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Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

POLIS Journalism and Society (LSE)
After Tunisia and Egypt: towards a new typology of media and networked political change

"Social media did not ’cause’ the revolutions in Tunisia or Egypt. But if I want to find out where the next uprising in the Middle East might occur, that is certainly where I would look. Social media is now a useful indicator, if not predictor, of political change.

And regardless of the causal relationship, social media does seem to be a critical factor in the evolution of a new networked kind of politics.

Of course, the most important pre-conditions for revolution are economic. Both Tunisia and Egypt had recently suffered economic downturns on top of gross income inequality in societies that are relatively developed."

Poverty Matters (Guardian)
Mobile conference needed more debate on development

"For many of the salespeople, technologists and marketing gurus who converge on Barcelona each February, the Mobile World Congress(MWC) represents the year's biggest opportunity to showcase the latest devices, ideas and services to an audience that numbers well over 50,000.

At this "must-attend annual gathering of the mobile industry" you'll find senior mobile leaders representing thousands of companies from more than 200 countries. As you can imagine, the event is a pretty intense experience, and I'm not even trying to sell anything.

This year was my second congress. My first was in 2008, when I sat on a panel – Society on the Move – which aimed to showcase some of the non-profit use of mobile technology, giving it a degree of visibility to delegates. Sadly, this hasn't been repeated. So, for anyone like me who's interested in "mobiles for development", finding interesting and relevant innovation can be a little hit and miss."

DFID R4D
The Effectiveness of Anti-Corruption Policy. What has worked, what hasn’t, and what we don’t know

"In many developing countries, corruption is a key barrier to effective service delivery. Corruption seeps into all aspects of life, from starting a new business to getting a passport to seeing a doctor. It can take many forms, from bureaucrats asking citizens for bribes to perform basic services, to hospital employees stealing medicines that were meant to be distributed to the poor, to bureaucrats receiving salaries for jobs that they do not accomplish.

Most scholars believe that corruption impedes economic growth and development. Mauro (1995) provides the earliest empirical evidence for this, and other recent studies have confirmed this finding. For example, Dreher and Herzfeld (2005) estimate that an increase of corruption by about one point on the International Country Risk Guide corruption perceptions index reduces GDP growth by 0.13 percentage points and GDP per capita by 425 US$. Furthermore, Transparency International points out that corruption may damage not only a country’s economy, but also its political systems and institutions, civil society, and natural environment. As such, most development agencies have incorporated anti-corruption policies into their core strategies, with the World Bank alone supporting over 600 anti-corruption programs since 1996."

Biz Community
Million dollar ICT project set for West African universities

"The director-general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has signed an agreement to launch a US$12 million project to boost the information and communication technology capacity of West African universities, by creating a regional virtual library network.

The agreement was signed with Soumaïla Cissé, president of the Commission of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), which is providing the funds.

The project is part of a wide-ranging cooperation plan initiated in 2006 by UNESCO and the UEMOA. It aims to develop the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to support an ongoing reform of higher education in the UEMOA member states (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Niger, Mali, Senegal and Togo)."

The Economist
Cleaning up: Can the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria restore its reputation as the best and cleanest in the aid business? 

"BEING attacked on Fox News was probably the worst, but all the past month has been horrid for the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, backed by $20 billion and one of the world’s biggest do-gooding outfits. Set up in 2002, it is used to appreciative coverage of its efforts to stamp out three of the deadliest diseases.

The unexpected woes started with an Associated Press story entitled “Fraud plagues global health fund” on January 23rd. It claimed that up to two-thirds of some grants went astray, with “astonishing” corruption in some cases. It cited faked invoices, phoney training events and other abuses, chiefly involving health ministries in some African countries. For Fund insiders, that was nothing new: evidence of the misuse of $34m paid out in Mali, Mauritania, Djibouti and Zambia became public knowledge in October."

Online Africa
37 Internet maps charting African progress from 1993-2011

"A variety of maps and charts focused on Africa’s internet exist and new infographics are appearing at a steady clip. 37 of the best visuals are featured below:

  1. African Undersea Cables. {http://manypossibilities.net/african-undersea-cables} Information regarding planned connections from the rest of the world to the African mainland. Version 24 was updated on February 21, 2011.
  2. Facebook Statistics by Country. {http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/} Facebook users, growth, and penetration rate by country. Updated monthly."

 

PR Newswire
'Enough is Enough Nigeria' Receives Grant from Omidyar Network to Promote Transparency Around the Presidential Elections

"Omidyar Network announced today a grant of up to $130,000 to Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE Nigeria), a coalition of individuals and youth-led organizations leading a campaign aimed at enabling citizen participation in the Nigerian general elections in April.

The grant will be used in support of a non-partisan, one-stop online portal designed to aid voter registration, provide candidate information and monitor the elections.  The project will utilize Twitter, Facebook and local social media tools such as Nairaland, Naijatalk and Gnaiga, as well as SMS, radio and television, to broaden its reach and citizen engagement. 

"Democracy requires active participation, and the majority of Nigeria's population under 35 years of age has never voted.  EiE Nigeria's platform and use of social media will help engage this significant portion of Nigeria's citizens and enable active participation and the ability to influence outcomes on issues of importance to them," said Stephen King, investment partner, Omidyar Network."

Economist Debates
Internet Democracy

"It is easy to be cynical about "Twitter revolutions". It is increasingly fashionable too. For too long pundits exaggerated the internet's ability to drive democratic change. As tech-savvy youngsters in Tunisia and Egypt pushed aside their ageing despots, such lazy rhetoric grew louder still. It is hardly surprising that critics are hurrying to dissent.

It is certainly true that the internet alone will not foment a revolution. Few have ever argued that it could. But the extent to which it can help, or even hinder, democratic movements remains hotly contested. And far from clarifying matters, dramatic events in the Arab world have fed both sides of the debate."

Voice of America
Growing African Middle Class is Potential Source of Political Stability

"The middle class has been at the forefront of demands for political change in Tunisia and Egypt. Now, a growing middle class south of the Sahara presents challenges for governments there, as well as a potential source of political stability.

Political upheaval across North Africa is being driven, in part, by a growing middle class that wants more of a say in the way their countries are run.
It is a message that is being heard in political campaigning south of the Sahara. Former anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu is running to be president of Nigeria. He says uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria show a new generation throwing off economic repression."

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