Is Google the newest development agency? They keep impressing me with their new initiatives. This time it's an SMS service that allows mobile phone users to request and receive information off the web free of charge. This could prove to be of huge benefit to the now vast number of mobile phone users in the developing world who don't have access to an internet connection.
Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Russia's oligarchs have been suffering through the financial crisis. (It must be hard having to give up the chateau in France and the penthouse in London.) But one oligarch already pointed the way years ago.
Apparently, Moldovan police have "arrested" a Christmas tree intended for Chisinau's main square. Why, you ask? It did not have the appropriate permits:
Avid users of instant messaging, beware! Your habit is about to become very expensive. Well, at least if you live in Russia. Apparently, the Russian patent agency has awarded a patent on the ";-)" emoticon to a Russian businessman. (I wonder if they will charge me for this blog post?) Eternal Remont reports:
Russian businessman Oleg Teterin now claims he owns the tradmark to an emoticon:
With a slowdown in the rich economies (particularly in the housing sector in some countries), might we see large numbers of migrants returning to their home countries? It looks like Poland, at least, is making plans. According to the Polski blog, Poland's government is trying to help:
As the Global Environmental Management Initiative releases its Guide to Successful Corporate-NGO Partnerships, the Economist recently reminded us that in a Development 2.0 world, the balance of power in environmental campaigning is shifting. Thanks to the viral nature of tools such as blogs and Youtube, local issues can gain visibility and quickly become global.
Armenia, like many post-communist countries, faces a serious threat from the global slowdown. Flagging demand for exports and a slowdown in remittances will likely take a toll on the economy. Haroutiun Khachatrian at the CACI Analyst reports on the measures the Armenian government is taking to deal with the threat. Among the measures are increased support for infrastructure projects and steps to improve the business environment for small and medium enterprises.
In debates over globalization, much attention is given to so-called 'North-South' relationships. Often, data on 'South-South' exchanges it too limited to say much. A new paper on Global Migration of the Highly Skilled by Theo Dunnewijk of United Nations University helps shed some new light on 'South-South' brain drain/brain strain/brain circulation (Hat tip: Giulio Quaggiotto). Previous datasets had overlooked diasporas of highly skilled workers in these countries:
CGAP ran a virtual conference last week on microfinance and the financial crisis. (See their website for details and an earlier post on the first round of emails from the conference.) There was a ton of interest in this topic, reflected in the extraordinary volume of communication from all over the globe.