Chris Blattman is right to question my enthusiasm for information as the solution to seemingly intractable development problems. (By the way, thanks for the complimentary plug for AfricaCan, Chris). Information by itself is not useful unless people can do something with it.
Speaking of mobile banking (see the previous post), it might be useful to see just what mobile coverage looks like in South Africa. Fortunately, the UNDP provides heat maps with exactly this data. Here is one from 2000 (which also appears in an earlier post called UNDP discovers the private sector):
Mobile banking keeps getting more and more publicity, as it should. Brian Richardson, the CEO of WIZZIT, made an appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative last week. You can see video of Richardson's appearance here. The video below provides a bit of background on WIZZIT, an organization that has received support from the IFC.
|Kiribati is the easternmost country in the world, and was the first country to enter into the year 2000.|
In the last couple of years, microcredit has managed to get a sexy reputation, for better and for worse. The attention helps to bring large dollops of funding, but at the same time raises expectations higher than can ever be met. Development initiatives of this type probably go through something similar to Gartner's hype cycle for technological breakthroughs, with a peak, a trough, and a leveling off:
Western Union and the Economist Intelligence Unit recently released a new Global Migration Barometer. I was a member of the panel of peer reviewers as well as a panelist at the launch event held in Washington with my good friends Don Terry, Demetri Papademetriu, and Thomas Debass.
When you withdraw your money from an ATM outside of your bank network, you often get stuck with an unwelcome fee. At least with an ATM, though, it’s usually obvious how much the fee is. The same cannot be said about remittances, where a combination of opaque exchange rates and multiple fees make it difficult to calculate how much you’re paying to send money.
The very reliable Program for Research on Private Higher Education recently released a study of Thai private higher education. With the returns to higher education growing rapidly in many developing countries - including Thailand - the question of expanding access to higher education is no small matter. According to the new study, Inside Thai Private Higher Education, private higher education has been growing like gangbusters:
The World Bank office in Sydney has established a Facebook group called "Young People for Change" for youth in the Pacific, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea to air their thoughts and ideas on how they could help spur change.
I love this innovative approach that seeks young people where you find them these days: on social network sites. One could argue that the respective cultures of the Pacific, PNG and Timor Leste are rather distinct, and yet, the views and concerns of these young people might prove to be remarkably similar and indeed provide valuable food for thought for politicians and policy-makers. For governments, and development institutions supporting them, integrating youth in their strategic planning and addressing their hopes and grievances has been notoriously difficult and often simply overlooked. This shortcoming has come at a high price at times; high youth unemployment and a sense of social and political alienation have long been recognized as a proximate cause for political instability.
|A rice seller in one of Cambodia's markets. The price of rice, a staple food for Cambodians, has doubled between July 2007 and July 2008.|
The simple reaction is that higher price of food is bad for the poor. CDRI is able to confirm some of this by tracking prices (the price of rice doubled between July 2007 and July 2008) and reminding us that food accounts for two thirds of consumption for a poor family. And there will be little substitution effect to other goods (even within food, most of the caloric intake comes from rice, also very difficult to replace–although CDRI shows that Cambodians in part shifted to lower quality rice to make up for the higher price).