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How to Fix Fragile States? The OECD Reckons it’s All Down to Tax Systems.

Duncan Green's picture

‘Over-generous tax exemptions awarded to multinational enterprises often deprive fragile states of potential revenues that could be used to fund their most pressing needs.’ Another broadside from rent-a-mob? Nope, it’s the ultra respectable OECD in its Fragile States 2014 report.

After years of growth, aid to fragile states started to fall in 2011, so the report centres around an urgent call for OECD member states to help their more fragile cousins find a post-aid arrangement that funds essential state functions and builds the ‘social contract’ with citizens.

The key is a shift from aid dependence to ‘domestic resource mobilization’ (taxes and natural resource royalties), currently averaging a feeble 14% of GDP across fragile states and far too dependent on royalties from oil, gas and mineral extraction. Foreign direct investment (factories, farms etc) is generally low in volume and volatile.

How Should INGOs Prepare for the Coming Disruption? Reading the Aid/Development Horizon Scans (so that you don’t have to)

Duncan Green's picture

Gosh, INGOs do find themselves fascinating. Into my inbox plop regular exercises in deep navel-gazing –both excessively self-regarding and probably necessary. They follow a pretty standard formula:

  • Everything is changing. Mobile phones! Rise of China!
  • Everything is speeding up. Instant feedback! Fickle consumers! Shrinking product cycles!
  • You, in contrast are excruciatingly slow, bureaucratic and out of touch. I spit on you and your logframes.
  • Transform or die!

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.
 

The Mobile-Finance Revolution
Foreign Affairs
The roughly 2.5 billion people in the world who live on less than $2 a day are not destined to remain in a state of chronic poverty. Every few years, somewhere between ten and 30 percent of the world’s poorest households manage to escape poverty, typically by finding steady employment or through entrepreneurial activities such as growing a business or improving agricultural harvests. During that same period, however, roughly an equal number of households slip below the poverty line. Health-related emergencies are the most common cause, but there are many more: crop failures, livestock deaths, farming-equipment breakdowns, even wedding expenses.  In many such situations, the most important buffers against crippling setbacks are financial tools such as personal savings, insurance, credit, or cash transfers from family and friends. Yet these are rarely available because most of the world’s poor lack access to even the most basic banking services.


Mozilla plans '$25 smartphone' for emerging markets
BBC Technology
Mozilla has shown off a prototype for a $25 (£15) smartphone that is aimed at the developing world. The company, which is famed mostly for its Firefox browser, has partnered with Chinese low-cost chip maker Spreadtrum. While not as powerful as more expensive models, the device will run apps and make use of mobile internet. It would appeal to the sorts of people who currently buy cheap "feature" phones, analysts said. Feature phones are highly popular in the developing world as a halfway point between "dumb" phones - just voice calls and other basic functions - and fully-fledged smartphones.

How User-Generated Crisis Maps Save Lives in Disasters

Jing Guo's picture

YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, blogs… This list could easily go on and on for paragraphs. Today, we are so immersed in social media that we can hardly go a day without reading or watching user-generated online content. Videos like “Charlie Bit My Finger” make us laugh. Free lessons on Khan Academy, which were originally started by a hedge fund analyst at home, help us learn.

But user-generated online content is not all about entertainment and free classes. Crisis maps on crowd-sourcing platforms like OpenStreetMap and Ushahidi have demonstrated a less expected yet significant capacity of user-led content creation online:  it saves lives in disasters.

Media (R)evolutions: The Global Mobile Games Landscape

Roxanne Bauer's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

There are about 1.6 billion people with access to the internet, and among those more than 44% play online games-- that's over 700 million people worldwide!  The global mobile games market is expected grow 27.3% annually to double its current size in 2016 and reach $23.9 billion in revenue.  This growth is driven by both an increasing number of players as well as higher average spending per paying mobile gamer.  The Asia-Pacific region is the largest market for mobile games, representing around 48% of global revenue.

Is the Internet becoming a New ‘Political Mantra’ in India?

CGCS's picture

Dr. Pradeep Kumar Misra, an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education and Allied Sciences of M.J.P. Rohilkhand University, Bareilly, India, discusses the use and implications of the Internet and social media in Indian politics. Dr. Misra will be completing a research project about Internet policy in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh as part of CGCS’s Internet Policy Observatory.

The last decade has witnessed unprecedented Internet diffusion in India. Over the past three years alone, Internet usage in India increased from 100 to 200 million people, growing far more rapidly than the decade it took to raise Internet users from 10 million to 100 million. A report from the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) estimates that by June 2014, India will have 243 million Internet users, at which point in time it is expected to overtake the US as the second largest Internet base in the world. This report further observes that the mobile Internet is going to be the next game changer for the Internet in India, with Indian mobile Internet users experiencing huge growth reaching 155 million in March and 185 million in June 2014 (IAMAI, 2013). With this rapid growth, scholars adopting a normative perspective present the Internet as a friend, philosopher and guide across different localities and communities in India. One such scholar, Adulkafi Albirini, articulates one possibility of the Internet as an emerging, …utopian, egalitarian and empowering tool with the potential of ushering in a new era of development, democracy, and positive cultural change” (2008, p. 49).

World Protests 2006-13: Where? How Big? About What? Did They Achieve Anything?

Duncan Green's picture

Following on from last week’s food riots post, some wider context. The news is full of protests (Kiev, Caracas, Cairo), but to what extent is it really ‘all kicking off everywhere’ as Paul Mason claims? Just come across a pretty crude, but thought-provoking paper that tries to find out. For World Protests 2006-13, Isabel Ortiz, Sara Burke, Mohamed Berrada and Hernan Cortes scoured online media (international and national) to identify and analyse 843 protests over the period.

world protests 2006-13 fig 2Among their findings are:

Protests have steadily increased in number, particularly after 2010 (see graph).

Protests were more prevalent in high income countries, but violent riots were mainly a low income country phenomenon (feel free to debate the arrow of causality on that one).

Look Who Has a Megaphone!

Roxanne Bauer's picture

In an interview on TN TV Channel, Argentina in November 2013 Pope Francis said that, “Today we are living in an unjust international system in which ‘King Money’ is at the center.” He continued, “It is a throwaway culture that discards young people as well as its older people. In some European countries, without mentioning names, there is youth unemployment of 40 percent and higher.”

It seems Pope Francis has heard the rallying calls from youth around the world.

In 2010, youth in Mozambique staged protests in Maputo and Matola against rising food prices.

The ‘Geração à Rasca’ (Scraping-by Generation) of Portugal took to the streets in March 2011 as a spontaneous Facebook event to call attention to underemployment, lack of social protection, and unemployment that many experience.

Youth protests flared in Sao Paulo, Brazil in June and September of 2013 in reaction to high unemployment, low-paying jobs, inflation, and the high cost of living in big cities.

And just a month ago, around 2,000 unemployed Moroccans marched through their capital in January 2014 to demand jobs, a particularly thorny problem for university graduates.

The more famous protests of Arab Spring, the Occupy Movement and the Gezi Park protests in Turkey were also spurred, in part, by young people.

Quote of the Week: Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"It’s still true that the market is a lousy master but a good servant, and that means that we still have to have a market economy but we have to control it and regulate it to the benefit of everyone. That’s still my line and that’s still how I feel about social democracy.” 

- Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a Danish politician serving as the Prime Minister of Denmark since 3 October 2011 and the Leader of the Social Democrats since 12 April 2005. She is the first woman to hold either post.

The Dictator’s Dilemma

Sina Odugbemi's picture


In an influential article in Foreign Affairs entitled ‘The Political Power of Social Media’, published in January 2011, Clay Shirky described the dictator’s dilemma, also called the conservative dilemma, as follows:
 

The dilemma is created by new media that increase public access to speech or assembly; with the spread of such media, whether photocopiers or Web browsers, a state accustomed to having a monopoly of public speech finds itself called to account for anomalies between its view of events and the public’s. The two responses to the conservative dilemma are censorship and propaganda. But neither of these is as effective as the enforced silence of citizens. The state will censor critics or produce propaganda as it needs to, but both of those actions have higher costs than simply not having any critics to silence or reply to in the first place. But if a government were to shut down Internet access or ban cellphones, it would risk radicalizing otherwise pro-regime citizens or harming the economy.

Many dictatorial or authoritarian regimes are sitting right on the butt-hurting horns of that dilemma right now. What is driving it is, of course, the explosive growth in mobile technology worldwide, what Michael Saylor, in a book of that title, calls The Mobile Wave. Cell phones, smart phones and internet access are driving into more and more corners of the world. For a current run-down of the mind-boggling statistics please see this Pew Research Report: ‘Emerging Nations Embrace Internet, Mobile Technology’. And for current reporting on how the dictator’s dilemma is playing out in some contexts please see ‘How Emerging Markets’ Internet Policies Are Undermining Their Economic Recovery’ from Forbes.

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