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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.

Dial ICT for conflict? Four lessons on conflict and contention in the info age
The Washington Post
The past decade has witnessed an explosion of interest among political scientists in the outbreak and dynamics of civil wars. Much of this research has been facilitated by the rise of electronic media, including newspapers but extending to social media (Twitter, Facebook) that permit the collection of fine-grained data on patterns of civil war violence. At the same time, a parallel research program has emerged that centers on the effects of new information and communication technologies (ICTs). Yet these two research efforts rarely intersect.
Improving Innovation in Africa
Harvard Business Review
Opportunity is on the rise in Africa. New research, funded by the Tony Elumelu Foundation and conducted by my team at the African Institution of Technology, shows that within Africa, innovation is accelerating and the continent is finding better ways of solving local problems, even as it attracts top technology global brands. Young Africans are unleashing entrepreneurial energies as governments continue to enact reforms that improve business environments. An increasing number of start-ups are providing solutions to different business problems in the region. These are deepening the continent’s competitive capabilities to diversify the economies beyond just minerals and hydrocarbon. Despite this progress, Africa is still deeply underperforming in core areas that will redesign its economy and make it more sustainable.

Combination of Climate Change and Youth Put Some Countries at Risk of Fragility
New Security Beat
Climate change and youthful demographics can combine to create security risks in already fragile contexts, according to a new report commissioned by UNICEF UK and co-authored by the London-based research organizations International Alert and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. By 2050, when more extreme climate change impacts will be widely felt, global population is projected to reach 9.6 billion, up from the current 7.2 billion. The vast majority of this growth will take place in less developed countries, and much of it will take place in states that are currently fragile.
The Anti-Information Age
The Atlantic
Two beliefs safely inhabit the canon of contemporary thinking about journalism. The first is that the Internet is the most powerful force disrupting the news media. The second is that the Internet and the communication and information tools it has spawned—like YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook—are shifting power from governments to civil society and to individual bloggers, netizens, or citizen journalists.  It is hard to disagree with these two beliefs. Yet they obscure evidence that governments are having as much success as the Internet in disrupting independent media and determining what information reaches society. Moreover, in many poor countries or in those with autocratic regimes, government actions are more important than the Internet in defining how information is produced and consumed, and by whom.
Can the Private Sector Replace NGOs in the Developing World?
In western Kenya, Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen is sometimes treated like a demigod. When I accompany him on his visit to local schools, we are barely out of the SUV when we are swarmed by children in sort-of-matching uniforms, singing and dancing. Everywhere we go, people—kids and adults—spontaneously break into a chant: “Asante, LifeStraw, asante!” (“Thank you, LifeStraw, thank you!”) At the Emusanda Health Centre in Lurambi—built with Vestergaard funding—teary-eyed man expressed the community’s gratitude, telling Vestergaard (he doesn’t use the Frandsen part of his last name) that “there are babies being born named after you.”  A few days later, after a treacherous, two-hour wooden longboat journey through the islands of Lake Victoria, I start to understand why.
Why are people still using SMS in 2015?
The Next Web
Short Message Service (SMS), more colloquially known as ‘text,’ is a protocol used for sending short messages over mobile networks. The first SMS was sent in 1992; By 2010, SMS was the most widely used data application, adopted by 80 percent of mobile subscribers.  Then, came the rise of the smartphone.  Smartphones paved the way for consumers to communicate through a variety of outlets – from email and instant messaging to over-the-top content messaging apps.  However, despite the growth in other communication channels, SMS is still widely in use and remains one of the primary channels of communication. Why? Here are four crucial reasons

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