Communications and info tech in developing countries, especially wireless broadband and high-value applications
Ken Novak's Weblog
Friday, January 27, 2006
Lessons of post-Cold War development:
Summarizes and links to papers by Harvard's Dani Rodrik, especially an excellent review of economic development policies since 1990, "Goodbye Washington Consensus, Hello Washington Confusion?"
For example: "While it is true that over the past ten years scores of developing nations have not experienced economic growth, and in some cases have actually fallen backwards, despite following the rules of the Washington Consensus, paradoxically, that doesn't mean the era of globalization has been an unmitigated disaster. Quite the contrary: "From the standpoint of global poverty," writes Rodrik, "the last two decades have proved the most favorable that the world has ever experienced. Rapid economic growth in China, India, and a few other Asian countries has resulted in an absolute reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty."
But what's fascinating is that China and India made their march forward, according to Rodrik, not by willy nilly opening up their markets with neoliberal abandon, but with great attention to policy choices, and with explicit government involvement in the economy that can only be described as industrial policy. The same was true of many of the East Asian nations who developed earlier, like Taiwan and South Korea, which only started to seriously open up after
they had achieved substantial economic growth through a mix of protectionism, export subsidies, and other policy choices." 11:17:30 PM
Text messaging, thumb drives, and Web mail for disasters:
"Communications systems were largely useless when
Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region, “but text messaging
did work,” said John Lawson, CIO of Tulane University in New Orleans. Lawson and other officials who were on the ground
during Katrina’s aftermath told a gathering of public-sector CIOs that
because text messaging requires so little bandwidth, and in very short
bursts, it became a primary means of communicating during
“Our young folks figured that out for us,” said Joe
Castillo, chief of operations for the Coast Guard district serving New
.. Castillo [also] said the Coast Guard relied on thumb drives to
courier data around the area. The miniature storage devices contain
flash memory and typically connect to computers through a USB port. “I
bought a ton of them,” Castillo said.
Agencies on the ground also relied heavily on
commercial e-mail services and recommended off-site e-mail systems as
part of a continuity of operations plan (COOP). Eric Rasmussen, a
director of emergency medicine for the Navy, said his group set up
accounts on Yahoo Mail, Google and others in order to share
Lawson said he learned to have an off-site e-mail
system in place in case of disaster. Tulane was eventually able to find
an offsite partner to set up accounts for students and personnel, but
the school was unable to populate the system on the fly with all user
Rasmussen was pleased with the Groove peer-to-peer
collaboration tools his team employed in New Orleans, but they weren’t
perfect. In order to establish secure collaboration, Groove’s
communications are encrypted end to end. Therefore, an emergency
response official must be invited to a Groove workgroup in order to
collaborate. COOP plans should include technologies for workgroup
discovery, Rasmussen said.
.. “The ability to find out who is doing collaborative
work … by having some Web-based discovery capability or some
e-mail-based discovery capability would be very useful,” he said. “A
lot of work that was done in a collaborative workspace was not
available to anyone else.”
" 10:38:17 PM
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
111m surfers in China:
"The number of Web users in China, the world's second largest Internet market, grew by 18 percent in 2005 to 111 million, the Economic Daily reported on Wednesday. Some 8.5 percent of the country's 1.3 billion people now had access to the Internet, the newspaper reported, citing a survey released by the China Internet Network Information Center. .. The 2005 gains represented an acceleration from 2004, when the number of Internet users grew 16 percent to 94 million. More than half of China's Web population -- or about 64 million people -- accessed the Web via broadband connections, suggesting a 50 percent increase versus 2004 as China strongly promotes the development of its broadband networks. ..
China is the world's No. 2 PC market, with nearly 16 million units shipped in 2004 and the number expected to have grown another 13 percent last year, according to data tracking firm International Data Corp." 8:30:58 AM
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Why Do Some Turks Have Bird Flu Virus but Aren't Sick?: I wonder if surviving a mild version of bird flu immunizes against the bad version. "five cases in Ankara hospitals are different from those elsewhere in Asia. Four of the five display only mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all.. Doctors are unsure whether they are for the first time seeing human bird flu in its earliest stages or if they are discovering that infection with the A(H5N1) virus does not always lead to illness. ..
Since none of the five have died, it is raising the possibility that human bird flu is not as deadly as currently thought, and that many mild cases in Asian countries may have gone unreported. Turkey is the first country outside eastern Asia to have human cases, and the first one anywhere to have so many separate animal outbreaks simultaneously.
In one week, Turkey announced 15 confirmed human cases of A(H5N1); Asia has seen only about 140 in the space of five years. .. In Ankara, where the government has been sending out vans with loudspeakers urging people to report symptoms and avoid contact with animals, even people with mild symptoms are being checked for bird flu, meaning that milder cases are more likely to be detected than they are in other parts of Asia. "I'm sure that part of the explanation for the high number of case in Turkey is better surveillance," said Maria Cheng, a spokeswoman for the W.H.O. in Geneva." Again, better surveillance and quick communication are key. 9:06:49 AM
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Getting in early as China cleans up: "Stories on environmental disasters come out of China and other Asian developing countries regularly. A review of impacts and the resulting investments: "Environmental damage from pollution is costing China the equivalent of 7.7 percent of gross domestic product annually .. Other sobering statistics in the report, called "Connecting Asia," include estimates of 6.4 million work years lost annually in China to air pollution, 178,000 premature deaths in major cities every year caused by the use of high-sulfur coal and the fact that 52 urban river stretches have been so contaminated that they are no longer suitable for irrigation. ..
[Investment manager] Sorenson said that in terms of environmental standards, "China is now where the U.S. was in the late 1960s" [when disasters and new laws] changed the way U.S. companies conducted business. A similar process was seen in Japan, spurred by the Tokyo Olympic Games of 1964, and in South Korea, when Seoul was host of the Olympics in 1988. There is much hope that the 2008 Games in Beijing will prove as seminal in China's environmental development. .. In November, [China's] State Environmental Protection Administration estimated that the government would spend around $156 billion in environmental protection from 2006 to 2010. ..
Sorenson's FE Clean Energy Group is currently putting together an Asia fund, which Sorenson expects to total around $75 million. .. [Another is] the China Environment Fund, set up in 2001 by Tsinghua Venture Capital Management, a fund management company affiliated with Tsinghua University in Beijing. Catherine Cao, executive director of the firm, said that its third fund should be ready by the end of 2006 and aims to raise $50 million. Two previous funds [were] $13 million and $30 million..
The easiest means of entry for small investors still remains the mutual fund. The Impax Environmental Markets fund of £45 million, or $79 million, rose by around 32 percent in 2005. Among its biggest holdings are Casella Waste, a U.S. waste disposal company, Kurita Water of Japan and Horiba, a Japanese environmental testing company." Other options: big utilities, especially European, operating in Asia; Shenzhen Dongjiang Environmental, listed in Hong Kong; canada's Zenon Environmental; Nordex of Germany; solar companies Kyocera and Sharp. [via Salon] 11:33:41 AM
Monday, January 09, 2006
Uganda in trouble:
Uganda's government has been a model of moderation and economic liberalization for over 10 years. But now the long-standing Museveni government is cracking down on opponents. This reports on a demonstration for an opponent just released from jail, which was attacked with teargas and batons by police. "From 1986 to 1996, one of them told me, crowds of this size would meet Museveni wherever he went and whomever he was with. A decade later, a growing number of Ugandans wonder why their
president doesn't seem ready to emulate his colleagues in East Africa
and leave power peacefully, as Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania has done. No amount of tear gas or water can erase the doubts about Museveni, but using them often seems to increase public anger. ..
Britain's [decided] last month to cut $26.5 million in aid to
Uganda due to concerns over Besigye's arrest .." 10:09:51 AM