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Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
By the Numbers: Tracing the Statistical Correlation Between Press Freedom and Democracy
Center for International Media Assistance, National Endowment for Democracy
It is generally accepted that media freedom is beneficial to democratic and economic development, but the exact nature of this relationship and the direction of causality between press freedom and general freedoms is under-researched. Rigorous and in-depth examinations of the relationship between press freedom and general democracy using the available global datasets have been limited. This study investigates the nature of that relationship through detailed statistical and qualitative analysis.

Africa’s Tech Edge
The Atlantic
It’s a painfully First World problem: Splitting dinner with friends, we do the dance of the seven credit cards. No one, it seems, carries cash anymore, so we blunder through the inconvenience that comes with our dependence on plastic. Just as often, I encounter a street vendor or taxi driver who can’t handle my proffered card and am left shaking out my pockets and purse. When I returned to the United States after living in Nairobi on and off for two years, these antiquated payment ordeals were especially frustrating. As I never tire of explaining to friends, in Kenya I could pay for nearly everything with a few taps on my cellphone.

The mobile marketing opportunity in the developing world
A recent Time Mobility poll revealed that 84 percent of people worldwide claimed they could not go one day without their phone in hand. While this finding suggests a general agreement on the importance of mobile in daily life, the underlying implications are vastly different. In the Western world, we enjoy the convenience of accessing information on the go and a direct line to our network of contacts via voice, message, email, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and so on. In developing nations, mobile connectivity compensates for persistent development and technology gaps. This results in widespread reliance on mobile for essential information related to societal development, sustainability, and commercial content such as entertainment and marketing. Mobile device penetration has far exceeded internet access in less developed nations -- 79 percent of people have access to a mobile device, but only 28 percent are able to go online.

Reimagining the Role of the Private Sector in Global Development
Brookings Institution
In the span of one decade, the private sector has become a prominent contributor to global development, even in low-income and post-conflict contexts. But the principal purpose of private business activity is to make profits for shareholders, not to achieve development impact. These diverging interests can be aligned with better norms and standards, as well as voluntary improvements in business and aid agency practices, if efforts are made to blend commercial with philanthropic and official finance, and to build trust and accountability between development partners. However, to understand where the opportunities lie in these efforts, the private sector needs to be disaggregated into distinct types of businesses.

Toward Place Governance: What If We Reinvented Civic Infrastructure Around Placemaking?
Project for Public Spaces
Governance, on every scale, is not set up to create great places. Indeed, the current culture and structure of government and civic infrastructure may actually be the greatest obstacle (more than money, ideas, talent, infrastructure, etc.) to successful Placemaking. As ingrained as government, and its relationship to communities, might seem, we are finding that these obstacles are ones that all parties are poised to overcome. Governance, whether formal or informal, strong or weak, top-down or bottom up, has great potential to redefine and refocus itself around Place. Inherently bound by place, and tied to the success of the places it governs, government is still largely missing a coherent focus on enhancing its places.

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Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomite