Web alliance for Regreening in Africa

ICT4D course for master students at VU, 2017

The VU ICT4D course 2017 will make you experience the  “Unconnected World”, or rather: how large populations do not reach the Web. While we spend our lives in the era of live-streaming (twitch), cloud-computing (google drive) and voice-based home assistants (amazon alexa), billions still live without an internet connection and are unable to read and write.

In the ICT4D course you will experience that, even in the absense of the internet, the locally existing ICTs can still be used to reduce poverty, ease the effects of climate change and generally make the world a better place. No data-centres, fibre connections and smartphones required!


In this year’s ICT4D course, we will dive deep into a use-case of rainfall data for innovative small-scale farmers in Burkina Faso. In this area of Burkina Faso, bordering the Sahara Desert,  called the Sahel, the temperature averages around 37 degrees Celcius. Despite very harsh conditions with all rainfall concentrated in a period of a few months, farmers  manage to fight the desert and grow crops, using innovative techniques to improve the absorption of rainfall into the soil.


Accurate data about rainfall is essential for these farmers. The problem is however, that there is no reliable data about the amount of rain. So, the farmers started taking their own measurements and forwarding the data to each other by (good old GSM) phone.


In the course, as an ICT4D student, you will design, build, test and implement a voice service, that enables farmers to gather and distribute rainfall data, using the simple mobile phones that they already own and use. You will experience that the future growth of ICT is not necessarily in 4K video, virtual reality and big data; it can also be about new use of ‘old’ technology in very innovative ways!


The voice service that you will create during the course will be taken to the Burkina Faso farmers and will be deployed in an actual pilot. This makes ICT4D a very practical and engaging course, showing a very different and fun side of the usage and development of ICT services and advanced, high-tech technologies for low-tech environments.