Mobile Services and ICT4D
To the Network Economy - Bridging the Digital Divide, Ethiopia’s Case
Naod Duga #*1, Henok Getachew #2
* Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Addis Ababa University
# Emopia Information and Communications Engineering
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Abstract— This paper presents a development paradigm for mobile internet and a diverse range of vertical applications on
Ethiopia, based on appropriate services and innovative use of mobile
top of enabling technologies brought by the telecom/IT
communications technologies via applications tailored for sectors convergence.
like business, finance, healthcare, governance, education and
In the past, a nation's wealth was largely a function of its
infotainment. The experience of other developing countries like endowment of natural resources, its labor force and its
India and Kenya is cited so as to adapt those to the Ethiopian
context. Notable application areas in the aforementioned sectors accumulated capital base. The 'new' wealth of nations places
have been outlined. The ETC ‘next generation network’ is taken into
increasing emphasis on knowledge in its various embodied
consideration, with an emphasis on mobile service offering by the forms. ICTs permit information and knowledge to expand in
Telco itself and/or third party service providers. In addition, quantity and accessibility. In many fields there is the
enabling technologies like mobile internet, location-based systems, possibility of unprecedented new tools for development. In
open interfaces to large telecom networks, specifically service-
such fields as agriculture, health, education, human resources
oriented architecture (SOA), Parlay/JAIN and the like are discussed.
and environmental management, the consequences could be
The paper points out possible endeavors by such stakeholders like:
revolutionary. ICTs have enormous potential especially for
telecom agencies and network operators; businesses, government developing countries  and that’s what ICT4D (ICT for
and NGOs; entrepreneurs and innovators; technology companies
and professionals; as well as researchers and academic institutions.
Development) stands for.
ICT4D through mobile services and their role in bridging the digital
The role played by mobile networks, services and
divide by building a virtual ‘network economy’ is presented.
applications in developing countries’ endeavours is certainly
huge. We shall take Ethiopia as an example but the
Keywords—mobile services, ICT4D, appropriate technologies, discussions would surely apply for others as well. It’s our
telecom in Ethiopia, development, Parlay/JAIN, techno-economics
belief that mobiles are the next big thing, of course, if used
appropriately in a timely and innovative basis. They inevitably
are key players in ICT4D endeavours in developing nations.
The significance of mobile telecommunications services
In Section II of this paper, we discuss the challenges and
beyond basic person-to-person voice communication can’t be opportunities in mobile services and ICT4D by introducing
overemphasized. The now flourishing telecom networks and the so-called ‘mobile economy’ and then shade light on
feature-rich mobile handsets coupled with innovative services technology and infrastructure trends in the mobile telecom
and application are perhaps the next ‘killer’ solution providers
services. We further cite exemplary cases of mobile services
for what many people (in developing nations, especially) from other countries. We finish the section with a discussion
could look up on. We try to strengthen our argument with a of noteworthy mobile service use cases in different scenarios.
pragmatic discussion of what researchers and key figures refer
Section III focuses on Ethiopia, building up on the status
to as, “mobiles bridging the digital divide”, “the mobile quo of mobile networks, services and applications together
economy”, “the convergence of computing and with reference to stakeholders in the mobile arena. With the
communications” in “the information age” while taking
network in mind, we cite enabling technologies and platforms
into account a developing nations’ perspective.
for mobile network services and applications. The need to
Let’s define some terms first. According to Philip Kotler open up networks for third parties with Open APIs such as
(1998), a ‘service’ can be defined as “any act or performance Parlay/JAIN will also be discussed. We finish the section with
that one party can offer to another that is essentially intangible
notes on mobile services, from concept to design then to
and does not result in the ownership of anything” (p. 477). In deployment and quality assurance. We assert the complexity
mobile telecommunications, the service has traditionally been of the mobile service domain  and point out directions
a subscription to the voice services, that is, making phone towards creation of winning mobile services.
calls over mobile networks. Now, though, mobile services
We wrap up our paper with a discussion of the role of the
have gone far beyond basic mobile telephony to services different stakeholders in Section IV. A conclusion section is
relying on data over telecom networks as in messaging & also included.
II. CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
Telecom networks are exhibiting increasing complexity.
Think 6.7 billion people, bring in 4 billion (and counting) Telecom service providers deploy emerging services based on
mobile phones immersed in thousands of petabytes of data (or
a mixture of infrastructures such as mobile and wireless,
information, if we may) on the Internet, introduce innovative xDSL and fiber as an overlay. 
services like location based systems, market information,
One other trend is deregulation and privatization of the
mobile banking and social networking in addition to everyday
telecom network. This has led to a number of operators as
voice and data communications to end users as diverse as a well as third parties like ISVs and content providers serving
Masai hunter or an Ethiopian farmer to a Fortune 500 the customer base.
executive. What would we get?
Communication and computing convergence is one other
trend worth pointing out.
A. The Mobile Economy
The old adage ‘The customer is king’ is in the same way
The mobile phone has emerged as an indispensable applicable for telecom customers and it will possibly be so in
communications and computing machine in our fingertips. It the foreseeable future as a result of competition between
has enabled the convergence of information technology and operators. The subscriber expects network service
telecommunications systems, being a platform for a range of performance reliability, high QoS, flexible package
services from basic telephony to data services for people from
subscription and, of course, cheaper bills.
around the world. Advances in consumer electronics and
Of special interest to our discussion, the following points
software technologies is bringing handsets that are are worth mentioning regarding mobile networks, devices,
increasingly usable, cheaper and full of features to consumers,
content, services and applications.
allowing them to communicate, learn, socialize and do
1) Mobile Network Technologies:
business in an increasingly connected world.
In most countries, current second generation mobile
networks based on GSM and CDMA are evolving to 3G and
beyond with the introduction of WCDMA and CDMA2000.
2.5G services like GPRS and EDGE do compensate for the
gap in many a place, as the third generation networks are
seeing varied penetration and adoption rates.
2) Mobile Devices:
Of all the components in a wireless network system, the
mobile device gets the most attention. End users can only
Figure 1 - Africa is among the fastest growing mobile telecom markets.
interact with the system through mobile devices. Mobile
The number of mobile phone subscribers is expected to hit devices feature a low-power transceiver that is typically
4.5 billion by 2012 globally and this, for the most part, is designed to transmit voice and data. The mobile device
attributed to emerging markets in Asia, Latin America and connects to the network infrastructure wirelessly through an
Africa. There are more than 300 million mobile subscribers in
available access point or base station. 
Africa alone, according to a report by the ITU (International
Notable operating systems include Symbian OS, Google
Android and Windows Mobile, the Apple iPhone OS, Mobile
The global telecom market is now worth $4 trillion. By Linux, RIM and Palm OS. Java, with the largest install base,
2011, global telecommunications revenue is estimated to hit has emerged as the software enabler for media, messaging,
close to $5 trillion, with the growing demand for high-volume
mapping as well as location-based services.
data applications driving both business and consumer markets,
Processing power is ever increasing – for the CPU and the
reports TIA, the Telecommunications Industry Association.
DSPs handling the low level communications. In addition,
The mobile telecom industry, in its relation to other separate enabling chips for ringtone and sound, camera sensor,
economic sectors like business, agriculture, health and mobile graphics are being bundled in high-end mobile devices.
education, is creating a virtual ‘economy’ of its own – being at
Though processing power continues to follow Moore’s law,
the heart of communications, information provision, doubling every 18 months, batteries have continued to be a
entertainment and commerce, among others.
limiting factor and this, though evolving, is not likely to
B. Telecom Technology and Infrastructure Trends
Add-on features like image and video capture, connectivity
Changes in telecommunications are impacting all types of (3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc.), display and multimedia
user group, which include business users, travelling users, experience continue to be a key selling point for mobile
small and home offices, and residential users.
devices as many mobile services make good use of these
Internet access, special data services on top of traditional features as in GUIs, imaging, browsing and gaming.
voice networks, voice services on top of data networks as well
as multimedia services are among those made possible
3) Content and Service Delivery:
through the fast growing global telecommunications market.
Web content, organizations’ and business’ proprietary
databases, market information, news updates and media like
ringtones, music, audio/video educational content, etc., are
Throughout Africa, successful cases of mobile services
among the content upon which a spectrum of mobile services have been in the news. In Tanzania, for example, mobile
can be built.
phones have hugely benefited the fishing community. Cell
SMS is the predominant service bearer for such phones have had positive impacts in grain markets in Niger.
applications where bandwidth is limited or where textual Despite the absence of electricity, alternative power solutions
content suffices. MMS is also catching up, especially with have been harnessed, including personal movement and
entertainment and media related services. Text as well as battery packs to charge cell phones. Text messages are playing
binary content of limited size (160 bytes, to be exact) can be their part to tackle HIV in South Africa and to fight
sent and received via SMS. MMS allows for rich text, image, malnutrition and save lives in Malawi. In Kenya and other
audio and video content with operator-specific message size, developing countries, SMS scheme is being used to tap work
usually between 30 and 100Kb.
force – allowing software localization to be done by natives
Voice also can be used as a service delivery platform as in who earn money in return, via mobile banking services like
IVR (Interactive Voice Response), for example, where menu-
based services can be accessed via DTMF tones generated by
In addition to several vertical application cases of mobile
a user pressing handset keypad.
services , large scale initiatives and service offering like
The mobile web (equally referring to WAP or the now mobile payment would inevitably have bigger impacts. Such
common internet via mobile IP) is a significant step forward would be possible in cases where governments, telecom
for service provision on mobile devices.
operators, network vendors, NGOs and ISVs cooperate for a
common vision – bringing about socioeconomic development.
C. Experience of Other Countries
Rather luxe-looking mobile services (from an economic D. Notable Mobile Service Use Cases
and social development perspective, at least) like mobile
Entertainment, customer care, business applications,
entertainment, location-aware services and social networking finance, security, shopping, advertising, information provision,
are now found in abundance in the developed world. etc are among the use cases where mobile networks, services
Established and emerging service providers as well as and applications are employed.
different organizations do utilize widely available bearer 1) Mobile Banking and Mobile Payment: Mobile banking
networks available (in Japan, Korea, the EU and USA, for involves performing balance checks, account transactions,
instance) to provide a spectrum of mobile value-added payments etc. via a mobile device such as a mobile phone.
services to mostly literate and financially able customers.
Also known as m-banking, it is most often performed via
It will be appropriate to cite noteworthy efforts from SMS or mobile Internet but can also use special programs
developing nations like India and African counterparts like installed to the mobile device. Challenges include handset
Kenya and Uganda – as their experience in using mobile interoperability, security, scalability & reliability, application
services towards development can easily be adapted to the distribution and personalization.
Ethiopian context and can shade light on the possible impact
innovative mobile services for different scenarios might have
In mobile payment, a consumer uses a mobile phone to pay
in solving the country’s development problems.
for different services as well as soft or hard goods instead of
In Kerala, a state located in south-western India, farmers paying with cash, check or credit cards. Primary models
adopt SMS service to know rubber prices. Tata Teleservices, a
include direct billing (operator or mobile), contactless NFC
major Telco in India, empowers Indian farmers use mobile (Near Field Communication) and online payment using such
phones to control irrigation. ‘The cell phone has been crucial popular services like PayPal, Amazon Payments and Google
in binding India together’, reported the New York Times,
‘India now adds more cellphone connections than anyplace
2) Mobile Commerce: Mobile Commerce is defined as
else, with 15.6 million in March  alone. The cost of ‘any transaction, involving the transfer of ownership or rights
calling is among the lowest in the world. And the device plays
to use goods and services, which is initiated and/or completed
a larger-than-life role there — more so, it seems, than in the by using mobile access to computer-mediated networks with
wealthy countries where it was invented.’ Mobile the help of an electronic device.’ 
communication is revolutionizing economic and social
development in rural India in sectors like microcommerce,
3) Mobiles in Health: m-Health can be defined as the use
finance, healthcare, governance, education and infotainment.
of mobile communications and network technologies for
Not so far from India, disaster-prone Bangladesh trialled healthcare . This might include education and awareness,
cell phone alerts – tens of thousands of mobile users in the data collection (for public health or clinical domains), remote
country’s flood and cyclone-prone areas will receive advance monitoring, communication and training for healthcare
warning of an impending natural disaster through a flashing workers, disease surveillance and epidemic outbreak tracking
alert on their cell phones. Another popular service,
(malaria, HIV/AIDS, TB, Avian Flu, diabetes, ...) as well as
CellBazaar, offers a virtual marketplace for the 20 million diagnostics and treatment support.
mobile-phone subscribers of Bangladesh's GrameenPhone
4) Mobile Search: Mobile search is an evolving branch of
Ltd. , enabling customers to trade a variety of items.
information retrieval services that is centred around the
convergence of mobile platforms and mobile devices. It mobile service subscribers not benefited in commensurate
allows users to find mobile content interactively from internet ratios with that of, say, Kenya or India?’ Is it telecom policy?
websites as well as enterprise databases.
Is it lack of understanding of how the ‘Real Digital Divide’
can be bridged? Are we entangled in a vicious circle due to
5) Mobile Entertainment: Mobile entertainment comprises the poor-performing economy? Is the Ethiopian mass
a range of activities including but not limited to downloading unenthusiastic about change via technology adoption at a
ring tones, logos, music and movies; playing games, instant higher scale compared to other developing countries? Has
messaging, accessing location-based entertainment services, technology not been transferred enough to the professionals
and Internet browsing.
and tech firms in the nation? Can we blame illiteracy?
6) Other Vertical Applications: Vertical applications
It’s worth mentioning the up-and-coming mobile banking
include those that address functions and business-specific services in Ethiopia where at least half a dozen banks in the
requirements typically associated with a particular industry or country are adopting (or have adopted) e-banking systems.
a specific company. These include market segments such as There are projects aimed at providing integrated payment
field service, mobile professionals, transportation, point-of-
platform with inter-bank cooperation. Mobile banking (SMS-
sale, telemetry, governance, and so on.
based as well as mobile web) is also on the table. Payment and
banking being at the core of most horizontal and vertical
III. THE ETHIOPIAN CASE – ETC AND BEYOND
mobile services and applications, this is a promising start and
What is the status quo of mobile services in Ethiopia? What
we shall expect a lot from the banks and related bodies.
enablers are available to be capitalized on?
The rather sad report stating that coffee farmers in Ethiopia
earn 0.03USD for every 3 USD cup of coffee sold (that’s 100
A. Networks, Services and Applications - Now
times less!) may at last have been finally resolved. The
The sole telecom network and service provider, ETC Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) is providing IVR
(Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation), is currently (Interactive Voice Response) and SMS-based mobile market
engaged in large-scale nationwide network expansion projects. information delivery to farmers and traders, avoiding the
The next-generation all-IP network project brings together information gap between the ends of the chain.
GSM, CDMA, WCDMA and CDMA2000 mobile networks as
Another case was that of UNICEF’s effort to coordinate the
well as IP networks and landline PSTN.
distribution and maintenance of appropriate food stock in its
ETC plans to reach a staggering 15 million mobile 1800 feeding centres in the country. The field monitors
subscribers by 2010. The Chinese ZTE (which is undertaking reported on supplies and number of children fed through an
most of the current projects) and Huawei, Nokia-Siemens, SMS reporting system using a UNICEF-built mobile data
Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco and other telecom network collection and monitoring software, RapidSMS.
solution providers have been involved with ETC in the past in
With all the above being the case, we should seriously
its telecom network and service provision endeavours for a consider the effect of illiteracy in the adoption and proper
subscriber base that has been deemed as one of the lowest in usage of simple to complex mobile services. Nokia’s report
the world. 
entitled ‘Understanding Non-Literacy as a Barrier to Mobile
The services are not far beyond basic voice and limited data
Phone Communication’  discusses the impact illiteracy
services. With the expansion of the currently limited 3G have had or might have. The launch of mobile handsets with
network as well as integrated IP networks as a result of the local language support in a number of models by the same
NGN project being finalized, network operators and third company is appreciated. R&D towards easier text entry and
party service providers should be able to provide data services
better user experience on the mobile phone is essential. Effort
(simple text/email messaging as well as internet and value-
to provide mobile operating systems as well as software
added services) in addition to basic mobile telephony.
applications in local languages is expected from device
With the advent of mobile device technology, we manufacturers as well as software vendors.
progressively see handsets with ever-increasing capabilities,
like for example, running Java applications or SIM-based B. Enablers in the Mobile Arena
software while utilizing content and service from the Telco
We have discussed mobile devices and operating systems
and others via internet connectivity through packet data (e.g. in section II. Let’s point out wireless application protocols,
GPRS or 3G) or alternate bearers like SMS and MMS.
mobile client software platforms and wireless multimedia
The application developer community and/or ISVs are not technologies as enablers for service and application delivery.
found in abundance, for reasons that can directly be associated
1) Wireless application protocols: Include WAP on bearer
with the customer base’s awareness and the not so conducive networks like SMS (Short Message Service), EMS (Enhanced
network platform and environment for innovation.
Message Service), MMS (Multimedia Message Service),
As the case is with most technology products and solutions,
GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and mobile IP (IPv4
a compelling mobile service is likely to generate a matching and IPv6).
demand of the same scale from customers. This might seem to
be a sweeping statement but it generally is true as has been 2)
Mobile client software technologies: Mobile web
witnessed from experience. One may ask: ‘Why has Ethiopian
(XML/XSLT/CSS/XHTML), Java 2 Microedition (J2ME),
Flash Lite, .Net Compact Framework and the SIM toolkit are software applications could be combined to develop new
among the commonly used and widely available client services on top of the underlying network.
The Parlay Group , a technical industry consortium
founded in 1998 by leaders in the telecom and software
3) Mobile multimedia: Streaming media architectures (video, industries, specifies APIs for the telephone network which
flash, and presentation files for example) for mobile networks enables the creation of services by organizations both inside
that provide reasonable QoS have been proposed.  Mobile
and outside the traditional carrier environment. JAIN (Java
multimedia streaming network protocols defined by standard APIs for Integrated Networks) is the Java version of the
bodies like 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) and Parlay Open APIs.
IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) represent audio/video
with standard codecs like MPEG-1, 2, 3 and 4.
4) Emerged/emerging trends: Localization (utilizing GPS,
Wi-Fi hotspots, GSM Cell Ids, etc.), context-aware computing,
semantic web, ad hoc and sensor networking and so on are
trends in mobile communications and ubiquitous computing
that could enable a range of services to users.
C. Stakeholders – Who’s Involved in What
There are the telecom network operators (Telcos) which
provide the mobile network. Then there are content providers,
like media companies. Service providers may be businesses
Figure 3 - Open Networks – The New Telecom/IT Paradigm
and not-for-profit organizations or the Telcos themselves.
A typical implementation of Parlay adds a new network
The end users might be individuals or businesses, using
mobile handsets from different manufacturers.
element, the Parlay Gateway, on to the underlying (GSM,
Developing, deploying and maintaining the various CDMA or SS7) network. By using JAIN or Parlay X (the web
network services and applications are the technology services implementation of the Parlay APIs), the technology
allows for Third Party Call, Call Notification, Short
companies and ISVs.
Providing the manpower and applied/basic research are messaging, Multimedia Messaging, Payment, Account
academic institutions and the academics and researchers in the
Management, Terminal Status, Terminal Location, Call
Handling, Audio Call, Multimedia Conference, Address List
Controlling and enforcing laws and licensing procedures Management, Presence, Message Broadcast, Geocoding,
are telecommunications agencies like the ETA (Ethiopian Application Driven QoS, Device Capabilities and
Configuration, Multimedia Streaming control and Multimedia
Telecommunications Agency) in Ethiopia or the FCC (Federal
Communications Commision) in the USA.
Multicast Session Management. 
The current ETC network, with NGN softswitch devices
provided by ZTE, is known to support the Parlay Framework
 and can be put to use through open interfaces.
E. Putting All Together – Mobile Services
An understanding of the involved industries is required –
telecom operators and their business models, content
providers/distributers and developers/ISVs in between.
There is an obvious need to understand the customer (both
consumers as well as businesses). Things to consider include
Figure 2 – Players in mobile network services
size, market segmentation, adoption, etc.
D. Open Networks – Parlay/JAIN and Beyond
How can a winning service offering be created? What
makes the mobile service design process different? How to
Due to the service-based nature of the telecom industry, a manage the customer experience? What is the role of the
recent trend is the so-called Telecom SOA. A service-oriented
mobile devices through which customers access the services?
architecture (SOA) describes an environment where software What makes the mobile service environment different? How
applications expose functionality via a service provider about mobile service deployment? What do commercial
messaging interface. Other software agents can act as service mobile service launches have got to say? How should
consumers in using the functionality exposed by service customer feedback be used for quality improvement?
providers. As outlined by the World Wide Web Consortium
All of the above are questions that have got to be
(W3C), a SOA contains three major components: Discovery, thoroughly analysed and answered  for a successful
Description and Messaging. 
realization of a mobile service concept.
The strength of the telecom world in providing network
services to the customer and that of the IT world in offering
IV. THE ROAD AHEAD
The bottom line is that businesses and organizations need to
What shall be expected from telecom agencies, network devise ways to tap the potential mobile services offer. A list of
operators, businesses and not-for-profit organizations? What ‘appropriate technologies’ for a business/organization shall
about entrepreneurs and tech firms? What’s the role played by
now include the mobile network.
researchers and academic institutions?
D. Entrepreneurs and Innovators
A. Telecom Agencies
The mobile economy endows entrepreneurs and innovators
Whilst possible, telecom agencies need to provide a with a canvas for creativity and promising markets. With a
favourable environment for competition in telecom service thorough understanding of the principles behind the
offerings. This shall be the case even in a monopoly telecom engineering of mobile services & applications, innovation
network provision set-up, as service provision and network comes in the rescue for several development problems.
infrastructure operation should not necessarily mean the same.
A compelling effort is an initiative led by Nathan Eagle at
Ethiopian Telecommunications Agency (ETA), while Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The EPROM
overlooking the communications endeavours of the nation, (Entrepreneurial Programming and Research on Mobiles)
currently licenses what it refers to as ‘value added services’ - initiative works with academics and start-up companies in
call centres and internet service reselling. This is like chalk sub-Saharan Africa, mainly Kenya and Uganda but with
and cheese with the real definition of VAS, especially from a presence in other counties like Ethiopia as well. 
mobile telecom perspective.
E. Technology Companies and Professionals
This being the case, actual execution of the mission of the
agency in the direction of its vision needs an acute review of
MobileBeat, a yearly event that showcases start-ups and
the status quo and experience sharing from corresponding ventures in the up-and-coming mobile economy, features
authorities in other countries.
remarkable companies and people working on the cutting-
edge of mobile communications and computing. 
B. Telecom Network Operators
Mobile software applications and services, location based
There is a need to open up networks via APIs such as systems, user experience, multimedia technologies, security,
Parlay/JAIN. This allows for third parties to utilize the mobile middleware, near field communications, application
network infrastructure for new services.
specific chips, and so on are what tech firms in the making are
Formal technical documentation of the network architecture, being engaged on. Professionals can see prospects in applied
hardware/software components, changes made to the system, R&D in the aforementioned areas.
and so on should be available for authorized entities.
F. Researchers and Academic Institutions
Marketing and business development units of Telcos need
to devise strategic partnerships and ventures with service
The research and development of mobile network services
providers, content providers like media companies and ISVs and applications is truly multidisciplinary. It involves, among
to offer new services that would benefit the subscribers while others, people with a background in socio-economics, telecom
increasing the ARPU (Average Revenue per User).
management and engineering, business, marketing, computer
ETC, specifically, needs to learn from successful Telcos science and engineering. In addition, experts from the domain
like Safaricom and MTN in the African region plus global in question (say, health or agriculture) to which the mobile
giants like Vodafone – both from a technology solution is being used for will be needed.
adoption/implementation perspective as well as innovation in
Fisseha Mekuria  describes a program for mobile
service offerings, corporate VMO/culture and customer computing and applications software development (MCASD),
satisfaction among others.
in a developing region perspective, having three ‘pillars’ - a
master’s program; a mobile lab for development, prototyping
C. Businesses, Government and NGOs
and usability testing; and research in mobile technology,
As have been discussed in the experience of other countries, content and services.
businesses and not-for-profit organizations find numerous use
In cases where a separate program may not appeal for
cases beyond everyday mobile telephony for their employees academic institutions, seminars and/or inclusions in course
lectures related to communication systems, operating systems
Business-to-business (B2B), business-to-customer (B2C), and software development/engineering may suffice, at least in
customer-to-business (C2B) communications on top of mobile
phones with custom solutions for a particular business’ needs
Researchers affiliated with research groups may conduct
can be enabled with the advent of telecom networks, service community-based applied research and development in mobile
offerings and mobile applications.
networks, services and applications while strengthening
A grassroots NGO educating the youth via mobile industry-academic relationships.
messaging, a research institution collecting data through
The role played by the academics/researchers as well as the
mobile phones, a business promoting its service and academic institutions hosting students in technology and the
whereabouts using location-based mobile advertising are few humanities can’t be overemphasized. Lessons can be learnt
scenarios that can be thought of.
from Europe, for example, where telecom operators like BT
and network solution providers like Nokia partner with Key players in Ethiopia, the theme of this paper, namely the
academic institutions on different R&D projects.
government, ETA, ETC, tech firms and academic institutions,
ETC’s Graduate School for Telecommunications and etc., need to respond promptly with action, joint initiatives and
Information Technology (GSTIT) has been one good start in strategies to tap the ‘huge potential at hand’, literally.
Ethiopia but is short of what can be achieved. Something
more than a school run by the Telco itself is obviously needed.
A centre of excellence by the government, the mobile
network operators, service providers, academic institutions 
Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society (The Information Age:
and other stakeholders seems to be a viable answer to create a
Economy, Society and Culture, Volume 1), Wiley-Blackwell, 2000
Jarkko Vesa, Mobile Services in the Networked Economy, 1st ed.,
platform for innovation towards apposite solutions to the
Hershey, USA: IRM Press, 2005.
nation’s endeavours in agriculture, health, education, business,
(2008) ICTs in Developing Countries-Booklet I. [Online]. Available:
and so on, via the now ubiquitous mobile phone.
Craig R. Barrett, CEO, Intel, BusinessWeek Online, March 8, 2004
Tom Standage, “Real Digital Divide.”, Economist, Mar 12-18, 2005
Textually.org: All about texting, SMS and MMS. [Online]. Available:
This paper described the role mobile services can play in
the networked economy touching upon notions like ICT4D 
All Africa website. [Online]. Available: http://www.allafrica.com
and the ‘digital divide’. Mobile phones and network services 
Christoffer Andersson et al, Mobile Media and Applications: From
Concept to Cash, John Wiley & Sons, 2006
beyond voice communication are tipped to drive growth in  Frank HP Fitzek, Frank Reichert, Mobile Phone Programming and its
poor nations like Ethiopia. In addition, the still broad rich-
Application to Wireless Networking, Springer, 2007
poor ‘digital divide’ can be bridged via the more readily  Tiwari, R. and Buse, S.: The Mobile Commerce Prospects: A Strategic
available mobile networks, services as well as now ubiquitous
Analysis of Opportunities in the Banking Sector, Hamburg: Hamburg
University Press, 2007
 Istepanian, R. "Introduction to the Special Section on M-Health:
The paper pointed out what is expected of stakeholders in
Beyond Seamless Mobility and Global Wireless Health-care
mobile telecom technology, policy and business arenas. The
Connectivity." IEEE Transactions on Information Technology in
need to learn from the experience of successful mobile service
Biomedicine: 2004. 8(4), 405-413.
 Fisseha Mekuria, “Educating the Architects of the Mobile Economy, A
launches in diverse sectors (like business, finance, healthcare,
Program for ‘Mobile Computing and Applications Software
governance, education and infotainment) in different countries
Development’(MCASD)”, University of Makerere, Uganda, 2007
has been stressed bearing in mind the economic and social  The EPROM website. [Online]. Available: http://eprom.mit.edu
impact they have had.
 The Parlay Group website. [Online]. Available: http://www.parlay.org
 Jerry Gao et al, Engineering Wireless-Based Software Systems and
Technical overview of mobile service engineering has been
Applications, Artech House, 2006
described, underlining the need for open networks via  Open Service Platform, ZTE, 2009.
Parlay/OSA and outlining some enabling (emerged/emerging)  MobileBeat. [Online]. Available: http://www.mobilebeat2009.com
technologies that can be put to use such as wireless  Eric Pulier, Hugh Taylor: Understanding Enterprise SOA, Manning,
application protocols, client software technologies, mobile  Moerdijk, A-J; & Klostermann, L. Opening the Networks with
multimedia and trends in localization, context-aware
Parlay/OSA: Standards and Aspects behind the APIs, IEEE Network.
computing, semantic web, et cetera.
May/June 2003, 58-64.
ICTs could play a vital role in a nation’s development  Nokia Research, Understanding Non-Literacy as a Barrier to Mobile
Phone Communication, [Online]. Available: http://research.nokia.com
endeavors and mobile phones, coupled with appropriate
network services, could contribute the lion’s share in ICT4D.