The Economist has an interesting prediction for east Africa: "In a couple of years even fairly poor east Africans may be getting knowledge, news and entertainment on robust versions of existing Apple iPhone and Palm Pre models." This prediction comes just after Kenya's president connected the first of three planned fiber-optic submarine cables.
Great advances in mobile telephony and internet access seem to promise a revolution in development. But Chris Kreutz on the crisscrossed blog reminds us just how big the constraints are. Among other things, Chris reports on a presentation at the Web4dev conference, and even in South Africa the obstacles are large:
An earlier post on this blog talked about the benefits to informal or unregistered firms from registering. Using data on informal firms in Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar and Mauritius (Enterprise Surveys), I argued that a majority of the informal firms believe that registration brings real benefits, especially those associated with better access to finance and markets.
Mohammad Amin gave us a post on new results from a survey of informal firms. Good data from informal firms is indeed an exciting innovation.
I want to focus on his results from Côte d'Ivoire. It turns out that 95% of informal firms in Côte d'Ivoire believe that their access to credit would improve if they became formal firms. This result prompts Mohammad to ask “why don’t firms register then?”
Chris Blattman has a question for staff at the World Bank and UN:
I seldom fly business myself, even on Bank and UN consultancies, mostly to conserve my project funds for research assistants and survey expenses. My incentives are just right: money I spend on me comes out of money I'd spend making my research projects just a little better. Not so the rest of the agency?
And now for a more positive example of Dev 2.0 in action. Giulio Quaggiotto pointed me to a very cool use of technology in the service of private sector development - weather insurance via SMS. According to Eric Seuret of 3S Mobile, SMS technology has sufficiently brought down the cost of providing insurance for farmers in Kenya against droughts to make it a viable business model. (Apologies for the cheesy intro music - you can safely skip over the first 20 seconds.)