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Information and Communication Technologies

Evaluating the evaluating of the Millennium Villages Project

Michael Trucano's picture

not all millennium projects are this neatly contained within clearly defined bordersWhen is the rigorous impact evaluation of development projects a luxury, and when is it a necessity?

This is a question asked in a new paper examing the Millennium Villages Project (MVP), a high profile initiative that, according to its web site, offers a "bold, innovative model for helping rural African communities lift themselves out of extreme poverty".

In the words of one of the authors of When Does Rigorous Impact Evaluation Make a Difference? The Case of the Millennium Villages, "We show how easy it can be to get the wrong idea about the project’s impacts when careful, scientific impact evaluation methods are not used. And we detail how the impact evaluation could be done better, at low cost."  The paper underscores the importance of comparing trends identified within a project activity with those in comparator sites if one is to determine the actual impact of a specific project.  This sentiment should come as no surprise to those familiar with an area of exploding interest in the international donor and development community -- that of the usefulness of randomized evaluations.

Stuffing the Internet in a box and shipping it to schools in Africa

Michael Trucano's picture

there are multiple options for moving forwardOver the past decade or so, increasing numbers of groups have been working on answers to variations of the following question:

How can the wealth of educational resources on the Internet be brought to the majority of African schools that are today 'un-connected'?

While the Internet has not wrought the similar types of profound, broad societal changes in Africa that it has in other parts of the world, the connectivity landscape in Africa is in fact changing very quickly in many places (for the better!), with (for example) macro-level announcements about progress with new fibre optic cables coming on what seems like a weekly basis.

(For those who like such things, here's a great map to track technical progress in this area.  For acronym fans, here are links to announcements about some of the major backbone connectivity initiatives in Africa: Glo,  RCIPEASSyTEAMS, Seacom and LION2.) 

Earlier this year the total number of mobile phone subscribers in Africa (over 300 million) passed the total in North America and, while access to the Internet via mobile phones is still low across the continent, it is growing quickly.  In Nigeria, for example, published reports now have mobile phones as the primary access device to the Internet in Africa's most populous country.  There is even increasing talk (and some action) of connecting African educational institutions to the 'cloud' in various ways. 

That said, it also undeniable that improvements in connectivity are not coming fast enough, or at a high enough speed or quality, or cheaply enough, for all citizens and schools, especially outside major population centers -- and won't any time in the near future.

The Doha Declaration on Quality Education In The Arab World: Data on Teachers

Nicole Goldstein's picture

Doha - Where the Arab World's Education Ministers met & endorsed the Doha DeclarationThe new buzz words in the World Bank are Open Data. Here, in our blog, we have been championing the cause of Open Data (see New Open Data Initiative Emphasizes Importance of Education Stats) and what it does for knowledge sharing and looking at development solutions for Education systems.

 

You may know that the President Bob Zoellick (also known as RBZ) recently delivered a pretty inspiring speech at Georgetown University at the end of September. He was advocating for a new perspective for the Bank: “Beyond the Ivory Tower to a New Research Model: Open Data, Open Knowledge, Open Solutions.”

 

Solomon Islanders enjoying cheaper calls as competition is increased in telecommunications

Alison Ofotalau's picture

Competition in the telecommunications sector in Solomon Islands has officially arrived. bemobile held its launching ceremony on  Aug 31, making it the first competitor to Solomon Telekom (known as “Our Telekom”) effectively ending the previous monopoly. This is the result of the Government’s policy of reforming the telecoms market in Solomon Islands including promoting competition, developing a new legal framework, and setting up a new regulator, the Telecommunications Commission of Solomon Islands (TCSI).

It Is Indeed a Good Thing That Google Is Not Evil*

Naniette Coleman's picture

I am often amazed with how Google reads my mind when I am typing, giving me numerous options from which to click.  Apparently, though, some words do not produce instant results.  "The Hacker publication 2600 decided to compile a list of words that are restricted by Google Instant." Although many of the words are not surprising (think off-color biological terms), some others might leave you thinking really, this made it to the list (ex. the word butt), but others might educate you on topics (off-color) that you had no consideration or imagination for.  Giggles aside, and yes I did some giggling when I reviewed the list, there is a bit of danger in the idea of a search engine censoring terms.  Based on whose morals, based on whose values and who makes the final censorship decision? These questions worry me.   

The wisdom in African crowds

Aly-Khan Satchu's picture

"Erica Hagen in her piece in Development Outreach talks of the map Kibera effort being a ' first step toward local ownership and creation of shared information.' And in that comment I feel she has hit the nail on the head.'

As an investor, you throw in the previously quite entrenched Africa perception gap and you have a very interesting situation. I would describe the situation as a potential laboratory for innovation. An incredibly youthful skew to the population (60% of Kenyans are under the age of 24) surely is also an accelerator. And hence my desire and interest of late to get on the ground, pound the pavement and see if this has actually been a catalyst for innovation.

Can Africa trade with Africa?

Obiageli Ezekwesili's picture

Obiageli Ezekwesili chairs the seminar: Can Africa Trade with Africa? (Photo: Arne Hoel, The World Bank)

I chaired a very lively seminar on Friday afternoon that focused on the question, “Can Africa Trade with Africa?”  The answer was a resounding yes. 

Today, there is strong consensus among African leaders that regional integration is indispensable to unlock economies of scale and sharpen competitiveness. And promoting intra-African trade has emerged as a top priority, in recognition that the African market of one billion consumers can be a powerful engine for growth and employment.

Yet despite the introduction of free trade areas, customs unions, and common markets within the Region, the level of intra-African trade remains among the lowest in the world -- only about 10% of African trade is within the continent, compared to about 40% in North America and about 60% in Western Europe.

From EduTech: School computers not working? There's an app for that!

 By Michael Trucano, Senior ICT & Education Specialist and EduTech blogger

open things up, and you never know what unexpected paths may lie ahead | img attribution at bottomLast week I attended a brainstorming meeting as part of the World Bank's 'Apps for Development' initiative, in preparation for a competition that will be announced in October to bring software developers and development practitioners together to develop useful software tools and data visualizations that use World Bank data. This is (hopefully!) just the first stage in a broader initiative over time exploring how approaches to  'open data' (and not just those generated or warehoused by the World Bank) can help contribute to creation of useful software tools to help with a variety of development challenges.

Can Everyone be a Think Tank?

Aleem Walji's picture
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

 

David Eaves, Open Data Blogger and Activist from Canada, boldly claimed that the World Bank's Open Data Policy allows many more people to use our data, rigorously study and analyze it, and draw their own conclusions about what it means. That was just not possible before now.  

It reminds me of what the laptop, digital camera, and mobile phone did for journalists and film makers. Technology fundamentally leveled the playing the field and democratized access to content. Suddenly, many more people could participate in journalism and create their own videos (24 hours of video is uploaded into YouTube every 60 seconds). Is that what the World Bank's Open Data policy can unleash? I love the possibility.

Today is a good day to be a Technologist

Today is a good day to be a Technologist at the World Bank.

It was seven months ago that I left a career job in the heart of the Silicon Valley on a promise that perhaps it was time to do our little part at the World Bank to engage the Software Technology community in the conversation on Development.


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