The AkiraChix, an-all girls’ team, was declared a winner of the recently held IPO48 software development competition in Kenya. The IPO48 initiative brought together 100 participants from all over the country to pitch their ideas, question business models, form teams and create 17 prototypes and products which, by the end of 48 hours, were ready for the market (Afrinnovator). The winning girls came up with an innovative M-Farm, a mobile-based marketplace that is targeted to small-scale farmers to increase their agriculture productivity.
The entity often known as ‘the international community’ has a touching faith in standard liberal constitutions and one-person-one-vote elections. Now, while those are outstanding human inventions, it is becoming clearer every day that in plural, deeply divided societies these inventions alone will not lead to settled systems of governance.
A desperate, totally fed up young graduate sets himself on fire in a small, provincial town in his country and within weeks eddies of violent protests by citizens all over the country bring down an authoritarian regime. And everyone is stunned by both the suddenness and the scale of it all. But the philosopher, Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), would not have been surprised. He would have reminded the world of three things that he always said in the course of his long life:
The video posted above is the fourth in a series we are featuring on this blog. The interview was conducted in June, 2010, during a learning event jointly organized by the World Bank Institute’s Governance Practice and CommGAP entitled “The Political Economy of Reform: Moving from Analysis to Action.” Featured in the video is Kapil Kapoor, World Bank Country Manager for Zambia. From the informed vantage point of managing not only a country portfolio, but also webs of relationships among local and international stakeholders, Kapoor cogently argues that donors and development agencies must broaden their view of in-country engagement:
… I think we need to be paying much more attention to civil society groups. Over the longer term, there is no substitute from the people of a particular country putting pressure on their own governments to improve service delivery, to improve accountability, to improve transparency. Often, when such demands come from donors, it’s quite easy for governments to turn around and externalize the issue and say ‘But these are people who’ve got no stake in our economy… they’re outsiders…’
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Poverty Matters Blog (Guardian)
Technology’s role in fighting poverty is still ripe for discussion
"I'm rarely one for predictions, so I shied away from the usual scramble to make a few at the start of the year. Looking back on events, however, is another thing, and for me 2010 has been a particularly interesting year on a number of fronts.
If I were to make one key observation, I'd say that the "D" in ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development) resembled more "debate" than "development" during 2010. The ICT4D field has always been ripe for fierce discussion – perhaps a sign that all is not well, or that the discipline continues to mature, or that the rampant advance of technology continues to catch practitioners and academics off-guard. Where, for example, does the advance of the iPad fit into ICT4D, if at all?"
In my previous blog post, I examined how the system of oil revenue distribution in Nigeria is likely to weaken accountability and the results focus at all levels of government. Some of my colleagues actually wanted me to be more forceful than I was and close the door on the argument. However, I did not want to do so, for having lived in Nigeria for almost three years now, I have observed signs of change.
Why is it that some countries are more developed than others? A country is “less developed” not only because it lack inputs (labor and capital) but because it uses them less efficiently. In fact, inputs are estimated to account for less than half of the differences in per capita income across nations. The rest is due to the inability to acquire, adopt and adapt better technologies to raise productivity. As an engine of growth, the potential of technological learning is huge—and largely untapped. Four global trends have begun to unlock that potential, and are bound to continue.
First, the vertical decomposition of production across frontiers allows less-advanced countries to insert themselves in supply chains by initially specializing in
As I see it, the civilian-led movements in demand for good governance fall into two camps: ‘Project-instigated’ and ‘Organically-grown’. My interest in dissecting ‘the organic’ vs. ‘project-instigated’ processes is induced by the significance of (i) the authenticity of the movement in the context of the actual need or interest, and (ii) the sustainability of the movement, or its impact at the system level, in changing norms, behavior patterns and institutional culture and processes.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Kimberly Process, and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) are just a few examples of major Multistakeholder Initiatives (MSIs). Through comprehensive deliberative processes, involving a broad set of stakeholders from governments, private sector, and civil society, MSIs form and adopt new norms, which they seek to make part of the global agenda, and implement on the ground. MSIs gained traction in the late 1990’s, as a means of filling “governance gaps,” due to the failure of existing structures and processes, and as a means to solve problems through collective action. Lucy Koechlin and Richard Calland, have identified five functions of MSIs: 1) dialogue/forum, 2) institution building, 3) rule setting, 4) rule implementation and 5) rule monitoring.
As the use of MSIs is fairly recent, it might be too soon to question their effectiveness. However, Koechlin, Calland, and N.K. Dubash have identified challenges in their analysis of the EITI and the World Commission on Dams. These challenges, involving effectiveness, legitimacy and accountability, can impede a successful outcome.
"Without criticism and reliable and intelligent reporting, the government cannot govern."
- Walter Lippmann