills, regulations and inclusion as the main drivers for change, into reality;
  • The suggestion of “free access to the National Knowledge Portal” as strategy for empowering African countries;
  • Ghana having established the Governmental Portal for financial inclusion; and
  • Ethiopia, having introduced the “free access to health and education”.
Please have a look at the detailed stories in this newsletter.

This newsletter is to inform you of our recent and ongoing activities. We had previous communications with you regarding the DigI project. With respect to GDPR, please opt-out if you do not want to receive our information.

Report to Stortinget 11 (2019-2020)
The government whitepaper to the Parliament "Digital transformation and development policy" pointed out four priorities: Access, skills, regulations and inclusion. In DigI, we solved the challenge of low-cost access to the Internet through Information Spots with operational expenditures of less than USD 20 per month, applying Internet Lite and the Freemium model for access. We further demonstrated that Digital Health Promotion (DHP) is an essential tool to bring health knowledge to each member of the community. Read more and download Professor Josef Nolls presentation with the keywords: National Knowledge Portal, Digital Inclusion, Freemium Access - here. 

Results from the DigI-studies.
The two PhD-studies within the DigI-project are taking shape.
Flora Kajuna (SUA, Tanzania) is working on the lab results for porcine cysticercosis, and will be collecting data in Nov-Dec 2020, for assessing the impact of digital health education in community.
Though 99% of the studied households have and use latrines, the sociocultural practices studied in the communities can be risky related to Taenia solium cysticercosis taeniasis (TSCT), as there are free-range pigs, poor latrine and pig pen structures, also meat inspection is inadequately practiced in the area. Digital health education is expected to change these practices in relation to TSCT control.

Christine Holst (UiO, Norway) has just finalized the last round of data collection in Iringa.
The results from the first-stage study; the assessment of the immediate health knowledge uptake, show strong significant increase in correct answers after the participants have seen the animations on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and TSCT.
The highest increase between the pre- and post-results was in the TSCT-section, and the lowest was in the HIV/AIDS section, with the TB-results in the middle. This most likely reflects the previous health education priorities in the communities.
In February Christine and Ernest Nyoni from NIMR, Tanzania, conducted 35 semi structured interviews with hotspot-users and non-users in Migoli and Izazi. The data are now being analyzed, but the preliminary findings shows that our platform (yeboo.com) are currently being used to educate people around Migoli and Izazi, and the animations were extremely well received in the villages.

The picture is showing testing of a projector with the TSTC animation, at the Nyerere High School, Migoli.
Free access to the National Knowledge Portal
Having solved the challenge of low-cost access to the Internet through Information Spots, we discussed with our community on how we can get health becoming universally available in every country. Our suggestion is to establish a National Knowledge Portal, and regulate the free access to the Portal. We believe that such a Knowledge Portal combines three aspects, all being central for the empowerment of societies:
  1. Knowledge distribution for education, health, governmental information, as well as digital public goods. As an example, the portal may hold courses to acquire digital skills, and handle certificates for the educational sector.
  2. Data governance and innovation of national data is the core for value creation within the country. “Data is the new oil”, this statement of Telenor’s CEO Sigve Brekke demonstrates the value of data, and the need for building the economy around these national data. Furthermore, the Portal acts as the interface for the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), bringing innovation by private actors together with the governmental data.
  3. Inclusive access to the National Knowledge Portal is an easy way ahead for regulations. License conditions for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Mobile Operators could include the “free access to the National Knowledge Portal” as a prerequisite for a license.
A National Knowledge Portal can be a catalyst in bringing Digital Health Promotion out to everyone in the society, and it is the realization of governmental demand on access, skills, inclusion and regulatory frameworks. Read more here.

The most successful cup of coffee.
As part the of African Innovation Week, organized by Ayalew Gizaw Desta and his team, we got the pleasure to meet the Minister of Innovation and Technology.
Our short intro ended up in an invitation to a cup of coffee, where we discussed the “free access to health and education” as pre-requisites for digital inclusion in Ethiopia.
Now, as part of the COVID-19 response, the Government made it happen. 

Free access to health sites like the Ministry of Health, Ethiopian Public Health Institute (Ephi), and COVID-19. Furthermore, citizens can enjoy the free access to the National Digital Library of Ethiopia. KUDOS Ethiopia!

We received the request to help in connecting the 3500 secondary schools in Ethiopia, based on our expertise in connectivity and the implementation we performed at Koye Secondary and Preparatory school (see pictures). «The ball is rolling», and we expect other countries to follow Ethiopia.

National Portal in Ghana
The Government of Ghana has introduced the national Portal for financial inclusion. They will provide a single point of access to all services of ministries, departments and agencies of government.
“These include growth in government revenue collections, deepening expenditure savings and helping our fight against corruption by reducing human interface in the administration of public services”, as pointed out by the Vice President Alhaji Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia.
This portal is an excellent starting point to be expended to the National Knowledge Portal, and to introduce regulations stating the “free access to information”.

Global Governance Summit 2020
Sara Ketabi, leader of the UNICEF USA National Council of Leadership Development, and her team organised the Ministerial Global Governance Summit 2020, as a virtual summit from 26-28Jun2020.  The high-level summit is designed to offer a space for collective learning and knowledge exchange among delegates on how worldwide government officials such as Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers, Ambassadors, African Union, European Union leaders and other diplomats endure global development challenges within the framework of the UN Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
 
Prof Josef Noll was invited and contributed to three sessions, on resilient health systems, on addressing the root of the problem, and on capacity-building in developing nations. 
Read more, or watch the recorded presentations on our wiki BasicInternet.no
 

Screenshot from the last DigI-meeting

The final DigI-consortium meeting 
The very last DigI-meeting was supposed to be in Oslo 18.-20. May, but due to the corona-situation, we had once again to meet virtually.
All partners presented their achievements, lessons learned, challenges and recommendations on day 1.
Day 2 was spent on topics like budgets, achievements and the way forward. 
Read more in the notes from the meeting.

New DHP-material: Corona virus animation 
The Corona virus has reached Africa, and this video contains important information about how it is spread, what the main symptoms are and what you need to do to protect yourself and your community.
The animations was created with support from the RELIGHT-project at the UiO. 

Josef Noll and Danica Radovanovic, Basic Internet Foundation

DTCs’ digital skills as the basis for sustainable development
Our General Secretary Josef Noll and Digital Inclusion advisor Danica Radovanovic, participated and presented at the ITU in Geneva, Switzerland, from 11. to 13. February, 2020. 
The ITU organized meetings for the Digital Transformation Centers (DTC) project  – Phase 1. The primary function of DTCs are to deliver digital skills training to enhance digital literacy and foster uptake of digital tools among those at the bottom of the social pyramid and to improve livelihoods, and thus, bridge the third level of digital divide. Also, DTCs aim to improve the capacity of policymakers to design and implement digital skills programmes, and further conduct them to ensure scalability and self-sustainability in digital skills capacity development.

DTCs onboard meeting, ITU



We presented and participated in a session where we proposed strategies to scale and reach underserved communities. During this session, various strategies to scale was discussed, taking into account the national demand for training (demand driven strategy), and the institutional capacity of the DTC to address the national demand (capacity- driven strategy). The strategy discussions reviewed the approach towards target setting for the DTCs as well as establish the framework for setting KPIs. Finally, the session covered the train-the-trainers programme, as a sustainable tool to reach the different communities.
Read more on our blog here.

Publications
The DigI-group recently published Sub-Saharan Africa—the new breeding ground for global digital health , a comment in  The Lancet Digital Health. Read the full comment here.

Our research work on Digital Literacy key performance indicators for sustainable development has been published in the academic peer-reviewed journal Social Inclusion, open access journal with the special issue “Digital Inclusion Across the Globe: What Is Being Done to Tackle Digital Inequities?”. Our contribution: Digital Literacy KPIs for Sustainable Development can be downloaded here.

DigI-members have contributed to a brand new book: The chapter Digital Infrastructure Enabling Platforms for Health Information and Education in the Global South in Digital Inequalities in the Global South, edited by M Ragnedda and A Gladkova. The book discusses connections between digital and social inequalities in the countries of the Global South. Preview the chapter, or order the book here.

Read more about all DigI-related publications here.

Meetings and networking

In addition to several online meetings and conferences the past six months, some important face to face meetings are worth mentioning:

- DigI Meeting with UCSAF on 17th January 2020
- DigI:Zabai EdTech Conference (ZEC)
- DigI:Business Mission to Kenya with Norwegian Government - Feb2020
- BasicInternet:DTC workshop for development at ITU
- DigI:Meeting the Ministry of ICT Uganda Feb2020
- DigI:Meeting with Uganda Communications Commission
- DigI:Way-ahead Embassy Norway Uganda
- DigI:TZ-Sustainability SchoolConnectivity Feb2020
- BasicInternet:Collaboration National Knowledge Portal-Mar2020
…. And then the whole world finally approved digital meetings in March 2020.
 

 

Hackathon in Dar es Salaam
In February 2019, just before the Corona outbreak, we collected Community members from 5 countries to exchange expertise and learn how to establish Information Spots in their villages. Through this Hackathon, organized at Muhimbili University of Health and Applied Sciences in Dar es Salaam, we empower the communities and let them drive connectivity, digital inclusion and societal empowerment. 
Read more about the Hackathon here.

School Connectivity in Tanzania
Based on the success of the DigI work in building local information spots with rural Tanzania, we arranged a strategic workshop on  “Sustainability for School Connectivity” in Feb2020 in Dar es Salaam.  As a result of the workshop, we reached an agreement to connect 10 schools in rural Tanzania, through a collaboration with the governmental Universal Communication Service Access Fund (UCSAF), Vodacom and Tigo as operators, UNICEF as contributor to the education platform, and African Child together with us to establish the connectivity. We expect to gain a cost effective solution to address SDG indicator 4.A.1 on the percentage of schools connected to the Internet.

During the panel and the discussion we reached to a common understanding of the success sustainable school/community connectivity. UCSAF (Universal Communication Service Access Fund) supports school connectivity and is inviting to a proof-of-concept involving 10 schools. Main conclusions were:

  1. OPEX costs need to be affordable for the local communities/schools. It has to be ensured that the OPEX costs can be covered locally, thus a target of max 20 USD/month is envisaged for rural areas. If there is a certain demand, then access solutions with higher costs can be considered.
  2. The Internet need to be centred around people and need to answer the needs of the local communities. The main goal should be to empower the society, including content hosted locally.
  3. Both inclusion of policy makers and policies to ease the roll-out of community networks are essential for the success of digital inclusion. Community networks find their role in areas where mobile operators don't see a viable business model.
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