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Recent official data shows that, while extreme disparities in access to fixed telephone, computer and internet exist between sub-regions, surprisingly, mobile phones are as common in the least developed as in the most developed regions. The perceived attractiveness of mobile telephony for the poor makes it a commendable solution to the problem of expanding access of social assistance to the most excluded.
An international consultant was hired to assess the present situation and to recommend the most suitable type of platform and content that needs to be adopted so as to make effective use of the existing mobile technology to reach the most excluded households. Since the wireless technology is already spatially widely available, the consultancy work focused on development processes which make use of it most efficiently, without having to invest heavily in new infrastructure/equipment.
Ministries: Social Security, Social Integration and Economic Empowerment, Finance and Economic Development, ICT.
Institutions: National Empowerment Foundation, Government Online Centre, Central Informatics Bureau, Central Informatics Bureau, National Computer Board, Central Informatics Systems Division, Statistics Mauritius
Civil Society: NGOs, poorest communities.
We produced a report to the Government of Mauritius, containing concrete recommendations on (i) the type of mobile platform to be set up, (ii) the software requirement specifications on how to link the platform with the current social assistance system/database, (iii) the functional overview and technical architecture of the platform, (iv) the different SMS (manual, mass, and automated) for the different situations, potential suppliers and costs estimates.
The announcement of this UNDP initiative to the authorities was very well received and attracted a large number of suggestions some of which were beyond the scope of the present exercise – i.e. maximizing outreach of the poor. However, this first phase has the potential of laying down the foundation for future partnerships between UNDP and Government as regards to the array of possibilities of the mobile technology. Having an enlarged discussion forum with all relevant partners at the very start (as we did) added leverage to this perspective.
Dayachund Bundhoo: email@example.com