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

© David South Consulting 2011

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Southern Innovator Goes To South-South Expo | 13 December 2011

Southern Innovator made its way to the annual Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD Expo), which was held this year in Rome, Italy and was hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. It was great to meet many of the people presenting their work at the Expo and to catch up with the team at the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation.

Southern Innovator Issue 1 called a “tour de force of what is interesting, cutting edge and relevant in the global mobile/ICT space…”
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ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

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Kenyan Farmer Uses Internet to Boost Potato Farm

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

The rise of social networking websites (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites) during the past few years has swept across the internet. The popular Facebook (www.facebook.com) site alone has over 350 million users worldwide. In Africa, there are more than 67 million people with access to the internet – just over 6 percent of the population (http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats1.htm). And this phenomenon has even begun to penetrate and influence life in poor places with weak internet infrastructure. A farmer in Kenya, Zack Matere, has boosted his potato crop by turning to Facebook for help.

On his farm in Seregeya near Eldoret, Kenya, Matere used the internet to find a cure for his ailing potato crop.

“I cycled 10 kilometres to the local cyber café, Googled (www.google.com) ‘potato disease,’ he told the BBC, “and discovered that ants were eating the potato stems.

“I checked again and found that one of the solutions was to sprinkle wood ash on the crop.”

Matere also used the internet to find a buyer for his rescued crop, and has been able to triple the price he gets for tree seedlings he sells.

Zack believes he is a bit of pioneer: “I think I am the only farmer in the area who uses the internet.”

He uses his mobile phone to access the internet and it costs him about US 0.66 cents a day to do it.

This is a lot of money for small-scale farmers so Zack has a plan to tackle the cost. He will share the information he uncovers on the internet with other farmers in the community by posting it on local community notice boards.

He has noticed some important realities about how people he knows interact with the mobile web. He has found most people do much more with the Net than surfing the mobile web alone at home.

“The internet is quite an individual pursuit. But a notice board is more of a group thing.

“So if I post an item on a notice board on potato disease, for example, the community can read it, talk together and come to a decision.”

One example of the kind of intelligence Matere is able to glean from the internet is reports of cartels deceiving farmers by buying potatoes in over-large 130 kg bags instead of 110 kg bags. Matere takes this information and translates it into Swahili and posts it on community notice boards.

Matere also has to fend off other people looking to use his community’s water supply, which he has done by photographing interlopers with his mobile phone and then posting the photographs on Facebook.

“When they came before, I took photos of what they were doing, posted them on my Facebook page and was able to get assistance,” he said.

“I got in touch with Forest Action Network (http://www.fankenya.org/) and they came back to me quickly saying they would help me protect the catchment area.”

He has also discovered there are more profitable ways to make money for farmers.

“There is a lot of money in tree seedlings or bee hives. So if we can get these young people to use the land in an environmentally (friendly) way, they can get even more money than through farming.”

“I have 400 Facebook friends and I think some of them can buy the honey.”

Matere is philosophical about the future: “I am now seeing the practicality of the internet here in rural Kenya. The problem is I am the only one. That is why the notice board is important. All we need is a bit of relevant information to help us.”

“Once it is made simpler and is more in the local language with more local content, people are going to access the internet here,” he predicts.

Published: April 2010

Resources

1) A blog with news and tips on how to use the social networking tools for business opportunities. Website:http://www.socialnetworking-weblog.com/

2) Four stories on how social networking radically improved business prospects for some people. Website:http://www.bnet.com/2403-13070_23-219914.html

3) A Business Week article on the good and bad of social networking for business. Website:http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/aug2008/sb2008086_346094.htm

4) Txteagle: A service in Kenya that is paying people to do tasks and translations with their mobile phones. Website:http://txteagle.com/index.html

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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Happy Nigeria: West African Nation Has Good Attitude

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

In the last 10 years, an increasing amount of attention has been paid to the concept of national happiness. The notion was first developed in the tiny Asian Kingdom of Bhutan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhutan), whose advocacy of ‘gross national happiness’ (http://www.grossnationalhappiness.com/) as a measure of national achievement just as important as Gross National Product (GNP), has been met with equal parts ridicule, respect and research.

Recently it has moved from being the realm of philosophers, therapists and self-help gurus to a growing academic discipline.

One country to consistently clock high results in polls and studies of national happiness is the West African nation of Nigeria. Africa’s most-populous country – and one of the continent’s economic powerhouses and fast-growers – its positive outlook has left many perplexed because it is a country of extremes of poverty and wealth.

In the World Values Survey (http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org) Nigeria came top for happiness in 2003, followed by Mexico.

Nigerians also scored highly for optimism in a Gallup International poll of economic prospects, optimism and personal well-being for 2011, which found the largest number of optimists to be in emerging market countries like China, India and Brazil. The most pessimistic country in the survey of 64,000 people in 53 countries was the United Kingdom.

Gallup’s global polling identified the qualities of a good, productive life: a highly engaging job, spending six to seven hours a day socialising, and exercising five to six days a week.

It also found another factor: the more a person rates their country as positive, the better they feel. This was an especially important factor for the poor and people in poor countries.

In a related factor, researchers of the World Values Survey found that the desire for material goods is “a happiness suppressant.”

Nigeria takes pride in its status in these surveys: airports proudly boast on signboards about the country being “The Happiest Place in the World!”.

But how does Nigeria’s optimism square with its well-documented problems, from endemic corruption and sectarian violence to civil unrest and poverty?

In the Guardian newspaper, Bim Adewunmi tried to nail it down: “Daily life is hardly one glorious Technicolor dance sequence, but I have never lived in such a happy place – and I once lived in hippyville California. I can’t give a definite answer, but I think the joy comes from seeing and living through the worst that life can offer; it is an optimism born of hope.

“There’s a spirit of entrepreneurship – people seem bewildered if you admit a lack of ambition. Nigerians want to go places and believe – rightly or wrongly – that they can. That drive and ambition fuels their optimism; they’re working towards happiness, so they’re happy.”

Nigerian writer T. C. Ubochi made an attempt in an essay to get to grips with why Nigerians are the happiest people in the world, writing:

“I’ve come to learn to basically have hope … The best thing about living in Nigeria is the abiding knowledge and expectation of a Miracle – even if it doesn’t happen in this lifetime.” 

And despite its woes, Nigeria has many things to be positive about: a fast-growing economy that saw gross domestic product rise by 7.85 percent in 2010; a big influence in Africa and its fate; and a powerful cultural reach, from musicians like Fela Kuti to writers like Chinua Achebe, Chris Abani and Wole Soyinka, to its celebrated art. And of course oil, a blessing of wealth and a curse.

While arguments abound over what constitutes true happiness, academics are honing in on which lifestyle choices best lead to happiness and which should be avoided. It is a scientific approach akin to the one taken by the medical profession on human health.

Nigeria consistently ranks top in happiness but just middle for life satisfaction. But surveys are notorious for people’s values skewing results. In Latin America, it is better to be upbeat about life. In Asian cultures, there is no shame attached to being unhappy and collective well-being is more valued.

Shinobu Kitayama at Kyoto University in Japan and Hazel Rose Markus at Stanford University, California, told the New Scientist that an individual’s level of life satisfaction depends largely on how successfully they adhere to their particular cultural “standard”. Americans tend to value personal achievement, while Japan places greater emphasis on meeting family expectations, social responsibilities, self-discipline, cooperation and friendliness.

And single-minded pursuit of personal happiness – something that tends to lead to a high score on surveys – also comes from societies with high levels of suicide.

“There are some real downsides to individualistic cultures,” Ed Diener of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign told the New Scientist. “People with mental illness are in real trouble with no extended family to watch over them.”

And a good attitude just may be the thing that gives Southern economies that extra edge in the years ahead.

Published: March 2011

Resources

1) Journal of Happiness Studies: The peer-reviewed Journal of Happiness Studies is devoted to scientific understanding of subjective well-being. Website:http://www.springer.com/social+sciences/well-being/journal/10902

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