This past week, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Grameen Foundation’s AppLab won the Global Mobile award for “Best Use of Mobile for Social and Economic Development”. This was in conjunction with their partners MTN Uganda and Google. Congratulations should go out to the entire AppLab team, as this is an effort that has really made a difference on the ground for farmers and health care in rural Uganda. Officially launched in June of 2009, the groundwork for this began in 2007, according to the AppLab website.
In the US we take information access for granted, but to a farmer in rural Uganda, the ability to get information to the mobile device is potentially life saving. The Farmers Friend SMS app, an agricultural application, can make the difference for a healthy Matooke crop or eliminating a pest. In addition, Google Trader may provide these farmers a fair price at market or cheaper transport for their goods.
For health applications, AppLab partnered with a couple of NGO’s within Uganda, Marie Stopes Uganda and the Straight Talk Foundation, to deliver clinic directory information and health tips. This too can make a big impact on the rural communities in Uganda, whether it’s providing the locale of a a clinic or HIV/AIDS advice. A mother with a sick or injured child can now locate a clinic easier or get health tips right to their mobile device.
I’ve been following the AppLab project since last Summer, as there have been numerous write ups about the service, from the New York Times to The Economist. Obviously to this point it has been successful and I would love to see if AppLab can play a role in the Nnindye Villages in the Mpigi District. I plan on reaching out to AppLab, to see what if anything we can do to engage them. Congratulations again to AppLab, MTN Uganda and Google for winning this Global Mobile award and making a difference on the ground in the lives of many rural Ugandans, let’s see this get legs and move into other developing countries. BTW – If anyone is interested in combating information poverty in Uganda, AppLab is hiring…hmmm?