When the new SEACOM submarine fiberoptic cable reached Mombasa, Kenya (from Mumbai, India via Durban) in July and began to deliver reliable, less expensive Internet access to East Africa, improved access to healthcare information might not have been the first thing on everyone’s mind. But that 1.28 Terabytes-per-second cable is providing rural Kenyans with healthcare information – and much more.
The new connectivity has jump-started a series of six new community centers across the country. And through these “pilot pasha centers” (pasha means “to inform” in Swahili), rural Kenyans are beginning to take advantage of many new opportunities – including access to important healthcare information as well as education, new markets and business opportunities, financial and government services, and more from around Kenya and the world – all at a much more affordable price.
I recently interviewed Dr. Peter Drury, lead for healthcare in emerging markets for Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group, about health information systems in developing nations. Dr. Drury is particularly interested in the opportunities the pasha centers offer from a public health perspective.
”We want to get a starter pack of health content deployed in these connected community centers in a way that is both easily accessible and relevant to the local people,” he told me. “Better still, we hope to find ways in which they can, locally and/or in collaboration with other people, begin to develop locally applicable health content to supplement whatever they will get from external sources.”
The collaborators behind the pilot pasha centers (the Kenya ICT Board and Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, Cisco’s global strategic consulting arm) believe that the ICT platform and an entrepreneurial model will enable resource-poor communities to enjoy affordable access to a very wide range of information, due to economies of scale and the aggregation of demand reducing the unit price.
In a modest building of less than 400 square feet known as the Blossom World cybercafé in Kangundo, a small town of 10,000 in Kenya, a non commercial, public-private collaboration between the Kenya ICT Board and Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) launched the Pasha centres. The center is designed to model a community-focused format that will be self-sufficient by using technology in the form of a Web 2.0 collaborative online platform for the Digital Village Pasha Program led by the board.
This initiative falls under the Kenya ICT Board’s Digital Villages Project (DVP) also known as “Pasha Centres.” The overall goal is to enhance the livelihoods of local citizens and encourage new micro-enterprises by providing access to information, education and new markets.
Slovakia’s first national IT Fitness Test was launched earlier this month. Over the next weeks, students from over 830 secondary schools, colleges and universities will put to test their IT knowledge, digital literacy and skills in computers and networks.
The test is organized by the Slovak Ministry of Education and the IT Association as part of the e-Skills Week initiative of the European Commission. Cisco Slovakia and several other organizations have joined as supporters and Frantisek Jakab, Cisco Networking Academy manager is leading the IT Fitness Test project and acts as chairman of the Testing Committee.
In case you missed these on our main ‘the Platform’ blog, some interesting insights on the role of emerging markets within the global economic environment came out of our presence at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland over the weekend.
Firstly Paul Mountford, Cisco’s president for Emerging Markets outlined the differences between the somewhat gloomy atmosphere last year and a more upbeat focus on rebuilding, redesigning and rethinking this year.
Cisco CEO John Chambers also addressed the broad question of growth in emerging markets in an interview with Mario Bartiromo on CNBC during WEF. Based on his discussions with leadership in China, India and 5 leaders in the Middle East that he met with last week ahead of his visit to Davos, Chambers talks about his view that emerging markets are poised to come back in a big way.
CNBC writes: “Most of the global economies have stabilized,” John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, said. “Here in Davos, the mood is much more positive than a year ago, especially for the technology companies. And that’s natural because when economies start to recover, you apply first technology – get your productivity up – then you add jobs.
You can watch John’s response here directly on CNBC’s website here.
What’s your view? Are emerging markets coming back in a big way?
On January 19, Andrey Kharitonov, Alexey Lukatsky, Oleg Snigirev, Sergey Timofeev and Vasily Tomilin from Cisco’s Moscow office joined some 30 thousand Muscovites to celebrate Epiphany in a centuries-old tradition.
Like many other Russian Orthodox followers they braved the chill, typical for this time of the year (less than 2 degrees Farhenheit), and took a swim in a hole cut in the ice covering the Moscow river.