Niger Smart Villages Pilot Launches Digital Services in Borgou-Darey and Sadore
Amplio Talking Books are included the Niger Smart Villages project. Photo: ITU
The government-led Niger Smart Villages pilot officially launched in February. Led by the Nigerian National Agency for Information Society — Agence Nationale pour la Société de l’Information (ANSI) — in partnership with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and other UN agencies and stakeholders, Niger's Smart Villages project aims to digitally connect 15,000 rural villages across the Sahara Desert.
A Smart Village pilot will be implemented in two villages, Borgou-Darey and Sadore, to identify lessons learned before the project scales.
Providing access to digital services
Hani Eskander, the ICT Applications Coordinator for ITU, said the Smart Villages team will visit communities weekly to ensure that local citizens are able to use the services and to collect community feedback.
Some of the digital services that have been deployed so far include:
Internet connection via VSAT, a satellite communications system for remote locations
Amplio Talking Books with Niger ministry of agriculture, health, and education messages recorded in French and Zarma
An application for integrated management of childhood illnesses (IMCI) designed by Terre des Hommes
Mobile voice messages on farm advisory information
Skype tele-consultations with the central hospital of Niamey
Watch ITU's video to learn about the Niger 2.0 project
A program model designed to scale
Ryan Forbes Morris, Amplio’s senior program manager, traveled to Niger to train and support government staff and program officers on Amplio technology and content creation. Ryan previously worked in Niger as a Peace Corps officer. He said Talking Books will be used to share information and drive demand for new services.
“It’s been wonderful to collaborate with the Niger’s ministry teams and leverage their expertise to create interactive audio content. Only one in five adults in Niger is able to read, so I’m excited to see how Talking Books will reinforce the other aspects of Smart Villages programming, especially the user feedback mechanism,” Ryan said.
If the pilot stage goes well, the Smart Villages project will help Amplio achieve its goal to reach and share knowledge with over million people over the next two years.
“It’s great to be working on a government-led project with a model that’s made to scale,” said Cliff Schmidt, Amplio's founder and executive director.
Niger’s digital initiative, Niger 2.0, aims to promote digital literacy, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Investing in the future of ICTs now will ensure that Niger’s young population won’t be left behind. Almost 60% of the country’s population is under 24 years old. Government strategies include e-government, a technology innovation hub, and digital technologies for economic and social development with a focus on women and youth.
Smart Villages: Empowering rural communities in ‘Niger 2.0’ (ITUNews January 10, 2019)