Mobile services development solution launched for Africa

A new solution targeted at application and software developers in Africa is being launched by Orange. Emerginov is an open environment developed under an open source licence at Orange Labs. Orange is providing the source code for Emerginov to African organizations – institutions, academic organisations, NGOs, etc. - and assisting them in their mobile services development projects.

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

The 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). It 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.

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.

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