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Jean Ping on information and communications technology

Sameer Vasta's picture

Jean Ping, African Union Commission Chairperson

Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, at the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings on April 23, 2010:

"ICTs [Information and Communications Technology] can be the single most important tool of our generation if given the right environment."

What do you think?

What can development learn from the information and communication technology revolution?

Siena Anstis's picture

A few months ago, I was at a dinner at Erik Hersman’s (also behind Ushahidi). His team has started a new project called iHub, basically a technology (web and mobile) incubator in a great new office building in Nairobi. Fledgling programers submit an application for membership and, if accepted, are given free & fast wireless internet and a great place to work with like-minded people.

Innovation for the Development Sector (Hint: The iPad Probably Isn’t It)

Susan Moeller's picture

This past weekend’s launch of the iPad has had me thinking more and more about the future of information because I’m not entirely convinced that we should go in the direction that Steve Jobs is taking us. 

Or what I really mean (since I have every intention of getting an iPad) is that I’m not convinced that that’s the ONLY direction we should go.

Let me step back for a moment and briefly explain what the media gurus believe is in our future. 

We live now in the age of Web 2.0 and the next BIG thing on the horizon is being called Web 3.0 or the “Semantic” Web.  In other words, we are heading, we are told, for a web that has “meaning.”i

Dot.Gov as a Listening Device

Aleem Walji's picture

A couple of nights ago, I went to listen to Anil Dash, founder of Experts Labs in Washington, DC. The title of the talk intrigued me. How Dot.Gov is the new Dot.com. 

Given my interest in Open Government and Transparency, I assumed Anil would talk about new business models and how the private sector is well positioned to create social and economic value from datasets that public bodies release. But I was entirely wrong. Although I believe strongly that clean and comparable datasets are an essential raw material for the visualization and creative community to create powerful citizen-facing apps, Anil's point was entirely different and more powerful. 

The two-way or interactive web that surfaced around 2004 in the private sector was about a fundamentally new way of interacting with users. It provided businesses an opportunity to dialogue with customers and listen to users' comments, needs, and feedback in much more efficient ways. 

In Search of the Curious Doer

Robert Hawkins's picture

William's windmill | for image attribution please see bottom of this postWhat is the profile of the type of student who we hope will emerge from our schools?  Many have argued that our schools are stuck in a 19th century mindset and education for the knowledge age requires a complete rethink of teaching and learning for a globalized, connected, and rapidly changing world.  Educators around the world have been debating and working to define these skills and what has emerged is a set of “21st century skills” – the types of skills deemed essential to work creatively; problem solve; communicate; identify and analyze existing information; and create new knowledge.   

Technology Innovation

Xiaodong Wang's picture

As my colleague Mike Toman noted recently, Geoffrey Heal of Columbia University said the following in a recent blog post:

"neither costs nor capital requirement will prevent us from decarbonising the electricity supply. The real obstacle to doing this largely with renewables is our current inability to store power, and as long as we cannot store power we will need to use non-renewable sources like nuclear and coal with carbon capture and storage."

However, this view does not factor in future technological innovation, which I think is very significant.

The IEA Energy Technology Perspective projected that renewable energy could contribute around 50% of the power mix by 2050 under their Blue Scenario to achieve a 450 ppm world. Many other global leading energy/climate scenarios have the same projections, including those from Shell. Of renewable energy resources, geothermal, hydro, and biomass can provide base-load power. Indeed, solar and wind are intermittent.

To 'decarbonize' electricity supply, significant technological challenges remain

Michael Toman's picture

As WDR 2010 observes in the opening paragraphs of Chapter 7, "Technological innovation and its associated institutional adjustments are key to managing climate change at reasonable cost."  The development as well as diffusion of climate-smart technology was an important part of the debates leading up to Copenhagen.  A recent blog by Professor Geoffrey Heal  of Columbia University, whose work on climate change damages is referenced in the WDR, addresses this topical and controversial issue.  Writing at voxEU.org, a policy portal set up by the Centre for Economic Policy Research, Heal argues that

..."neither costs nor capital requirement will prevent us from decarbonising the electricity supply. The real obstacle to doing this largely with renewables is our current inability to store power, and as long as we cannot store power we will need to use non-renewable sources like nuclear and coal with carbon capture and storage."

Heal's blog can be found at  http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/4138.

Getting on a technology pathway to avoid dangerous climate change

Alan Miller's picture
   An IFC investment helps provide clean, affordable water to underserved communities in developing countries.

Many of the measures proposed in the World Development Report (WDR) 2010 will require substantial engagement with the private sector. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has estimated that more than 80 percent of the investment required for climate change mitigation and adaptation will have to be privately financed. For this to happen, the key requirement will be meaningful targets and supportive public policies.

One area in which private initiative will be critical is in the development and dissemination of new climate friendly technology. As the advance edition of the WDR states, "Technological innovation and its associated institutional adjustments are key to managing climate change at reasonable cost. . . . Mobilizing technology and fostering innovation on an adequate scale will require that countries not only cooperate and pool their resources but also craft domestic policies that promote a supportive knowledge infrastructure and business environment."

For several reasons, an increased focus on accelerating new technology is urgently needed.


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