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New World Economic Forum Investment Model Set to Transform Digital Adoption
- Policy levers can transform an unsustainable business case into a financially sound investment, as demonstrated in East Africa’s Northern Corridor
- By deploying targeted policy levers, the cost of bringing 25 million new users online in Africa’s Northern Corridor can be reduced by 23% or $400 million
- New tool allows users to calculate core metrics associated with closing the digital gap in any country, including the total amount of investment required
- For more information please visit the Internet for All project page https://www.weforum.org/projects/internet-for-all
Geneva, Switzerland, 6 July 2017 - The World Economic Forum today announced the launch of a second White Paper on “An Investment Framework for Digital Adoption”. Published in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group, it illustrates an investment model that can be used to quantify the costs to achieve universal internet access and adoption.
Alex Wong, Head of Global Challenge Partnerships and Member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum said, “The new report provides additional tools and examples of how internet for all can be achieved through public-private collaboration. The report findings will be applied to the Internet for All countryprogrammes to help policy-makers better understand the various options and levers that can be used to accelerate internet access and adoption.”
Wolfgang Bock, Senior Partner and Managing Director, Boston Consulting Group, noted that, "More than half of the world's population, or four billion people, have no access to or do not use the internet. In order to connect the unconnected, governments, businesses and civil society actors will need to think differently about investing in internet access and adoption. This report provides practical insights in helping these stakeholders determine the right investments and policy measures to achieve Internet for All".
Launched in 2015, the World Economic Forum Internet for All initiative aims to connect the world’s four billion unconnected through new models of public-private cooperation. Companies such as Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei, Microsoft, MTN and Telkom work together on this platform together with government, civil society, academia and international organizations to develop and scale new internet access models, attract and coordinate investment, and align programming.
Country programmes launched in East Africa’s Northern Corridor (Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda), have set the target of connecting 25 million new users by the end of 2019. The investment model was applied to the Northern Corridor to determine the precise level of investment required to meet this goal.
Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Minister of Youth and Information Communication Technology of Rwanda, explained the impact of the project: “As the first implementer of the Internet for All methodology, Rwanda was looking for a way to quantify the level of investment required to achieve our targets. This methodology provides us with the ability to do this, and we plan to use it to drive forward our internet development programme.”
To tackle the main barriers to internet access on a scale necessary to achieve the target would require an investment of $1.83 billion or $64 per person. Infrastructure costs are high, and current smartphone costs are well beyond the reach of many. For example, Figure 1 shows that the price of a smartphone is inferior to the monthly GDP per capita of Rwanda, Uganda, and South Sudan – no solid business case.
Figure 1. The Infrastructure Business Case and Smartphone Costs are Not Financially Feasible
However, the report also highlights the impact that policy choices can have on the feasibility of connectivity investment: by using identifiable policy levers, Northern Corridor governments can reduce the cost of bringing new users online by 23%, from $64 per person to $49 per person – a total investment of approximately $1.39 billion, which is a financially feasible business case.
Figure 2 shows that the levels include active and passive infrastructure sharing in unserved areas ($260 million in savings), making low-frequency spectrum available for 3G and 4G coverage ($100 million in savings) and removing VAT on low-end smartphones ($80 million in savings).
Figure 2. Targeted Government Policy Levers Can Reduce This Cost by 23% to $49/Person with Savings of Some $400 million
In Pursuit of Big Data: An Analysis of International Funds Transfer Reporting
Based partly on a detailed study of IFTR requirements in six countries – Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia, Norway and Romania – this paper asks whether IFTR requirements are necessary and proportionate, and therefore whether their impact in limiting fundamental rights can be justified. It concludes that, while IFTR requirements have intelligence value and are a feasible and likely cost-effective option, decision-makers should carefully explore a number of regulatory considerations as well as alternative policy options.
This paper recommends that policymakers take into account the following eight key issues when considering the adoption of IFTR requirements in their jurisdictions:
- Compare apples with apples: This paper assesses a range of policy and regulatory considerations for policymakers. While international experiences are useful, they cannot replace detailed national assessments. The population, financial sectors, social policy needs, crime risks and ability to enforce compliance differ greatly between countries. It is important for policymakers to avoid comparing apples with oranges.
- Benchmark success: One of the key challenges faced by countries implementing bulk data collection measures, such as IFTR requirements, has been the ability to produce compelling evidence demonstrating the success or value of the policy. Better articulation of the indicators of success, particularly where those indicators require nuanced, qualitative assessments, is vital at the outset of policymaking.
- Explore alternative options: Policymakers should consider alternatives to IFTR requirements and determine whether they might adequately meet the identified tactical, operational and strategic analysis needs of FIUs. Several other methods are discussed in this paper.
- Balance national security interests with protection of individual rights: Benchmarking success and arguing the need for IFTR requirements above and beyond alternative options, which have less impact on the right to privacy, are important in taking an informed position that balances national security interests with the protection of individual rights.
- Adopt robust data-protection measures: Sound justification should underpin the need for any agency to have access to IFT data and the purpose for which they may be used. Policymakers should consider oversight mechanisms, including the option of an independent body responsible for this.
- Consider adopting a reporting threshold: Monetary thresholds for reporting may be useful in mitigating resource burdens for both FIUs and financial institutions. However, they can also have consequences that diminish the value of IFTR requirements. Countries should assess their crime risks and consider whether reporting thresholds inhibit the detection and disruption of high-risk crimes.
- Assess IT capabilities: An investment in IT will be necessary, and may also be crucial in limiting resource impacts on both FIUs and financial institutions. Policymakers should assess the ability of their country’s financial institutions, particularly small and medium-sized institutions, to access and use technology to promote compliance with reporting requirements.
- Support remittances and financial inclusion: Policymakers should ensure that IFTR requirements work to complement, not conflict with, remittance and financial inclusion objectives. Reporting thresholds and IT solutions might assist in mitigating the impact on resources for remittance service providers.
Disruptive change and civil society organisations in the global South: innovating funder practice
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in middle- and low-income countries (sometimes referred to as ‘the South’) are confronting multiple disruptive forces, from natural disasters and migrations to turbulence in the funding environment and shifting regulatory requirements. The resulting organisational disruption has profound implications for realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Not only can it hamper the current effectiveness of these CSOs; it can also reduce their ability to address larger shifts in the development landscape through their own positive disruptive actions. Funders must do more to support CSOs experiencing disruptive change. Flexible funding and grant decisions informed by a deeper understanding of the on-the-ground operational realities of disruption are crucial to this.
Links to other web pages:
- IIED code:G04112
- Published:Nov 2016 - IIED
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The Time for Sustainable Business Is Now: Leveraging COBIT 5 in Sustainable Businesses
Graciela Braga, CGEIT, COBIT 5 Foundation, CPA
Stakeholders expect that businesses create value, but at what cost? In the end, stakeholders and businesses are looking for the same thing: to protect their future.
COBIT 5 can be used to help enterprises create value for their stakeholders, including the sustainable development concept in their goals and in the governance and management of enterprise IT (GEIT).
Sustainable Development and Why Now
The most common definition of sustainable development is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report.1 It states that “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”2
According to the main findings of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development in the 21st Century project, at the global level, “the impact of human activity on the environment, the environmental footprint, and carbon emissions and resource consumption from urbanization have been increasing. Many resources on which humanity depends for survival are at risk. Examples of efficiency gains have increased, but, historically, the environmental benefits of improved technology have been insufficient to counterbalance impacts linked with increases in population and affluence.”3
Technology should and must be an enabler of promoting sustainable development and achieving a “balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations…, changing unsustainable practices, and promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production.”4
To accomplish these goals, the sustainable use of technology will depend on a global partnership for sustainable development with the active engagement of governments, businesses, civil society and other international organizations, such as the United Nations (UN) or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).5 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon named sustainable development a priority for 2015 at a UN briefing in early January.6
What COBIT 5 Can Do for Sustainability
One major driver for the development of COBIT 5 includes the need to “provide more stakeholders a say in determining what they expect from information technology (what benefits at what acceptable risk and cost) and what stakeholder priorities are in ensuring that expected value is actually being delivered. Some will want short-term returns and others will want long-term sustainability.”7
Before determining these priorities, it helps to reconcile statements about progress, gaps and perspectives for sustainable development identified by the main findings of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development in the 21stCentury8 project. Its goals and strategies can be adapted as follows:9
- Develop integrated national and international strategies and strong institutions that can guide all actors, including the enterprise and its external and internal stakeholders, toward global sustainability.
- Include sustainability into the continuing professional education policy to ensure that sustainability will be considered and put at the center of the decision-making process.
- Reorient IT investment to facilitate sustainable choices and behaviors and to achieve enterprise sustainability goals and IT-related goals.
- Put participation at the heart of decision making at all relevant levels to ensure that all stakeholders’ needs are satisfied.
- Monitor, evaluate and assess performance to modify decisions, as needed.
COBIT 5 has embedded the four cross-cutting principles of the UN’s sustainable development project to building institutional frameworks that are fit for the challenges of sustainable development:10
- Improve governance. COBIT 5 ensures that all stakeholders are identified and their needs are evaluated in order to determine the enterprise’s sustainability goals and its associated IT-related goals.
- Improve measurement, monitoring and evaluation systems. COBIT 5 uses indicators and can adopt the existing sustainable development indicators as management tools at various levels and in various sectors in order to improve environmental monitoring and information systems at different scales.
- Assess the roles of public and private actors. COBIT 5 recognizes different stakeholders with different needs and obligations.
- Increase the resilience of human and natural systems. COBIT 5 suggests stakeholder needs related to sustainability and, thus, allows the use of its goals cascade to ensure the identification of enterprise goals and the evaluation of possible risk that can hurt its achievement. So, the implemented IT process will be capable of delivering outcomes even if the risk factors are materialized and the conditions are not the best.
Application of the COBIT 5 Principles
COBIT 5 is based on the assumption that companies exist to create value for their stakeholders, so the governance objective of any company (commercial or otherwise) is the creation of value.
To apply the first of COBIT 5’s principles, Meeting Stakeholder Needs, it is necessary to define the stakeholders and their needs:
- External—Government, regulators, society in general, shareholders, business partners, customers, suppliers, consultants and external auditors
- Internal—Board, c-suite executives, business executives, business processes owners, IT managers and users, compliance managers, human resources managers, internal auditors, and personnel
- Stakeholder needs, focusing on five enterprise goals:11
- Stakeholders’ value of business investments, especially for the stakeholders’ society
- Compliance with external laws and regulations focusing on environmental laws and laws dealing with labor regulations in outsourcing arrangements
- Agile response to changing business environment
- Skilled and motivated people, recognizing that the success of the enterprise depends on its people
- Product and business innovation culture, focusing on longer-term innovations
The second COBIT 5 principle, Covering the Enterprise End-to-end, is reflected in the definition of sustainability: needs of present and future generations.
COBIT 5 is aligned at a high level with other relevant standards and frameworks and, therefore, can be the main framework for IT governance and management in an enterprise. This is reflected in principle 3, Applying a Single, Integrated Framework.
Principle 4, Enabling a Holistic Approach, defines seven enabler categories to support the implementation of a global IT governance and management:
- Principles, policies and frameworks—According to OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, “they (enterprises) should take fully into account established policies in the countries in which they operate, and consider the views of other stakeholders.”12
In comparing OECD policies requirements and COBIT 5 IT-related goals, it can be assumed that policies have to take into account and influence decisions related to:
- Alignment of IT and business strategy to achieving sustainable development. This is important to set and maintain a governance framework that considers sustainability as a core principle.
- IT compliance and support for business compliance with external laws and regulations and with internal policies and security of information, processing infrastructure and applications. Enterprises should comply with human rights; environmental and social responsibility; natural resources management; information security management; and health, safety and labor regulations. Their own policies must recognize these and strongly avoid exceptions while stipulating the consequences. It is important that educational, awareness and training activities include sustainability compliance issues. This will increase the confidence of stakeholders in the enterprise.
- Managed IT-related business risk and delivery of IT services in-line with business requirements. Sustainability requires identifying risk factors that could limit the possibility of future generations to satisfy their needs and put in place countermeasures to prevent negative impacts. It also requires satisfying business requirements. Important subjects to evaluate are external laws and regulations, best practices and international standards, internal policies, and IT and business performance goals.
- IT agility to respond in a timely and efficient manner to a changing business environment
- Competent and motivated. If personnel understand their responsibility regarding sustainability and respect future generations’ rights in the current decision making or performance process, reaching sustainability objectives is most likely.
- Knowledge, expertise and initiatives for business innovation. Innovation allows for sustainability; knowledge, expertise and new initiatives focused on sustainability are critical to innovation in order to discover new and more efficient methods to protect the business environment and IT personnel.
- Necessary processes to manage IT activities—COBIT 5 defines detailed mapping between enterprise goals, IT-related goals and processes. If sustainable businesses require the satisfaction of their needs while considering future needs, enterprises have to ensure that their processes consider good sustainability practices and activities in accordance with laws, regulations and internal policies. Metrics have to include the measurement of this achievement.
- Organizational structures—The hierarchy that defines the responsibilities of each of the business and IT roles. These responsibilities have to consider sustainability issues.
- Culture, ethics and behavior of individuals and the company—These behaviors provide the necessary basis for the company to consider and respect the needs of future generations and the importance of long-term innovation.
- Useful information—This information can be used to make decisions for all stakeholders and demonstrate regulatory compliance to parties, including in legal situations.
- Services, infrastructure and applications—Global Reporting presents a very useful list of relevant sustainability issues for software and services, technology and semiconductors, and telecommunications services.13, 14, 15 It can be a guide to considering sustainability issues in service-level definition and in the life cycle of services capabilities. Some examples are the energy footprint of data centers, energy efficiency of operations, water consumption, electronic waste (e-waste), end-of-life of products, eco-efficiency and recycling, occupational health and safety risk, and customer privacy.
- People, skills and competencies—Both in business and IT, people and their skills are needed to carry out activities and for decision making and corrective actions, recognizing that the success of the enterprise depends on its people.
The COBIT 5 framework establishes a clear distinction between governance and management (principle 5, Separating Governance From Management). These two disciplines cover different types of activities, require different organizational structures and serve different purposes. Both are necessary to establish and improve sustainable businesses.16
Sustainability is a stakeholder need and business requirement. But more than anything, it is a human responsibility.
IT plays an important role. It can be a solution or part of the problem, depending on how it is governed and managed.
For business to be sustainable, it has to consider sustainability as a strategic priority; manage risk factors; comply with external laws and regulations; be agile to respond in a timely and efficient manner to a changing business environment; focus innovation on long-term sustainability aspects; plan, build, run and monitor IT as a priority; and invest in business and IT personnel training.
COBIT 5 assists enterprises in achieving this goal.
1 World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), Our Common Future, Oxford University Press, UK, 1987, p. 43, https://www.iisd.org/sd/
2 Bioenergy Promotion, “Paper providing input to the programming of the CENTRAL EUROPE Programme 2014-2020,” 23 January 2014, http://bioenergypromotion.org/bsr/publications/input-paper-central-europe-programme-2014-2020/?searchterm=central%20europe#.VNDglmjF9yw
3 United Nations, “Back to Our Common Future. Sustainable Development in the 21st century (SD21) Project. Summary for Policy Makers,” 2012, https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/GRIG4-Part1-Reporting-Principles-and-Standard-Disclosures.pdf
5 OECD, “The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises,” 2011, www.ausncp.gov.au/content/publications/reports/OECD_guidelines/OECD_guidelines.pdf
6 UN News Centre, “‘2015 Can and Must Be Time for Global Action,’ Ban Declares, Briefing UN Assembly on Year’s Priorities,” 8 January 2015, www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49752#.VNDhq2jF9yw
7 ISACA, COBIT 5, USA, 2012, www.isaca.org/cobit
8 Op cit, United Nations
11 Op cit, ISACA
12 Op cit, OECD
13 Global Reporting, “Software and Services,” https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/36-Software-and-Services.pdf
14 Global Reporting, “Technology and Semiconductors,” https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/37-38-Technology-and-Semiconductors.pdf
15 Global Reporting, “Telecommunication and Services,” https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/39-Telecommunication-Services.pdf
16 Op cit, ISACA
Graciela Braga, CGEIT, COBIT 5 Foundation, CPA, is vice president of the Commission for the Study of Record Systems of the Buenos Aires Institute of CPAs in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is also a researcher at the Instituto Autónomo de Derecho Contable (Autonomous Accountancy Law Institute), Argentina. She has worked on audits and internal control reviews for public and private entities using international frameworks such as COBIT, COSO and the ISO 27000 series. She has participated in the preparation and review of ISACA products and research related to COBIT, privacy and big data. She is the author of the COBIT Focus case study “COBIT 5 Applied to the Argentine Digital Accounting System,” published in January 2015 (www.isaca.org/COBIT/Focus).
Internet For All: A Key Initiative for Africa's Digital Transformation
Internet For All is a global initiative led by the World Economic Forum to develop models for large-scale public private collaboration that accelerate internet access and adoption
· First partnership programme will target 75 million Africans in the Northern Corridor countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda
· Key learning from the first phase of Internet For All and best practices for internet access and adoption from around the world can be found here
· For more information, please visit wef.ch/af16
Kigali, Rwanda, 10 May 2016 – Efforts to extend the reach of the internet to the 4 billion people worldwide that are not yet connected will only succeed if a digital ecosystem approach is adopted where access, affordability, skills and content are given equal attention, according to a new World Economic Forum-led initiative, Internet For All, whose key learning and best practices are published today.
The learning is published as a collection of best practices from around the world on how public-private collaboration has enabled internet access and adoption. Entitled Internet for All: A Framework for Accelerating Internet Access and Adoption, the report forms the basis of the Internet For All initiative’s first phase and concludes with a framework for governments and businesses to accelerate large-scale internet adoption.
The framework will be implemented in an initial project with the full endorsement of the governments of the Northern Corridor countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda. In these countries, 75 million people representing 67% of the total population have no access to the internet.
“The internet has become a pervasive, fundamental part of daily life, but low internet penetration significantly impacts a country’s ability to participate in the digital economy, which is becoming an increasingly important priority for development as Africa, like the rest of the world, enters the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We know it is possible to break down the digital divide for the 55% of the world’s population that is still not connected: now it’s time for governments, businesses and civil society to make it happen,” said Alex Wong, Head, Global Challenge Partnerships and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.
"Achieving Internet for All is a critical priority for Africa to take full advantage of enormous current and future digital opportunities. This report provides a clear framework on which our Internet for All development strategy is based. In the Northern Corridor of East Africa, our aim is to help bring 25 million more citizen online by 2019," said Jean-Philbert Nsengimana, Minister for Youth and Information Communication Technology, Rwanda.
“There is no greater challenge to development than the digital divide, and the role of information and communications technology cannot be underestimated in helping to enable every one of the Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved for every person in the world,” said Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson
More than 1,200 participants from over 70 countries are taking part in the World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, from 11 to 13 May 2016. The theme of the meeting is “Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation”.
The Co-Chairs of the 26th World Economic on Africa are: Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Abidjan; Dominic Barton,Global Managing Director, McKinsey & Company; Tony O. Elumelu, Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation, Nigeria; Graça Machel, Founder, Graça Machel Trust (GMT), South Africa; and Tarek Sultan Al Essa, Chief Executive Officer and Vice-Chairman of the Board, Agility, Kuwait
World Federation of Exchanges Calls for Vigilance and Coordination as Industry Backs Global Cyber Standards
The World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) is the global trade association that represents more than 200 market infrastructure providers including exchanges and CCPs. Each year over $26 trillion in trading is processed by the infrastructure operated by WFE members. Cyber security is a matter of enormous importance to WFE's members, and is vital to the continuing stability of the financial system.
WFE applauds the initiatives undertaken by regulators globally in groupings such as CPMI and IOSCO to further strengthen the safety and resilience of the world's financial system.
Financial Market Infrastructure providers (FMIs) have also been proactive and vigilant as an industry: there are clear incentives to get this right given the extensive negative repercussions on their business of any cyber disruption. The industry's dynamic approach is typified by WFE's Global Exchange (GLEX) Cyber Security Working Group, composed of cyber experts - typically at CISO level - sharing their knowledge and delivering the solid technical foundations for policy formulation.
In its response to the CPMI-IOSCO consultative document , WFE highlights the steps taken by the industry and the importance of having effective arrangements in place to establish, implement and review members' approaches to cyber threats.
"Exchanges and CCPs are vigilant and pro-active about cyber security and resilience, the issues at the heart of operating modern markets," said Nandini Sukumar, CEO of WFE. "As markets assume a greater role in funding and financing the economy, stakeholders must be confident that they can trust them. There is global consensus around the importance of investing and securing the framework on which the system rests."
WFE supports the benefits of having a high-level, globally agreed framework within which to operate, but cautions against being overly prescriptive. For example, CPMI-IOSCO proposes a two hour post cyber attack recovery time. WFE believes that because of the unpredictable and complicated nature of such attacks, two hours is too specific and that FMIs should aim for critical systems to resume full operation as soon as possible without further compromising the orderliness of the market. Different markets are at different stages of development, and threats and risks are often different for FMIs than other parts of the financial system.
Gavin Hill, Head of Regulatory Affairs at WFE said "FMI cyber security is rightly attracting a lot of attention at the global level. The industry and regulators are working hard to satisfy the shared objectives of ensuring the continued delivery of well-functioning and well-managed financial infrastructure in which investors can have confidence. This response highlights the practical, proactive steps that the industry is taking."
View the full version of the WFE response at: http://www.world-exchanges.org/home/index.php/advocacy/communications
ABOUT THE WORLD FEDERATION OF EXCHANGES (WFE):
Established in 1961, WFE is the global industry association for exchanges and clearing houses. Headquartered in London, it represents 66 regulated stock, futures and options exchange groups and CCPs, which include more than 200 market infrastructure providers. Members also include standalone CCPs that are not part of exchange groups.
WFE is the definitive source for exchange-traded statistics and publishes over 300 market data indicators. Its statistics database stretches back 70 years and provides the most definitive information and insight into developments on global exchanges. WFE exchanges are home to nearly 45,000 listed companies.
WFE promotes the development of fair, efficient and transparent markets. It works with policy makers, regulators and standard-setters around the world to support the development of effective rules and standards for exchanges and market participants.
Helping Africa to Unleash its Digital Potential
Universal access to and adoption of quality internet can only be a first step for African economies to develop their digital potential to boost growth, create jobs and harness the internet’s power for inclusive social development. In addition to closing these infrastructure-related gaps and greater availability of services, African countries and businesses need to invest more strongly in developing the necessary skills and improving conditions for digital entrepreneurs.
These are some of the outcomes of a meeting held by the Government of Morocco and the World Economic Forum on 6 March 2016 in Marrakech. The meeting was hosted by Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and Digital Economy, and participants were high-level representatives of both public and private sector, including Yasser El Kady, Minister of Communications and Information Technology of Egypt, and Tahani Abdallah Atia, Minister of Communications and Information Technology of Sudan.
“We need to create a new narrative on the opportunities for digital Africa, one where Africa is not just catching up but where we are instead leapfrogging,” said Fadi Chehadé, Chief Executive Officer of ICANN.
Recognizing the growth opportunities of the digital economy and its potential as a force for positive social change across Africa, the World Economic Forum has developed a multistakeholder community as part of its work on the Future of the Internet that is working with governments across the continent to achieve Internet for All through public-private collaboration. Morocco supports the initiative as part of its commitment to Africa’s development and growth.
Another outcome of the meeting was the agreement to move forward with the creation of a Digital Corps of youth from across Africa. This would be a one year programme to train and empower young people from all over Africa in the areas of technical expertise, advocacy social innovation and entrepreneurship related to information and communications technology with an aim to impact their local communities.
“It is essential that we succeed in making ICT a catalyst for economic growth in Africa and a key tool for improving people’s quality of life, particularly those living in remote regions,” Elalamy said. He also stressed the importance of education and the promotion of entrepreneurship as a major leverage for economic growth and job creation.
The meeting was part of the World Economic Forum’s project, The Africa Digital Economy Dialogue, which will be continued at the World Economic Forum Northern Corridor “Internet for All” meeting on 22-23 March 2016 in Mombasa, Kenya, as well as the forthcoming World Economic Forum on Africa on 11-13 May 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda, under the theme, Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation.
“Today’s discussion was an important step in changing the narrative on the role of ICT to achieve critical economic outcomes and unleash Africa’s digital economy. We are committed to exploring these ideas further in our upcoming activities,” said Alex Wong, Head of Global Challenge Partnerships, World Economic Forum.
African Farmers in the Digital Age
Farming is one of mankind’s oldest endeavors, and digital technology is one of its newest. The contributors to this fascinating volume bring them together, showing just how much good can come from the collaboration. By thinking in terms not just of crops or yields or prices, but rather of an integrated food system that links all players in the agricultural economy, Kofi Annan, Sam Dryden, and their fellow contributors allow us to see African agricultural issues in a new light. From mobile phones to big data, nutrition to climate change, the collection covers it all, with authors who have something powerful to say and the authority to be heard. They deserve kudos for their efforts in putting it together.
Keeping the Web Worldwide: Report Highlights Risk of Internet Fragmentation
New report by the World Economic Forum highlights 28 risks that could lead to fragmentation of the Internet
Concern has been growing over the past two years that the global public Internet is in danger of splintering into a series of bordered cyberspace segments. Troubling trends have emerged that could endanger the openness and consistency of the Internet’s underlying infrastructure and erect barriers to some of the content and transactions it conveys. Unfortunately, there is no consensus about the nature, scope and potential impact of this Internet fragmentation, much less how the problem is best addressed.
To help build a shared understanding and advance the emerging conversation about this global challenge, the World Economic Forum’s Global Challenge on the Future of the Internet initiative invited three leading experts –William J. Drake, International Fellow and Lecturer, University of Zurich, Switzerland; Vinton Cerf,
Vice-President and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google, USA; and Wolfgang Kleinwachter, Professor for International Communication Policy and Regulation, University of Aarhus, Denmark – to produce a white paper that lays out the issues. The paper maps the landscape of Internet fragmentation and cites 28 examples arising from technical, governmental and commercial trends.
Key examples include:
- Localization requirements on the processing
- Retention and transmission of data
- Digital protectionism that imposes barriers to cross-border commerce
- Delays and unevenness in the deployment of the new technologies needed to expand and secure cyberspace
- National strategies intended to increase state authority over the Internet within territorial borders
- Limited data transferability between digital platforms inter alia
“As a first-cut overview of the landscape of Internet fragmentation, this paper is an important new resource for everyone who cares about the Internet’s ongoing contribution to human progress and potential.
It was developed for the purpose of providing a more informed basis for the identification and prioritization of areas in which deeper multistakeholder collaboration could help to build trust and address specific problems, including through the definition of good practices or policy models that can serve as a constructive example for others,” said Richard Samans, Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum.
The report concludes that meeting the challenge of Internet fragmentation will require vigilance, analysis and international cooperation involving all relevant stakeholders.
No Time for Sleeping: But is Our Obsession with the Internet Actually Doing us Good?
Even as digital media users spend more time online than they sleep, every second user thinks it has improved their quality of life, according to over 5,000 digital media users from Brazil, China, Germany, South Africa and the United States. Paradoxically, digital users are not inclined to pay for premium (34%), or exclusive or educational content (21%). But they almost universally expect media and entertainment companies to protect their personal data (72%).
The World Economic Forum’s Shaping the Future Implications of Digital Media for Society survey uncovered emerging behaviour patterns among users linked to an individual’s impression of the impact of digital media on their own life, social interaction, civic participation, work, personal empowerment and learning and its subsequent impact on the media, entertainment and information industries.
This survey was complemented by the Forum’s Impact of Digital Content Opportunities and Risks of Creating and Sharing Information Online white paper which analysed the current and future impact of social media platforms on society. As platforms continue to grow, key issues such as ethics and privacy outlined in the paper will have an ever expanding impact on our society
Ensuring Developing Countries Benefit from Big Data
IDS Policy Briefing 107
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Big data is already creating a big impact. Some herald it as the new ‘data revolution’, others worry it is a tool for manipulation, while many in development cite it as key to successfully implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
Major decisions on big data are being taken now, but much more needs to be done to ensure the risks are minimised and the benefits shared equitably and not just among rich individuals, corporations and developed nations.
Big data is already creating a big impact. Some herald it as the new ‘data revolution’, others worry it is a tool for manipulation, while many in development cite it as key to successfully implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
Major decisions on big data are being taken now, but much more needs to be done to ensure the risks are minimised and the benefits shared equitably and not just among rich individuals, corporations and developed nations.
Big Data and International Development: Impacts, Scenarios and Policy Options
IDS Evidence Report 163
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Many people are excited about data, particularly when those data are big. Big data, we are told, will be the fuel that drives the next industrial revolution, radically reshaping economic structures, employment patterns and reaching into every aspect of economic and social life.
The numbers are certainly impressive. In 1946, one of the first computers weighed 30 tonnes and could do 500 calculations per second. Today, IBM’s ‘Watson’ supercomputer can process 500 gigabytes of data per second. Every day, 39 per cent of the global population use the internet. Facebook has more than 1.3 billion active users, and after the United States the countries with the most subscribers are India, Brazil and Indonesia. In 2007, Twitter had 400,000 tweets per quarter. By 2013, there were 500 million per day. Ninety per cent of data in existence were created in the past two years, and the quantity is doubling every two years. The size and cost of storage has fallen by a third every year since the 1970s, making it possible to store these vast new pools of data. New statistical techniques and tools such as machine-learning algorithms can process and analyse these data dynamically, at a scale and speed that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.
These changes are already having major effects and will continue to do so. Beyond that little is clear, however. In the world of data, size obviously matters. But how much will it matter in the end, in what ways will these effects be felt and by whom. Perhaps most importantly, what can be done to influence this? While considering the potential impacts of big data in a broad sense, this paper applies these questions specifically to developing countries.
ICT can change a way of living
Figuères stressed the importance of ICT for a society as a whole. She stated that a ten percent increase in high-speed internet causes a GDP growth of almost 1,5 percent. Furthermore, local ICT-related jobs pay 50 – 100 percent more, especially for women and youth.
Benefits can also be found on the level of communities or even individuals. She explained that local farmers highly benefit from a good ICT structure because they are using information to make their farms more profitable, using new techniques. These changes however, do not come easy. Loads of people still have no access to the Internet because the infrastructure is not there or because they cannot afford it. Another problem is the ability to use the technology.
Even when there are computers with a connection to the Internet many people do not know how the use them. After the lecture, questions were asked about the role of mobile phones in the social changes and how the IICD operates in developing countries causing the onset for an interesting debate.
Click here for the summary report.
Unique Portal Launched to Foster Entrepreneurship on Global Scale
A new global online platform for entrepreneurs to share their experiences and knowledge, the Global Entrepreneurship Library (GEL), was launched in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) and the World Economic Forum’s Summit on the Global Agenda this month.
The urge to create businesses can be found in people of almost every nationality, yet many of the challenges of would-be entrepreneurs can differ greatly by country and region. The GEL aims to be the first international portal of knowledge and resources to enable entrepreneurial success. It provides a way for entrepreneurs around the world to share materials and resources, including templates, case studies, how-to articles, lists of local resources, economic data, policy information and research. “Every Fortune 500 company was once a start-up,” said Krisztina “Z” Holly, chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Fostering Entrepreneurship.
“Entrepreneurs will be a key driver of economic growth in the future. However, our Council has found that the needs of individual entrepreneurs can vary widely from region to region, and the support for start-ups is incredibly uneven globally.”
“This platform is for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs,” said Thom Ruhe, Vice-President of Entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and a member of the Global Agenda Council on Fostering Entrepreneurship. “It’s a resource that we believe will empower people at the grassroots to start and grow more successful companies.”
“This will be an especially good resource for entrepreneurs in the developing world. However, it will also be extremely valuable for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Sometimes Silicon Valley can learn from the developing world because they are not just thinking outside the box – they don’t have a box,” said Lina Boren, Research Analyst for the Global Agenda Council on Fostering Entrepreneurship.
Anyone with a web browser can access content from the library and contribute to the library. To maximize idea exchange, the content itself is not vetted or censored, but contributions are screened by curators in 139 countries to ensure that it is appropriate for the entrepreneurial audience. The GEL will provide a way for useful information needed by entrepreneurs to be curated within each country, and contributed to a pool of knowledge shared internationally.
The GEL was created by the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Fostering Entrepreneurship in collaboration with the Kauffman Foundation, and built on the platform created for the 7.5 million participants of the Global Entrepreneurship Week network. Entrepreneurs, faculty and entrepreneurship advocates worldwide are invited to use the platform and to add their resources to the library.
Use the Global Entrepreneurship Library http://www.unleashingideas.org/global-entrepreneurship-library/
A future of African-led development is underway
Powered by new tech, Africa is leading its own revival and challenging conventional discourse, says TMS 'Teddy' Ruge.
Saran Kaba Jones is passionate about universal access to clean water: she is the Liberian founder of the US-based non-profit organisation FACE Africa, which provides access to safe drinking water for rural communities in Liberia and other African countries. Her social media feed is a chronicle of her work.
Jones's efforts on the continent are not isolated. Take a close peek at Africans' social media chatter and you quickly realise that she is but one African whose work is now visible thanks to their embrace of emerging communications technologies.
A future of African-led social and economic development is under way — and technology is at its centre.
Rising African voices
According to the website Internet World Stats, more than 15 per cent of Africa's population has access to the Internet. Of those 167 million who are online, more than 50 million are on Facebook.
Add in the millions of already connected and vocal Africans in the diaspora and, suddenly, an Africa flexing its uncensored, collective intelligence emerges.
Africans are leveraging the power of social media technologies to assert their influence by challenging prevailing development discourse.
The musician and activist Bono and development academics such as Bill Easterly and Paul Collier are no longer the go-to experts on the continent's development. Instead, development professor Calestous Juma, writer Teju Cole, political science professor Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, policy expert Semhar Araia and a chorus of other rising African voices are commanding the airwaves.
And for a taste of Africa's new frontline, look no further than last year's collective rebuke of KONY 2012, a video produced by the non-profit organisation Invisible Children, which was criticised for misrepresenting facts about the war criminal Joseph Kony and oversimplifying Ugandan politics.
The discourse is not about demanding that someone fixes the continent's development woes. It is very much an agency-affirming exercise where Africans are showing that we are bold enough to take charge of the continent's development.
And while social media platforms often get overrun with regurgitative pontification, sometimes they are a great way to discover other technologies being put to use for a better Africa.
Ndubuisi Ekekwe, an accomplished tech entrepreneur based in the United States, who is working to revolutionise higher education on the continent through a new university, an African Institution of Technology or AFRIT. Ekekwe's mission is to use telecommunications technology to deliver the world's collective knowledge to Africa's higher education students.
Meanwhile, my colleague Apolo Ndyabahika has been exploring ways of making sure that every child in Uganda has access to a digital learning device built in Uganda. And Solomon King, also in Uganda, is leading a team introducing robotics to the country's next generation of tinkerers through Fundi Bots, which aims to jump-start Africa's future as a technology-maker rather than just acting as a consumer.
Both Ndyabahika and King's initiatives are attempting to reverse conventional development practices such as One Laptop per Child that are heavy on imported consumptive solutions, and usher in an Africa that builds its own solutions.
With half of Africa's population under the age of 15, technology will need to play a huge role in how we both educate and employ the next generation of Africans.
Africans around the world are also using innovation to develop lucrative commercial opportunities based on overcoming the lack of infrastructure on the continent.
Tanzanian native Patrick Ngowi studied in China and has spent the better part of his life as an entrepreneur. His company, Helvetic Solar Contractors, fills the energy gaps left by unreliable national power grids that no amount of traditional aid has been able to stabilise.
Ngowi leveraged the relationships he had made in China and started importing solar technology from Asia. Helvetic Solar is now an US$8 million energy company that is slowly expanding its market footprint in East Africa.
Across the continent in Nigeria, Jason Njoku took advantage of growing Internet connectivity to make the country's prolific 'Nollywood' entertainment catalogue available online. His iROKOtv platform — the 'Netflix of Africa' — now delivers content to more than 500,000 customers worldwide, making his company the world's largest distributor of Nollywood films.
This early success helped Njoku attract an US$8 million investment to bring more African film and music content online.
Nollywood's prolific film industry is the world's second largest in terms of income per capita, and employs more than 300,000 people. An expanded distribution network for its products assures continued employment. The investment will position the platform for even more job creation in Nollywood, as a young and tech-savvy continent begins to demand (and is willing to pay for) more locally made content.
While conventional development discourse is preoccupied with institutional and academic punting on a post-2015 Africa, the continent is slowly putting the pieces of that future in play — no international Conference of Parties needed.
Technology alone is not a panacea to the continent's varied woes. But it is a critical thread being stretched through its emerging digital economies. There are 20 (and counting) technology and innovation hubs in African countries that speak to this truth.
The efforts and successes mentioned above are not simply independent efforts. They are interconnected — and will hold up the 'Africa by Africa' renaissance.
TMS "Teddy" Ruge
TMS "Teddy" Ruge is a technology writer and cofounder of Hive Colab, Uganda's first tech hub.
You can follow him on Twitter @tmsruge
Source: SciDev Net
Aid Workers Turn to Text Messaging to Improve Food Aid Delivery to Refugees in the Western Sahara
Communication between beneficiaries and food aid providers in the Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria suffers as the number of food distribution points increases.
Rosa Akbari worked as an independent researcher funded by a grant from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) to explore better communication tools to be used within the camps. What she found was a society prepped for technological innovation. By using what was already in place – a mobile phone in each household – Rosa capitalized on existing flows of information as they worked without technology and used FrontlineSMS to ease the communication within the camps.
Digital Diversity is a series of blog posts from kiwanja.net featuring the many ways mobile phones and other appropriate technologies are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives.
45˚C days and 0˚C nights – welcome to winter in the Sahara. In June 2012, I first visited the Western Sahara refugee camps in southwest Algeria to explore the potential for mobile technology to help improve humanitarian coordination within and around refugee camps. I returned in December 2012 to develop a system to connect beneficiaries and food aid providers using the lowest levels of technology possible.The camps house Sahrawi refugees fleeing from the conflict over the Western Sahara. There are five residential camps and one administrative camp called Rabouni. The Sahrawi people and expatriate authorities operate from Rabouni, while the actual organization of daily aid distribution occurs at local levels.
In 2010, the Sahrawi Red Crescent (SRC) – the lead humanitarian coordination agency in the camps – managed 27 food distribution points for nearly 125,000 people. They have since expanded to 116 distribution points: one per neighborhood. This made distribution logistics and staff coordination complex. Internal communication was unreliable at best and non-existent at worst, and beneficiaries wanted to know more from humanitarian leaders. As a result, my efforts evolved from technological experimentation to practical implementation using a text messaging (SMS) platform called FrontlineSMS.
The basic pilot established direct lines of communication between aid providers and beneficiaries that were both practical and easy to explain. While I considered a few SMS platforms, FrontlineSMS was the easiest to install and the most intuitive to use for a grassroots pilot. This became more apparent once I introduced the software to Sahrawi partners.
The implementation process involved three steps: first, assess the need for technical innovation; second, build local trust in the innovation; and third, test the system’s performance.
In this instance, the Sahrawi were ready for innovation. Each family owns at least one cellphone, maintains consistent access to electricity via solar panels, and has a history of adopting new ideas, even those introduced by external parties. Also, after watching their mobile habits, it was safe to assume that employing SMS for humanitarian coordination would not require huge behavioral shifts.
Once we confirmed operational relevance, the SRC and I focused on one district, which has four neighborhoods that house 1,305 families. I worked closely with a core group of eight humanitarian coordinators that were stationed at various points along the distribution chain. They helped to improve training and implementation procedures. My goal was to make the group comfortable with FrontlineSMS because their buy-in was crucial to creating a sustainable system. Within a day of introducing the software, they were playing with it on their own.
Setting up FrontlineSMS was easy. I outlined who was involved in the distribution flow, suggested message content and estimated times for when to send the SMS. However, FrontlineSMS was not an end all solution: people had to improve communication habits regardless of the technological aids at hand. FrontlineSMS became the catalyst for people to think of better ways to get the right information to the right people.
I was able to work directly with Sahrawi authorities because I was an independent actor. Also, I lived with a family in the district in which I worked. This gave me the chance to witness distribution routines from both ends of the spectrum: working alongside the staff by day and discussing observations with beneficiaries by night. Some of the most important information I gleaned came from casual conversations with the women in my host family.
An incoming text, via FrontlineSMS, details the status of trucks leaving Rabouni. This was one of the first messages received from distribution managers without external prompting or assistance. Photo Credit: Rosa Akbari
These two vantage points kept me one step ahead of the flows of information. For example, I found out about truck malfunctions in Rabouni as they were happening and waited to see when that news reached the beneficiaries. As a result, I was able to ensure that the beneficiaries’ perspectives were consistent with those at the SRC headquarters.
Technological innovation is rapid and unpredictable. It requires a great deal of adaptability and trust among the parties involved. The smaller the implementation group, the easier this is to manage.
Technological innovation is rapid and unpredictable. It requires a great deal of adaptability and trust among the parties involved. The smaller the implementation group, the easier this is to manage.
The Western Sahara camps are unique in that they are wholly self-administered. The Sahrawi serve as both the aid administrators and the recipients. Organizationally, there is one agency responsible for distribution: the Sahrawi Red Crescent. For me, this meant working with one partner, which I found to be very helpful, especially since I was a one-person team.
It is most important to make sure there is a problem to address before proposing a solution. Is it necessary to introduce new technology? Often, people are wrapped up in the novelty of technology without critically assessing the context in which it will be applied. From my experiences, technology is never an end all be all. It only improves human processes if the time and place are right.
Finding the right people to work with is also crucial. Suleiman, the distribution field manager, was my go-to man. Zorgan, my host and translator, was my link to the community. And Buhobeini, the president of the SRC, was my link to the logistics behind it all; his willingness to let me explore was invaluable. None of this would have worked without their cooperation. I was just some kid with tech tools, but they opened their doors and encouraged the concept.
The escalating conflicts in Mali and the Sahara prevent me from visiting. While I am still communicating with the SRC, it is difficult to watch progress from abroad. However, they have a working pilot and FrontlineSMS is accessible, which opens doors to platforms that use basic mobile phones.
Refugee camps and forgotten conflicts will always exist, but it is only a matter of time before innovative solutions from the field of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) are applied to these contexts to project the voices of those most vulnerable. With tools like FrontlineSMS, it’s safe to say we’re just getting started.
Source: National Geographic
Technology Can Help Africa Leap-Frog Development Challenges
Appropriate deployment of technology can help African countries to solve some of their development challenges.
This is the consensus view that emerged during discussions on a new flagship report titled “eTransform Africa” at the ongoing African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Annual Meetings in Marrakech, Morocco.
The report was produced by the AfDB and the World Bank, with the support of the African Union. It identifies best practice in using ICTs in key sectors of the African economy.
Africa is right at the start of its growth curve for transformational use of communication technologies. The continent is harbouring exciting opportunities, particularly with mobile phones applications and the information they deliver.
For the AfDB, supporting information and communication technologies (ICT) is key to improving the lives of Africans and driving entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth throughout the continent.
“With 540 million users in Africa, the continent has one of the fastest growing mobile phone markets in the world.” AfDB principal telecom engineer, Enock Yonazi, explained.
Yet, Africa encounters many connectivity challenges such as the gap in cross-border inter-connection, the stimulation of demand and how to fully leverage the infrastructure that is being put in place for structural transformation.
Described as “one of the best mobile application in the world” by Amadou Oumarou from AfDB’s Transport and ICT Department and listed as a successful example of how mobile services can change the economic growth of a society, MPESA, (M for mobile, Pesa for money in Kiswahili) was put in the spotlight during the session. The mobile phone tool allows Kenyans to transfer money from one mobile phone to another and pay for a range of things from a meal to school fees. Betty Thuo of Kenya’s mobile phone company, Safaricom, told the session that “last year, the service contributed to 40% of Kenya’s GDP and has saved the average customer three hours and US$4 a day. “
Yet, more needs to be done to ensure that all Africans are able to benefit from ICT’s. The lack of infrastructure is a real challenge throughout the continent and in that regard, Yonazi said the AfDB strongly encourages governments to focus on this issue and create an ecosystem, which can reach the less connected rural areas. As education and training is also a major factor in social transformation, governments must also urge students and researchers to use ICT’s.
Although technologies such as the mobile phone have revolutionized communication in Africa, the continent remains the least connected in the world. With 7% economic growth expected on the continent by 2020, social and economic gaps must rapidly be filled. The AfDB has a major role to play in this domain.
Source: African Development Bank Group
Paving the way for tech transfer
A new UN body to advise nations on climate tech may break the deadlock in the long-running debate on transferring technology
Rich nations have the technological know-how needed for poor nations to develop — but how do you deliver it without compromising the intellectual property and the business edge that such technologies gives economies that have it?
This is one of the big development questions that has been debated in the UN arena for decades, with little real progress made in finding a sustainable way of transferring technology and finding a way to pay for such transfer.
Now, some see the Climate Technology Center and Network, one of the pillars of the UN's new Technology Mechanism, beginning its work to help developing countries access technologies related to climate change, as an example of a way forward.
"You'd like to buy a new camera and you can find lots of information online but sometimes the best thing is to talk to a 'friend' that you trust. So you go to third parties, to independent testers or consumer advice magazines," says Mark Radka, the chief of the energy branch of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). "We want to fulfil that sort of role."
The CTCN was established by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and is designed to transfer technology from developed to developing countries.  It was officially launched in Nairobi, Kenya, in February.
As well to provide a platform for sharing knowledge, the CTCN's aim will be to build capacity in entrepreneurship and in developing policies and programmes to attract foreign investment in climate technologies.
It will also work to expand international partnerships — both North-South and South-South — to accelerate the diffusion of environmentally sound technologies, particularly among communities in developing countries.
The Technology Mechanism's second pillar is the Technology Executive Committee (TEC), which will examine broader policy questions, such as barriers to and mechanisms for technology transfer.
It will also consider countries' technological needs, promote collaboration and catalyse the development and use of technology action plans by countries.
Plugging the advice gap
"When we decided to put in a proposal to run the CTCN, we sat down and gave some thought as to what was currently not working, not delivering, or missing," Radka says.
"Governments and people in the private sector who make decisions about climate technology often have a lot of information but not much confidence in making decisions based on that information," he says.
There was a conundrum, he adds: "if you had a well-articulated idea, funding was not such a problem, but you couldn't get funding to develop an idea, at least not easily."
The CTCN is a UN Environment Programme-led consortium of organisations from around the world, each with more than 20 years' experience, that can provide detailed advice on a range of technology issues to a country on request.
It includes the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand; the Bariloche Foundation in Argentina; South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; India's The Energy and Resources Institute; Environment and Development Action in the Third World in Senegal; The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center in Costa Rica; and the Kenya-based World Agroforestry Centre as well as organisations in Denmark, Germany and the United States.
Energy and food
In its proposal, the consortium gave two examples of how it might help transfer climate technology in practice.
One was to help a country that needed further investment in its energy supply and currently relied on fossil fuels to prepare and implement a national energy programme to increase supply with at least half coming from renewable sources.
The CTCN would aim "to build long-term capacity of institutions, to strengthen enabling policies, and to assist in mobilizing increased investment in renewable energy development".
The second example was helping a country with variable rainfall and an under-resourced agricultural research institute to formulate a strategy for developing drought-resistant crops, including ideas for involving regional, national and international institutions and carrying out joint research with another country.
In both cases, a technical team would "provide training, technical assistance, data, analysis tools, and other technical resources along with support for peer exchanges with other countries".
The Technology Mechanism has been welcomed as "an important milestone towards operationalising the technology transfer provisions in the UNFCCC" by Ahmed Abdel Latif, senior programme manager for innovation, technology and intellectual property at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Switzerland.
Padmashree Gehl Sampath, an expert on innovation, technology and development, agrees. "We have moved from simply dealing with it in a rhetorical sense, to identifying the key issues, to fostering mutually acceptable solutions for all countries," she tells SciDev.Net.
"I think the Technology Mechanism's main strength is that it is somehow trying to move away from dealing with technology transfer as an individual issue to looking at it in a systemic perspective. I think this is a very important and a very fresh change, and it's needed," she says.
However, it is still early days and, despite the optimism, doubts remain.
"The institutional set-up at least is progressing, but whether in fact effective technology transfer will happen or not is yet to be seen," Meena Raman, coordinator of the Climate Programme of the Malaysian-based Third World Network tells SciDev.Net.
"Technology transfer actually means real transfer of the know-how and the technology, so that the developing country is able to manufacture, produce and adapt the technology for its purposes," she says.
Nevertheless, Gehl Sampath thinks the Technology Mechanism's proposed approach — geared towards fostering innovation and technology development as opposed to a limited focus on technology transfer from developed to developing countries — is very promising.
"Other approaches to technology transfer have looked at it in terms of granting access to certain existing technologies, but not interfacing it with aspects that really lead to learning from them," she says. "Innovation constraints in developing countries stem from the inability to build local indigenous technological capabilities," she adds. These capabilities "are not only essential for innovation of completely new products and processes, but also for greater adaptation, deployment and use of existing environmentally friendly technologies within local contexts".
This does not mean the financing of entire new production activities, she points out, but may involve simpler support such as seed money or demonstration and deployment facilities, where you can show how the technology can be developed into a product.
"Whether or not, and to what extent, this will really find a place in the implementation of the mechanism will be decisive, of course. But at this nascent stage, it is important that the emphasis [on fostering innovation] is there.
"I think that is the change in the Technology Mechanism, and that is a very important thing," she says.
Not a funding body
The CTCN will not charge for its assistance, but it does not include funding.
"We might provide initial technical assistance to help the client really dig into the heart of the matter and formulate an approach or take a decision," says Radka, "but the money to actually put it in place will come from somewhere else. The CTCN is not a funding mechanism."
However, the CTCN does intend to assist countries "in pursuing opportunities for additional donor support". These might include the Global Environment Facility, the Green Climate Fund and the World Bank.
Initially, the CTCN and its activities will be funded by contributions from developed countries. So far, Canada, Denmark, the European Commission, Japan, Norway and the United States have expressed an interest. In the longer term, a more sustainable source of funding is needed, says Radka.
Gehl Sampath agrees this is necessary if the CTCN is to be able to provide services to all developing countries. "Its performance will hinge upon it," she says.
Photograph: Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany Flickr/UNClimateChange
Impact of intellectual property rights
She points out that one issue that has haunted technology transfer negotiations as part of an internationally agreed climate change agreement is intellectual property rights. Traditionally, developing countries have seen IP rights as a potential barrier to technology transfer, while developed ones have seen it as an incentive to innovation.
The TEC is looking at this issue. According to Abdel Latif, the wide diversity of climate technologies makes it difficult to precisely define the impact of intellectual property rights on the transfer of these technologies.
"It's important to look at individual countries' and sector situations on a case-by-case basis and in light of concrete evidence," he argues.
Abdel Latif says that while intellectual property rights should not be a stumbling block in the TEC's work at this early stage, ultimately they must be considered as it is hard to envisage a credible approach to technology transfer without pondering their role.
If the Technology Mechanism is successful, it may point the way to successful technology transfer in fields other than technology to fight climate change.
"If we are able to make it work in the field of climate change, there will be lessons that we can derive from that for sectors beyond," says Gehl Sampath.
Joanna Carpenter is a Member of the Association of British Science Writers and an Associate of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.
Joanna Carpenter is a freelance science writer and technical editor. Her academic background is in natural sciences. Her first degree is in natural sciences from Cambridge University. She has a doctorate from Oxford University for research on Magnetic field effects on electron transfer reactions in photosynthetic bacteria. That combined quantum chemistry with physics, and biology. She also holds a Masters in science communication from Imperial College London.
Source: SciDev Net
Understanding the users in Technology for Transparency and Accountability Initiatives
The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has risen dramatically since the turn of the millennium, in particular among people in countries of the global South.
This has fuelled great enthusiasm among the aid, development and technology communities over the past decade to apply Technology for Transparency and Accountability Initiatives (T4TAIs) in order to deepen democracy and improve developmental outcomes. Funding agencies, engaged activists and governance scholars are looking closely at their impact and effectiveness.
In particular, concerns have been raised that not enough attention has been paid to the people expected to take up and use T4TAIs. If T4TAIs are to be accessible, effective and contribute to their stated goals, it is critical that understanding if and how ordinary people currently use T4TAIs and the constraints on their taking action is significantly improved. This Briefing reports on a learning study undertaken by Hivos and partners which is a step in this direction.