Tech Revolution in Pakistan
With around 53 million Pakistanis being under the age of 30 (60 percent of the population) this large conglomeration of youth presents a ripe opportunity for fostering future growth and development in this country’s technology sector.

The northern province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, seems like an unlikely place for a tech revolution to occur due to current challenges in security, governance and limited opportunities, which have created instability through few economic and employment opportunities, ultimately crippling a young person’s emergence into adulthood.

However, this tech sector offers a creative space for young minds to generate new ideas, increasing possibilities for “common business, social, civic and political challenges.”

An article in the World Bank describes this potential for a tech revolution in Pakistan in more depth, explaining how technology is able to transcend geography through its access to the online world.

“Global connectivity and a growing digital economy mean that KP’s youth can connect to jobs available online. And a greater number of free courses and online training means budding entrepreneurs can be found just about anywhere. In 2013, the Government of KP, in partnership with the World Bank, devised a strategy to focus on linking its youth with global employment opportunities and to promote the empowerment of tech entrepreneurs. Two years later, Peshawar is emerging as one of Pakistan’s tech hubs and its image and the image of local youth is changing.”

The real change began when the focus shifted to concentrating on the people who were behind the coding and building apps, says the World Bank.

By creating the Digital Youth Summit (DYS), “a co-organized tech conference between local partner Peshawar 2.0, the KP IT Board and the World Bank,” opportunities were created for “networks, community building and vibrant discussions on themes of innovation, entrepreneurship and freelancing.”

Due to the exciting hands-on training, workshops and world-renowned speakers from the business startup and tech communities, the tech conference has gained popularity. It has brought together 500 people and reached a potential 1.2 million through global social media channels, says the World Bank.

It is only through these conferences and events that a broader strategy for generating employment opportunities can be created, which ultimately reaches its goal of instilling pride in the local youth. Only through support from the community can innovation, entrepreneurship and financing fund the future for the tech revolution in Pakistan.

Nikki Schaffer

Sources: World Bank, Digital Youth Summit
Photo: World Bank

disabled children
The Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children, the only children’s orthopedic hospital in Nepal, is working toward treating Nepalese children and performing affordable surgeries that would otherwise go undone.

In Nepal, about 83 percent of the population lives below the $2 a day poverty line. Once a child gets sick, it is unlikely that its family can make it to a treatment center or hospital, and less likely that the family could pay for for the treatment without crippling its savings. The HCDR was created to change that.

The HCDR was erected in 1997, but the team has been working with children’s surgeries since 1985 in remote villages and smaller buildings. The organization’s founder and current leader is Dr. Ashok Kumar Banskota, a Nepalese doctor who was educated in India and the United States.

Once he returned to Nepal after his studies, Dr. Banskota wanted to make healthcare accessible to all who need it in his home country rather than to just the rich or those in the most accessible regions.

The HCDR is a tertiary level pediatric hospital that performs about 1,500 surgeries each year, and provides physical therapy and prosthetics when needed. In order to reach as many patients as possible for aftercare, HCDR has community-based rehabilitation services that follow up with patients in their villages and show families how to properly care for their children after surgery.

The team has worked hard to make its care accessible to all, with the average cost of surgery at only $151. It has also incorporated home visits to make post-surgery adjustments easier on the patients as well.

HRDC works on continually training new doctors to keep its hospital well staffed. They get trained in Primary Rehabilitation Therapy in order to continue recovery for patients. There are also periodic courses offered to keep everyone up to date.

A study done to test the impact of HRDC on the patients it has treated previously showed positive results. The study showed over 90 percent of the children reported positive impact from HRDC treatment on further growth and development, both physically and socially.

Courtney Prentice

Sources: Global Giving, Himalayan Foundation, Google, HRDC Nepal
Photo: Talk Vietnam

An estimated 340 million people will be living in the world’s top 21 megacities by the year 2015. Eighteen of these megacities are located along the coast. Explosive population growth, urbanization, climate change, rising sea levels and desertification will create a major infrastructural challenge to feeding the world’s people, especially in coastal megacities.

In such areas where land is scarce or becomes too expensive and open water is the ideal alternative terrain, SeaLeaf provides an innovative alternative to traditionally grown agriculture. SeaLeaf’s hydroponic floating agricultural system can help create a local mass agricultural industry within urban areas, making the concept of reasonably priced local food for a local population a reality.

SeaLeaf’s product consists of a floating module with a hydroponic farming system and a walkway pontoon for access while afloat. This allows urban farmers to cultivate food directly on the water, using irrigated rain water and natural sunlight. These module and pontoon are constructed from high-density polyethylene and based on kayak and pontoon design for optimum stability. Each module covers one cubic meter of cultivatable land and can be connected to other modules by its walkway pontoon.

The benefits of SeaLeaf are manifold. Besides providing a sustainable source of crops to people in urban coastal megacities, SeaLeaf will help to reduce the carbon miles incurred from mass importation of everyday produce, thereby decreasing the world’s overall carbon footprint. In addition, SeaLeaf can improve the nutritional content of the food it grows, since the crops will no longer have to travel long distances and reach a retailer in a frozen or premature state.

Currently in beta-phase, SeaLeaf’s design is set to be finalized by mid-2016 and in full production by the end of 2018.

– Tara Young

Sources: SeaLeaf, Pop Up City, DesignBoom
Photo: Stuff Point

Americans are accustomed to equating growth with wealth. The existence of a historically robust middle-class has meant that economic power gets a direct injection into households through income, lower prices on goods and services, and government services funded through taxes.

Translating this thinking to the African context, however, is a naïve mistake, as the most recent Afrobarometer report shows a lingering disparity between African growth and poverty rates.

In the 34 surveyed countries, 17 percent of people frequently go without food and 22 percent lack clean water regularly. A full half of people go without these necessities, as well as cash and medicine, occasionally. Seventy-six percent rate their government as doing a poor job to narrow the income gaps.

The final statistic is significant because it shows that average people are aware of the deep rift between poor and rich. As unrest grows in Nigeria, Kenya, the DRC, and elsewhere, this perceived injustice will be a contributing factor; it has already been the subject of al-Shabbab’s rhetoric in Somalia, and it enabled the organization to earn widespread support for many years.

The extreme dissatisfaction with governments is not wholly fair, though. South Africa, among others, has spent millions in social grants and development to try to combat rampant poverty – but the money has failed to improve the situation. In fact, the gap has widened. While Robert Mattes, one of Afrobarometer’s authors, said that corruption likely played a major role in the grants’ inefficiency – and this is more than likely true in a number of instances – there is also a case to be made that countries giving aid to South Africa have a flaw in their strategies.

The USA, which tops the list of donors, has a unique perspective to offer due to its previously-noted affinity for the middle class and its history of development successes in other countries. A stronger emphasis on the investment of competent professionals, rather than cash, may bring experience and expertise to South Africa, and other nations, which could make the effect of each dollar much larger.

On the whole, poverty has fallen in Africa, but this encouraging statistic must be taken in context. Zambia, for instance, has improved more than most in Africa, but this follows several decades of economic free-fall which reduced it from a middle-income country to a place where three quarters of people are below the poverty line.

As a dominantly rural country, Zambia is also indicative of a continental trend – wealth accumulating in (select sections of) urban nodes, leaving the vast majority of people and land behind. A political system throttled by corruption is effectively the kiss of death on any hope of change in the immediate future.

Small successes, such as the improvement made by MDG-related programs, are not to be dismissed as irrelevant; but neither should the operative word “small” be forgotten when thinking about Africa’s near future. Structural and institutional problems continue to bog down the unflagging efforts of aid and development work.

If the most recent Afrobarometer results reveal one thing, it is that innovative strategies are an absolute necessity if widespread and lasting improvement is to be attained. Traditional, micro-level approaches have been definitively proven ineffective by the survey. So, Americans and everyone else need to confront their presuppositions about growth, aid, and a host of other concepts, to bring them more closely into alignment with practical reality.

– Alex Pusateri

Sources: Al Jazeera, BD Live, Science Blog, Rural Poverty, Zambian Economist
Photo: Sanaga

5 Steps to Increased Economic Development in Africa
Recently, Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala gave a speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies outlining the steps that need to be taken to improve economic development in Africa by creating jobs and reducing unemployment. Here are the five steps Okonjo-Iweala outlined for creating economic growth in Africa and developing jobs for young people across the continent.

    1. Develop a critical infrastructure. The lack of modern infrastructure in Africa costs the continent “at least 2% in GDP growth annually.” Among the systems that Africa needs to develop are an expansive electrical grid, roads, railways, and communications. These systems allow for more efficient production and transportation of goods, allowing for increased economic output. Additionally, the continent needs to work on establishing clean water and sanitation systems, which will result in improved public health.
    2. Develop human capital. Africa must invest in the skills of its people in order to advance their standard of living. Currently, “33 million primary school-aged children in Sub Saharan Africa do not go to school,” and “40% of Africans over the age of 15 and 50% of women above the age of 25 are illiterate.” Africans need improved access to education in order to work in skilled trades and earn higher wages.
    3. Build safety nets. Throughout Africa, there are few systems that are established to help citizens who are living in poverty or have been negatively impacted by natural disasters. Okonio-Iweala states that Africa must work to establish tax systems to collect revenue for providing assistance to those in need throughout the continent.
    4. Address a growing population. In 2010, Africa was home to more than 1 billion people. The population of Africa is expected to double to 2 billion people by the year 2050. In order to help alleviate poverty in the continent, a focus should be placed on family planning. By reducing the number of births per woman in Africa, the overall GDP per capita will increase, resulting in a higher standard of living for Africans.
    5. Embrace Africa’s youthful population. Africa’s youth represents the future of the continent. By establishing programs that focus on the intellectual development and health improvement of young Africans, the continent will make an investment in its future. Africa has true potential for future economic growth if the continent’s nations invest in its young population, providing them with the tools they need to be successful in a global economy.

– Jordan Kline

Sources: Visualizing, The Guardian, Achieve in Africa
Photo: UN

DHL in Africa
Ken Allen, CEO of DHL, has a lot to celebrate:  business in Africa is booming. DHL is in business to make a profit. Luckily for Africa, their business is working out the logistics of connecting frontiers of business to demanding consumers. The numbers for Africa make it an extremely appealing continent in terms of frontiers: there is a 2:1 inbound ratio. As export/import experts, DHL fits right in. They have an office in most countries and offices in all major cities. They partner with retail and other outlets to take advantage of expanding networks.

It is not all smooth sailing for DHL in Africa. There are still the issues of navigating through many countries without clearly marked street signs and the prevalent corruption. Allen responds that DHL has been in Africa for 25-30 years. The logistics of getting around in a place without street signs has been worked out: DHL flies their planes into Legos, for example, then uses smaller DHL carriers to get to regional destinations. As for the corruption, DHL is not a government watch-dog. They are in business to do business. Allen states that most officials see DHL as a positive force and corruption is stronger in perception than in reality. Their role is not to question or change the strict customs regulations, but to interface on behalf of their customers and the regulations to make the transactions as smooth as possible. The goal of DHL is to build the best architecture to make it easy to do business.

Katherine Zobre

Source: CNN

The New Stars of Emerging Markets
As the economy continues to expand, the stories of economic growth and development are shifting.  The new stars of emerging markets are beginning to rise and take the spotlight in the story of development.  Over the past decade, the most well-known stories of rising nations within emerging markets have been that of BRIC nations-Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Reporting double-digit growth numbers over the past several years has catapulted them to the top of the emerging markets.  However, their growth is starting to level off and has fallen back into single digits.  They are more stable and sustainable in their growth and have paved the way for new stars to take the spotlight.

Head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investments Ruchir Sharma believes the BRIC nations are beginning a period of slow-down and their slower growth will leave room for other nations to take center stage.  The stories of the BRIC nations are remarkable. China’s double-digit growth has turned the nation into a sustainable nation with a growing middle class.  This is a huge step in overall country development. The creation of a middle class provides additional opportunities for advancement and brings in outside investors to the nation who are interested in the increasing consumer spending capacity.

Who are the new stars?  Sharma says the nations to watch for are the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, as well as parts of Latin America such as Peru, Chile, and Colombia. Political leaders in these countries are stable and have a strong understanding of economic reform. These nations have great potential to be the new emerging markets and double-digit growth-producing countries.

The Philippines is one of the most cost-competitive destinations of technology and business service centers. While India used to dominate the call-center world, the Philippines is fast becoming a strong competitor.  Indonesia has a strong commodity business to build economic strength and Thailand’s manufacturing sector continues to expand.

Beyond the potential new stars of emerging markets are several economies that have the ability to follow behind in the coming years. Nations like  Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka are beginning steps towards economic reform. According to Sharma, the winners of one decade are rarely winners in the next, but the emerging markets continue to be a strong factor in the global economy and a strong place for foreign investment. It will be a fascinating story to watch as the decade unfolds.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source: Wall Street Journal
Photo: Avid Investor Group

The growth story in Africa is remarkable and continuing to catch the attention of the global economy. Emerging markets are investing in Africa at rates that are quickly outpacing developed markets.  A sign that business prospects are good and the emerging markets that were just recently at the beginning of growth are making big enough strides to begin investing in other markets.  Africa is working hard to reduce poverty and a growing middle class is catching the attention of markets and companies ready to expand their potential for growth.

Despite a drop in the number of new foreign direct investment projects globally, Africa was able to see growth to 5.6 percent in 2012 in their share of direct investment.  Ernst and Young’s 2013 Africa Attractiveness survey notes an increase in investments from China and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has also recently announced key partnerships with governments on the continent to continue the relationship between African development and UAE investment.  While the United States, Britain, and France have typically been the biggest investors in Africa, only the UK showed increased project numbers in 2012. Investment projects from China grew 28 percent over the same time period.

From 2007 to 2012, investment from emerging markets into Africa grew at a rate of over 20.7 percent while investment from developed markets grew at only 8.4 percent.  The numbers tell the story of a shift in investment and interest in the continent of Africa.  The story of African growth and development is real and backed by Ernst and Young’s Managing Partner for Africa. The potential for growth in the next 10 to 20 years is bigger and what was once considered a desolate, poverty-stricken continent is fast emerging as a story of hope, poverty reduction, and growth in purchasing power.

There is still much work to be done in Africa and those concerned with development must still keep an eye on those living on less than $2 a day. But in terms of initial success, Africa is one continent to cheer for.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source: The Economic Times

africa nation economic growth

Africa promises a bright new future. Population projections show that in the next 25 years Africa will more than recover its population losses from the ’80s and ’90s. At the same time, investment companies see Africa as having some of the world’s most promising opportunities for sharp economic growth.

1. South Africa is the leading economy in the continent. South Africa plays the role of the continent’s economic powerhouse, by providing the continent’s other countries with goods and services, as well as investments. South Africa has a stake in seeing the standard of living rise in its potential trading partners and that this will continue to stimulate economic growth in the continent.

2. Nigeria has a large population base and a thriving petroleum export business. Nigeria is consolidating political reform, as exemplified by two peaceful transfers of power within the past decade. Nigeria also has demonstrated its prowess in mobile telecommunications technology.

3. Angola is growing rapidly due to oil exports. Angola’s economy is vulnerable because it lacks diversity but for the time being it is rapidly expanding its infrastructure as part of a controversial “infrastructure for oil” trade agreement with China, which critics believe benefits the Chinese more than the Angolans.

4.  Ghana is “one of the fastest growing economies in the world.” Ghana’s economic growth is based primarily on its oil production, but  political and economic reforms that were in place nearly two decades before oil was discovered in 2007, play a major role in the country’s long-term economic prospects and sustainability, even though Ghana’s rate of growth will not remain at its current astronomical levels.

5. Ethiopia represents a huge market that can drive economic growth and integration in the Horn of Africa region. Ethiopia’s economic growth has been fueled by hydroelectric power, which enables it to export electricity to neighboring countries. Ethiopia has also benefited from large-scale government investment in agriculture, industrialization, and infrastructure.

-Essee Oruma

Source: Christian Science Monitor

USAID Partners with DFID to Fund DevelopmentThe United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a partnership today with the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom “to invest in cost-effective innovations to humanitarian challenges.”

The USAID/DFID Humanitarian Innovation Initiative seeks to further rewards for those involved in the USAID Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) program, a results-based project for new, groundbreaking development ideas. Seeking to solve problems like malnutrition, high mortality rates, and a lack of infrastructure, the DIV competition gains additional support from this new joint venture.

Projects submitted to DIV are eligible for up to $1 million in grants; if the concept has already been proven and is not an untested idea, grants can reach up to $15 million. Successful ideas have harnessed technology like SMS and GPS to empower individuals in developing countries with access to the kind of information developed nations to take for granted.

USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah supports the DIV program because it serves to “help strengthen the resilience of communities to disasters and care for the least vulnerable among us.” All parties with potential ideas are encouraged to submit their applications to the DIV website. With initiatives like DIV, there are strong incentives for budding social entrepreneurs to develop and implement unique programs for reducing poverty around the world.

Jake Simon