Posts Tagged ‘africa’
Invented by Professor Josh Silver, the Adspecs are the first (and currently only) available self-adjustable glasses that allow the user to tune their glasses to their eyes. To change the power of the lens, the user turns the wheels on the syringes on the arms to pump more or less silicone oil into the lenses (which are simply two flexible membranes, protected by a hard plastic layer), changing their shape. When done, the user simply tightens the screws on each side of the frame and cuts off the syringes and tubing – transforming the Adspecs into a normal pair of glasses in a few minutes! This is great for countries with not enough optometrists. Prof Silver’s goal is for Adspecs to reach a billion of the world’s poorest people by 2020.
Paul Romer spoke at TEDGlobal on his new idea of ‘charter cities’. Charter cities are catalysts for economic development as they are the appropriate arena for new ideas (villages are too small and nations are too big). Economic development not only involves technologies (a main emphasis of Romer’s theories); it also involves rules. Charter cities are the ‘greenfield’ sites where new rules are implemented. As they succeed, cities nearby will become influenced and development will spread. Just as Hong Kong was a charter city which influenced Shenzhen and other cities, Romer proposes charter cities in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (calling Canada to take a partnership there) and throughout Africa. Singapore’s experience complements Romer’s theory perfectly. I caught his attention with the idea of a TEDxCharter Cities to take these ideas further and encourage bottom-up discussion about the concept and its application. Something to think about…?
Persian Gulf States Bet on Africa Despite Downturn
Boosted by Arab Billions, Sub-Saharan Region Will Grow 3.5% in 2009, IMF
Projects, as Cross-Border Flows Decline Elsewhere
By MARGARET COKER, Wall Street Journal, 25 Feb 2009
Gulf invests in infrastructure (highways, ports, mobile phone cellular networks etc) securing them as chokepoints to develop the sub-Saharan economies. It bears watching how the combined investments of the Arab Gulf, China and eventually India will reshape the economic landscape of Africa.
Harvard Business Review’s latest list of Breakthrough Ideas for 2009 (Feb 2009 issue) is a compilation of 20 interesting trendy issues, and worth a read. Particularly:
- Rise of peer-to-peer lending (with tightening credit availability)
- Harnessing Social Pressure (and how to motivate social behaviour)
- Rise of Economics Forensic (rather interesting new field)
- American Diaspora (a mention about Singapore’s success in attracting US scientists)
- IKEA Effect (why people willingly pay more to DIY and become attached to their object of labour)
- Western Union (tapping the consumerism of immigrants)
- Social Networks (information discovery and integation in creative teams)
- Central Nervous System for Earth (using nanotech sensors to monitor virtually everything)
The Brookings Institution articulated in a recent report the need for America’s next President to exhibit clear leadership on 10 main economic challenges.
1. Restoring Financial Stability
With U.S. financial troubles at the center of the current global vortex, the U.S. has important obligations to strengthen the global financial system, including by enhancing financial regulation and diminishing reliance on foreign credit.
2. Setting the Right Green Agenda
For the U.S., it is time to muster the political will to act on climate change at the national level while also working to forge international agreement so that markets and regulatory policy will provide a consistent set of incentives to wean the economy from carbon foundations.
3. Exercising Smart Power
Investing in the education, health, livelihoods, and the security of the world’s poorest not only makes Americans feel good about themselves but also makes the world feel good about America. It is critical to increase not only resources but also the impact of each dollar spent.
4. Reimagining Global Trade
Americans feel most secure about global engagement when they are well equipped to compete and have insurance against economic risks. This requires vigorously enforcing the trade rules and investing in economic competitiveness.
5. Navigating China’s Rise
On issues such as climate change, enforcement of trade rules and exchange rate adjustment, where the stakes are simply too high to ignore, America should look for cooperative mechanisms to advance its goals where possible but continue to press bilaterally with China and better deploy regional and international mechanisms where necessary.
6. Deciphering “Russia, Inc.”
Difficult as it may be to accomplish, America nonetheless has significant interests in alternately coaxing and goading a resurgent, resource nationalist Russia toward international norms and cooperation on energy, trade, financial integration and security more broadly.
7. Engaging an Emerging India
America has enormous interests in India’s successful integration into the global economy as the world’s most populous democracy engages in the task of lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty. America must look for areas of cooperation where possible and deepen bilateral engagement broadly in order to make progress on its agenda.
8. Revitalizing Ties to Latin America
America must become a stronger partner to its neighbors and engage on issues of mutual concern, including on energy, environmental protection, economic competitiveness and social policies.
9. Supporting Africa’s Growth Turnaround
America can become a stronger and steadier partner to Africa as it navigates economic challenges by supporting global standards for natural resource management, opening markets to African products, supporting vibrant private enterprises, supporting African efforts to enhance regional security and build resilience to climate change, and both increasing and improving the quality of development assistance.
10. Pursuing a Positive Agenda for the Middle East
America can build partnerships in the Middle East based on trust and mutual respect if it aligns its agenda on economic and political reform with the aspirations of the majority of the region’s people: the young who are striving for opportunity and global integration.
Wow, finally! The video for the ‘Rise of the Rest’ is available.
The Rise of the Rest is a term coined by Fareed Zakaria on the post-American world. It is not a world marked by American decline, but the rise of everybody else. The rise of China and India are the most obvious signs, but the Gulf countries are also remaking themselves beyond hydrocarbons, Africa is beginning to be distinguished into tier 1, 2 and 3 countries of promise etc. As you can see in the wordle crunch, China and India are big but they are not the whole story.
In the video, I try to capture this rise in a 5 min animation. Not easy. The grunt work is the research, and the elegance I attribute to the video editor. I’ve already been asked to list down the sources and here they are below:
1. Babies born per year from Unicef
2. Global Fortune 500 by country
3. Middle class figures – Wharton and McKinsey‘s “China’s Emerging Middle Class”.
4. China’s outbound tourists figures from World Tourism Organisation.
5. China as the largest English speaking nation by the British Council.
6. Mumbai, Dhaka, Calcutta, Delhi and Karachi in the future top ten most populous cities. I like the IFTF’s cool map here.
7. Urbanisation of China figures from McKinsey’s “Preparing for China’s Urban Billions”. and the Concrete Dragon.
8. China Internet figures from the Economist, QQ figures from company website.
9. GCC oil windfall figures from McKinsey’s “The Coming Oil Windfall in the Gulf“.
10. Africa figures from “China in Africa” by Chris Alden. Chinese settlement in Africa figures and FT special titled “Africa-China Trade” on 24th Jan 2008.
11. China and India engineer graduate figures vs US from “Is America Losing at Globalization” and “Why Economics Isn’t a Zero-Sum Game”, Newsweek 8 Sept 08″
12. R&D figures for various countries from Charles Wessner, Director, National Academies. Original source Battelle, Global R&D report 2007
13. Working age population figures for India and China from from UN Population Division.