These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Show Them the Money, Why Giving Cash Helps Alleviate Poverty
Every year, wealthy countries spend billions of dollars to help the world’s poor, paying for cows, goats, seeds, beans, textbooks, business training, microloans, and much more. Such aid is designed to give poor people things they can’t afford or the tools and skills to earn more. Much of this aid undoubtedly works. But even when assistance programs accomplish things, they often do so in a tremendously expensive and inefficient way. Part of this is due to overhead, but overhead costs get far more attention than they deserve. More worrisome is the actual price of procuring and giving away goats, textbooks, sacks of beans, and the like. Most development agencies either fail to track their costs precisely or keep their accounting books confidential, but a number of candid organizations have opened themselves up to scrutiny. Their experiences suggest that delivering stuff to the poor is a lot more expensive than one might expect.
2015: The year there will be more cellular connections than people
At the end of March, there were 6.8 billion mobile connections around the globe, meaning there were more than 9.3 cellular links for every 10 people living on the planet, according to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report. That puts the world on pace to reach 100 percent mobile penetration in 2015, meaning the number of mobile connections will surpass the population. That doesn’t mean we’ll see every man, woman in child in the world’s estimated population of 7.2 billion using a mobile phone. Mobile penetration is definitely increasing in developing markets – Africa and India led the way in new connections in Q1 – but the concentration of mobile devices is still centered on developed markets. Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America have already exceeded the 100 percent penetration mark.
Economic growth and developing world cities: The benefits of urban clustering
Today, a majority of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050, two thirds of all people on the planet are projected to call urban areas their home. This trend will be most prominent in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America: More than 90 per cent of the global urban growth is taking place in these regions, adding 70 million new residents to urban areas every year. For the many poor in developing countries, cities embody the hope for a better and more prosperous life. The inflow of poor rural residents into cities has created hubs of urban poverty. One-third of the urban population in developing countries resides in slum conditions. On the other hand, urban areas are engines of economic success. The 750 biggest cities on the planet account for 57% of today’s GDP, and this share is projected to rise further. It is thus unsurprising that rapid urban growth has been dubbed one of the biggest challenges by skeptics and one of the biggest opportunities by optimists.
International protocol launched to deal with sexual violence in conflict
An international protocol for dealing with rape and sexual violence in conflict was launched on Wednesday at a historic London summit on the issue, providing guidelines on the investigation of sex crimes and the collection of evidence for future prosecutions. "For decades – if not centuries – there has been a near-total absence of justice for survivors of rape and sexual violence in conflict. We hope this protocol will be part of a new global effort to shatter this culture of impunity, helping survivors and deterring people from committing these crimes in the first place," the UK foreign secretary, William Hague – who is co-hosting the summit with film star Angelina Jolie – wrote in a foreword to the 140-page protocol. The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict opened on Wednesday with 117 countries formally represented, plus scores of UN and aid agencies, civil society organisations, survivors and nearly 2,000 delegates from around the world.
Forget drones: Microsoft’s plan to bring the internet to the world is all about TV
Google will spend between $1 billion and $3 billion to put 180 satellites in orbit, from where the company can beam the internet down to unconnected parts of the world, the Wall Street Journal reported this morning. That’s in addition to Google’s other high-tech internet missionaries: balloons floating high in the sky and drones circling overhead. Facebook also has lofty ambitions. But there may be a simpler way to spread connectivity: Television white space. TV is broadcast using the electro-magnetic spectrum—as is radio, communications and cell phone signal. Each television channel owns one tiny slice of that spectrum, which is regulated by governments. But there are gaps between channels to prevent one from interfering with the next. As the world’s thirst for wireless technologies grows, government regulators are looking at unused broadcast spectrum as a way to ease congestion and spur innovation.
Quality job creation aids growth in developing countries, says ILO
High quality global journalism requires investment. Developing countries that encourage the creation of “quality jobs” – higher-productivity roles with regular earnings – are achieving faster economic growth, the International Labour Organisation says. States that were most successful in promoting this type of employment, along with social benefits such as pensions and healthcare, grew nearly one percentage point faster every year since 2007 than other developing economies, according to the UN agency. The creation of quality jobs also helped these countries to withstand the impact of the global crisis, the ILO said in its yearl World of Work report.