Syndicate content

Information and Communication Technologies

African Successes

Shanta Devarajan's picture

In recent years, a broad swath of African countries has begun to show a remarkable dynamism.  From Mozambique’s impressive growth rate (averaging 8% p.a. for more than a decade) to Kenya’s emergence as a major global supplier of cut flowers, from M-pesa’s mobile phone-based cash transfers to KickStart’s low-cost irrigation technology for small-holder farmers, and from Rwanda’s gorilla tourism to Lagos City’s Bus Rapid Transit system, Africa is seeing a dramatic transformation.  This favorable trend is spurred by, among other things, stronger leadership, better governance, an improving business climate, innovation, market-based solutions, a more involved citizenry, and an increasing reliance on home-grown solutions.  More and more, Africans are driving African development. 

The global economic crisis of 2008-09 threatens to undermine the optimism that Africa can harness this dynamism for long-lasting development.  In light of this, it might be useful to re-visit recent achievements.  The African Successes study aims to do just that.

The study will identify a wide range of development successes (see list), from which around 20 cases will be selected for in-depth study.  The analysis of each successful experience will evaluate the following: (1) the drivers of success—what has worked and why; (2) the sustainability of the successful outcome(s); and (3) the potential for scaling up successful experiences.  African success stories offer valuable insights and practical lessons to other countries in the region. 

I welcome your comments and suggestions for success stories. Click here to see the list of what we have come up with so far.

Quote of the Week

Antonio Lambino's picture

"Constellations of Change

Media structures, laws, and policies are scarcely ever modified to find a more beautiful form, or even to develop a more efficient way to achieve commonly agreed-upon goals.  Changes in structure, including changes in law, occur because of pressure from within industry, the society, and the government, from within or without the state... Because (the global communications system's) contours are important for the fundamentals of national identity, for trade, and the world political order, the shaping of it is a matter not only of domestic preference but also of international debate and foreign policy."

Monroe E. Price (2002, pp. 12-13)                             
Media and Sovereignty: The Global Information Revolution and Its Challenge to State Power

Useful Reading on Africa: Links of the week for Sept. 4, 2009

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Here is some good reading on Africa:

- As Africa grows richer, there are reasons to be pessimistic about its ability to capitalize on the benefits of a reduction in population growth, says The Economist. One reason is that one in two Africans is a child, which means that traditional ways of caring for children in extended families are breaking down.

Sharing our work at the Digital Citizen conference.

Sameer Vasta's picture

For those of you who are in Washington DC and want to learn more about the World Bank's work on the web — specifically, how audience feedback and data are driving the way we approach our new online initiatives — I'd recommend you attend the DigitalCitizen Conference on October 8, 2009.

Essay competition: youth entrepreneurship and the web?

Sameer Vasta's picture

As part of the lead-up to the Y2Y Global Youth Conference to take place here in Washington DC in October, the World Bank Youth-to-Youth Community is launching an essay competition on youth entrepreneurship in times of crisis.

The contest is open to all young people aged 18-30 around the world and shortlisted essays will be featured on the World Bank Y2Y website.

Ingenious Engineers for India

Andreas Blom's picture

With its massive talent-base, a unique ability to attract its best and brightest students to the engineering discipline, and the presence of some of the world’s leading companies, India has an enormous potential to modernize its economy through engineering education and technology.

However, I think the potential is not fully exploited. The majority of new engineers in India are superb at rote memorization useful to pass paper exams. Many students, however, are less skilled at solving real-life problems with creativity. Also they lack communication and team skills in order to succeed in a demanding international setting.

Hearing the call for open data.

Sameer Vasta's picture

In his most recent TED talk, open data advocate Hans Rosling blasted the World Bank (and lauded the US government) on data sharing practices. Rosling said that while we at the Bank have some of the best researchers and the best access to data, we're not doing enough to share that data openly, and for free.

Finding (useful) research on ICT use in education in developing countries

Michael Trucano's picture

image of pressed papers in Insadong, Seoul, Korea from Flickr user Jared at, used under the terms of the Creative Commons by attribution 2.0 license (via Wikimedia Commons)I am often asked to recommend "useful research on ICT and education issues in developing countries".

While there are resources to which I inevitably turn (and which I recommend time and again, a topic for future consideration on this blog), there is a question which I have a more difficult time answering:

"How do I find, and stay in the loop on, useful research, documentation and lessons learned on ICT and education issues in developing countries?"

Social Networking Sites: Getting People to Speak Their Minds

Fumiko Nagano's picture

On Facebook, I have noticed an interesting trend: some of my friends who are normally introverted and shy in person are a lot more vocal and seem to have fewer qualms about voicing their opinions on the site. They post status updates sharing their thoughts on issues, comment on others’ posts, and provide links to websites, articles, photos and videos about topics that they deem important, even creating interest-specific groups to attract those who are keen to participate in online discussions on key causes. Part of this phenomenon might be psychological. Maybe we feel a certain degree of safety on social networking sites because they give us the option not to have to engage in physical, face-to-face interactions with those who might disagree. On these interfaces, there is no need to worry about potentially negative consequences arising from differences in opinion, such as ridicule, humiliation, confrontation, and isolation. If social networking sites can embolden even the shiest of us to voice our true opinions, could they be the answer to breaking the spiral of silence on contested issues?