Overview of ICT Supported Program
Information, data, and research are essential components necessary to inform and fuel transformational change. Information and data, in all their forms, are the pivotal commodities that inform the identification and prioritization of interventions and deliverables. The availability of objective data is integral for policy and decision-makers to make informed decisions and course-correct based on the information they have at hand. At the smallholder farmer level, locally and context-specific information is vital to ensure that the investments made on each plot of land are those that will yield the greatest returns.
On both ends of the spectrum, access to relevant and pertinent information is critical in promoting growth and productivity. Without access to this type of information, progress is susceptible to stagnation. The ICT program has been identifying and implementing innovative approaches to collect and share information across a wide range of actors. The government of Ethiopia is fully aware of the role ICTs play in developing the sector and how adapting these ICTs can bring about dynamic change in the agriculture sector. Based on international best practices, there has been a major shift to integrate ICTs in agriculture development as facilitating tools to enhance the lives of smallholders. As such, ICT is playing a greater role to stimulate agriculture, enhance food security and support rural livelihoods.
Overview of ATA’s 8028 Farmers Hotline Service
The 8028 Farmers’ Hotline is a system designed to provide agronomic best practices to smallholder farmers via mobile and landline phones. Having started its operation as a small system in 2014, it has currently five big components by gradually growing to become a big system. It is typically known for its accessibility, auto attendant and wider reach. Anyone who can have access to any kind of telephone apparatus can be connected to the system and get the livestock and agronomic information for irrigation based crops easily. Users of the system are required neither to have sophisticated technical skills nor advanced tools or services such as computer, smart phone, internet, or others to access the information available in the system. Since 8028 Farmers Hotline System is an Auto-attendant that acts as a human operator, it completely replaced human operation by providing callers with the required information from the archived data placed on the server by pressing their mobile key menus. As it does not require human interaction, it can be available for its users 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
The Hotline has a wider reachability that the system can handle 210 simultaneous incoming and outgoing calls at a time and have the capability of sending bulk SMS from a web interface. Currently the system is equipped with voice menu prompts through five local languages (Amharic, Affan Oromo, Tigrigna, Sidamigna, and Wolaytigna) that guide the user throughout connection time. Moreover, the 8028 farmers Hotline can be connected to the Local Area Network (LAN) enabling administrators to monitor and configure the system via his/her device. Overall, 8028 farmers hotline has the benefits of easy accessibility, availability, and easiness to use. In the meantime, many efforts are underway to expand or upgrade the system to accommodate more users with many new features pertinent with the next new generation beyond the existing farming community that suffers with information availability that include the expansion planned to include Somali language to address the need of the pastoral/agro pastoral communities.
With its automated hotline, the system disseminates a best practice of selected livestock and irrigation crops along the value chain. As of June 2020, it had received a total of 44.3 million phone calls and hosted nearly 5.1 million registered callers. It also became possible to expand and operationalize the IVR helpdesk to 186 ACC woredas in the four regions (Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and SNNP). 8028 Farmers Hotline currently has seven separate advisory dashboards incorporated within: General, Rainfed, Irrigation, Helpdesk, Survey Livestock, and COVID 19 advice.
The 8028 Farmers Hotline IVR/SMS system’s main objective is to ensure that smallholders have real-time and immediate access to pertinent agronomic information, which will help them to make more decisions that are informed on their farming practices. ‘8028 Farmer Hotline’ is a system that delivers information directly to farmers through mobile phones and offers advisory service in a timely fashion.
To use the already developed experience and system to reach the pastoral community, Mercy Corps in collaboration with ATA would like to expand the 8028 based advisory and extension service to Somali region/language to address the needs of the pastoral community.
The general objective of this service is providing Livestock and Irrigation crops extension and advisory Service in Somali region by Developing and Upgrading the existing 8028 Livestock and irrigation crop content, translating to local language (Somali Language) and Uploading to the system and finally provide the service to the pastoralist community of Somali region.
- Provide the development telecom and upgrade the IVR/SMS System to handle additional one Language on the 8028 Livestock and irrigated crop extension and advisory service;
- Provide the upgrading service on the 8028 IVR/SMS system and modify the HHI (Household Irrigation) Crop contents and adding Somali Language to provide the advisory service for the Pastoralist community of the Somali region.
- Administer and Manage the IVR/SMS System with special focus to the Livestock and irrigated copr service and assist in managing Ethio telecom related activities if there is any.
Scope of Work
The Mercy Corps in collaboration with ATA would like to hire a service provider that specializes in developing, maintaining, and uploading of recorded contents on the IVR/SMS system. This ICT service provider is expected to manage, upgrade, and support the ATAs existing IVR/SMS system and provide the following services in the coming one year.
IVR Livestock and Irrigated crop System Upgrade, and Integration
- Currently the 8028 IVR system provide information for Livestock on Dairy, Fattening, Improved Household Poultry, Small Scale Poultry and Apiculture. The task is to prioritize and incorporate additional activities of Camel and Goat Husbandry and Production (Milk, Meat and Fiber) into the livestock advisory system. In addition, incorporating a prioritized irrigation crop advisory system. This includes updating the 8028 Dashboards, and insertion of additional Features to the system;
- New location data must be incorporated into the system to better represent the caller’s Hence, it is important to make 8028 system support the newly added Somali region including the Zonal and Woreda level administrations into the system. The task includes – Updating IVR Profile Registration, Update Widgets on the dashboard, updating Dashboards with the new region location data and Upgrade the existing Web application;
- Adding a language to 8028 affects all aspects of the IVR and SMS system. This requires modifying 8028 IVR application, SMS Application, Survey and Web Application. The language filters will be added on each web module and reports. Dashboard items and widgets will also be updated accordingly;
- Develop 8028 Advisory System Web Portal in Somali language: – the web portal shall provide agronomic and Livestock advisory in text format. Information shall be categorized by topics and menus. Advisory text can also be associated with pictures and videos. Web portal shall have built in content management module where administrators can add, edit and delete text, pictures and videos. The system shall also display latest news and publications, which is relevant for Farmers and DA community.
The main deliverables of the assignment are:
- Completed the development of livestock and irrigation crops for pastoralist/agro pastoralist communities (as a separate module) and conduct a testing before integrating these modules to 8028 Farmers’ Hotline platform.
- Regularly and timely updated IVR system and make the system user friendly by incorporating features based on the request of the users from the newly added regional state of Somali and recommendations given from IT service providers.
- Widen the functionality of the system by adding new features to the IVR system and build a basket of data that includes Livestock and Irrigation with specific focus to the Somali region of Ethiopia.
- Regularly and timely checking of the system and provision of request-based maintenance services to maximize the delivery of Livestock advisories to the Pastoralist communities of Somali Region.
- Monitor the upload and dissemination of the content with the project team members and take corrective measures whenever there is misplacement, or a problem occurs.
Duration of the Consultancy
Initial long-term agreement (LTA) will be signed for one year with provision of further extension of another year with the same terms and conditions. There will be no price escalation during the contract period.
1. Mandatory Competencies and QualificationsThe Service Provider shall comply and fulfil all the following mandatory requirements and competencies:
- Minimum of six-year experience designing, implementing, IVR and SMS solutions in Ethiopia
- Minimum of six years Value Added Service (VAS) License
- Minimum of six years proven experience in providing management, maintenance, and support services of Free switch based IVR System having at least 200 voice ports in Ethiopia.
- Minimum of six years proven experience in providing SMS management and support service connected locally with Ethio Telecom’s SMS Center Infrastructure
- Minimum of six years proven experience in providing Web management and support services on Ubuntu environment in a local setting using local Public IP address and internet connection from Ethio Telecom
- Proven experience in developing Free switch based IVR application that runs on Ethio Telecom E1 line infrastructure
- Proven experience developing IVR Survey Application that runs on Ethio Telecom E1 line infrastructure
- Proven experience developing SMS Survey Application that runs on Ethio Telecom infrastructure
- Proven experience developing IVR Help Desk Application that runs on Ethio Telecom E1 infrastructure
- Proven experience in developing SMPP 3.4 based SMS application that is compatible Ethio Telecom infrastructure
- Proven experience in developing web application that runs on node.js web server
- Proven experience using Adhearsion telephony platform
- Proven experience using Free switch telephony platform
- Proven experience using Ruby programming language
- Proven experience using multi-tiered MySQL Server database
- Proven experience using SMPP 3.4 protocol on Ethio Telecom SMS Center
- Proven experience implementing projects using the following Java frameworks and technologies: Bootstrap, node.js, require.js, Marionette, Bluebird.js, Sequelize, Coffee Script, and backbone.js and Angular.js.
- Project Team Composition
- The Project Team shall be comprised of Project Manager, Application developer, Web and database application developer, System and Database Administrator, Quality assurance engineer and prior experience on implementation of 8028(Plus)
- At least 10 years of experience in software development and software project management in Ethiopia.
- At least five web and/or mobile based application project management experience in Ethiopia out of which three of them are related to the agriculture sector of Ethiopia.
- At least three IVR application project management experience in Ethiopia.
- At least five SMS application project management experience in Ethiopia.
- Minimum Msc degree in computer science or information science.
- At least 5 years of experience in developing IVR and SMS applications
- Experience in developing a national application compatible with telecom E1 and SMSC of ethio telecom
- Minimum of BSc degree in computer science, information science or electrical engineering
- Web and database application developer
- At least 5 years of experience in developing web and database application
- Software (web/mobile based application) development experience in Ubuntu OS and MySQL environment
- Minimum BSc degree in computer science, or information science
System and Database Administrator
- At least 5 years of experience in administering database application and telecom infrastructure
- Experience in administering and providing support in web application, database and telecom infrastructure
- Minimum BSc degree in computer science, or information science
Quality Assurance and Trainer
- At least 3 years of experience in software quality assurance
- Hands on experience in software application training
- Minimum BSc degree in computer science, or information science
Language Experts or Professionals
- Two experts with at least a first degree in any social science field and at least three years of experience in IVR or Radio presenter. One of the experts should know Somali language in addition to Amharic and English.
Deadline for Offer Submission: 30th June 2021
Submit Offers to:
Mercy corps Addis Ababa office, Yeka Sub-City, Kebele 08, House No. 377; Hayahulet, Afro Building, Tel. No. +251-11-110777, P.O.Box 14319 Addis Ababa
OR to [email protected]
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