Project Management

Publishing

Entries in infrastructure (7)

Monday
Nov062017

Smart Cities Up Close | 2013

 


Story: David South

Design and Layout: Solveig Rolfsdottir

Publication: Southern Innovator Issue 4: Cities and Urbanization

Publisher: United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)

Date: 2013

Smart Cities Up Close in Southern Innovator Issue 4.

Southern Innovator Issue 4 contents.

Meet Southern Innovator.

Southern Innovator Issue 4: Cities and Urbanization is published by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

The first five issues of Southern Innovator. The highly influential magazine was distributed around the world and each issue was launched at the annual Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo hosted by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

© David South Consulting 2017 

Wednesday
Jul012015

Radical Drone Solution to Woeful Infrastructure in Poor Countries

 

New UNOSSC banner Dev Cha 2013

Drones – unpiloted aircraft, formally called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) – have long been used for military purposes. The U.S. military claims to have 7,500 drones – a massive growth from just 50 a decade ago – and has used them for surveillance and combat in conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq.

Drones can cost anywhere between a few thousand and millions of dollars depending on their size and sophistication. Some weigh as little as half a kilogram, and the largest can reach 18,000 kilograms (19 tons).

It is estimated 40 countries around the world are working on drones in one capacity or another.

Military drones come with ominous-sounding names such as Predator, Fire Scout, Global Hawk and Hunter. But many pioneers and innovators are setting out to prove drones can be a technology of peace and development and not just of fear and war.

YouTube provides many examples of drones being tested out as a delivery method. SF Express (http://www.sf-express.com/cn/en/product_service/product_intro/airline_delivery.html), a courier service in Dongguang, China has tried delivering parcels by drone. It is using a drone with eight rotor blades, called an octocopter (http://www.steadidrone.eu/octocopter-ei8ht/).

In Shanghai, the InCake bakery has used drones to deliver cakes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXwgwSkujOY). The service was brought to a halt after complaints from citizens, worried the drone would crash into someone.

The American pizza chain Domino’s has been testing drones for delivering pizza in the United Kingdom (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDXuGQRpvs4). A British company has used drones to deliver sushi to restaurant tables in London (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV0yQYXLU34).

These may prove to be novelty experiments – or the early days of a revolution. Time will tell.

But serious thinking about drones is taking place in the area of development.

One pioneering company thinks it has a solution for two big problems common to many developing countries: the chaos, congestion and crowding that clog urban areas; and the poor or non-existent infrastructure in rural areas. Both problems make it expensive and time-consuming to move goods around.

A billion people in the world do not have access to all-weather roads, says the World Bank. Some roads are being upgraded in parts of sub-Saharan Africa but many are in worse shape than they were decades ago. Modern infrastructure is expensive to build, and the funds to do it often must be borrowed.

A startup called Matternet thinks it has the solution to getting around this problem in Africa, and in rapidly growing cities of the global South. It believes drones can come to the rescue where infrastructure is poor or non-existent, and save valuable wealth that can be diverted to real improvements in human development, or used to reduce congestion in crowded urban areas.

The Matternet (http://matternet.us/) is billed as “the next paradigm for transportation.” Matternet is offering a system and a concept for deploying drones as a scalable solution to overcome the problem of poor transportation networks in developing countries.

The artist’s vision on Matternet’s website shows drones buzzing their way through an urban high-rise landscape as they go about their business.

The Matternet drone design has two wings with three fans in each wing to allow it to take off and land vertically as well as flying in a straight line. There is a 10 litre space for packages and a rechargeable battery at the bottom of the drone. The drones can fly at 40 kilometres an hour, at an altitude of up to 121 metres and are guided by GPS (Global Positioning System) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System).

The drone moves in and out of a ground-station landing pod, where it is recharged, picks up new packages to deliver, and connects electronically to receive instructions. An entry and exit slot sits on top of the pod while there is a place at ground level for people to pop in packages for delivery.

Each vehicle costs US $1,000 and can last 10 years, the makers claim. Matternet believes the drones could transport 2 kilograms over 10 kilometres for just 24 US cents a trip.

Matternet’s Andreas Raptopoulos (https://www.solveforx.com/moonshots/physical-transport) hopes to push Africa away from simply upgrading its infrastructure along the lines of what is already in existence in developed countries. It is estimated it will take Africa another 50 years to have an infrastructure equal to North America. But why wait so long? Why not, he argues, just use drones or UAVs to knit a transport infrastructure criss-crossing the continent delivering goods and services to people?

Radical drone advocates like Matternet are very ambitious. They believe drones are to infrastructure what mobile phones have been to telecommunications: an advanced, 21st-century technology that enables countries to leapfrog ahead of old-school 20th century infrastructure and connect people up for much less cost and effort.

Imagine a city in the global South 15 years from now: canyons of high-rise buildings stretch from the central business district out to the suburbs where apartment towers replace office buildings. And whooshing through these canyons will be the drones carrying everything from takeaway food to medical supplies to the latest fashion items.

Anywhere in Africa can currently contact Matternet to arrange a trial of the technology (http://matternet.us/get-matternet/). The concept had field trials in the Dominican Republic and Haiti in the Caribbean. A large field test trial is being arranged for Lesotho, where the drones will help with delivering supplies to clinics serving patients with HIV/AIDS. The 47 clinics are spread out over a 138 square kilometre area and will be served by 50 ground stations and 150 drones at a cost of US $900,000. In comparison, building 2 kilometres of a single lane road would cost US $1 million.

Matternet is based in Palo Alto, California and founded by partners Andreas Raptopoulos, Paola Santana, Dimitar Pachlov and Darlene Damm.

It was conceived at the Singularity University (http://singularityu.org/) whose mission is to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges.

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: October 2013

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=I_hcAwAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+october+2013&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challenges-october-2013-issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Tuesday
Jun302015

More Futuristic African Cities in the Works

 

New UNOSSC banner Dev Cha 2013

It has been well documented that China is undergoing the largest migration in human history from rural areas to cities. But this urbanization trend is occurring across the global South, including in Africa, as well. According to the UN, more than half the world’s population already lives in cities, and 70 per cent will live in urban areas by 2050. Most of the world’s population growth is concentrated in urban areas in the global South.

These emerging urban areas represent vast opportunities for innovators. Innovators will be needed to build them, and in turn they will provide modern facilities for innovators to operate in and engage with the global economy. And they will connect innovators to 21st-century information technology.

But while the government in China engages in significant planning and preparation to facilitate movements to urban areas – often building entire cities from scratch (http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1975397,00.html) – that has not been the case in Africa. People in Africa are on the move because they are seeking out opportunities, but much of this movement has been poorly planned and not well thought out.

But now more and more African governments are grappling with how to call time on chaotic and haphazard development and build sustainable, planned cities that will significantly improve human development and quality of life.

Across Africa, a host of ambitious new cities and urban developments are in the works.

Kenya’s Konza Technology City (konzacity.co.ke) is planned as a new centre 60 kilometres from the capital, Nairobi. Calling itself a “world-class technology hub and a major economic driver for the nation”, it offers a high-tech vision full of ultra-modern buildings and houses in order to spur the future growth of Kenya’s technology industry.

It is hoped Konza will create 100,000 jobs by 2030. There will be a central business district, a university campus for 1,500 students, a residential community, and parks and wildlife in green corridors.

The groundbreaking ceremony occurred on January 2013 but the Kenyan Ministry of Lands and Housing has halted operations to allow for greater community engagement, according to Urban Africa. A dispute had erupted with the current landowners who wanted to be better consulted about the development and had accused the government of locking them out of the physical planning process.

Tatu City, Kenya (tatucity.com) bills itself as “by Kenyans, for Kenyans”. It is being built by Rendeavour (rendeavour.com), the urban development division of Moscow-based Renaissance Group (rengroup.com), one of the largest urban developers of land in Africa. It joins Konza Technology City as a flagship project for the government’s Vision 2030, hoping to turn Kenya into a middle-income country and a role model for other countries in East Africa.

Tatu City is 15 kilometres from Nairobi. It will take up 1,035 hectares and will be completed in 10 phases. Construction began in May 2012 and is scheduled to be completed by 2022.

It is selling safety and a “beautiful urban environment” just a short journey away from Nairobi’s existing Central Business District. Tatu City wants to be “a model of the African city of the future” as a “dynamic mixed-use, mixed-income environment that will be home to an estimated 70,000 residents and 30,000 day visitors”.

Just 25 minutes from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, it promises to be one of “the most modern, well-planned urban developments in East Africa”.

In Ghana, a number of innovative projects in development reflect the country’s impressive economic growth and information technology achievements in the past decade.

Two cities are being designed by Rendeavour. One, Appolonia, is being built in the Greater Accra area while the second, King City, is being built on the west coast of the country where there is an oil and gas boom underway.

Both will have houses, retail and commercial centres, schools, healthcare facilities and other social services.

“Our objective is to provide the basic infrastructure, planning and necessary management framework in creating satellite cities that reverses the current trend of unplanned development and urban congestion in most of Africa’s growing cities,” Tim Beighton of Rendeavour told CNN.

These projects are in an advanced stage, with all plans completed and approved by the government, according to their websites.

Appolonia City of Light near Accra (appolonia.com.gh) – due to break ground in the third quarter of 2013 – capitalizes on Accra’s status as one of Africa’s fastest-growing urban areas. The Appolonia development will be a “planned, sustainable, mixed-use and mixed-income city” to build a “work-live-play” community for 88,000 people living in 22,000 homes.

It will be built 30 kilometres northeast of Accra’s central business district and will have retail, commercial and industrial space combined with tourism, social and recreation facilities.

King City in Takoradi (kingcity.com.gh) calls itself “Western Ghana’s new holistic city”. It will offer homes, shops, offices, industries and public places. The plan includes building 25,000 new homes and, importantly, over 30 per cent of the city will be allocated for green space. It will take up 1,000 hectares on the outskirts of Sekondi-Takoradi.

Elsewhere in Accra, the Hope (Home Office People Environment) City (http://www.rlgghana.com/index.php/2013-02-07-11-25-04.html) is a much more ambitious concept. It is one of a cluster of projects in Africa focused on building the infrastructure for a 21st century, high-tech future. Costing US $10 billion, it will be built outside Accra and is focused on boosting Ghana’s already established reputation in the field of information and communications technology. It will be home to 25,000 people and create jobs for 50,000. There will be six towers including a 75-storey, 270 metre building that hopes to be the highest in Africa.

It is being financed by RLG Communications, a mix of investors and a stock-buying scheme.

There will be an assembly plant for high-tech products, business offices an information technology university, a hospital and restaurants, theaters and sports centres.

The design is hyper-modern and tries to create a vertical office environment that is dense and reduces the amount of time it takes to get around and circulate between businesses in the complex.

Eko Atlantic on Victoria Island in Lagos, Nigeria (ekoatlantic.com) is a coastal residential and business development that calls itself “The New Gateway to Africa”. To ease pressure in an already crowded city, it is being built on 10 square kilometres of reclaimed land from the Atlantic Ocean. It will be able to house 250,000 people and give work to 150,000.

The story began in 2003 when the Lagos State government was looking for a solution to protect the Bar Beach area of the city from coastal erosion. Land is being reclaimed from the sea and it will make up an area the equivalent of Manhattan in New York City. Just like Manhattan, it is hoped Eko Atlantic will become the new financial centre for West Africa by the year 2020.

Kilamba, or Nova Cidade de Kilamba (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.231897596836631.80284.228497773843280), 30 kilometres outside Luanda, Angola is being built by the China International Trust and Investment Corporation (http://www.citic.com/wps/portal). It is on a vast scale and is designed to be home to 500,000 people with apartment blocks and commercial spaces. It has cost so far US $3.5 billion and is part of a government pledge to provide a million new homes within four years. Kilamba has come in for criticism for not being affordable enough for ordinary Angolans and for having much of the site unoccupied. With the apartments too expensive for ordinary Angolans, the government has decided to take action and ordered the prices to be reduced and made more affordable, according to Angola Press .

La Cite du Fleuve in the Democratic Republic of Congo (lacitedufleuve.com) is  a more conventional luxury housing development built on two islands in the capital, Kinshasa. Kinshasa, despite its problems and the turmoil from an ongoing civil war, is one of the continent’s fastest-growing cities. Developed by Hawkwood Properties, La Cite du Fleuve will need to reclaim 375 hectares of sandbanks and swamps to be able to build a collection of riverside villas, offices and shopping centres. It is is planned to take 10 years to complete.

And finally, Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, wants to transform itself into the “center of urban excellence in Africa”.

The 2020 Kigali Conceptual Master Plan (http://www.kigalicity.gov.rw/spip.php?article494) hopes to create a regional hub for business, trade and tourism, by building a mix of commercial and shopping districts with glass skyscrapers and modern hotels, parks and entertainment facilities.

Critics, however, believe these new cities and modern developments are tackling the problems of urban development by bypassing most of the population. They argue they are just developments for those with money who can buy their way out of the chaos and lack of planning of current African cities.

“They are essentially designed for people with money,” Vanessa Watson, professor of city planning at the University of Cape Town, told CNN. She believes most of the plans are unsustainable “urban fantasies” detached from the reality of African poverty and informal living.

But while it is easy to criticize these ambitious projects, they reflect not only optimism for the continent’s future but also a clear recognition the continent will not be able to get wealthier without modern cities and infrastructure in keeping with a 21st-century economy.

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: August 2013

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Cited in Beyond Gated Communities edited by Samer Bagaeen and Ola Uduku (Routledge, 2015) 

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=YfRcAwAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+august+2013&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challenges-august-2013-issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Thursday
Jun252015

Diaspora Bonds to Help Build up Infrastructure

 

Many people are aware of the significant role played in global development by remittance payments from migrant workers working in the wealthy North to the global South. But they may not be aware of the significant sums migrant workers have saved in bank accounts in these wealthy countries. Across the global South, efforts are underway to lure these sums back to home countries to boost development efforts.

As the hard-earned money migrant workers save sits in bank accounts in wealthy Western countries earning very low interest rates – a consequence of the current global economic crisis – so-called “Diaspora Bonds” seek to offer a way to earn good interest returns and help build up home countries at the same time.

The money can help developing countries build facilities they need but cannot afford: roads, bridges, railways, water supplies, power, sewerage, street lighting. It is a way to bypass dependence on foreign aid and borrowing from aid agencies or the general marketplace.

US $501 billion in remittance payments was sent in 2011, of which US $372 billion went to developing countries, involving some 192 million migrants or 3 per cent of the world’s population (World Bank). On top of this, migrants from developing countries have saved an estimated US $400 billion – and these funds are being targeted by those selling diaspora bonds (The Economist).

The idea is being promoted by the World Bank and draws on the successful experiences with bonds for Israel and India. Both countries have long histories of turning to diaspora communities to raise funds through bonds.

The bonds work by playing on patriotism and the genuine desire of migrants to want to see conditions improve back home. As the thinking goes, patriotic investors are more likely to be patient. This is critical because many countries cannot offer rapid profits and a quick pay off – something sought by short-term investors obsessed with the ups and downs of the stock market. They are also sterner investors, less likely to run away when the going gets tough. Their local knowledge means they will not panic and pull their investments when bad news hits the headlines. And probably best of all, they don’t mind if the local currency declines in value – that just means they can pick up a local house on the cheap or buy a business for even less money.

One business working in this area is Homestrings (homestrings.com): Motto “Come make a difference.” An Internet platform offering diaspora bonds, it is run by founder and chief executive officer Eric-Vincent Guichard. An American born to a Guinean father and American mother, he spent 20 years growing up in rural Guinea and knows the country well. He also heads up GRAVITAS Capital Advisors, Inc. (gravitascapital.com), founded in 1996, which advises governments on how to manage their assets. A graduate of HarvardBusinessSchool and a former World Bank scholar, he is based in Washington, D.C.

According to its website, Homestrings works like this: “It all starts with your ability to scan through a catalog of projects, funds and public-private partnership opportunities that focus on regions you come from or that you care deeply about. Each of these projects and/or funds is detailed in a Fact Sheet that is set up to help you do the due diligence needed to make an investment decision. Then, Homestrings directs your investment into the selected project or fund, with the help of our administrator.”

Investments are monitored on a monthly or quarterly basis and are selected for their socio-economic impact and investment profitability.

The website has a personal “Dashboard” that allows investors to use the site to vote for or against investments and make comments. And Homestrings will promote the investments that receive the most support and positive comments.

To make an investment, a potential investor selects a fund or project that matches their interest. They read the Fact Sheet and choose. The funds are then passed on to the investment bond and an interest percentage or dividend is paid at regular intervals. Investors can keep track of the investment through the personal Dashboard on the website.

Fact Sheets are organized by geographical region, industry focus, and development theme. Investments “cover infrastructure, health care, education, transportation, and small and medium sized enterprise finance – all critical areas of economic growth.”

The Homestrings Catalog of investments includes the governments of Kenya, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and also AFREN PLC, which is looking to finance oil and gas exploration off the coast of Nigeria.

Dramatic improvements in global communications in the past five years have also made it much easier for everyone involved to stay in touch and for bond promoters to identify and target potential customers.

The World Bank is currently advising countries on how to run diaspora bond schemes. Kenya, Nigeria and the Philippines have schemes in the works, according to The Economist.

Ethiopia has announced the “Renaissance Dam Bond” (http://grandmillenniumdam.net/). Proceeds will be used to fund the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam, the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa, able to generate 5,250 megawatts. Ethiopia tried a similar scheme before with the Millennium Corporate Bond to raise funds for the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO). This did not entirely meet expectations and sales were slow. Reasons given for this included a perception that EEPCO could not meet payment expectations when the hydroelectric power plant was operating. There was also a lack of trust in the government and its financial stability and the overall political risks.

The second attempt at a bond is believed to better thought through. It comes with an aggressive marketing and awareness-raising campaign aimed at the diaspora, and it starts at US $50, making it more affordable for more people.  It can be used as collateral in Ethiopia – an advantage for those wanting to do business back in the home country.

For potential investors, it is worth remembering that bonds are debts that are rewarded with regular interest payments and paid back at the end of the bond term. They are not risk-free and the risk can lie either in the sovereign solvency of the country or in the investment.

The secret to a successful bond issue is to keep up good relations with the diaspora; countries that are too oppressive could find themselves short of people willing to take up the offer.

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: October 2012

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=zvLBoEfECgUC&dq=development+challenges+october+2012&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challengessouthsouthsolutionsoctober2012issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Wednesday
Jun242015

Data Surge across Global South Promises to Re-shape the Internet

 

The deluge of data gathered by the digital revolution underway in the global South continues to offer a significant economic opportunity. How this data is harvested will forge the successful Internet business models of the future.

As the Internet spreads its way further across the global South, many are forecasting this new surge in web users and the data they generate will radically reshape the way people engage with and use the Internet. Unlike previous generations of web users, most of these new users will be accessing the Internet primarily with mobile phones and other devices, rather than computers. Many will not be native English speakers.

Argentinian philosopher and digital publisher Octavio Kulesz says “the digital experiences undertaken in the South suggest that new technologies represent a great opportunity for developing countries … but on the condition that local entrepreneurs seek out original models adapted to the concrete needs of their communities.”

In a report for the International Alliance of Independent Publishers, Kulesz said we “must ask ourselves how useful it would be to reproduce the prototypes from the North in the South.”

According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index Forecast (2010-2015), by 2015, there will be 3 billion Internet users in the world: 40 percent of the global population. Internet Protocol (IP) traffic is growing fastest in Latin America, where it is forecast to grow by 50 percent from 2010 to 2015. Next are the Middle East and Africa.

There are already as many networked devices – tablets, mobile phones, connected appliances and smart machines – on the planet as people. By 2015 – the year of the Millennium Development Goals (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals) – they’ll outnumber people by two to one.

The potential of the Internet revolution is especially compelling in Africa, a continent neglected for so long in the global communications revolution. The 10,000 kilometre-long East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy), connecting sub-Saharan Africa with Europe and Asia, has joined other cables from the continent. Gradually, the infrastructure is coming in to place to connect Africa properly to the world.

The first batch of Internet users came from the United States, home of the Internet which grew out of the US military’s Arpanet system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET). This first wave of the Internet’s history was very much an American phenomenon. The priorities and content of the web were driven by the cultural and economic concerns of its American users. And the big brands of today’s web reflect this: Google, Facebook, eBay, Twitter, Yahoo, WordPress, to name a few.

As the web expanded across wealthy, developed nations in Europe, users mostly mimicked the priorities of the American approach, using the web to express themselves, be entertained, share files, access government services and sell and market products and services.

But the spread of the Internet across the global South is already showing itself to have a different character and set of priorities. One change is in the way people are accessing the web: through mobile phones and other devices, rather than through laptops and personal computers.

In the future, the trend is towards a global mobile world, in which the communications medium will favour video and audio over text, according to Fast Company magazine (http://www.fastcompany.com). Information is being shared across boundaries on a vast scale for the first time. People around the world are gaining access to data and information never available before, and all of it is nearly instantaneous.

Kulesz said countries of the South face a profound and difficult decision: follow the lead taken by the technology pioneers of the South, or try and replicate what was done in the North?

“Sooner or later, these countries will have to ask themselves what kind of digital publishing highways they must build,” his report said, “and they will be faced with two very different options: a) financing the installation of platforms designed in the North; b) investing according to the concrete needs, expectations and potentialities of local authors, readers and entrepreneurs. Whatever the decision of each country may be, the long-term impact will be immense.”

The costs of trying to replicate the technological infrastructure of the North makes little sense, when it is technologically possible to bypass this costly infrastructure with even newer work-arounds.

“Of course, it would be extraordinary to obtain 80 percent Internet penetration in Africa or make huge investments in infrastructure throughout the developing regions,” continues Kulesz, “but that may never happen. And in the event that it does occur some day, by then the industrialized countries will no doubt have made another technological leap, meaning that the disparity in infrastructure would still persist. So the most effective option is to start working right now, with what is available.”

New global magazine Southern Innovator (http://www.scribd.com/doc/57980406/Southern-Innovator-Issue-1), published by UNDP’s Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, captures how this process is happening, as the people of the global South re-shape the Internet to be their own and to meet their needs.

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: August 2011

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=j42YBgAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+august+2011&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challengessouthsouthsolutionsaugust2011issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.