Innov Africa forum essential for Africa’s Mobile Communication services

By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

As online reports reveal, the InnovAfrica forum currently taking place in Dakar, Sénégal is looking to improving communication between continental stakeholders.

And it has also been announced that Orange, has presented Emerginov, an open-ended solution for the co-development of mobile micro-services by innovation players in Africa.

Emerginov is really an innovative solution for mobile services development in Africa.

·         Orange is present at the 4th InnovAfrica forum in Dakar, held from 26 to 29 November, and is contributing to the development of innovative online services in Africa,

·         Orange is providing the source code for Emerginov to African organizations – institutions, academic organisations, Non Governmental Organisationss, etc. – and assisting them in their mobile services development projects,

·         Emerginov is an open environment developed under an open source license

Emerginov is also a software solution produced by Orange Labs. It incorporates multiple open source software components and enables the development of applications based on SMS or on vocal interfaces.
Together with mobile-embedded technologies, the solution can provide simple services, giving the mobile user access to expertise or to content in different fields such as health, agriculture and trade.

In addition, the partners also benefit from an open-ended solution combining conventional telephone resources with access to IT services (web hosting, content storage, access to third-party APIs) from a
simple web browser.

Orange’s Emerginov platform is already used for competitive programming as well as research contracts with African universities (University of Dakar, ESMT and Université Gaston Berger in Senegal, University of Technology and University of Mauritius, and the University of Botswana). Emerginov is also used extensively in connection with cooperative projects with NGOs and local and
international institutional players, including:

·   A remote training initiative for Madagascan teachers. Equipped with a mobile phone and a solar recharger, teachers can access educational content embedded in their phones and may leave questions on a voice server; they receive an SMS when the answers are available.
A secure payment system via Orange Money was also set up, and tutors as well as teachers may now go to Orange boutiques to collect their compensation. The operation is led by the French remote teacher training initiative (IFADEM, Initiative française pour la formation à distance des maîtres) in partnership with Orange and the French Development Agency (AFD, Agence française de développement).

·  Experiments with m-health in Senegal and m-agriculture in Mali using features of Emerginov are in progress as part of the VOICES project (VOIce-based Community cEntric mobile Services for social
development) funded by the European Commission. The objective is to broaden access to the Internet in West Africa via the mobile telephone.

Furthermore, Orange publishes the Emerginov source code and promotes co-innovation.

And by opening up the code, Orange is following through on its commitment to providing innovation players in Africa with a set of customized open tools enabling rapid prototyping of services over telecom networks.

Also, throughout the forum, Orange is holding workshops to present the solution and help local players use it to develop and deploy their own mobile services tailored to the needs of the local population.

A report adds that the program is hosted by the OW2 consortium, an open source forge devoted to middleware of which Orange is a founding member. With Emerginov, Orange’s ambition is to co-build a library of license-free micro-services in order to nurture the dissemination of ideas originating in the field to mobile users.

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