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Notes From the Field: Taking On Politics, Shifting Paradigms

Miles McKenna's picture

Editor's Note: "Notes From the Field" is an occasional feature where we let World Bank professionals conducting interesting trade-related projects around the globe explain some of the challenges and triumphs of their day-to-day work. The views expressed here are personal and should not be attributed to the World Bank. All interviews have been edited for clarity.

The interview below was conducted with Manjula Luthria, a Senior Economist in the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regional division of the Human Development Network. Ms. Luthria's work focuses migration, labor mobility, and social protection. She spoke with us about her early experiences as a country economist for the Pacific Islands region, and how lessons learned there have come to inform the programs and projects her unit works on today.
 

The struggle for survival for Caribbean cleantech SMEs

Eleanor Ereira's picture

They had to do something different, something memorable, which would make people realize just how tough it is for small businesses in the Caribbean to survive, “So we held a funeral”. Rosalea Hamilton, the President of the Jamaica-based MSME Alliance explained that they staged a funeral to mourn for the death of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Jamaica. The objective was to draw attention to a petition presented to the Prime Minister on ways to support the sector. As the poster for the event underscored, if nothing changed to help Caribbean entrepreneurs, their ventures were as good as dead.Life isn't a beach for cleantech SMEs in the Caribbean, which face high energy costs, lack of financing and other challenges. (Credit: Clive Gutteridge, Flickr Creative Commons)

According to Rosalea, one of the top challenges facing businesses in Jamaica is the cripplingly high electricity costs, which can account for 25% of a business’s expenses. Jamaica, along with many other Caribbean countries, is highly dependent on foreign oil. This is in spite of numerous domestic natural resources that could be used to move away from fossil fuels, such as solar, wind, and geothermal energy, biofuels such as bagasse, and waste-to-energy systems. Given the high energy prices, start-ups developing alternative energy solutions should thrive in the Caribbean. But ask regional cleantech entrepreneurs, and a different story emerges.

A conversation on migration and development

Dilip Ratha's picture

I was recently interviewed by Kanchan Banerjee, the editor of New Global Indian. The interview touched on many aspects of migration and development that may interest you. Thanks to Kanchan for giving us permission to reproduce the interview below.

KB- About half a decade ago, you were among the first in the world to figure out the first global tally of remittances, what was the result?

DR-The money that migrants send home turned out to be way larger than I expected, the finding actually stunned experts in the field. Gathered from a trickle of hard-earned cash, believe it or not, remittances are larger than $300 billion a year. Compare that with official aid flows which are just about $100 billion a year.

KB-Today you are a leading figure in the area of Migration and Development. What are the factors that attracted you to work on the two related areas of development in today's inter-connected world?

DR- As a migrant myself, I am deeply interested in the phenomenon of migration and remittances. Before Y2K, I was actually talking with friends about starting a money transfer service to India from the US! The main reason for my interest in migration is that it produces instant poverty corrupt practices. This enables a poor person to hold his/her head high in the society. When migrants send money, it helps not only the immediate family members and friends, but also indirectly the local community. I call remittances 'value-added money' because it is not only the dollar that comes in, each dollar also comes with advice on what to do with it. Also remittances are friends in foul weather they increase when the recipient is facing difficult times. There are about 200 million migrants worldwide, supporting as many if not more people at home. That suggests that remittances may reach almost a tenth of the world's population.

Television for a change (revolution in a box)

Michael Trucano's picture

public domain image of the Braun HF television from 1958 comes courtesy of Oliver Kurmis via Wikimedia CommonsA quick check of the user logs for the World Bank's EduTech blog shows that postings on the use of mobile phones in education consistently draw the most readers.  While highlighting the new and innovative appears to grab the attention of visitors, there is no denying the impact that 'old' technologies like radio and television continue to have on education around the world.  In an optimistic cover story in the most recent edition of Foreign Policy magazine, my World Bank colleague Charles Kenny makes the case in Revolution in a Box that, despite the recent hype around new Web 2.0 tools (like Twitter or Facebook), it is not the computer, but the TV that "can still save the world".