The Global Knowledge Development Forum: A unique learning community and DOT-COM partner

Dear GKD Members,

I wished I had a financial/business model for a telecenter's sustainability. I am actually looking into one suitable for a Mexican rural community…

Adriana Labardini, Mexico City

We have initiated proof of concept work on the Jhai PC and communication system …with follow-on betas in preparation in at least South Africa and China. We have had inquiries from over 65 countries. This system is for communities without electricity, telephone lines or cell phone connectivity. We have a business plan that lays out our strategy that I would be glad to share.
Jhai Foundation, Navaho Reservation Project

This recent exchange was part of a dynamic discussion engaging thousands of people from around the world, thanks to the Global Knowledge for Development (GKD) Online Forum. The GKD Forum, hosted by the DOT COM Alliance and moderated by EDC, is a unique virtual learning community that brings together NGOs, government agencies, international development organizations, commercial firms and technology specialists from every region of the world. Together, they explore and exchange experience and innovative practices using information and communication technology (ICT) for development. GKD uses email, complemented by Web-based archives, as the easiest and most cost- effective way for thousands of people from more than 120 countries to share knowledge, resources, and successful strategies for sustainable ways to use ICT to achieve development goals. What sets GKD apart from other online discussions is the depth and substance of the discussion, and the broad participation from developing countries. The key is highly skilled, active moderation. (Read for example the weekly summary of the discussions for the week of November 15 which focused on profitability and sustainability)

GKD’s most recent discussion examined practical ways to use ICT and a “business approach” to reduce poverty. Participants tackled such questions as: “Can commercial firms use ICT to serve poor communities in ways that cannot be done by NGOs, donors and governments?” “Is profit important -- even essential -- to successful and sustainable "ICT for development" activities?”

Participants from every region debated the issues and provided cases and evidence from their first- hand experience. A member from India describes the “e-choupals” he has seen providing farmers with daily market prices for crops, as well as the obstacles they face in serving poor farmers. The CEO of a small IT company in South Africa explains the way they “scale” their products -- electronic payment solutions for African banks and payment processors -- to help foster profitability among poor producers. The Managing Director of Macedonia’s largest IT training company presents their model for providing the online management training desperately needed throughout the country. A Peruvian NGO describes their online directories for local businesses.



Screenshot of discussion archives page

By tapping into the insights and knowledge of its members, GKD provides an ever-growing source of case studies, guidelines, resources, and lessons learned from concrete field experience. The longest-lived international discussion list of its kind, GKD has generated a rich knowledge resource about the role of ICTs in sustainable development, much of which is not available in any other form.

The GKD database, catalogues thousands of GKD messages providing an unprecedented Web-based resource for those working globally on sustainable development issues“This information is very hard to obtain and share effectively,” Janice Brodman explains. “It is difficult for donor agencies in Washington, London, Amsterdam or other parts of the West to know conditions on the ground. How does an ISP gain success in rural Nepal, for example? What’s the best way to provide sustainable Internet access to rural villages in Uganda that lack electricity and phone connections? GKD members share answers to questions like these, as well as the challenges and pitfalls. It’s a unique community where you can quickly learn what others working in similar circumstances have done.”



The GKD Forum is available to any USAID mission or office that would like to engage the thousands of GKD members in specific ICT for development issues. DOT-COM can work with USAID to frame focused discussions on any ICT-related topic, from innovative ICT applications to improve agricultural practices and new approaches to fostering profitable ICT use among small businesses, to cutting edge technologies bringing access to outlying areas and low-cost technologies for education and healthcare. You can visit the GKD database at http://www.GKDKnowledge.org and the DOT-COM discussion archive at http://www.dot-com- alliance.org/archive.html.





For More Information, Contact:
Janice Brodman
Associate Director and Gender Specialist, dot-ORG
Education Development Center
Tel: (617) 618-2620
Email:

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