The coming years will see a major new force dominating development: Big Data. The term refers to the vast quantities of digital data being generated as a result of the proliferation of mobile phones, the Internet and social media across the global South – a so-called ‘data deluge’ (UN Global Pulse). It is an historically unprecedented surge in data, much of it coming from some of the poorest places on the planet and being gathered in real time.
Big Data will have a profound impact on how the cities of the future develop, and will re-shape the way the challenges and problems of human development are handled.
Estimates by Cisco (cisco.com) foresee 10 billion mobile Internet-enabled devices around the world by 2016. With the world population topping 7.3 billion by then, that will work out to 1.4 devices per person.
Some estimates say 90 per cent of the digital data ever generated in the world has been produced in the past two years. It is also estimated that available digital data will increase by 40 per cent every year (UN Global Pulse). This digital transformation is being accompanied by another trend: the largest migration in human history from rural to semi-urban and urban areas.
This presents an unprecedented opportunity to make this rapid urbanization and social change smarter and more responsive to human needs, and to avoid the failures of the past, from over-crowding to crime, disease, pollution, unemployment and poverty. Some believe data collection can radically alter development by flagging up problems quickly, giving cities the chance to respond and correct negative trends before they get out of control. In short, to build in resilience by way of digital technology.
The latest region to see rapid industrialization and urbanization has been Asia – in particular China, a country that since the 1980s has simultaneously lifted the largest number of people in world history out of poverty and undertaken the biggest migration ever from rural to urban areas.
And now Africa is beginning to follow in Asia’s wake.
This 21st-century approach to urban growth is at its most sophisticated, and utopian, in so-called “smart cities.” These are built-from-scratch cities that use the “Internet of Things”, where everything, from lamp posts to garbage bins to roads are embedded with microchips and radio frequency transmitters (RFID chips) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio-frequency_identification) to communicate data in real time. By analyzing this data, cities can be responsive to human needs and mitigate problems – improving waste collection and traffic management, reducing crime and pollution. Services can be customized to residents’ needs and liberate them to spend more time on things that matter such as their own health, family, work and hobbies. Examples of these cities include Tianjin Eco-city (tianjinecocity.gov.sg) in China, Masdar (masdar.ae) in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Songdo International Business District (songdo.com) in the Republic of Korea.
These experimental smart cities are springing up in the East, and it will be the East – as well as Africa – that will see most of the action going forward. As the global management consulting firm McKinsey noted in its report Urban World: Mapping the Economic Power of Cities: “Over the next 15 years, the center of gravity of the urban world will move south and, even more decisively, east.”
Cities in the global South will be generating the new prosperity of the 21st century. And it is widely accepted that people living in cities have the potential to become very efficient economically while rapidly driving prosperity higher.
The McKinsey report says that “by 2025, developing-region cities of the City 600 (a list gathered by McKinsey) will be home to an estimated 235 million middle-class households earning more than (US) $20,000 a year at purchasing power parity (PPP).
The world’s future prosperity is going to be found in the urban, the digitally connected, and the middle class.
Tracking all this digital change is the UN Global Pulse. UN Global Pulse (unglobalpulse.org) was started by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2009 with a mandate to study these changes and build expertise in applying Big Data to global development. UN Global Pulse functions as a network of innovation labs where research on Big Data for development is conceived and coordinated. It partners with experts from UN agencies, governments, academia, and the private sector to research, develop, and mainstream approaches for applying real-time digital data to 21st-century development challenges.
Unlike major technological trends of the past, this one is not restricted to the industrialized, developed world. Through the spread of mobile phone technology, billions of people are now using a device that constantly collects digital data, even in the poorest places on earth.
From an international development perspective, Big Data has five characteristics, according to UN Global Pulse: it is digitally generated, passively produced by people interacting with digital services, automatically collected, can be geographically or temporally traced and can be continuously analyzed in real time.
Sources of Big Data include chatter from social networks, web server logs, traffic flow sensors, satellite imagery, telemetry from vehicles and financial market data.
The key to using Big Data is combining datasets and then contrasting them in lots of different ways and doing it very quickly. The purpose? Better decision-making, based on an understanding of what is really happening on the ground.
This data exceeds the capability of existing database software. It is either too much, or comes in too quickly, or can’t be handled using current software technology. Tackling this problem is creating a whole new wave of opportunities for those working in information technology.
As technology and processing power continue to improve, the cost of wrestling with this data and putting it to use is coming down.
The data can be analyzed for patterns and hidden information that before would have been too difficult to gather. This approach has been used by big companies such as WalMart (walmart.com), but it has cost them a large amount of money and time.
Pioneers in Big Data include search engine Google, email and search provider Yahoo, online shopping service Amazon and social media service Facebook. Many supermarkets use Big Data to analyze the way customers behave when they are shopping, combining it with their social and geographical data.
But new developments in hardware, cloud architecture, and open-source software mean Big Data processing is more accessible, including for small start-ups, who can just rent the capacity required on a cloud-based service (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing).
In the past, governments and planners had a ready excuse as to why they could not keep on top of ballooning urban populations and the chaos they brought. They could just throw up their hands and say “We do not know who these people are or what to do about them!”
This excuse does not work in the age of the mobile phone. It is now relatively easy to deploy the power of the networked computing inside mobile phones to map urban slums and identify the needs of the people there. Parse that data, and you have an accurate account of what is happening in the slum – all in real-time.
Making sense of all this information is creating its own new industries as innovators, entrepreneurs and companies step forward to chart this brave new world.
Historically, significant improvements in human development have occurred only after large-scale gathering of data and information on the actual living conditions of the population. For example, prototypes of today’s infographics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infographic) – informative visual representations of complex data – were created during the great attempts at tackling poverty and disease in Europe in the 19th century. Today’s masters of this technique include the Swedish doctor, academic and statistician Hans Rosling (gapminder.org), whose dynamic infographics are renowned for changing people’s perceptions of global problems.
UN Global Pulse notes “much of the data used to track progress toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) dates back to 2008 or earlier and doesn’t take into account the more recent economic crisis.
“While this may feed a perception that there is a scarcity of information about the wellbeing of populations, the opposite is in fact true. Thanks to the digital revolution, there is an ocean of data, being continuously generated in both developed and developing nations, that did not exist even a few years ago.”
UN Global Pulse believes Big Data can be used to protect social development gains when crises strike. Rather than undoing decades of good development work and human development achievements, Big Data can help to create agile responses to crisis as it happens.
UN Global Pulse believes the same data, tools and analytics used by business can be turned to help the public sector understand “where people are losing the fight against hunger, poverty and disease, and to plan or evaluate a response.”
1) Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition, and Productivity, Publisher: McKinsey Global Institute. Website: mckinsey.com
2) United Nations Global Pulse: Global Pulse is an innovation initiative launched by the Executive Office of the United Nations Secretary-General, in response to the need for more timely information to track and monitor the impacts of global and local socio-economic crises. The Global Pulse initiative is exploring how new, digital data sources and real-time analytics technologies can help policymakers understand human well-being and emerging vulnerabilities in real-time, in order to better protect populations from shocks. Website: http://www.unglobalpulse.org/
11) Hadoop: Is open source software for handling of large data sets across clusters of computers using simple programming models. Website: http://hadoop.apache.org/
12) Pivotal: Pivotal develops software applications for big data. A testimonial on the Pivotal website sums it up: “With the ability to load a day’s worth of data for a million meters in under fifty (50) seconds, we are able to keep up with the tremendous amount of data generated and start experimenting with many useful smart grid analytics.” Website: gopivotal.com
13) TotallyDot: A way to centralize all the social media people use into a single page. Website: totallydot.com
An ingenious use of technological innovation and savvy trend-spottingis radically transforming the way people do their grocery shopping in China. Busy urban dwellers with time-poor lifestyles can now do their grocery shopping as they pass through Shanghai’s subway system and have their weekly shopping delivered to their home.
The country has experienced breakneck economic growth in the past 15 years, heading towards becoming the world’s largest economy. Much of this growth and new wealth has come from the transformation of China into the world’s manufacturing and exporting hub. But this also leaves an urban population of very busy people who need time-saving solutions to improve their quality of life.
China’s premier Wen Jiabao has now pledged to aid the world economy during the current economic crisis by boosting domestic Chinese consumption. And this new focus on consumption will open up opportunities for entrepreneurs.
“I believeChina’s economy can achieve longer-term, better-quality growth. This will be our new contribution to strong, sustainable global growth,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
And a big part of the boost in domestic consumption will come from modern retailers and supermarkets. Supermarkets were almost non-existent in China before the 1990s. The country sold food in a mix of small shops, open-air markets and through wholesale networks. It was a complex system overlaid with government bodies, marketing boards, brokers, wholesalers, distributors and government-licensed and government-run shops and vendors.
But this has radically changed as the country has moved to a modern retail system. Chinese cities now boast modern supermarkets, convenience stores, hypermarkets and warehouse clubs. There was just one modern supermarket in the country in 1990; by 2003, there were 60,000 (Chinese Chain Store and Franchise Association).
The supermarket model offers many benefits to anyone looking to sell products in the Chinese marketplace. Supermarkets are very competitive with each other and are always looking for new angles and new products to get the edge and win over new consumers. If they offer new tastes and variety, the chances are high they will attract more customers.
Supermarkets tend to offer a greater variety of food products than traditional markets. They are also cleaner, the quality control is better and more standardised, there is no need to haggle over prices and measurements and units for products are clearly labelled and controlled.
But supermarkets can also be criticized for monopolizing distribution networks, hurting small farmers by driving down prices and destroying independent retailers unable to compete with the economies of scale supermarkets can bring to bear.
It is a convergence of several technological innovations to make something even better.
Shoppers download an app – or application – on to their mobile phones. This allows them to interact with large LED screens (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LED_display) in subway stations which display images of products – from soap to noodle soup to nuts– just like in a catalogue. The shopper scrolls through the products and finds what they want to buy. Beside the images are barcodes. The shopper scans the product barcode with the phone and Yihaodian then delivers the products straight to their home within hours.
It is a very convenient service for busy workers trying to juggle the many demands of daily life.
The Yihaodian system is based on a similar technology pioneered inSouth Korea.
Yihaodian is riding a wave of growth for the company because of its innovative approach. It has seen sales rise by 28 percent each month and it hopes to make Euro 325 million (US $443 million) in 2011, four times its 2010 revenues. Proof of the value of investing in innovation.
Yihaodian is also showing how clever it is to offer a new way of doing things. It is pioneering a new business model while also recognising the reality of people’s busy lives in modern urban environments. Lily Yu, director of the company’s wireless application department, says it is about something bigger than just profits. “Changing people’s lifestyles is what we are striving for,” she told Monocle magazine.
Yu, founder of the Wireless Application Department at Yihaodian, joined the company in 2010 and leads the team to develop and introduce this technology and new way of buying products.
The only question remaining is this: how long before all retail will follow Yu’s lead?
1) Mobile Active: MobileActive.org connects people, organizations, and resources using mobile technology for social change. Website:http://mobileactive.org
Mapping to Protect Kenya’s Environment: the eMazingira SolutionDevelopment Challenges: Powerful new grassroots crowd-mapping tools have sprung up in the past few years across the global South, from Brazil’s Wikicrimes (www.wikicrimes.org) real-time crime mapping technology to the now famous Ushahidi (http://ushahidi.com) – a non-profit company making the free and open source Ushahidi software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping – from its base in Kenya. They share some common features. All draw on the widespread use of mobile phones in the global South combined with growing access to the Internet, either through 3G mobile phone services, WiFi wireless connections, Internet centres or increasingly available broadband Internet services.
Building an Interactive Radio Network for Farmers in NigeriaDevelopment Challenges: As solar power technology has improved, new pioneers have emerged to exploit this innovation. Several decades ago, solar power was seen as too expensive for wide-scale roll out in poor countries and communities. But today, an army of solar technology pioneers has fanned out across the world to show the new wave of innovations and how they make solar power affordable.
African Manufacturing Pioneers Proving it is Possible to ThriveDevelopment Challenges: Africa’s paradox is that it is home to the greatest share of the world’s unexploited resources, yet has some of the world’s lowest per capita incomes. History has shown that exploiting the continent’s resources alone for export markets does little to improve incomes and living conditions in Africa, which in turn does nothing to improve human development. The key to resolving this paradox is made-in-Africa jobs, in particular high-value jobs that make products.
Indian City Slum Areas Become Newly Desirable Places to LiveDevelopment Challenges: With India’s urban economy experiencing rapid growth, its slums – once seen as the most undesirable places to live in the country, if not on Earth – are attracting the attention of affluent residents and developers in India’s rapidly expanding cities. The prosperity in India’s cities has made these areas’ proximity to business and entertainment zones highly desirable. In turn, this has led to slum dwellers either upgrading their homes and in the process boosting their value, or being offered the opportunity to sell their rudimentary dwellings to real estate agents and property developers.
Recycling Waste to Boost Incomes and OpportunitiesDevelopment Challenges: We all know that green is good, but often the best way to encourage recycling and other environment-improving activities is to put in place economic incentives. It is one thing to admonish people and tell them something is the right thing to do; it is another to make keeping a clean environment pay.
Virtual Supermarket Shopping Takes off in ChinaDevelopment Challenges: An ingenious use of technological innovation and savvy trend-spotting is radically transforming the way people do their grocery shopping in China. Busy urban dwellers with time-poor lifestyles can now do their grocery shopping as they pass through Shanghai’s subway system and have their weekly shopping delivered to their home.
Bolivia Grabs World Media Attention with Salt HotelDevelopment Challenges: 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.
Indian Mobile Phone Application Innovators Empower Citizens Development Challenges: With mobile phones becoming ubiquitous across the global South, the opportunity to make money – and possible fortunes – by providing ‘apps’ for these devices is now a reality.
Mapping Beirut Brings City to LightDevelopment Challenges: As cities in the global South grow ever larger, their often-chaotic evolution can create sprawling urban mazes that would confuse even the brightest brains.
Putting Quality and Design at the Centre of Chinese FashionDevelopment Challenges: Awareness of the sourcing of materials for fashion has been on the rise in the past decade. Concerns about how the global fashion industry functions and its impact on the environment have given rise to savvy retailers who take care over the sourcing of their materials and the working conditions of their employees.
Cheap Indian Tablet Seeks to Bridge Digital Divide Development Challenges:India has had many false starts in innovating in information technology. While the country and its talented army of software engineers have a global reputation for innovation, the fits and starts that have accompanied attempts to create new hardware and devices have drawn a range of emotions, from amusement to frustration.
Filipino Architect wants to Transform Slum with New PlanDevelopment Challenges: A clash is occurring across the global South over the future of urban planning and the ever-growing slums of the world’s megacities. This will be a decisive clash of visions: should cities flatten slums and relocate their residents, or work with slum dwellers, acknowledge the role they play in city economies and improve their lives with better dwellings?
Model City to Test the New Urbanism Concept in IndiaDevelopment Challenges: India’s phenomenal economic growth rate – forecast to be 7.9 percent this year by the Asian Development Bank, after averaging 7.7 percent per year over the past decade – has been the force behind an expanding middle class population, now estimated at 50 million people (McKinsey). Forecasts see it swelling from 5 percent of the population to 40 percent by 2025.
Pulque: Aztec Drink Ferments New EconomyDevelopment Challenges:Reviving traditional foods and drinks can be an income-boosting source of new economic activity. Many cultures can benefit from looking again at their rich traditions to find new ways to increase enterprise. This can be difficult at first. Big global brands have many initial advantages: they are backed by wealthy and experienced international companies and can deploy aggressive marketing and distribution power to get products into the hands of consumers. The power of Coca Cola to reach all corners of the earth is legendary.
Ghana: Oil-rich City Sparks Entrepreneurs and DebateDevelopment Challenges: Commodity booms can seem like the answer to a poor nation’s prayers, a way to fulfil all their development dreams and goals. The reality, however, is far more complex. More often than not, the discovery of resources sparks a mad scramble for profits and patronage, as politicians and politically connected elites carve out their slice of the new resource boom before anyone else.
Anti-bribery Website in India Inspires Others Development Challenges: An Indian website tackling corruption has been so successful it has inspired a wave of followers in China. The I Paid a Bribe website – motto: “Uncover the Market Price of Corruption” – was set up by the Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy (www.janaagraha.org), a non-profit organisation based in Bangalore, India.
Turning African Youth on to TechnologyDevelopment Challenges: An African NGO believes the Internet is the single biggest key to rapid development in Africa – and it is working to connect youth, women and rural populations to the web, and in turn, switch them on to the vast resources stored across the world’s Internet sites.
Pakistan Simplifies Job-matching ServicesDevelopment Challenges: An innovative job-matching service from Pakistan is trying to bring together people who normally live separate lives. It is eliminating the middlemen who gouge both employers and employees for job-seeking fees and opening up a new world of opportunities for the poor.
Data Surge across Global South Promises to Re-shape the Internet Development Challenges: The deluge of data gathered by the digital revolution underway in the global South continues to offer a significant economic opportunity. How this data is harvested will forge the successful Internet business models of the future.
Bringing the Invention and Innovation Mindset to Young Kenyans Development Challenges: A highly innovative new way to teach the basics of electronics, computing and technological innovation is being pioneered in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Driven by the desire to counter perceptions of apathy among young people, NGO Kuweni Serious is running a training course for girls aged over 8 years in some of the poorest parts of the city to turn on a new generation to the power of technology to make change.
Arab World Domain Name Opportunity Huge Economic HelpDevelopment Challenges: With the so-called Arab Spring still unfolding across much of the Arabic-speaking world, it is easy to miss a rising new economic opportunity: The introduction of an Arabic domain name system for the Internet.
African Youth Want to do Business in Fast-growing Economy Development Challenges: Africa’s growing economy is meeting head-on an optimistic young population keen to start businesses. At least that is what a new poll of African youth says, finding that one in five Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 without a current business wants to start one in the next 12 months.
Kenyan Safari Begins Minutes from AirportDevelopment Challenges: 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.
Brazilian Restaurant Serves Amazonian TreatsDevelopment Challenges: The vast Amazon rainforest has inspired a cuisine pioneer in Brazil. Combining the sensual pleasures of fine dining and the joy of tasting new flavours with a pursuit of sustainable and profitable local farming, a chef is inventing a new Brazilian cuisine and showing the way to create sustainable incomes.
Civet Cat Coffee Brews Filipino OpportunityDevelopment Challenges: In the Philippines, one animal’s call of nature has become a business opportunity.The civet cat, a member of the mongoose family, ingests the fruit of coffee plants, and expels the beans. This has created an unexpected by-product – a prized beverage for the world’s savvy coffee drinkers seeking the next taste sensation. The partially digested coffee beans are gathered from the faeces of the cat and used to make a much-coveted, smooth-flavoured cup of coffee.
Indonesia Best for EntrepreneursDevelopment Challenges: A global survey has unearthed hotspots across the global South for start-up businesses and private enterprise. It shows there are now many places in the South where people are actively encouraged to start businesses and engage in innovation and enterprise. The top place in the world for entrepreneurship, according to the survey for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), is Indonesia.
The e-Reader Battle Reaches IndiaDevelopment Challenges: The rise and rise of e-books and electronic publishing has prompted the development of e-readers: handy, portable devices that try to mimic the reading experience of paper books while offering the storage and navigation capability of computers.
African Botanicals to be used to Boost Fight against Parasites Development Challenges: More than 1 billion people in the developing world currently suffer from tropical diseases, which leave a trail of disfigurement, disability and even death. Yet only 16 out of 1,393 – 0.01 percent – of new medicines marketed between 1975 and 1999 targeted tropical diseases (International Journal of Public Health).
Floating Bank Floats New Dreams for Brazilian Middle Class Development Challenges: Brazil’s booming economy has seen a dramatic increase in the size of its middle class. More and more people have been lifted out of poverty as a growing, stable economy overcomes years of political and economic instability. In 2010, Brazil’s economy grew by a record 7.5 percent, surpassing a previous peak in 1986 (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) (IBGE) (www.ibge.gov.br/english). The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) reached 3.67 trillion reais (US $2.21 trillion) in 2010, making it Latin America’s largest economy.
Indonesian Food Company Helps Itself by Making Farmers More Efficient Development Challenges: The current global economic crisis is taking place at the same time as a global food crisis. Food inflation took off at the beginning of 2011. This is having a devastating affect on countries dependent on food imports and experiencing decreasing domestic production capabilities. The least developed countries (LDCs) saw food imports rise from US $9 billion in 2002, to US $23 billion by 2008 (UNCTAD), prompting Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary general of UNCTAD, to say “the import dependence has become quite devastating.”
Indian Toilet Pioneer Champions Good Ideas Development Challenges:Access to adequate sanitation and toilet facilities is critical to making development gains. Yet this simple fact of life often gets overlooked, especially in fast-growing cities where populations are on the rise or in transit. Out of an estimated 2.6 billion people in the world without toilets, two-thirds are in southern and eastern Asia (World Toilet Organization).
Solar Sisters Doing it for Themselves: Tackling African Light Famine Development Challenges: A social enterprise is seeking to capture the power of the sun to bring light and economic opportunity to women in Africa. Using a direct-marketing distribution system, it sells solar lamps and lanterns to some of Africa’s remotest communities. Solar Sister (www.solarsister.org), launched in Uganda in 2010, is hoping to do for power generation what mobile phones have done for communication in Africa: make a technological leap to a model of grassroots power generation, rather than waiting for large-scale power schemes to eventually reach the poor and rural.
South Africa Innovates Healthcare with Prepay Phone Vouchers Development Challenges: Pioneers in Africa are experimenting with new ways to fund the delivery of healthcare that is affordable and sustainable and not dependent on foreign aid and donations. A South African company is prototyping the selling of pre-payment healthcare services through mobile phones with a range of vouchers that can be bought and downloaded at the tap of a keypad.
Indian ID Project is Foundation for Future Economic Progress Development Challenges: India is in the midst of the biggest national identification project in the country’s history. The aim is for every Indian to receive a voluntaryelectronic identification card containing his or her details and a unique number. Called an Aadhaar, it is a 12-digit unique number registered with the Unique Identification Authority of India (http://uidai.gov.in) (UIDAI). The project joins a growing trend across the global South to map populations in order to better achieve development goals.
Ghana’s Funeral Economy Innovates and Exports Development Challenges: The West African nation of Ghana’s funeral economy is attracting innovation and grabbing attention outside the country. The nation’s elaborate – but expensive – funeral rituals provide craftsmen with a good income. And new products are being introduced to handle the financial consequences of this unavoidable fact of life.
Bolivian Film School’s Film Scene Paying Off Development Challenges: A film school in Bolivia shows how a creative hub can become the start of something much bigger. The school is inspiring a new generation of young people to get into filmmaking. And one of its lecturers is already experiencing global success acting in an award-winning new Spanish film.
Happy Nigeria: West African Nation Has Good Attitude Development Challenges: 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.
Cambodian Bloggers Champion New, Open Ways Development Challenges: The Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia has had a very difficult history over the past few decades. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was seen as a glamorous and vibrant place. Dynamic, ambitious and newly independent from French colonial rule, Cambodia embarked on an extensive programme of building that is now called “New Khmer Architecture.” It is the most visible legacy of this modernizing time.
China Consumer Market: Asian Perspective HelpsDevelopment Challenges:The rise of China since 1989 has been the most remarkable development story of our times. The number of people lifted out of poverty is historically unprecedented: 65 percent of Chinese people lived below the poverty line in 1981; in 2007 it was 4 percent (World Bank).
Disaster Recovery, Ten Years After: The Gujarat, India Experience Development Challenges: In the past decade, there have been many devastating natural disasters, from Iran’s 2003 Bam earthquake and the Asian tsunami of 2004 to Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005 and the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti in 2010. All of these events received extensive media attention and drew a large aid response. Those who track natural disasters have noticed a serious increase in frequency over the past decade (http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article26290.html).
Chilean Eco-Buildings Pioneering Construction MethodsDevelopment Challenges: Across the global South, the search is on for new ways to build without extracting a high price from local environments.More and more people are recognizing the advantages of energy-saving methods like prefabrication. Prefab building techniques involve assembling a structure from pre-assembled parts or modules made in a factory, or transporting a completed, factory-made structure to a site (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prefabricated_building).
Model Cities Across the South Challenge Old WaysDevelopment Challenges: Pioneering thinking about how resources are used and how people live their lives is taking place in the dynamic economies of the global South. Facing a vast population surge to urban areas, these include attempts to build “green” cities and low-waste, smart and digital communities.
Indian Newspapers Thrive with Economy Development Challenges: The onslaught of digital media in the developed countries of the world regularly brings pronouncements of the death of the traditional newspaper. But this assumption of digital triumph misses out on the reality in countries across the global South.
Extra story: 2011 Trends for the South Development Challenges: The world has been through a dramatic and fascinating period since the global economic crisis erupted in 2008. While the wealthy, developed nations of the North have been pitched into one crisis after another, the countries of the global South (many of whom are well accustomed to crises) have been part of a powerful new economic phenomenon: the rapid growth of South-South trade, investment and exchange. Its effects include stronger ties between Asia and South America and between China and Africa.
Africa’s Consumer Market in Spotlight for 2011Development Challenges:While other parts of the world will spend 2011 worrying about their debt levels and how to spur economic growth, many factors are pointing to Africa potentially following a different story. A frenzy of activity has been building around Africa’s market opportunities and its growing middle class consumer population.
China’s Booming Wine Market Can Boost SouthDevelopment Challenges: A great South-South opportunity has emerged with the recent boom in wine drinking in China and the pursuit of quality tastes. Matching high-quality wine producers from the global South – including South Africa, Chile, Morocco, and Lebanon – with China’s thirsty wine drinkers could deliver a major income boost.
Food Inflation: Ways to Fight ItDevelopment Challenges: Food inflation has taken off at the beginning of 2011. As the global economic crisis enters its next phase, both developed and developing countries are experiencing inflation. There are many factors fuelling the rise in prices – inefficient distribution and storage systems, lack of investment in agriculture, devaluing currencies, high demand, natural and man-made disasters, use of food products like corn to make biofuels – but there are also ways to counter the effects of food inflation that have been tried and tested across the South.
Turning Animal Waste Into PaperDevelopment Challenges: Animal waste is a messy fact of daily life in rural communities across the global South. This byproduct of life has many uses – but an ingredient for making writing paper is probably not the first that springs to mind.
New Cities Offering Solutions for Growing Urban Populations Development Challenges: Across the global South, new cities are being dreamed up by architects, city planners and governments, or are already under construction. Two new urban areas being built offer lessons for others in the global South. They both deploy intelligent solutions to the combined demands of urbanization, growing populations and rising expectations.
Creating Green Fashion in China Development Challenges:China is the world’s largest manufacturer (Euromonitor) and the largest clothing maker, producing a quarter of all textiles and clothing. It is a global fashion production hub, and many major global clothing brands have their products made there – whether they admit it or not.
Biogas Digester-in-a-Bag Brings Portability Development Challenges:Securing energy sources that are cheap (or free) and renewable can significantly reduce the cost of living for the world’s poor. The cost of fuel for essentials such as cooking and lighting can quickly eat up household incomes.
Powerful Solar Light Spurring Income-Making Opportunities Development Challenges: A clever innovator from India has built a highly durable solar lantern that also doubles as a mobile phone charger.
Global South Urbanization Does Not Have to Harm Biodiversity Development Challenges: How to balance fragile ecosystems with rapid urbanization will be the challenge for planners and governments across the global South in the coming years. The urbanization trend is clear: the world’s total urban area is expected to triple between 2000 and 2030, with urban populations set to double to around 4.9 billion in the same period (UNEP). This urban expansion will draw heavily on water and other natural resources and will consume prime agricultural land.
All-in-One Solar Kiosk Business Solution for Africa Development Challenges: Kiosks are ubiquitous throughout commercial areas in the global South. These highly efficient little business outlets enable small-scale entrepreneurs to sell necessary products without the expense of renting and running a shop.
Ugandan Fish Sausages Transform Female Fortunes Development Challenges: What to do when your food production enterprise is just not making much money? It is a common problem in the global South, where farmers and fishers often struggle to survive and can face the threat of bankruptcy and destitution when trying to provide essential food for their communities.
Woman Restaurant Entrepreneur Embraces Brand-Driven Growth Development Challenges: The journey of Zhang Lan is the tale of an entrepreneur who exemplifies the story of globalization. She has gone from working many part-time jobs while studying overseas, to becoming one of China’s most successful food entrepreneurs.
Better by Design in ChinaDevelopment Challenges: In recent decades, China has been known more for its inexpensive manufactured goods than as a producer of high quality products. But this is changing as the country seeks to move up the economic chain.
Energy-Efficient Wooden Houses are also Earthquake Safe Development Challenges:In Argentina, an innovative housing project has married good design with energy efficiency, earthquake resilience and the use of local materials and labour. As energy resources continue to be stretched around the global South, innovative building designs will be critical to the creation of sustainable housing for the future.
Chinese Building Solution for Rapidly Urbanizing Global South Development Challenges:The global South is currently experiencing the biggest surge in urban population ever seen in human history. This transformation from urban to rural is happening in many different ways across the global South. Some countries have highly detailed plans and are building new cities from scratch, while other countries feel overwhelmed by their booming urban populations.
Diaspora Bonds to Help Build up Infrastructure Development Challenges: Many people are aware of the significant role played in global development by remittance payments from migrant workers working in the wealthy North to the global South. But they may not be aware of the significant sums migrant workers have saved in bank accounts in these wealthy countries. Across the global South, efforts are underway to lure these sums back to home countries to boost development efforts.
African Supercomputers to Power Next Phase of Development Development Challenges:Information technology developments in Africa have long lagged behind those in other parts of the world. But the transformation being brought about by the widespread adoption and use of mobile phones – each one a mini-computer – and the expansion of undersea fibre optic cable connections to Africa are creating the conditions for an exciting new phase of computing growth on the continent.
Africa to Get Own Internet Domain Development Challenges: Africa is in the midst of an Internet revolution that is set only to accelerate. The continent is one of the last places to experience the information technology revolution that has swept the world in the past two decades.
Geothermal Energy to Boost Global South’s Development Development Challenges: The geothermal heat produced by the earth’s molten core is a resource receiving more and more attention across the global South.
Free Magazine Boosts Income for Rickshaw Drivers Development Challenges:In the bustling, congested cities of Asia, rickshaws and auto-rickshaws are common forms of transport. Smaller, cheaper and more nimble than cars, they play a key role in the transit infrastructure, helping to get people to work and to get around.
Design Collaborations Revitalize Traditional Craft Techniques Development Challenges:Keeping alive traditional craft techniques and methods in the age of globalization is a tricky balance to get right. As countries seek to increase living standards and income, traditional craft-making methods are often jettisoned in favour of attracting manufacturing and other high-value activities – meaning rich and potentially lucrative skills can be lost.
Profile of African Innovators Continues to Rise Development Challenges:A mix of developments is proving that African innovators no longer need to see themselves as lone operators working in isolation.
The Water-Free South African Bathing Solution Development Challenges: As the world’s population grows from its current 7 billion to a projected 9 billion in 2050 (UN), competition for access to the Earth’s resources will become fiercer. The most essential resource for life on the planet – and an increasingly precious resource – is water. Water is necessary for the very survival of humans, animals and plants, and is also used in vast quantities by industries and farms.
Mobile Phone Shopping to Create Efficient Markets across BordersDevelopment Challenges: An anticipated game-changing revolution in African trading set for 2013 is getting one innovative business very excited.
Egyptian Youth Turns Plastic Waste into FuelDevelopment Challenges: The challenge of finding alternate fuel sources is capturing the imagination of innovators across the global South. As the world’s population increases – it recently reached 7 billion (UN) – and the number of people seeking a better life grows in turn, the energy demands on the planet are pushing up competition for existing conventional fuel sources.
Shopping and Flying in Africa’s Boom TownsDevelopment Challenges: As economies across Africa grow, the continent still has a long way to go to create infrastructure to match people’s rising expectations of what a modern, prosperous life looks like.
Teenager Uses Technology to Protect Livestock from Lions Development Challenges: In Kenya, a teenage Maasai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_people) inventor has developed a way to chase lions away from livestock that doesn’t harm the lions. It is a common practice to kill lions when they threaten or kill livestock, and this has led to a precipitous drop in the local lion population at Nairobi National Park (http://www.kws.org/parks/parks_reserves/NANP.html/), near the country’s capital, Nairobi. Lions are a significant tourist attraction for Kenya and the population decline is a threat to the future of the tourist industry.
African Innovation Eco-system Taking ShapeDevelopment Challenges: How to increase the rate of innovation in Africa? And specifically, innovation that actually improves people’s lives and reduces poverty. It is a hard question to answer, but some are putting in place the building blocks of a 21st century innovation culture by riding the information technology revolution as it rolls across Africa.
African Fuel Pioneer Uses Crisis to InnovateDevelopment Challenges: Crisis, as the old saying goes, is also a window of opportunity. And there is one African entrepreneur who knows this better than most. Daniel Mugenga has been on a journey of innovation that has led him to become a pioneer in the emerging new field of algae technologies. The story of how he got there is a testament to the power of using business to both solve problems and make profits.
Indian Entrepreneur Brings Dignity to Poor WomenDevelopment Challenges: Driven by the revelation that his wife was torn between spending money on milk for the children and buying commercially manufactured sanitary napkins, Indian innovator and inventor Arunachalam Muruganantham embarked on a long and intensive journey to find a solution. His achievement – a simple machine – is bringing dignity to poor women and providing them with a much-needed income source.
Turning Human Waste to Fertilizer: An African SolutionDevelopment Challenges: While South Africa has been free of the racist Apartheid regime since the mid-1990s, the expected boost to living standards for the majority black population has not been as widespread and as quick as many had expected.
East Africa to get its First Dedicated Technology CityDevelopment Challenges: An ambitious scheme is underway to create a vast technology city on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya.
Indonesian Wooden Radio Succeeds with Good DesignDevelopment Challenges: One Indonesian industrial designer has pioneered an innovative business that has rejuvenated the economy of a farming village and improved the sustainability of local forests – and he’s doing it all with wood.
Gobi Desert Wine to Tackle Poverty and Boost IncomesDevelopment Challenges: In the arid Gobi desert spanning the two Asian nations of China and Mongolia is a bold attempt to make wine and reduce poverty. The environment is harsh, with temperatures swinging from sub-zero winter cold to sweltering summer heat. The desert is also home to high winds and notorious dust storms that plague China’s capital Beijing every year.
Mauritanian Music Shop Shares Songs and FriendshipDevelopment Challenges: Around the world, traditional music stores selling vinyl records, tapes and CDs (compact discs) are closing down. Digital downloads distributed over the Internet and mobile phones make it unnecessary to build a music collection in these hard formats.
Global South Eco-cities Show How the Future Can BeDevelopment Challenges: The world is currently undergoing a high-stress transition on a scale not seen since the great industrial revolution that swept Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today’s urban and industrial transition involves many more people and is taking place on a greater proportion of the planet. With rapid urbanization comes a demand for middle class lifestyles, with their high-energy usage and high consumption of raw materials.
New Journal Celebrates Vibrancy of Modern Africa Development Challenges: Africa has seen huge changes to its communications and media in the past five years. The rise and rise of mobile phones, the expansion of the Internet and the explosion in African blogging and social media, on top of flourishing print and broadcast media, all bring an increasing range of options for telling African stories and increasing dialogue.
An Innovator’s ‘Big Chicken Agenda’ for AfricaDevelopment Challenges: Increasing the quantity and quality of food in Africa will be critical to improving the continent’s human development. And a key element in giving Africa a more secure food supply will be boosting science and knowledge on the continent and making sure it is focused on Africa’s needs and situation.
New Swimwear for Plus-size Women in BrazilDevelopment Challenges: Brazil is well known for its stylish swimwear, with styles usually targeted at young women and those with more conventional, media-friendly body shapes. But now a company is making visiting the beach more comfortable and empowering for plus-size women.
Havana’s Restaurant Boom Augers in New Age of EntrepreneursDevelopment Challenges: Cuba, the Caribbean island nation known for its 1959 revolution and its tourism industry, is undergoing a shift in its economic strategy. The country has had heavy state control of its industries and business activities since the country adopted the official policy of state socialism and joined the Communist economic sphere headed by the Soviet Union.
Global South’s Rising Megacities Challenge Idea of Urban LivingDevelopment Challenges:The world crossed the threshold from being a majority rural world to a majority urban one at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. The reason for this is the fast-growing urban areas of the global South. And this is having a profound affect on how the world’s people live.
Frugal Innovation Trend Meets Global South’s Innovation CultureDevelopment Challenges: There is a trend occurring across the global South that some are calling the next great wave of innovation. It has different names but many are dubbing it ‘frugal innovation’. Frugal innovation is basically innovation done with limited resources and investment. In short, innovation on the cheap but packing a big punch.
Battery Business Brings Tanzanians Cheap ElectricityDevelopment Challenges: Access to electricity is critical for making substantial development gains. With steady supplies of electricity, it is possible to read and study at night, to run modern appliances, to better use the latest information technologies and to work using time- and labour-saving devices. A home with electricity literally switches the light on modern life and gives a family huge advantages compared to those without electricity.
Global South’s Rising Economies Gain Investor Spotlight Development Challenges: A new book is arguing that the world’s attention should switch away from BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – and take another look at nations and regions elsewhere across the global South. It argues many are lodestones of future growth and prosperity in the making and will see dramatic changes over the next decade.
Hip-driven Pump Brings Water to Parched Fields Development Challenges:Finding ways to increase agricultural productivity is key to expanding food supplies and making farming pay. With the world’s population continuing to rise and becoming more urban, there is a pressing need to improve both the quantity and quality of food supplies.
Cooking Bag Helps Poor Households Save Time, Money Development Challenges: For millions of poor people around the world, life is lived on the economic margins and household and personal budgets are tight. There were 1.29 billion people in the world living on less than US $1.25 a day as of 2008 (World Bank), and 1.18 billion living on US $1.25 to US $2 per day. There was only a modest drop in the number of people living below US $2 per day – the average poverty line for developing countries – between 1981 and 2008, from 2.59 to 2.47 billion.
Help is at Hand for India’s Beleaguered Bus-ridersDevelopment Challenges:The website is a simple affair: a distinctive logo sits above a lean-looking booking system that allows users to enter their journey start and end destination, date and then click for available buses and prices. Its simplicity is deceptive: redBus is a smart technological solution to a very complicated problem in India: booking and buying a bus ticket. The service it offers – relief from a chaotic, frustrating and time-consuming task – is transforming the experience of travel in India.
China Looking to Lead on Robot Innovation Development Challenges: Since the 1950s, science fiction has been telling the world we will soon be living with robots. While robots have emerged, they have been mostly kept to heavy industry, where machines can perform dangerous, hot and unpleasant repetitive tasks to a high standard.
New Cuban Film Seeks to Revive SectorDevelopment Challenges: Since Cuba’s 1959 revolution, the country’s film sector has largely survived on the largesse of the state. The switch to Communism as the guiding economic model of the country after the revolution led, at first, to generous support to filmmakers. The government ranked cinema ahead of television seeing both cinema and television as the two most important forms of artistic expression in the country. But as state funding has dwindled in recent years, adventurous independent filmmakers have tried to keep the Cuban film tradition going using other sources.
India’s Modernizing Food Economy Unleashing New Opportunities Development Challenges: Increasing prosperity in India is reshaping the country’s relationship to its food. A number of trends are coming together that point to significant improvements to India’s long-running problems with food supply and distribution. This matters because India, despite its two-decade economic boom – and increasing middle-class population – is still home to about 25 per cent of the world’s hungry poor, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
Kenya Turns to Geothermal Energy for Electricity and GrowthDevelopment Challenges: In an effort to diversify its power supply and meet growing electricity demand, Kenya is looking to increase its use of geothermal energy sources (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_electricity). Tapping the abundant heat and steam that lurks underground to drive electric power plants offers a sustainable and long-term source of low-cost energy.
African Afro Beats Leads New Music Wave to EuropeDevelopment Challenges: A surge in interest in African music in Britain is creating new economic opportunities for the continent’s musicians. The new sound heating up the U.K. music scene is “Afro Beats” – a high energy hybrid that mixes Western rap influences with Ghanaian and Nigerian popular music.
Venture Capital Surge in Africa to Help BusinessesDevelopment Challenges: Africa’s potential economic powerhouse lies in its small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Foreign direct investment (FDI) into Africa ebbs and flows based on the state of the global economy – and most of it is directed towards large enterprises and multinational companies.
Business Leads on Tackling Violence in Mexican City Development Challenges: The damaging affects of crime and violence can ruin a city. They act as a drag on efforts to increase wealth and improve living conditions, and a city that gets a bad reputation, especially in the age of the Internet, will lose investment opportunities.
Africa’s Tourism Sector Can Learn from Asian Experience Development Challenges:Africa continues to be seen as new territory for global tourism, yet it still is not even close to meeting its potential, according to a report by a South African think tank. In fact, many resorts and tourist areas are failing to fill up with visitors. This contrasts with the booming world tourism industry, which broke records in arrivals in 2011 (UNWTO).
Designed in China to Rival ‘Made in China’ Development Challenges: Harnessing the power of design to improve products and the way they are manufactured is a critical component of successful economic development. And the high export value of designing and making “computer equipment, office equipment, telecommunication equipment, electric circuit equipment, and valves and transistors” was flagged up as a priority for developing nations back in 2005 at a meeting looking for “New and Dynamic Sectors of World Trade” (UNCTAD).
Microwork Pioneer Transforms Prospects for Poor, VulnerableDevelopment Challenges: A pioneering technology social enterprise has found a way to connect people around the world to the new digital economy, transforming their lives and providing long-term employment opportunities. It is closing the digital divide in a very practical way, teaching new skills and, most importantly, providing income to the poor and vulnerable.
African Farming Wisdom Now Scientifically ProvenDevelopment Challenges:Increasing the agricultural productivity of Africa is critical for the continent’s future development, and the world’s. Two-thirds of Africans derive their main income from agriculture, but the continent has the largest quantity of unproductive – or unused – potential agricultural land in the world.
Vietnam Launches Low-cost, High-Quality Video GameDevelopment Challenges: The creative economy offers huge opportunities to the countries of the global South. With the proliferation of new technologies – mobile phones, digital devices, personal computers with cheap or free software, the Internet – the tools to hand for creative people are immense. This begins to level the playing field and allows hardworking and talented people in poor countries to start to compete directly with those in wealthy countries.
Lagos Traffic Crunch Gets a New SolutionDevelopment Challenges: Around the world, traffic congestion is often accepted as the price paid for rapid development and a dynamic economy. But as anyone who lives in a large city knows, there comes a tipping point where the congestion begins to harm economic activity by wasting people’s time in lengthy and aggravating commuting, and leaving commuters frazzled and burned out by the whole experience.
New Kenyan Services to Innovate Mobile Health and FarmingDevelopment Challenges:Kenya is home to a vibrant innovation culture centred around mobile phones. While not all the services launched will be successful, the flurry of start-ups shows the country has the right combination of technical skills, bright ideas and cash to make a go of new services.
The fourth issue of Southern Innovator has launched online and in print. Order copies now for distribution. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baker Cookstoves – Designing for the African CustomerDevelopment Challenges: An innovative social enterprise is using design to create an energy-efficient cookstove for Kenya. By turning to an experienced Swedish architecture and design firm, the people behind the Baker cookstove wanted to make sure the stove’s design was as efficient as possible and relevant to the customers’ needs, while also making sure it is visually appealing and something a person would proudly want in their home.
Texting for Cheaper Marketplace Food with SokoTextDevelopment Challenges: An international group of graduate-social entrepreneurs from the London School of Economics (LSE) is pioneering a way to reduce food prices in Kenya using mobile phones.
Ethiopia and Djibouti Join Push to Tap Geothermal Sources for Green EnergyDevelopment Challenges: Ethiopia and Djibouti are the latest global South countries to make a significant commitment to developing geothermal energy – a green energy source that draws on the heat below the earth’s surface (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_energy) – to meet future development goals.
Tackling China’s Air Pollution Crisis: An Innovative SolutionDevelopment Challenges: China reached an undesired landmark in 2013. While the country’s impressive economic growth has amazed the world, it has come at a price: pollution. China recorded record levels of smog in 2013, with some cities suffering air pollution many times above what is acceptable for human health.
Ghana Wants to Tap Global Trendy Party SceneDevelopment Challenges: Tourism is big business – and one of the most resilient parts of the global economy. Despite the international economic crisis that has wreaked havoc and increased unemployment and poverty in many countries since 2007, tourism is still going strong.
China Pushing Frontiers of Medical ResearchDevelopment Challenges: Cutting-edge medical research in China is promising to boost human health and development. Futuristic science is being conducted on a large scale and it is hoped this will increase the pace of discovery.
Perfume of Peace Helps Farmers Switch From Drug TradeDevelopment Challenges: A tragedy in a time of war has led to a social enterprise that is creating jobs – and making the world smell a little better, too.
US $450 Million Pledged for Green Economy Investments at Kenyan ExpoDevelopment Challenges: Innovators working in the global green economy could benefit from over US $450 million in investment recently pledged at the UN’s Global South-South Development Expo held in Nairobi, Kenya.
African Fashion’s Growing Global Marketplace ProfileDevelopment Challenges: Tales of African global fashion successes have multiplied in the last few years. African fashion is seeing its profile rise as more and more shows and festivals boost awareness of the continent’s designs, designers and models. In turn, African fashion and design is being taken more seriously as an income and job generator, and as a sector able to weather the ups and downs of the global economy: people always need to wear clothes.
Cuban Entrepreneurs Embracing Changes to EconomyDevelopment Challenges: The Caribbean island of Cuba has gone its own way economically and socially since its revolution in 1959. The country has seen significant gains in its human development in the decades since, and can boast impressive education levels and good public health care.
Radical Drone Solution to Woeful Infrastructure in Poor CountriesDevelopment Challenges: Drones – unpiloted aircraft, formally called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) – have long been used for military purposes. The U.S. military claims to have 7,500 drones – a massive growth from just 50 a decade ago – and has used them for surveillance and combat in conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq.
Pioneering African Airlines Help to Expand RoutesDevelopment Challenges: The last decade has seen a revolution in African air travel. The number of air routes has grown and this has paralleled the economic growth across the continent. As demand has been strong for Africa’s resources, it has also fueled a consumer boom that is benefiting an increasing number of people.
Affordable Space Programmes Becoming Part of South’s DevelopmentDevelopment Challenges: Space: the final frontier. At least that was how heading off into the stars was portrayed in cult television and film series Star Trek. While many countries are working to raise living standards and eradicate poverty on earth, some are also looking to space for solutions to earth-bound problems.
Solar Bottle Bulbs Light Up Dark HomesDevelopment Challenges: Finding ways to generate low-cost or free light has captured the imagination of innovators across the global South. The desire for light is strong: Light gives an immediate boost to income-making opportunities and quality of life when the sun goes down or in dark homes with few windows.
China Sets Sights on Dominating Global Smartphone MarketDevelopment Challenges: The rise of smartphones – mobile phones capable of Internet access and able to run ‘apps’ or applications – is the latest wave of the global connectivity revolution. Mobile phones rapidly made their way around the world to become almost ubiquitous – the most successful take-up of a piece of communications technology in history – and now smartphones are set to do the same. The number of mobile phone subscriptions in the world surpassed 6 billion in 2012 (out of a population of 7 billion) and, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the number of mobile phones will exceed the world’s population by 2014.
Poorest Countries Being Harmed by Euro Currency CrisisDevelopment Challenges:The ongoing economic crisis in Europe is forecast to harm the economies of the world’s poorest countries if it continues, according to a study by the United Kingdom’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI) (odi.org.uk).
Solar-Powered Mobile Clinics to Boost Rural Healthcare in AfricaDevelopment Challenges: Around the world, innovative thinking is finding new ways of using solar power technology to bring electricity to underserved areas of the global South. Innovators are experimenting with new technologies, new business models and new ways to finance getting solar power into the hands of the poor.
Vietnamese Google Rival Challenging Global GiantDevelopment Challenges:Information technologies are creating new business opportunities across the global South. As more and more people gain access to the Internet in one form or another, opportunities to offer them services also increase.
More Futuristic African Cities in the WorksDevelopment Challenges: It has been well documented that China is undergoing the largest migration in human history from rural areas to cities. But this urbanization trend is occurring across the global South, including in Africa, as well. According to the UN, more than half the world’s population already lives in cities, and 70 per cent will live in urban areas by 2050. Most of the world’s population growth is concentrated in urban areas in the global South.
Haitian Coffee Becoming a Hit with American ConnoisseursDevelopment Challenges: The Caribbean country of Haiti has had to deal with the twin challenges of recovering from a devastating earthquake in 2010 while also pulling itself out of the economic and social chaos that has resulted in its status as the poorest place in the Western hemisphere.
New 3D Technology Makes Innovation Breakthrough and Puts Mind over MatterDevelopment Challenges: Revolutions in technology are placing more and more power into the hands of the individual, and 3D printing and fabrication machines are opening a whole new chapter. These devices come in many forms, but they all do one thing: they can manufacture pretty well any three-dimensional object on the spot, from digital plans. These machines come in many sizes, from factory scale to smaller, home versions which are no bigger than personal computer printers, such as the well-known MakerBot Replicator 2 (makerbot.com).
Mobile Phone Microscopes to Revolutionize Health DiagnosticsDevelopment Challenges: Mobile phone usage has increased hugely across the global South in the past five years. In Africa, the number of mobile phone subscribers reached 545 million in 2013, while there are 3.5 billion mobile phone users in Asia and the Pacific (ITU). Some 93 million people in Africa and 895 million in Asia and the Pacific have mobile phone Internet access (ITU).
Small Fish Farming Opportunity Can Wipe Out MalnutritionDevelopment Challenges: Pioneering work to boost diets across the global South is turning to the smallest of fish. While small in size, tiny fish are packed with nutrition when eaten whole, as they are in many cultures. Often these fish come packed with vitamin A, iron, zinc, calcium, protein and essential fats – all necessary elements to eradicate malnutrition and hidden hunger, especially among women and children.
Burgeoning African E-commerce Industry Full of OpportunityDevelopment Challenges: Africa has seen huge change since 2000 in the way people access information and do business electronically. The most championed accomplishment has been the widespread take-up of mobile phones. This has given birth to countless entrepreneurs and innovators who are using phones to help people, do business and sell goods and services.
Staple Foods Are Becoming More Secure in the SouthDevelopment Challenges:Finding ways to ensure food security in countries experiencing profound economic and social change and stress is critical to achievement of development goals. Food security is crucial to ensuring economic development is sustainable, and it is vital to long-term human health. Just one bout of famine can damage a generation of youth, stunting brain development and leaving bodies smaller and weaker than they should be.
African Innovators Celebrated in PrizeDevelopment Challenges: Innovation is increasingly being recognized as the key to tackling long-standing development problems in Africa, as well as across the developing and developed world. While it is easy to draw up a list of challenges facing the global South, it takes a special person to see not problems but solutions.
Solar Solution to Lack of Electricity in AfricaDevelopment Challenges: Electricity is critical to improving human development and living standards. Yet, for many in the global South, electricity is either non-existent or its provision is patchy, erratic, unreliable or expensive.
Time-Tested Iranian Solutions to Cool and RefrigerateDevelopment Challenges:Keeping food cool is critical for human health. No matter what the climate, a cool environment will prolong food preservation, stave off spoilage and lower the risk of food poisoning. This is crucial for the poor because it means they can reduce food waste and avoid illnesses caused by food poisoning. Diarrhea is a common problem when people do not have access to refrigeration for their food.
US $1 Trillion Opportunity for Africa’s Agribusinesses Says ReportDevelopment Challenges: As the world’s population continues to grow – surpassing 9 billion people by 2050, the United Nations estimates – and more and more people move to urban areas, producing enough food to feed this population will be one of the biggest economic challenges and opportunities in the global South.
Ambitious Schemes Hope to Advance Economic DevelopmentDevelopment Challenges: Sometimes it takes a bold, fresh start to speed up economic and human development goals. Taking a large-scale approach has been used around the world, either establishing new trade zones or even a new city.
Indian Initiatives to Make Travel Safer for WomenDevelopment Challenges:Shocking assaults on women traveling in India have galvanized innovators to find solutions. One solution that is proving successful is to establish specialist taxi services for women. As a happy additional benefit, these taxi innovators are transforming the taxi experience, introducing more ethical practices such as honest fares, professional and safe driving habits and clean, hygienic and comfortable taxis.
Kenya Reaches Mobile Phone Banking LandmarkDevelopment Challenges: Financial transactions and banking with mobile phones have been a Kenyan success story.
Online Education Could Boost African Development Development Challenges:Education is recognized as a major catalyst for human development. During a high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview.html) in 2010, UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – pointed out the necessity of making rapid gains in education if all the MDGs are to be achieved. The goals deadline is 2015 – just two years away.
African Digital Laser Breakthrough Promises Future InnovationDevelopment Challenges: For decades many African countries have experienced low investment in research and development (R&D) and scientific innovation. One of the few nations to benefit from a sophisticated university network and research and development sector was South Africa. It still ranks top on the continent for funding R&D and its high number of scientific journals.
Preserving Beekeeping Livelihoods in MoroccoDevelopment Challenges: The clever combining of tourism and long-standing beekeeping skills has revived a local craft and is also helping to preserve the ecology of Morocco. Beekeeping, or apiculture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beekeeping), has two clear benefits. Bee products, including honey, beeswax, propolis, pollen and royal jelly can be a valuable source of income. The other benefit is the critical role bees play in the ecology by pollinating flowers and plants as they go about their daily business.
A New African Beer Helps Smallholder FarmersDevelopment Challenges: Africa’s growth in the past decade has held steady despite the trauma of the global economic crisis and the tumult of the “Arab Spring” in several countries of North Africa. African economies are growing because of a number of resilient trends. These include growing regional trade links, greater investment in infrastructure and the remarkable rise of China to become Africa’s number one trade partner, pushing the United States to second place (Technology + Policy). This has given birth to a growing consumer marketplace and consumer class – some 300 million people earning about US $200 a month (Africa Rising).
Boosting Tourism in India with Surfing CultureDevelopment Challenges: Tourism has experienced decades of growth and diversification and is now considered one of the fastest-growing economic sectors in the world. According to the UNWTO – the United Nations World Tourism Organization – modern tourism is “a key driver for socio-economic progress.”
Made-in-Africa Fashion Brand Pioneers Aim for Global SuccessDevelopment Challenges: African fashion brands have not always been the first place fashionistas turned to when shopping for new clothes or shoes in developed economies. While Africa has long been a source of inspiration in contemporary and traditional fashion, the continent has had a weak reputation for manufacturing and selling mass market global fashion brands.
Kenyan Book Company Brings Online Sales to East AfricaDevelopment Challenges:The Internet has revolutionized retail sales in many developed countries – and nowhere more so than for booksellers. The ability to offer an almost unlimited supply of books through a website is revolutionizing the way people shop and giving life to books long out of print or by unknown authors.
African Innovation Helps Make Banking Transactions SaferDevelopment Challenges: As economies grow in Africa, more and more people are conducting their financial transactions electronically. This can be either through mobile phones and digital devices, or through the hole-in-the-wall of the automatic teller machine, or ATM.
New Apps Make Driving and Travelling in Egypt Easier, SaferDevelopment Challenges: Mobile phones are ubiquitous across the global South. They have spawned whole new business opportunities and changed the way people solve problems and find solutions.
Bangladesh Coffin-Maker Offers an Ethical EndingDevelopment Challenges: Few people want to think about death, and many are ill-prepared when it happens to a loved one or friend. But it will happen to us all – and growing ethical and environmental concerns are reshaping the way many deal with the inevitable event. More and more people are seeking a lower-cost option for being disposed of that also does not harm the environment.
Thai Organic Supermarkets Seek to Improve HealthDevelopment Challenges: A Thai business is working hard to expand access to organic food in the country. It sees this as part of a wider campaign to improve health in the country – and its success has caught the attention of the government, which wants to turn Thailand into a global health destination.
Global South Experiencing Transportation Revolution Development Challenges:Away from the news headlines, a quiet revolution has been taking place in public transportation across the global South. As cities have expanded and grown, they have also been putting in place public transport systems to help people get around and get to work.
Global South’s Middle Class is Increasing ProsperityDevelopment Challenges: The global middle class is on the rise – and this is creating both challenges and opportunities. As poverty rates have come down across the global South, many countries have seen a rise in the proportion of their population categorized as “middle class”. Globally, being middle class is defined as a person able to consume between US $4 a day and US $13 a day (ILO).
Angolan Film Grabs Attention at Film Festival Development Challenges: The power of the creative economy to transform lives, livelihoods – and perceptions – should never be underestimated. Creativity can transform the image of places and situations often seen in a negative light. A film from Angola is shining a light on the country’s music scene and showing the vitality of the nation in the wake of a long-running civil war.
The fifth issue of Southern Innovator has launched online and in print. Order copies now for distribution. Email: email@example.com.
Issue six will be on science, technology and innovation. This issue will be different from previous issues and will be including supplements and inserts to boost the impact of the magazine. Southern Innovator is seeking sponsors to fund this and also to help us expand the print run (currently 5,000 copies for global distribution).
3D Home Printing Landmark: 10 Houses in a DayDevelopment Challenges: The global South is experiencing urban growth on a scale unprecedented in human history, far outstripping the great urbanization wave that swept across Europe and North America during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Old Boats Become New Furniture in SenegalDevelopment Challenges: Every country has its fair share of waste and the remnants of past economic activity. Old cars nobody wants, discarded tins of food, old plastic bags, spare copper wire, cast-off clothing – all can have a new life in the right hands.
Innovative Ways to Collect Water from AirDevelopment Challenges: World water resources are being depleted quickly as populations grow, urbanize and demand better living standards. Many scientists believe we are reaching peak water – the point at which fresh water is consumed faster than it is replenished.
Caribbean Island St. Kitts Goes Green for TourismDevelopment Challenges: Going green may sound like the right thing to do but it can also be associated with being a costly burden and boring. But, as one island nation is proving, being green is a great selling point for attracting tourists and investors – especially in a world where many places are grappling with pollution and resource depletion.
Big Data Can Transform the Global South’s Growing CitiesDevelopment Challenges:The coming years will see a major new force dominating development: Big Data. The term refers to the vast quantities of digital data being generated as a result of the proliferation of mobile phones, the Internet and social media across the global South – a so-called ‘data deluge’ (UN Global Pulse). It is an historically unprecedented surge in data, much of it coming from some of the poorest places on the planet and being gathered in real time.
Indian Business Model Makes Green Energy Affordable Development Challenges:The technology already exists to provide renewable energy and electricity to all the world’s poor. The trick is finding a way to pay for it and to make it sustainable. Many innovators are experimenting with business models to reach the so-called Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) cohort, and the 1.2 billion poorest people in the world who do not have access to electricity (World Bank) (http://tinyurl.com/n9p3f5x). A further 2.8 billion have to rely on wood or other biomass materials to cook and heat their homes.
South-South Trade Helping Countries During Economic CrisisDevelopment Challenges: Weathering the global economic crisis is testing the stability of countries across the global South. But many countries are finding South-South trade and catering to their domestic middle classes can lift incomes and maintain growth rates despite the global turmoil.
3D Printing Gives Boy a New Arm in SudanDevelopment Challenges: 3D printing is rapidly going mainstream and is now starting to make a big impact in health care. One innovative solution is using the technology to manufacture artificial arms for amputees harmed by war in Africa.
African Hotel Boom Bringing in New Investment and Creating JobsDevelopment Challenges: Africa is experiencing a boom not seen for decades. The IMF forecasts economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa of 6 per cent in 2014, compared to global growth of 3.6 per cent.
Brazilian Design for New Urban, Middle-Class WorldDevelopment Challenges:Countries across the global South are experiencing rapid urbanization as people move to cities for better economic opportunities — and this massive social change is creating new business opportunities. Those who recognize how fundamentally people’s lifestyles are changing will be those who will benefit from this big shift in populations.
Cheap Paper Microscope to Boost Fight Against DiseasesDevelopment Challenges:To tackle diseases in the developing world, the most important first step is diagnosis. Without effective diagnosis, it is difficult to go to the next steps of either treatment or cure. While much attention is given to the high costs involved in treating and curing ailments, screening for diagnosis is also expensive, especially if it involves lots of people. Anything that can reduce the cost of diagnosis will free up resources to expand the number of people who can be checked, and help eradicate contagious diseases.
Asian Factories Starting to go GreenDevelopment Challenges: Media headlines have recently highlighted the growing air pollution crisis in Asia’s expanding cities. This is caused by a mix of factors – the growing number of vehicles, coal-powered factories, people burning dirty fuels to heat their homes, and poor enforcement of standards – and has severe consequences for human health. If it’s not tackled, more and more countries will see large rises in respiratory problems, cancers and early deaths from pollution-caused illnesses (http://www.nrdc.org/air/).
Reality Television Teaches Business Skills in SudanDevelopment Challenges:Learning how to thrive in a market economy does not necessarily come naturally. But for young people who have grown up under a different economic system or known nothing but economic chaos, learning business skills can give them the tools to get on in life.
Popular Chinese Social Media Chase New MarketsDevelopment Challenges: China has a vast and growing market for the Internet and mobile devices. Over the past decade that market has been largely confined to China – most businesses have had enough domestic demand and opportunities inside the country to keep them busy.
The BRCK: Kenyan-Developed Solution to Boost Internet AccessDevelopment Challenges: Using the Internet in Africa has its challenges, as anyone who has worked there knows. Issues can include weak Wi-Fi signals, slow Internet service providers, electricity outages and power surges that can damage or destroy sensitive electronic devices.
Women Empowered by Fair Trade ManufacturerDevelopment Challenges: There is sometimes a great deal of negativity surrounding the issue of manufacturing in Africa. Some claim the risks of doing business are too high or that the workers are not motivated enough. But one garment manufacturer is out to prove the skeptics wrong. It pays decent wages and gives its mostly female workforce a stake in the business in a bid to drive motivation and make it worthwhile to work hard.
Global South Trade Boosted with Increasing China-Africa Trade in 2013Development Challenges: It was announced in January 2014 that China has surpassed the United States to become the world’s number one trading nation, as measured by the total value of exports and imports. This new economic behemoth also continued to grow its trade relationships with Africa.
India 2.0: Can the Country Make the Move to the Next Level?Development Challenges: With the global economic crisis threatening to cause turmoil in the emerging markets of the global South, it is becoming clear that what worked for the past two decades may not work for the next two.
“Pocket-Friendly” Solution to Help Farmers Go OrganicDevelopment Challenges:Interest in organic food and farming is high, and organics have become a growing global industry. The worldwide market for organic food grew by more than 25 per cent between 2008 and 2011, to US $63 billion, according to pro-organic group the Soil Association. That is an impressive accomplishment given the backdrop of the global economic crisis, and evidence that people value quality food, even in tough times.
Cheap Farming Kit Hopes to Help More Become FarmersDevelopment Challenges:Food security is key to economic growth and human development. A secure and affordable food supply means people can meet their nutrition needs and direct their resources to improving other aspects of their lives, such as housing, clothing, health services or education.
Launched in 2011, Southern Innovator’s first issue on mobile phones and information technology proved highly influential, profiling the work of a new generation of innovators. It has been cited in books, papers and strategic plans.