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Profile of African Innovators Continues to Rise

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

A mix of developments is proving that African innovators no longer need to see themselves as lone operators working in isolation. Awareness of the continent’s talent has never been higher and is grabbing attention from the world’s media. In turn, more and more resources are being made available – from funding opportunities to get-togethers where innovators can meet like-minded people, to ego-boosting praise that helps raise profiles and attract investors.

This summer saw the launch of a new publication called African Innovator Magazine (africaninnovatormagazine.com). It is a good example of how perceptions have switched to recognizing that the continent is awash with innovators who have a lot to say.

Billing itself as “Technology insights for Africa’s decision makers,” African Innovator interviews business leaders on the continent about how they are driving innovation within their organizations.

Launched at a dinner on July 31 in Johannesburg, South Africa (http://www.flickr.com/photos/innovationdinner/sets/72157630881776882/), the quarterly magazine – with its glossy production values, high-quality photographs and design – is a reflection of how far the information technology business has come in Africa. The first issue asks “What is Innovation?” and features a broad range of African technology innovators, from Nigerian tablet personal computer maker Saheed Adepoju (http://enciphergroup.com/about/) to one of the world’s best-known technology innovators, South African-born Elon Musk (http://elonmusk.com/).

Publisher Abby Wakama told IT News Africa that the magazine would initially be distributed in South Africa, with plans to expand into Kenya and Nigeria.

“Our aim is to grow the reader base and branch out into new regions,” Wakama said. “The vision is to be the premier voice of Africa’s larger ICT community, covering issues that impact on commerce, trade, industry and the lives of everybody who uses IT.

“Readers do have a choice of publications that talk about ICT that cover technology and products. But there are very few that have an inside track into innovation in Africa. There are not many publications that discuss how technology is making an impact in the lives of Africans.”

For innovators strapped for cash to take their ideas forward, there are several new Africa-based funding sources to turn to.

In East Africa, the Rwanda Innovation Endowment Fund (RIEF) (http://www.mineduc.gov.rw/spip.php?article21) is a collaboration between the Government of Rwanda and the United Nations. The Fund aims to promote research and development (R&D) of “innovative market-oriented products and processes in priority areas of the economy” to increase the country’s wealth and economic competiveness.

For Africans as a whole, there is The Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) (http://innovationprizeforafrica.org), an initiative of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) (africaninnovation.org). The prize hopes to place African innovators and entrepreneurs at the heart of the development agenda. It will be awarded to innovators who develop new products, increase efficiency or find ways to do things better and save money in Africa.

Africa Review, published by the Nation Media Group in Kenya, is “a digital news platform” providing “smart insights on African news and to examine important social and political trends in the continent.” It recently came up with a list of 20 East African “bold young innovators to watch”.

The 20 were selected because all of them are working on mobile phone applications and are creating “life-changing mobile apps in health care, education, finance and agriculture.”

They include:

  • Jamila Abass from Kenya, the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) for M-Farm (http://mfarm.co.ke/about), which is helping farmers get real-time retail prices for their products.
  • Tanzania’s Erric Mutta, founder and CEO of Problem Solved Ltd, set up the MiniShop mobile phone application for small businesses to make accounting and inventory control easier and more transparent – in turn making it easier to access credit.
  • Jessie Gakwandi Benimana runs Rwandan company Sail Ltd (http://sailltd.com/) and the Get-It application (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vU8SCfyzf9Q), which helps people to find restaurants in the capital Kigali.
  • Everyone knows Africans like to tell stories, and Victor Miclovich from Uganda is helping them to do this online. His StorySpaces (storyspaces.net) website “builds on the age-old African tradition of storytelling” for the digital age.
  • Tanzania’s Eric Lwambura is using technology to save lives during pregnancy. He is founder of Crystal Interactive Systems (CIS) (http://www.crystal-int.com/), which has developed a mobile phone-based application to assist doctors to detect problems during labour. It is designed for health centres that can’t afford more expensive and sophisticated equipment.
  • Kariuki Gathitu from Kenya who founded Zege Technologies (http://zegetech.com/home/), is working on innovative ways to transfer money. His latest development is M-Payer, helping small businesses manage their payments.

Read more about the East African technology innovators here: http://www.africareview.com/Special+Reports/-/979182/1513900/-/xpmsurz/-/index.html

Resources

1) Southern Innovator: Browse the back issues of Southern Innovator magazine. Website: http://www.scribd.com/SouthernInnovator

2) Innovative Africa: The New Face of Africa: Essays on the Rise of Africa’s Innovation Age by Will Mutua and Mbwana Ally, Publisher: Afrinnovator.  Website:http://book.afrinnovator.com/

3) The Coming Prosperity by Philip Auerswald, Publisher: Oxford University Press.  Website: http://auerswald.org/

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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Enormous Potential for Nigerian Software Industry

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Nigeria has an unfortunate global reputation as the home of 419 scams (http://en..wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance-fee_fraud). A typical 419 scam involves sending emails to people around the world in order to extort money from them. Online scams may show an unexpected technical sophistication for a country associated with poverty, but are a sign that some of Nigeria’s plentiful talents are being turned to illegal activities rather than building legitimate businesses.

Many argue that Nigeria is missing its potential to become an African legal software powerhouse. The Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria said the country’s annual consumption of software reached US $900 million in 2006, making it possibly Africa’s biggest market.

“Nigeria stands a good chance of dominating both the local and West African diaspora in a thriving global software market,” it argues.

Production of computer software is a major income earner for countries like the United States and India.

Many argue that Nigeria has enormous potential, if it can address some common problems: an absence of software quality assurance, poor investment in software development, poor product standards and a lack of proper documentation. In short: if Nigeria’s software industry takes on board global best practice, then it is sitting on a goldmine of legitimate business opportunities.

Chris Uwaje, president of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), told Business Day that the country’s software technology, if well retooled and strategically positioned for global competitiveness, could earn about US $10 billion annually from foreign software exchange.

He argued that developing the software industry would have many benefits for the population as a whole.

“Software has … become and will remain one of the fastest growing industries with power to enrich, and sustain national economies,” Uwaje said.

Some estimates put the world software industry and associated markets at US $1,300 billion, with 90 percent of the world’s software exports coming from the United States and Europe. Outside the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan, the new and emerging countries within the software industry are India and China, and to a lesser extent Singapore and Malaysia.

According to market researcher DataMonitor, the worldwide software industry grew by 6.5 percent between 2007 and 2008.

DataMonitor forecasts that in 2013, the global software market alone will have a value of US $ 457 billion, an increase of 50.5 percent since 2008 (Datamonitor’s Software: Global Industry Guide).

Africa has a high proportion of entrepreneurs because people have next to no social supports to fall back on and need to do business to survive. Nigeria’s large youth population – 43.2 percent of the total – could be the driver of this new economy if used right.

Nigeria mostly imports software solutions despite having an extensive capacity in software development. If developed well, software could surpass oil as a revenue generator for the country.

According to A Profile of Nigeria’s Software Industry by H. Abimbola Soriyan and Richard Heeks, “A typical software company (in Nigeria) had between 11 and 50 customers (the average was 36 though a few firms involved with package installation had several thousand). There was a strong concentration among these customers. Almost all were private sector … There was a surprising lack of government/public sector organizations as customers (reflected above in the limited number of firms found in Abuja).”

Jimson Olufuye, president of the Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN), believes that more needs to be done to support the software developers. And while on paper there is strong support for this sector in information technology policy, “In addition, we need to establish more IT parks with appropriate policies on infrastructure, human resources, incentives and business plan.”

Wahab Sarumi, chief executive officer of Wadof Software Consulting, explains the problem: “Indigenous software developers are an endangered species, abandoned by the government, neglected by its own people and bullied by the poachers from India, to whom Nigerian businesses rush to buy software applications to solve local business problems.”

Already, Nigerian software firms are offering existing off-the-shelf software that they custom package with local services. This recognizes software made in advanced countries isn’t entirely right for developing countries: and this is where business opportunities await for software developers.

But the key to success, at the end of the day, is to be the best solution on offer for the right price. James Agada, managing director of ExpertEdge Limited, believes people buy the best software for the task and don’t care where it comes from.

“If you want to sell software, the buyer does not buy the software alone, he buys the software, buys capacity to support the software, buys your capacity to improve on the software, he buys what he assumes is your mastery of the domain the software … the software must be able to compete favourably with its competitors.”

Published: February 2010

Resources

1) West Africa Trade Hub: A great resource for doing business in West Africa . Website:http://www.watradehub.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1439

2) Rogue Economics: A website accompanying the book by Loretta Napoleoni on the illegal economic activities unleashed after the fall of communism. Website: http://www.lorettanapoleoni.com/

3) Towards an African E-Index: SMS e-Access and Usage Across 14 African Countries: A report from 2006 showing how small and medium African businesses increase income with ICTs. Website:http://mobileactive.org/research/towards-african-e-index-sms-e-access-and-usage-across-14-african-countries

4) Changing Dynamics of Global Computer Software and Services Industry: Implications for Developing Countries: A report from UNCTAD on how computer software can become the most internationally dispersed high-tech industry. Website:http://www.unctad.org/templates/webflyer.asp?docid=1913&intitemid=2529&lang=1

5) A Profile of Nigeria’s Software Industry by H. Abimbola Soriyan and Richard Heeks, Paper No 21, 2004, Development Informatics: Working Paper Series. Website: http://tinyurl.com/yh25dpa

6) Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria: A great contact point for finding legitimate software developers in Nigeria. Website: http://www.ispon.org/

7) Tech Soup: A great place to meet legitimate software developers and learn more. Website:http://home.techsoup.org/pages/default.aspx

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.  

Other stories from Development Challenges, South-South Solutions:

African Digital Laser Breakthrough Promises Future Innovation 

China Looking to Lead on Robot Innovation

Digital Mapping to put Slums on the Map

New Weapon Against Crime in the South

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=I_hcAwAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+october+2013&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challenges-october-2013-issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

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 2021

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What is the UN doing with your data?

If you allow another country to gain access to really critical data about your society, over time that will erode your sovereignty, you no longer have control over that data.

MI6 chief Richard Moore to BBC News (30 November 2021).

Are the Chinese secret services now the most powerful in the world?

Roger Faligot, Chinese Spies: From Chairman Mao to Xi Jinping (2019).
In 2015 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) busted UN-based South-South News for being a “conduit” for bribery and money laundering at the United Nations. It participated in an audacious scheme to build a new UN centre in Macau, China for the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation’s (UNOSSC) GSSD Expo.

Introduction

Data. The United Nations (UN) has always gathered data and published it. But since the advent of the digital revolution, data collection has taken on new forms. It is now gathered 24/7 and sits in databases – or on somebody’s smartphone. It flows in, and flows out. Some call it a ‘data deluge’. Since 2000, despite various initiatives (irritating ‘cookies’ warnings before you can interact with a web page, or the more legalistic General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the European Union and the European Economic Area) data has become incontinent: it leaks out everywhere.

An orgy of cross-border data collection and harvesting has only increased in its intensity in the past 20 years. And the UN and other international organisations have played their part.

But what most of us do not want to think about is this: that data is power and when it is parsed and sifted by algorithms and AI (artificial intelligence), it allows the entity doing this to engage in event-shaping. How much of our lives is being shaped by digital ‘voodoo dolls’ in a cyber centre somewhere?

And, as the head of the UK’s MI6 intelligence service says, “over time that will erode your sovereignty, you no longer have control over that data.” In short, you’ve been hacked.

2011

France24: UN among victims of massive cyber-spying campaign

“Cyber-security experts have unveiled one of the biggest computer hacking campaigns to date, releasing a list of 72 organisations whose networks were attacked over a five-year period. Victims include the UN and several governments.

REUTERS – Security experts have discovered the biggest series of cyber attacks to date, involving the infiltration of the networks of 72 organizations including the United Nations, governments and companies around the world. … 

In the case of the United Nations, the hackers broke into the computer system of its secretariat in Geneva in 2008, hid there for nearly two years, and quietly combed through reams of secret data, according to McAfee.”

2017

June

BBC: Accenture and Microsoft plan digital IDs for millions of refugees

Guardian: Secret aid worker: we don’t take data protection of vulnerable people seriously

“Personal information leaked in sensitive contexts can spark violence, discrimination, exclusionary policies. Yet my NGO shares confidential data freely.”

December

UNHCR: ID2020 and UNHCR Host Joint Workshop on Digital Identity

2019

June

Xinhua: China, UN to build big data research institute in Hangzhou

2020

January

The New Humanitarian: EXCLUSIVE: The cyber attack the UN tried to keep under wraps

“If there are no consequences for the [UN] agencies for failures like these … there will be more breaches.”

About this investigation:
While researching cybersecurity last November, we came across a confidential report about the UN. Networks and databases had been severely compromised – and almost no one we spoke to had heard about it. This article about that attack adds to The New Humanitarian’s previous coverage on humanitarian data. We look at how the UN got hacked and how it handled this breach, raising questions about the UN’s responsibilities in data protection and its diplomatic privileges.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/daveywinder/2020/01/30/united-nations-confirms-serious-cyberattack-with-42-core-servers-compromised/?sh=4cb9c05d633d

UN confirms it suffered a ‘serious’ hack, but didn’t inform employees

Approximately 4,000 employees may have had their data compromised.

XDR Report: UN hacked: Attackers got in via SharePoint vulnerability

“In summer 2019, hackers broke into over 40 (and possibly more) UN servers in offices in Geneva and Vienna and downloaded “sensitive data that could have far-reaching repercussions for staff, individuals, and organizations communicating with and doing business with the UN,” The New Humanitarian reported on Wednesday.”

Oz Alashe, CEO of CybSafe, says that the unintentional disclosure of this cyber attack on such an important institution last year is concerning.

“This delay, and the fact that the UN did not report this attack to any governing authority – or even their own staff – may have put victims at unnecessary risk. Not only were staff passwords stolen, system controls and security firewalls were compromised too which could have led to the critical confidential reports falling into criminal hands,” he pointed out.

This attack could end up undermining trust in the UN – trust that they are able to keep sensitive information safe and trust that they will notify affected individuals when they fail.”

April

Quartz: The UN is partnering with China’s biggest surveillance software company

Foreign Policy: EXCLUSIVE U.N.: Backs Down on Partnership With Chinese Firm for 75th Anniversary: The decision comes after U.S. officials and human rights advocates complained that Tencent aids Beijing in surveillance.

October

WSJ Opinion: China Uses the U.N. to Expand Its Surveillance Reach | In the name of ‘sustainable development,’ Beijing takes the lead in data collection efforts.

December

United Nations: Inauguration Ceremony Regional Hub for Big Data in China in support of the United Nations Global Platform

“I am very honoured to join you today in this inauguration ceremony of the Regional Hub for Big Data in China, in support of the United Nations Global Platform. The inauguration of this Regional Hub is most important, and timely. 

The demand for data, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is greater than ever.  Governments are in need of detailed data on the spread of the virus and its impacts on society. Under these challenging circumstances, statistical institutes have had to respond urgently to the demand for data, and to present innovative solutions. Consequently, in these times of need, the statistical community is now able to effectively use Big Data and advanced technologies. 

For example, census data – together with detailed geospatial information – can help identify the most vulnerable populations during the pandemic. And, real-time data on the position and movement of ships, for example, can estimate the volume of cargo being transported, and thus help produce estimates on the state of the economy. These real-time shipping data are available as a global data set on the United Nations Global Platform, and can be accessed by the whole statistical community.”

Foreign Policy: CHINA USED STOLEN DATA TO EXPOSE CIA OPERATIVES IN AFRICA AND EUROPE: The discovery of U.S. spy networks in China fueled a decadelong global war over data between Beijing and Washington.

“Around 2013, U.S. intelligence began noticing an alarming pattern: Undercover CIA personnel, flying into countries in Africa and Europe for sensitive work, were being rapidly and successfully identified by Chinese intelligence, according to three former U.S. officials. The surveillance by Chinese operatives began in some cases as soon as the CIA officers had cleared passport control. Sometimes, the surveillance was so overt that U.S. intelligence officials speculated that the Chinese wanted the U.S. side to know they had identified the CIA operatives, disrupting their missions; other times, however, it was much more subtle and only detected through U.S. spy agencies’ own sophisticated technical countersurveillance capabilities.”

2021

January

ITPro: United Nations suffers potential data breach: Hackers could have breached the database long before the UN applied a patch

Japan Forward: China Strengthens Influence on the U.N. Through Big Data Collection

A United Nations research institute is being set up in China that will amass and analyze huge amounts of data from around the world on sustainable development goals. Chinese researchers are expressing the need for data in order to analyze human behavior.

“China’s influence is undoubtedly growing in the United Nations, with four of the 15 specialized agencies of the intergovernmental organization being led by Chinese nationals. Beijing seized the “absence” of the United States, accelerated by the Trump administration’s disdain for the U.N., to extend its tentacles to unexpected places.

A plan to set up the first U.N. big data research institute is underway in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. Officially, it would facilitate U.N. operations by amassing and analyzing huge amounts of data from around the world on sustainable development goals (SDGs) to tackle global issues such as starvation and climate change.

One cause for concern is that Chinese researchers are expressing the need for data in order to analyze human behavior. The United States, which is wary of any data leaks to China, is raising alarms against the plan. In an October 7, 2020, article in The Wall Street Journal,Hudson Institute fellow Claudia Rosett warned that the plan would enable China to collect data from U.N. member states and set the standards for data collection.” 

March

Financial Times: Opinion Technology sector: As digital trade grows, so does western distrust of Beijing: China is moving to the forefront of global innovation but governments fear privacy breaches

April

Nikkei Asia: Comment: Data suspicions threaten to tear China and west apart: Applications by Chinese companies see 200-fold increase since 1999

May

UNHCR: Government of Pakistan delivers first new biometric identity smartcards to Afghan refugees

July

ODI: Although shocking, the Rohingya biometrics scandal is not surprising and could have been prevented

“The data privacy and security of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh has reportedly been jeopardised by the UN Refugee Agency. In an exposé published on 15 June by Human Rights Watch (HRW), UNHCR stands accused of improperly collecting the Rohingya’s biometric information and later sharing it with the Myanmar government without the Rohingya’s consent. Refugees said they had been told to register to receive aid, but the risks of sharing their biometrics had not been discussed, and the possibility this information would be shared with Myanmar was not mentioned.

The potential harm of sharing information with a regime that has a long history of manipulating registration systems to exclude and marginalise Rohingya populations is obvious. That biometrics are involved makes it worse. Unlike names or other personal information, biometrics are sticky – it’s not something you can change or escape.”

August

Reuters: ANALYSIS-Afghan panic over digital footprints spurs call for data collection rethink

Biometric Update: Concerns over Taliban accessing aid agency biometric data

“People in Afghanistan are fearful of the Taliban accessing personal information captured and stored by aid agencies including biometric data which could be used to identify individuals. Experts have raised concern that approaches used by security firms and United Nations development agencies could prove problematic for refugees and vulnerable groups, reports the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable trust of Thomson Reuters.

The Intercept reported that equipment used by the U.S. army for biometric collection has already been seized by the Taliban. Biometric data on Afghans who assisted the U.S. were widely collected, making anybody identified vulnerable to persecution from the Taliban.

Sources told the Intercept that there was little planning for such an event, while the U.S. Army plans to continue to spend another $11 million on biometrics capture equipment including 95 more devices.

The UNHCR has been using biometrics in the region since 2002 when it tested iris recognition technology on Afghan refugees in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. Aid agencies praise biometric technology’s anti fraud and contactless capabilities.”

September

Bloomberg: Cybersecurity

UN Computer Networks Breached by Hackers Earlier This Year

“Hackers breached the United Nations’ computer networks earlier this year and made off with a trove of data that could be used to target agencies within the intergovernmental organization. 

The hackers’ method for gaining access to the UN network appears to be unsophisticated: They likely got in using the stolen username and password of a UN employee purchased off the dark web.”

“Organizations like the UN are a high-value target for cyber-espionage activity,” Resecurity Chief Executive Officer Gene Yoo said. “The actor conducted the intrusion with the goal of compromising large numbers of users within the UN network for further long-term intelligence gathering.”

CPO Magazine: United Nations Data Breach: Hackers Obtained Employee Login From Dark Web, Are Executing Ongoing Attacks on UN Agencies

“A spokesperson for the United Nations has confirmed that the organization was breached by hackers in early 2021, and that attacks tied to that breach on various branches of the UN are ongoing. The data breach appears to stem from an employee login that was sold on the dark web. The attackers used this entry point to move farther into the UN’s networks and conducted reconnaissance between April and August. Information gleaned from this activity appears to have been put to use in further attacks, with attempts made on at least 53 accounts.”

UN data breach creates long-term havoc for organization

“The UN has a unique need for cutting-edge cybersecurity given that it is one of the world’s prime targets for hackers, and that it fields regular attacks from advanced operators. Many of these go unrecorded, but the organization has weathered some high-profile attacks in recent years.”

2022

January

The Hub: China’s influence at the UN is growing—how, why, and what it means with Rosemary Foot

ABC News: Security scanners across Europe tied to China govt, military

At some of the world’s most sensitive spots, authorities have installed security screening devices made by a single Chinese company with deep ties to China’s military and the highest levels of the ruling Communist Party

The Diplomat:

China’s Espionage Plans for the 2022 Winter Olympics: What Athletes Should Expect

Yes, China is going to spy on the Olympic athletes. Its mandatory app is just the tip of the iceberg.

Why the US Must Take China’s Disinformation Operations Seriously

China has barely scratched the surface of its potential to carry out a “people’s war” on global public opinion.

“China’s propaganda machine also has over 1 million journalists and reporters tasked with the mission to “tell China’s story well.” Armed with AI and bots, China’s huge internet army could hobble global social media platforms with a large-scale flooding attack to win the CCP’s public opinion war.”

February

FBI Director Wray says scale of Chinese spying in the U.S. ‘blew me away’

The FBI opens a new China-related counterintelligence investigation every 12 hours on average, and it now has over 2,000 such cases.

“Unique Identity for All”: Biometric identity is being rolled out across the planet. HSB is one of the many players in this fast-growing data collection sector. Companies such as HSB collect data on behalf of international organisations.

Facial recognition AI software triangulates facial features to produce a recognition match.

This story is from 1992 and is a rare glimpse into Canada’s data sharing agreements with the US and other countries.

Data integrity and cross-border data sharing have been concerns for a very long time. False Data Makes Border Screening Corruptible

Further Reading:

There’s a War Going On But No One Can See It by Huib Modderkolk, Bloomsbury, 02 Sept. 2021

“Based on the cases he investigated over a period of six years, award-winning Dutch journalist Huib Modderkolk takes the reader on a tour of the corridors and back doors of the globalised digital world. He reconstructs British-American espionage operations and reveals how the power relationships between countries enable intelligence services to share and withhold data from each other.”  

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff, Profile Books, 2019

“Surveillance Capitalism: A new phase in economic history in which private companies and governments track your every move with the goal of predicting and controlling your behaviour. Under surveillance capitalism you are not the customer or even the product: you are the raw material.”

BBC News: MI6 boss warns of China ‘debt traps and data traps’

“In a wide-ranging interview ahead of his first major public speech since taking on the role as head of MI6, Mr Moore:

  • warned China has the capability to “harvest data from around the world” and uses money to “get people on the hook” …

“Speaking about the threat posed by China, Mr Moore described its use of “debt traps and data traps”.

He said Beijing is “trying to use influence through its economic policies to try and sometimes, I think, get people on the hook”.

Explaining the “data trap”, he said: “If you allow another country to gain access to really critical data about your society, over time that will erode your sovereignty, you no longer have control over that data.

“That’s something which, I think, in the UK we are very alive to and we’ve taken measures to defend against.”

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 2021

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Creating Green Fashion in China

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

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.

Although most people probably do not give it a second thought, the fashion and clothing industries can be highly polluting and exploitive. The use of toxic fertilizers to boost cotton yields leaves behind a legacy of contaminated soil and water tables. Dyes used to colour clothing also can be toxic and pollute water. For people working in this industry – many of whom are women – conditions can vary widely and include low pay and high stress.

According to the Ethical Fashion Forum, “it is difficult for companies sourcing from China to be sure of fair working practices. There have been many reports of low wages, long hours, and unfair working conditions in factories in China.”

But one innovative fashion brand is out to transform the way the garment business works in China and to develop a template that could be used in other places such as Africa.

The design duo of Hans Martin Galliker and Amihan Zemp has set up their clothing brand’s studio in one of Beijing’s historic hutong (alley) neighbourhoods – narrow streets of low-rise buildings that were the traditional urban dwelling environments for generations of Chinese people. The NEEMIC (neemic.com) brand, founded in 2011, makes sustainable fashions and champions green production methods in China.

The business’s belief is that the world has enough fabric already to meet the clothing needs of the population. In response, NEEMIC makes its clothing from a mix of recycled natural materials and new organic materials. According to its website, NEEMIC collaborates “with young designers from London to Tokyo to create a particular metropolitan aesthetic.”

“We use the finest natural fabrics for a perfectly comfortable feel,” Galliker said. “We pick the finest natural materials from leftovers of the industry, recycle used clothes, and strive to order new fabrics only from certified organic producers.”

Hans Martin Galliker began as a farming apprentice in his native Switzerland, and brings a practical bent to his approach to fashion. He draws on his knowledge of farming and agriculture to create a unique eco-conscious fashion product in China.

Galliker got his start in fashion working for a brand in Shenzhen, southern China. He worked with the organic farms there, and this inspired him to explore sustainability in fashion design and ways of introducing the principles of fair trade to the fashion and textile industries in China.

Galliker is passionate about taking a different attitude to fashion: “There are many fashion brands and many of them are … meaningless,” he told the China Daily newspaper. “They do fashion which looks more or less … the same, which has no creativity and does a lot of harm to the environment.

“Growing cotton is highly chemicals and labour-intensive, which degrades the soil and pays people very low salaries. And the dyeing and colouring processes pollute rivers and people receive low salaries but have to work long hours. The whole textile industry is really bad for the environment.”

NEEMIC has completed three collections of clothing since it was founded in 2011.

“We started selling some of our designs at a boutique in Beijing that focuses on upcycling fashion. People like it and want to buy more,” said Galliker.

Upcycling is the process of converting waste material into new products (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upcycling).

And to counter any negative perceptions that organic cotton clothing can only ever be unfashionable, Galliker is out to prove it is possible to create stylish organic clothing.

On top of building the brand, Galliker also works to educate the industry and change ways. He is also setting up a branch in China of the Hong Kong Organic Textile Association (http://neemic.asia/organic), which encourages fashion designers to jointly buy organic materials. He also publishes a website on sustainable agricultural practices in China, with details on current policies on organic farming.

“It is very normal for Chinese farmers to use many fertilizers, but the environment is going bad and consumers do not like this kind of farming,” Galliker points out. “For farmers, it’s not meaningful to produce only to make money to live a decent life. It should be more than that.”

The NEEMIC operation is lean: the Beijing studio does all the designing of the clothes, programming of the multilingual websites and runs the online shopping and payment sites.

For now, the goal is to not only increase the use of organically grown materials but also to introduce the fair trade concept into China.

“In two years we want to do fair trade production,” Galliker said.

And he has Africa in his sights with his green fashion template.

“In the long term we will have many successful projects here or non-profit companies … a lot of creative force and investment so that we can help rural regions in Africa to do sustainable agriculture projects.”

Resources

1) Ethical Fashion Forum: The Ethical Fashion Forum is the industry body dedicated to a sustainable future for fashion. A not for profit organisation, EFF aims to make it easy for fashion professionals to integrate sustainability at the heart of what they do. Website:http://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/

2) Hong Kong Organic Textile Association: Its mission is to promote organic textiles in Hong Kong Website:http://www.facebook.com/HKOrganicTextileAssociation

3) Tips on how to upcycle. Website:http://www.independent.co.uk/property/interiors/the-insider–how-to-upcycle-without-much-effort-2343100.html

4) How to create a Lookbook for a fashion brand. Website:http://noisetteacademy.com/2011/05/creating-a-lookbook/

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: December 2012

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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