Communications and info tech in developing countries, especially wireless broadband and high-value applications
Monday, August 15, 2005
Royal Philips Electronics development pilots: Three projects, including one launched by Paul Rankin from the Reuters Digital Vision Fellowship at Stanford. "Voices in Your Hand is a pilot project running in Recife, Brazil, to bring digital connectivity to people at the bottom of the economic pyramid. .. Using modified MP3 players, people can listen to personalized web casts of audio information offline in their homes, talk back and use voice email. Then they visit a public utility point to link their sets to the Internet. The customer here may be a family or a village, rather than an individual. .. The pilot will be completed mid 2005, learning will be captured and results will be used to test the feasibility of possible scale up scenarios." 8:48:26 PM
The Africa You Never See: Africa, "according to the U.S. government's Overseas Private Investment Corp., offers the highest return in the world on direct foreign investment, [yet] it attracts the least. Unless investors see the Africa that's worthy of investment, they won't put their money into it. .. Consider a few facts: The Ghana Stock Exchange regularly tops the list of the world's highest-performing stock markets. Botswana, with its A+ credit rating, boasts one of the highest per capita government savings rates in the world, topped only by Singapore and a handful of other fiscally prudent nations. Cell phones are making phenomenal profits on the continent. Brand-name companies like Coca-Cola, GM, Caterpillar and Citibank have invested in Africa for years and are quite bullish on the future.
The failure to show this side of Africa creates a one-dimensional caricature of a complex continent. .. With good governance and sound fiscal policies, countries like Botswana, Ghana, Uganda, Senegal and many more are bustling, their economies growing at surprisingly robust rates.
Private enterprise is not just limited to the well-behaved nations. [In Somalia] private enterprise is flourishing. Mogadishu has the cheapest cell phone rates on the continent, mostly due to no government intervention. In the northern city of Hargeysa, the markets sell the latest satellite phone technology. The electricity works. When the state collapsed in 1991, the national airline went out of business. Today, there are five private carriers and price wars keep the cost of tickets down. .. Obviously life there would be dramatically improved by good governance -- or even just some governance -- but it's also true that, through resilience and resourcefulness, Somalis have been able to create a functioning society.
Most African businesses suffer from an extreme lack of infrastructure, but the people I met were too determined to let this stop them. It just costs them more. Without reliable electricity, most businesses have to use generators. They have to dig bore-holes for a dependable water source. Telephone lines are notoriously out of service, but cell phones are filling the gap. .. As I interviewed successful entrepreneurs, I was continually astounded by their ingenuity, creativity and steadfastness. These people are the future of the continent. " 8:33:32 PM
Are We Prepared for Avian Flu?: An interview with "Laurie Garrett, the only reporter to win all three of journalism's big "P" awards (the Peabody, the Polk and the Pulitzer) .. resigned from Newsday earlier this year [citing] a deteriorating climate for journalism .. Today, Garrett is Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her story "The Next Pandemic?" was published in the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs ..
"Avian influenza comes from aquatic birds, including migratory ducks, geese and herons. The loss of these birds' migratory routes in China has brought them into direct contact with humans in farms and parks. In this way, influenza is spread from migrating birds to domestic birds, then to pigs and ultimately to humans. This chain of events involves veterinary science, ecology and medicine, the triumvirate studied by the science of conservation medicine." One general issue: we lack "respectful mutual lines of communication between those protecting human health, those protecting animal health and those dealing with ecology."
On avian flu response specifically: "I think the CDC is doing a lot. But what I keep trying to get across to people is that flu starts in Asia. We're a lot better off if we can stop it in Asia than if we wait until it is here and try to figure out some means to minimize the damage. And that means a whole lot more multinational agreements, and this is difficult at a time when our Congress is full of members saying really terrible things about China [and Vietnam]..
In a recent study published in Nature, a team at Oxford University did a computer model just simply asking if it is possible to stop pandemic flu. And the good news is their answer is yes, it is possible, but the bad news is it can be stopped only if you identify it when there are just 30 human cases. Well, we're not going to spot those first 30 human cases before it spreads to hundreds or thousands of people unless we have a much better infrastructure of public health, vigilance and surveillance in poor countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and in countries with more money but completely lacking in sophisticated public health infrastructure, like China." " 2:04:44 PM