Mobile Web Initiative


Africa Perspective on the Role of Mobile Technologies in Fostering Social and Economic Development April 1-2 2009, Maputo, Mozambique

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The W3C Workshop on the "Africa Perspective on the Role of Mobile Technologies in Fostering Social Development" aims to understand specific challenges of using mobile phones and Web technologies to deliver services to underprivileged populations of Developing Countries, and to capture the specificities of the African context.

There are today more than half of the population living with less than 3$ a day, and lacking all kind of services (health, education, government...). The incredible growth of the mobile penetration rate last few years is providing a new hope. The potential of simple ICT services on mobiles to improve people's income has indeed been largely demonstrated. The aim of this workshop is to explore how to leverage these success stories and create an enabling environment that would drive the appearance of numerous services all over the Developing World.

People and organizations who have an interest in the role of mobile phones and the Web in social and economic development and who wish to participate in the workshop are invited to submit statements of interest / abstracts / position papers to the Workshop Committee (by email to See more about participation below.

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Workshop Organization

This is a Workshop of the W3C Mobile Web Initiative (MWI), which aims to identify and resolve challenges and issues of accessing the Web when on the move.

This Workshop is part of the the Digital World Forum project (European Union's 7th Research Framework Programme - FP7) which explore how to take advantage of the new paradigm of low-cost technologies in broadband infrastructure and devices to bridge the digital divide and connect the unconnected.

Digital World Forum EU project

W3C thanks Workshop host, the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Government of Mozambique.

W3C also thanks the University of Eduardo Mondlane and Pandora Box Ltd for their help in the workshop organization. In particular, W3C appreciated the substantial work of Americo Muchanga, Onisio Soiane, Fernanda Cabanas and Ntanzi Carrilho.


phone tower
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You are cordially invited to sponsor this workshop. Following in the model of the successful sponsorship program developed for the 2006 Mobile Web in Developing Countries Workshop, and the 2008 Workshop on the Role of Mobile Technologies in fostering Social Development, we expect you will want to consider participating in the program for this important meeting.

This sponsorship program is a marketing opportunity that enable sponsors to showcase their organization and underscore its commitment to the shared goals of the W3C. Sponsors reach those who are making decisions about the future of the Web, as well as those in the public who have come to rely on the Web as critical infrastructure for development and to help bridging the Digital Divide. Sponsors will be associated directly with the event which will gather at the same place experts in mobile Web technologies, and experts in the Digital Divide in order to use the Web and mobile phones to leverage development in rural areas of developing countries.

There are three levels of sponsorship, Platinum-Gold-Silver, offering a panel of benefits. All the details of each level are available from the Sponsorship Program page.

This sponsorship program is designed to enable participation by individuals and organizations with particular expertise, but who might not otherwise be able to attend due to travel or other costs.

For further information and expression of interest, please contact Stéphane Boyera (, or Marie-Claire Forgue ( The deadline for requesting to take part in this opportunity is March 15, 2009.


mobile phone shop in South Africa
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Since its creation in 1989 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the Web has grown from one user to more than 1.5 billion of users in 2008, creating services, providing information, connecting people, creating new jobs and completely new sectors of activities. Despite this incredible success in a such a short timeframe, there are still today more than 4.5 billion people that are not benefiting from this Information Society. However, the Web, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in general, has been recognized as a great tool to potentially resolve the historical divides between developed and developing economies by providing an infrastructure to deploy minimal services (Health, Education, Business, Government...) to rural communities and under-privileged populations. That is why many actions have been engaged in the last twenty years towards bridging the so-called Digital Divide. Unfortunately, these actions - often focussing on telecenters - have had little success so far. This model has encountered many difficulties due to the local conditions (lack of electricity, lack of maintenance skills….) and very few have reach long-term sustainability and continued operation.

Since 2-3 years a new hope is coming with the very high penetration rate of mobile telephony in developing countries. Now a minimal infrastructure (GSM networks) and minimal computing power (mobile phones) are available in the pockets (or at least in their very close environment) of billions of people, including the poorest segment of the population. Most developing countries who missed the telephony revolution due to lack of infrastructure and required investments have participated in the mobile revolution directly. Can this be repeated for the Web? Four years ago, the W3C with the mobile industry have launched the Mobile Web Initiative to make mobile phone users first class Web citizen, and the number of people accessing the Web from mobile phones is growing very quickly. Would it be possible that, like for telephony, most Developing Countries will skip the PC-Web revolution and jump directly on the next phase, the Mobile Web?

In May 2008, W3C has launched the Mobile Web for Social Development Interest Group to explore this direction, and understand the type of actions that could support and leverage this transition. This is the theme of this workshop.

For under-privileged people to benefit the Web, they need to be able to access it, and find accessible, usable and useful information and services that would help them, and that is worth the resource they put to learn and connect. Therefore, it is critical to explore the two aspects of access and content, as well as the education needs.

Regarding access, it is critical to understand the key challenges and barriers that targeted end-users (underpriviledged populations of Developing Countries) have to access and use mobile services. This includes affordability, usability, illiteracy, accessibility and internationalization/localization issues.

Regarding content, the key question is creating an enabling environment for the creation of information and services that people need and that would improve their lives. In the last 2 or 3 years, we witnessed the appearance of success stories of that demonstrated how relatively simple services on mobile could be really helpful. However, the number of these success stories is still low, and they are all based on a limited technology, SMS. This workshop is aiming at identifying the issues, barriers, needs and challenges the potential providers of development-oriented services, mostly NGO/grass-root organizations and governments/public sector have to develop and deploy those services, and to exploit the potential of the mobile platform.

Regarding education, it is essential to understand what are the needs of the different actors (NGO/grass-root organizations, IT sector, potential entrepreneurs,...), and what kind of education material could help disseminating the expertise and enabling people about developing services and content on mobile phones.

As an input to this workshop, the W3C team has written a public white paper that summarizes some of these issues. The W3C Mobile Web for Social Development Group is also developing a set of documents which should serve as input to potential participants.


The goal of the workshop is to provide input and feedback to the W3C Mobile Web Initiative, and its Mobile Web for Social Development Interest Group. The following topics are of particular interest:

Who should attend ?

W3C encourages W3C Members and public to participate in the Workshop. Workshop organizers expects that this workshop should be of particular interest to people with following backgrounds:

Workshop Dates

The workshop will take place on April 1-2 2009.


The workshop will take place at the VIP Grand Maputo Hotel Avenida 25 de Setembro, nº 692Maputo - Mozambique.


The booking at the conference hotel should be done online directly or by emailing

A list of alternate places for accomodation is also available.


Statements of Interest, abstracts, position papers and presentation slides must be in English. The workshop will have a real-time simultaneous translation in Portuguese, English and French. Therefore, speakers and presenters can use any of these three languages.


To ensure productive discussions, the workshop is limited to 100 attendees. Participation is open to non-W3C members. Each organization can provide at most two attendees.

Statement of interest are required in order to participate in this workshop (except for W3C team members). Each organization or individual wishing to participate must submit a statement of interest at explaining their interest in the workshop as soon as possible and no later than February 12, 2009. The intent is to make sure that participants have an active interest in the area, and that the workshop will benefit from their presence. The Program Committee will select attendants based on their statement of interests and the number of available seats.

Each organization or individual wishing to have a position paper published on the workshop web site and/or wishing to make a presentation during the event must submit an abstract no later than January 12 January 21, 2009. The Program Committee will then review these abstracts, select some of them for presentation, and request the full papers from the authors. The decision of the Program Committee will be notified to the authors by January 25 February 18, 2009.

Send abstract (in valid XHTML/HTML (please use the W3C Markup Validation Service) or PDF or Plain Text - 1 to 2 pages) to:

All papers from accepted abstract will be available from the workshop Web site. The workshop Web site will be public, so papers and slides must be suitable for public dissemination. Speaker slides will also be available at the Web site after the workshop. There will not be printed proceedings.

To attend, you must register by filling out a registration form. The URI for the registration form will be sent to you after your statement of interest is accepted.

There will be no participation fee.

Press representatives must contact and/or Marie-Claire Forgue, W3C Communications (

Important Deadlines

Please note the following dates:


Enquiries or comments on the workshop can be sent to the public mailing list The archive of the mailing list is visible to the public.

Private enquiries can be directed to the Workshop Chairs.

Program Committee

The program committee can be contacted by email at:

The Program Committee comprises the following appointees:

Workshop Chairs