Paris, 22 October 2007

EFITA newsletter / 333 / European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture, Food and the Environment

National workshops help identify rural SME training needs for e-Government servicesAn analysis of the e-Government training needs of rural small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Wales, Greece, Germany, Poland and Slovenia has recently produced some interesting results that will ultimately provide the foundations for an e-Government training curriculum dedicated to the rural SME community. The analysis was based on five national workshops that explored a number of areas, including: the current level of awareness of e-Government services, actual levels of usage of these services, and rural SME training needs to encourage them to use e-Government services for business benefit.
Although statistically over 70% of SMEs at the workshops were aware of at least one e-Government service, it was noticeable from the workshop discussions that few were aware of the wide range of e-Government services that could potentially have an important influence on both their day-to-day business, as well as their longer-term strategic planning. A similar theme emerged when analysing levels of usage of e-Government services. Indeed, although 55% claimed to have used at least one e-Government service, only a limited number, 19%, used them more than 2 times a week - with many of these, using the same service regularly, rather than a whole host of different services that may help their business.

As part of the investigative process, the workshops helped identify a number of SME training requirements that could lead to greater use of e-Government services: these included, raising awareness of the benefits of these services, addressing the negative perceptions that some SMEs have of them, as well as improving awareness levels of the variety of different types of e-Government services. The need for practical training, particularly in accessing and using the services, was also particularly apparent.
These workshops took place as part of the Rural-eGov project - a collaborative European project funded by the Leonardo da Vinci programme and focused on improving the uptake of e-Government services in rural areas across Europe. Rural-eGov is a pilot project of 24 months duration, which started in October 2006.
Contact: Nikos MANOUSELIS
E-mail: nikosm(at)aua(dot)gr

New internet tools will help to enhance development
Although a lot still needs to be explored, one thing is certain: there is a strong will to identify ways in which the latest participatory web-based tools, Web 2.0, can be used to improve collaboration and share experiences for the benefit of rural development. More than 300 participants from all over the world shared their experiences with Web 2.0 tools at the first Web 2.0 conference for the development sector which was held in Rome, Italy from 24-26 October 2007. They have now joined hands to further integrate these new tools in development programmes.
The Web2fordev Conference was initiated by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) and supported by FAO, IICD, GTZ and CGIAR and others. The idea behind the conference was to explore what these new participatory tools for the web could do to further improve networking, information exchange and collaboration for rural and agricultural development and natural resource management. People with a variety of different backgrounds – from ‘geeks’ and researchers to development professionals working in the field - gathered in Rome to spend three days exchanging information and sharing their experiences on the use of these tools and how to adapt them to enhance development activities.Although the use of Web 2.0 tools within the development sector is still in its infancy some exciting examples were presented at the conference. The BROSDI project in Uganda (see: for example, where a group of farmers started experimenting with modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to improve farming. Using a wide variety of communication tools such as websites, SMS, blogs, RSS feeds, Google Maps, Flickr, Picasa and Skype has helped them to strengthen organisation, planning and information sharing within the community which improved their livelihoods considerably.In his keynote speech, Ethan Zuckerman, Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society from the Harvard School of Law and co-founder of Global Voices, talked about how these new web tools have changed traditional patterns of communication and knowledge sharing. However, he warned his audience not to focus on Web 2.0 tools only. Web 2.0 tools are valuable for bringing people together, but it is also important to think further than the web. ‘When we think about participatory web, it’s not about laptops and high bandwidth… it’s about mobile phones. There are 3 billion handsets worldwide, and it is estimated that 80-90% of people in the developing world can access a mobile phone if they need to. This is a level of penetration of technology that changes the rules of the game. We need to broaden our thinking beyond the Web.’At the end of the 3-day conference it was concluded that more time was needed to further explore the use of Web 2.0 tools. As Chris Addison, Euforic, summarised it at the end of the day:On the one hand Web 2.0 offers us five key tools - blogs, wikis, tags, feeds and mash-ups – but on the other hand, in order to make the application of the tools meaningful for development, we also have to overcome five key challenges: we need to think about how we involve the right people; if the people we are trying to reach have access in terms of connectivity, infrastructure and language; if people actually will participate; how we structure and organise content; and finally, how we will measure the changes we have made. It is only when we use the afore-mentioned new tools with an approach to overcome the five challenges listed above that we will be able to further enhance development activities.

The Web2forDev Conference 2007 was covered online
For more information about the issues that were discussed at the conference, please go to were streaming videos have been stored on various presentations and stories. Feedback on the discussion is covered in the conference blog and wiki
Contact: Hilde EUGELINK
E-mail: Heugelink(a)

Of course women have the final say!!
A man wakes up in hospital, bandaged from head to foot.
The doctor comes in and says 'Ah, I see you've regained consciousness. Now you probably won't remember, but you were in a pile-up on the motorway.'
'You're going to be OK, you'll walk again and everything will be well.
However, I have some disconcerting news, which I'll try to break gently.... your willy was chopped off in the wreck but unfortunately we were unable to find it.'
The man blanches and starts to groan but the doctor goes on: 'Things are not as bad as you think. Think positively! You've got £9000 compensation coming to you and we now have the technology to build you a new willy that will work as well as your old one did... better in fact!
But the thing is, it doesn't come cheap. It costs one thousand euros per inch.'

The man perks up at this.

The doctor continues, 'it's for you to decide how many inches you want. However, before you decide, it's something I think you'd better discuss with your wife'.

The doctor pauses. 'Let me explain. If you had a five inch willy before this and you decide to go for a nine incher she might appreciate it. But if you had a nine inch one before and you decide only to invest in a five incher she might be disappointed. So it's important that she plays an active role in helping you make this decision.'

The man agrees to talk with his wife.

Next day the doctor comes back.

'So' says the doctor 'Have you spoken with your wife?'

'I have.' says the man.

'And has she helped you in making the decision?'

'She certainly has,' says the man resignedly.

'And what is it?' asks the doctor. . .
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'We're having a new kitchen.'

Contact: Mick HARKIN
E-mail: harkin(a)

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