At the center of this discussion were the five mobile application laboratories (mLabs) that infoDev has finished selecting from five regions:
- mLab Southern Africa: consortium led by Meraka Institute (South Africa)
- mLab East Africa: consortium led by *iHub_ (Kenya)
- mLab Europe and Central Asia: Enterprise Incubator Foundation (Armenia)
- mLab South Asia: consortium led by Pakistan Software Export Board
- mLab East Asia: consortium led by Saigon Hi-Tech Park (Vietnam)
Additional members of this emerging community of practice present in Helsinki for the week-long event were representatives of the mobile social networking hubs set-up by infoDev around the world, developers, entrepreneurs and many others using mobiles for development.
Discussion on mobile applications for development at the infoDev Global Forum
At the opening of the Global Forum, Esko Aho, the former Prime Minister of Finland and currently the EVP of Corporate Relations and Responsibility at Nokia, gave a stirring speech on the global boom in mobile communications, assuring the crowd that “you ain’t seen nothing yet.” That evening, 380 participants gathered for a Mobile Monday event where additional infoDev chapters joined the worldwide MoMo network.
This was followed the next day by a full day “deep dive” session that covered various aspects of using mobile applications in development efforts. Topics included the use of mobiles amongst those at the base of the pyramid, applications in sectors such as health and agriculture, and business models to support mobile application entrepreneurs.
The Global Forum also took the opportunity to build the global network of mLabs. Team members from the mLabs and the mobile social networking hubs met to discuss the business plan research conducted by Vital Wave Consulting and offer insights from their experience in incubation, technology and entrepreneurship. Although each mLab has a regional remit, they will also form an international community of practice, giving each initiative scale and expertise that they could not reach alone. As a final opportunity, the mLab teams and the mobile social networking hub organizers took a trip to visit Nokia headquarters where Nokia shared their insights into developer economics, the next billion Internet users, and the impact of mobility.
Going forward, the social networking hubs will continue hosting events to bring together a community interested in mobiles and innovation, and the mLabs will finish furnishing their facilities and ramp up their activities such as training courses, incubation, and events like mLab East Africa’s upcoming PIVOT25 (June 14-15th), to be followed the next day by the formal opening of mLab East Africa on June 16th.