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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
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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

© David South Consulting 2011

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Trade to Benefit the Poor Up in 2006 and to Grow in 2007

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

The global fair trade market – in which goods and services are traded under the Fairtrade logo, guaranteeing a minimum fair price to producers experienced unprecedented growth in 2006. In the UK alone, 2006 sales totalled £290 million – a jump of 46 percent from 2005. The Fairtrade Foundation predicts sales will reach UK £300 million in 2007.

In 2005 Fairtrade sales were € 1.1 billion in the brand’s main markets of Switzerland, the UK, New Zealand, Australia and the US. At present fair trade works with 5 million farmers in the global South, and it represents an ever-increasing opportunity for Southern entrepreneurs.

A tipping point has been reached in Western awareness of and demand for the Fairtrade brand and concept, and it is now being adopted by major supermarkets. In the UK, 62 percent of consumers know the logo and understand what it means.

The concept of fair trade began in the Netherlands in 1988, when the Max Havelaar Foundation launched the Fairtrade consumer label with coffee from Mexico. Unlike conventional businesses, where the price paid to a producer is what the market dictates, fair trade guarantees the producer a minimum price for their product. This amount is set at a level that ensures the producer can live a life with dignity and meet all the essentials. A portion of the profits is also kept in a communal fund which the producers democratically elect to spend as they wish (many choose to spend it on community projects).

Fair trade has been criticized for a number of reasons. It has been seen as too small and marginal to really make inroads on poverty, and has been accused of privileging a small number of producers while ignoring the rest. It has also been criticized for not focusing enough on innovation and increasing production to really eradicate poverty in the developing world.

For all its faults and shortcomings, it is a fact that the Fairtrade brand is a runaway success and offers a wide range of opportunities for entrepreneurs.

In the UK, fair trade now includes 2,500 products, ranging from footballs, to tea, cotton and honey – up from just 150 in 2003, an astonishing rate of growth. Where fair-trade products were once confined to co-operative and charity shops, they are now widely sold in major supermarkets.

The success of fair trade is not confined to Europe and the US. It is growing in Japan, where, says fair trade retailer Sonoko Iwasa, “the concept of using trade to equalize the world by buying goods from developing countries from Asia and Africa was a notion that had no connection with everyday lives.”

Iwasa’s Rumaba Goods store just outside Tokyo sells organic chocolates from Africa, woollen gloves and hats from Nepal, and elegant clothes from Thailand. Iwasa found that the key in the highly competitive Japanese consumer market was to focus on quality, not fairness. This, she says, has made these products fashionable.

At present, the fair trade market is worth only about US $6 to $7 million a year in Japan and includes 1,500 products. But according to Michiko Ono of Japan’s best-known fair trade label, People Tree, the trend is catching on among the country’s socially aware youth.

To start a fair trade business, entrepreneurs or producers need first to contact the international body that certifies fair trade products and ensure that production meets the ethical standards required.

Published: January 2007

Resources

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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Mapping to Protect Kenya’s Environment: the eMazingira Solution

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

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.

They then connect the mobile phones to the new mapping services available either on the phones or on the Internet. One example is Google Maps (http://maps.google.com).

These mapping services are revolutionary in what they bring to poor communities. They allow people to quantify in real time what is happening in their area, as well as see what is happening around the world. Where in the past this sort of mapping and statistical data collection was chiefly the domain of government departments and private services for wealthy corporations, individuals can now participate in the collection of data and map what is happening in their area. This can include mapping actual crime as it occurs, or slum-mapping, where a visual snap-shot of a slum area is made to better target aid and development.

This is a game-changer for human and sustainable development. It has the potential to close the gap between the collection and analysis of data and action. Accurate, real-time data makes it easier to push government agencies to deliver on their promises, especially during a crisis.

Kenya’s eMazingira website (www.emazingira.org) is showing the difference these tools can make. It allows people to identify potentially destructive practices that harm the environment – unregulated forestry, pollution, dangerous animals, land degradation, climate change – and alert others to what is happening. This level of awareness, it is hoped, will in time reduce the destruction of local environments and improve the quality of life for both humans and wildlife.

Mazingira means “environment” in Swahili. The website’s motto is “Keeping the environment clean for the future generation”.

The eMazingira website is a visually simple affair with a leafy banner image and an interactive map showing what is happening. It is in its first iteration and future upgrades are on the way. A rolling list of incidents keeps readers briefed on what is happening, from “Fire burning” to “Sewer burst” to “Rogue elephant”. There are five main categories to choose from and users can file reports by text message, email, sending a Tweet (www.twitter.com) or filling in an online form on the website.

“We got to know about Ushahidi during its first deployment which was in Kenya, when it was used to map post-election violence incidents in early 2008,” explains Dunston Machoka, director of BTI Millman Limited (www.btimillman.com) inNairobi,Kenya, a custom software development firm leading the project.

“We were inspired to develop eMazingira, on one hand, because of the passion we had for environmental conservation and on the other hand, from the success stories we had observed of Ushahidi deployments inKenya,HaitiandJapan.”

Machoka believes this is a critical time forKenya’s environment: “eMazingira comes at a time when environmental conservation is a huge concern inKenya. Our key observation was that there was no effective reporting mode for environmental incidents for citizens.”

The website hopes to better engage citizens in tackling the country’s environmental problems and sees this as a way to spur further government action.

One of eMazingira’s proudest moments came when it won the World Summit Youth Award as the 2011 Runner Up for the use of ICT towards attaining the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

But how easy is it to work with this technology? Machoka advises those starting out to turn to the Ushahidi team for support.

“I would advise them to get in touch with the Ushahidi team through their website and by doing so the deployment will be easy, fast and there will be adequate assistance in case of any challenges,” he said.

For the next two years, eMazingira will be focusing on rolling out the service to the country, from the main towns to rural areas.

“At the end of the period we hope to start similar programmes in East Africa based on the lessons learnt inKenya,” confirms Machoka.

And that isn’t where the eMazingira story will stop: its creators also want to deploy the technology globally, if countries have the right conditions.

“The key necessity for the application would be good mobile and Internet infrastructure and government that can promote citizen participation in environmental conservation,” Machoka said.

Published: December 2011

Resources

1) With less than five years until the 2015 deadline to meet the Millennium Development Goals, any tool that can make development decisions more precise is a benefit. Website:http://www.undp.org/mdg

2) The Map Kibera project uses an open-source software programme, OpenStreetMap, to allow users to edit and add information as it is gathered. This information is then free to use by anybody wanting to grasp what is actually happening in Kibera: residents, NGOs, private companies and government officials. Website:http://www.openstreetmap.org

3) NGO called Rede Jovem is deploying youths armed with GPS (global positioning system)-equipped (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System) mobile phones to map the favelas of Rio de Janerio. Website: http://www.redejovem.org.br

4) Mobile Active.org: MobileActive.org is a community of people and organizations using mobile phones for social impact. They are committed to increasing the effectiveness of NGOs around the world who recognize that the over 4 billion mobile phones provide unprecedented opportunities for organizing, communications, and service and information delivery. Website: http://www.mobileactive.org

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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Wireless Internet Culture Helping Zimbabwe Economy Recover

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Zimbabwe’s turbulent descent into hyperinflation at the beginning of the 2000s – and the food crisis it caused as prices soared and purchasing power shrank – captured the world’s attention. From refugees fleeing the country to widespread hunger and poverty, the impact of hyperinflation was stark and distressing. Since the country’s economy stabilized in 2009, various signals are showing that Zimbabwe is slowly making its way back to growth and stability.

The scale of the hyperinflation is summed up by Zimbabwe’s eye-popping inflation rate. By December 2008, inflation was estimated at 6.5 quindecillion novemdecillion percent (or 65 followed by 107 zeros — 65 million googol) (Forbes Asia).

One recovery strategy is emerging in Zimbabwe’s booming eating and drinking establishments. It seems the urge to socialize and network has become the source of economic vitality where so much else has been damaged.

The proliferation of coffee shops with wi-fi (wireless internet access) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi) has spawned a new, connected business culture that is flexible and entrepreneurial.

Zimbabwe’s unity government was formed in September 2008. By the beginning of 2009, the government relented on the crippling hyperinflation and allowed business to be conducted in the US dollar. This made it possible to save again and do business with greater predictability. At this time, the country had the world’s highest inflation rate and the central bank printed a 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollar note.

The economic result of greater stability has been new shopping malls opening and a boom in new eating and drinking establishments.

During the hyperinflation, eating out was the last thing on most people’s minds. Just surviving was the paramount daily task.

In the capital, Harare (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harare), the shopping mall Sam Levy’s Village (http://samlevysvillage.com), in the prosperous Borrowdale area of the northern suburbs, is full of thriving coffee shops, restaurants and pubs.

Outside of the wealthy enclaves, coffee shops have sprung up in the city’s art gallery, in sports clubs and a local supermarket chain.

While the coffees are still expensive relative to local wages, the Zimbabwe Online Hotspots (ZOL) (http://www.zol.co.zw) in the coffee shops have proved a big attraction. Most people in Zimbabwe have unreliable or non-existent electricity or, if lucky, poor-quality phone and internet dial-up in their homes.

ZOL Hotspots typically offer the first half hour of internet use for free. To surf longer, users must buy a voucher.

The damage done to the economy from hyperinflation and the political crisis means the country is still on the mend. But people have now resorted to what they call “networking,” according to Bryony Rheam in the Daily Telegraph newspaper. The functioning economy is all about making deals. And coffee shops with wi-fi are the perfect place to meet with a potential business partner.

But while the coffee shops are buzzing with people doing business, the proprietors still need to work out how to make better profits. Sales are still poor as people are mostly fixated on the wi-fi. One owner told the Telegraph: “We need to start charging people who sit here all day surfing the net.”

It is the restaurants who seem to be enjoying the boost in incomes and better spirits after the economic troubles. Zimbabwe’s black middle class are enjoying big occasions and celebrating with friends and family in restaurants.

“We went without for so long, that a lot of people almost see it as their right to spend money on eating out,” one patron told the Telegraph.

More good news has come from outside investors as well: Amstel Securities NV (http://www.amstelsec.com), based in Amsterdam, Netherlands calls Zimbabwe’s economy “the final frontier market in Africa”. It believes the country has the potential to grow its GDP (gross domestic product) to US $12 billion by 2015. The International Monetary Fund says the economy jumped from US $4.4 billion in 2009 to US $9 billion now.

In Amstel Securities’ report, it pegs the dollarization of the economy as the reason for stability: “These improvements have made Zimbabwe a much more vibrant economy with good further recovery potential.”

And these good vibes are contagious: it has been reported that the American hamburger chain McDonald’s is revisiting the idea of setting up in Zimbabwe. McDonald’s is currently present in a handful of African countries: South Africa has 132 restaurants.

Published: September 2010

Resources

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