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Southern Innovator Magazine Is Printed And Readied For Distribution | 31 May 2011

I had the pleasure of visiting the printing plant to witness the presses rolling with the first issue of new global magazine, Southern Innovator. The magazine has been in careful development and saw its name evolve from Creative Sparks to Southern Innovator. As Shakespeare noted in his play Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” And it is what Southern Innovator is that counts the most.

This first issue is just the beginning of a process, a back-and-forth dialogue with our readers as we refine and improve the magazine to boost its impact. The first issue’s theme – mobile phones and information technology – was chosen because of the sheer dynamism of this area and some jaw-dropping achievements: the growth of mobile phone usage in Africa represents an unprecedented take-up of a new technology, often in some of the poorest places on the planet. That impresses and it seemed right to share information about the amazing people behind this phenomenon and the lessons they learned along the way. It has also become clear in the research behind the monthly e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions (published since 2006), that significant future development gains will not happen without the aid of mobile phones and information technology, and, important to note, will need these tools to raise living standards for all the world’s people in an environment of increasing competition and pressure for resources.

Used right, mobile phones and information technology allow the efficient use of resources. But, as anyone who has worked with technology knows, this isn’t a given. Vast sums of money and time can be squandered if technology is not used intelligently, or lessons not learned from past failures. It is hoped Southern Innovator‘s first issue can contribute to a better use of resources, and by taking a broad look at what is happening out there, enlighten readers to new ideas, people and concepts.

Southern Innovator is designed in Iceland by Graphic Designer and Illustrator Solveig Rolfsdottir. 

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This work is licensed under a
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ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2011

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Kenyan Safari Begins Minutes from Airport

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Many people find the prospect of staying in airport hotels dreary at best. They tend to be located in industrial parts of cities or far from city centres. They can be surrounded by roads and highways and are built to move lots of people, not to look nice. The surrounding areas can be very common to all nations – warehouses, office parks, nondescript restaurants and hotels – and give few clues to where you are apart from the weather and the languages on the sign boards.

In short, they are the last place you would choose to stay to get a flavour of a country or culture. But in Nairobi, Kenya, this experience has been turned on its head. While many people travel to Africa to take in the breathtaking beauty of the continent and absorb the fascinating cultures and people, they usually wait to do this once they are far from the airport. But not in Nairobi, where it is possible to begin an African adventure right at the airport.

The Nairobi Tented Camp (www.nairobitentedcamp.com) opened in December 2010. It allows tourists to sleep in the open savannah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savanna). The experience is properly wild, with game animals roaming near the camp. Started by Kenyan Guy Lawrence and drawing on his years of experience running safaris and adventure travel, he partnered with Will Knocker, Marian Mason and Ibrahim Ali Abayo, an elder from the Boran tribe who works as assistant camp manager.

The business makes effective use of its website, interlinking good design, photographs and a blog with other social media to make the camp appealing to tourists using the web.

Tourists can expect to see rhino, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, leopard, antelope and possibly lions while listening to the yelps of hyenas at night.

Located just minutes from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport (www.kenyaairports.co.ke/kaa/airports/jkia/), Wilson Airport and Nairobi City itself, the camp is nestled in a forest in Nairobi National Park (http://www.kws.org/parks/parks_reserves/NANP.html). It is the first accommodation to be allowed in this part of the park.

In total, it takes 30 minutes from landing at the airport to be settled in the camp. The last 20 minutes of the drive to the camp takes place in the park, and gets the wild game adventure started early.

In real estate people talk about “location, location location”: find the right place, and you reap the benefits. And you cannot find a better location than Kenya’s oldest national park – 12,000 hectares in size – located beside East Africa’s dynamic regional hub of Nairobi, Kenya. The business is a good example of how a twist on the traditional safari camp and resort can attract attention.

The camp is surrounded by savannah plains on one side, and the city of Nairobi on the other.

The tented camp pitches itself at travellers looking for a better option than just staying in a nondescript airport hotel, or who are looking for a great way to begin a longer journey into Kenya.

“Safaris in Kenya used to start after a long five-hour drive down to the Maasai Mara,” camp owner Gary Lawrence told Monocle magazine. “But now your safari can start 10 minutes after leaving the airport.”

Kenya has been in recovery mode since its tourism industry was hit hard by a combination of events in 2008. Kenya experienced violent rioting during the 2007 and 2008 elections and a body blow from the 2008 global economic crisis. Both events caused a severe drop in tourism.

In 2007, the country received more than 2 million foreign tourists and close to US $1 billion in revenue, but numbers fell the following year. However, tourism grew 15 percent from 2009 to 2010 in Kenya, putting the country on course to meet its 2012 goal of returning to 2 million tourists a year.

Tourism is a critical foreign currency earner for Kenya and saw growth in revenues of 18 percent in 2010 from 2009 (Kenya Tourist Board).

Kenya’s strategy has included aggressive marketing campaigns in new markets to attract tourists. The country is billing itself as a “high value for high spending tourists” and it has seen increasing numbers of visitors from the booming emerging economies of India, Russia, China and the Middle East. Most of Kenya’s tourists come from the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy and Germany.

Published: July 2011

Resources

1) Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust: The Trust runs the Campi Ya Kanzi Maasai-run ecotourist resort in Kenya. Website: http://www.maasaitrust.org and http://www.maasai.com

2) Ecotourism Kenya: Ecotourism Kenya promotes responsible tourism practices within the tourism industry. This entails encouraging the adoption of best practices in the use of tourism resources, working with local communities and managing wastes and emissions. Website: http://www.ecotourismkenya.org

3) Magical Kenya: The official Kenya Destination website designed to help tourists plan a trip. Website: http://www.magicalkenya.com

4) Ministry of Tourism Kenya: A website packed with information on accommodation, parks and reserves and business opportunities. Website: www.tourism.go.ke

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Happy Nigeria: West African Nation Has Good Attitude

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

In the last 10 years, an increasing amount of attention has been paid to the concept of national happiness. The notion was first developed in the tiny Asian Kingdom of Bhutan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhutan), whose advocacy of ‘gross national happiness’ (http://www.grossnationalhappiness.com/) as a measure of national achievement just as important as Gross National Product (GNP), has been met with equal parts ridicule, respect and research.

Recently it has moved from being the realm of philosophers, therapists and self-help gurus to a growing academic discipline.

One country to consistently clock high results in polls and studies of national happiness is the West African nation of Nigeria. Africa’s most-populous country – and one of the continent’s economic powerhouses and fast-growers – its positive outlook has left many perplexed because it is a country of extremes of poverty and wealth.

In the World Values Survey (http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org) Nigeria came top for happiness in 2003, followed by Mexico.

Nigerians also scored highly for optimism in a Gallup International poll of economic prospects, optimism and personal well-being for 2011, which found the largest number of optimists to be in emerging market countries like China, India and Brazil. The most pessimistic country in the survey of 64,000 people in 53 countries was the United Kingdom.

Gallup’s global polling identified the qualities of a good, productive life: a highly engaging job, spending six to seven hours a day socialising, and exercising five to six days a week.

It also found another factor: the more a person rates their country as positive, the better they feel. This was an especially important factor for the poor and people in poor countries.

In a related factor, researchers of the World Values Survey found that the desire for material goods is “a happiness suppressant.”

Nigeria takes pride in its status in these surveys: airports proudly boast on signboards about the country being “The Happiest Place in the World!”.

But how does Nigeria’s optimism square with its well-documented problems, from endemic corruption and sectarian violence to civil unrest and poverty?

In the Guardian newspaper, Bim Adewunmi tried to nail it down: “Daily life is hardly one glorious Technicolor dance sequence, but I have never lived in such a happy place – and I once lived in hippyville California. I can’t give a definite answer, but I think the joy comes from seeing and living through the worst that life can offer; it is an optimism born of hope.

“There’s a spirit of entrepreneurship – people seem bewildered if you admit a lack of ambition. Nigerians want to go places and believe – rightly or wrongly – that they can. That drive and ambition fuels their optimism; they’re working towards happiness, so they’re happy.”

Nigerian writer T. C. Ubochi made an attempt in an essay to get to grips with why Nigerians are the happiest people in the world, writing:

“I’ve come to learn to basically have hope … The best thing about living in Nigeria is the abiding knowledge and expectation of a Miracle – even if it doesn’t happen in this lifetime.” 

And despite its woes, Nigeria has many things to be positive about: a fast-growing economy that saw gross domestic product rise by 7.85 percent in 2010; a big influence in Africa and its fate; and a powerful cultural reach, from musicians like Fela Kuti to writers like Chinua Achebe, Chris Abani and Wole Soyinka, to its celebrated art. And of course oil, a blessing of wealth and a curse.

While arguments abound over what constitutes true happiness, academics are honing in on which lifestyle choices best lead to happiness and which should be avoided. It is a scientific approach akin to the one taken by the medical profession on human health.

Nigeria consistently ranks top in happiness but just middle for life satisfaction. But surveys are notorious for people’s values skewing results. In Latin America, it is better to be upbeat about life. In Asian cultures, there is no shame attached to being unhappy and collective well-being is more valued.

Shinobu Kitayama at Kyoto University in Japan and Hazel Rose Markus at Stanford University, California, told the New Scientist that an individual’s level of life satisfaction depends largely on how successfully they adhere to their particular cultural “standard”. Americans tend to value personal achievement, while Japan places greater emphasis on meeting family expectations, social responsibilities, self-discipline, cooperation and friendliness.

And single-minded pursuit of personal happiness – something that tends to lead to a high score on surveys – also comes from societies with high levels of suicide.

“There are some real downsides to individualistic cultures,” Ed Diener of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign told the New Scientist. “People with mental illness are in real trouble with no extended family to watch over them.”

And a good attitude just may be the thing that gives Southern economies that extra edge in the years ahead.

Published: March 2011

Resources

1) Journal of Happiness Studies: The peer-reviewed Journal of Happiness Studies is devoted to scientific understanding of subjective well-being. Website:http://www.springer.com/social+sciences/well-being/journal/10902

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.

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This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Bolivia Grabs World Media Attention with Salt Hotel

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Tourism is a great way to attract foreign currency to a country and build local economies, especially in remote or isolated places. But the catch is finding a way to get people to go the distance and come and visit and spend their money.

In a global South twist on the well-known Ice Hotel in Sweden(www.icehotel.com) – a hotel entirely built out of ice – enterprising Bolivians have built a hotel out of salt.

A Bolivian hotel in the middle of the world’s largest salt flats has found a clever way to attract tourists to this remote holiday destination: build the hotel entirely out of salt, right down to its furniture.

The South American nation is one of the poorest inLatin America, and its income distribution is among the region’s most unequal. Bringing in foreign currency and attracting more tourists can help to reduce this poverty. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel and tourism will contribute 2 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011. Around 75,000 jobs are directly dependent on the tourism business in the country and this is projected to rise to 96,000 jobs by 2021.

And it is a good business to be involved in: “Travel and tourism is one of the world’s great industries, providing 9 percent of global GDP and 260 million jobs; it drives economic growth, business relationships and social mobility,” according to David Scowsill, President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The Hotel de Sal Cristal (http://www.hosteldesal.com/?L=2), near Colchani, hosts guests who come to visit the salt flats of Salar de Uyuni (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salar_de_Uyuni). They are believed to store 50 to 70 percent of the world’s lithium supplies and an economic boom has started in the area. The striking and blinding white salt flats were featured in the James Bond film “Quantum of Solace.”

The hotel’s unique construction from rock-hard salt hewn from the salt flats is working to encourage tourists to stay longer in the area during their holiday. Before, they would just take a quick excursion on to the salt flats before moving on to their next destination.

The Hotel de Sal Cristal is built using blocks of salt cut from the surrounding flats. The architectural design is inspired by the ancient Chinese balancing philosophy of Feng Shui (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feng_shui). Following the principles of the philosophy, it faces the sun and balances both masculine and feminine energies. Shaped like three coca leaves, the feminine side, this balances with the more masculine side reflected in the salt flats, the hotel’s website claims.

The hotel has 27 rooms with hot water and heating. – and beds made of salt. In the dining room, people can sit on chairs made of salt and eat at salt tables. The rooms are wall-to-wall salt, bright and white.

The hotel’s pool is surrounded by sand-like salt.

The hotel’s ‘Resto-Bar’ offers views of the salt flats and promises it will “allow the cosmic energy…” to flow freely.

The menu offers llama meat and risotto of quinoa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa) alongside traditional Bolivian dishes, salads and soups and Bolivian-themed treats.

The hotel has an ‘astronomic observatory’ for star gazing, making the most of the low level of light pollution on the flats.

One of the hotel’s tour guides, Pedro Pablo Michel Rocha from Hidalgo Tours (http://www.salardeuyuni.net/), told the Daily Mail newspaper: “I love it when visitors come to this place for the first time.

“They can’t get over the fact that everything is made out of salt and I’ve even seen a few people lick the furniture to make sure!

“It is a wonderful experience to come somewhere like this where they’ve used the natural materials available to create something like a hotel.”

The salt flats, formed from prehistoric lakes, have a salt crust hard-baked by the sun with a pool of salty water underneath which is rich in the rare element lithium. Lithium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium) is sought-after for its use in things like re-chargeable batteries for mobile phones, computers and electric cars.

The area’s economy has boomed since 3.4 million tons of lithium – believed to be half the world’s supply – was discovered underneath the salt flats.

The power of tourism to alleviate poverty has been documented by Caroline Ashley, co-author of Tourism and Poverty Reduction: Pathways to Prosperity (http://www.earthscan.co.uk/?TabId=92842&v=497073), after extensive research on tourism’s impact on poverty in countries across Africa andAsia.

She argues that “tourism can fight poverty.”

“Note, we say ‘can’, not that it always does. The share of spending by tourists within a destination that reaches poor people can vary from less than 10 percent to a high of 30 percent,” Ashley told BusinessFightsPoverty (http://www.businessfightspoverty.org).

“When it works, international tourism is actually a very good way of channelling resources from rich to poor. In destinations as diverse as hiking on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, business tourism in Vietnam and cultural tourism in Ethiopia, between one quarter and one third of all in-country tourist spending accrues to poor households in and around the destination.”    

Ashley said a successful tourism strategy needs to focus on “the 4Ps: pay, procurement, persuasion and partnership.”

“Pay a living wage to local employees; take a hard look at procurement and potential to source locally … persuade – or at least inform – your clients how to take up opportunities to spend in the local economy…” and build a partnership with government to integrate tourism into the local economy.

And it looks like the hotel can’t get more connected to the local economy than being made of the very salt that surrounds it.

Published: November 2011

Resources

1) The Global Summit: World Travel and Tourism Council: Taking place in Tokyo/Sendai from 16-19 April 2012. Website: http://www.wttc.org

2) A website packed with resources for planning a trip to Bolivia. Website: http://www.boliviacontact.com/turismo/

3) The Intercontinental Hotels Group has an interactive website showing the many ways hotels can become sustainable. Website: http://innovation.ihgplc.com/

4) Hotel designs: A website for interior designers, architects and hoteliers. Website: http://www.hoteldesigns.net/home.php

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022