If you haven't seen it, you should check out the newest addition to the World Bank Group family of blogs: Africa Can End Poverty. Spearheaded by Shanta Devarajan, the blog promises to introduce some debate on the pressing issues of development in Africa. Want to know how to promote exports or whether Africa is growing too fast?
Apparently, degree mills - unaccredited universities - are a national security concern in Nigeria. The authorities mean business:
[The National Council on Education] is partnered with the Department of State Services—Nigeria's secret service—in locating, arresting, and prosecuting operators of unapproved universities and satellite campuses.
Google just released its own browser, Chrome, to compete with Internet Explorer. Daniel Altman on the International Herald Tribune blog argues that it may just turn out to be the developing world's browser. Now, Google has just announced it is supporting the development of a system of satellites to provide internet access to regions without fast fiber networks.
While we may not be ready to announce victory in the digital war on poverty, there are definitely battles that are being won. And the most recent battle is that over text messaging. Cell phones have spread like wildfire across Africa and many other parts of the world. But these are basic handsets - no internet access, no videos, no maps. These phones do, however, have short message service (SMS), aka text messaging.
Perhaps in contrast to my post on the digital war on poverty, I just noticed an interesting article on the website of AED - the Academy for Educational Development. They are using a technology called the African Access Point (AAP) in combination with personal digital assistants (PDAs). From the article:
Every year around this time, the Shanghai Jiao Tong University makes waves with its Academic Ranking of World Universities. As always, North America dominates in the short list of top 100 universities, with the Ivy League universities occupying most of the top slots.
I've just run across a spate of items on the development of ICT in Africa; although it could just be coincidence, I suspect there's been a growing interest in this topic in the development community.
Of all sub-Saharan countries, Malawi comes dead last in the number of physicians per 1,000 inhabitants. According to the 2004 World Development Indicators (the last year for which data is available for most countries), Malawi had only .02 physicians per 1,000 inhabitants, tying Niger and well behind Uganda at .8 and Ghana at 1.5. Obviously, there is room for improvement.
While rising food prices threaten to increase poverty, they are not quite the unmitigated disaster that they are sometimes represented to be, at least according to Dani Rodrik. Rodrik points out that the effect of rising food prices on the world's poor depends on whether the poor are net producers or consumers of foodstuffs:
Just recently, the EU approved the extract of the baobab fruit as an ingredient in foods in the European market. If you're like me, until today you had never heard of the boabab fruit (pictured right).