The controversial Nordic Satellite Distribution consortium is in danger of collapsing because of a row between two of its three big shareholders.
The row, between Swedish programmer Kinnevik and Norwegian telephone company Telenor, threatens the chances of the consortium coming up with a restructuring that will win acceptance from European Commission competition officials.
NSD has been trying to turn the 1 degree West orbital position – home to the Thor and TV Sat-2 satellites – into Scandinavia’s “hot bird” position. But Kinnevik also plans to take a substantial slice of capacity on the Swedish Space Corporation’s planned digital satellite Sirius-2, at 5 degrees East. Telenor is furious.
It is demanding that Kinnevik drop the plan and also give up its existing transponders at the 5 degrees East position, on the Tele-X and Sirius-1 satellites. Kinnevik already plans to give up its Astra transponders, to the relief of Telenor.
Kinnevik is buying capacity on the rival system simply as a way of hedging its bets. Sirius-2, with 16 transponders offering a mix of digital and analogue channels for the Scandinavian market, could become a powerful satellite and Kinnevik is worried that a strong rival service might be developed on it. The company is thought to be negotiating for six of the 16 transponders (another 16 transponders are aimed at the rest of Europe).
Per Bendix, chairman of the NSD, said that the group could continue without Kinnevik, although it would be difficult to find another company with such large pockets.
He downplayed the rows between the shareholders: “Of course, there are tensions between Kinnevik and Telenor. You can’t imagine a process like this, a complicated business deal, without some frictions which create some warmth. None of the partners can stop this initiative, it has gained too much momentum.”
TeleDanmark, the third member of NSD, has tried to play a mediating role between Telenor and Kinnevik.
One source close to the consortium said: “Kinnevik is definitely interested in investigating other satellite operators for the digital future. The company is known for doing exactly as it pleases, which clashes with Telenor which is trying to get 1 degree West into shape.”
Kinnevik and Telenor have clashed repeatedly over Kinnevik’s refusal to give up the 5 degrees East position, where it transmits five channels on Sirius. The issue has been exacerbated for Telenor by the fact that the mostly unencrypted Sirius/Tele-X package has achieved a better penetration than the encrypted Thor package.
The two companies have also been at loggerheads over the restructuring of the consortium, forced upon it by the European Commission.
Last July, competition commissioner Karel Van Miert ruled that NSD, which was planned as a vertically-integrated company providing programming, subscriber management and satellite capacity, was anti-competitive.
He ruled that NSD would “create or strengthen a permanent dominant position as a result of which effective competition would be significantly impeded” in the Nordic market for satellite broadcasting. It would dominate the provision of satellite transponders in Scandinavia, cable television in Denmark and direct-to-home pay-television distribution.
Bendix, with the backing of Telenor, has been trying to broaden the shareholder base by bringing in other Scandinavian programmers. But Kinnevik opposes the move because it does not think that it will meet Brussels’ concerns. It also does not want to play second fiddle to other programmers.
The shareholders have looked at other options, including one of splitting NSD into separate companies covering transponder-leasing, subscriber management and programming. The companies could have different ownership. Pele Tornberg, Kinnevik’s deputy managing director, would not say what alternative plan Kinnevik is proposing.
NSD has until next month to present Brussels with a revised shareholding structure.
Helsinki Media, the Finnish broadcaster, has rejected an approach to rejoin NSD, which it left in 1994 in a row over Kinnevik’s influence. President Tabio Kallioja said that the company maintained its view that NSD gave Kinnevik a stranglehold on the allocation of satellite capacity to other programmers. He added that Helsinki Media was interested in the plans for digital satellite television being developed by NetHold and by Telia Media, owned by the Swedish PTT, Telia.
As a reporter for two Financial Times newsletters, New Media Markets and Screen Finance, I covered the rapidly growing UK (and Scandinavian) television and new media markets and the expanding film-financing sector in Europe.
From Special Report: NMM (New Media Markets) Spotlight On The Emergence Of Satellite Porn Channels In The UK
October 26 1995
Is the UK rushing to watch TV porn?
By David South
Financial Times (London, UK), October 26, 1995
The aspect of satellite and cable programming most feared by the British government when it pushed the development of new media in the mid-80s looks set to become firmly entrenched as a part of the emerging television era.
Next Wednesday, the USA’s most famous soft-pornography channel will arrive in the UK, almost certainly heralding a satellite porn war for the eyes of the British public.
The Home Office, which used to look after televsion, was worried that porn would be one shock too many for the British and would create havoc with British television laws. But the mores of the marketplace have changed the climate, although the Broadcasting Act and the Independent Television Commission (ITC) still create limits that are stricter than in most other countries.
Hard-core pornography – such as that shown on several continental channels which can be picked up in the UK – remains out of bounds, as evidenced by the Department of National Heritage’s recent proscription of the hard-core TV Erotica.
But the drawing of the line between hard-porn and soft-porn changes over time: the programming now permitted by the ITC is a lot stronger than many might have thought likely a few years ago. The porn channels have learned how to push the boundaries of acceptability and, with competition increasing, are likely to push their luck even further.
Politicians, journalists and old-fashioned new-media programmers – for instance, the United Artists people who were dismayed at the decision of parent company TeleCommunications Inc to bring Playboy over to the UK – may believe that porn channels serve only to cheapen the quality of life.
But the supply side of the marketplace detects that there is a widespread demand for porn and (ironically) religion and so programmers will follow the demand by supplying suitable programming.
The soi-dissant “adult” channels estimate their potential audience at between 7 per cent and 30 per cent of cable and satellite homes – between 400,000 and 1.7 million homes at present penetration levels.
Their main target market is the consumer of “top shelf” magazines which range from the glossy, even glamorous Playboy to the more downmarket magazines of the “reader’s wives” variety. According to the Campaign Against Pornography, the top six pornographic magazine titles sell about 2.5 million copies a month. Altogether, there are about 200 pornographic titles on sale in the UK.
Deric Botham, programmer at the recently-launched Television X – The Fantasy Channel and a porn-industry veteran, estimates that the total UK sex industry – from videos and magazines to sex aids, but excluding prostitution – generates revenues of £4 billion a year, a figure which is difficult to substantiate but is equivalent to 10 times the investment in the UK film industry in 1994.
According to Botham, “our research shows that people want this thing and the majority of people want it to some degree.”
The porn channels are finding it relatively easy to find satellite capacity, largely because they are forced by the rules to operate at a time of day (i.e. night) when most channels have quit their transponders and are only too happy to find someone to sub-lease them to.
The first of the new porn channels will be the Playboy Channel, which likes to think of itself as being a cut above the others. The others, it claims, are for “sad, lonely men”. Playboy, on the other hand, is for “happy, heterosexual couples”.
The channel, probably the softest of the genre, will be launched on November 1 by Flextech, BSkyB and the US Playboy Channel.
It will be followed by the not-so-soft Penthouse which is being launched in the UK by a joint venture of Penthouse magazine owners General Media and Graff Pay-Per-View, which already owns the UK Adult Channel.
Two other channels have received licences from the ITC – David (Sunday Sportnewspaper) Sullivan’s Babylon Blue and the Adam and Eve Channel. With the Adult Channel and Television X already broadcasting, there could be six porn channels on offer to UK viewers.
But two other channels are beamed into the UK for those willing to pay the cost of extra reception equipment: the continental pirates, Rendezvous and Eurotica. There is also the now-banned TV Erotica.
Cable and satellite was bound to be an attractive medium for the porn channels, given the possibility of encrypting the signal and imposing a subscription fee and, as a consequence, benefiting from the lighter regulation that has seemed likely. Sex-channel executives say that the ITC has become increasingly flexible in what it will allow.
Three other factors have fuelled would-be channels to turn to cable and satellite:
The replacement of the independent high-street video store by big video superstores has robbed the porn industry of a key outlet. New-media distribution should bring in consumers who are embarassed to hire a porn video from a shop. Yet buying a subscription to a porn channel may be a more embarassing act within the family environment.
The Adult Channel is regarded as demonstrating that there is an audience for porn in the UK: it is thought to have about 224,000 subscribers.
Cable and satellite has far more potential for the porn industry than the traditional-format channel. The prize, which will make everything worthwhile, is pay-per-view (ppv). Bill Furrelle, Playboy Channel’s sales director, said that he had been asked by several UK cable operators about providing a ppv service next year. The operators want Playboy, the Adult Channel and Adam and Eve to contribute to the Home Cinema ppv service which they hope to put together.
Do TV porn channels degrade and humiliate?
By David South
Financial Times (London, UK), October 26, 1995
Susan Sontag, the renowned American essayist, described pornography as a “crutch for the pyschologically deformed and brutalisation of the morally innocent.” The Campaign Against Pornography in the UK believes that pornography exploits women and children “in a degrading and humiliating way, often with the message that we enjoy this and want to be abused.”
The campaign encourages its supporters to take direct action against any distributor of pornographic material as part of its wider campaign to put the industry out of business.
The porn channels dismiss arguments that they degrade women and encourage male violence against women. Playboy managing director Rita Lewis argues that “women are happy to consume erotic imagery like pin-ups. Women are not hung-up by this anymore, they are not threatened by the fantasy women we show in our programming. We hope Playboy will lead to couples’ making love together.”
Andrew Wren, financial director of the Adult Channel, also dismisses the link between pornographic programming and sexual violence. “I don’t think there is anything in programmes that would encourage men to go and rape. Women are interested in sex as men are.”
Television X’s (Deric) Botham says that porn programmes are “a bit of titilation” in the fine, upstanding tradition of the British Carry On films. None the less, he admits that “I wouldn’t want my daughter to get involved in pornography.”
He says that the women involved in the programmes, some of them housewives, are willing participants and enjoy the opportunity. “I don’t produce anything that is against the law. We speak to the individuals concerned. If you have a reluctant model, it doesn’t work – I just won’t buy the video.”
The Campaign Against Pornography sees it all rather differently. Ann Mayne, a member of the campaign’s management committee, was particularly critical of two programmes on Television X – Shag Nasty and Mutley and Fly on the Wall.
She said that Shag Nasty and Mutley, in which a presenter approaches women in the street or in supermarkets and offers them £25 to look at their knickers, or £50 to be filmed having sex with him, gave the message that women were simply objects and that it was acceptable to harass them.
“It is complete prostitution of female sexuality,” she said. “Botham wants full-on, across-the-board prostitution of women. In his view, every woman must have a price.”
Mayne said that Fly on the Wall, in which real-life couples are shown having sex, was an open invitation for men to coerce their partners into being filmed, possibly to the point of abuse.
UK laws on satellite porn among toughest in Europe
By David South
Financial Times (London, UK), October 26, 1995
UK regulations on what can be shown on sex channels are tougher than in most countries of the European Union. Channels such as the hard-core Swedish TV Erotica and the recently-launched French Rendezvous are licensed in their respective countries and transmit explicit scenes of sexual intercourse, straight and gay, featuring close-up shots of copulating genitals.
Graff Pay-Per-View, the experienced US sex channel operator, consciously decided to exclude the UK as a market for its hard-core Eurotica channel which is licensed in Denmark and, like the other hard-core channels, transmits via a Eutelsat satellite. But pirate smart cards for the channel, as for the other channels, are available in the UK in specialist satellite shops.
Graff’s seeming respect for the UK regulations may not be unconnected with the fact that it owns the Adult Channel and would be wary of upsetting the ITC. Broadcasting unacceptable material into the UK could provoke the ITC into seeing Graff as a body unfit to hold a licence, thereby threatening the Adult Channel.
The ITC’s guidelines on sexually explicit material state that representations of sexual intercourse can be shown only after 9pm and that “the portrayal of sexual behaviour, and of nudity, needs to be defensible in context and presented with tact and discretion.”
There has been some relaxation of the rule. The ITC will, on an experimental basis, allow the watershed to be broken by a ppv or video-on-demand service. It is not, however, prepared to give this freedom to a porn channel, at least not in the early days, because it does not want to be seen to be licensing pornography. The relaxation will affect only general services.
The ITC will also monitor any ppv service to ensure that there are no cases of children accessing the programming before deciding if the programme code should be revised.
The transmission pf 18-rated films on terrestrial or new-media channels is not permitted before 10pm. Films with a 15-rating are not allowed before 9pm on terrestrial channels such as BSkyB’s Sky Movies or the Movie Channel. These are minimum requirements. Some 15-rated films, for instance those which show scenes of sexual intercourse or drug-taking, would not be deemed suitable for transmission even on an encrypted channel at 8pm.
In practice, the ITC does not permit depictions of erect penises, anal intercourse, close-ups of genitalia or ejaculation.
Where channels have overstepped the mark and gone abroad to get licences from less strict authorities – the late Red Hot Dutch and TV Erotica – the ITC has recommended that the channels be proscribed, action which has subsequently been taken by the Department of National Heritage. The ITC is now monitoring the Rendezvous channel, which shows a mix of gay and heterosexual hard-core pornography with graphic scenes of sexual intercourse.
The DNH issues proscription orders under Sections 177 and 178 of the Broadcasting Act. The orders make it a criminal offence to supply equipment to receive the channels or to market and advertise them.
The European Union directive on transfrontier broadcasting lays down that one country cannot prevent the reception of channels licensed by other European Union countries. However, it allows individual governments to take action against any broadcast which could damage the physical, mental or moral development of minors.
Playboy ‘is not for sad and lonely single men’
By David South
Financial Times (London, UK), October 26, 1995
The Playboy Channel, due to launch in the UK on November 1, is trying to position itself as being a cut above the existing sex channels with which it will compete for subscribers.
The channel, which is running an advertising campaign costing more than £1.5 million, believes that its big budgets and slick production values will attract viewers who have hitherto been uninterested in so-called “adult” entertainment. It hopes to win an audience among women as well as men.
Managing director Rita Lewis dismisses the other sex channels as being aimed at people who are “a bit sad and on their own”. The channels promote “deviant” behaviour.
Playboy hopes to attract happy, heterosexual couples who will treat the channel as an aid to foreplay: “We hope Playboy will lead to couples’ making love,” said Lewis, who believes that women, as well as men “are happy to consume erotic imagery like pin-ups.”
In the USA, according to Lewis, 70 per cent of the audience for the channel comprises couples.
She said that the UK Playboy will run programmes that have more in common with programmes like Channel Four’s The Good Sex Guide. “These days, a whole bunch of people are sampling erotic programming like The Good Sex Guide. It is very sexy programming with mass-market appeal.”
Playboy’s movies would have a high standard of production, she said, very different from what she claims to be the cheap programming made for the other channels, often home videos and often shot with hand-held cameras.
Playboy’s programming will comprise sex films, interviews with “centrefold” models, documentaries on the sex industry and general-entertainment programming such as quiz shows.
The rival channels claim that Playboy will not be a big threat to them. The Adult Channel’s Wren says that all the new channels “hype the market, which helps us.” In any case, adult entertainment consumers have already been weaned on harder mix of programming and do not want something that offers little more than what Channel Four shows.
The UK Playboy Channel, which is owned by UK programmer Flextech (51 per cent), British Sky Broadcasting (30 per cent) and Playboy Enterprises (19 per cent), will transmit from between midnight and 4am on the Bravo transponder on Astra 1c.
New Media Markets and Screen Finance were published by the Financial Times in the 1990s.
The fifth issue of Southern Innovator has launched online and in print. Order copies now for distribution. Email: email@example.com.
Issue six will be on science, technology and innovation. This issue will be different from previous issues and will be including supplements and inserts to boost the impact of the magazine. Southern Innovator is seeking sponsors to fund this and also to help us expand the print run (currently 5,000 copies for global distribution).
3D Home Printing Landmark: 10 Houses in a Day Development Challenges: The global South is experiencing urban growth on a scale unprecedented in human history, far outstripping the great urbanization wave that swept across Europe and North America during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Old Boats Become New Furniture in SenegalDevelopment Challenges: Every country has its fair share of waste and the remnants of past economic activity. Old cars nobody wants, discarded tins of food, old plastic bags, spare copper wire, cast-off clothing – all can have a new life in the right hands.
Innovative Ways to Collect Water from AirDevelopment Challenges: World water resources are being depleted quickly as populations grow, urbanize and demand better living standards. Many scientists believe we are reaching peak water – the point at which fresh water is consumed faster than it is replenished.
Caribbean Island St. Kitts Goes Green for Tourism Development Challenges: Going green may sound like the right thing to do but it can also be associated with being a costly burden and boring. But, as one island nation is proving, being green is a great selling point for attracting tourists and investors – especially in a world where many places are grappling with pollution and resource depletion.
Big Data Can Transform the Global South’s Growing Cities Development Challenges: The coming years will see a major new force dominating development: Big Data. The term refers to the vast quantities of digital data being generated as a result of the proliferation of mobile phones, the Internet and social media across the global South – a so-called ‘data deluge’ (UN Global Pulse). It is an historically unprecedented surge in data, much of it coming from some of the poorest places on the planet and being gathered in real time.
Indian Business Model Makes Green Energy Affordable Development Challenges: The technology already exists to provide renewable energy and electricity to all the world’s poor. The trick is finding a way to pay for it and to make it sustainable. Many innovators are experimenting with business models to reach the so-called Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) cohort, and the 1.2 billion poorest people in the world who do not have access to electricity (World Bank) (http://tinyurl.com/n9p3f5x). A further 2.8 billion have to rely on wood or other biomass materials to cook and heat their homes.
South-South Trade Helping Countries During Economic CrisisDevelopment Challenges: Weathering the global economic crisis is testing the stability of countries across the global South. But many countries are finding South-South trade and catering to their domestic middle classes can lift incomes and maintain growth rates despite the global turmoil.
3D Printing Gives Boy a New Arm in SudanDevelopment Challenges: 3D printing is rapidly going mainstream and is now starting to make a big impact in health care. One innovative solution is using the technology to manufacture artificial arms for amputees harmed by war in Africa.
African Hotel Boom Bringing in New Investment and Creating JobsDevelopment Challenges: Africa is experiencing a boom not seen for decades. The IMF forecasts economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa of 6 per cent in 2014, compared to global growth of 3.6 per cent.
Brazilian Design for New Urban, Middle-Class World Development Challenges: Countries across the global South are experiencing rapid urbanization as people move to cities for better economic opportunities — and this massive social change is creating new business opportunities. Those who recognize how fundamentally people’s lifestyles are changing will be those who will benefit from this big shift in populations.
Cheap Paper Microscope to Boost Fight Against Diseases Development Challenges: To tackle diseases in the developing world, the most important first step is diagnosis. Without effective diagnosis, it is difficult to go to the next steps of either treatment or cure. While much attention is given to the high costs involved in treating and curing ailments, screening for diagnosis is also expensive, especially if it involves lots of people. Anything that can reduce the cost of diagnosis will free up resources to expand the number of people who can be checked, and help eradicate contagious diseases.
Asian Factories Starting to go GreenDevelopment Challenges: Media headlines have recently highlighted the growing air pollution crisis in Asia’s expanding cities. This is caused by a mix of factors – the growing number of vehicles, coal-powered factories, people burning dirty fuels to heat their homes, and poor enforcement of standards – and has severe consequences for human health. If it’s not tackled, more and more countries will see large rises in respiratory problems, cancers and early deaths from pollution-caused illnesses (http://www.nrdc.org/air/).
Reality Television Teaches Business Skills in Sudan Development Challenges: Learning how to thrive in a market economy does not necessarily come naturally. But for young people who have grown up under a different economic system or known nothing but economic chaos, learning business skills can give them the tools to get on in life.
Popular Chinese Social Media Chase New Markets Development Challenges: China has a vast and growing market for the Internet and mobile devices. Over the past decade that market has been largely confined to China – most businesses have had enough domestic demand and opportunities inside the country to keep them busy.
The BRCK: Kenyan-Developed Solution to Boost Internet AccessDevelopment Challenges: Using the Internet in Africa has its challenges, as anyone who has worked there knows. Issues can include weak Wi-Fi signals, slow Internet service providers, electricity outages and power surges that can damage or destroy sensitive electronic devices.
Women Empowered by Fair Trade Manufacturer Development Challenges: There is sometimes a great deal of negativity surrounding the issue of manufacturing in Africa. Some claim the risks of doing business are too high or that the workers are not motivated enough. But one garment manufacturer is out to prove the skeptics wrong. It pays decent wages and gives its mostly female workforce a stake in the business in a bid to drive motivation and make it worthwhile to work hard.
Global South Trade Boosted with Increasing China-Africa Trade in 2013Development Challenges: It was announced in January 2014 that China has surpassed the United States to become the world’s number one trading nation, as measured by the total value of exports and imports. This new economic behemoth also continued to grow its trade relationships with Africa.
India 2.0: Can the Country Make the Move to the Next Level?Development Challenges: With the global economic crisis threatening to cause turmoil in the emerging markets of the global South, it is becoming clear that what worked for the past two decades may not work for the next two.
“Pocket-Friendly” Solution to Help Farmers Go Organic Development Challenges: Interest in organic food and farming is high, and organics have become a growing global industry. The worldwide market for organic food grew by more than 25 per cent between 2008 and 2011, to US $63 billion, according to pro-organic group the Soil Association. That is an impressive accomplishment given the backdrop of the global economic crisis, and evidence that people value quality food, even in tough times.
Cheap Farming Kit Hopes to Help More Become Farmers Development Challenges: Food security is key to economic growth and human development. A secure and affordable food supply means people can meet their nutrition needs and direct their resources to improving other aspects of their lives, such as housing, clothing, health services or education.
Ghanaian Coffins Prove Design and Craftsmanship Boost Incomes Development Challenges: In many parts of the world, indigenous ingenuity and craft skills are finally getting the recognition they deserve. The quirky but very inventive gadgets and solutions featured on the Afrigadget blog (http://www.afrigadget.com) never fail to inspire and amaze.
Djibouti Re-shapes Itself as African Trade HubDevelopment Challenges: Trade hubs can prove to be decisive in boosting regional growth. Trade hubs are places where commerce congregates, for a mix of geographical, cultural and economic reasons.
Food Diplomacy Next Front for South’s NationsDevelopment Challenges: The meal is a universal bonding ritual, a time for families or friends to socialize and catch up on the day’s activities. Food has the ability to transcend cultures and societies when humour, the arts, and diplomacy cannot. A person may know nothing about a particular country or culture, but they know what their appetite and palate likes.
African Health Data Revolution Development Challenges:A pioneering tool for gathering health data now being used in Kenya could herald a revolution in the way diseases are tracked and defeated around the world. It uses mobile phones to better connect patients with medical and health personnel, and allows data to be gathered in real-time and used to track health and improve the delivery of services, especially to remote and under-serviced areas.
African Megacity Makeovers Tackle Rising Populations Development Challenges: Nigeria’s largest, busiest and most congested city, Lagos, has long had a reputation for dynamism mixed with chaos. Its sprawling slums and ballooning population have for decades stretched governments’ ability to provide services.
Ugandan Project Pioneers Transparent Development Development Challenges: A pioneering experiment in the community of Katine (www.guardian.co.uk/katine) in the East African nation of Uganda recently came to its official end. A unique three-year project to try and transform the development outcomes of this rural community, it pioneered a new model of communicating aid and development.
Mongolian Enterprises Target Healthy Urban Lifestyles Development Challenges: In the Northeast Asian nation of Mongolia – landlocked between Russia and China – the traditional diet is based on the nomadic ways of its herders. Rich in meat and milk products, it is a diet that has evolved from the need to survive in a harsh climate doing hard physical labour – winter temperatures can drop below minus 50 degrees Celsius.
South African Wine Industry Uncorks Opportunities Development Challenges: Wine-making is one of South Africa’s oldest industries and plays a key part in the country’s economy. And now both wine making and production are being transformed and creating new economic opportunities. Once seen only as the preserve of the country’s white minority population, wine is slowly becoming a black thing too.
Chinese Trade in Angola Helps RecoveryDevelopment Challenges: Two-way trade between Africa and China has been an outstanding success story of the past decade. It has led to significant new investment in the continent and brought many new job opportunities. The Chinese community in Africa comprises a mix of entrepreneurs and workers. In formerly war-torn Angola, Chinese workers and investors have led an economic boom as the country recovers from decades of conflict.
Indian Newspapers Thrive with EconomyDevelopment Challenges: The onslaught of digital media in the developed countries of the world regularly brings pronouncements of the death of the traditional newspaper. But this assumption of digital triumph misses out on the reality in countries across the global South.
Maker Faire and the R&D Rise in the South Development Challenges: The majority of the world’s research and development (R & D) in science and technology is now shifting to the global South. Powerhouses like China boast vast numbers of published papers in peer-reviewed journals and hefty cash inputs into research and development.
Wireless Internet Culture Helping Zimbabwe Economy Recover Development Challenges: Zimbabwe’s turbulent descent into hyperinflation at the beginning of the 2000s – and the food crisis it caused as prices soared and purchasing power shrank – captured the world’s attention. From refugees fleeing the country to widespread hunger and poverty, the impact of hyperinflation was stark and distressing. Since the country’s economy stabilized in 2009, various signals are showing that Zimbabwe is slowly making its way back to growth and stability.
African Technology Tackles Health NeedsDevelopment Challenges: Africa is becoming a world leader in mobile phone applications for health and healthcare. Despite dramatic improvements to the quality of hospitals and the number of qualified doctors, the continent’s healthcare services are still a patchwork, with rural and slum dwellers poorly served and the stresses of treating patients with contagious diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria pushing resources to the limit.
African Media Changing to Reach Growing Middle ClassDevelopment Challenges: Africa’s growing middle classes are being targeted by a new generation of media entrepreneurs. This growing group of Africans is ambitious and intelligent, and they want media that matches their aspirational ways. Clever media people are stepping up to feed this trend.
Brazil’s Agriculture Success Teaches South How to GrowDevelopment Challenges: Inflation, environmental stresses and population and economic growth are testing the world’s food supply systems. There is a strong need to boost yields and improve the quality of food. Between now and 2050 the world’s population will rise from 7 billion to 9 billion. Urban populations will probably double and incomes will rise. City dwellers tend to eat more meat and this will boost demand.
Indians Fighting Inflation with TechnologyDevelopment Challenges: Despite the global economic downturn, many countries of the South are seeing rapid economic growth. That can have a down side: inflation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflation). Inflation can be caused by variety of factors – too much money chasing too few goods, deliberate government policies to increase demand for goods and services, environmental disasters creating scarcity, or poor investment in infrastructure straining against rapid economic growth. But when it gets out of control for life-essential goods like food, then people need solutions to survive.
Mobile Applications Market: Opportunities for SouthDevelopment Challenges: As the number of mobile phone users around the world mushrooms, so does the mobile phone applications market. Revenue from downloads of applications, or apps, topped US $10 billion in 2009, according to market analyst firm Juniper (http://juniperresearch.com).
Rwandan Coffee Brand BoostDevelopment Challenges: A successful Rwandan company is using coffee shops to promote the nation’s high-quality coffee brands at home and abroad. Started by two Rwandan entrepreneurs three years ago, Bourbon Coffee (http://www.bourboncoffeeusa.com/) now has three shops in the country’s capital, Kigali, and a savvily positioned shop in Washington DC.
Technological Innovation Alive in Brazil Development Challenges: The growing digital economy in the global South is giving rise to a new generation of entrepreneurs and innovators. A University of California paper by Naazneen Barma found explosive potential in poorer countries to innovate, and challenged the view of developing countries as passive market places for products innovated in the industrialized world.
Mongolia Looks to Become Asian IT LeaderDevelopment Challenges: A Mongolian information technology company founded by a woman has shown a way to thrive in the country’s often-chaotic economic environment. With the global economic crisis moving into its third year, Intec’s strategies to survive and thrive offer lessons for other IT start-ups in the South.
African Trade Hub in China Brings Mutual ProfitsDevelopment Challenges: South-South trade is the great economic success story of the past decade. World Trade Organization (WTO) (www.wto.org) figures show South-South trade accounted for 16.4 percent of the US $14 trillion in total world exports in 2007, up from 11.5 percent of the total in 2000. While the global economic crisis has slowed things down, the overall trend is firmly established.
Innovation in Growing Cities to Prevent Social ExclusionDevelopment Challenges: A new book launched during this year’s World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil highlights ways in which people across the South are shaping how their cities evolve, insisting that they will not accept social exclusion and demanding a “right to the city”.
South Gets Reading Bug with more Festivals Development Challenges: There is no better indicator of significant economic progress than the rise and rise of book festivals across the South. These symbols of intellectually curious and globally aware middle classes are also boosting economies and contributing to a bigger, more sophisticated creative economy – something that will drive future growth across many sectors.
Housing Innovation in South’s Urban AreasDevelopment Challenges: As urban populations around the South increase, the quality of city housing will be critical to the quality of life and sustainability of improvements to living standards.
Crowdfunding Technology Start-up Success in AfricaDevelopment Challenges: Technology is the future for the South, and South African start-up culture is trying to get a foothold on the African continent and forge a more supportive environment for entrepreneurs and innovators.
Kenyan Products a Global Success StoryDevelopment Challenges: The East African nation of Kenya has become synonymous with high-quality agricultural products, and offers lessons for other countries across the South. The country has been able to combine innovation in new technologies (it is a pioneer in mobile phone applications like m-banking), with quality control for its products like the Coffee Kenya Brand logo (http://www.coffeeboardkenya.org) and ease of access to information on Kenyan products and resources via the internet – crucial to drumming up international business – like the SME Toolkit Kenya (http://kenya.smetoolkit.org/kenya/en).
Indian Solar Economy Brings New Vocation for WomenDevelopment Challenges: India has started to make significant advances in developing solar power technologies for the poor. There are now whole villages using solar energy and improving their standard of living. Various companies and projects are selling inexpensive solar appliances – from cooking stoves to lanterns and power generators – across the country. This new solar power ‘grid’ is also bringing further economic opportunities: jobs for people to repair and maintain the new equipment.
Woman Wants African Farming to be CoolDevelopment Challenges: Can farming be cool? Especially on a continent where it has long been associated with hardship and poverty, can agriculture be attractive to a young generation looking for big opportunities? A young woman in Nigeria thinks so and is on a mission to show farming is a great way to get ahead in modern Africa. And she hopes more people attracted to farming will boost the continent’s food security and reduce costly imports.
Açaí Berry Brazil’s Boon Development Challenges: A formerly obscure berry from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has become a global marketing success. The açaí berry – a dark, small fruit similar in appearance to blueberries – has surged in popularity around the world and brought newfound prosperity to poor communities.
Book Boom Rides Growing Economies and Cities Development Challenges: Along with growing economies, the global South is seeing growing numbers of readers and a newly flourishing publishing industry. The creative economy – of which book publishing is part – is experiencing a jolt from a combination of expanding economies and urbanizing cities. Just as the first settled cities of ancient Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq) spawned literature and learning, so the rapidly urbanizing South is changing dynamics and creating the space and demand for books.
West African Chocolate Success StoryDevelopment Challenges: A Ghanaian chocolate company has become a big success in the United Kingdom and shown how it is possible to develop and market a high-quality product grown in West Africa. While the chocolate bars are manufactured in the Netherlands, the cooperative that owns the company initiated the push into producing a mass-market chocolate brand – and shares in the profits.
The Battle for India’s Coffee Drinkers in Buzzing EconomyDevelopment Challenges: A showdown in India over coffee is creating new opportunities. It is also demonstrating how the country is changing, with rising incomes in some places and great disparities in others.
Iranian Savings Funds to Tackle Loan DroughtDevelopment Challenges: For entrepreneurs around the world, acquiring finance to start or expand a small business has become harder and harder as the global financial crisis has bitten hard. Across the globe, people with good ideas or successful businesses that need funds to expand are finding the door closed by traditional banks.
Electric Bicycles Become Urban Transport SuccessDevelopment Challenges: A money-saving way to get about has emerged in China: the electric bicycle. It seems an excellent solution to the travel needs of people in fast-growing metropolises. The bikes are good at navigating traffic gridlock, and since they are electric they do not emit air pollution, a big problem in many cities.
A Local Drink Beats Global CompetitionDevelopment Challenges: For many decades, strong American and multinational food brands have penetrated markets in the South. This is a global business success story for those companies, but the downside has been the marginalizing of local alternatives. This not only reduces wealth-creating opportunities for local entrepreneurs, but also leads to products like sugary soda pops (http://tinyurl.com/yzwal98) pushing aside healthier, local alternatives like tea.
Indonesian Middle Class Recycle Wealth Back into Domestic EconomyDevelopment Challenges: The global downturn and economic crisis is now into its third year. Economic growth has dropped across the South, as the knock-on effect of shrinking credit and slowing global markets took its toll. One solution to re-starting growth and building up domestic industries is to target local products at the existing middle class, which in turn grows the middle class by creating better paying jobs.
Favela Fashion Brings Women WorkDevelopment Challenges: A highly successful cooperative of women in Brazil has shown that it is possible for outsiders to make it in the fast-paced world of fashion. Despite being based in one of Rio de Janerio’s slums, or favelas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Favela), the women have developed a reputation for high-quality merchandise and even put on fashion shows.
A Solution to Stop Garbage Destroying Tourism Development Challenges: Tourism is an essential source of income for countries across the South. But many put that livelihood in jeopardy when they lose control of garbage collection. A popular tourist spot can represent a ‘paradise’ to visitors, but when it becomes too popular and local garbage collection systems collapse under the burden, ‘paradise’ can soon turn to an environmental hell.
Haiti Earthquake Prompts Tech AidDevelopment Challenges: The devastating earthquake that hit the Caribbean nation of Haiti on January 12 was a huge tragedy for the country’s people and for the large international aid community, including the United Nations. But the disaster has seen the use of new information technologies – often assembled by volunteers – to bridge the gaps in critical information and bring a semblance of order to the chaos of a large disaster.
Housing Solution for World’s Growing Urban Population Development Challenges: Across the South, cities are expanding and urban populations growing at a phenomenal rate — the cities of Africa and Asia are growing by a million people a week. Megacities and sprawling slums will be the hallmarks of this majority urban world. In sub-Saharan Africa, 72 percent of the population already lives in slum conditions. How people will be housed is an urgent problem. There are many ways to build a dwelling, from scavenged materials, to labour-intensive and expensive custom-built construction, yet affordable and safe construction techniques for the poor are sorely needed.
Enormous Potential for Nigerian Software IndustryDevelopment Challenges: 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.
Indian Solar Power Pack Powers VillagesDevelopment Challenges: Developments in India are showing the way forward for low-cost solar power for the poor. The Duron Solar Home Power System (http://www.duronenergy.com/product_info/) is now enabling the rural poor to generate and store solar electricity. It is powerful enough to charge gadgets and appliances and run LED lights. It allows people to do their household chores into the dark hours and to study or earn extra income.
Shoes with Sole: Ethiopian Web Success Story Development Challenges: Ethiopia’s bustling capital, Addis Ababa, is experiencing a building and business boom. Foreign investors and Ethiopia’s entrepreneurial and widespread global diaspora are investing again in the country. But Ethiopia still relies for most of its foreign currency wealth on exports of unprocessed coffee beans and leather hides — a model that leaves the bulk of the profits made outside of Ethiopia.
Cool Food for the PoorDevelopment Challenges: A whole wave of high-tech, innovative products are now being developed and marketed for the world’s poor. These products are designed to raise the quality of life of poor people and treat them as a market with real needs, rather than a mass of people to be ignored.
Innovation: Cairo’s Green Technology PioneersDevelopment Challenges: One thing is ubiquitous to every country, community and society: garbage. It’s a social and environmental problem, but far from being mere waste, rubbish has its uses. This by-product of the goods and foods consumed can also be a source of fuel. As such it has many advantages, including providing free fuel to cash-strapped households, independence from unreliable municipal services and a way to dispose of waste.
Many Positive Trends for Africa in 2010Development Challenges: While 2009 saw the global economic crisis spread around the world, the story is more complex and more hopeful than many believe. For Africa, various trends are pointing to positive economic development in 2010, despite the continent’s numerous political, social and environmental challenges. Pragmatism is driving stronger economic ties between Africa and the rest of the world, while long-running trends are delivering opportunity to millions despite setbacks.