These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Mobile Phones and Violent Conflict - Is there a Connection?
“Over the past several years, a significant body of research has examined how communication technologies are transforming social, political, and economic dynamics in societies around the world. Much of this work has observed the positive effects of these technologies on improving civic engagement, increasing transparency, supporting free and fair elections, fostering economic development, and preventing violent conflict. We at NDI have developed numerous programs using communication technologies to improve democracy and good governance across borders and issue areas.
A new report, “Technology and Collective Action: The Effect of Cell Phone Coverage on Political Violence in Africa,” sheds light on the less beneficial aspects of communications technologies.” READ MORE
Global nature of corruption and the futile war against it
“John Githongo, who became known as one of the most outspoken critics of corruption in Kenya, is recognised for his role in exposing the Anglo Leasing scandal, which is estimated to have cost the exchequer more than 15 per cent of government expenditure. Githongo later fled to England, claiming that his life was in danger.
In Nigeria, the director general of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, Dr Dorothy Akunyili, waged a heroic battle from 2001 to 2008 with both local counterfeit drug manufacturers and wholesale imports of counterfeit drugs from China. She estimated that more than half of both locally-produced and imported drugs were of no value to the consumer and were potentially harmful.” READ MORE
WAN-IFRA Addresses African Parliament on Press Freedom
“The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) has addressed the Pan African Parliament as part of a session on media freedom in Africa and the launch of the "Press Freedom for Development and Governance: Need for Reform" campaign.
The Midrand Declaration on Press Freedom in Africa was also endorsed by parliamentarians, recognising WAN-IFRA’s Declaration of Table Mountain Campaign and launching an annual media freedom index in Africa. Alison Meston, WAN-IFRA Director of Press Freedom, cited studies that show independent media have a positive impact on democratization in Africa and on political, economic and social development.” READ MORE
Open Gov Blog
Transparency without open data? It’s like Ginger without Fred
“As David Cameron prepares for the UK’s presidency of the G8, the issue of supply chain transparency is already gaining considerable momentum, driven largely by high profile supply chain disasters and scandals. Even UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has called for companies to take responsibility for their supply chains in a comment reacting to the recent Bangladeshi garment factory collapse.
It is interesting to note that there are some businesses that claim to have product traceability in their supply chains but more often than not this tends to be about electronic label tracking rather than actual understanding of supplier sustainability. More businesses need to take this issue seriously.” READ MORE
Are NGO’s whiners, winners or what?
“Bold statements and polarized commentaries make for interesting reads. They immediately situate you on one side or the other of a debate, which can be fun. You’re engaged.
But they don’t leave much room for moving forward and identifying solutions to challenges, especially because they break complex issues down into one simple “truth”.
“Aid doesn’t work to reduce poverty. Trade does.”
Or the dismissive comments made by several commentators about, “typical whining from the NGO community,” when the plans for the CIDA-DFAIT merger were announced six weeks ago and a number of groups pronounced some misgivings.” READ MORE
Can mobile mesh networks help in times of crisis?
“There’s no doubt that we all take our mobile phones for granted. We expect them to work at a moment’s notice, and why not? That’s what they’re there for. But in times of disaster, natural or man-made, one of the first services to go down is the public communication network, namely the mobile phone networks. This means that many people are left stranded, unable to call for help or communicate with their loved ones when they need it most.
In a recent article on BBC Future, Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Internet Law at Harvard University, promotes the need for a network that works independently of the ones owned and controlled by the network operators and only in an emergency – something called a mesh network.” READ MORE