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East Asia and Pacific

Beyond communication: How functional is your mobile phone?

Justine Espina-Letargo's picture
Noel Aspras in the Philippines says that "even the lowliest of farmers owns a cellphone now" because it has become a necessity. Watch the video below.

When I lost my mobile phone two years ago, I felt dismembered. After all, my cellphone was constantly by my side, serving as alarm clock, calendar, and default camera for those ‘Kodak’ moments you couldn’t let pass. It was also a nifty calculator that I turned to when splitting restaurant bills with friends.

After grieving the loss of my “finger” for two days, I pulled myself together and got a new, smarter phone that allowed for faster surfing on the web, audio recording and a host of other functions that, well, made me quickly forget the lost unit. A blessing in disguise, I told myself.

So when no less than a farmer from Pagsanjan in the Philippines’ Laguna province told me that mobile phones were “no longer a luxury, but a necessity,” and added that “even the lowliest of farmers riding on a carabao (water buffalo) owns one,” I couldn’t agree more.

From rice to robots: Is Vietnam's workforce ready for the future? Let us know what you think!

Christian Bodewig's picture

Cũng có ở Tiếng việt

As a member of the WTO since 2007 and located in the middle of fast-growing East Asia, Vietnam has earned a reputation as a smart place to invest. Its people are a major asset in attracting foreign investors: Vietnam can boast of its comparatively low wages and a large, young and hard-working labor force. Despite Vietnam’s success so far, it remains to be seen whether its workforce is ready for the next phase in the country’s development – to carry forward the transition from a largely agrarian to an industrialized economy.  Are Vietnam’s workers ready to move from low to high tech production? From rice to robots?

Từ lúa gạo đến rô bốt: Liệu Nhân lực Việt Nam đã sẵn sàng cho tương lai? Hãy chia sẻ ý kiến của bạn!

Christian Bodewig's picture

Available in English

Nằm ở trung tâm của khu vực Đông Á đang phát triển nhanh chóng và chính thức trở thành thành viên của Tổ chức Thương mại Thế giới (WTO) từ năm 2007, Việt Nam được biết đến như một điểm đến đầu tư khôn ngoan. Nguồn nhân lực chính là tài sản quý giá để thu hút các nhà đầu tư nước ngoài: Việt Nam có thể tự hào về lực lượng lao động trẻ, đông đảo, chăm chỉ với mức lương tương đối thấp. Tuy đã tương đối thành công cho đến nay, câu hỏi được đặt ra là liệu nguồn nhân lực của Việt Nam đã sẵn sàng cho giai đoạn phát triển tiếp theo của đất nước - chuyển đổi từ nền kinh kế nông nghiệp sang công nghiệp hóa - hay chưa. Người lao động Việt Nam đã sẵn sàng để chuyển từ sản xuất công nghệ thấp lên công nghệ cao chưa? Từ trồng lúa gạo sang chế tạo rô bốt chưa?

East Asia Pacific leads in seaport investments

David Lawrence's picture
Click image to view larger version.

In this digital age, it’s easy to forget that there is a staggering amount of physical goods moving across the globe. Most trade—80 percent by volume—moves through seaports. Trade in developing countries makes up a good chunk of the total, and is growing fast. Handshake, IFC’s quarterly journal on public-private partnerships (PPPs), reports trade in developing countries is growing at nearly 14 percent.

And a lot of this trade is happening in Asia. In its June 21, 2012 issue, the Economist reports that the center of gravity of cargo trade is shifting from Europe to Asia. So it should come as no surprise that Asia is leading investment in seaports. Handshake reports that from 2000-2011, the East Asia Pacific region accounted for nearly $14 billion—32 percent—of private investment in seaports, mainly from China. The Philippines and Singapore are also major Asian investors in seaport projects.

Much of this investment comes through PPPs. Does this really make a difference? I’d say it does. Private sector financing and expertise make seaports and shipping more efficient. This in turn benefits emerging markets, which are becoming more and more engaged in global trade.

Could seaport investments be a predictor of future trends in trade? If so, Asia will become even more of a trade hotspot than it is today.

For further information, read Issue #6 of Handshake: Air & Sea PPPs.

Keeping the Wonder in the Pacific

Aleta Moriarty's picture
The ocean represents transport, food, culture and livelihoods for people of the Pacific.

A few years ago in Papua New Guinea on a holiday I was lucky enough to spend a day with a fisherman who took me out on his dugout canoe. For hours we slowly skimmed along the surface of the ocean, the clear water providing a wonderful lens to the world below teeming with life. Fish, starfish, coral, eels, plants—a world beyond my wildest imagination.

He pointed out the plants he ate and others he used as traditional medicine. He showed me innocuous-looking creatures that would spell certain death. He showed me the craggy hiding hole of the tail-less crocodile that was the lead character in village folklore. He showed me the fish he caught that fed his family and provided him with an income and how his father had taught him to catch them, like he too had taught his children.

Life along a road in the capital of Kiribati

Laura Keenan's picture

In South Tarawa, life takes place along a road.

It is Kiribati’s capital and main atoll, made up of several small islands connected by a string of causeways. The atoll is about three meters above sea level—roughly the height of a bus—and has an average width of just 450 meters.

It is also one of the most densely populated places in the Pacific: this narrow stretch of land encompasses about half of the country’s population of 110,000 people.

Just one road runs through it all, connecting Betio in the west to Bonriki in the east. People live beside it, it takes people from village to village, to schools and hospitals, people sell their goods by the roadside, and the flow of vehicles and people is constant.

Infrastruktur Baru Aceh yang Menakjubkan

David Lawrence's picture

Available in English

Bandar udara baru di Banda Aceh seindah Taj Mahal – terang, dengan lantai marmer yang luas dan kubah yang indah. Kita bisa membayangkan ada sebuah kolam yang indah atau taman…OK, mungkin saya mulai berlebihan. Tapi bagi yang pernah merasakan bandar udara yang lama – mirip terminal bis di kota tua yang ditempeli landasan – pasti bisa mengerti kenapa saya sangat antusias.

Recipe for economic growth in the Philippines: invest in infrastructure, education, and job creation

Rogier van den Brink's picture
The report says that a highly-educated, healthier and skilled workforce will enhance productivity.

Economic news coming from the Philippines is surprisingly positive, and this has not gone unnoticed in international circles, judging by the number of inquiries we—the World Bank economic team in Manila that I am now leading—are getting. Our GDP growth forecast for 2012 (included in the new Philippines Quarterly Update report) is a solid 4.6 percent, while the first quarter saw an even more respectable growth rate of 6.4 percent. Other good news: foreign direct investment doubled in the first quarter, exports were up by 18 percent, and two ratings agencies upgraded their outlook on the Philippines.

However, the economy faces two challenges going forward: it will need to defend itself against a global slowdown, and it will also need to create a more inclusive growth pattern—one that creates more and better jobs, because performance on job creation has not been part of the positive news coming from the Philippines for quite a while now.

Kapal tsunami: Wisata unik di Aceh

David Lawrence's picture

Available in English

Apa yang Anda lakukan kalau ada kapal seberat 2.600 ton mendarat di dekat rumah? Percaya atau tidak, ada beberapa orang yang bingung menjawab pertanyaan ini.

Tsunami yang menyapu Lautan Hindia pada 26 Desember 2004 tidak hanya membawa kerusakan dan korban jiwa. Kejadian tersebut juga menyapu PLTD Apung 1, kapal pembangkit listrik yang bersandar di Pelabuhan Ulee Lheue Banda Aceh, naik ke darat. Seharusnya kapal ini menghasilkan listrik untuk beberapa dekade lagi untuk mengurangi keterbatasan listrik di Indonesia.

Get the flash player here:


Tetapi kapal tersebut terangkat oleh tsunami hingga beberapa kilometer ke darat, tepat di tengah-tengah perumahan. Ketika saya pertama kali tiba di Banda Aceh pada tahun 2006, penduduk masih tinggal di beberapa rumah tepat di samping kapal itu. Sebuah jalan sementara dibuat mengelilingi benda besar tersebut. Di dekatnya ada kotak yang diletakkan di atas sebuah kursi, dengan tulisan tangan untuk meminta sumbangan bagi para korban tsunami. Pertanyaan yang ada di benak kami semua adalah: Apa yang akan mereka lakukan dengan sumbangan itu?

Women outvote men to build activity hall in the Solomons

David Potten's picture
The soon to be completed women's meeting hall will house various activities to help women develop themselves.

(Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog post)

While leaving leaving the LoLoMo eco-resort, the rain seemed to carefully time its return for our last leg of the trip. We were heading back towards Munda, and then turned to yet another island to visit the Buni Village Women’s Project.  This was project was in its first year of implementation. A large hall, together with rooms for guests, toilets (not standard in the rural Solomons), benches and a large blackboard was almost complete. The local carpenter was busy there in the building, planing wood for tables and benches.