The Trouble With Android; ‘Instant Apps’ Coming to Android JellyBean

Posted May 3rd, 2017 at 12:13 pm (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

An Android mascot is seen in front of a displayed logo of Apple in this illustration taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, May 5, 2015. (Reuters)

FILE – An Android mascot is seen in front of a displayed logo of Apple in this illustration taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Reuters)

Can Google Win Its Battle With Android Malware?

The Android operating system continues to get the lion’s share of malware and ransomware by virtue of its large market dominance, according to recent data. Unlike Apple, which does not encourage non-Apple apps, Google allows Android users to download apps from other stores, in addition to its own. But these apps are vulnerable to manipulation or could come from suspect websites. Rogue apps have made it to the official Google store either because hackers exploited Google’s open-source philosophy or because the company’s app-vetting process is less rigorous than Apple’s. Google has started securing its store, but experts say more needs to be done.

Scientists Are Turning Amazon’s Alexa into an Automated Lab Helper

Amazon’s AI voice assistant Alexa can turn down the lights, play music, order a pizza, and respond to a host of other tasks. But software developer James Rhodes, whose wife is a microbiologist, has found a new use for it as a lab assistant. Rhodes created a new skill for Alexa called Helix that can help with simple calculations, reading aloud, or researching scientific stuff.

‘Instant Apps’ That Don’t Require a Download Are Coming to Android

A new feature from Google called “Instant Apps” could change the way Android smartphone owners use apps. The feature runs apps immediately without downloading them in their entirety to the phone, which could save space and make the user experience smoother. The product, designed for Android JellyBean 4.1 and up, is being tested and could be released soon. Writer Trevor Mogg suggests Instant Apps could “dramatically transform the way we interact with apps on our Android devices.”

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Facebook Denies Mood-based Ad Tools; ‘Minecraft’ to Teach Coding

Posted May 2nd, 2017 at 1:09 pm (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

FILE -A man walks past a mural in an office on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, California.

FILE -A man walks past a mural in an office on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, California.

Facebook Denies Selling Ad-targeting Based on Users’ Emotions

Facebook has denied a report from The Australian that claimed the social media giant gives advertisers tools to target users whenever they are in emotionally-vulnerable moods. The newspaper claimed that includes insecure teenagers as young as 14. A Facebook spokesman called the claims “misleading” and denied that the company gives advertisers tools to target its users based on their emotions.

GOP’s ‘Internet Freedom Act’ Permanently Guts Net Neutrality Authority

A new bill pushed by nine Republican U.S. senators would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from ever attempting to impose net neutrality regulations. The aptly-named ‘Restoring Internet Freedom Act’ would prevent the classification of internet service providers (ISPs) as common carriers. The classification prevented ISPs from blocking or prioritizing internet content in exchange for payment. This is not the first time such a bill is introduced in Congress.

Minecraft: Education Edition Gets Upgrade to Teach Kids Coding

The education version of the popular game of Minecraft is getting a new feature that lets kids learn how to code. Microsoft’s Minecraft: Education Edition will now include an add-on to access a variety of learning platforms, including MakeCode, which lets players learn JavaScript

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Hype Aside, Blockchain Could Empower Developing World

Posted April 28th, 2017 at 11:35 am (UTC-4)
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If you believe all the hype, blockchain is the next revolution that will change the world as mobile technology did in early 2000. It might. But a few hurdles need to be cleared before this digital platform can potentially empower some of the world’s poorest citizens.

Simply put, blockchain is a data application or ledger that is permanent and can be shared without a central operator.

‘It’s a technology for audit trails,” said Ryan Singer, CEO of Blockchain Health Company, which uses cryptocurrency Bitcoin and the blockchain platform to make it harder to introduce fraud in clinical trials. “… For the first time ever, you have records on the internet that are more auditable than paper. And that’s crucial.”

But at the moment, the only two blockchain networks “in production use and with real money in large amounts are just Bitcoin and Etherium,” both of which are digital currencies.

Blockchain is the technology that underlies Bitcoin or, as Singer put it, the technology inspired by Bitcoin. And while there are plenty of initiatives looking to use blockchain, most of them, according to Singer, “seem to be more hype than substance.”

“And they seem to be in many ways a way of avoiding the conversation about meaningful disruption,” he said. That’s the kind of technology that “changes power structures, that takes formerly disempowered people and makes them more powerful, and takes formerly empowered people and makes them normal.”

The “disempowered,” according to Peter Nichol, CIO Healthcare Business and Technology Executive, are two and a half billion unbanked people, or three quarters of the world’s poor, by World Bank estimates – those who live on less than $2 a day, typically in rural areas. With this little money to live on, let alone save, they can’t afford a bank account.

“It really starts with identification and knowing how to provide that in the quickest way,” he said. “And a lot of folks who live in different rural areas, they don’t have the means to get there to provide – even if they had … an identification card. Many don’t even have a card.”

Proof of identity is key to accessing financial services such as savings accounts and microfinance. And it is the first step toward unlocking health care and other services. In countries like India, for example, an identity card is necessary for propane rations. “If they don’t have that identity, it’s very difficult to provide any services,” added Nichol, author of The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare.

There already are blockchain-powered economic identity systems in developing countries, such as remittance platform Oradian in Nigeria, where “over 300,000 people already can transfer money,” he said, 90 percent of them are projected to be women.

BanQu also provides unbanked individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions with economic identities to empower women farmers, for example, by making them visible on the supply chain and establishing their economic credentials so that they can get better prices for their goods.

Blockchain’s public ledgers make it easier to track these transactions and harder to falsify documents, said Dr. Adrian Gropper, Chief Technology Officer for Patient Privacy Rights, a Texas nonprofit organization. That makes it ideal for supply chain management and tracking identities when multitudes of people descend on a crisis scene, for example, where “it is a fairly significant problem.”

Gropper, who is part of an effort to mint a new model of decentralized identity called Rebooting Web of Trust, believes the technology can help indirectly as institutions and governments start to issue digital identities linked to the blockchain to citizens and refugees.

Having public documents on blockchain that help identify people across borders or in a developing country where they could be subject to corruption “can be a very big win,” he said. “And this issue of identity – standardized blockchain identity for refugees – is one of our primary use cases.”

A Syrian woman fills out a document as she waits to register at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees headquarter in Beirut, Lebanon, Jan. 30, 2017. (AP)

A Syrian woman fills out a document as she waits to register at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees headquarter in Beirut, Lebanon, Jan. 30, 2017. (AP)

Several countries have experimented with national identification systems, with varying degrees of success. In Britain’s case, for example, care.data, a program aimed at providing country-wide unified access to providers, ran into trouble because people were reluctant to sign up.

“They don’t trust that they will have a protected identity,” said Nichol. And as blockchain gets into providing this type of access, he said the challenge then will be how to “incentivize” people to get involved in the process. “It’s a very tough challenge.”

“Privacy is not an inherent property of a distributed ledger like a blockchain,” added Gropper. “Basically, what you’re doing is you’re taking information and literally spreading it everywhere, by definition. That’s what makes it work. So when you have situations where privacy is important, like health records, it’s much more complicated. … It has to be carefully privacy-engineered.”

But what makes blockchain effective at deterring manipulation also presents a “significant” downside” – the lack of a recoverability mechanism when mistakes occur in the official record.

“You can go to court or you can go to the government, or you can go to a group of companies, and they are responsible for making the change or correcting an error in a ledger,” he added. “But when you implement these systems, especially when the systems are based on public blockchains, you often give up the ability to have a … recovery mechanism or an error-correcting mechanism when something goes wrong.”

This is where blockchain application development is at right now for those working in this field, said Gropper. The key is “striking that balance between having recoverability when you want it or recourse to the courts if you can get it, and having systems which are inherently not subject to human corruption or intervention.”

Challenges aside, blockchain already has “changed a lot of the world” since it emerged in 2008, said Nichol. And he believes its “wave” will continue to grow even as awareness of what it can do lags behind the hype.

Recalling the early days of the internet, mobile technology, and cloud computing, he said people did not grasp the full potential of these technologies at first, but then they explored and experimented to learn more about their capabilities and business utility.

In the next 24 months, Singer expects blockchain to make “major inroads in some very important cases in the health care industry” and drive a ” lot of very important, very necessary change.”

And he believes developing countries will leapfrog to blockchain, skipping traditional systems and databases that often are owned or run by transacting parties, just as they did when mobile technology disrupted their world.

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Apple Eyes Money-transfer Service; Cyber Threats Haunt US Agencies

Posted April 27th, 2017 at 12:56 pm (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

A customer makes a transaction at a money transfer point that offers services through Wari and other transfer companies in Dakar, Senegal, March 15, 2017. (Reuters)

A customer makes a transaction at a money transfer point that offers services through Wari and other transfer companies, in Dakar, Senegal, March 15, 2017. (Reuters)

Apple in Talks to Launch Its Own Money-transfer Service

Apple has been flirting with the idea of building its own money-transfer service for a while. But recent discussions with partners in the payments industry seem to put it back on this track in a market dominated by traditional players like PayPal. According to sources familiar with the talks, the suggested service would allow iPhone users to send and receive money digitally.

Up to 34 Percent of US Government Agencies Saw Data Breaches Last Year

A new report from security firms Thales e-Security and 451 Research says 65 percent of U.S. federal agencies experienced some sort of data breach in the past and 34 percent reported at least one last year. Up to 48 percent of federal respondents polled for the 2017 Data Threat Report said they consider themselves “extremely vulnerable.”

VR for Change Summit Shines Spotlight on Impactful Virtual Reality Projects

Games for Change, an organization that promotes positive social impact, is adding virtual reality to its annual Games for Change Festival this year. The VR for Change Summit, to be held July 31-August 2 in New York City, will also look at augmented and mixed reality realities and how they can be used for social change

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Ransomware Payouts on the Rise; STEM Stigmas Start as Early as Age 6

Posted April 26th, 2017 at 12:55 pm (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

FILE - An illustrations shows a man typing on a computer keyboard in Warsaw, Poland. (Reuters)

FILE – An illustrations shows a man typing on a computer keyboard in Warsaw, Poland. (Reuters)

Symantec: Cyber Extortion Demands Surge as Victims Keep Paying

Hackers are getting bolder as more of their victims are willing to pay hefty sums to free their computers from malicious software, according to cybersecurity firm Symantec. The trend is encouraging cybercriminals to demand increasingly hefty sums from users. The average amount tripled last year to $1,077 from $294 and continues to rise in 2017. Up to 69 percent of targeted devices in 2016 were consumer PCs.

Amazon Wants to Put a Camera and Microphone in Your Bedroom

Amazon’s plan is to rig its voice assistant Echo with cameras and a microphone to help users decide what to wear. When unsure, users can take a picture of their outfit and share it with friends for an opinion. On top of that, a new app called StyleCheck also offers help to style-challenged users. The fate of the personal pictures and data Echo collects remains unclear.

By Age 6, Kids Already Think Boys Are Better in Programming, Robotics

New research from the University of Washington shows that children start adopting stereotypes that boys are better than girls in programming and robotics by the first grade. That includes girls with a strong negative impression about their gender’s tech abilities who also have the least interest in programming and robotics. But further research also suggests a girl can be encouraged to develop skills and more positive attitudes toward computing.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Emojis Tackle Language Disorders; Parsing Future Tech From Fiction

Posted April 25th, 2017 at 1:52 pm (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

Samsung Develops Emoji-based Chat App for Language Disorders

More often than not, people use emojis for fun when they chat. But for those with language disorders like aphasia, which makes reading, writing and talking difficult, emojis might be just the thing to help facilitate communication. To address the gap, Samsung’s Italian subsidiary came up with a new app called Wemogee. The app can translate more than 140 text sentences into emoji messages.

UN, Ma, Estonia’s e-Residency Join to Support Startups in Developing World

The United Nations will start working with Estonia’s digital residency platform to help startups in developing countries. Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma will serve as advisor to the new initiative, dubbed “e-Trade For All.” Estonia’s e-Residency service gives users who pay a small fee secure digital identities for various payment transactions.

Our Sci-Fi Future: Silly vs. Terrifying

Rapid technological progress and new innovations that look like they came out of the Star Trek TV series science fiction seem to be blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. Writer Peter Suciu sifts through the real and the imaginary comparisons between the latest technologies and fictional innovations.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Blockchain? What’s Blockchain?

Posted April 20th, 2017 at 1:47 am (UTC-4)
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“I don’t even know what blockchain is,” someone recently told Techtonics. So to demystify the latest buzzword in technology, blockchain is a secure, distributed digital ledger shared among all participants. For example, parties to a transaction agree to make blockchain the official source of record, say for a land deed. So they encode the deed on a digital “block.” Once it’s there, any updates can be entered by adding new blocks to the “chain.” The record cannot be altered.

Blockchain powers digital currency Bitcoin, but the two should not be confused. And it’s creating quite a stir in the health and financial sectors, to name just a couple of its potential applications. But a lot of people know little about blockchain or how it works. Hopefully, this infographic will shed some light on this promising technology.

(T. Benson for VOA/Techtonics)

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Social Media’s Live Streaming Woes; Microsoft Kills Mobile Passwords

Posted April 19th, 2017 at 11:56 am (UTC-4)
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Today’s tech Sightings:

Police prepare to remove the body of Steven Stephens, who they say said posted a video of himself on Facebook killing an elderly man in Cleveland before he shot and killed himself following a brief pursuit, in Erie, Pennsylvania, April 18, 2017. (Reuters)

Police prepare to remove the body of Steven Stephens, who they say said posted a video of himself on Facebook killing an elderly man in Cleveland before he shot and killed himself following a brief pursuit, in Erie, Pennsylvania, April 18, 2017. (Reuters)

Saving Social Media as Live Streaming Murder Becomes New Normal

It took Facebook three hours to take down one video. Before it did, the video showing the murder of a 74-year-old man in Cleveland was copied, circulated, and watched at least 1.6 million times. CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the issue on the first day of Facebook’s F8 developer Conference Tuesday. But this is not the first incident. Swedish authorities arrested three men for assaulting and live streaming the rape of a woman to a private Facebook group.  And now, Germany is investigating Facebook’s role in inciting racial and ethnic hatred and could hold it accountable. Writer David Glance suggests holding companies hosting these accounts accountable might help.

Microsoft Kills Off Passwords With Authenticator’s New Phone Logins

Microsoft’s latest update to its Authenticator app is out on Android and Apple mobile devices. The app lets users sign in to Microsoft accounts without struggling to remember long and complicated passwords. In a previous incarnation, Authenticator generated one-time codes for two-factor authentication. But the update now lets smartphone users click an “approve” note when signing in to Microsoft accounts. iPhone users will see a validation option requiring an additional fingerprint scan.

Governing Body: No IP Addresses for Governments Shutting Down Internet Access

Internet registry AFRINIC will consider a new proposal at its upcoming meeting in Kenya in June to penalize governments that deny internet access to their citizens. The group manages and allocates IP addresses in Africa and is one of five such regional organizations. The proposal would add a new section to AFRINIC’s rules allowing organizations to deny new IP addresses to countries that order an internet shutdown for a full year.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Murder, Graphic Content Haunt Facebook; Android Pay, PayPal Team Up

Posted April 18th, 2017 at 11:54 am (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

FILE - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at the F8 Facebook Developer Conference in San Francisco, April 12, 2016. (AP)

FILE – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at the F8 Facebook Developer Conference in San Francisco, April 12, 2016. (AP)

Facebook Kicks Off F8 Developer Conference Amid Murder Controversy

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a lot to talk about at Tuesday’s F8 developer conference in San Jose, California. But his keynote speech comes at an inopportune time as the social media giant grapples with violent videos of murder, torture and rape. In the most recent incident, U.S. police nationwide searched for the alleged killer who posted the video of the man he appeared to have murdered in Cleveland on Facebook. Police reportedly found the fugitive dead. The alleged murderer also claimed on Facebook that he killed at least 13 other people. This latest revelation comes as Facebook continues to struggle with an ongoing problem with fake news.

Steve Ballmer Launches USAFacts

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and owner of the L.A. Clippers has launched a new nonprofit project called USAFacts, a portal that gives citizens insights into U.S. government spending. In addition to a variety of documents and resources, the portal includes a report on government operations similar to annual reports released by public corporations.

Android Pay, PayPal Join Forces to Provide New Payment Options

Android Pay and PayPal are teaming up to offer new options in electronic payments – and potentially add new customers to both platforms. The initiative will allow PayPal users and their friends and family to link their accounts to Android Pay to send or receive money. The new feature will show up in Android Pay and PayPal apps in a few weeks.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

‘Let Girls Learn’ Brings Education Tech to Rural Ghana

Posted April 14th, 2017 at 11:35 am (UTC-4)
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More than 62 million girls around the world are not attending school. But through the U.S. government’s ‘Let Girls Learn’ initiative, a multilateral effort is putting education technology and a future at their fingertips.

In parts of the developing world, girls are expected to do house chores, care for siblings, and fetch water. But they are last in line after their brothers to get an education, if at all. And if they are lucky enough to go to school, they sometimes are shut out.

“In many countries, such as India … it just becomes completely socially unacceptable for a girl to be attending school” when she begins to menstruate, said Gina Tesla, Chief of IBM’s Corporate Service Corps in an interview with Techtonics. And sometimes, “there just simply may not be any sort of bathroom facilities” for girls in these situations. And so they can’t go to school.

FILE - A girl fetches water from a well at Mewat district in the northern Indian state of Haryana, June 25, 2014. (Reuters)

FILE – A girl fetches water from a well at Mewat district in the northern Indian state of Haryana, June 25, 2014. (Reuters)

There are so many girls who are so desperate for education that they will get up at 3:00 in the morning. They will go and fetch water. They will go and feed their brothers and sisters and their family. And they will study. And they will walk miles and miles to go to school – Gina Tesla

To tackle some of these issues, the U.S. Peace Corps, IBM’s Corporate Service Corps, and local tech firm TechAide came together under the Let Girls Learn initiative to “provide more access to education for girls who are not receiving it.” The initiative was launched by U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in 2015, and the Peace Corps has been “at the forefront of implementing” it, according to Tesla.

Her team has been working closely with TechAide, a recipient of IBM’s pro bono consulting services, to develop a server to provide educational content to rural areas of Ghana.

The server, equipped with Wi-Fi capability, is called ASANKA.

Speaking with Techtonics, TechAide’s CEO, Kafui Prebbie, explained that ASANKA means ‘community bowl’ in the Ghanaian language. It’s also short for All Subjects and New Knowledge Access.

Kafui Prebbie, CEO of TechAide, with Ashesi University students and teachers in Ghana, demonstrates ASANKA, a device that acts as a hotspot and server to deliver educational lessons to young women in remote villages, accessed via any Wifi-capable device. (IBM Corporation)

Kafui Prebbie, CEO of TechAide, with Ashesi University students and teachers in Ghana, demonstrates ASANKA, a device that acts as a hotspot and server to deliver educational lessons to young women in remote villages, accessed via any Wi-Fi-capable device. (IBM Corporation)

Internet subscriptions in Ghana are expensive and connectivity is spotty, particularly in rural areas with the greatest educational needs. So TechAide had to come up with a different solution to deliver educational content.

“We started to look at that small device,” he said, “cheap … easy to deploy, one watt of power, and to make it easily available in communities with content either pre-configured onto it or accessible through a mobile network, and put content that people in rural areas can access.”

The device is not free to schools. But TechAide and the Peace Corps just started a pilot program in 20 communities to drum up official support from Ghana’s Ministry of Education. The aim, according to Prebbie, is to “show the ministry that you can have this device in the schools and put the content on it and make it available to the boys and girls who cannot access the content cheaply, easily, interestingly.”

TechAide has also partnered with banks to help set up education labs in schools, where students can access approved educational content, including audio, video, and interactive games. Teachers can use a free wireless hotspot to look up content for education or community development, including textbooks and curricula which have been published over the years but are now damaged or lost.

Half of the teachers in underserved areas don’t even have a syllabus, noted Tesla. But Prebbie said TechAide is trying to “pull together all this content in soft copies – electronic formats – and put all of this on the ASANKA device and [make] it available also in the schools.”

In addition to the curricula, TechAide, IBM, and the Peace Corps visited schools and talked directly to girls to learn more about their needs. They then put together 20 topics “that were interesting to the adolescent girls about the problems that face them and making choices,” he said.

Some of the common issues the girls raised included chores and parents making decisions about boys going to school but not being able to pay for the girls’ education, and how to raise money to pay their own fees through school.

Reaching out to the girls, said Tesla, helped IBM and Peace Corps volunteers understand the gaps in communities that need support, perhaps with more “delicate content” to “help educate girls about some of the more nefarious … ways that they can end up in situations where they are being promised access to education and that’s not really what’s happening.”

Working within local communities, Prebbie is looking for interesting ways to present this type of information and help parents “stay extremely focused on girls’ education and the power of girls’ empowerment within the context of national development.”

All of this material will be loaded on ASANKA to help girls “take decisions by even playing those games and seeing the effect of those things … why they’re not able to go to school and how they can get around it,” he said.

Meanwhile, TechAide is building an ecosystem around the device by bringing women into its IT staff. “We’re creating something … called the ASANKA Girls Network,” he announced.

Girls in the network would know how to use the devices. “They’ve taken decisions based on what they’ve seen in the schools and they’ve used these devices to empower themselves,” he added. “…. We want these girls also in the future to be able to be coders to design the program that we put on the boxes that go into Africa.”

For Tesla, this kind of approach makes “pure business sense.” She believes the more tech companies engage in projects in emerging markets while providing their own employees with “life-changing opportunities,” the more they can innovate “to help make positive contributions to societal issues.”

In one collaboration, IBM and the Peace Corps brought 27 high school girls from rural Ghana to Ashesi University, a nonprofit college in Accra, for two days of empowerment and mentoring and an address by IBM’s Country General Manage for Ghana, Angela Kyerematen-Jimoh.

“She is [IBM’s] first female country general manager for all of Africa,” said Tesla. “And she grew up in the Ghanaian education system. And she was an example to all of the young people there, but particularly to the girls who were there to see that there really are possibilities … for advancement.”

“Implanting those seeds of inspiration” is important, she added, because education is a promise children in developed countries grow up with and expect, but in developing parts of the world, it is a promise girls may never hear.

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.