Monthly Archives: June 2008

Zimbabwe: How to get Mugabe out

By forcing the opposition to abandon the election, Robert Mugabe has undermined his position. Mr Mugabe may cling to power for a while, but his grip is weaker. Zimbabwe needs help from the West. But most of all it needs its African neighbors to tell the tyrant unambiguously to go – and to snuff him out if he refuses. It can be done.

The economist mulls over the question further:

  1. Refuse to recognize any administration led by Mr Mugabe. The European Union, the United States and much of the rich world will ostracize him. Now is the time for Africa, especially the influential regional club of 14 countries known as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to act.
  2. South Africa remains the key. Humanitarian aid must continue to flow into Zimbabwe, but targeted sanctions already enforced by the EU, the Americans and other governments against Mr Mugabe and 130-odd of his closest comrades, who are banned from visiting the penalizing countries and have had their assets there frozen. Depriving Mr Mugabe’s cronies of trips to a decent country that works could have a salutary effect.
  3. The African Union (AU), which embraces all 53 of Africa’s countries, should also be far more robustly involved. Unlike the SADC, which is often paralyzed by its search for consensus, the AU’s rules provide for decisions, specifically including the imposition of sanctions on errant members, to be taken by a two-thirds majority.
  4. The United Nations, too, must be ready to help. South Africa has been disgracefully blocking discussion of Zimbabwe in the 15-strong Security Council, of which it is a current member.

Zimbabwe is a resource-rich country with a core of well-educated people, millions of whom have fled abroad and must be wooed back home. Mr Mugabe may cling to power for a while, but his grip is weaker.

read more | digg story

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Venturebeat: On how Google is using its community to Map the unmarked world

Google is getting increasingly good at getting its community to do its work for them with Google Maps. Google is reaching out to some of the developing parts of the world which it doesn’t have the best data for yet and hopes locals (or those that know the area well) will fill in what is missing with its’ Google Map Maker.

The tool currently can only use it to fill in data for the following countries: Cyprus, Iceland, Pakistan, Vietnam as well as the Caribbean nations of: Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago.

In these area you can add roads, points of interest and regions. This data will then be relayed back to Google so it can place it on the actual Google Maps product.

There’s a pretty nifty before-and-after picture (below) to show you just how powerful such a tool can be in the hands of the community. Google basically had no data for Myanmar prior to the deadly cyclone hitting the area. With the help of the community and some engineers, now it has all the data you see below.

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Between God and Mugabe

Ethan Zuckerman, a man who does so much in so many fields of developement, sums up the common man’s frustration with Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe after the news that Tsvangarai pulled out of Zimbabwe elections. Here is what he had to say:

“‘Only God who appointed me will remove me — not the M.D.C., not the British,’ Mr. Mugabe vowed in the city of Bulawayo on Friday. ‘Only God will remove me!’”

Are you listening, God?

Need we say more ?

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Event Summary: Africa as the New Asia?

Today on June 22 from 11am – 1pm a good number of Africa minded individuals from different professional backgrounds met to offer their thoughts on technology and Africa at the beautiful Stanford Golf Course.

The event was sponsored by the SF Bay Area IPN and was titled, “Africa: The Next Asia?”  It was kicked off by a panel discussion featuring Aleem Walji from Google‘s Africa Initiatives, Leila Chirayath – founder of Samasource, Arathi Ravichandran of Vipani , and Joseph Nganga, an expert in energy innovation and Board member of Carolina for Kibera . Topics explored were Africa’s steps in development; opportunities and obstacles to sustainable prosperity; to what extent should Africa mirror what we see in Asia?; and what are the challenges and/or potential benefits of following this road?

The Panel was kindly moderated by Ellen Leanse, who is a Bay Area Business Strategist, and Author. She works with early-stage and established companies to accelerate business growth through innovative business, marketing, and product strategies. Ellen also actively supports education and micro-finance organizations in East Africa, and she is currently writing a book based on recent experiences in Kenya.

Here were some excellent notes via twitter for the event from @tylerwillis captured via summize :

Realtime results for #ipn:africa

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Filed under Democracy, Governance and Activism, Healthcare and Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Telecommunication and Infrastructure, Trade and Development

Policy Notes on Africa for the next U.S President


Yesterday I had the good fortune of attending an event titled “Africa: The Next Development Miracle?” The lecture was hosted by the World Affairs Council Peninsula Chapter, and the speaker was Prof. Jeremy Weinstein, an assistant professor of political science at Stanford University and Director of the Center for African Studies.

The primary question for the evening was whether Africa will be the next development miracle or should we be prepared for continuing instability, violence, and economic stagnation? Also, what should the United States’ policies be?

Professor Weinstein presented his list of “Policies for the Next president” which I found interesting and felt summed up his lecture well:

  1. Security is a prerequisite to sustained growth (based upon the Copenhagen Consensus)
  2. Recognizing the critical role of institutions especially domestically driven institutions
  3. Encouraging experimentation with different models for development
  4. Using aid to support reform (such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation which has been a center piece of the Bush Africa policy)
  5. Providing assistance to where we know it works (HIV, malaria, water, education)
  6. Prepare for major disasters and shocks perhaps as a consequence of climate change
  7. Make Globalization work (not just trade but migration, property rights and the subsidization of appropriate essential technology)

While the jury is still out on what measures are best to encourage positive growth in Africa, the need for better policy to support thriving economies in Africa cannot be disputed.

There is still an unrelenting flow of disturbing headlines, soaring food prices and shortages, continued violence in Darfur, stolen elections in Zimbabwe and Kenya. Nevertheless the overall picture is far more positive. Africa is observing positive economic growth; democracy is on the rise; and great progress is being made in the fight against disease, as hundreds of thousands of Africans now have access to life-saving anti-retro viral treatment.

What policies have worked for your country and what policies and/or initiatives should the next U.S President support ?

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Event Alert: Barcamp Nairobi ’08 – June 21

Kenya is on the edge of becoming an emerging economy tech hub and is central to African innovation. This can be seen in the increasingly vibrant startup scene and an interest by early tech adopters to experiment in this market. Recently Kenya made encouraging strides in the mobile space and as a sign that the change is here to stay, ten months after opening its regional office in Nairobi, Google launched an online map for Kenya, signaling an improvement in local content generation and innovation.

To strengthen this community, technical professionals, Internet enthusiasts, bloggers, designers and other clever people are coming together at the Jacaranda Hotel, from 10am-5pm for Barcamp Nairobi ‘08 event.

What is a Barcamp?

BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from participants.”

In the spirit of BarCamps worldwide, the event is free and attendees are encouraged to present and participate in the adhoc setting. There are no pre-planned schedule of events, or speakers and the agenda evolves as the day progresses.

You have to be signed up on the Barcamp wiki page but also be sure to check out their Facebook event page.

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The iPhone lands in Africa (and worldwide in 70 countries)

Apple announces that the iPhone 3G will be available in 70 countries by the end of 2008 including 15 African Countries. The 3G version of this innovative phone, opens up the possibilities to numerous interesting applications. The iPhone 3G has a GPS antenae allowing location based reporting, promises to be a developer platform allowing widgets for blogging, and comes preinstalled with a host of useful applications.

While many have questioned whether Africa has the network capacity to support such a phone or if such a phone is even affordable, the general response has been positive. Jan Chipchase, a prominent user-research at Nokia compares the penetration of cellphone in Africa to “just-in-time” management – a theory employed successfully by Japanese auto maker Toyota to introduce efficiencies into the system. He gives examples of how cellphones have freed up labor, made business more efficient and improved the overall quality of life in rural africa.

The iPhone is a step in a positive direction. A prominent Africa- tech blogger Eric Hersman of WhiteAfrican, forecasts on his blog that “The data networks will become stronger to support it, and local developers will start building for apps”. Although most will not be able to afford the iPhone in Africa, many will – and these early adopters will drive the demand for better phones and applications for the African market. After all it took about 20 years for the first billion mobile phones to sell worldwide, the second billion sold in four years, and the third billion sold in two.

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