These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
How citizens can make development happen
"The future of development lies in the hands of millions of citizens. It's a bold statement by Rakesh Rajani, founder of Twaweza, who was in London for the debate on the future of aid organised by the Overseas Development Institute. Only two years old, Twaweza, which means "we can make it happen" in Swahili, is attempting to do just that across three east African countries, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
Rajani's strategy is to spread information, believing that crucial to the process of development is access to ideas. Twaweza focuses on what it believes are the five main routes for people to hear new ideas in the region: religion; mobile phones; mass media, in particular radio; fast-moving consumer goods; and teachers. Twaweza builds partnerships in all these areas to spread ideas, draw in new voices and open up conversations. It works rather like a venture fund, initiating ideas and getting new organisations off the ground. Rajani cites Amartya Sen's comment that poverty is not about a lack of money, but about a lack of options. His aim is to find new ways to intervene in people's lives to widen their options."
"In an attempt to promote the use of Facebook in the newsroom, Facebook has unveiled a new Facebook Page and meetup program for journalists.
The new Page, Journalists on Facebook, is intended to be a resource for journalists who want to incorporate social media into their reporting, networking and storytelling. “The Page will provide journalists with best practices for integrating the latest Facebook products with their work and connecting with the Facebook audience of more than 500 million people,” Facebook Director of Media Partnerships Justin Osofsky wrote in a blog post."
"CIMA is pleased to release a new report, Voices from Villages: Community Radio in the Developing World, by Mary Myers, an expert on international media development with many years of experience in this field. Since the 1990s community radio has mushroomed throughout the developing world, and international aid agencies are showing ever greater interest in community media’s ability to inform and empower. Voices from Villages explores the reasons for this expansion and the constraints and challenges community radio still faces. It also looks at community radio's record in terms of economic and political development and examines its real achievements against its ideals."
Global mobile phone ownership: the haves and have-nots by region
"While almost every adult in Italy has two phones at their disposal, up to five people in Africa share the same device.
An infograph put together by mobile maker Nokia with recently released data from the International Telecommunications Union shows the mobile ownership divide around the globe."
The Wall Street Journal
Halliburton Case Opened Eyes in Africa
"The U.S. government’s bribery case against Halliburton Co. and former subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root Inc. fueled anti-corruption efforts in Africa, according to one international lawyer, even if the motives are sometimes mercenary.
Herbert A. Igbanugo, founder of Igbanugo Partners Int’l Law Firm PLLC in Minneapolis, said the case, which brought to light widespread corruption in the construction of natural gas facilities in Nigeria, ushered in more government transparency."
National Endowment for Democracy
NED Grantees Facilitate Peaceful Elections in Haiti
"Following the chaotic presidential election of November 2010, Haiti held runoff elections on March 20, 2011, so voters could choose between Kompa singer Michel Martelly and former first lady Mirlande Manigat. Compared to the first round (which saw its highly contested results revised following the intervention of the Organization of American States), the runoff elections experienced few problems, and March 20 unfolded with few reports of violence and significant logistical improvements. Official results will be announced April 16, but preliminary results are expected March 30."
IT News Africa
GSMA Calls on Nigerian Govt to support mobile broadband
"The GSMA today called on the Nigerian government to support the roll-out of Mobile Broadband across the country. This could unlock a potential NGN862 billion (US$5.55 billion) of GDP growth by 2015. The GSMA represents the interests of nearly 800 mobile operators worldwide, specifically in driving the growth of the mobile industry.
At a press conference in Lagos this morning, Ross Bateson, Special Government Advisor, GSMA, outlined the findings of a new independent report by analyst firm Analysys Mason and called on the Nigerian government to:
- Unlock the 2.6GHz spectrum quickly to support the high demand for Mobile Broadband in urban areas;
- Release the digital dividend spectrum to deliver broadband services to rural areas; and
- Reduce the 35 % tax level faced by Nigerian mobile operators, a tax which is double the global average."
Transparency, effective communication in information age
"Whether it is in the townships or in the slums, those who occupy the positions of governance - government or private sector - must show transparency and be able to communicate effectively in this new public information space, especially in times of crisis, BBC's Nik Gowing said last week, speaking at a Deloitte presentation and discussion held in Sandton, Johannesburg.
"Transparency catches people unaware and surprises everyone about what it reveals," charged Gowing (@bbcnikgowing), who presents the daily evening news 'The Hub with Nik Gowing' on BBC World News."
Center for Global Development
Five Reasons I am a Fan of Cash on Delivery, and Five Ways to Make it Sharper
"Rakesh Rajani, is founder and head of Twaweza, an initiative that promotes transparency and accountability in Tanzania and other countries in East Africa. This post is based upon comments he made in response to Nancy Birdsall’s presentation (see blog post and slides) at the UK Department for International Development on March 9, 2011.
Here are five reasons why I am a fan of Cash on Delivery (COD) Aid:
- It focuses on outcomes, not inputs. So, for example, what matters is what children are learning, not how many classrooms are built or teachers are trained. Or what matters is how many people are accessing clean water within 500m, rather than the number of wells built."