These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
“Social networking has spread around the world with remarkable speed. In countries such as Britain, the United States, Russia, the Czech Republic and Spain, about half of all adults now use Facebook and similar websites. These sites are also popular in many lower-income nations, where, once people have access to the internet, they tend to use it for social networking.
Meanwhile, cell phones have become nearly ubiquitous throughout much of the world, and people are using them in a variety of ways, including texting and taking pictures. Smart phones are also increasingly common – roughly half in Britain, the U.S., and Japan have one. Globally, most smart phone users say they visit social networking sites on their phone, while many get job, consumer, and political information.” READ MORE
Young and Wired
“Mohandas Gandhi once said: “if we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.” Today, the majority (almost 85%) of the world’s youth live in developing countries, which means his guidance has become more important than ever when discussing development policy. Additionally, the World Bank has named corruption as the number one obstacle to the alleviation of world poverty. Combining these facts, it becomes clear that youth working towards transparency and accountability in their countries are going to be the true game-changers when it comes to international development. The logic is infallible, but how young people can effect these changes is still an emerging topic of discussion.” READ MORE
“Studies have shown again and again that mobile-phone networks help economies grow. And it’s not just because people need to be employed to build the networks and sell the phones. By increasing the flow of information, mobile phones improve productivity and efficiency, and open up new markets and new kinds of business all across the economy.
Now there is evidence that improving mobile Internet access helps economies too. A recent study examined the effect of faster 3G wireless data connections replacing slower 2G ones. The study by the GSM Association mobile trade group, Deloitte and Cisco, looked at 96 developed and developing markets from 2008 to 2011. When a market experienced a 10% shift from 2G to 3G, GDP per capita growth increased by an average of 0.15 percentage points. A separate look into 14 countries between 2005 to 2010 found that a doubling of mobile data use led to an increase of 0.5 percentage points in per capita growth. (It’s always challenging to isolate causal relationships between such factors, and the study’s sponsors have an obvious interest in promoting any evidence of a societal payoff from expensive wireless network upgrades.)” READ MORE
“‘DO YOU know how many times you have embarrassed me because you have refused to buy me a BlackBerry?’ Keisha screams in a dusty car park, jabbing her boyfriend’s chest. Daniel says he can’t afford it until next month. It is the final straw for Keisha.
This is a scene from “BlackBerry Babes”, a Nigerian film about women wooing men into buying them such a smartphone. The plot may be absurd, but its sense of fashion is spot on. RIM, the maker of the device, may get clobbered elsewhere in the world (its market share in America has dropped to 1.6%), but in Nigeria BlackBerrys are still hot.” READ MORE
The Aid Management Journey to Transparency and Open Data
“The open data and transparency revolution underway in international development is as much about culture change as it is about data, technology, and standards. I am Nancy Choi, Director of Operations, and recently I have been in the midst of these changes. With Development Gateway’s move to the Open GovHub, my colleagues and I traded our siloed offices and dark cubicles for an open office space shared with other organizations passionate about transparency and open government.
At the same time, DG’s largest program, through which we work with 25 governments that receive aid, has undergone its own progression towards transparency. The program centers around a system for managing aid flows called the Aid Management Platform (AMP). In the past, these were closed government systems, but today when we begin new work with partner governments we assume that the data generated will be publicly available and provide grist for citizen engagement too.” READ MORE
“In just the past five years, Africa’s mobile phone market has rapidly expanded to become larger than either the EU or the United States with some 650 million subscribers. At the same time, Internet bandwidth has grown 20-fold as hundreds of thousands of kilometers of new cables have been laid across the continent to serve an increasing number of its 1 billion citizens.
The new access is quickly changing lives, driving entrepreneurship fueled in part by collaborative technology hubs, and delivering innovation and home-grown solutions for Africa.
The report emphasizes the need to build a competitive ICT industry to promote innovation, job creation, and boost the export potential of African companies.” READ MORE
Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomite