Since the 1950s, science fiction has been telling the world we will soon be living with robots. While robots have emerged, they have been mostly kept to heavy industry, where machines can perform dangerous, hot and unpleasant repetitive tasks to a high standard.
But China is pioneering the move to mainstream robots in more public spheres. And the country is promising big changes in the coming decade.
Robots, strange as it may seem, can play a key role in development and fighting poverty.
If used intelligently, the rise of robots and robotics – itself a consequence of huge technological advances in information technology, the Internet, nanotechnology,artificial intelligence, and mobile communications – can free workers from boring, difficult and dangerous jobs. This can ramp up the provision of public goods like cleaning services in urban areas, or remove the need to do back-breaking farming work.
Robotics also offers a new field of high-tech employment for countries in the global South who are producing far more educated engineering and science students than they can currently employ. These students can help build the new robot economy.
China is considered to be in the early stages of competing with robot pioneers such as Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and the United States. And China still has a low penetration of industrial robots per population. In 2011 estimates placed the number of industrial robots in China at 52,290 (International Federation of Robotics) (ifr.org).
In the years ahead, China confronts a double demographic problem. It has the world’s largest elderly population, who will need care, and it also has a shrinking number of young people available to work as a result of the country’s one-child policy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-child_policy).
Robots can help solve these problems.
China started its robotics research in the 1970s and ramped it up from 1985. It has already made significant progress manufacturing domestic robots for cleaning. The Xiamen Lilin Electronics Co., Ltd. (http://cnlilin.en.made-inchina.
For the heavy duty stuff, there is Ningbo’s Dukemen Robot, sold with the slogan “man, technology, robot”. The company manufactures arm-like robots for heavy lifting and lifting in dangerous or uncomfortable environments (dukerobot.com/ks/robot-manufacturers/).
A company called Quick specializes in making soldering equipment for manufacturing electronic components and sells robots that can do this with high accuracy and speed (quick-global.com/9-new-soldering-robot-1.html).
Other robotic advances in China include a robot dolphin that swims through the water measuring its quality.
There are also robots in development to do housework and help people who need assistance in the home like the elderly and the disabled. These robots can monitor a person’s physical condition and provide psychological counselling and search for, and deliver, requested items. One example is called UNISROBO, and is based on the Japanese robot PaPeRo robot (http://www.nec.co.jp/products/robot/en/index.html).
Even more ambitiously, China is developing robots to send to the moon.
The push to introduce robots into the workplace and wider society is receiving considerable attention in China.
The Taiwan-based technology company Foxconn – well-known for assembling products for the American company Apple, maker of the iPad and iPhone -has pledged to deploy a million robots in its Chinese factories in the coming years to improve efficiency.
Some are forecasting that if China starts building robots on the scale it has pledged, then the world’s population of manufacturing robots will grow tenfold in 10 years.
China is also broaching one of the trickiest aspects of robotics – getting robots to interact with humans.
The tricky bit in robotics is getting interaction with human beings right and to avoid the experience being intimidating or frightening. One sector that is already ahead in experimenting with this aspect of robots is the restaurant business. One robot being used in restaurants sits on a tricycle trolley laden with drinks. It cycles from table to table in endless rotation allowing customers to choose drinks when they like.
The first robot restaurant started a trial run in 2010 in Jinan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jinan), the capital of Shandong Province. The hot pot restaurant uses six robots to help with the service. The restaurant has also given itself the perfect name for this new approach: Continental Robot Experience Pavilion. Adorned with robot posters, the restaurant is 500 square metres in size and can seat 100 diners.
Diners at the Continental Robot Experience Pavilion are greeted by two ‘female’ “beauty robot receptionists” dressed in uniforms. Inside, the six robot waiters serve the customers. There are two to deliver drinks and two to serve the small tables and two to serve the big tables.
The robot comes to the table and takes the customers’ orders for food dishes and drinks. The robots, designed with sensors to stop them moving when they sense something or someone in front of them, are able to handle 21 tables and deal with the 100 customers at a single sitting.
The robots have proven so effective, the restaurant’s staff can stay focused on administration and providing assistance. The cooking is still done by human beings.
This trial run is designed to test the concept and the novelty of having robots attracting customers, the restaurant’s manager told the People’s Daily Online.
The plan is to increase the number of robots to 40 and also to have robots do cleaning and other tasks.
“They have a better service attitude than humans,” said Li Xiaomei, 35, who was visiting the restaurant for the first time. “Humans can be temperamental or impatient, but they don’t (the robots) feel tired, they just keep working and moving round and round the restaurant all night,” Li said to China Daily.
1) The Robot Report: It boasts compiling more than 1,400 robotics-related links and is about “Tracking the business of robotics”. Website: therobotreport.com
2) The Robot Shop: Bills itself as “The world’s leading source for professional robot technology” and sells online all the parts, kits, toys, tools and equipment to get any enthusiast or small and medium enterprise working with robotics quickly. Website: robotshop.com
3) Robot App Store: Sells ‘apps’ or software applications to expand the capabilities of robots. It also operates as a store for application developers to sell their robot apps to others. Also has information and resources on how to get started making robot apps and making money from making robot apps. Website: robotappstore.com
4) Roboearth: Funded by the European Union, RoboEarth is an online, open source network where robots can communicate with each other and share information and “learn from each other about their behaviour and their environment. Bringing a new meaning to the phrase “experience is the best teacher”, the goal of RoboEarth is to allow robotic systems to benefit from the experience of other robots, paving the way for rapid advances in machine cognition and behaviour, and ultimately, for more subtle and sophisticated human-machine interaction. Website: roboearth.org
5) Robotland: A blog writing about the “visions, ideas, innovations, awards, trends and reports from leading robotics research and development places in the world”. Website: http://robotland.blogspot.co.uk/
6) China Hi-Tech Fair: Running from 16-21 November 2012, the Fair is a great way to see the latest developments in robotics in China. Website: chtf.com/english/
7) Singularity Hub: A cornucopia of robotic resources and news on “science, technology and the future of mankind”. Website: http://singularityhub.com/
Port-au-Prince – Brand-new four-by-four jeeps in various shapes and sizes bounce over the moon-like craters of Port-au-Prince’s roads. The presence of so many expensive vehicles in a country unable to feed all its citizens is hard to take, but it is not one of the worst paradoxes of Haiti.
The appalling state of the roads – more like occassional stretches of asphalt to break up the monotony of potholes – is an apt symbol of Haiti, a reminder with every jar of the tailbone of the public squalor of the many and the private wealth of the few. The shiny new jeeps are not a sign of recent good times, but reveal who has all the money in this nation of almost seven million: the tiny Haitian elite, thieves, the United Nations and the multitude of non-governmental aid agencies.
When democratically-elected president Jean-Bertrand Artistide, deposed in a 1991 coup, returned to complete his term in office in 1994, many Haitians hoped that this country would at last begin to shake off centuries of exploitation at the hands of a selfish elite backed by American corporate masters and begin to build a democratic future.
The United Nations mission in Haiti, which includes 700 Canadian troops, is intended to support the country’s fledgling democracy. But Haiti’s future remains uncertain – as does the role the UN will play in shaping it.
Despite negotiating a peaceful and democratic transition last February 7 from Aristide – a firebrand former priest and passionate advocate of Haiti’s poor – to successor Rene Garcia Preval, Haiti hasn’t stopped its economic freefall. Economists predict the country won’t match 1991 earning levels until the next century. Political unrest resulting from opposition to the government’s privatization plans could also spell trouble ahead.
The United Nations presence, due to end June 30, has been extended another five months at the request of the Haitian government. The newly-minted UN Support Mission in Haiti, a military force of 600 UN troops supported by 700 soldiers paid through voluntary contributions, is being assembled. It will replace the current force of 1900.
Meanwhile, the government of Rene Preval is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the United States to get much-needed loans to help balance the budget. Critics say the world’s banks are trying to lock the poorest country in the Western hemisphere further into crippling debt. The Haitian budget is US $750 million, 60 per cent of which the government hopes to raise from loans.
But there is a condition. Haiti must embark on a structural adjustment programme: widespread firings of the public service, privatization of most of the public sector, loosening of controls over foreign capital, adherance to the ethos of global trading blocks espoused by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Some call this neo-liberalism, others neo-conservatism. Either way, it forces this impoverished country to limit how it can address rebuilding a crumbling infrastructure.
The government’s hands are tied, though, as the conditions were part of the deal to return Aristide to power.
A Canadian public relations company, Gervais-Gagnon-Covington Associates, has been paid US $800,000 by the American government to sell the idea of privatization of Haiti’s handful of idle and near-bankrupt state enterprises.
In order to plunge deep into this Haitian qaugmire, I pitch up at the legendary Hotel Olofsson -made famous by novelist Graham Greene in the Comedians – and begin interviewing in the languid atmosphere by the pool.
“Aristide has put Haitians in a giant trap with the IMF plan,” says Jane Regan, who runs an independent news service based in Port-au-Prince. “The US $1 billion in loans will double the national debt.
“Haiti used to be self-sufficient in rice – last year they bought US $56 billion in US rice. The roads are worse now than a year ago. Right now the UN mission is of questionable worth and Canadians are getting taken advantage of. They have been sent to clean up after the Americans. These are the same neo-liberal economic policies that hurt Canadian workers – just imagine what Haitians are feeling!”
Regan thinks that, so far, the only people to make any money out of this arrangement are businesses and the more than 800 NGOs operating in Haiti. And on that note, the feisty Regan disrobes and plunges into the Hotel’s pool.
According to Kim Ives, a reporter with the Haitian newspaper Haiti Progres, there are a few cracks in the solidarity between Preval and Aristide: “Aristide is hitting out against privatizations. In a two-hour TV interview, he drew a line between himself and Preval.”
One of the few visible signs of change in Haiti is the dusty Octobre 15 road leading from the airport past former president Aristide’s palatial home on its way to the wealthy suburb of Petionville. It is bordered on one side by Camp Maple Leaf, and on the other by dilapidated shanty towns and desperate street vendors.
Cynics point out the road conveniently serves the interests of the elite once again. It offers a direct and more or less pothole-free route from the secluded mansions of Petionville to the airport – a crucial escape route in a politically volatile developing country. In fact, a development of monster homes that would make a Canadian suburbanite blush is going up near the airport to capitalise on this.
Caught between the Haitian government and its people is the United Nations, including Canada’s troops. Canadian troops form the first line of defence – along with Preval’s personal secuity guards – to defend the National Palace. They accompany the president wherever he goes, 24 hours a day.
Some fear growing resentment among Haitians for government policies will pitch the population against the soldiers.
At Camp Maple Leaf, the home base of Canada’s military contingent in Haiti, the troops are scrambling to adjust to a new mission sanctioned by the United Nations. As of June 30, they must take a back seat to the troubled Haitian police force as it tries to prove that the intensive training provided by police from around the world has paid off.
In the first week of July, the Canadian soldiers of the Royal 22nd Regiment – the famous Vandoos – receive confusing news about a change in their firing orders or Rules of Engagement. ROEs dictate the tone and behaviour of peacekeepers on a UN mission and, as the experience of Somalia demonstrates, they can be the difference between success and disaster.
As the new mandate starts, the Canadians are first told they will be only able to use deadly force to defend themselves and not Haitians. If a member of the government is assassinated, they must stand by. If a Haitian is clubbed to death before their eyes, they must stand back. It is a qualitative change from their ROEs prior to June 30.
Ottawa military spokesman Captain Conrad Bellehumour says the change is indicative of an evolving mandate. But a military spokesman in Haiti says the old ROEs are now back in force, and Canadians can intervene to save a Haitian’s life.
“Maybe somebody’s been listening to Jean-Luc Picard too much,” quips retired Brigadier-General Jim Hanson, in a reference to TV show Star Trek’s prime directive of non-interference in a culture.
A large banner hangs over a Port-au-Prince street: “Police + Population = Securite + Paix”. The UN has placed its greatest emphasis on reforming Haiti’s policing and justice system. The Police Nationale d’Haiti (PNH) was formed, and the RCMP and the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were asked to provide training. The idea is to break from the past – when the military used policing as an opportunity to terrorize the population – and establish a police force to serve and protect.
But the efforts of the Haitians and their international police advisers have had a mixed success. According to Canadian soldiers, the Haitian police need to be coaxed into conducting routine patrols and have not given up patrolling in large numbers in the back of a pick up truck with rifles at the ready. To be fair, seven police officers have been killed since January, in what many believe is an organized campaign of terror orchestrated by sympathizers of the old dictatorship and drug gangs.
According to Sergeant Serge Martin of the Vandoos, “The PNH use 15 police officers to patrol and don’t talk to anybody.”
“You don’t depend on police to protect you,” claims Regan. “The Haitian government has no control over them. You don’t know if there is going to be a coup tomorrow.”
Jean-Yves Urfie, editor of the pro-democracy Libete newspaper in Port-au-Prince, believes the campaign to kill police goes back to the United States. “I am convinced the coup d’etat was financed by the Republican administration. I believe the Republicans want to destroy things here to show (President) Clinton wasted his time bringing Aristide back.
“The government was forced to incorporate former members of the military into the police force. And it would be terrible if the population develops the impression all cops are bad.”
“They are 10 years away from a viable police force,” concludes Hanson.
A stop at the fourth precinct police station shows just how far things still need to go. At the counter is a lone police officer, sharply turned out in his beige shirt and yellow-striped navy pants, courtesy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. But this proves to be a veneer of change. Canadian soldiers ask if everything is alright. They then ask to see tonight’s prisoners. The officer sheepishly leads the troops down a narrow corridor to 9 ‘ by 12 ‘ foot cell stuffed with nine prisoners. It is very hot and the stench from an open drain overflowing with sewage is nauseating.
Outside the Penitencier National in downtown Port-au-Prince, a yellow concrete structure with peeling pain, Haitians lined up to feed the inmates, talk about their frustrations with a justice system that has collapsed. Many complain that only the rich, who can hire lawyers, can enjoy the fruits of democracy. While state-directed beatings and killings have been dramatically reduced, most prisoners rot on remand until they are charged with a crime. Heiner Rosentdahl, the UN representative in Haiti in charge of prison reform, tries to be upbeat. “There have been no changes in conditions in Haiti’s prisons. Treatment of the prisoners is better, though there have been some abuses. We have developed a nation-wide register book of prisoners to help keep track of who is in prison.”
Another mixed blessing, according to Rosendahl, is the new requirement that all prisoners be fed two meal a day. The food is so poor, prisoners have been getting sick.
He is frustrated with the pace of penal reform. “The Haitian prison system hasn’t had a budget since October 1995, because of battles within the parliament,” he says. “The Haitian government didn’t ask for a plan to change this situation despite the minister of justice visiting the prison for the first time.”
According to Rosendahl, it is not the routine killing of thieves by mobs that worries the elite. Nor is it the assassination of police officers, or the untold thousands dying of disease and hunger. The only thing that is beginning to rock their world is a new phenomenon for Haiti: kidnapping and extortion.
For such a seriously depressed economy, there is an astonishingly large number of lottery booths – or Borlettes – on Haitian streets. They are so plentiful, they join gas stations as the main landmarks of the streets.
The industrial park which is now home to the remaining American troops stationed in Port-au-Prince, is a good monument to Haiti’s economic problems. Dilapidated and only barely functioning, this facility once supported, directly and indirectly, a large portion of the city’s population. As crummy as the sweatshop jobs were, they provided valuable income for the capital’s poor.
The Haitian economy under Francois Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude, before the chaos of the late 1980s and 1990s, was based on assembling manufactured goods for the US market. Haiti was the world’s largest producer of baseballs, and ranked as “top three in the assembly of such diverse products as stuffed toys, dolls and apparel, especially brassieres. All told, the impact of international subcontracting was considerable,” according to author Paul Farmer in his book, The Uses of Haiti.
Today, Pierre Joseph, a Haitian-American from New York City, has a new job: he screens the ID cards of Haitian workers as they enter the park. He says there were once over 50 factories operating here; now there are 30.
Evidence of Haiti’s economic collapse is everywhere. On the walls outside the National Palace is scrawled Aba Preval Granhanje – Preval is a liar. Across the wide boulevard in a square are around 75 homeless children. They joke with the Canadian soldiers, especially boyish 2nd Lt. Marc Verret, who looks like a baby in soldiers clothes. The kids beg him for water and money.
In the market area, the piles of garbage, rotting meat and excrement make a muddy devil’s stew. Homeless children sleep on top of the abandoned crates. One small child is curled up in an American flag, asleep.
The dead also suffer the indignities of economic ruin. Outside the gates of the Hopital Generale, a man lies dead on a broken trolley in the yard. Others still alive, with limbs missing, are sprawled out on the ground. Chickens and goats roam the grounds. In the back is the main morgue for Port-au-Prince. The odour just 25 feet from the entrance to the morgue is normal for this city strewn with rotting garbage and stewed by a hot sun.
Inside, an overpowering odour like rotten chicken meat is the product of 450 human cadavers. Like rag dolls laid out in a ghoulish toy store, row upon row of children dead from starvation and disease – Haiti’s infant mortality rate is 127 per 1,000 babies born – are stacked almost to the ceiling. There are also adults. Old women, young men badly mutilated for stealing, are strewn out on the dirty concrete floor and on shelves.
There is no refrigeration, and according to military doctor Major Tim Cook, “something really nasty is going to come out of there if they don’t do something.”
More is at stake in Haiti than the re-building of a politically and economically devastated nation. For Canada’s armed forces, shaken and little stirred by the Somalia scandal, it is an opportunity to make amends. This time around, the peacekeepers are keeping the needs of the local population foremost in their gun sights. When the Vandoos head out on another one of their 24-hour patrols, the atmosphere is friendly and filled with gentle ribbing with the locals. They have the advantage of being able to speak French, a language understood to varying degrees by most of the population.
The approach of the individual soldiers varies widely. On a routine patrol, Alpha Company engaged in good-natured kidding around, with splashing the locals the worst offence. But a day out with Charlie Company, led by Sergeant Serge Martin, proved another story. The two privates assigned to accompany a group of journalists were a couple of operators. The day included a visit to a perfume shop, a trip through the wharf area looking for prostitutes and constant propositioning of the local women.
One Canadian corporal with the Vandoos, Eric Charbonneau, has been trying to make a small difference to the lives of the 400 people living in the community of Cazeau, a shanty town near the international airport. He has started literacy and hygiene lessons and raised money to help the residents build concrete houses to replace the mud dwellings they currently inhabit.
“I was walking along the fence and started to build a relationship with the kids,” he explains. “Some guy approached me and needed some help. It took three weeks to build a relationship. They are too used to white people giving away things for doing nothing. They were surprised when they had to work for it.”
At the gates to Camp Maple Leaf is a spray-painted sign. In Creole, French and English beside a Canadian flag, it says “No More Jobs.” While it could look at home back in Canada, it illustrates how important the presence of soldiers, the United Nations and charities are right now to the economy.
Some observers see the UN presence as part of a slide back into dependency on foreign money, restricting Haiti’s ability to assert itself. But others believe the turn to the international community is Haiti’s last hope of breaking with a past littered with dictatorships and poverty.
According to Captain Roberto Blizzard – an erudite and wise observer of the situation – the base has been stampeded with desperate Haitians looking for work. Blizzard has tried to find work for as many Haitians as he can, even helping them to form a laundry co-operative he hopes will survive long past the Canadians’ stay.
“There is a danger of the Haitian people turning into full-time beggars,” he says with sadness.
Dabbawallahs Use Web and Text to Make Lunch on Time Development Challenges: The developing world’s rapidly growing cities are bringing with them whole new ways of living and working. One rapidly expanding category of citizen is the office worker. A symbol of growing prosperity, the office worker also tends to be a time-poor person who often must commute large distances between home and workplace.
Flurry of Anti-poverty Innovations Development Challenges: Innovation is key to transforming the lives of the world’s four billion poor. And it is at the core of much of the new thinking these days. While the world’s poor can’t rely on political developments, or wider macro-economic events to go their way, they can harness the power of invention, innovation and self-reliance to make big changes in the quality of their lives and increase income – and so can those who want to help them.
Local Animation: A Way Out of Poverty Development Challenges: One of the more remarkable creative developments since 2000 has been the explosion in animation production in the developing world, in particular Asia. Once seen as frivolous or unnecessary, animation is now acknowledged as a high-growth area and a critical component in the emerging economies being shaped by information technology.
Mobile Phones Bring the Next Wave of New Ideas from the South Development Challenges: The rapid growth in take-up has made mobile phones the big success story of the 21st century. With such reach, finding new applications for mobile phones that are relevant to the world’s poor and to developing countries is a huge growth area. It is estimated that by 2015, the global mobile phone content market could be worth over US $1 trillion: relegating basic voice phone calls to just 10 per cent of how people use mobile phones.
Mountain People: Innovative Ways to Help the World’s Most Vulnerable Development Challenges: Physically isolated and socially and politically marginalized, mountain dwellers are among the most vulnerable in the world, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. A disproportionate number of the world’s 840 million chronically undernourished people live in highland areas — about 270 million mountain people lack food security, with 135 million suffering chronic hunger. Large numbers of additional people in lowland areas also depend on mountains.
Saving the Amazon Forest While Making a Living Development Challenges: The vast Amazon rainforest straddles Brazil (over half is there), and stretches over many countries, including Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. It holds more than 2,500 tree species and 30 per cent of all known plant species – 30,000 in all. It contains the world’s largest tropical forest national park, Brazil’s Tumucumaque Mountains National Park (http://www.amazon-rainforest.org/places-of-interest.html).
Turning Street Children into Entrepreneurs Development Challenges: The UN estimates that 500 million people around the world are homeless, and UNICEF estimates India alone has 11 million homeless children on its streets (though it is difficult to pin down the figure). In order to survive another day, these children will work in one way or another.
African Culture as Big Business Development Challenges: In the last decade the world’s creative industries (including crafts, fashion and design) have gained greater respect for being the spark that drives economic development and entrepreneurship. They are seen as fast growers and good job creators, and importantly, the lynch pin in cultural identity and cultural diversity.
Next Generation of Innovation for the Grassroots Development Challenges: Taking inspiration from science fiction sagas like the TV show Star Trek, the next generation of innovation is already taking shape in the South. A group of innovative facilities called Fab Labs (short for Fabrication Laboratory) in Ghana, India, Kenya, South Africa and Costa Rica are applying cutting-edge technology to address the everyday needs of people.
Ecotourism to Heal the Scars of the Past Development Challenges: The legacy of underdevelopment during the communist era in parts of Eastern Europe is now being seen as an advantage in the global tourism trade. Well off the beaten path for tourists, areas as diverse as Chechnya and Romania are working to turn their rustic rural hinterlands into a strategic advantage in grabbing the market for ecotourists.
Popular Characters Re-invent Traditional Carving Development Challenges: The popular cartoon characters from the long-running series The Simpsons are breathing new life into traditional African stone carvings.
African Breakthroughs To Make Life Better Development Challenges: In the last 50 years, the domestication of high technology – bringing cheaper access to everything from personal computers to digital cameras and applications like global positioning systems (GPS) – has transformed millions of lives and the way business is done. In the next 50 years, biotechnology is set to do the same.
Traditional Medicine is now a Proven Remedy Development Challenges: Once dismissed as old fashioned, ineffective and unscientific, traditional medicine is now seen as a key tool in bringing healthcare and healing to poor people bypassed by existing public and private health measures.
Mobile Phones: Engineering South’s Next Generation of Entrepreneurs Development Challenges: Technology is fuelling unprecedented growth in productivity in Asia, with sub-Saharan Africa languishing behind (International Labour Organization). But the growth in mobile phones could help close this gap, as home-grown entrepreneurs are stepping up to exploit this new opportunity.
Saving Water to Make Money Development Challenges: The world’s water supplies are running low, and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), four out of every 10 people are already affected. But despite the gloomy reality of this problem, entrepreneurs in the South are rising to the challenge to save water.
Social Franchising Models Proving Poor Bring Profits Development Challenges: The four billion people in the world who live on less than US $2 a day have been described as the bottom of the economic pyramid, or BOP for short. In his book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Indian business consultant and professor CK Prahalad argues that this attitude must be turned on its head: rather than seeing the world’s poor as a burden, only worthy of charity, Prahalad sees nothing but opportunity and unmet needs that business can address.
Cooking up a Recipe to End Poverty Development Challenges: Like music, food has a powerful ability to jump across cultural and regional barriers and unite people in the sheer pleasure of the meal. Tapping the rich vein of regional culinary heritages is also a great way to make money. Promoting local recipes and foods has other benefits: as the global obesity (or globesity as WHO calls it) epidemic reaches into the urban areas of cities in the developing world, anything that pulls people away from fast food and high-fat foods is a good thing. Doctors have found home cooking keeps people thin and is better for them.
The Power of the Word: African Blogging and Books Development Challenges: “Culture is not a luxury … Culture is the spiritual backbone of society”: with these words Jan Kees van de Werk, the Dutch poet and long-standing advocate of African literature, summed up the importance of culture to Africa’s development. Two trends could significantly alter the prospects for African writers in 2007: the new wave of African bloggers and websites that are now emerging, and the increasing awareness of African literature.
Online Free Knowledge Sharing Development Challenges: UNESCO’s Kronberg Declaration on the Future of Knowledge Acquisition and Sharing is blunt: the future of learning will increasingly be mediated by technology, and traditional educational processes will be revolutionized. Acquiring factual knowledge will decrease and instead people will need to find their way around complex systems and be able to judge, organize and creatively use relevant information.
Banning of Plastic Bags and Containers Brings New Opportunities Development Challenges: This month, Uganda bans plastic bags, outlawing their import, manufacture and use and joining a growing list of African countries seeking to sweep cities of this menace. Uganda’s ban follows similar moves in Kenya and in Tanzania, where even plastic drinks containers will soon be banished.
Record-breaking Wireless Internet to Help Rural Areas Development Challenges: Many initiatives seek to bring inexpensive access to the internet to rural and remote regions around the world. One of the most successful ways to rapidly expand access is to offer wireless internet so that anyone can use a laptop computer, a PC or a mobile phone to quickly access the Net. Access to wireless internet is being rolled out in cities around the world with so-called ‘hot spots’, but the thornier issue of improving access in rural or remote regions could get better, thanks to a Venezuelan team.
A New House Kit for Slum Dwellers that is Safe and Easy to Build Develoment Challenges: By 2030, some 5 billion people around the world will live in cities. Next year, 2008, is predicted to be the tipping point, when urban dwellers (3.3 billion people) will outnumber rural residents for the first time. These are the conclusions of UNFPA’s State of the World Population 2007 Report. Even more strikingly, the cities of Africa and Asia are growing by a million people a week. And 72 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa live in slum conditions.
Afrocoffee: Blending Good Design and Coffee Development Challenges: The importance of good design and a strong brand in the success of a business cannot be emphasised enough. That extra effort and thought can take a business from local success to regional and even global success. As consultants KPMG make clear, “For many businesses, the strength of their brands is a key driver of profitability and cash flow “. Yet the majority of small businesses fail to think about their brand values or how design will improve their product or service.
African Entrepreneur Wants to Bring Order to Urban Chaos Development Challenges: All over the global South, urban and semi-urban areas are growing at a furious pace. Great swathes of mega-regions – places where large cities blend seamlessly into smaller towns and villages creating a giant economic hub – are becoming key economic and opportunity drivers in developing countries.
Entrepreneurs Use Mobiles and IT to Tackle Indian Traffic Gridlock Development Challenges: Around the world, traffic congestion is often accepted as the price paid for rapid development and economic dynamism. But as anyone who lives in a large city knows, a tipping point is soon reached where the congestion begins to harm economic activity by wasting people’s time in lengthy and aggravating commuting, and leaving them frazzled and burned out by the whole experience.
Web 2.0 to the Rescue! Using Web and Text to Beat Shortages in Africa Development Challenges: The beep-beep of a received text on a mobile phone is now becoming a much-needed lifeline to Africans. Zimbabweans, who continue to struggle every day with inflation that has shot to 3,731 percent (Zimbabwe Central Statistical Office), have usd African ingenuity and 21st century technology to survive another day.
Bio-ethanol From Sturdy and Once-Unwanted Indian Plant Development Challenges: With awareness of global warming at an all-time high – and governments seeking real-world solutions to solve this enormous problem – bioethanol fuel has risen up the agenda as a replacement for conventional fuel sources. At present, most bioethanol fuel is produced from either corn or sugar but a less known plant jatropha could be the real solution. Brazil has been a pioneer in producing bioethanol fuel from sugar, while the United States has focused on its substantial corn crop as a source, and both contribute more than half the world’s supply.
Youth Surge in the South A Great Business Opportunity Development Challenges: The world’s youth population (those between the ages of 12 and 24) has now reached a historical high of 1.5 billion – 1.3 billion of whom are in developing countries (World Development Report 2007). Nearly half of the world’s unemployed are youth, and the Middle East and North Africa alone must create 100 million jobs by 2020 to meet demand for work.
Old Adage Gets New Life Development Challenges: Education is recognized as critical for development and improving people’s lives. Universal primary education is a Millennium Development Goal and countries are now allocating more funds for primary education across the global South. However, the options available to youth after primary education are often very limited.
Safe Healthcare is Good Business and Good Health Development Challenges: Many people have been shocked by recent stories about the proliferation of counterfeit drugs and the rate at which they are killing and harming people in Nigeria. The International Narcotics Control Board found that up to 50 percent of medicines in developing countries are counterfeit. This has driven home the point that without the presence of legitimate players in the African drug market, the illegal sharks will step in to make large profits – and a literal killing.
Creative and Inventive Ways to Aid the Global Poor Development Challenges: As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”. Poverty can be a major spur to invention, and invention a route out of poverty – but only if the poor in the developing world can get the recognition, capital and support for navigating the legal and bureaucratic hurdles that will inevitably stand in their way. Thankfully many new initiatives acknowledge this.
Kiva: New Gateway of Loans for the Poor Development Challenges: The rise of social networking websites has created new opportunities for the poor to gain access to much needed credit. Kiva.org is pioneering a new way for entrepreneurs in the South to obtain for their businesses unsecured, no-interest financing from lenders worldwide. By just a click of the mouse a person anywhere in the world can lend as little as $25 or more to aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Innovation from the Global South Development Challenges: A major study has documented a rising tide of scientific innovation coming from Asia’s fast-developing countries, especially India and China. Conducted over 18 months by UK-based think tank Demos, it challenges the conventional wisdom that scientific ideas come from the top universities and research laboratories of large companies based in Europe or the US. It found ideas emerging in unexpected places, flowing around the world conveyed by a mobile diaspora of knowledge workers from the South.
Creative Use of Wi-Fi to Reach the Poor Development Challenges: In 2003 former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for greater access to wi-fi, or wireless internet networks, as a mechanism to help poorer regions catch up with the pace of technological change in developed countries. Wireless networks remove the need to lay costly wires and can quickly bring fast and convenient internet access to large populations currently denied access. By removing the need to lay lots of cables to get communities online, wireless could help poorer nations narrow the digital divide and catch up with countries where the technology has already taken hold. Social entrepreneurs are stepping in to fill the gap between the promise of wi-fi and the reality.
Trade to Benefit the Poor Up in 2006 and to Grow in 2007 Development Challenges: The global fair trade market – in which goods and services are traded under the Fairtrade logo, guaranteeing a minimum fair price to producers experienced unprecedented growth in 2006. In the UK alone, 2006 sales totalled £290 million – a jump of 46 percent from 2005. The Fairtrade Foundation predicts sales will reach UK £300 million in 2007.
Business as a Tool to Do Good Development Challenges: The United States’ fast-paced and highly inventive technology sector is re-shaping philanthropy and proving it is possible to do good and make money at the same time. The approach taken by these philanthropists is flavoured by their experiences in the cut-throat world of technology, where innovation is a necessity and where re-invention and risk are de rigeur. They share many of these qualities, counter intuitively, with millions of the world’s poor as they struggle day in and day out to survive and get ahead.
Social Networking Websites: A Way Out of Poverty Development Challenges: Social networking websites also known as, Web 2.0 – the name given to the new wave of internet businesses and websites such as YouTube and MySpace that are transforming the way people interact with the Web – has been dubbed the social web for its power to bring people together.
Fashion Closes Gap Between Catwalk and Crafts Development Challenges: The notion of doing right with fashion has been getting a make-over in the past few years. In the West, non-sweatshop clothing and crafts from developing countries have long been confined to a small niche in the marketplace. They were seen at best as garments for the eccentric or unconventional, and at worst as a poor substitute for clothing and accessories peddled by the major manufacturers. Organic or ethically produced products were often stigmatized as unfashionable and frumpy.
Dynamic Growth in African ICT is Unlocking Secrets of SME Treasure Trove Development Challenges: A newly released survey of 14 African countries in 2006 has documented the impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on private sector development and how it is contributing to developing a vibrant Small Medium Enterprise (SME) sector in Africa. It discovered how dynamic the SME sector is, how it has rapidly adopted mobile phone technology (96 percent have it), and how if used properly in concert with this new technology, extraordinary economic growth is possible.
Grassroots Entrepreneurs Now Have Many Ways to Fund their Enterprises Development Challenges: In the past, African entrepreneurs were extremely limited in the options for funding their plans. They had to rely on often ineffective national banks or local networks based on political, tribal or family connections to secure funding for enterprises. That has now changed, and there is an explosion in new thinking on business start-ups and how best to help grassroots entrepreneurs.
African Tourism Leads the World and Brings New Opportunities Development Challenges: Tourism around the world is growing rapidly again after the setbacks caused by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Tourism is also finally acknowledging Africa – home to 888 million people (2005, UN) – and where 46 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s people live on less than US$1 a day. Led by Kenya and South Africa, the continent has come out on top in world tourism growth according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) (http://www.unwto.org/). While global tourism is forecast to grow by four percent in 2007, Africa as a whole enjoyed growth of 10.6 percent in 2006.
Securing Land Rights for the Poor Now Reaping Rewards Development Challenges: The hotly debated issue of land rights for the poor has never been more relevant. There is mounting evidence that access to land rights can catapult the poor out of poverty and spur growth for the economy. Experience in India and China is now showing the economic power unleashed when the poor gain full legal rights over their land.
New Battery Back-up Technology Targeting Developing Countries and Remote Regions Development Challenges: Africa’s greater global engagement and economic growth in the past few years has started to draw attention back towards the continent’s dearth of reliable power sources and inadequate power infrastructure. While demand grows at a fast pace, sadly political instability and lack of security in many countries scares off foreign investors and multinational companies who could help to expand capacity.
Computing in Africa is Set to Get a Big Boost Development Challenges: The image of Africa as a technological laggard is set to be seriously challenged as a number of developments converge in 2007. Alongside the booming African mobile phone market – itself now getting global attention for innovation – the African computer scene will soon have both the software and hardware that acknowledge the continent’s unique needs while being affordable.
Ring Tones and Mobile Phone Downloads are Generating Income for Local Musicians in Africa Development Challenges: African musicians hoping to support themselves through their recordings have always had to contend with the added burden of poor copyright control over their work. While musicians in the West are supported by a highly regulated regime of copyright protection – ensuring some to become the richest people in their respective countries – most African musicians have had to stand back and watch their work being copied, sold and exchanged with little chance of seeing any royalties.
Carbon Credits Can Benefit African Farmers Thanks to New System Development Challenges: The global carbon credit trading schemes emanating from the Kyoto Protocol are now creating a multi-billion dollar market – the European carbon market was worth €14.6 billion in 2006 – and represents one of the fastest growing business opportunities in the world. Being green has finally come of age. Yet all the benefits of this are largely bypassing Africa despite more than 70 percent of the continent’s inhabitants earning a living off the land.
Making Bamboo Houses Easier to BuildDevelopment Challenges: More than 1 billion people around the world lack decent shelter. Of these, the majority live in urban areas, usually in slums and informal settlements (UN-HABITAT). Latin America has a serious shortage of adequate housing: in Colombia, 43 percent of the population needs decent housing; in Brazil, 45 percent; Peru, 53 percent.
Two-stroke Engine Pollution SolutionDevelopment Challenges: Cities across the South choke on the pollution made by the small two-stroke engines (http://www.howstuffworks.com/two-stroke.htm) powering motor scooters, motorcycles, auto rickshaws, tuk-tuks and other vehicles. People choose these vehicles to get around because they are cheap, powerful and easy to fix. But the environment – and human health – suffers as a result. And as cities balloon and populations grow, the number of journeys and two-stroke engines grows with it.
Rammed-Earth Houses: China Shows how to Improve and Respect Traditional Homes Development Challenges: The pace of change across the South has been blistering. Over the past decade, the overall population has moved from being primarily rural to majority urban. In the process, rural communities have suffered, as they have seen their young and ambitious leave in droves seeking a better life in cities.More than 200 million Chinese farmers have moved to cities in recent years. It’s easy to see why. Chinese farms are tiny, with the average rural household farming just 0.6 hectares. And incomes are low compared to the cost of living: average annual income was just US$606 in 2007, a third of city salaries.
Clay Filters are Simple Solution for Clean WaterDevelopment Challenges:Access to clean water is critical to good health. It is a basic human need that when met, leads to the biggest improvements in health and well-being. Dirty water causes diarrhoea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diarrhea),cholera and typhoid. Diseases caused by dirty drinking water kill almost 5,000 children a day around the world (WHO).
Brazil Preserves Family Farms and Keeps Food Local and Healthy Development Challenges: Today’s global food crisis sparked by a toxic mix of events – high oil and commodity prices, food scarcity, growing populations, and environmental catastrophes – has woken many up to the urgent need to secure food supplies and help those who grow the world’s food. More and more countries are turning to local and small farms – or family farms – to offer food security when times get rough.
Riverwood: Kenyan Super-fast, Super-cheap FilmmakingDevelopment Challenges: The African film-making success story of Nigeria’s Nollywood has been joined by another fast-rising star: Kenya’s Riverwood. Both are beneficiaries of the digital revolution in filmmaking over the last decade, and both are using low-cost digital filmmaking and editing to tell local stories — in the process making money and creating thousands of jobs.
Model Indian Villages to Keep Rural Relevant Development Challenges:The world’s rush to urban centres is the great challenge of the 21st century. In 2007, the world became a majority urban place. The consequences of this shift can be seen in the blight of urban poverty, with its slums and squalor, environmental degradation, and rising social tensions. But there are people working on keeping rural areas relevant and pleasant places to live. These rural advocates see a vibrant countryside as part of the solution to the world’s plethora of crises.
Brazilian Solar-powered WiFi for Poor SchoolsDevelopment Challenges:There is a pressing need to spread access to the internet to the world’s poor – but also many obstacles. Often it is something as basic as a lack of electricity that brings progress to a halt. But a Brazilian innovator has come up with a solar power supply that is helping to bring internet access to schools serving the poor.
Local Fashions Pay Off for Southern Designers Development Challenges:Fashion earns big money around the world: The global clothing industry is estimated to be worth US $900 billion a year. For many decades, strong American brands have been the desired commodity for those looking to be cool and contemporary. People were willing to pay high premium prices to get the cache of American cool that the brands conveyed.
Rats a Solution in Food Crisis Development Challenges: The global food crisis continues to fuel food price inflation and send many into hunger and despair. Around the world, solutions are being sought to the urgent need for more and cheaper food. Right now there are 862 million undernourished people around the world (FAO), and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for food production to increase 50 percent by 2030 just to meet rising demand.
Mobile Phones: New Market Tools for the PoorDevelopment Challenges:Bangladesh’s poor can now buy and sell goods and services with their mobile phones, thanks to a Bangladeshi company’s pioneering mobile phone marketplace. The company, CellBazaar, serves as a useful role model for other Southern entrepreneurs and companies looking to develop and market mobile phone applications for the poor that really help them.
Picking Money from the Baobab TreeDevelopment Challenges: The fruit of the highly revered African baobab tree is being seen as a great new opportunity for the poor, after a recent decision by the European Commission to allow its importation. According to one study, gathering the fruit has the potential to earn an extra US $1 billion a year for Africa, and bring work and income to 2.5 million households, most of them African bush dwellers (Britain’s Natural Resources Institute).
Solar Power Bringing Light and Opportunity to the Poor Development Challenges: Meeting the South’s energy needs will be crucial to achieving radical improvements in quality of life and human development. It is estimated that 1.7 billion people around the world lack electricity (World Bank), of whom more than 500 million live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Computer ‘Gold Farming’ Turning Virtual Reality into Real Profits Development Challenges: The rapid spread of the internet around the global South is bringing with it new forms of work. One of these trends is so-called “gold farming”: making money in the virtual world of computer gaming by trading in virtual money, prizes and goods for busy gamers who don’t have time to do it themselves. This work now employs 400,000 people – mostly men and mostly in China, but also elsewhere in the South, according to a new report.
Farmers Weather Fertilizer Crisis by Going OrganicDevelopment Challenges: Around the world, large-scale agriculture relies on the use of chemical fertilizers. But increasing expense and decreasing supply of fertilizer is driving up the cost of food, and in turn contributing to the overall food crisis.
Urban Farmers Gain from Waste Water Development Challenges: The global food crisis continues to fuel food price inflation and send many into hunger and despair. Around the world, solutions are being sought to the urgent need for more food and cheaper food. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for food production to increase 50 percent by 2030 just to meet rising demand – and right now there are 862 million people undernourished (FAO).
Cash Machines for the Poor Development Challenges: Access to basic banking services for the poor is weak at the best of times. Many are openly discriminated against as a ‘bad risk’ by banks, and denied the sort of banking services middle and higher income people take for granted. Yet it is a myth that the poor do not have money or do not wish to save and invest for their future or for business.
Milk Co-operatives Help Hungry Haiti Development Challenges: The global food crisis has hit the impoverished Caribbean country of Haiti especially hard. Already suffering from decades of food crises brought on by the collapse of domestic farming, the country has become notorious for its people being reduced to eating cakes made of mud to stave off hunger pains. It is the poorest country of Latin America and the Caribbean and one of the poorest in the world.
Traditional Healers can Heal the Mind, as well as BodyDevelopment Challenges: Mental healthcare is critical to physical health and overall wellbeing, yet it is seriously neglected around the world – and especially in poorer countries.
Fashion Recycling: How Southern Designers are Re-using and Making Money Development Challenges: With the rising awareness of the importance of doing fashion in an ethical and sustainable way, more and more fashion designers in the South are getting very creative. Fashion earns big money around the world: The global clothing industry is estimated to be worth US $900 billion a year.
Pay for Pee Keeps Indian Town CleanDevelopment Challenges: The task is huge: 2.6 billion people, or 41 percent of the world’s population, is without access to basic sanitation. As a result, most have to make do and defecate or urinate wherever they can. In crowded urban areas, the result is an unpleasant source of disease and filth that fouls living spaces and sickens or kills many people.
Sex Workers’ Savings Help Make a Better Life Development Challenges:Prostitution is called the world’s oldest profession, and can be found in one form or another in every country and society. And where poverty is rife and women have few economic choices, it flourishes. But it also flourishes in societies and economies undergoing rapid change, and where people move around more and more, as in the South’s fast-growing cities.
Urban Youth: A Great Source of Untapped GrowthDevelopment Challenges: The world’s growing urbanization means that a whole generation of youth will have a dramatically different life than their parents. The world’s 3.3 billion urbanites now outnumber rural residents for the first time (UNFPA’s State of the World Population 2007 Report). And the vast majority live in slums or periurban areas, places of sprawl, where public services are poor and housing conditions unhealthy.
Innovative Mobile Phone Applications Storm SouthDevelopment Challenges: The pace of change in information technology in the South is impressive, and nowhere has it been more rapid than in the take-up of mobile phones. In the past three years China has become the world’s largest exporter of information and communications technology (ICT), and home to the same number of mobile-phone users (500 million) as the whole of Europe. According to India’s telecoms regulator, half of all urban dwellers now have mobile- or fixed-telephone subscriptions and the number is growing by eight million a month.
Small-scale Farmers Can Fight Malaria BattleDevelopment Challenges:Malaria is one of Africa’s biggest killers. Each year globally 300 to 500 million people are infected, and around 1 million die from the disease (theglobalfund). Ninety percent of malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa – mostly to children under the age of five. The disease costs African countries US$12 billion a year in lost gross domestic product.
Connoisseur Chocolate from the South Gets a Higher PriceDevelopment Challenges: Like coffee beans, cocoa beans are grown around the world and are a major commodity, highly prized in wealthy countries. West Africa accounts for 70 percent of the world’s output, with the rest grown either in Indonesia and Brazil (20 percent), or on a smaller scale in countries across the South, from Belize to Madagascar.
Agricultural Waste Generating ElectricityDevelopment Challenges:Agriculture around the world produces a great deal of waste as a by-product. It can be animal faeces, or the discarded plant husks thrown away when rice, grains or maize are harvested. When this waste meets the urgent need for electricity, something special can happen.
The Disabled in the South can Make Money, Restore Dignity Development Challenges: The South’s disabled are a large population and often suffer more than even the poorest residents. It is estimated that there are 500 million disabled people in the world, with either mental, physical or sensory impairment. As many as 80 percent of all disabled people live in isolated rural areas in developing countries, and in some countries more than 20 percent of the population is classed as disabled (UN).
Women Mastering Trade Rules Development Challenges: Market trading is a vital lifeline for most people in the South. Plenty of delights usually await people in the market, where live animals, herbs and spices, fresh fruits and vegetables, and life’s necessities compete for customers’ money. The formal and informal food sector plays a crucial role in empowering women and providing food to the poor.
Combating Counterfeit Drugs Development Challenges: Access to good quality drugs is a serious problem across the South. The International Narcotics Control Board estimates that up to 15 per cent of all drugs sold around the world are fake or counterfeit, and in parts of Africa and Asia this figure jumps to 50 per cent. The US Food and Drug Administration estimates counterfeit drugs make up 10 per cent of the global medicine market.
Rainforest Rubbers Save LivesDevelopment Challenges: Two development goals are being achieved with one innovative business in Brazil. By using natural rubber tapped from trees in the Amazon rainforest to make condoms, Brazil is able to afford the cost of distributing condoms to tackle its HIV/AIDS crisis. Brazil currently imports more than 120 million condoms every year from China, Republic of Korea and Thailand, making it the world’s biggest single buyer of condoms.
New Weapon Against Crime in the SouthDevelopment Challenges: Crime in the South’s fast-growing cities has a negative affect on economic development and social and community harmony. In Africa, with one fifth of the world’s population, for example, data is very poor on crime and its victims. The absence of good data means prevention and detection of crime is poor, and resources to fight it can’t be allocated effectively.
Tapping the Power of Child Play Development Challenges: Children are an amazing source of energy. Each generation fizzes with the restlessness and optimism of youth. But all that energy is expended in the playground, leaving behind nothing but the sound of laughter. What if that energy could actually be harnessed and turned into electricity? And electricity to power the cash-strapped school the children need to attend to get a good head start in life?
Illiterate Get Internet at the Touch of a Button Development Challenges:Quick access to information is crucial for development. The remarkable spread of information around the world via the internet has been one of the greatest achievements of the 21st century. The astounding take-up of mobile phones is another. For those who can afford it or get access to a computer and electricity, the new technology is a powerful tool for economic and social advancement. But what about people who are caught in the technology gap, or who are illiterate?
The South has a Good Story to Tell Development Challenges: The fast-changing modern world is raising the living standards of billions in the South – China alone has lifted 400 million people out of poverty since the 1980s – but it is also risking the loss of many rich cultural traditions. One of them is storytelling. Oral storytelling is a critical tool for passing on history, while teaching morals and ethics, especially in societies with low rates of literacy and little formal education. But with the rise of modern media and advertising, few traditional storytellers – many of whom are old – stand a chance.
Insects Can Help in a Food CrisisDevelopment Challenges: For many years it was a given that the world’s problem was not a lack of food, but that it was unfairly shared. But as the switch to biofuels gathers pace, farmland is being diverted away from growing food for people, to food for fuel. On top of this, growing prosperity in many countries in the South has boosted demand for better quality food, including grain-devouring meat diets – it takes 10 kilograms of grain to get one kilogram of meat from a cow. The crisis has deeply alarmed the UN’s World Food Programme and the World Bank. In the economic battle for food, the poor are the most vulnerable.
From Warriors to Tour GuidesDevelopment Challenges: In the wake of conflict, demobilizing combatants is as critical as ending the fighting if there is hope for the peace to last. When conflict ends, former fighters usually find themselves unemployed. But tourism is proving a viable way to deal with the social and political dangers of neglecting former fighters post-conflict.
Carbon Markets Need to Help the PoorDevelopment Challenges: The global carbon credit trading schemes emanating from the Kyoto Protocol have created a multi-billion dollar market – the global carbon market was worth US $30 billion in 2007 (World Bank) – and represents one of the fastest growing business opportunities in the world. The bulk of this trading is with the European Union’s emissions trading scheme, some US $25 billion. But the big problem to date has been most of this investment is enriching stock brokers, and not the poor.
Nollywood: Booming Nigerian Film IndustryDevelopment Challenges: The digital revolution in filmmaking over the last decade has given birth to an African success story: Nollywood – Nigeria’s answer to Hollywood, uses low-cost digital filmmaking and editing to tell local stories — in the process making money and creating thousands of jobs.
Innovative Stoves to Help the PoorDevelopment Challenges: Half of the world’s population cook with a fuel-burning stove, and this figure rises to 80 per cent of households in rural areas in developing countries. Typical fuels burned include wood, coal, crop leftovers and animal dung. The indoor pollution from smoke and carbon monoxide is a top health hazard in the developing world, ranking just behind dirty water, poor sanitation and malnutrition. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.6 million people die each year as a result of toxic indoor air.
Cashing in on Old Wisdom Development Challenges: India’s traditional weavers, heirs to a 2,000-year-old textile industry, are turning to the ancient practice of ayurvedic medicine to make their products more appealing and boost sales. Drawing on recipes once used by weavers to the Indian royal courts, clothes are woven and infused with ayurvedic, herb-and-spice medicinal recipes to address various health problems. Strange as it may sound, the health-giving properties of the clothes have been backed up by clinical trials at the Government Ayurveda College in Thiruvanathapuram, southern India.
Prisons with Green Solutions Development Challenges: An ingenious solution is helping Rwanda reduce the cost of running its bursting prisons, while improving conditions for the prisoners and helping protect the environment.
Envisioning Better Slums Development Challenges: More than 900 million people – almost a sixth of the world’s population – now live in urban slums (UN). Improving conditions for these people is a critical Millennium Development Goal target. And the scale of the problem is vast: this year half the world’s population will live in cities, and already in developing countries 43 per cent of urban dwellers live in slums. In the least-developed countries the figure is 78 per cent.
Mobile Phone Peacekeeping Development Challenges: Last month UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon pointed out the urgent need for interesting and relevant content to attract Africans to the internet. Official statistics can make for grim reading: the continent has less bandwidth than Ireland (World Economic Forum). While it is true Africa is restricted by serious technological and economic disadvantages, African ingenuity, creativity and hard work are bypassing these impediments to get things done nonetheless. While word has got out about the impressive take-up of mobile phones in Africa, the new world of Web 2.0 is also spawning a new generation of inspiring African technology whizzes transforming perceptions and grabbing the world’s attention.
Putting Worms to Work Development Challenges: Overuse of pesticides is now acknowledged as one of the gravest mistakes of the Green Revolution, launched in the 1970s to dramatically increase food production in the developing world. Pesticides have polluted the environment, poisoned fertile soil, contaminated ground water and damaged human health.
Cyber Cities in the South: An Oasis of Opportunity Development Challenges: The future is arriving in the South even faster than many think: so-called “cyber cities” are being created to become this century’s new Silicon Valleys. Well-known ‘cyber cities’ like India’s Hyderabad and Bangalore have been joined by many other cities across the global South. But two places are set to make big waves with their ambition and drive in 2008: Mauritius and China.
Decent and Affordable Housing for the Poor Development Challenges:Urban populations across the South are growing fast: by 2030, some 5 billion people around the world will live in cities. This year will be the first year in which urban dwellers (3.3 billion people) will outnumber rural residents for the first time (United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA]). Africa now has a larger urban population than North America and 25 of the world’s fastest growing big cities. Asia and Africa’s cities are growing by an incredible 1 million people a week, with 72 per cent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa living in slum conditions.
Southern Art Hubs Grab Attention for Creative EconomyDevelopment Challenges: Regeneration – of poor neighbourhoods, districts, even whole countries after a conflict – is both a challenge and a key to transforming lives. One approach that has a track record is turning to artists and creative people to re-imagine a neighbourhood or country’s culture, and restore pride and vitality to places beaten down by life’s hardships.
Afropolitan: African Fashion Scene Bursting with EnergyDevelopment Challenges: In the face of Congo’s civil strife, a group of very fashionable gentlemen bring colour and style to the country while also pioneering a way to make money and improve standards of dress in the country. Members of “La sape,” or La Societe des Ambianceurs et Personnes Elegantes (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Société_des_ambianceurs_et_des_personnes_élégantes) — the society of tastemakers and elegant people — wear designer fashions either bought in Europe, or handmade in Congo.
Brewing Prosperity Creates Good JobsDevelopment Challenges: In the Democratic Republic of Congo – home to the world’s largest United Nations peacekeeping mission and decades of bloody civil war – a brewery has not only survived, it has thrived to become a popular brand throughout central Africa. By being a success, the Brasimba brewery has brought prosperity and high-quality jobs to Congo’s second largest city, Lubumbashi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lubumbashi), and proven that a modern business can do well there despite the obstacles.
Digital Mapping to put Slums on the MapDevelopment Challenges: People are now turning to the growing penetration of digital technologies into slums and poor areas to find solutions. With mobile phones available across much of the global South, and plans underway to expand access to broadband internet even in poorly served Africa, it is becoming possible to develop a digital picture of a slum area and map its needs and population.
Innovation Villages Tackling MDGsDevelopment Challenges: The global economic crisis that began to roll across the world in September 2008 is threatening gains made against poverty and hunger all over the South. As Kevin Watkins from UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report told the Financial Times, “With the slowdown in growth in 2009, we estimate that the average income of the 391 million Africans living on less than US $1.25 a day will take a 20 percent hit.”
New Appetite for Nutritious Traditional VegetablesDevelopment Challenges: Throughout the history of farming, around 7,000 species of plants have been domesticated. Yet everyday diets only draw on 30 percent of these plants and even this number has been going down as more people consume mass-market foods (FAO).
African Countries Re-branding for New Economic RoleDevelopment Challenges: Africa’s diverse countries have been subject to years of negative stories in the media. The effect on global audiences has left many to cast the whole continent in a bad light and to know little about the individual countries and cultures. This has damaged business confidence over the years. Just like products and people, nations need to have a strong and positive brand to do well in the global economy.
Tiny Homes to Meet Global Housing CrisisDevelopment Challenges: More than 1 billion people around the world lack decent shelter. Of these, the majority live in urban areas, usually in slums and informal settlements (UN-HABITAT). The world’s megacities – like Mumbai, India, where more than 22 million live in the metropolitan region – have to find a way to provide housing that is both affordable and does the minimum possible amount of harm to the environment.
Ending Gang Violence While Cleaning the Streets in HaitiDevelopment Challenges: The Caribbean nation of Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with 80 percent of the population living below the poverty line (CIA World Factbook). The country had been enjoying some positive economic growth since 2005 after decades of economic and political turmoil.
Growing a Southern Brand to Global Success: The Olam StoryDevelopment Challenges: Most people haven’t heard of Olam International, but they know the brands they work for and they more than likely eat their produce. The story of Olam (www.olamonline.com) – a global food supply company in ‘agri-products’ that got its start in Nigeria – shows how a Southern brand can grow and go global, and overcome the difficulties of cross-border trade.
Making the World a Better Place for Southern ProjectsDevelopment Challenges: An exciting new initiative based in Germany, but already featuring hundreds of projects from across the South, is using the power of the internet to directly connect projects and donors.
Bamboo Becomes Transport Option for the SouthDevelopment Challenges: The sturdy bamboo plant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo) is enjoying a revival around the world as a building material. A strong, fast-growing and highly renewable woody plant, it is becoming increasingly popular as people seek out less environmentally wasteful alternatives to steel and other materials.
Kenyan Mobile Phone InnovationsDevelopment Challenges: A couple of enterprising Kenyan engineering students are showing how mobile phones are an inventor’s dream. Their two inventions – one a way to re-charge phones while bicycling, the other an aid for catching fish – show the potential for adapting this technology to the needs of the poor.
Info Ladies and Question Boxes: Reaching Out to the PoorDevelopment Challenges: Quick access to accurate and useful information is crucial for development. With the remarkable spread of information around the world via the Internet – one of the greatest achievements of the 21st century – more than 1.5 billion people now use the Web to boost their incomes and opportunities (Internet World Stats).
Avoiding Wasting Food and Human Potential with ICTsDevelopment Challenges: Creative use of information technology in the South is helping to address two very different kinds of waste – of food and of human and community potential.
Toilet Malls Make Going BetterDevelopment Challenges: Across the global South, clever entrepreneurs are transforming services that were bare-bones, grim and out-of-date into modern facilities packed with features that help to pay for their operation. In Kenya, an entrepreneur has used this approach to transform the poor quality of public toilets.
Crowdsourcing Mobile Phones to Make the Poor MoneyDevelopment Challenges The proliferation of mobile phones across the global South, reaching even the poorest places on the planet, has given birth to whole new ways of making money. A phenomenon called ‘crowdsourcing’ – in which the power of individuals is harvested to achieve a goal – is now being used to create networks of people earning extra income.
Tourist Passion for Quirky Holidays Helps SouthDevelopment Challenges:Conventional thinking holds that any country with a poor or non-existent reputation in the international media will not attract tourists. But this conventional thinking is wrong: The hottest tourist trend for 2009 is directly benefiting the South’s more out-of-the-way and under-appreciated countries. So says a travel expert who specializes in overlooked travel destinations.
Protecting Threatened Fruits and Nuts in Central AsiaDevelopment Challenges: Between 94,000 and 144,000 plant species — a quarter to a half of the world’s total — could die out in the coming years, according to an estimate by Scientific American (2002). Among them are vital food crops, threatened by a world in which climate change is causing more weather turbulence and diseases and viruses can spread rapidly and destroy crops.
Southern Drink Challenges Corporate DominanceDevelopment Challenges: Across the global South, its thirsty people have long been a target market for Northern drinks companies. The ubiquity of the American soft drink Coca Cola, or even its rival Pepsi Cola, is testimony to that. Even the most remote village on the impoverished island of Haiti can offer an ice-cold Coke.
Kenyan Eco-Village Being Built by Slum-DwellersDevelopment Challenges: A Kenyan eco-village is helping slum dwellers to start new lives and increase their wealth. The community, Kaputei, is being built by former slum residents – some of whom used to beg to survive – and is providing new homes with electricity, running water and services like schools and parks. By building their own homes, with the help of affordable mortgage loans, the residents are able to make a big upgrade to their quality of life while acquiring real wealth.
Taxis Promote African Music BeatsDevelopment Challenges: South Africa’s township music is pounding its way into the global music charts. How has music made in the impoverished townships that are a hangover from decades of apartheid – the country’s former racial separation laws, which trapped millions of black South Africans in disenfranchisement and poverty – travelled around the world? By hitching a ride with the country’s ubiquitous taxi drivers.
Successful Fuel-Efficient Cookers Show the WayDevelopment Challenges: Kenyan entrepreneur has cooked up a fuel-efficient stove and oven that uses less of a precious national resource: wood from trees. Most African households using fuel-burning stoves either cannot afford clean-burning fuels like natural gas or electric stoves, or do not have access to them. They are stuck having to burn wood or other materials like animal dung – collectively called biomass – on open fires.
A New Mobile Phone Aimed at the PoorDevelopment Challenges: A low-cost Venezuelan mobile phone aimed at the South’s poor is proving that South-South technological cooperation works. Packed with features and costing no more than US $15 – making it one of the cheapest mobile handsets in the world – the phone is aimed at the fast-growing mobile market across the global South.
African Online Supermarket Set to Boost TradeDevelopment Challenges: African Online Supermarket Set to Boost Trade Online retailing and marketing strategies are revolutionizing how people around the world buy products and services – but so far they have not benefited most of Africa’s small businesses and traders. On a continent where trading for survival is the norm, very few people are reaping the benefits of selling on the Internet.
Rebuilding After Chinese Earthquake: Beautiful Bamboo HomesDevelopment Challenges: It has been a year since the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China that killed more than 70,000 people. Getting Sichuan back to normal is critical for not only the province’s people, but for all of China. Sichuan is China’s rice bowl, growing more food than any other province. But despite the abundance of food, Sichuan remains poor and has seen its working age population move away for work. If it is to have a viable future then its communities need to get back to normal as fast as possible – and its farming economy back to full production.
SOS Shops Keep Food Affordable for Poor, UnemployedDevelopment Challenges: As the global downturn bears down on country after country, governments around the world are introducing austerity measures to try to keep their economies going. Many countries are now facing financial crisis and the need for loans and support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Formerly comfortable people are going from regular employment to unemployment or erratic employment, and growing numbers of people are finding it hard even to afford basics such as food.
Cleaner Stoves To Reduce Global WarmingDevelopment Challenges: The use of polluting fuel-burning stoves by half the world’s population – including 80 percent of rural households – is a documented contributor to a host of health problems. Poor households not only have to contend with the ill health effects of dirty water and poor sanitation, the fumes from burning dung, wood, coal or crop leftovers lead to the deaths of more than 1.6 million people a year from breathing toxic indoor air (WHO).
Solar Powered Village Kick-Starts Development Goals Development Challenges: More than 1.7 billion people around the world have no domestic electricity supply, of whom more than 500 million live in sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank). Without electricity, many development goals remain dreams that will never be achieved. But in a first for India, a village is now entirely powered by solar energy, kick-starting its development and reversing the decline common to many villages.
Rainforest Gum Gets Global MarketDevelopment Challenges: Mexico is home to the second largest rainforest in the Americas after the Amazon jungle. But the country’s forests face serious threats from logging, cattle ranching and agriculture. As much as 80 percent of Mexico’s original forests have already been lost. A group of Mexican farmers is now using sophisticated product marketing to preserve their income, and the 1.3 million hectares of rainforest as well.
Disabled Congolese Musicians Become World HitDevelopment Challenges: A group of Congolese musicians is using music to overcome obstacles – both economic and social – that come with being disabled in a poor country. Called Staff Benda Bilili, they are on course to be a global sensation and are looking forward to their first European tour. A remarkable achievement for anyone from a war-torn country, let alone for musicians who live as paraplegics in the slums of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinshasa).
Camel Ice Cream Delivering Desert Dessert Development Challenges: The global food crisis is forcing people around the world to think differently about how food is produced and what new products can boost the incomes of farmers. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for food production to increase 50 percent by 2030 just to meet rising demand – and right now there are 862 million people worldwide who are undernourished (FAO). The world’s over 19.4 million camels (FAO, 2003) are now being tapped for their highly nutritious, healing and tasty milk.
Finding Fortune in Traditional MedicineDevelopment Challenges:Traditional medicines and treatments could help provide the next wave of affordable drugs and medicines for the world. But a phenomenon known as ‘bio-prospecting’ – in which global companies grab a stake in these once-free medicines – has been placing traditional medicines out of reach of Southern entrepreneurs.
Accessing Global Markets Via Design SolutionsDevelopment Challenges:The power of design to improve products and the way they are manufactured is increasingly being seen as a critical component of successful economic development.
Berber Hip Hop Helps Re-ignite Culture and EconomyDevelopment Challenges: Music is being used to revive the ancient language of the original North African desert dwellers, the Berbers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berber_people). And in the process, it is spawning a whole new generation of entrepreneurs and generating income.
Cashing in on Music in BrazilDevelopment Challenges: Brazilian musicians have found a way to prosper and exploit the realities of music distribution in the modern age. The biggest problem for most artists – both beginners and those who are more established – is how to earn an income from their work. In the digital age, it is next to impossible to stop people freely copying your work and passing it on.
Cuba’s Hurricane Recovery SolutionDevelopment Challenges: The frequency of extreme weather in the past decade has been attributed to global warming (http://tinyurl.com/5peel). Many scientists believe the future will bring even more turbulent weather events and disasters. The devastation and hardship brought by natural disasters can eradicate development gains, and destroy livelihoods and health. It is critical countries help people to get back to their normal lives as fast as possible.
Afghanistan’s Juicy Solution to Drug TradeDevelopment Challenges:Afghanistan is the world’s largest source of the illegal drugs opium and heroin (International Narcotics Control Board), both of which are derived from the bright-red flower, the poppy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poppy).The country produced 8,200 tons of heroin in 2007, up 34 percent from the previous year.The negative consequences of the flourishing drug trade are numerous: it is destabilizing Afghanistan’s neighbours and undermining political and legal institutions, addiction rates are soaring, and addicts are spreading HIV/AIDS.
DIY Solution Charges Mobile Phones with BatteriesDevelopment Challenges: There are now more than 3.5 billion mobile phones in use around the world. In the past five years, their use and distribution has exploded across the global South, including in once hard-to-reach places in Africa. In fact, Africa is the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market. Over the past five years the continent’s mobile phone usage has increased at an annual rate of 65 percent – twice the rate of Asia.
African Bus to Tackle African RoadsDevelopment Challenges: Roads in many parts of Africa are rough at best, and hostile to vehicles designed with smooth, flat highways in mind. Even in countries like South Africa, where modern highways are common, a quick turn off the smooth highway to visit many communities will mean tackling makeshift dirt roads. In these conditions, buses imported from Western Europe are at a disadvantage when they hit the bone-jarring reality of potholed roads.
Debt-free Homes For the PoorDevelopment Challenges: As the population around the world’s cities grows, and slums grow larger and more prevalent, the urgent need for affordable and decent housing becomes more pressing. The world’s megacities – like Buenos Aires, Argentina, where more than 13 million live in the metropolitan region – have to find a way to provide housing that is both cheap and does the minimum possible amount of harm to the environment.
Rickshaw Drivers Prosper with New ServicesDevelopment Challenges:The rickshaw is the world’s oldest form of wheeled transportation and forms a significant part of India’s transport infrastructure. In large cities across Asia, 1 million three-wheeled auto-rickshaws form an important means of daily transportation and a vital source of income for their drivers. There are 8 million cycle rickshaws on the streets of India, the government says. They perform many tasks: as taxis, as couriers, as goods movers. And the Indian government promotes cycle rickshaws as a non-polluting alternative.
Venezuela’s Currencies Promote Cooperation Not CompetitionDevelopment Challenges: The global economic crisis has spread around the world and is bringing many problems in its wake. As global currency markets gyrate wildly, and people find they can go from having wealth to being poor almost overnight, the question is being asked: “is there another way?”
Kenyan Bank Helps the Poor and Gets RichDevelopment Challenges: Good quality banking services are a basic building block to rising incomes. Yet the poor across the South are often overlooked and denied access to savings accounts and loans. Many low-income people are openly discriminated against as ‘bad risks’ by banks, and denied the sort of banking services middle and higher income people take for granted. Yet it is a myth that the poor do not have money or do not wish to save and invest for their future or for business.
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.
Mapping to Protect Kenya’s Environment: the eMazingira SolutionDevelopment Challenges: Powerful new grassroots crowd-mapping tools have sprung up in the past few years across the global South, from Brazil’s Wikicrimes (www.wikicrimes.org) real-time crime mapping technology to the now famous Ushahidi (http://ushahidi.com) – a non-profit company making the free and open source Ushahidi software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping – from its base in Kenya. They share some common features. All draw on the widespread use of mobile phones in the global South combined with growing access to the Internet, either through 3G mobile phone services, WiFi wireless connections, Internet centres or increasingly available broadband Internet services.
Building an Interactive Radio Network for Farmers in NigeriaDevelopment Challenges: As solar power technology has improved, new pioneers have emerged to exploit this innovation. Several decades ago, solar power was seen as too expensive for wide-scale roll out in poor countries and communities. But today, an army of solar technology pioneers has fanned out across the world to show the new wave of innovations and how they make solar power affordable.
African Manufacturing Pioneers Proving it is Possible to ThriveDevelopment Challenges: Africa’s paradox is that it is home to the greatest share of the world’s unexploited resources, yet has some of the world’s lowest per capita incomes. History has shown that exploiting the continent’s resources alone for export markets does little to improve incomes and living conditions in Africa, which in turn does nothing to improve human development. The key to resolving this paradox is made-in-Africa jobs, in particular high-value jobs that make products.
Indian City Slum Areas Become Newly Desirable Places to LiveDevelopment Challenges: With India’s urban economy experiencing rapid growth, its slums – once seen as the most undesirable places to live in the country, if not on Earth – are attracting the attention of affluent residents and developers in India’s rapidly expanding cities. The prosperity in India’s cities has made these areas’ proximity to business and entertainment zones highly desirable. In turn, this has led to slum dwellers either upgrading their homes and in the process boosting their value, or being offered the opportunity to sell their rudimentary dwellings to real estate agents and property developers.
Recycling Waste to Boost Incomes and OpportunitiesDevelopment Challenges: We all know that green is good, but often the best way to encourage recycling and other environment-improving activities is to put in place economic incentives. It is one thing to admonish people and tell them something is the right thing to do; it is another to make keeping a clean environment pay.
Virtual Supermarket Shopping Takes off in ChinaDevelopment Challenges: An ingenious use of technological innovation and savvy trend-spotting is radically transforming the way people do their grocery shopping in China. Busy urban dwellers with time-poor lifestyles can now do their grocery shopping as they pass through Shanghai’s subway system and have their weekly shopping delivered to their home.
Bolivia Grabs World Media Attention with Salt HotelDevelopment Challenges: Tourism is a great way to attract foreign currency to a country and build local economies, especially in remote or isolated places. But the catch is finding a way to get people to go the distance and come and visit and spend their money.
Indian Mobile Phone Application Innovators Empower Citizens Development Challenges: With mobile phones becoming ubiquitous across the global South, the opportunity to make money – and possible fortunes – by providing ‘apps’ for these devices is now a reality.
Mapping Beirut Brings City to LightDevelopment Challenges: As cities in the global South grow ever larger, their often-chaotic evolution can create sprawling urban mazes that would confuse even the brightest brains.
Putting Quality and Design at the Centre of Chinese FashionDevelopment Challenges: Awareness of the sourcing of materials for fashion has been on the rise in the past decade. Concerns about how the global fashion industry functions and its impact on the environment have given rise to savvy retailers who take care over the sourcing of their materials and the working conditions of their employees.
Cheap Indian Tablet Seeks to Bridge Digital Divide Development Challenges:India has had many false starts in innovating in information technology. While the country and its talented army of software engineers have a global reputation for innovation, the fits and starts that have accompanied attempts to create new hardware and devices have drawn a range of emotions, from amusement to frustration.
Filipino Architect wants to Transform Slum with New PlanDevelopment Challenges: A clash is occurring across the global South over the future of urban planning and the ever-growing slums of the world’s megacities. This will be a decisive clash of visions: should cities flatten slums and relocate their residents, or work with slum dwellers, acknowledge the role they play in city economies and improve their lives with better dwellings?
Model City to Test the New Urbanism Concept in IndiaDevelopment Challenges: India’s phenomenal economic growth rate – forecast to be 7.9 percent this year by the Asian Development Bank, after averaging 7.7 percent per year over the past decade – has been the force behind an expanding middle class population, now estimated at 50 million people (McKinsey). Forecasts see it swelling from 5 percent of the population to 40 percent by 2025.
Pulque: Aztec Drink Ferments New EconomyDevelopment Challenges:Reviving traditional foods and drinks can be an income-boosting source of new economic activity. Many cultures can benefit from looking again at their rich traditions to find new ways to increase enterprise. This can be difficult at first. Big global brands have many initial advantages: they are backed by wealthy and experienced international companies and can deploy aggressive marketing and distribution power to get products into the hands of consumers. The power of Coca Cola to reach all corners of the earth is legendary.
Ghana: Oil-rich City Sparks Entrepreneurs and DebateDevelopment Challenges: Commodity booms can seem like the answer to a poor nation’s prayers, a way to fulfil all their development dreams and goals. The reality, however, is far more complex. More often than not, the discovery of resources sparks a mad scramble for profits and patronage, as politicians and politically connected elites carve out their slice of the new resource boom before anyone else.
Anti-bribery Website in India Inspires Others Development Challenges: An Indian website tackling corruption has been so successful it has inspired a wave of followers in China. The I Paid a Bribe website – motto: “Uncover the Market Price of Corruption” – was set up by the Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy (www.janaagraha.org), a non-profit organisation based in Bangalore, India.
Turning African Youth on to TechnologyDevelopment Challenges: An African NGO believes the Internet is the single biggest key to rapid development in Africa – and it is working to connect youth, women and rural populations to the web, and in turn, switch them on to the vast resources stored across the world’s Internet sites.
Pakistan Simplifies Job-matching ServicesDevelopment Challenges: An innovative job-matching service from Pakistan is trying to bring together people who normally live separate lives. It is eliminating the middlemen who gouge both employers and employees for job-seeking fees and opening up a new world of opportunities for the poor.
Data Surge across Global South Promises to Re-shape the Internet Development Challenges: The deluge of data gathered by the digital revolution underway in the global South continues to offer a significant economic opportunity. How this data is harvested will forge the successful Internet business models of the future.
Bringing the Invention and Innovation Mindset to Young Kenyans Development Challenges: A highly innovative new way to teach the basics of electronics, computing and technological innovation is being pioneered in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Driven by the desire to counter perceptions of apathy among young people, NGO Kuweni Serious is running a training course for girls aged over 8 years in some of the poorest parts of the city to turn on a new generation to the power of technology to make change.
Arab World Domain Name Opportunity Huge Economic HelpDevelopment Challenges: With the so-called Arab Spring still unfolding across much of the Arabic-speaking world, it is easy to miss a rising new economic opportunity: The introduction of an Arabic domain name system for the Internet.
African Youth Want to do Business in Fast-growing Economy Development Challenges: Africa’s growing economy is meeting head-on an optimistic young population keen to start businesses. At least that is what a new poll of African youth says, finding that one in five Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 without a current business wants to start one in the next 12 months.
Kenyan Safari Begins Minutes from AirportDevelopment Challenges: Many people find the prospect of staying in airport hotels dreary at best. They tend to be located in industrial parts of cities or far from city centres. They can be surrounded by roads and highways and are built to move lots of people, not to look nice. The surrounding areas can be very common to all nations – warehouses, office parks, nondescript restaurants and hotels – and give few clues to where you are apart from the weather and the languages on the sign boards.
Brazilian Restaurant Serves Amazonian TreatsDevelopment Challenges: The vast Amazon rainforest has inspired a cuisine pioneer in Brazil. Combining the sensual pleasures of fine dining and the joy of tasting new flavours with a pursuit of sustainable and profitable local farming, a chef is inventing a new Brazilian cuisine and showing the way to create sustainable incomes.
Civet Cat Coffee Brews Filipino OpportunityDevelopment Challenges: In the Philippines, one animal’s call of nature has become a business opportunity.The civet cat, a member of the mongoose family, ingests the fruit of coffee plants, and expels the beans. This has created an unexpected by-product – a prized beverage for the world’s savvy coffee drinkers seeking the next taste sensation. The partially digested coffee beans are gathered from the faeces of the cat and used to make a much-coveted, smooth-flavoured cup of coffee.
Indonesia Best for EntrepreneursDevelopment Challenges: A global survey has unearthed hotspots across the global South for start-up businesses and private enterprise. It shows there are now many places in the South where people are actively encouraged to start businesses and engage in innovation and enterprise. The top place in the world for entrepreneurship, according to the survey for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), is Indonesia.
The e-Reader Battle Reaches IndiaDevelopment Challenges: The rise and rise of e-books and electronic publishing has prompted the development of e-readers: handy, portable devices that try to mimic the reading experience of paper books while offering the storage and navigation capability of computers.
African Botanicals to be used to Boost Fight against Parasites Development Challenges: More than 1 billion people in the developing world currently suffer from tropical diseases, which leave a trail of disfigurement, disability and even death. Yet only 16 out of 1,393 – 0.01 percent – of new medicines marketed between 1975 and 1999 targeted tropical diseases (International Journal of Public Health).
Floating Bank Floats New Dreams for Brazilian Middle Class Development Challenges: Brazil’s booming economy has seen a dramatic increase in the size of its middle class. More and more people have been lifted out of poverty as a growing, stable economy overcomes years of political and economic instability. In 2010, Brazil’s economy grew by a record 7.5 percent, surpassing a previous peak in 1986 (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) (IBGE) (www.ibge.gov.br/english). The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) reached 3.67 trillion reais (US $2.21 trillion) in 2010, making it Latin America’s largest economy.
Indonesian Food Company Helps Itself by Making Farmers More Efficient Development Challenges: The current global economic crisis is taking place at the same time as a global food crisis. Food inflation took off at the beginning of 2011. This is having a devastating affect on countries dependent on food imports and experiencing decreasing domestic production capabilities. The least developed countries (LDCs) saw food imports rise from US $9 billion in 2002, to US $23 billion by 2008 (UNCTAD), prompting Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary general of UNCTAD, to say “the import dependence has become quite devastating.”
Indian Toilet Pioneer Champions Good Ideas Development Challenges:Access to adequate sanitation and toilet facilities is critical to making development gains. Yet this simple fact of life often gets overlooked, especially in fast-growing cities where populations are on the rise or in transit. Out of an estimated 2.6 billion people in the world without toilets, two-thirds are in southern and eastern Asia (World Toilet Organization).
Solar Sisters Doing it for Themselves: Tackling African Light Famine Development Challenges: A social enterprise is seeking to capture the power of the sun to bring light and economic opportunity to women in Africa. Using a direct-marketing distribution system, it sells solar lamps and lanterns to some of Africa’s remotest communities. Solar Sister (www.solarsister.org), launched in Uganda in 2010, is hoping to do for power generation what mobile phones have done for communication in Africa: make a technological leap to a model of grassroots power generation, rather than waiting for large-scale power schemes to eventually reach the poor and rural.
South Africa Innovates Healthcare with Prepay Phone Vouchers Development Challenges: Pioneers in Africa are experimenting with new ways to fund the delivery of healthcare that is affordable and sustainable and not dependent on foreign aid and donations. A South African company is prototyping the selling of pre-payment healthcare services through mobile phones with a range of vouchers that can be bought and downloaded at the tap of a keypad.
Indian ID Project is Foundation for Future Economic Progress Development Challenges: India is in the midst of the biggest national identification project in the country’s history. The aim is for every Indian to receive a voluntaryelectronic identification card containing his or her details and a unique number. Called an Aadhaar, it is a 12-digit unique number registered with the Unique Identification Authority of India (http://uidai.gov.in) (UIDAI). The project joins a growing trend across the global South to map populations in order to better achieve development goals.
Ghana’s Funeral Economy Innovates and Exports Development Challenges: The West African nation of Ghana’s funeral economy is attracting innovation and grabbing attention outside the country. The nation’s elaborate – but expensive – funeral rituals provide craftsmen with a good income. And new products are being introduced to handle the financial consequences of this unavoidable fact of life.
Bolivian Film School’s Film Scene Paying Off Development Challenges: A film school in Bolivia shows how a creative hub can become the start of something much bigger. The school is inspiring a new generation of young people to get into filmmaking. And one of its lecturers is already experiencing global success acting in an award-winning new Spanish film.
Happy Nigeria: West African Nation Has Good Attitude Development Challenges: 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.
Cambodian Bloggers Champion New, Open Ways Development Challenges: The Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia has had a very difficult history over the past few decades. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was seen as a glamorous and vibrant place. Dynamic, ambitious and newly independent from French colonial rule, Cambodia embarked on an extensive programme of building that is now called “New Khmer Architecture.” It is the most visible legacy of this modernizing time.
China Consumer Market: Asian Perspective HelpsDevelopment Challenges:The rise of China since 1989 has been the most remarkable development story of our times. The number of people lifted out of poverty is historically unprecedented: 65 percent of Chinese people lived below the poverty line in 1981; in 2007 it was 4 percent (World Bank).
Disaster Recovery, Ten Years After: The Gujarat, India Experience Development Challenges: In the past decade, there have been many devastating natural disasters, from Iran’s 2003 Bam earthquake and the Asian tsunami of 2004 to Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005 and the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti in 2010. All of these events received extensive media attention and drew a large aid response. Those who track natural disasters have noticed a serious increase in frequency over the past decade (http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article26290.html).
Chilean Eco-Buildings Pioneering Construction MethodsDevelopment Challenges: Across the global South, the search is on for new ways to build without extracting a high price from local environments.More and more people are recognizing the advantages of energy-saving methods like prefabrication. Prefab building techniques involve assembling a structure from pre-assembled parts or modules made in a factory, or transporting a completed, factory-made structure to a site (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prefabricated_building).
Model Cities Across the South Challenge Old WaysDevelopment Challenges: Pioneering thinking about how resources are used and how people live their lives is taking place in the dynamic economies of the global South. Facing a vast population surge to urban areas, these include attempts to build “green” cities and low-waste, smart and digital communities.
Indian Newspapers Thrive with Economy Development 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.
Extra story: 2011 Trends for the South Development Challenges: The world has been through a dramatic and fascinating period since the global economic crisis erupted in 2008. While the wealthy, developed nations of the North have been pitched into one crisis after another, the countries of the global South (many of whom are well accustomed to crises) have been part of a powerful new economic phenomenon: the rapid growth of South-South trade, investment and exchange. Its effects include stronger ties between Asia and South America and between China and Africa.
Africa’s Consumer Market in Spotlight for 2011Development Challenges:While other parts of the world will spend 2011 worrying about their debt levels and how to spur economic growth, many factors are pointing to Africa potentially following a different story. A frenzy of activity has been building around Africa’s market opportunities and its growing middle class consumer population.
China’s Booming Wine Market Can Boost SouthDevelopment Challenges: A great South-South opportunity has emerged with the recent boom in wine drinking in China and the pursuit of quality tastes. Matching high-quality wine producers from the global South – including South Africa, Chile, Morocco, and Lebanon – with China’s thirsty wine drinkers could deliver a major income boost.
Food Inflation: Ways to Fight ItDevelopment Challenges: Food inflation has taken off at the beginning of 2011. As the global economic crisis enters its next phase, both developed and developing countries are experiencing inflation. There are many factors fuelling the rise in prices – inefficient distribution and storage systems, lack of investment in agriculture, devaluing currencies, high demand, natural and man-made disasters, use of food products like corn to make biofuels – but there are also ways to counter the effects of food inflation that have been tried and tested across the South.
Turning Animal Waste Into PaperDevelopment Challenges: Animal waste is a messy fact of daily life in rural communities across the global South. This byproduct of life has many uses – but an ingredient for making writing paper is probably not the first that springs to mind.
New Cities Offering Solutions for Growing Urban Populations Development Challenges: Across the global South, new cities are being dreamed up by architects, city planners and governments, or are already under construction. Two new urban areas being built offer lessons for others in the global South. They both deploy intelligent solutions to the combined demands of urbanization, growing populations and rising expectations.
Creating Green Fashion in China Development Challenges: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.
Biogas Digester-in-a-Bag Brings Portability Development Challenges:Securing energy sources that are cheap (or free) and renewable can significantly reduce the cost of living for the world’s poor. The cost of fuel for essentials such as cooking and lighting can quickly eat up household incomes.
Powerful Solar Light Spurring Income-Making Opportunities Development Challenges: A clever innovator from India has built a highly durable solar lantern that also doubles as a mobile phone charger.
Global South Urbanization Does Not Have to Harm Biodiversity Development Challenges: How to balance fragile ecosystems with rapid urbanization will be the challenge for planners and governments across the global South in the coming years. The urbanization trend is clear: the world’s total urban area is expected to triple between 2000 and 2030, with urban populations set to double to around 4.9 billion in the same period (UNEP). This urban expansion will draw heavily on water and other natural resources and will consume prime agricultural land.
All-in-One Solar Kiosk Business Solution for Africa Development Challenges: Kiosks are ubiquitous throughout commercial areas in the global South. These highly efficient little business outlets enable small-scale entrepreneurs to sell necessary products without the expense of renting and running a shop.
Ugandan Fish Sausages Transform Female Fortunes Development Challenges: What to do when your food production enterprise is just not making much money? It is a common problem in the global South, where farmers and fishers often struggle to survive and can face the threat of bankruptcy and destitution when trying to provide essential food for their communities.
Woman Restaurant Entrepreneur Embraces Brand-Driven Growth Development Challenges: The journey of Zhang Lan is the tale of an entrepreneur who exemplifies the story of globalization. She has gone from working many part-time jobs while studying overseas, to becoming one of China’s most successful food entrepreneurs.
Better by Design in ChinaDevelopment Challenges: In recent decades, China has been known more for its inexpensive manufactured goods than as a producer of high quality products. But this is changing as the country seeks to move up the economic chain.
Energy-Efficient Wooden Houses are also Earthquake Safe Development Challenges:In Argentina, an innovative housing project has married good design with energy efficiency, earthquake resilience and the use of local materials and labour. As energy resources continue to be stretched around the global South, innovative building designs will be critical to the creation of sustainable housing for the future.
Chinese Building Solution for Rapidly Urbanizing Global South Development Challenges:The global South is currently experiencing the biggest surge in urban population ever seen in human history. This transformation from urban to rural is happening in many different ways across the global South. Some countries have highly detailed plans and are building new cities from scratch, while other countries feel overwhelmed by their booming urban populations.
Diaspora Bonds to Help Build up Infrastructure Development Challenges: Many people are aware of the significant role played in global development by remittance payments from migrant workers working in the wealthy North to the global South. But they may not be aware of the significant sums migrant workers have saved in bank accounts in these wealthy countries. Across the global South, efforts are underway to lure these sums back to home countries to boost development efforts.
African Supercomputers to Power Next Phase of Development Development Challenges:Information technology developments in Africa have long lagged behind those in other parts of the world. But the transformation being brought about by the widespread adoption and use of mobile phones – each one a mini-computer – and the expansion of undersea fibre optic cable connections to Africa are creating the conditions for an exciting new phase of computing growth on the continent.
Africa to Get Own Internet Domain Development Challenges: Africa is in the midst of an Internet revolution that is set only to accelerate. The continent is one of the last places to experience the information technology revolution that has swept the world in the past two decades.
Geothermal Energy to Boost Global South’s Development Development Challenges: The geothermal heat produced by the earth’s molten core is a resource receiving more and more attention across the global South.
Free Magazine Boosts Income for Rickshaw Drivers Development Challenges:In the bustling, congested cities of Asia, rickshaws and auto-rickshaws are common forms of transport. Smaller, cheaper and more nimble than cars, they play a key role in the transit infrastructure, helping to get people to work and to get around.
Design Collaborations Revitalize Traditional Craft Techniques Development Challenges:Keeping alive traditional craft techniques and methods in the age of globalization is a tricky balance to get right. As countries seek to increase living standards and income, traditional craft-making methods are often jettisoned in favour of attracting manufacturing and other high-value activities – meaning rich and potentially lucrative skills can be lost.
Profile of African Innovators Continues to Rise Development Challenges:A mix of developments is proving that African innovators no longer need to see themselves as lone operators working in isolation.
The Water-Free South African Bathing Solution Development Challenges: As the world’s population grows from its current 7 billion to a projected 9 billion in 2050 (UN), competition for access to the Earth’s resources will become fiercer. The most essential resource for life on the planet – and an increasingly precious resource – is water. Water is necessary for the very survival of humans, animals and plants, and is also used in vast quantities by industries and farms.
Mobile Phone Shopping to Create Efficient Markets across BordersDevelopment Challenges: An anticipated game-changing revolution in African trading set for 2013 is getting one innovative business very excited.
Egyptian Youth Turns Plastic Waste into FuelDevelopment Challenges: The challenge of finding alternate fuel sources is capturing the imagination of innovators across the global South. As the world’s population increases – it recently reached 7 billion (UN) – and the number of people seeking a better life grows in turn, the energy demands on the planet are pushing up competition for existing conventional fuel sources.
Shopping and Flying in Africa’s Boom TownsDevelopment Challenges: As economies across Africa grow, the continent still has a long way to go to create infrastructure to match people’s rising expectations of what a modern, prosperous life looks like.
Teenager Uses Technology to Protect Livestock from Lions Development Challenges: In Kenya, a teenage Maasai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_people) inventor has developed a way to chase lions away from livestock that doesn’t harm the lions. It is a common practice to kill lions when they threaten or kill livestock, and this has led to a precipitous drop in the local lion population at Nairobi National Park (http://www.kws.org/parks/parks_reserves/NANP.html/), near the country’s capital, Nairobi. Lions are a significant tourist attraction for Kenya and the population decline is a threat to the future of the tourist industry.
African Innovation Eco-system Taking ShapeDevelopment Challenges: How to increase the rate of innovation in Africa? And specifically, innovation that actually improves people’s lives and reduces poverty. It is a hard question to answer, but some are putting in place the building blocks of a 21st century innovation culture by riding the information technology revolution as it rolls across Africa.
African Fuel Pioneer Uses Crisis to InnovateDevelopment Challenges: Crisis, as the old saying goes, is also a window of opportunity. And there is one African entrepreneur who knows this better than most. Daniel Mugenga has been on a journey of innovation that has led him to become a pioneer in the emerging new field of algae technologies. The story of how he got there is a testament to the power of using business to both solve problems and make profits.
Indian Entrepreneur Brings Dignity to Poor WomenDevelopment Challenges: Driven by the revelation that his wife was torn between spending money on milk for the children and buying commercially manufactured sanitary napkins, Indian innovator and inventor Arunachalam Muruganantham embarked on a long and intensive journey to find a solution. His achievement – a simple machine – is bringing dignity to poor women and providing them with a much-needed income source.
Turning Human Waste to Fertilizer: An African SolutionDevelopment Challenges: While South Africa has been free of the racist Apartheid regime since the mid-1990s, the expected boost to living standards for the majority black population has not been as widespread and as quick as many had expected.
East Africa to get its First Dedicated Technology CityDevelopment Challenges: An ambitious scheme is underway to create a vast technology city on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya.
Indonesian Wooden Radio Succeeds with Good DesignDevelopment Challenges: One Indonesian industrial designer has pioneered an innovative business that has rejuvenated the economy of a farming village and improved the sustainability of local forests – and he’s doing it all with wood.
Gobi Desert Wine to Tackle Poverty and Boost IncomesDevelopment Challenges: In the arid Gobi desert spanning the two Asian nations of China and Mongolia is a bold attempt to make wine and reduce poverty. The environment is harsh, with temperatures swinging from sub-zero winter cold to sweltering summer heat. The desert is also home to high winds and notorious dust storms that plague China’s capital Beijing every year.
Mauritanian Music Shop Shares Songs and FriendshipDevelopment Challenges: Around the world, traditional music stores selling vinyl records, tapes and CDs (compact discs) are closing down. Digital downloads distributed over the Internet and mobile phones make it unnecessary to build a music collection in these hard formats.
Global South Eco-cities Show How the Future Can BeDevelopment Challenges: The world is currently undergoing a high-stress transition on a scale not seen since the great industrial revolution that swept Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today’s urban and industrial transition involves many more people and is taking place on a greater proportion of the planet. With rapid urbanization comes a demand for middle class lifestyles, with their high-energy usage and high consumption of raw materials.
New Journal Celebrates Vibrancy of Modern Africa Development Challenges: Africa has seen huge changes to its communications and media in the past five years. The rise and rise of mobile phones, the expansion of the Internet and the explosion in African blogging and social media, on top of flourishing print and broadcast media, all bring an increasing range of options for telling African stories and increasing dialogue.
An Innovator’s ‘Big Chicken Agenda’ for AfricaDevelopment Challenges: Increasing the quantity and quality of food in Africa will be critical to improving the continent’s human development. And a key element in giving Africa a more secure food supply will be boosting science and knowledge on the continent and making sure it is focused on Africa’s needs and situation.
New Swimwear for Plus-size Women in BrazilDevelopment Challenges: Brazil is well known for its stylish swimwear, with styles usually targeted at young women and those with more conventional, media-friendly body shapes. But now a company is making visiting the beach more comfortable and empowering for plus-size women.
Havana’s Restaurant Boom Augers in New Age of EntrepreneursDevelopment Challenges: Cuba, the Caribbean island nation known for its 1959 revolution and its tourism industry, is undergoing a shift in its economic strategy. The country has had heavy state control of its industries and business activities since the country adopted the official policy of state socialism and joined the Communist economic sphere headed by the Soviet Union.
Global South’s Rising Megacities Challenge Idea of Urban LivingDevelopment Challenges:The world crossed the threshold from being a majority rural world to a majority urban one at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. The reason for this is the fast-growing urban areas of the global South. And this is having a profound affect on how the world’s people live.
Frugal Innovation Trend Meets Global South’s Innovation CultureDevelopment Challenges: There is a trend occurring across the global South that some are calling the next great wave of innovation. It has different names but many are dubbing it ‘frugal innovation’. Frugal innovation is basically innovation done with limited resources and investment. In short, innovation on the cheap but packing a big punch.
Battery Business Brings Tanzanians Cheap ElectricityDevelopment Challenges: Access to electricity is critical for making substantial development gains. With steady supplies of electricity, it is possible to read and study at night, to run modern appliances, to better use the latest information technologies and to work using time- and labour-saving devices. A home with electricity literally switches the light on modern life and gives a family huge advantages compared to those without electricity.
Global South’s Rising Economies Gain Investor Spotlight Development Challenges: A new book is arguing that the world’s attention should switch away from BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – and take another look at nations and regions elsewhere across the global South. It argues many are lodestones of future growth and prosperity in the making and will see dramatic changes over the next decade.
Hip-driven Pump Brings Water to Parched Fields Development Challenges:Finding ways to increase agricultural productivity is key to expanding food supplies and making farming pay. With the world’s population continuing to rise and becoming more urban, there is a pressing need to improve both the quantity and quality of food supplies.
Cooking Bag Helps Poor Households Save Time, Money Development Challenges: For millions of poor people around the world, life is lived on the economic margins and household and personal budgets are tight. There were 1.29 billion people in the world living on less than US $1.25 a day as of 2008 (World Bank), and 1.18 billion living on US $1.25 to US $2 per day. There was only a modest drop in the number of people living below US $2 per day – the average poverty line for developing countries – between 1981 and 2008, from 2.59 to 2.47 billion.
Help is at Hand for India’s Beleaguered Bus-ridersDevelopment Challenges:The website is a simple affair: a distinctive logo sits above a lean-looking booking system that allows users to enter their journey start and end destination, date and then click for available buses and prices. Its simplicity is deceptive: redBus is a smart technological solution to a very complicated problem in India: booking and buying a bus ticket. The service it offers – relief from a chaotic, frustrating and time-consuming task – is transforming the experience of travel in India.
China Looking to Lead on Robot Innovation Development Challenges: Since the 1950s, science fiction has been telling the world we will soon be living with robots. While robots have emerged, they have been mostly kept to heavy industry, where machines can perform dangerous, hot and unpleasant repetitive tasks to a high standard.
New Cuban Film Seeks to Revive SectorDevelopment Challenges: Since Cuba’s 1959 revolution, the country’s film sector has largely survived on the largesse of the state. The switch to Communism as the guiding economic model of the country after the revolution led, at first, to generous support to filmmakers. The government ranked cinema ahead of television seeing both cinema and television as the two most important forms of artistic expression in the country. But as state funding has dwindled in recent years, adventurous independent filmmakers have tried to keep the Cuban film tradition going using other sources.
India’s Modernizing Food Economy Unleashing New Opportunities Development Challenges: Increasing prosperity in India is reshaping the country’s relationship to its food. A number of trends are coming together that point to significant improvements to India’s long-running problems with food supply and distribution. This matters because India, despite its two-decade economic boom – and increasing middle-class population – is still home to about 25 per cent of the world’s hungry poor, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
Kenya Turns to Geothermal Energy for Electricity and GrowthDevelopment Challenges: In an effort to diversify its power supply and meet growing electricity demand, Kenya is looking to increase its use of geothermal energy sources (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_electricity). Tapping the abundant heat and steam that lurks underground to drive electric power plants offers a sustainable and long-term source of low-cost energy.
African Afro Beats Leads New Music Wave to EuropeDevelopment Challenges: A surge in interest in African music in Britain is creating new economic opportunities for the continent’s musicians. The new sound heating up the U.K. music scene is “Afro Beats” – a high energy hybrid that mixes Western rap influences with Ghanaian and Nigerian popular music.
Venture Capital Surge in Africa to Help BusinessesDevelopment Challenges: Africa’s potential economic powerhouse lies in its small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Foreign direct investment (FDI) into Africa ebbs and flows based on the state of the global economy – and most of it is directed towards large enterprises and multinational companies.
Business Leads on Tackling Violence in Mexican City Development Challenges: The damaging affects of crime and violence can ruin a city. They act as a drag on efforts to increase wealth and improve living conditions, and a city that gets a bad reputation, especially in the age of the Internet, will lose investment opportunities.
Africa’s Tourism Sector Can Learn from Asian Experience Development Challenges:Africa continues to be seen as new territory for global tourism, yet it still is not even close to meeting its potential, according to a report by a South African think tank. In fact, many resorts and tourist areas are failing to fill up with visitors. This contrasts with the booming world tourism industry, which broke records in arrivals in 2011 (UNWTO).
Designed in China to Rival ‘Made in China’ Development Challenges: Harnessing the power of design to improve products and the way they are manufactured is a critical component of successful economic development. And the high export value of designing and making “computer equipment, office equipment, telecommunication equipment, electric circuit equipment, and valves and transistors” was flagged up as a priority for developing nations back in 2005 at a meeting looking for “New and Dynamic Sectors of World Trade” (UNCTAD).
Microwork Pioneer Transforms Prospects for Poor, VulnerableDevelopment Challenges: A pioneering technology social enterprise has found a way to connect people around the world to the new digital economy, transforming their lives and providing long-term employment opportunities. It is closing the digital divide in a very practical way, teaching new skills and, most importantly, providing income to the poor and vulnerable.
African Farming Wisdom Now Scientifically ProvenDevelopment Challenges:Increasing the agricultural productivity of Africa is critical for the continent’s future development, and the world’s. Two-thirds of Africans derive their main income from agriculture, but the continent has the largest quantity of unproductive – or unused – potential agricultural land in the world.
Vietnam Launches Low-cost, High-Quality Video GameDevelopment Challenges: The creative economy offers huge opportunities to the countries of the global South. With the proliferation of new technologies – mobile phones, digital devices, personal computers with cheap or free software, the Internet – the tools to hand for creative people are immense. This begins to level the playing field and allows hardworking and talented people in poor countries to start to compete directly with those in wealthy countries.
Lagos Traffic Crunch Gets a New SolutionDevelopment Challenges: Around the world, traffic congestion is often accepted as the price paid for rapid development and a dynamic economy. But as anyone who lives in a large city knows, there comes a tipping point where the congestion begins to harm economic activity by wasting people’s time in lengthy and aggravating commuting, and leaving commuters frazzled and burned out by the whole experience.
New Kenyan Services to Innovate Mobile Health and FarmingDevelopment Challenges:Kenya is home to a vibrant innovation culture centred around mobile phones. While not all the services launched will be successful, the flurry of start-ups shows the country has the right combination of technical skills, bright ideas and cash to make a go of new services.
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Baker Cookstoves – Designing for the African CustomerDevelopment Challenges: An innovative social enterprise is using design to create an energy-efficient cookstove for Kenya. By turning to an experienced Swedish architecture and design firm, the people behind the Baker cookstove wanted to make sure the stove’s design was as efficient as possible and relevant to the customers’ needs, while also making sure it is visually appealing and something a person would proudly want in their home.
Texting for Cheaper Marketplace Food with SokoTextDevelopment Challenges: An international group of graduate-social entrepreneurs from the London School of Economics (LSE) is pioneering a way to reduce food prices in Kenya using mobile phones.
Ethiopia and Djibouti Join Push to Tap Geothermal Sources for Green EnergyDevelopment Challenges: Ethiopia and Djibouti are the latest global South countries to make a significant commitment to developing geothermal energy – a green energy source that draws on the heat below the earth’s surface (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_energy) – to meet future development goals.
Tackling China’s Air Pollution Crisis: An Innovative SolutionDevelopment Challenges: China reached an undesired landmark in 2013. While the country’s impressive economic growth has amazed the world, it has come at a price: pollution. China recorded record levels of smog in 2013, with some cities suffering air pollution many times above what is acceptable for human health.
Ghana Wants to Tap Global Trendy Party SceneDevelopment Challenges: Tourism is big business – and one of the most resilient parts of the global economy. Despite the international economic crisis that has wreaked havoc and increased unemployment and poverty in many countries since 2007, tourism is still going strong.
China Pushing Frontiers of Medical ResearchDevelopment Challenges: Cutting-edge medical research in China is promising to boost human health and development. Futuristic science is being conducted on a large scale and it is hoped this will increase the pace of discovery.
Perfume of Peace Helps Farmers Switch From Drug TradeDevelopment Challenges: A tragedy in a time of war has led to a social enterprise that is creating jobs – and making the world smell a little better, too.
US $450 Million Pledged for Green Economy Investments at Kenyan ExpoDevelopment Challenges: Innovators working in the global green economy could benefit from over US $450 million in investment recently pledged at the UN’s Global South-South Development Expo held in Nairobi, Kenya.
African Fashion’s Growing Global Marketplace ProfileDevelopment Challenges: Tales of African global fashion successes have multiplied in the last few years. African fashion is seeing its profile rise as more and more shows and festivals boost awareness of the continent’s designs, designers and models. In turn, African fashion and design is being taken more seriously as an income and job generator, and as a sector able to weather the ups and downs of the global economy: people always need to wear clothes.
Cuban Entrepreneurs Embracing Changes to EconomyDevelopment Challenges: The Caribbean island of Cuba has gone its own way economically and socially since its revolution in 1959. The country has seen significant gains in its human development in the decades since, and can boast impressive education levels and good public health care.
Radical Drone Solution to Woeful Infrastructure in Poor CountriesDevelopment Challenges: Drones – unpiloted aircraft, formally called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) – have long been used for military purposes. The U.S. military claims to have 7,500 drones – a massive growth from just 50 a decade ago – and has used them for surveillance and combat in conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq.
Pioneering African Airlines Help to Expand RoutesDevelopment Challenges: The last decade has seen a revolution in African air travel. The number of air routes has grown and this has paralleled the economic growth across the continent. As demand has been strong for Africa’s resources, it has also fueled a consumer boom that is benefiting an increasing number of people.
Affordable Space Programmes Becoming Part of South’s DevelopmentDevelopment Challenges: Space: the final frontier. At least that was how heading off into the stars was portrayed in cult television and film series Star Trek. While many countries are working to raise living standards and eradicate poverty on earth, some are also looking to space for solutions to earth-bound problems.
Solar Bottle Bulbs Light Up Dark HomesDevelopment Challenges: Finding ways to generate low-cost or free light has captured the imagination of innovators across the global South. The desire for light is strong: Light gives an immediate boost to income-making opportunities and quality of life when the sun goes down or in dark homes with few windows.
China Sets Sights on Dominating Global Smartphone MarketDevelopment Challenges: The rise of smartphones – mobile phones capable of Internet access and able to run ‘apps’ or applications – is the latest wave of the global connectivity revolution. Mobile phones rapidly made their way around the world to become almost ubiquitous – the most successful take-up of a piece of communications technology in history – and now smartphones are set to do the same. The number of mobile phone subscriptions in the world surpassed 6 billion in 2012 (out of a population of 7 billion) and, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the number of mobile phones will exceed the world’s population by 2014.
Poorest Countries Being Harmed by Euro Currency CrisisDevelopment Challenges:The ongoing economic crisis in Europe is forecast to harm the economies of the world’s poorest countries if it continues, according to a study by the United Kingdom’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI) (odi.org.uk).
Solar-Powered Mobile Clinics to Boost Rural Healthcare in AfricaDevelopment Challenges: Around the world, innovative thinking is finding new ways of using solar power technology to bring electricity to underserved areas of the global South. Innovators are experimenting with new technologies, new business models and new ways to finance getting solar power into the hands of the poor.
Vietnamese Google Rival Challenging Global GiantDevelopment Challenges:Information technologies are creating new business opportunities across the global South. As more and more people gain access to the Internet in one form or another, opportunities to offer them services also increase.
More Futuristic African Cities in the WorksDevelopment Challenges: It has been well documented that China is undergoing the largest migration in human history from rural areas to cities. But this urbanization trend is occurring across the global South, including in Africa, as well. According to the UN, more than half the world’s population already lives in cities, and 70 per cent will live in urban areas by 2050. Most of the world’s population growth is concentrated in urban areas in the global South.
Haitian Coffee Becoming a Hit with American ConnoisseursDevelopment Challenges: The Caribbean country of Haiti has had to deal with the twin challenges of recovering from a devastating earthquake in 2010 while also pulling itself out of the economic and social chaos that has resulted in its status as the poorest place in the Western hemisphere.
New 3D Technology Makes Innovation Breakthrough and Puts Mind over MatterDevelopment Challenges: Revolutions in technology are placing more and more power into the hands of the individual, and 3D printing and fabrication machines are opening a whole new chapter. These devices come in many forms, but they all do one thing: they can manufacture pretty well any three-dimensional object on the spot, from digital plans. These machines come in many sizes, from factory scale to smaller, home versions which are no bigger than personal computer printers, such as the well-known MakerBot Replicator 2 (makerbot.com).
Mobile Phone Microscopes to Revolutionize Health DiagnosticsDevelopment Challenges: Mobile phone usage has increased hugely across the global South in the past five years. In Africa, the number of mobile phone subscribers reached 545 million in 2013, while there are 3.5 billion mobile phone users in Asia and the Pacific (ITU). Some 93 million people in Africa and 895 million in Asia and the Pacific have mobile phone Internet access (ITU).
Small Fish Farming Opportunity Can Wipe Out MalnutritionDevelopment Challenges: Pioneering work to boost diets across the global South is turning to the smallest of fish. While small in size, tiny fish are packed with nutrition when eaten whole, as they are in many cultures. Often these fish come packed with vitamin A, iron, zinc, calcium, protein and essential fats – all necessary elements to eradicate malnutrition and hidden hunger, especially among women and children.
Burgeoning African E-commerce Industry Full of OpportunityDevelopment Challenges: Africa has seen huge change since 2000 in the way people access information and do business electronically. The most championed accomplishment has been the widespread take-up of mobile phones. This has given birth to countless entrepreneurs and innovators who are using phones to help people, do business and sell goods and services.
Staple Foods Are Becoming More Secure in the SouthDevelopment Challenges:Finding ways to ensure food security in countries experiencing profound economic and social change and stress is critical to achievement of development goals. Food security is crucial to ensuring economic development is sustainable, and it is vital to long-term human health. Just one bout of famine can damage a generation of youth, stunting brain development and leaving bodies smaller and weaker than they should be.
African Innovators Celebrated in PrizeDevelopment Challenges: Innovation is increasingly being recognized as the key to tackling long-standing development problems in Africa, as well as across the developing and developed world. While it is easy to draw up a list of challenges facing the global South, it takes a special person to see not problems but solutions.
Solar Solution to Lack of Electricity in AfricaDevelopment Challenges: Electricity is critical to improving human development and living standards. Yet, for many in the global South, electricity is either non-existent or its provision is patchy, erratic, unreliable or expensive.
Time-Tested Iranian Solutions to Cool and RefrigerateDevelopment Challenges:Keeping food cool is critical for human health. No matter what the climate, a cool environment will prolong food preservation, stave off spoilage and lower the risk of food poisoning. This is crucial for the poor because it means they can reduce food waste and avoid illnesses caused by food poisoning. Diarrhea is a common problem when people do not have access to refrigeration for their food.
US $1 Trillion Opportunity for Africa’s Agribusinesses Says ReportDevelopment Challenges: As the world’s population continues to grow – surpassing 9 billion people by 2050, the United Nations estimates – and more and more people move to urban areas, producing enough food to feed this population will be one of the biggest economic challenges and opportunities in the global South.
Ambitious Schemes Hope to Advance Economic DevelopmentDevelopment Challenges: Sometimes it takes a bold, fresh start to speed up economic and human development goals. Taking a large-scale approach has been used around the world, either establishing new trade zones or even a new city.
Indian Initiatives to Make Travel Safer for WomenDevelopment Challenges:Shocking assaults on women traveling in India have galvanized innovators to find solutions. One solution that is proving successful is to establish specialist taxi services for women. As a happy additional benefit, these taxi innovators are transforming the taxi experience, introducing more ethical practices such as honest fares, professional and safe driving habits and clean, hygienic and comfortable taxis.
Kenya Reaches Mobile Phone Banking LandmarkDevelopment Challenges: Financial transactions and banking with mobile phones have been a Kenyan success story.
Online Education Could Boost African Development Development Challenges:Education is recognized as a major catalyst for human development. During a high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview.html) in 2010, UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – pointed out the necessity of making rapid gains in education if all the MDGs are to be achieved. The goals deadline is 2015 – just two years away.
African Digital Laser Breakthrough Promises Future InnovationDevelopment Challenges: For decades many African countries have experienced low investment in research and development (R&D) and scientific innovation. One of the few nations to benefit from a sophisticated university network and research and development sector was South Africa. It still ranks top on the continent for funding R&D and its high number of scientific journals.
Preserving Beekeeping Livelihoods in MoroccoDevelopment Challenges: The clever combining of tourism and long-standing beekeeping skills has revived a local craft and is also helping to preserve the ecology of Morocco. Beekeeping, or apiculture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beekeeping), has two clear benefits. Bee products, including honey, beeswax, propolis, pollen and royal jelly can be a valuable source of income. The other benefit is the critical role bees play in the ecology by pollinating flowers and plants as they go about their daily business.
A New African Beer Helps Smallholder FarmersDevelopment Challenges: Africa’s growth in the past decade has held steady despite the trauma of the global economic crisis and the tumult of the “Arab Spring” in several countries of North Africa. African economies are growing because of a number of resilient trends. These include growing regional trade links, greater investment in infrastructure and the remarkable rise of China to become Africa’s number one trade partner, pushing the United States to second place (Technology + Policy). This has given birth to a growing consumer marketplace and consumer class – some 300 million people earning about US $200 a month (Africa Rising).
Boosting Tourism in India with Surfing CultureDevelopment Challenges: Tourism has experienced decades of growth and diversification and is now considered one of the fastest-growing economic sectors in the world. According to the UNWTO – the United Nations World Tourism Organization – modern tourism is “a key driver for socio-economic progress.”
Made-in-Africa Fashion Brand Pioneers Aim for Global SuccessDevelopment Challenges: African fashion brands have not always been the first place fashionistas turned to when shopping for new clothes or shoes in developed economies. While Africa has long been a source of inspiration in contemporary and traditional fashion, the continent has had a weak reputation for manufacturing and selling mass market global fashion brands.
Kenyan Book Company Brings Online Sales to East AfricaDevelopment Challenges:The Internet has revolutionized retail sales in many developed countries – and nowhere more so than for booksellers. The ability to offer an almost unlimited supply of books through a website is revolutionizing the way people shop and giving life to books long out of print or by unknown authors.
African Innovation Helps Make Banking Transactions SaferDevelopment Challenges: As economies grow in Africa, more and more people are conducting their financial transactions electronically. This can be either through mobile phones and digital devices, or through the hole-in-the-wall of the automatic teller machine, or ATM.
New Apps Make Driving and Travelling in Egypt Easier, SaferDevelopment Challenges: Mobile phones are ubiquitous across the global South. They have spawned whole new business opportunities and changed the way people solve problems and find solutions.
Bangladesh Coffin-Maker Offers an Ethical EndingDevelopment Challenges: Few people want to think about death, and many are ill-prepared when it happens to a loved one or friend. But it will happen to us all – and growing ethical and environmental concerns are reshaping the way many deal with the inevitable event. More and more people are seeking a lower-cost option for being disposed of that also does not harm the environment.
Thai Organic Supermarkets Seek to Improve HealthDevelopment Challenges: A Thai business is working hard to expand access to organic food in the country. It sees this as part of a wider campaign to improve health in the country – and its success has caught the attention of the government, which wants to turn Thailand into a global health destination.
Global South Experiencing Transportation Revolution Development Challenges:Away from the news headlines, a quiet revolution has been taking place in public transportation across the global South. As cities have expanded and grown, they have also been putting in place public transport systems to help people get around and get to work.
Global South’s Middle Class is Increasing ProsperityDevelopment Challenges: The global middle class is on the rise – and this is creating both challenges and opportunities. As poverty rates have come down across the global South, many countries have seen a rise in the proportion of their population categorized as “middle class”. Globally, being middle class is defined as a person able to consume between US $4 a day and US $13 a day (ILO).
Angolan Film Grabs Attention at Film Festival Development Challenges: The power of the creative economy to transform lives, livelihoods – and perceptions – should never be underestimated. Creativity can transform the image of places and situations often seen in a negative light. A film from Angola is shining a light on the country’s music scene and showing the vitality of the nation in the wake of a long-running civil war.
The fifth issue of Southern Innovator has launched online and in print. Order copies now for distribution. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 DayDevelopment 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 TourismDevelopment 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 CitiesDevelopment 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 WorldDevelopment 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 DiseasesDevelopment 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 SudanDevelopment 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 MarketsDevelopment 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 ManufacturerDevelopment 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 OrganicDevelopment 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 FarmersDevelopment 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.