Web alliance for Regreening in Africa

W4RA presents three new master theses by students Information Science@VU

The research program W4RA at VU is proud to present three master new theses, by Justyna Kleczar (July 2017), Reshmi Sarkar (June 2017) and Jamila Daoudi (May 2017).

Justyna’s work comprises a new methodology including very comprehensive tooling, which facilitates and allows  development of new voice-based applications for underresourced languages. These new tools and methods are highly relevant, when building voice-based applications (market information services, meteo information services etc) for farmers in rural Africa, who communicate in underresourced languages such as Bomu, Bambara, Frafra, Moore or Mampruli. Justyna’s work will be used in further action-research in West Africa.

Reshmi Sarkar explored whether conventional business modeling methodologies are capable of fully capturing the complex relationships, that exist in ICT4D business contexts. In her thesis, a new construct of “Community” is proposed in the e3 value ontology, which conventionally only consists of “customer”, “market segment” or “enterprise” as the common economic entities in a value web. The proposed improvements by Reshmi will enable to capture various socio-economic relationships, which are commonly  overlooked in conventional business modeling methods. Reshmi’s work may be the start of a new way of looking at how ” business” works in low resource contexts, such as rural Africa.

Jamila Daoudi used the e3 value methodology to build and evaluate models of existing value webs in rural Mali, which are based on legacy systems, without any ICT involved. Jamila built and evaluated various scenarios to show how the introduction of new ICT technologies may influence the existing business and may lead to new value webs. She also shows how the introduction of new ICTs offers opportunities for new local value webs, including e.g. community radio stations and local enterpreneurs who want to do innovative business in low-resource environments. Jamila also shows in her models how, in the absence of a local alternative, inexpensive infrastructure in rural Africa, the international network operators and other large businesses (media concerns, large advertisers etc) remain the biggest beneficiaries of ICT4D. This is a strong case to decentralise the Web and try to avoid expensive international ICT infrastructure for local business and information sharing.

W4RA research will continue on various themes and aspects related to the results of these three theses in the near future.