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Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

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

How Information Flows During Emergencies
MIT Technology Review
Mobile phones have changed the way scientists study humanity. The electronic records of these calls provide an unprecedented insight into the nature of human behaviour revealing patterns of travel, human reproductive strategies and even the distribution of wealth in sub-Saharan Africa. All of this involves humans acting in ordinary situations that they have experienced many times before. But what of the way humans behave in extraordinary conditions, such as during earthquakes, armed conflicts or terrorist incidents? READ MORE.

‘Fragile Five’ Is the Latest Club of Emerging Nations in Turmoil
The New York Times
The long-running boom in emerging markets came to be identified, if not propped up, by wide acceptance of the term BRICs, shorthand for the fast-growing countries Brazil, Russia, India and China. Recent turmoil in these and similar markets has produced a rival expression: the Fragile Five. The new name, as coined by a little-known research analyst at Morgan Stanley last summer, identifies Turkey, Brazil, India, South Africa and Indonesia as economies that have become too dependent on skittish foreign investment to finance their growth ambitions. The term has caught on in large degree because it highlights the strains that occur when countries place too much emphasis on stoking fast rates of economic growth. READ MORE.

Zimbabwe: Could it be Africa's first cashless economy?
CNN Money/Fortune
Zimbabwean telecom tycoon (and the country's only billionaire) Strive Masiyiwa has been called a "global business influential," a "face of New Africa," and the "Bill Gates of Africa." He continues to live up to the reputation with a new venture that's as bold as they come. The founder and chairman of Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe's biggest wireless network operator, wants to turn the company's mobile wallet technology, known as EcoCash, into Zimbabwe's primary method of payment. It's no small task: Masiyiwa essentially wants to replace printed currency with digital money, transforming his native country into Africa's first paperless economy. READ MORE.

Does Facebook Represent the Future of International Remittances?
Social networks such as Facebook and China’s RenRen reach increasingly large segments of the global population, with Facebook claiming over 1 billion active users and RenRen claiming 178 million. The popularity of social networking is not limited to developed countries, but extends to developing countries as well. In fact, in countries that receive the most international remittances, such as India (#1) and the Philippines (#3), Facebook is either the most frequently visited website or among the top three most visited. These social networks reach segments of the population who can often lag in financial inclusion: in the Philippines, more women than men access Facebook, for instance. The enormous—and deepening—reach of these social networks is clear. If money transfer organizations begin offering fund transfer services to populations traditionally excluded from financial services via social networks, they could generate significant international transaction volumes in an environment where mWallets— in most countries—have struggled. READ MORE.

Lessons from the World's Most Tech-Savvy Government
The Atlantic
Estonia may not show up on Americans’ radar too often. It is a tiny country in northeastern Europe, just next to Finland. It has the territory of the Netherlands, but 13 times less people—its 1.3 million inhabitants is comparable to Hawaii’s population. As a friend from India recently quipped, “What is there to govern?” What makes this tiny country interesting in terms of governance is not just that the people can elect their parliament online or get tax overpayments back within two days of filing their returns. READ MORE.

Data sharing and joint thinking urged for Amazonia
Countries in the Amazon region need better data sharing and a more holistic view of development if they are to avoid conflicts and costs relating to key resources such as water over the next 50 years, experts warn. A report making recommendations for a new, international security agenda for the Amazon, says the region’s nations should link-up and circulate data on water, energy, health and food security to ensure sustainable development and tackle challenges posed by changes in climate and land use. A failure to do so, it says, could lead to far greater economic and social disruption in the mid-term and create unprecedented challenges for South America’s political leaders. READ MORE.

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