At the Yaoundé Conference Center from July 14th – 15th, the World Bank hosted the finals of the Development Marketplace, a competitive program which had as objective to select and fund innovative projects with high potential for development impact. From 230 project proposals that had been submitted by civil society organizations covering the 10 regions of Cameroon, 30 initiatives had been selected for the finals. Out of these, 10 to 15 finalists would be selected by a jury to receive funding. $320,000 was allocated for the winners.
ActivSpaces was present on the 15th to participate in the ICT & Governance forum that was taking place alongside the Development Marketplace. We had the opportunity of mingling with the project leaders and getting to hear first-hand the experiences they had in the Cameroonian marketplace and what their approach was to solving the problems they came across.
Applicants were expected to propose projects that could increase community participation and transparency in the management of educational, health, and forestry institutions. There were too many reports of mismanagement and misappropriation of resources in these sectors especially from the interior areas of Cameroon that are less accessed by government auditors.
It was interesting to see the various strategies that these projects were looking to employ to tackle the problems of corruption and misappropriation that they faced in their various sectors. However, as ActivSpaces, we couldn’t help but notice the lack of information technology that was being included in the plans towards community participation and transparency.
We repeatedly found ourselves asking one question to the project leaders: “How do you think you can leverage information technology to help out with this situation?”
A few of the projects had information technology incorporated into their solutions but the majority did not. At ActivSpaces, we believe that almost every venture can benefit in one form or the other from information technology in their set-up. After all, when it comes to community participation and transparency, an ICT platform will probably best serve the purpose. The question we asked those project leaders are questions that we ask ourselves everyday looking at the scope of the entire marketplace.
Yesterday, after a 3-day training course with CRS (Catholic Relief Services), the winners of the Development Marketplace program officially started implementation of their projects. These projects will be implemented over the course of one year and in September, 2012, the results will be presented during a public event.
ActivSpaces is wishing the Development Marketplace winners the best during their implementation programs and inciting them all to join us in the ICT4D movement by including ICT in their organizations.