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September 2013

Investments to End Poverty Launched: A Goldmine of Killer Facts and Infographics

Duncan Green's picture

Last week saw the launch of the killer fact-tastic inaugural Investments to End Poverty report by Development Initiatives. The report makes the case for aid as an essential part of ‘getting to zero’ on absolute poverty by 2030, but as is increasingly the norm, the report locates aid among the much wider issue of development-related resource flows, both domestic and international. In speed reading mode, I have not yet read the full 330 page monster, but an advance peak at the 10 page ‘highlights’ document provides a goldmine of stats and infographics for many other purposes into the bargain. Some of the ones that jumped out at me:

Depth of African Poverty (see map)

Prospects Daily: Global equities and the dollar slump on concerns about the looming US government shutdown, Japanese manufacturing sector business sentiment at 30-month high, Romania’s central bank cuts its benchmark interest rate

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture
Financial Markets… Global equities and the dollar slumped on Monday as concerns about a looming U.S. government shutdown (its first one in 17 years) rattled investor sentiment. The benchmark MSCI world equity index fell 1% as the MSCI Asia Pacific Index tumbled 1.5%, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 1%, and the S&P 500 index slumped 0.8% in morning trading session. The dollar was down 0.6% against basket of six major currencies (measured by DXY index), especially against the Japanese yen and the Swiss Franc. In contrast, U.S.

A few myths and misconceptions about digital teaching and learning materials in Africa

Michael Trucano's picture
attempting to see just over the horizon
attempting to see just over the horizon

Across Africa, a variety of devices are increasingly being used to disseminate and display teaching and learning materials in electronic and digital formats.  As costs for such devices continue to fall, and as the devices themselves become more widely available and used across communities, the small pilot, and largely NGO-led, projects that have characterized most efforts to introduce educational technologies in schools across Africa will inevitably be complemented, and in many cases superseded, by large-scale national initiatives of the sorts now taking place in Rwanda and Kenya, where hundreds of thousands of devices are being, or will soon be, distributed to schools.

Few would argue that the use of such devices do not offer great promise and potential to improve the access to and quality of education by providing access to more educational content than is currently available inside and outside of schools. Internet connectivity can provide access to millions of educational materials available on the Internet; low cost, handheld e-reading devices can hold more than a thousand books. Depending on the availability of connectivity, or local resourcefulness in transferring materials to devices manually, digital content used in schools can be updated more regularly than is possible with printed materials. Depending on the device utilized, this content can be presented as ‘rich media’, with audio, video and animations helping content be displayed in ways that are engaging and interactive. It is possible to track electronically how such content is used, and, depending on the technologies employed, to present content to teachers and learners in personalized ways. In some cases , this content can be delivered at lower costs than those incurred when providing traditional printed materials.

Given the increased availability and diffusion of consumer computing technologies across much of the continent in less than a decade, it is perhaps not surprising that a number of widespread misconceptions about the promise and potential of using digital technologies and devices across Africa to increase access to learning materials appear to have taken hold. On one level, this is consistent with the ‘hype cycle’ model  of technology diffusion in which, according to Gartner, a technology breakthrough is soon followed by a period of time of “inflated expectations” about what sort of changes might be possible as a result.

Working With New Partners to Build Skills in Africa

Sajitha Bashir's picture

While global economic growth has been sluggish in recent years, Africa has been growing. We’ve seen a resurgence of traditional sectors such as agriculture and the extractive industries as well as promising new ones such as ICT. Not surprisingly, these booming sectors need highly skilled technicians, engineers, medical workers, agricultural scientists and researchers. Yet large numbers of African graduates remain unemployed as their skills are often not in line with industry requirements. 

Innovating to Improve Access to Medicines

Yvonne Nkrumah's picture

Nearly 13 million people die annually because they are unable to access essential, lifesaving medicines for curable diseases, according to estimates from The World Health Organization (WHO).  A daunting number, but one we’re beginning to reduce, thanks in part to the rise of mobile apps and other information communications technologies that have the potential to greatly improve access to medicines.

Remittances to the Rescue!

Poonam Gupta's picture

These are tough time for many emerging markets and developing countries. The international capital flows cycle seems to have been in reverse gear, throwing many countries off guard. As the global risk appetite has declined, countries have witnessed reversal of capital, hardening of cost of capital, correction in stock markets and depreciation of their currencies. Adjusting to these developments may require a reversal in the current account deficits of some of these countries. To what extent could this correction come through an improvement in remittances?

Let’s take the example of India to look at the role that remittances could play in improving the current account balances in developing countries. India has been the largest recipient of remittances in the world for several years. Due to an ever expanding stock of migrants abroad, remittances to India have been growing at an average rate of 15 percent a year for more than a decade now, and the annual flow of remittances reached almost 65 billion USD in 2012. To put it in context, the amount the country now garners per year through remittances is almost half the revenue from the exports of services.

Liberen Los Datos: Supporting Entrepreneurial Open Data Do-Gooders

Sandra Moscoso's picture

The open data community is chock-full of do-gooders. 
There are "open" data-driven applications that track government legislation in the US, tools that help calculate taxi fares in Bogota, Colombia, applications that track how tax payer funds are spent in the UK, the state of school sanitation in Nepal, and many more. 
It's clear that innovators are out there and full of terrific ideas about how to help their fellow citizens by harnessing public data. The question is, how can more of these projects follow examples like GovTrack and transition from hobby to successful, sustainable business models? And while there may be technical talent out there, what about entrepreneurial skills? How many data rockstars out there also have the "courage to create a business"?

World Bank Vice President Rachel Kyte's Views on the Latest IPCC Assessment Report

Robert Bisset's picture
Reacting to Friday's launch of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Assessment Report, which confirms that it is extremely likely (95-100% probability) that most of the warming since 1950 has been due to human influence, World Bank's vice president for sustainable development, Rachel Kyte, writes in a blog that, "this report paints a blunt, clear picture of the scale of the problem befo

Avoiding the “Planning Paradox”: The New World Bank Strategy Must Take Risk and Uncertainty into Account

Norman Loayza's picture

While effective risk management is essential for development, countries and institutions tend to ignore risks and uncertainty when planning ahead. A recent blog from Norman Loayza discusses the importance of strengthening the integrated assessment of various types of risks at regional and national levels. Norman’s blog can be accessed in this link.