KM4DevFutures: To Improve KM4Dev Existing Infrastructure

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Contribution to IFAD Funded Project to Improve KM4Dev Existing Infrastructure

By Narcisse Mbunzama


Two major challenges currently facing the KM4Dev tools are low audience and lack of interaction between KM4Dev with local organization, development actors through the existing KM4Dev system. An analyze of the KM4Dev system, presented in this paper, illustrates a comprehensive solution to both challenges by adopting new information and communication technologies (ICT) tools and process that make the system more attractive to local organization and development.

Marketing strategy to increase KM4DEV audience

KM4Dev communication strategy must be oriented to raise visibility of KM4Dev group and to increase interaction between KM4Dev group and other organizations and among development actors such as farmers, humanitarian experts and other people that need the system to learn, to share their best practices and to acquire necessary knowledge. The use of an aggressive communication campaign to reach potential users through different channel such as: - Social media: Facebook page, YouTube videos, Twitters account, flicks, etc. - Community involvement: PR, conferences participation, development and IT events, face-to-face campaigns, and - Media features: reviews, local radio, local TV, newspapers, will enable new member to join KM4Dev Group.

Languages barriers

From December 20, 2013 to December 24, 2013; we conducted interviews to evaluate development actors on their knowledge of KM4Dev in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 48 development actors including farmers, humanitarian activist, human rights experts and advocates, health specialists have not knowledge on the KM4Dev tools. There are only 2 people that have knowledge about the KM4Dev but they are not member of the KM4Dev group online. The survey illustrates that many people not only don’t have knowledge about the KM4Dev but also the languages issues especially in French speaking countries where most of the development actors lack English skills. They are not able to contribute, share their experiences and learn the contribution submitted by other KM4Dev members in English. In the Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries, participants have similar problems; most of them are not active contributors in the KM4Dev group due to language limitation.

To mitigate the language barriers, KM4Dev group can have a moderator that can translate the information share through the mailing list in other major languages such as French, Spanish, etc.

Question of the interviews

  • Do you work in which field?
  • Do you know KM4Dev?
  • Do you have internet? If yes, how many times by week do you spend online?
  • Do you share your experience with other people on internet? If yes in which languages?
  • Can you join an online group and share your comment in English? If NO, why not?
  • Do you upload video on internet? If not why not? If yes when? How many time?


We conduct interview to 25 people in Kinshasa, and 10 across the democratic republic of Congo with 5 in rural areas. 15 of them are women and 20 men. 13 are smallholder’s farmers, 7 are healthcare workers, 5 humanitarian workers and 10 are human rights activists. Among the 35 people, only 3 people speak fluent English and other 32 other people they cannot speak English. 10 people spend 4 hours online a week through PC and 20 others connect to internet through their mobile phones. None of them have uploaded video on internet since 5 years, only 1 people know about KM4Dev after a meeting with friends in Nairobi, Kenya. He had never comment, contribute or share information to the group.

KM4Dev group interaction with other stakeholders of development through ICT

In fact, in the context especially of the democratic republic of Congo, many people do not know KM4Dev group and their online activities simply because people do not have information about this group. So, there is not enough interaction between KM4Dev group and local organizations, or various active groups working in the development. Interaction with organizations and groups such as farmers, humanitarians, health specialist can be improved through the information and communication technologies like Skype, WebEx, where KM4Dev member can share knowledge and experiences with other active groups. KM4Dev can organize regular virtual meeting through Skype, WebEx workshop, conferences to improve interaction with other groups and the summaries of these discussions can be shared in the mailing list of KM4Dev group to enable people who could not attend meetings on Skype, WebEx to access knowledge and information through the group mailing list. Participants of different virtual KM4Dev meeting can then be invited to join the mailing list and to serve as “ambassador” in their local communities to help other people join the KM4Dev group too.

The information and communication technology (ICT) in the democratic republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a country in the heart of Africa, the size of Eastern Europe. The Democratic Republic of Congo has undergone rapid changes in a short period of time; with 65 million people. The onset of the digital age has made it natural, even essential, for the Democratic Republic of Congo to transform itself into a continental telecommunication hub capable of attracting the attention of major companies in the ICT industry. Following a 30-year dictatorship between 1967 and 1997, the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) has been through several wars and is still seeing violent conflicts in the eastern part of the country. The economy of this third largest country in Africa relies heavily on mining. However, much economic activity occurs in the informal sector and is not reflected in GDP data. The global economic crisis reduced GDP growth to around 3% in 2009, but it returned to 7% in 2010-12 and is expected to remain stable at that level in the coming years.

As a result of the country's past, the national telecom system is one of the least developed in the region. The national operator, SCPT theoretically has monopoly rights under 1970 legislation. However, recognizing the need for telecommunications infrastructure, the government is only loosely regulating the sector. Mobile networks have taken over as the providers of basic telecom services. By 2001, some 16 private operators had been granted mobile telephony licenses and the subscriber base was growing at triple digit rates per year. However, the proliferation of networks also caused frequency spectrum shortages, interference and compatibility problems. As a result, the mobile sector has consolidated and now has five major players. Development of the Democratic Republic of Congo's internet and broadband market has been held back by the poorly developed national and international infrastructure. In fact, with low broadband uploading videos in platform as YouTube, Ning were very difficult to realize. However, the country was finally connected to low-cost, high-quality international bandwidth through the WACS submarine fibre optic cable in 2013, and SCPT is rolling out a fibre optic national backbone network with support from China. An alternative terrestrial international fibre connection exists via neighbouring countries. Broadband access is provided by 3G mobile services and wireless networks using WiMAX and EV-DO technology. The country’s first 4G (LTE) network is set to launch before the end of 2013.

Mobile phones are performing a key role in enhancing connectivity and presence of people in the web and impacting in several development sectors in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mobile penetration in the Democratic Republic of Congo is increasing rapidly, from 16% to an estimated 47% in 2013. In addition, 55% of the country’s population resides in areas currently covered by mobile networks, including most rural areas.

Case of Mobile Agribiz * Success stories of adoption of ICTs for agriculture*

Mobile technology, including everything from inventive applications for smart phones to simple text messaging, is increasingly ubiquitous in the developing world and holds great potential for impact in areas such as agriculture, thus positively contributing to sustainable development. Mobile Agribiz is a web and SMS mobile application that helps farmers decide when and how to plant crops, and how to select the best crops for a given location using climate and weather data and connects them to the available market. It helps connect farmers to buyers, and helps them to obtain necessary information (e.g. weather, crop pricing) aggregates from different sources and skills (e.g. how to plant crops, how to use fertilizers).

Problems solving

The wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo have had a devastating impact on the country, killing 5.4 million citizens and leaving a legacy of poverty, hunger and disease. In 2005, the International Crisis Group (an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict) estimated that over 1,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo were dying every day from war-related causes. Today 80% of the population lives in extreme poverty, living on less than US$0.50 a day and more than 70% are undernourished. The country thus faces enormous challenges. Agriculture is a vital tool for achieving the first Millennium Development Goal which aims to halve the share of people suffering from extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. About 80% of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo live in rural areas and most of them depend directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods. The poorest are small-scale farmers and farm labors that lack access to information, resulting in exploitation by middlemen who take advantage of a lack of transparency in the market. Secondly, they have limited skills to design and implement sustainable agricultural practices, resulting in reduced productivity and having a considerable negative impact on the environment. In addition, a large marketplace is inaccessible to these farmers since they have a limited amount of produce that can only be sold at local markets or to brokers who buy it at throwaway prices.


Mobile Agribiz is a web and SMS mobile application that helps farmers decide when and how to plant crops, and how to select the best crops for a given location using climate and weather data and connects them to the available market. It helps connect farmers to buyers, and helps them to obtain necessary information (e.g. weather, crop pricing) aggregates from different sources and skills (e.g. how to plant crops, how to use fertilizers). Farmers can easily connect with customers by sending SMS with their phone number , information of goods, prices and quantity they are selling and this information are plot into map in our servers enabling customers that are looking to buy to see farmers information, good they are selling, quantity and their location and make a connection with farmers. As a result of using Mobile Agribiz; farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo improve their productivities, are empowered with new skills, increase their incomes by 40%, and enhanced food security and nutrition. Farmers realize immediate and significant benefits by using our application.

Mobile Agribiz has been developed to enhance food security in the Democratic Republic of Congo and ensure sustainable development. The mobile phone and web-based application connects farmers to the market and helps them to obtain information on changes in the weather and crop pricing as well as relevant skills such as how to plant crops, or how to use fertilizers. This information enables them to expand their skills, thus increasing productivity and income as well as enhancing food security and nutrition. Mobile Agribiz can also help farmers to minimize delays, so they can get their goods to market the day they are ready. As the price for their goods depends on quality(often determined by ripeness and freshness), this can lead to a corresponding increase in income. A knock-on effect is that farmers can direct more money to their children's education, or have access to improved sanitation as a result of incomes increasing.

Mobile Agribiz is a free to use, open-source mobile application, developed in the four indigenous languages of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili and Tshiluba). The application allows farmers to send a text to the database which then sends a reply with information about market opportunities. For instance, farmers can text the word 'tomato', the application then provides the names of potential customers looking for tomatoes, the price they are offering and the quantities they want to purchase, with their contact numbers. Farmers can then call the potential buyers directly and negotiate. Also, since the local culture is predominantly oral, Mobile Agribiz includes a voice-activated application so that farmers can access agricultural information simply by speaking into the phone.

Example in other sectors

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are helping increase citizen participation, positively transforming the relation between citizens and their government, ultimately resulting in more effective public service delivery. The country has long suffered from conditions that have prevented the full development of its citizens and communities. Citizens have suffered the effects of conflict, and remain, in many cases, unable to access the most basic of public services. While many citizens in the province don’t have access to water or electricity in their homes, they do have mobile phones. Citizens are now empowered to demand and work towards improved governance. Through mobile technology, citizens can now express and vote on the priorities that are most pressing for their communities. When they have reached an agreement the local government devotes a percentage of the local investment budget to the project selected by the citizens. Through the use of mobile phones citizens in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are changing the way they engage with their governments, with their communities, and with one another. Through this practice people are positively transforming their lives and the lives of those in their communities, one SMS at a time.

Mobile phones Users contribution in KM4Dev Group

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, mobile phones users represent potential niche where KM4Dev can have many members and contributors. Most of the people use internet through their mobile phones. Besides the language barriers and the lack of interaction (lack of local meeting, lack of virtual event) of KM4Dev with local organizations and active development actors. Local population can be active participants if they have the opportunity to participate in regular virtual session as Skype or Webex and they can share their ideas, bring their contributions and share their best practices with other members of KM4Dev around the world. Personally, I suggest that KM4Dev adopts the use of Cisco Webex to have more interaction with local organizations as the moderator will have the possibility to connect with a large numbers of participants via internet and in the same time other participant can be connected directly through their mobile phone as “phone call” making it easy for people living in rural areas without internet café to be directly connected with their mobile phones. Participants can contribute directly in French for instance in case of virtual meeting with francophone participants in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the meeting, questions/ answers and contributions for participants will be translated in English and shared through KM4Dev mailing list.


Narcisse Mbunzama is a founder and CEO of TechNova Group and Mobile Agribiz. He's a serial tech entrepreneur and award winning tech innovator. TechNova Group is an innovative IT and business consulting firm based in France. Before to start TechNova Group, Narcisse has served as the Democratic Republic of Congo Research country lead for Global Integrity and prior to that he served to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Narcisse is winner of several tech Awards worlwide such as Nokia open Innovation 2010, Finalist of Cisco I-Prize global innovation 2010 and more. Narcisse is fluent in Swedish, French and English. Narcisse is a Swedish citizen and lives between France and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


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