VOICES: VOice-based Community-cEntric mobile Services for Social Development

In order to realize the full potential of mobile ICT services in developing countries, it is necessary to remove of access barriers, and notably, limitations related to access channels, literacy, and languages. This is the aim of the VOICES project: use voice-based services to overcome some of the limitations of other technologies such as SMS.

VOICES: VOice-based Community-cEntric mobile Services for Social Development

There are now more than 5 billion mobile phones in the world, and more than 90% of the World population is covered by a mobile signal. Billions of people have in their hand not only a person-to-person communication device, but also one capable of hosting additional ICT services. In the last few years, success stories have demonstrated the power of simple mobile services to address some major development challenges. However, most of these success stories have been based on SMS technology, which is available on all phones, but hardly usable, by people with low literacy, or speaking a language that is not supported by phone keyboard.

The aim of the VOICES project is to explore a new direction, voice-based services, that have the potential to overcome some of the limitations of other technologies such as SMS. In that regard, there is significant potential for Web technology to play a major role in furthering social and rural development in developing economies such as Africa.

There are two pilots in the VOICES project, a m-agri pilot and a m-health pilot:

1) m-agri pilot: the voice technologies are deployed in rural areas in Mali. The target groups of the VOICES m-Agro Knowledge Sharing Pilot are:

  • Rural communities in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana.
  • ICT entrepreneurs, web developers, especially in African countries.
  • Local community radio stations in Sahel countries.
  • Farmer organizations in Mali, Burkina Faso and northern Ghana.
  • NGOs that actively support and promote re-greening initiatives in rural areas in Africa.

2) m-health pilot: the voice technologies are deployed as a pilot for support of health organizations in Senegal. Its aim is to interconnect, through mobile data and speech technology services, the care site with the laboratories epidemiological site in Senegal. This ensures a better and quicker transmission of information from the field, and a faster identification of infectious disease outbreaks. Another objective is to develop mobile Training and M-Information services. For this the new concept of voice and multimodal services are used.


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Key Information

LocationWest Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso
  • Start Date 2011
  • End Date 2013
  • Sectors