On our “lab around the world” research trip, the betterplace lab went out in search of numerous information and communications technologies (ICT), which are making life easier for people in India, Tanzania and Ghana. The spotlight is focused on innovations in healthcare and agriculture. In both reports, you can get a good overview of the various possibilities in both fields, and our evaluation of the opportunities and risks associated with these innovations.

 

Empowering farmers with knowledge: digital agriculture

Around three quarters of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is involved in agriculture. Agricultural earnings make up on average a third of the gross domestic product there. Which is why it is extremely important that smallholder farmers manage their crops efficiently, since this allows them to support themselves and increase their income and improve their lives. Information and communications technology (we call them in this case mAgri) can help with this.

On our research trip “lab around the world” 2014, the betterplace lab tracked down numerous examples of mAgri applications and interviewed their inventors, users and funders. For this report, exemplary agricultural applications from the three focus countries of Ghana, India and Tanzania were selected, and their opportunities and risks were investigated. The report offers a broad overview of the possibilities offered by mAgri, since India, Ghana and Tanzania face diverse challenges, and the innovations are effective in correspondingly diverse contexts.

 

 

From donkeys to emails: digital healthcare

30 years ago, aid organisations in Afghanistan still sewed their medical orders into the clothing of errand boys who then rode for weeks on donkeys to the next telephone. Today, an email or sometimes even a remote diagnosis by SMS or webcam is sufficient. Digital technologies, above all the use of mobile phones, show new paths for enabling access to healthcare services for the previously unreached and unserviced. This overcoming of time and space leads to a new level of transparency and efficiency – especially for the field of mobile healthcare, mHealth.

By way of diverse case studies, this report illustrates mHealth in practice in India, Ghana and Tanzania – countries with very different healthcare systems, funding possibilities and access to technology. In partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation we interviewed users of mHealth applications, NGOs, organisations and government representatives in these three countries and investigated the opportunities as well as the risks of new solutions in healthcare provision. In this report, we present particularly innovative examples.