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Index de l'article

Capacities required

CKWs need little technical capacity apart from basic English (the apps and their content are in the English language) and proficiency in the use of mobile phones.  The functions include managing daily data transmission to Salesforce and handling the power toolkit devices that go with the smartphone.


A CKW operation involves costs for launching and maintaining the cloud-based server to support field operations, data management, and performance monitoring. Costs vary greatly depending on context and activity, ranging from thousands to millions of US dollars. For example, the Uganda operation initially cost around US$4.7 million, which was supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2009. (7)

 Other costs include the monthly pay for CKWs (about US$24 per worker), the operation of call centres (about US$10,000 per month), and other administrative costs.

Strengths and weaknesses




Low level of education required (basic literacy) makes it adaptable to many rural settings 

Central coordination of messages and content through the cloud-based server helps validate information 

Short training duration makes it faster to setup and provide RAS to communities 

Farmers do not need cellphones to receive information; only the CKW uses the smartphone to provide advice 

Performance-based incentives are attached to the number of successful queries made, motivating CKWs to widen community outreach 

Community respect serves as incentive for good performance. Peer-to-peer learning is facilitated through social interaction 

CKWs earn extra cash by charging community members’ mobile phones 

Top performers are ‘incentivised’ with extra cash by getting picked to perform special services (e.g. surveys) 



Initial cost to set up the data management system might be prohibitive for small-scale enterprises 

The cloud-based server requires topnotch technical monitoring and coordination capacity that might be lacking in many rural communities 

The short initial training might limit agents’ performance. In Uganda and Ghana, most agents need longer training on the interactive voice response system on cellphones 

Community members might nominate popular members who lack the right motivation for RAS 

Performance metrics tied to the number of monthly CKW searches disregard the quality of service to farmers 

Reliance on service partners may limit outreach. For example, in Uganda, CKW operation in the Massaka District ceased when the key partner, EADD, closed in 2013, forcing CKW layoffs 

Over-reliance on donor funding and support for continuity 

CKWs may be motivated more to repay the cellphones and bicycles given to them