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The United States Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) has released a publication titled the “Report on Reports” every year since 2008. These publications are designed to analyze reports issued by different groups that address development and diplomacy, and to then come to a consensus about the best way to address certain areas.

The USGLC was established in 1995 and works with over 400 businesses and non-governmental organizations to create viable solutions for global development and diplomacy. They also work with religious leaders, academics, and community leaders in an effort to reach out to people from many different perspectives.

Members of the USGLC Advisory Board include Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, Henry Kissinger, and Condoleezza Rice.

The 2012 Report on Reports was issued in June of this year. The report, which analyzed more than 30 reports across the political spectrum, outlined six major areas of consensus that the USGLC wanted to focus on in order to improve the United States’ diplomatic relationships and development efforts across the globe.

The first area identified is to strengthen civilian power. The USGLC concluded that the civilian foreign service workforce must continue to grow in order to protect national security and promote our interests.

The second area of consensus is to ensure results-driven development, emphasizing transparency, accountability, and regular evaluations of all development efforts.

The third area is to leverage the private sector. Rather than focusing purely on public and governmental development efforts, the USGLC supports increased cooperation with private sector groups like academic institutions and foundations.

The fourth area identified is to maintain sufficient resources, particularly to support civilian contributions to national security.

The fifth area of consensus is to improve coordination among the players, especially streamlining government agencies to improve coordination, clarity of leadership, and consistency in our development and diplomacy.

The sixth and final area is simply to prioritize. The USGLC emphasizes that although the need for development will continue to increase, we must do our best to match that need with our efforts.

Clearly, the overall emphasis of the 2012 Report on Reports is increased civilian and private-sector participation in U.S. diplomacy and development efforts across the globe. The Center for Strategic and International Studies noted that this will require support for budget reallocation from both ends of the political spectrum to fund this increased participation in these efforts. Furthermore, the bipartisan emphasis of the Report on Reports indicates the need for policymakers to reach across political lines in order to pursue the best interests of both the United States and the developing world.

What does this mean for the United States and the way that it proceeds in its global development efforts? In simple terms, the 2012 USGLC Report on Reports seeks to expand the base of participants in global development by including the civilian and private sectors and also seeks to improve bipartisan cooperation about these efforts. As we move forward in the upcoming years, the USGLC’s recommendations will improve the efficiency, participation, and success of our diplomatic and developmental projects around the world.

– Sarah Russell Cansler

Sources: United Global Leadership Coalition, United States Global Leadership Coalition 2013 Reports on Reports, The Center For Strategic and International Studies
Photo: One

video games
The video game industry is huge – worth about $78 billion in 2012 – the size of the movie and music industry combined. Yet almost all games are produced in the developed world. The limitations on producing games in the global south are manifold – technological, education, and financial. So how can game creators in these areas grow?

Even in relatively wealthy South Africa game consoles are years behind industry leaders. Support from game publishers outside their core territories is minimal. On top of that, hurdles to creating games on the current platforms are high: access to the specialized hardware and licenses provided by the console manufacturers are expensive and not given easily.

The most common platform for gaming in Africa and Asia is the mobile phone. In Africa, of the 650 million mobile phones, Nokia Series 40 and BlackBerry 7 are still the dominant platforms. Adam Oxford of explains that, “Mxit and BiNu are really big social networks geared up for feature phones, with massive followings in South Africa and Nigeria. There are loads of games on both platforms.”

Although there are not many local game makers in the developing world, Africa has a handful scattered in countries such as Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. Nana Kwabena Owusu of Ghana’s Leti Games thinks this shortage of talent is an education problem. “There are good creators, but retraining them to think in terms of game development, merging technical and creative thinking, is tough.” This is not a problem restricted to Africa – the education system in the U.K. has only just been restructured to encourage good programmers, and game design is still mostly learned though experience in studios.

By giving the opportunity of learning how to develop games and programs in Africa, a new market could be tapped. Even though the most common electronics in Africa are outdated in comparison to East Asian, American, and European products, there is still the opportunity for new developers to sell to American markets. Developing games on the Android and iPhone markets is an easy way to insert African developers into a market that has much potential to grow. This increase in developers in Africa could in turn boost the strength and diversity of many African nations’ economies.

– Matthew Jackoski

Sources: The Guardian, MCV
Photo: Wonder How To

In this rapidly changing world, language continues to dictate relations. English speaking countries tend to display their close bond with one another, France shows affinity towards its former francophone colonies, and now, for the past decade, a growth in relations between Brazil and other lusophone African countries, such as Angola and Mozambique, has developed.

Linguistic ties are not all that bind Brazil with many African countries. While sharing a range of historical and cultural similarities, Brazil has sought relations with African states to strengthen its connection to the continent.

These relations began in the 1970s and grew more ambitious in the early 2000s. Starting in 2003 with the government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil continues to invest in its relationship with African states, ranging from science and technology, to culture.

Despite boasting the 8th largest GDP in the world, Brazil is still considered a developing country due to enormous income disparities. Even with reductions in poverty during Lula’s Presidency, extreme poverty remains an issue.

Yet historical and cultural relations continue to make Brazil’s poverty reduction efforts stand out amongst other Latin American nations. It is this difference that Patrice Clédjo, professor at the University of Abomey-Calavi, points to as the difference between Brazil’s collaboration with African states and the traditional Western partnership. “Brazil’s cooperation with and aid to Africa is linked initially to a geopolitical ambition and economic interest, but also to the strong historical links and affinities with countries in Africa, relationships other emerging nations do not have with Africa,” states Clédjo.

With $9 billion in trade over the last decade, Harvard Professor Calestous Juma,  states embassies are vital to this trade. With 37 embassies out of 54 countries on the African continent, Brazil has combined diplomacy with scientific advancement.

Over time, Brazil has started to pinpoint health as a main focus of these scientific exchanges. One example of this exchange is the Brazilian foundation Fiocruz and its coordination in developing a Postgraduate Health Sciences program in Maputo, Mozambique. In order to accomplish this, Fiocruz has been working with the Mozambican National Health Institute to build capacity. In this example, post grad students in Maputo have an African and Brazilian supervisor and will later carry out an internship in Brazil.

With such partnering between countries, Brazil seems to be gaining both diplomatic and economic strength on the continent. As Brazil collaborates to develop facets of African industry, it is becoming an integral part of their economic independence.

– Michael Carney

Sources: SciDev.Net, CIA World Factbook
Photo: Africasti

Microfinance Blogs
Blogs are a great way to hear a variety of voices and experience an issue from diverse perspectives, and there are a variety of sites full of information, opinions, and more. Below are 10 interesting blogs that present unique perspectives on the topic of microfinance.

  1. The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) Microfinance Blog discusses the benefits and challenges of various tools used in microfinance and provides a forum to learn more about new microfinance initiatives. There is a variety of contributing writers who share their expertise on the nuances of microfinance, and CGAP also presents fact-based blog entries in addition to opinions on how to improve the industry.
  2. The Nicholas D. Kristof blog is a favorite of many readers of The New York Times. This blog is not directly related to microfinance but discusses many of the world problems that microfinance addresses.  It tackles many development issues around the world and discusses issues ranging from hunger to education to women’s rights.
  3. A Grameen Foundation blog (Creating a World Without Poverty) discusses Grameen’s work in microfinance and showcases thoughts and feelings from the organization’s volunteers in the field. It provides a variety of voices experiencing microfinance in action around the world.
  4. The Wall Street Journal’s India Real Time blog provides a “daily pulse for the world’s largest democracy.” This blog is not solely about microfinance or poverty eradication but it does provide many articles related to daily life and the economic growth of India. It offers regular comments and critiques of the Indian microfinance industry.
  5. The Center for Financial Inclusion blog from ACCION International covers and comments on the many new ventures currently in progress in the field of microfinance. It also discusses methods for how to enable more people to access microfinance services in the future.
  6. Defeat Poverty provides reviews on current books in the field of development and microfinance, in addition to covering many other issues related to poverty eradication.
  7. The India Microfinance blog discusses the issues and triumphs of the microfinance industry in India. It discusses many specifics on the financial tools used. India’s microfinance industry is critiqued by many and this blog provides voices that speak on either side of the issue.
  8. Banking with the Poor Network blog discusses microfinance in Asia and around the world, with a focus on a wide variety of organizations.
  9. The MF Transparency blog deals with some of the challenges faced by for-profit and nonprofit microfinance organizations and offers information and resources that encourage transparent pricing.
  10. The myKRO blog serves as an online community where microfinance organizations can raise awareness about their work, offering and receiving commentary about their actions with other players in the field.

 – Katie Brockman

Source: Opportunity International
Photo: Fairview High School