From Singapore to Shenzhen, Special Economic Zones—SEZs for short—have helped underpin the rapid export-oriented growth of East Asia. In an effort to replicate these sleepy-fishing-village-turn-thriving-metropolis success stories, many countries in the developing world have created economic zones of their own—and their growth has been dramatic.
According to a recent Pew survery, 71% of technology leaders believe that in 2020 most people will access “software applications online and share and access information through the use of remote server networks”, rather than depending primarily on their individual, personal computers. They say that “cloud computing will become more dominant than the desktop in the next decade. In other words, most users will perform most computing and communicating activities through connections to servers operated by outside firms”. Therefore understanding cloud computing is a must for everyone, particularly development professionals who will have to tackle cloud related strategic, implementation and design challenges in their projects.
A comment I posted on Chris Blattman’s blog on the problems with Africa’s higher education was picked up in a lively discussion on the Roving Bandit blog (“Probably the best economics blog [previously] in Southern Sudan”).
First, for those who are interested in my paper with Celestin Monga and Tertius Zongo on “Making Higher Education Finance Work for Africa,” here it is.
Second, I would like to hear people’s views on the issue raised: Is the poor state of African higher education the result of neglect (“blind spot”) by donors, who emphasized primary education, or is it because the presumption that higher education should be financed and provided (largely free of charge) by the government led to “government failures”—where only the elite got access to the free university education, and the universities themselves became politicized?
One of the frustrations facing job seekers worldwide, but especially in many developing countries, is how much finding a job depends on who you know rather than what you know. For example, in work I’ve done with small enterprises in Sri Lanka, less than 2 percent of employers openly advertised the position they last hired – with the most common ways of finding a worker being to ask friends, neighbors or family members for suggestions. Clearly networks matter for finding jobs.
Here's an interesting example of anti-corruption work in the mobile realm: a new application called Bribespot helps ordinary people report on instances of corruption they witness in their daily lives. According to this piece on MobileActive.org, users can download a mobile app for Android, which they can then use to submit specific instances of bribes. (Users can also submit through a website). A central office checks the submission and removes identifying information before posting to a database. According to the developers of the app, it is not intended to identify specific individuals, but rather to help visualize the extent of corruption, and to provide a basis for anti-corruption agencies and others to follow up. So far, the app is being used mainly in Lithuania and Romania.
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of posts that preview the findings of the forthcoming Financing Africa: Through the Crisis and Beyond regional flagship report, a comprehensive review documenting current and new trends in Africa’s financial sectors and taking into account Africa’s many different experiences. The report was prepared by the African Development Bank, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Bank. In this post, the authors focus on the regulatory and supervisory challenges for financial systems in Africa.
In our previous contributions, we stressed the importance of competition in the banking system and the financial system at large. However, this also poses additional challenges for regulators and supervisors. The recent Nigerian experience of widespread and systemic fragility linked to (though not necessarily caused by) rapid changes in market structure and capital structure of banks shows that regulators and supervisors have to develop the capacity to monitor such changes carefully. It also shows that increased competition has to be accompanied by improvements in governance. Similarly, expanding financial service provision beyond banking poses additional challenges to regulators and supervisors. This concerns not only the challenges in the supervision of insurance companies and pension funds, but also coordination between bank and telecom regulators. It also requires an open and flexible regulatory and supervisory approach that balances the need for financial innovation with the need to watch for fragility emerging in new forms.
Important developments today:
1. Greek bonds plunge amid growing default fears
2. Growth in U.S. service sector continues through August turmoil
“It is the between-the-elections conduct of the state that is the focus of the anti-corruption movement. Ironically, though Mr Hazare is rural, the urban middle class, a child in India’s risking prosperity, has formed the base of the movement. That also means it will have the internal resources to last. A political battle has begun to make democracy deeper. The political class should be concerned."
-- Ashutosh Varshney, "India’s battle for democracy has just begun", Financial Times, August 29, 2011
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An interesting, recently revised working paper by Duflo, Dupas and Kremer looks at the effects of providing school uniforms, teacher training on HIV education, and the two combined. This paper is useful in a number of dimensions – it gives us some sense of the longer term effects of these programs, the methodology is interesting (and informative), and finally, of course, the results are pretty intriguing and definitely food for thought.