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December 2011

eTransform Africa

Michael Trucano's picture

a view of Africa from afarThe World Bank Group and the African Development Bank, with the support of the African Union, are producing a new 'flagship' report on how ICTs, especially mobile phones, have the potential to change fundamental business models in key sectors for Africa.  The overall goal of this effort, which is known as eTransform Africa, is to raise awareness and stimulate action, especially among African governments and development practitioners, of how ICTs can contribute to the improvement and transformation of traditional and new economic and social activities in a number of sectors, including: agriculture; climate change adaptation; education; financial services; health; local ICT; public services; trade and regional integration; and 'cross-cutting' issues.

The final draft of the eTransform Africa education sector study (Transformation‐Ready: The strategic application of information and communication technologies in Africa. Education Sector Study), which was prepared by a team of notable consultants at ICT Development Associates, is now available online [pdf].  This 144-page report identifies specific opportunities and challenges, and recommends areas of intervention for governments, educational institutions, the private sector, NGOs, and development partners, with a particular focus on five general themes:

#2: Activism versus Advocacy

Johanna Martinsson's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on February 8, 2011

In recent weeks, we have seen how citizens in several countries have taken to the streets in great masses to demand change. While real change is yet to be seen, it’s most certain that things will never be the same. In thinking about activism in the public sphere, and what methods are most effective in bringing about social and political change, the University of British Columbia recently hosted an interesting seminar, entitled “Advocate or Activist: What is the best way to effect change?”  The panel included: Stephen Toope, UBC President; Jacqueline Kennelly, Assistant Professor, Carleton University Department of Sociology and Anthropology; and Ronald Deibert, Associate Professor, University of Toronto Department of Political Science. They raised a number of interesting points, which I will try to capture in this post.  Here’s also a link to the podcast.

Une année où l’Afrique a vécu dangereusement

Shanta Devarajan's picture

 Note: This is a French translation of a blog post that originally appeared in The Guardian's Poverty Matters blog.

Les progrès économiques enregistrés cette année par l’Afrique sub-saharienne sont à risque, mais une forte demande de bonne gouvernance par les citoyens en vue de résoudre les problèmes du continent présage d’un avenir meilleur.

A New Year’s Guide to the top World Bank blog posts of 2011

Adam Wagstaff's picture

2011 was a highly successful year for World Bank blogs; four posts chalked up more than 10,000 views over the year; the year saw the launch of the highly successful Development Impact blog; and two of the Bank’s blogs (Development Impact and Africa Can End Poverty) have featured in Palgrave’s top-50 Economics blogs. The table below lists the top-100 World Bank blog posts of 2011 based on page views over the period November 1, 2010 – November 19, 2011. For those interested, click here to see how the Bank’s 26 English-language blogs compare to one another in terms of the number of posts they have in the top-50, top-100, and top-200. (Keep in mind, however, that Development Impact was running for only part of this period.)

#3: It's About Dignity and Poverty, Not About Facebook

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on February 8, 2011

Frank Rich, op-ed columnist at the New York Times, made a very important point this week: Revolutions are not about Facebook and Twitter. Revolutions are about human dignity and hunger. It seems that a few journalists are trying to push the (mainstream) media's fascination with the role of (social) media in Egypt, Tunisia, and Iran toward a more realistic point of view. After a prime-time CNN talking head stated that social media are the most fascinating thing about the events in Egypt (!), some senior journalists seem to have had it with the ICT hype. Rich tries to pull attention to why people rise up against their government: "starting with the issues of human dignity and crushing poverty."

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Space for Transparency
Latin American Elections: How to Use Social Media to Promote Transparency

“Several presidential, regional and municipal elections were held between October and November in Latin America: In Argentina, Cristina Kirchner won by an overwhelming majority; in Guatemala, for the first time after the dictatorship a former member of the military was elected; in Nicaragua, Ortega was re-elected amid accusations of irregularities; and in Colombia, voters endorsed the position of President Santos.

As part of these electoral processes, TI chapters have implemented various strategies based on the use of new technologies and social media to engage citizens and ensure fairness and greater transparency of campaigns and elections.In Argentina, Poder Ciudadano waged the campaign Quién te Banca (Who is supporting you?) to provide information to citizens on election campaign spending, such as how much funding is received by candidates, the origin of the funds, etc. Citizens were asked to send photos of election campaign posters via sms, Twitter or Facebook. Poder Ciudadano processed the data received and submitted requests for information regarding the origin and allocation of the funds.”  READ MORE

A view from the top: mountain forests

Klas Sander's picture

“Mountain Forests – roots to our future”. That was the headline for this year’s International Mountain Day celebrated by the UN every 11th of December since 2003. This year especially emphasized the interdisciplinary implications of sustainable mountain development. Whenever I have the opportunity to spend time in mountains, I realize how strongly the different elements in that landscape depend on each other and how fragile it all is. Earlier this year, for example, I had the privilege to visit the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. The experience of seeing these amazing animals in their natural habitat was incredible and it wasn’t just the climb up the Virunga Volcanoes that was breathtaking.

But the conservation of this ecosystem does not only provide benefits in terms of biodiversity conservation. Adjacent communities and the Government of Rwanda as a whole benefit from the income streams the tourism sector generates. Protecting the ecosystem also helps to assure sustainable flow of water from these “water towers” benefiting agriculture and lowland ecosystems alike. Not only are the Virunga gorillas and other mountain species threatened by climate change but there are also consequences for the communities that depend on them.

Covering 24% of the Earth’s surface, mountain ecosystems play a critical role in maintaining a sustainable flow of resources to the plains below. Mountains are the source for nearly 50% of the world’s freshwater for direct consumption, agriculture, and energy. Also, mountain tourism accounts for 15-20% of the world’s tourism industry, totaling an estimated $US70-90 billion per year. Mountain regions are also severely impacted by climate change, which only magnifies existing development challenges. Ecosystems will experience a vertical shift, as climates warm, generally flora and fauna will move towards higher altitudes. Fragile alpine ecosystems systems and endemic flora and fauna are likely to change resulting in significant negative ecological and socio-economic implications.

Ethics, values and health systems

Patricio V. Marquez's picture

It’s widely accepted nowadays that the ultimate goals of a health system are to improve the health conditions of the population; minimize the risk of impoverishment due to catastrophic health events; and increase the level of satisfaction of the citizens of a country with the quality of services received.

What kind of health system needs to be developed to achieve these goals?

Professor Uwe E. Reinhardt, a distinguished Princeton University health economist, urges us to focus on broader social goals, including the distributive ethic or moral values in a country.   In essence, this means that the “structural parameters” of a health system—financing health care, risk pooling to protect individuals from the cost of illness, producing and delivering health services, purchasing or commissioning health care on behalf of patients, stewardship and governance, and production and distribution of health care resources--should be determined by the shared ethic or moral values in a society.

As Professor Reinhardt points out, alternative “distributive social ethics” or “moral values” may offer three broad health care organization models to choose from:  (i) a one-tier system, where health care is a social good available to all on equal terms; (ii) a two-tiered system, where health care is a social good for all with exception of the rich; and (iii) a multi-tiered system, where health care is a private consumption good like other services such as food and housing.

So which one of these models should governments adopt, adapt and develop? Which model should international organizations recommend as part of policy dialogue with governments? Is there an appropriate “government” versus “private market” combination that should prevail in a health system?

#4: I Paid A Bribe

Sabina Panth's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on January 12, 2011

I Paid a Bribe is a recently launched online tool that strives to change the perception of corruption and move citizens from apathy to action.  Its goal is to “uncover the market price of corruption” by encouraging victims to report on incidences when they have been forced to pay a bribe, when they have resisted a demand for a bribe, or when they didn’t have to pay a bribe because of honest officers on duty or improvements in law or procedures.  The format for reporting is compartmentalized in a manner that allows both the viewers and the host organization of the website to observe the nature, pattern, types and distribution of bribes across cities and government departments in India.   

Triggering Disruptive Innovation in Retail Banking in the Digital Age

Ignacio Mas's picture

See what a profound transformation the internet is producing in information-based sectors. Newspapers are under threat from online news sources and blogs. These same web destinations are becoming less relevant as people simply lift and filter the information they want using RSS feeds. The music CD is being unbundled as customers buy individual tracks online. These songs get remixed and re-distributed across an ever-growing number of online content repositories. Books are increasingly digitized, and customers can now sample content and search for information across entire libraries.

The internet is a destroyer of digital products but a great creator of new kinds of customer experiences. Power has shifted to users: it’s no longer about the packages of content suppliers want to sell but about the content mash-ups users want to consume. Providers’ best response is to try to extract more customer information with each interaction, and use that to deliver even more relevance and convenience to their customers. Think Google and Apple and Amazon: the new corporate battlefield lies in the control of the user interface and the customer intelligence system that supports it.

Yet there is one information-based sector that seems deaf to the great sucking sound of the internet: banking. What is banking but managing information of who has what financial claims on whom? For banking, the internet truly is still just another channel. Sure, it has added transactional convenience, but has it changed how banks talk to us?


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