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

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

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

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

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

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

© David South Consulting 2011

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Arab World Domain Name Opportunity Huge Economic Help

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

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.

The explosion in mobile phones in the Arab world has dramatically increased the number of people who can now access the Internet. One Arabic financial website put the number of people who can now access the Internet in one way or another in the Arab world as 75 million (www.nuqudy.com). As highlighted in the 2003 Arab Human Development Report (AHDR), Arabic-speaking countries have been at a knowledge disadvantage for some time: more than 270 million citizens have access to fewer books than other languages, slower growth economies, and greater illiteracy than the faster-growing emerging economies. At the time, the AHDR found there were just 18 computers per 1,000 people compared to a global average of 78. And just 1.6 percent of Arabs had Internet access, one of the lowest ratios in the world (AHDR 2003).

Since the dawn of the Internet, Latin script has been used exclusively for top-level web domain names, the addresses that end .com, .org and so on. That has been a big obstacle for users of non-Latin script languages like Arabic. It is estimated just 10 percent of people in the Arab world speak English. Many of the resources on the Internet and its utility have been lost to these people. But by using Arabic domain names, there will be a consistency and no more guesswork.

A typical problem in Latin transliterations of Arabic is the conundrum as to either using El or Al as the prefix to a word. This problem is eliminated when Arabic is used.

The Arab world is also very mixed, including the resource-rich, cash-rich Gulf States – Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain – and states with high rates of poverty such as Egypt, Djibouti and Yemen.

The protests and uprisings this year in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere – with their Facebook pages and Twitter streams – have shown that a growing group of highly Internet-savvy young people is emerging in the Arab world. But for many without the education or the resources, access to knowledge still remains weak. But armed with Internet-capable mobile phones and Arabic language domain names, rapid change is now possible.

The number of books published in Arabic is notoriously relatively low, and print runs are small. Arabic language books make up just 1.1 percent of world production.

The AHDR reports have called this knowledge deficit a direct obstacle to human development in Arab countries.

But things are changing and the rise of Arabic domain names offers the potential for an explosion in Arabic language Internet content.

In May 2010 ICANN, the world’s Internet domain authority, decided to allow top-level domains in non-Latin script. For Arabic speakers, it started this program in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

As a sign of the importance of Arabic participation in future growth of the Internet, this year’s World Summit for the Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2011 was sponsored by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

A catchy domain name has many advantages. For Arabic speakers, this means they can type in Arabic domain names for websites and even do it right to left, as they do in print.

In 2009, the first Arabic domain name was grabbed by Egypt. As the Internet naming authority, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) (www.icann.org), started to allow the registering of non-Latin script names. The domain was for the Arabic word for Egypt or “.masr”.

As an early adopter, Egypt sees it as an important part of bringing more Arabic speakers online. George Victor, from the Egyptian National Telecom Regulatory Authority, told the BBC: “We believe that this is a great step that will open new horizons for many e-services in Egypt, and it will have its direct impact, enlarging the number of online users.”

Victor believes using Arabic builds trust.

“Having a domain name in your own language is a point of having a local identity,” he said.

“When talking about Arabic domain names, we are talking about having users which are not online now. People with languages disabilities – people who are having language as a barrier to connect online.”

From now on Internet address names will be able to end with almost any word in any language, offering organizations around the world the opportunity to market their brand, products, community or cause in new and innovative ways.

The advantages of registering an Arabic domain name are numerous. They include clear improvements to business and trade: an ability to protect a trademark, better communication with Arabic customers, better Arabic-language advertising opportunities, better memorability for Arabic domain names because they will be in the Arabic language, and greater access to Arabic customers.

But there are also significant improvements to how the Internet functions in the Arabic world. Search results on Arabic search engines will be more precise with Arabic domain names; catchy, memorable domain names will be a spur to the advertising and marketing industries; and a more Arab-friendly Internet will draw in more Arabic-speaking Internet users, helping them to enjoy the fruits of this great technological advance just as speakers of other languages have.

In March 2011, the Gulf state of Qatar enthusiastically started to offer Arabic domain names.

“The launch of Qatar’s Arabic top-level domain names is a major milestone as we work to build a more digitally inclusive society,” said Dr. Hessa Al Jaber, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology, which will manage Qatar’s Internet domain names through the Qatar Domains Registry.

“As more organizations and individuals begin adopting Arabic domain names, the Internet will literally be opened up to broad new audiences. The Arab world represents a region with enormous potential for growth both in terms of usage and the creation of new digital content, especially Arabic content.”

ICANN’s President and Chief Executive, Rod Beckstrom, sees this as a new phase for the Internet: “ICANN has opened the Internet’s naming system to unleash the global human imagination. Today’s decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain system to better serve all of mankind.”

Published: July 2011

Resources

1) Watch the ICANN educational video “Get Ready for the Next Big Thing”, explaining how domain names work and what the changes mean. Website: http://www.icann.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. 

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

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

© David South Consulting 2022

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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