W4RA – The Web Alliance for Regreening in Africa is an initiative to improve knowledge sharing in rural areas in Africa.
ICT services have the potential to play a major role in furthering social and rural development in developing economies. Market penetration and rural community adoption of basic mobile telephony and services have been extremely rapid in recent years. This is opening up lots of new opportunities, but in order to realize the full potential of mobile ICT services, still, important challenges and obstacles must be overcome. This is what W4RA, the Web Alliance for Regreening in Africa set out to do.
W4RA is a networked community involving ICT professionals, computer scientists, NGOs, community radio stations, experts in sustainable land management and farmers in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana. Our aim is develop innovative ICT services to support rural communities and their regreening activities in the Sahel. W4RA follows the Living Lab approach of building user communities and involving end-users actively in the development of innovative technologies.
In rural areas in the Sahel two main sources of information exist: mobile telephony and community radio. Internet is practically absent, in most of the villages. Communication is based on speech, in different local African languages. Therefore we focus our efforts on access and interaction, based on voice: the Web of Voices.
W4RA integrates local community radio into interactive voice-based mobile Web services. W4RA develops open source software, so that local web developers can use, reuse and adapt the software to local needs, enabling new communities of African web developers to start businesses and provide innovative voice-based services to local users.
W4RA envisions a world where all people, regardless of language, ability, location, gender, age or income can communicate and collaborate, create valued content, and access information to improve their lives and communities. The Web’s capabilities will multiply, and play a vital role in reducing poverty, improving healthcare and education, addressing big challenges, local and global.
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