Syndicate content

Information and Communication Technologies

Collecting survey data via mobile phone in Southern Sudan

Gabriel Demombynes's picture

We’re in the middle of an unusual data collection exercise, which we’ve called the Southern Sudan Experimental Phone Survey (SSEPS). To get a sense of how the survey works, see this photo essay. The work has been conducted in part with funds from the Poverty and Social Impact Analysis Multi-Donor Trust Fund.

In November, in conjunction with the Southern Sudan Centre for Census, Statistics and Evaluation, we delivered mobile phones to 1000 households in the 10 state capitals of Southern Sudan. Each month starting last December, Sudanese interviewers from a call center in Nairobi have phoned respondents on those phones to collect information on their economic situation, security, outlook, and other topics.

Kenya’s telecom revolution and the impact of mobile money

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

Our third “Kenya Economic Update” – Kenya at the Tipping Point? – notes Kenya’s strong economic recovery in 2010 reaching 4.9 percent of GDP. For 2011, we forecast growth of 5.3 percent.  The special Focus on the ICT Revolution and mobile money captures the economic momentum which is now spreading across Africa. Kenya now has 21 million phone subscribers, the vast majority connected by cell phones.

Development 3.0

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Update: This post has generated a very interesting discussion in a different blog. See it here.

I gave a lunch talk at a recent conference of civil society and technology people organized by the [email protected] people at the U.S. State Department.  I thought I’d share it more widely.

In the old days—that is, the 1950s and 1960s—development was about correcting market failures.  Influenced by the “big push” theories of economists like Rosenstein-Rodan, post-war Keynesian economics and the apparent success of the Soviet Union, policymakers in developing countries saw the role of government as providing public goods (bridges, roads and ports), addressing externalities (protecting “infant industries”) and redistributing income to poor people (by, for instance, keeping food prices low).  Donors supported these countries by financing some of the public goods—a bridge, say.  Knowledge assistance consisted of helping to identify the market failure, and then designing the “optimal bridge”. 

Varieties of African successes

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Tolstoy notwithstanding, the 20 African success stories described in the booklet “Yes, Africa Can” show that success comes in many different forms.  Broadly speaking, the cases fall into three categories:

- Success from removing an existing, major distortion.  The best example is Ghana’s cocoa sector, which was destroyed by the hyperinflation and overvalued exchange rate in the early 1980s.  When the exchange rate regime was liberalized and the economy stabilized, cocoa exports boomed (and continue to grow).  Similar examples include Rwanda’s coffee sector and Kenya’s fertilizer use.  Africa’s mobile phone revolution, too, is an example of the government’s stepping out of the way—in this case by deregulating the telecommunications sector—and letting the private sector jump in. 

More cell phones than toilets

Shanta Devarajan's picture

An article in yesterday’s New York Times observes that, with the number of mobile subscriptions exceeding five billion, more people today have access to a cell phone than to a clean toilet.  Leaving aside the relative value of these two appliances, the surge in cell phones in Africa—some 94 percent of urban Africans are near a GSM signal—is transforming the continent.  Farmers in Niger use cell phones to find out which market is giving the best price; people in Kenya pay their bills and send money home using M-Pesa.

Social media as an accountability tool

Shanta Devarajan's picture

From the Africa Progress Panel’s latest bulletin:

At the [Pan Africa Media Summit], Uganda's Minister for Information and National Guidance, Kabakumba Labwoni Masiko, was asked a question about Uganda's proposed media regulations and the moderator did not let the Minister take the question and ensured the session stayed on topic. The discussion immediately shifted online as attendees began to tweet about the incident.

It’s clear that Africans are increasingly using social media as an accountability tool.

The three most important challenges and opportunities for the decade ahead

Shanta Devarajan's picture

 1. Jobs

Throughout the developing world, productive-employment-intensive growth remains a challenge. In Africa, it is almost a crisis, with most of the labor force working in low-productivity, informal-sector jobs, and 7-10 million young people entering the labor force every year. That the unemployment rate in South Africa—the continent’s largest economy—has remained around 25 percent is particularly troubling.

My top three and Bono's top ten

Shanta Devarajan's picture

For the World Bank's internal website, I was asked to list the three most important developments of the past decade.  To elicit a broader discussion, I am sharing it on this blog.  In a subsequent post, I will list the three most important challenges and opportunities for the coming decade.  One or two of my items are also reflected in Bono's excellent piece in yesterday's New York Times, "Ten for the Next Ten."  Here are my top three:

Pages