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

“What a tremendous magazine your team has produced! It’s a terrific tour de force of what is interesting, cutting edge and relevant in the global mobile/ICT space… Really looking forward to what you produce in issues #2 and #3. This is great, engaging, relevant and topical stuff.” 

Rose Shuman, Founder & CEO, Open Mind and Question Box

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. 

“Question Box was featured in Southern Innovator, a new publication of UNDP that profiles some of the most innovative ideas coming out of the global South. We were pleased to see many friends in the sector profiled as well, such as UshahidiMedic Mobile, and TxtEagle. Take a look at the magazine, as it is a great primer on ICT and mobile innovation from around the globe.”

Question Box News
Southern Innovator Magazine can be found in libraries around the world.

“Beautiful, inspiring magazine from UNDP on South-South innovation. Heart is pumping adrenaline and admiration just reading it”

Peggy Lee on Pinterest
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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. 

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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Local Animation: A Way Out of Poverty

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

One of the more remarkable creative developments since 2000 has been the explosion in animation production in the developing world, in particular Asia. Once seen as frivolous or unnecessary, animation is now acknowledged as a high-growth area and a critical component in the emerging economies being shaped by information technology.

The demand for more animation is being fuelled by several trends. Lucrative outsourcing contracts with major global film studios like Walt Disney and Warner Brothers get much of the attention. But even more importantly for small entrepreneurs, the rapid growth of information technology and mobile phones is fuelling demand for animation with a local flavour, which is an excellent way to make applications more attractive to users. As computers and animation software become cheaper, it is easier for entrepreneurs to compete with the bigger studios. It all started with the popularity of Japanese anime animation, which kicked the door open in the West, sparking an appetite for fresh, new styles unseen before.

The animation leaders in Asia are Japan, Republic of Korea, Philippines and Taiwan Province of China, with India rising quickly. As animation production is very lucrative and a labor-intensive business (labor takes up 70 to 80 percent of business costs), other Asian countries such as India, China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore have recently started their own industries.

The National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) has forecast the Indian animation sector to gross overall turnover of US $950 million in 2009, while its gaming industry will reach US $300 million in 2009 (from US $30 million in 2005). The global industry is huge: it is estimated that games will gross US $11 billion and animation US $35 billion by 2009. In the Philippines, growth has been 25 per cent a year since 2005 (National Statistics Office), and the government has been heavily promoting animation as a viable career and business opportunity. China was able to make US $604 million in 2005. The AWN’s Animation Industry Database lists 48 studios operating in the Philippines alone. Others benefiting are Thailand, Taiwan Province of China and Republic of Korea. And even in Africa, there have been attempts to get things going.

Ambitiously, China hopes to raise its home-made share of the animation pie from 10 per cent and to increase its overall animation programming from 5,000 hours/year to 16, 7000/year. In 2004, the Chinese government set up four animation schools: Communication University of China, Beijing Film Academy, China Academy of Art, and Tianjin Sorun Digital Media School. More than 200 animated films were produced in 2004.

Indian animation feature productions have exploded in the past few years. In 2005, animated feature Jai Hanuman started the current boom. Its quality marked a departure from past Indian productions and heralded in a new era. Importantly, it out-grossed any Disney film in India, and proved films featuring local topics could be commercially successful. It is a difficult market with 14 official languages and 1,400 dialects. At present, the huge Indian market has little locally produced animation to feed its needs. But by 2007, 71 Indian animation films were announced to be in production.

Productions in development draw heavily on India’s culture and love of gods. They include Epiphany Films’ The Dream Blanket, a Tibetan fairy tale, and Graphiti studios’ Action Hero BC, a teenager who fights evil.

The world’s animation producers scour India for talent to outsource. Global films with some Indian production in them include Finding Nemo, The Lion King and The Adventures of Tenali Raman. Toonz Animation Studio based at the Technopark in Kerala, was called by Animation Magazine one of the top ten studios in the world.

In Africa, South Africa has by far the most dynamic and sophisticated animation sector. Ten years after the birth of democracy, hundreds of production companies and several 2D animation houses were established. In turn, South Africa advertises itself as a cheaper place to produce animation.

The highly successful South African 3D animated series Magic Cellar by Morula Pictures – the first of its kind based on African culture – was successfully sold to the US Home Box Office channel this year. Based on 20 folk tales, the stories were collected through interviews with elders in African villages. Mfundi Vundla, 58, who owns Johannesburg’s Morula Pictures, South Africa’s largest black-led studio, said his productions are meant to counter the perception of “Africans as unsophisticated, superstitious idiots who visited witch doctors to solve problems.” It employs 60 people and dozens of actors.

In 2004, UNESCO’s Africa Animated! was launched, with East Africa’s first animation project. The participants undertook animation, drawing techniques, scriptwriting for animation and storyboarding. The project was launched to assemble resources and expertise for the production of culturally relevant children’s animated cartoons and programmes in Africa. It sought to create a high-quality “African branded” training and production model, in order to make African animation competitive for regional organizations to produce animated TV series, Public Service Announcements (PSA) and short films.

The Nairobi office is seeking to establish a Regional Training and Production Centre for Animation in Kenya in 2008.

Moustapha Alassane of Niger and one of Africa’s film pioneers, said: “The good thing about animation is that you can do it on a shoe-string budget. With the computer, animation is getting easier and anyone can do it now. I want to encourage young Africans to use new technologies for animation.”

Published: December 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

Categories
Archive

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