Affordable Voice Services to Bridge the Digital Divide: Presenting the Kasadaka Platform

  • André BaartEmail author
  • Anna Bon
  • Victor de Boer
  • Francis Dittoh
  • Wendelien Tuijp
  • Hans Akkermans
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing book series (LNBIP, volume 372)


Despite its global reach, the World Wide Web still fails to serve about 3 billion people, the majority living in the Global South, especially in poor, low-resource regions, where broadband internet is not expected to be rolled out in the foreseeable future. Yet, to bring the advantages of ICTs at the reach of communities in low-resource development regions, lightweight, affordable and context-aware ICT solutions are needed, that fit local needs and context. To this end the Kasadaka platform was developed. This platform supports easy creation of local-content and voice-based information services, targeting currently ‘unconnected’ populations, taking into account contextual and infrastructural requirements, and matching local ecosystems. The Kasadaka platform and its Voice Service Development Kit support the development of decentralized voice-based information services, to serve local populations and communities in their own local languages, in regions where Internet and Web are absent and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.


Digital Divide Low literacy Sub-Saharan Africa Voice-based services Low-resource hardware Services development software kit 



The authors thank Christophe Guéret for the original idea and his initiative in the first steps towards the Kasadaka platform. Additionally, the authors would like to thank Adama Tessougué, Amadou Tangara, Gossa Lô, Julien Ouedraogo, Matthieu Ouedraogo, Hans-Dieter Hiep, Roy Overbeek, Paweł Ulita, Tjitske de Groot and Gamariel Mboya for their invaluable contributions to this research.


  1. 1.
    Ali, M., Bailur, S.: The challenge of sustainability in ICT4D-Is bricolage the answer. In: Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries, pp. 54–60. Citeseer (2007)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Baart, A., Bon, A., de Boer, V., Tuijp, W., Akkermans, H.: Ney yibeogo - hello world: a voice service development platform to bridge the web’s digital divide. In: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Web Information Systems and Technologies WEBIST, vol. 1, pp. 23–34. INSTICC, SciTePress (2018).
  3. 3.
    Baart, A.: Master thesis - KasaDaka: a sustainable voice services platform. Technical report (2017).
  4. 4.
    Bagshaw, P., Barnard, E., Rosec, O.: VOICES deliverable D3.1: report on state of the art and development methodology. Technical report, September 2011Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Berment, V.: Méthodes pour informatiser les langues et les groupes de langues «peu dotées». Ph.D. thesis, Université Joseph-Fourier-Grenoble I (2004)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Besacier, L., Barnard, E., Karpov, A., Schultz, T.: Automatic speech recognition for under-resourced languages: a survey. Speech Commun. 56, 85–100 (2014). Scholar
  7. 7.
    Black, A.W., Lenzo, K.A.: Limited domain synthesis. Technical report, Carnegie-Mellon University (2000)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    de Boer, V., Gyan, N.B., Bon, A., Tuyp, W., Van Aart, C., Akkermans, H.: A dialogue with linked data: voice-based access to market data in the Sahel. Seman. Web 6(1), 23–33 (2015).
  9. 9.
    Bon, A., Akkermans, H., Gordijn, J.: Developing ICT services in a low-resource development context. Complex Syst. Inf. Model. Q. 9, 84–109 (2016)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Farrugia, P.J.: Text to speech technologies for mobile telephony services. In: Pace and Cordina [PC03] (2005)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Fuchs, C., Horak, E.: Africa and the digital divide. Telemat. Inform. 25(2), 99–116 (2008). Scholar
  12. 12.
  13. 13.
    Gyan, N.B., et al.: Voice-based web access in rural Africa. In: Proceedings of the 5th Annual ACM Web Science Conference on WebSci 2013, pp. 122–131 (2013).
  14. 14.
    Heine, B., Nurse, D.: African Languages: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2000)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hiep, H.D., Overbeek, R., Ulita, P.: BipVote: a radio-based mobile voting system for rural Mali. Technical report, June 2018.
  16. 16.
    Krasner, G.E., Pope, S.T., et al.: A description of the model-view-controller user interface paradigm in the smalltalk-80 system. J. Object Oriented Program. 1(3), 26–49 (1988)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    McTear, M., Callejas, Z., Griol, D.: Creating a conversational interface using chatbot technology. In: McTear, M., Callejas, Z., Griol, D. (eds.) The Conversational Interface, pp. 125–159. Springer, Cham (2016). Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ngabo, F., et al.: Designing and implementing an innovative SMS-based alert system (RapidSMS-MCH) to monitor pregnancy and reduce maternal and child deaths in Rwanda. Pan Afr. Med. J. 13, 31 (2012)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Poushter, J.: Smartphone ownership and internet usage continues to climb in emerging economies. Pew Res. Cent. 22, 1–44 (2016)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Rolland, C.: Capturing system intentionality with maps. In: Krogstie, J., Opdahl, A.L., Brinkkemper, S. (eds.) Conceptual Modelling in Information Systems Engineering, pp. 141–158. Springer, Heidelberg (2007). Scholar
  21. 21.
    Schmida, S., Bernard, J., Zakaras, T., Lovegrove, C., Swingle, C.: Connecting the Next Four Billion: Strengthening the Global Response for Universal Internet Access. USAID, Dial, SSG Advisors (2017)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    The World Bank Group: Digital dividends, world bank development report. Technical report, The World Bank, Washington, US (2016).
  23. 23.
    UNESCO: UNESCO report: regional overview: Sub-Saharan Africa (2011).
  24. 24.
    USAID: Closing the access gap: innovation to accelerate universal internet adoption. Technical report (2017)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    de Vries, N.J., et al.: A smartphone-based ASR data collection tool for under-resourced languages. Speech Commun. 56, 119–131 (2014). Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • André Baart
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anna Bon
    • 2
    • 3
  • Victor de Boer
    • 2
  • Francis Dittoh
    • 4
  • Wendelien Tuijp
    • 2
    • 3
  • Hans Akkermans
    • 2
  1. 1.Amsterdam Business SchoolUniversiteit van AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.The Network InstituteVrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Centre for International CooperationVrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.University for Development StudiesTamaleGhana

Personalised recommendations