Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Development Data on your iPhone!

Wow- World Bank walking the ICT4D talk! The World Bank has developed an iphone app that contains much of its massive development data. (Sounds like an obscure app, I know, but it would have come in useful for example last night during my Berkeley lecture when I quickly needed to get a sense of how China's corruption index compared to India.)

If you've ever needed a quick fix of GDP (or any other such data) to go, World Bank's new DataFinder app should help... Once it is available (early April), you'll be able to access, graph, and share World Bank data whenever you need it, right on your iPhone.
The DataFinder app taps into a subset of the World Development Indicators that are currently available in the API.  Users can choose indicators, countries, and time spans, and have data charted right on their phone. The charts can be saved to the phone, emailed to friends, and used anywhere an image can be embedded, print and on the web. A few screenshots below: (via Sameer Vasta's post at the World Bank blog)

DataFinder iPhone App
DataFinder iPhone App
DataFinder iPhone App

Get more details from Sameer Vasta's post at the World Bank blog.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reminder to students: Class tomorrow on "Law and Governance- Doing Business in China"

My class will be on "Law and Governance- Doing Business in China", from 6pm-8pm at Haas Haas Cheit C250 tomorrow 3/31. Ps. Registered students, please visit the Haas school wiki using your CalNet ID for the reading materials and case study we will be using, if you have not already done so, and be prepared to share your experiences as well as your thoughts about the case. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

New research paper on corruption and governance

Wow, that dataset would sure be interesting. I wonder if there is any future attempt to put it into a searchable online format? Anyway, the paper is Who Bribes in Public Contracting and Why: Worldwide Evidence from Firms by Anna D'Souza  (Economic Research Service, USDA) and Daniel Kaufmann (The Brookings Institution)

We utilize survey data from over 11,000 firms operating in 125 countries and a profit-maximizing cost-benefit framework to study the determinants of procurement bribery. About one-third of firms bribe to secure public contracts, with an average bribe of 7.9% of the contract value. Econometric estimations suggest that the demand-side of good governance (voice and democratic accountability, press freedom, transparency) and the supply-side (rule of law, government effectiveness), along with competition, significantly reduce the incidence and magnitude of bribery by firms. Multinational firms appear sensitive to reputational risks in their home countries, but also partially adapt to their host country environment, with 20% bribing in middle- and low-income countries, but only 11% bribing in OECD countries; in contrast, 36% of domestic firms bribe. Larger and foreign-owned firms are less likely to bribe than smaller domestic ones, yet among bribers, foreign and domestic firms pay similar amounts. This suggests that reputational risks – affecting the decision to bribe, not the amount – are important. The results point to potential policy measures that raise the costs and lower the benefits of bribing, e.g., public disclosure of firms that bribe, and cast doubt on conventional initiatives that may not affect profits, e.g., voluntary codes of conduct.

Keywords: governance, corruption, bribery, public contracting, public procurement

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tomorrow: Nigerian Internet Business Opportunities- #ICT4D Skype Chat

I will be attending this 5th (?) #ICT4D Chat tomorrow, and will update this post with the chat summary when it's available. We used to do this on twitter but our Nigerian partners have requested a chat on skype instead.

Official announcement from ICTWorks:
Are you interested in Internet-based business opportunities in Nigeria? Wondering what the possibilities and challenges are? And if Ghana, Kenya, or another African country might have a better online business environment?
Then join us for the next ICT4D Skype Chat:
Like our Twitter Chats, this will be a freewheeling conversation around our central topic - Nigerian Internet business opportunities - using the Skype Public Chat function. Be sure to get Skype to join us as we discuss:
  1. What are the online business opportunities in Nigeria?
  2. Are they greater than in Ghana or Kenya?
  3. How can Nigeria regain or extend her lead in online business?
This Skype chat will also feature four noted Internet experts discussing Nigerian Business opportunities:ti

'Mobile Phones and Developing Countries'- presentation by Vodafone, hosted by Technology Salon

Technology Salon, a face-to-face forum for development and technology professionals which was started by a colleague and friend Wayan Vota in DC, was for the first time held in San Francisco this morning. I was happy to be part of the San Francisco Bay Area group of ICT4D folks who discussed about mobile phones in developing countries. It always thrills me to be able to talk honestly about technology in developing countries, as well as get to know more people who are interested in this niche, and often misunderstood, field.

Today's presentation was by Terry Kramer, now Regional President - Vodafone Americas, on the current mobile industry and its implications to the developing world. Official announcement is here.

Brief summary (many of the points also contain my own thoughts) follows:

  • The Mobile Industry
    • History of the mobile industry (Terry had a great intro slide that, if I can find, I will link to- it shows the 'old' brick like mobile phones of the early 90s, and brought me into a mood of nostalgia for the times when I still felt smarter than my phone).
    • Current trends and challenges in the mobile industry:
      • Mobile and internet converging: internet applications to be accessible via mobile, and vice versa
      • Tackling the delicate balance between information efficiency and privacy
      • Net neutrality
      • Emerging markets (eg 1/3 of all mobile phone users in developing countries are less than 18 years old= has business implications)
      • Increased competition between mobile, Telco and web 2.0 provider
    •  Mobile now has the opportunity to bring:
      • Economic growth, especially in emerging countries
      • Access to information
      • Corporate responsibility
    • Mobile penetration depends on 3 things
      • good, fast networks (we are getting to 4G standards now)
      • devices
      • services
  • Implications for ICT4D in Developing World:
    • But especially in the developing world, all these 3 things depend a lot on government licensing policies, legal and policy framework for ICT, bureaucratic processes, and level of transparency/corruption. These are usually slow and problematic, entrenched in deep governance issues.
    • "Leapfrogging" is limited to the above point, in addition to the cost of brand new technologies
      • Developing world usually lags behind in infrastructure for cost reasons, and build new layers of new technology (which price has come down) upon older layers of tech. Eg. 3G network hardware/infrastructure is built as "additional modules" to existing 2G hardware, not from scratch
    • Globalization means that First World needs to learn from 3rd world as well (eg for Vodafone, UK looks to India for their solutions for keeping costs down); This is a change in paradigm in the mobile phone industry, which like Development, started with the 'we will import our technology to the 3rd world, one way'. 
    • Many new and innovating ways to use mobile technology through applications for developing world, such as mHealth Alliance, just at tip of iceburg of opportunities, most important is the issue of 'scale', because increased scale drives unit costs down, so important question for project designers: what projects can scale? Vodafone Foundation looking for such projects to fund via its Wireless Innovation Project. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

'Law and Development' academic course syllabus

Recently, I was updating my own 'law and development' syllabus and called some colleagues and friends to try to find out what the state of that teaching is. I'm impressed at the diversity of courses that are focussed on 'law and development', and the different areas of emphasis. It goes to show that this is indeed a very broad field with many levels of entry.  So far, these are the professors, schools and courses I am able to compile- you can google most of these to find the syllabus online. I hope to make this a live working file in the near future so that collaborators can update it anytime.

Professor Name
Course Name
Professor David Kennedy
The School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), University of London
Law and Development
2009-2010 (Fall 2009)
Prof. Karol Boudreaux
GMU Law School
Law and International Development

Melissa Thomas
Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University
Law and Development
Spring, 2010
Associate Professor Maxine Burkett
U Colorado Boulder Law School
International Development Law & Policy
Spring 2008
James Cooper, Visiting Professor Institute Professor, California Western School of Law
Earl Warren College, UCSD
Law and Development in the Americas

Kevin Davis
NYU School of Law
Law and Development
Fall, 2006
Prof. Frank K. Upham
NYU School of Law
Law and Development
Fall 2008
David Trubek & John Ohnesorge
Law and Modernization in the Developing World

Alvaro Santos
University of Texas Law School
Economic Development and Law
Fall 2005
Professor Tom Ginsburg Professor Thomas Ulen
University of Illinois, College of Law
Law and Economic Development
Fall Semester, 2005
Professor Mark Sidel
University of Iowa
Law and Development
Spring 2004
Professor John Norton Moore
University of Virginia
International Development Law The Rule of Law: Controlling Government

(Seminar in Contemporary Legal Thought)
Fall 2009
Ruth L. Okediji
International Development Law
Fall 2008, Fall 2007

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Last Mile and Vermont- by Matt Dunne, candidate for Vermont Governor

Matt Dunne, current candidate for Vermont Governor, delivered a presentation today on 'Transforming the Last Mile State' at Berkman's Lawlab Series. What I was interested in is finding parallels, if any, between the 'last mile' in a US state and the 'last mile' in developing countries. I have below firstly, my reactions to his presentation, and then a summary of his presentation itself, with the official event announcement:

  • While his interest in 'broadband' is passionate, his political message was more key. It does remind me of many government 'IT' champions in developing countries.
  • I worry about too much technology determinism on his part= "Tech Will bring Good (and only good)", again very common among IT proponents in developing countries (and elsewhere)
  • The technology is not the hard part, particularly for Vermont as a 'last state' (as he claimed) that can study lessons already learned in other States and countries
  • I wonder about the causation between his claim of broadband with competitiveness (ie does broadband directly cause competitiveness and therefore 'development?')
  • His claim that Vermont can go 'From Worst to First' because of Broadband, I question if it is too simplistic and reliant on leapfrogging technology (there was not much mention about the non-technology issues that often, if not always, overwhelm the technology).

Here is my summary (liveblogged) about his presentation:

  • Matt is not lawyer, and cannot write code (San says: "This makes me feel better, since I am-at least was- a lawyer, and I do write some code")
  • Vermont has an opportunity from a previous lack of opportunity
    • Last Mile State, very rural, spread out states, "dead last in internet connectivity"
    • Low ranking (49th) in in government transparency and (44th) eGov interaction
  • There is a clear need for broadband, needed to keep up, not to get ahead, most importantly to the last mile (not to the nearest place convenient for a T1 line), because
    • Lack of competitiveness (students with electricity vs those that didn't- because they can read after dark. The same kind of barrier)
    • Vermont culture: community based, can be buffered by internet connectivity
  • Once there is connectivity through broadband, Vermont is good to go....

Official Announcement:

law lab speaker series >


[Today] Transforming the Last Mile State

How Vermont can leapfrog a technology generation and lead the nation in connectivity, transparency and innovation.

Monday, March 22, 12:30 pm
Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, second floor
RSVP required for those attending in person (
This event will be webcast live at 12:30 pm ET and archived on our site shortly after.
Speaker: Matt Dunne, Head of Community Affairs at Google, Inc. and former State Senator
Vermont is currently the least connected state in the country and has been ranked among the bottom three states for government transparency and use of the Internet to deliver services. Yet, the state’s size and tradition of participatory government may make it the perfect state to model fiber to the home, distance learning, new economy jobs, smart meter deployment, electric car grids, and active 2.0 engagement in state government that could approximate town meeting. Matt Dunne, former State Senator, Head of Community Affairs for Google and current candidate for Vermont Governor will share his vision for Vermont becoming the first truly 21st Century state.

About Matt

Matt Dunne has focused his life’s work on bringing together the worlds of entrepreneurship, service and politics. Elected to the Vermont House at the age of 22, he served 7 years before joining the Clinton Administration as the Director of AmeriCorps*VISTA overseeing 6000 full-time people working in the fight against poverty. In 2002 he returned home to Vermont and was elected to two terms in the Vermont Senate. Outside of the legislature, he worked in high-tech marketing and before joining Google was the Associate Director of the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College, creating programs to support students who wish to pursue careers in the nonprofit and public sector. Now the Head of Community Affairs at Google, Matt supports the company’s local corporate social responsibility activities in the 25 communities where Google has an office or data center as well as helping guide larger corporate partnerships with the nonprofit and public sector. These activities include assisting the company with directing carbon offsets and renewable energy investments, and using technology to increase energy efficiency. Matt currently lives on the small farm where he grew up in Hartland, VT with his wife Sarah Taylor and his sons Judson and Abraham.


World Bank New Publication: Justice and Development Working Paper Series

As an offshoot of the World Bank's Justice of the Poor program (and supported by the Justice Reform Practice Group), the Bank has previously announced and recently published its inaugural volume of its new Justice and Development Working Paper Series. Official literature is adapted for your information as follows:

The Justice and Development Working Paper Series serves as a platform for new and innovative thinking on justice and development, featuring work from World Bank staff and external authors. It is a knowledge product of the World Bank’s Justice Reform Practice Group, which generates knowledge and provides advice and assistance to Bank staff and Bank client countries on building and improving state and non-state justice system institutions and mechanisms. Justice and Development disseminates the findings of works in progress to facilitate a more rapid exchange of ideas about development issues and justice reform.

Call for Papers
Justice and Development seeks original research papers on law, justice and development. We welcome publications from both Bank colleagues and external contributors. Manuscripts must be in English, and no longer than 25-30 pages. They can be submitted to the Editorial Office at any time of the year. All submitted papers will be carefully reviewed by the Editorial Board. Criteria for selection include rigorous scholarship and innovative approaches related to law/justice and development. If you are interested in submitting a paper, please call +1 202 458 2950 or email:

Online Access

Inaugural Volume
2009 Volume 1- The inaugural volume of the Justice and Development Working Paper Series consists of three papers on local-level dynamics of justice and governance in Sierra Leone. These essays — one about the interaction between local councils and traditional authorities, another one about the power relations between youth and their elders, and a third one about false development promises - are the products of qualitative research conducted in 2006 and 2007 by the World Bank Sierra Leone Justice for the Poor team. The papers aim to enrich our empirical understanding of the workings of justice and governance in the country. The goal of Justice for the Poor, in Sierra Leone and elsewhere, is to employ such knowledge to improve development practice. Papers include:
  • Background methodology paper: Justice for the Poor and Understanding Processes of Change in Local Governance by Ryann Elizabeth Manning 
  • Issue 1: The Landscape of Local Authority in Sierra Leone: How "Traditional" and "Modern" Justice Systems Interact by Ryann Elizabeth Manning 
  • Issue 2: Challenging Generations: Youths and Elders in Rural and Peri-Urban Sierra Leone by Ryann Elizabeth Manning 
  • Issue 3: Exploitation of Poor Communities in Sierra Leone: False Promises in Reconstruction and Development by Ryann Elizabeth Manning 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Future of Law and Development- Symposium by LawDevelopment Blog

Given my recent update on the current thinking on Law and Development, I was interested to hear that Tom Ginsburg and his team at Law And Development Blog were holding their first ever online Symposium on the Future of Law and Development.

The parameter of the symposium was framed by three questions:
1. Is Law and Development really a field, both in practice and especially in academia?
2. What are the lessons learned about the topic?
3. What should be our academic and applied future focus?

The responses of these prominent scholars (some of whom are also practitioners) confirms my own thoughts on this subject in practice and study- that it is still an evolving, broadening field that is compounded by the fact that there is so little agreement on what is meant by 'development', 'law' and 'impact'.

Here is my summary of the wide array of responses to the three questions.

1. Is Law and Development really a field, both in practice and especially in academia?
  • Yes, the practice of 'law and development', 'rule of law', 'legal reform', etc, although disparate activities, shows that there is an inherent value of the virtue of law. Taken as a value, rather than a project activity, it can promote a unity of purpose.
  • No, it is not a field it itself, it might be more a common focus of multiple activities/disciplines/fields. Even within 'law' itself, narrow subject based law implementation has a totally emphasis than, say, the way broader 'rule of law', whatever that means. However, 'legal development', a very narrow construction of law in development, might be a field.
  • Maybe, but I don't care to debate it because we can argue until the cows come home.Although such theoretical questions are common in academia, it is not productive.

2. What are the lessons learned about the topic?
  • It remains very hard to show that law causes development, compounded by the many definitions of 'law' and the many definitions of 'development'. Arguably it might be easier to study a concrete narrow application of law (such as telecoms law) on economic growth, than say a broader 'legal reform' project.
  • Moreover, the few studies that have been done to explore causal links have been flawed in definitions, assumptions, method, or data reliability.
  • Some efforts have done more harm than good

3. What should be our academic and applied future focus?
  • We need to do the impossible and define what 'development' is (including what the end goals are), that 'law' is trying to serve so that we can actually measure the impact of that law project. And even then, 'impact' might not be possible to measure or be debated because we all look at it from our individual different lens.
  • In particular, we should continue to refine out knowledge of law and economic growth, as well as law and social development, based on practice by aid agencies. But, as an academic field, how much should we take into account the current practice of aid agencies?
  • However, we should also study law more broadly in terms of scholarly and more theoretical issues like adoption, integration, governance. It will become more and more of a social science, then a legal or economic, field. Maybe it is not possible to theorize such a field. And even it it is, as a social science, it is even harder to measure and study.
  • Accept the differences in practice between the different aid agencies (based on their realities) rather than try to find universality, and examine the social, cultural, political and ergonomic contexts in each study of the topic.
  • However, while studying the contexts is useful, how can we strike a balance between 'context matters' (ie highly tailored one-off solutions) and the 'blueprint approach', both of which are not particularly useful in practice? This is very hard to answer, but maybe scholars can can first develop methodological tools, define 'development' and the goals of each context, admit complexities, and develop theories.
  • While studying the subject, we should include the usual quantitative methods, but give qualitative methods just as much, if not more, importance. In addition, we should study legal approaches in development using diverse and interdisciplinary methodologies. Moreover, we should study 'law' broadly to include the informal systems and unique context of each country.
  • Scholars and practitioners should do more evaluations of projects

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chinese Internet vs. Other Internet?

I saw Donnie Hao Dong's presentation about a 'Splitting Internet' today at Berkman- about the internet not being homogeneous- and I must say it is interesting to hear the perspective from the inside- Dong is a native Chinese law professor from Kunming. His talk was on Chinese censorship and how the internet might not be universal across cultures. You can view the webcast here. This is especially useful to me, in light of my upcoming lecture at UC Berkeley on "Chinese Law, ICTs and Entrepreneurship." 

I was going to do a summary of Donnie's presentation on this post, but David Weinberger had liveblogged the event here, and also had an illuminating chat with Donnie after the talk. So I shamelessly reproduce and adapt some key points that struck me about the presentation: 

(UPDATE: 4/7/10: Donnie clarifies that he is not advocating for an isolated 'Chinese internet' but that rather, "What I want to argue is simple: the social structure and social norms, as well as the legal concepts may affect online ecology profoundly, hence the "single" Internet is not a truth..." Read more at his Blawgdog post 
  • Government control:
    • Until 2005, the Chinese control over the Net was accomplished mainly by technical control. (like Firewalls, etc)
    • From 2003-9, there was more and more legal enforcement.
    • In 2010, there is a legislative rebooting. There is now a jungle of licenses: domains, commercial websites, webcast website, news website, online games…
    • The switch from tech to law has increased certainty because the authorities can explain why sites are being shut down. It has also caused important discussions to occur. But, the law is immature and thus enforcement is somewhat arbitrary. And the “clouds of licensing systems” are still difficult to navigate.
  • Not one Intenet
    • Hillary Clinton said there is a single Internet, says Donnie. “I do not think it is really true from the cultural, legal, and linguistic aspects.” Tim Wu, in Who Controls the Internet, says that the Internet is splitting, and there are under-appreciated advantages of this. “I agree,” says Donn
  • Q to Donnie: How does the censorship look from the inside?
    • A from Donnie: As Rebecca MacKinnon said, most of the citizens don’t feel the censorship. There’s so much information available, so much news, so many services, so many forums. And if you really want to get some information, you can find a way to. And if you really want to express something, you can. The filtering mechanism can’t work perfectly, and their are many examples of this.

Official Event Announcement:

Cyber-pluralism: Can We Get Along with Each Other in a “Splitting” Internet?

Donnie, Hao Dong, Berkman Fellow

Tuesday, March 16, 12:30 pm
Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, second floor
RSVP required for those attending in person (
This event will be webcast live at 12:30 pm ET and archived on our site shortly after.
From pervasive doubtable usage of copyright works in Chinese web-sphere to Google’s latest dilemma in China, it seems the Internet as an open, universal and single network is still an “ought to” imagination but not a truth. The numerous “autonomous systems” which consist of the Internet are governed by various regimes, laws and/or even impulse ridden policies. Can we get along with each other in such a “splitting” Internet when the technological factors are giving place of “coding” the networks to the policies and laws in different countries? Donnie Dong will present some new developments about China’s IP (Intellectual Property), IG (Internet Governance) and IB (Internet Business), then discuss a possible perspective of observing the Internet: Cyber-pluralism

Friday, March 5, 2010

4th #ICT4D Twitter Chat- Social Networking for Developing World?

Having missed last month's #ICT4D chat on working with local governments because I was in Serbia, I was happy to participate in February's chat on Social Networking. Again I shamelessly reproduce here the awesome summary posted by Micheal Downey over at ICTWorks:

Without a doubt, social networking has changed the technology landscape in places like Europe and the United States. But what is the role of this technology in the Global South? The February #ICT4D Twitter Chat focused on this during a lively 90-minute dialogue between technologists, implementers, and others in the ICT4D world. (Take the Chat Survey)

  1. Social networking is driving ICT adoption, but which tools, why, and to what extent?

  2. How can social networking increase donor, implementer, recipient participation in development?

  3. What are the gaps and limitations in social networking engagement - where doesn't it work?
What social networking technology is involved?
Vincenzo Cosenza recently published a map reinforcing the dominance of Facebook as a powerhouse in the social networking world. And with new features like Facebook Zero, its also changing the way people interact with the Internet.
While Facebook is the major player in social networking, more local and regional sites like Mixi and Hi5 also have a presence in the Global South. Many others are being rapidly launched, even using other platforms, such as SMS. In fact, on Twitter, 50% of tweets are not in English.
Older technology tools like email can be used to connect and communicate with existing social networks. Still, the idea of the social networking site as a stand-alone platform has undeniably taken hold in the developing world - 25% of Kenyans who are online do not have email addresses yet 80% of all Kenyan Internet users are on Facebook.
Social changes increase participation in development work
Not surprisingly, this month's roundtable seemed to reach a consensus around the value of social networking for international development work. Social networking has tremendous potential to give voice to the people on the "receiving" end of international assistance.
It's also helping implementers in the actual work of development. Organizations are using different social networks for different purposes - Facebook is seen as a great for public outreach and youth engagement, while Twitter is better for peer exchange and identifying new partnerships.
This is one reason that ICTworks has a Facebook empowerment strategy.
Limitations on social networking
The largest constraint on social networking's influence and reach is the limited Internet infrastructure of the Global South. Communities that are not online do not feel the impact. In addition, socio-economic barriers like literacy and education can limit adoption and growth in connected societies.
Also be warned that big numbers of Facebook or Twitter followers doesn't directly translate into meaningful interactions. In fact, during the #ICT4D Twitter Chat, we came across one group that's steadfastly held its own against the social media tide: the "big men" of Africa - ministers and other government decision makers.
Reaching government decision makers with social networks
There is a still a strong culture among government leaders that "big men" don't use computers. The feeling that typing is for clerks or students. However, even if government officials are not using Facebook or Twitter professionally, they may be online in their personal life.
Regardless of personal status, they are listening to what their employees, direct reports, and family hear though online social networks. After all, they're "big men" because of their skill in reading offline social networks.
Here are a few early adopters:
Social networking future impact on development
Social networking technology is disruptive - no longer are donors and "big men" in government the only voices that communities have; those parties can be bypassed directly to launch grassroots movements. Indeed, many government and NGO leaders are reluctant, unable, or unwilling to use technology and are in fact being "leapfrogged" by the people they serve.
As today's youth who are growing up aware of social networking technology (even in the developing world) become the leaders and decision-makers of tomorrow, the role of global communication in "mainstream" international development will grow even more rapidly. The fast-paced spread and dropping costs of mobile technology will only feed the fire.
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