Tuesday, December 24, 2002


I was going to try to do a Blog entry on higher education projects, and their role within a Knowledge for Development Strategy. The World Bank report at the following address does so much better than I could possibly, and thus saves me the trouble. It was prepared by a team lead by Jamil Salmi and apparently published in December 2002.


From the Executive Summary of the Report: "This World Bank report on tertiary education describes the role of tertiary education in building up a country's capacity for participation in an increasingly knowledge-based world economy and investigates policy options that have the potential to enhance economic growth and reduce poverty. The report examines the following questions: · What is the importance of tertiary education for economic and social development? · How should developing and transition countries position themselves to take full advantage of the potential contribution of tertiary education? · How can the World Bank and other development agencies assist in this process? The report has two complementary goals. The first is to provide information and insights that reflect current knowledge about successful reforms and effective implementation and that are applicable to World Bank tertiary education lending practices. The second is to engage client countries and the international community in a dialogue on the role of tertiary education in the context of overall World Bank strategies and policies, the justification for investing in the subsector, and ways of minimizing the negative political impact of tertiary education reforms." (PDF format, 634KB)

Monday, December 23, 2002


There are a number of periodic reports that together provide invaluable information on development and development priorities. Many are available online, and can be downloaded without charge. These include:

The Millennium Development Goals (from a consortium of donors)

The World Development Report (World Bank Group)

WDI Online (World Bank Group, only an excerpt is available without charge)

Global Economic Prospects (World Bank Group)

The Human Development Report (United Nations Development Program)

State of the World Population (UNFPA)

The World Resources Report (World Resource Institute; charge for this report)

State of the World's Vaccines and Immunization (UNICEF)

State of the World’s Children (UNICEF)

The World Health Report (WHO)

The World Communication and Information Report (UNESCO; access fee to download)

The World Culture Report (UNESCO; access fee to download)

World Education Report (UNESCO; access fee to download)

World Science Report (UNESCO; access fee to download)

The State of: Food and Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture, World’s Forests, and Food Insecurity in the World (FAO)

Industrial Development Report (UNIDO)

Global Environmental Outlook (UNEP)

UN Peace Operations Year in Review

International Trade Statistics (WTO)

UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics

WIPO Industrial Property Statistics

The UN Refugee Agency Statistical Yearbook

The ICT Indicators page of the ITU

Economic Report on Africa (UNECA)

Economic Survey of Europe (UNECE)

The statistical publications of the UN ESCAP secretariat

International Development Statistics CD-ROM (OECD, charge for this document with statistics on development assistance)
Online access to these statistics is available at:

Sunday, December 22, 2002


I have been reading the book, "The Dinner Club: How the Masters of the Internet Universe Rode the Rise and Fall of the Greatest Boom in History" by Shannon Henry. I find it an interesting book generally. I note that it mentions the development in the Washington DC area of a very interesting philanthropic organization:

Venture Philanthropy Partners
"VPP was created by the Morino Institute," according to one presentation I found on the Internet, "in partnership with 30 new economy business leaders, Community Wealth Ventures and the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region to demonstrate venture philanthropy as a new approach to bringing the work of the nonprofit sector to scale."

There are a lot of similar groups of entrepreneurs who might be tapped for Knowledge for Development support:

Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund

Entrepreneurs Foundation

Austin Entrepreneurs Foundation

Entrepreneurs Foundation of North Texas

Entrepreneurs Foundation of Oregon

Entrepreneurs Foundation of New England

The are also some interesting articles on the topic of philanthropy that I found on the Internet:

"Giving Back the Silicon Valley Way: Emerging Patterns of a New Philanthropy"
by Peter deCourcy Hero, President, Community Foundation Silicon Valley

Strengthening Philanthropy in Asia Pacific: An Agenda for Action

Giving on Internet Time

I have excerpted from:

"Minority Philanthopies"

the following points:

"Asian Americans, like Hispanics, send back large sums of money to their native countries. Filipinos, for example, reportedly send back as much as $8 billion per year. (The Forum of Regional Associations of Grant makers)
"The Asian American community, like the Hispanic-American community, is composed of people from multiple countries and cultures that take different approaches to giving. Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans more commonly give to mainstream organizations than Korean Americans, who prefer to give to Korean organizations. ("The Roots of Minority Giving")".

Corporate Foundations may also be considered, especially for technology related philanthropy. Some that might be considered are:

The Bill Gates Foundations
MCI WorldCom Foundation
AOL Time Warner Foundation

It might also be interesting to promote Knowledge for Development philantropy in family foundations and small foundations. Good general sites for these are:


The Association of Small Foundations

Since originally posting this I discovered the Global Catalyst Foundation, which makes grants for ICT for development.

Friday, December 20, 2002


Let me note how important these are. Probably the best known are federal governmental foundations such as:

CONACYT in México

Colciencias in Colombia

CNPq - Conselho Nacional De Desenvolvimento Científico E Tecnológico in Brazil

The Brazilian Innovation Agency
FINEP - Financiadora De Estudos E Projetos

There are also state S&T Foundations, especially Brazil’s state Foundations for Support of Research, (Fundações de Amparo à Pesquisa):

Most notably, perhaps, FAPESP in Sao Paulo (Fundação De Amparo À Pesquisa Do Estado De SP)

FAPERJ in Rio de Janairo (Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho De Amparo À Pesquisa Do Estado Do RJ)
http:// www.faperj.br

In general, these follow a model in which funding allocations are somewhat separated from political processes, and scientific expertise is brought to bear via peer review.

There are a number of bilateral foundations, such as the US-Israeli foundations:

The Binational Science Foundation (BSF)

The Binational Industrial Research Foundation (BIRD)

The Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD)

The Luso-American Foundation (A Fundação Luso-Americana) is in Portugal,

The United States-Mexican Science Foundation,

Or the German Israel Foundation for Scientific Research and Development

There are also in some cases important private S&T Foundations (which may be operating foundations as well as, or instead of grantmaking foundations) such as:

The Tata Trusts in India

Fundación Polar in Venezuela

The Mexican Health Foundation (specialized in biomedical S&T)
(La Fundación Mexicana para la Salud (FUNSALUD))

Fundación Chile

The MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in India

The Habibie Foundation for Human Resources in Science and Technology in Indonesia

Thus in developing nations, local or locally-managed foundations or foundation-like organizations that benefit from scientific peer review and expertise can be important vehicles for science and technology. Notice, that official multilateral donors may have trouble reaching such foundations, since they usually fund central government agencies.

Monday, December 16, 2002


The December 14th issue of the Economist magazine includes its Technology Quarterly (TQ). The first essay of the TQ focuses on the Bayh-Dole Act, attributing to it a major role in the improvement of the rate of technological innovation in the U.S. I too am impressed by the benefits of the law which gave intellectual property rights for government sponsored research to universities, small and medium enterprises, government research laboratories (where the invention occurred, rather than to the entire government), and importantly, to people who did the inventing. I have spent far too much time over the past decades discussing IPR policy with lawyers and bureaucrats in large government and quasi-governmental organizations to take lightly the quality of insight that Bahy-Dole represents. Simply, it gets the incentives more-nearly right to commercialize inventions made with public money, and in so doing gets lots of producer benefits and consumer benefits from the publicly financed knowledge out to the economy and people. That is a great accomplishment!

The Economist economic bias comes through in the essay. In my opinion it attributes too much of the success in improving innovation rates to a single law, and not enough to the technological wave on which the US rode, to the improvement in knowledge of how to manage innovation, to the restructuring of the economy and reengineering of enterprises, to the marked success of the US in drawing talent and money to its industry and putting it to productive use.

The TQ describes a lot of advances in ICTs that can be expected shortly, as the result of what we might think of as normal technology. (Kuhn talked about normal science in his famous book – the science that most scientists do most of the time, filling in the knowledge gaps identified by the relevant community as important within existing theory. I think normal technology may be similarly conceived as those advances of the technology frontier that are relatively predictable and available to the industrial R&D labs.)

I was impressed by the predictions that there will soon be available
· Recordable CD-ROM (using blue lasers);
· 3D LCD displays for personal computers, affordable, with software to match;
· digital radio, improving radio quality and range and opening the AM and FM spectrum to new applications;
· organic semiconductors, bringing new information display options;
· new extensions of programs that allow publishing not only in visual forms over the internet, but in voice mode.
Anybody reading this who doesn’t know about these technologies should probably rectify that situation soon.

In one article, TQ suggested that telephone e-commerce is likely to be more important (for quite a while) than Internet e-commerce. Voice recognition, voice generation, and other technologies are coming online, made possible by cheaper computer power and memory. It occurs to me that the implication for developing nations may be that telephone service jobs may not last. Some developing nations have been using the mastery of European languages by their citizens as the basis to develop businesses offering these services. Low wage rates in India give Indian firms a competitive advantage in telephone based services over firms hiring highly paid U.S. workers. However, automating the service may be cheaper still. It might be fairly important to estimate how long before human telephone service providers go the way of buggy whips before investing heavily in the development of telephone-service boiler rooms in developing nations.

TQ spends considerable space on the advances in bio-computing, gene-chips, and biological research. I wonder how many developing nations will be able to utilize bio-computing sufficiently well to compete with the U.S., Japan and Europe. Not many! Were more being done with grid computing (the utilization of idle time on the networks of millions of PCs in the world) for developing nations, I would be less concerned. Perhaps more to the point, developing nations are more concerned with developing technologies to meet their own needs than are developed nations. There are exception opportunities to utilize bio-computing and other new techniques of biological research to increase the rate of discovery:
· of new vaccines and affordable treatments for tropical diseases and the other diseases of poverty;
· of better varieties of basic food crops; and
· of new vaccines and affordable treatments for veterinary diseases found primarily in developing nations.
I suspect that the developing nations will not sufficiently master the new techniques to fully take advantage of these opportunities. Developing nation researchers who do master the techniques will find powerful incentives to move to developed nations where they can be applied more productively (to solve the problems of developed nations).

Material for a lot of thought.

Friday, December 13, 2002


There are huge numbers of small ICT projects in operation, and indeed lots of stories, case studies, and other information on these projects. I am ignoring them here. Instead, I’m writing now about larger projects such as might be funded by development banks or large bilateral donors. In this Blog entry I’m also skipping mass media projects, such as those dealing with radio or television broadcasting in developing nations (not because they are unimportant, but because I want to keep this short).

Since good policies and good institutions almost always underlie successful development, let me start with them. Policy dialog is, I suspect, always involved in discussions of large ICT projects, and such projects often include funding of activities designed to improve policy or build institutions. However, technical assistance for policy or institution building would not usually in itself require the amount of funding found in large ICT projects. (The exception might be in large projects with a regional or global mission, providing policy or institution building assistance to many countries.)

Telecommunications infrastructure tends to be organized as a public utility, while computer infrastructure has tended to be privatized within organizations. Therefore investment in “communications technology” or telecommunications infrastructure tends to focus on organizations which run the telecommunications utility to be used by others; investment in “information technology” or computer infrastructure tends to be focused in support to organizations that utilize the technology in carrying out their missions. Projects focusing on building utilities tend to be quite different than those focusing on developing ICT applications in organizations!

First telecommunications infrastructure projects. Telecommunication privatization has swept the developing world; donor agencies have essentially stopped making loans to public telecommunications agencies, and seek instead to use investment instruments that facilitate access to capital for private telecommunications companies. Thus telecommunications infrastructure projects have moved from government loan windows, such as the IBRD, to windows promoting private investment, like the IFC. There are lots of people who know more than I about funding these telecommunications projects, so I will leave the subject of telecom projects to them.

Investment in telecenters and public access for the poor is perhaps worthy of a specific comment. Poor people by and large need to share access to telecommunications, and are not able to enjoy (multiple) private lines – access enjoyed by most people in rich nations. In my youth (many years ago), there were a lot of public phones in the U.S. With the proliferation of mobile phones, there is now discussion of reducing public phone service. On the other hand, in poor countries the public phone is now sometimes supplemented by other communications services such as fax, email, and even Internet browsing; the public phone becomes a telecenter. It seems that no two people mean the same thing by the word “telecenter”, and people refer to the same kinds of facilities by other terms such as “cybercafes” or “business service centers”. Telecenters range from things that are approximately phone boths, to facilities offering complex services capable of serving a number of clients simultaneously. Clearly there are private-sector based approaches to encourage rollout of public phones and telecenters, such as regulatory requirements for universal service placed upon private phone service provision, or the Grameen Bank’s program to loan to women micro-entrepreneurs to enable them to offer mobile phone based service to their neighbors. However, there are also possibilities of fairly large projects that would allow public or non-profit organizations to roll out telecenters by the hundreds or thousands.

Now we come to projects promoting the application of ICTs in government, health, education, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), civil society, etc. Perhaps the hottest applications areas are e-government and e-commerce, but telemedicine, e-learning, and distance education are all areas with long histories of projects and development. I would differentiate projects:
· dealing with one or more large government bureaucracies, such as e-government, e-learning in public schools, and applications of ICT in public health service delivery,
· from projects that focus on promoting ICTs in large numbers of small organizations, such as those emphasizing SMEs and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The latter projects would most often be in the context of developing business service organizations or NGO service organizations. In my experience projects aimed at promoting the application of ICTs in specific economic sectors normally benefit from leadership from the experts in the sectors involved. In some cases one can justify a large project promoting ICT utilization within a sector, but such activities are perhaps more often developed as components of more general sector development projects.

I don’t recall seeing a large-scale, ICT-for-Development project that encompasses both development of the telecommunications infrastructure and also development of ICT applications within several sectors. I suspect such a project would be hard to develop, and hard to manage were it developed. Thus “ICT for Development”, in my opinion, is more often a term used to describe a variety of projects and project components with a common element, than a theme for the building of large development projects that build both the ICT public utilities and intra-organizational infrastructures and applications.

This is a nice web site that seeks to provide at least one entry for every country in the world. It was created as a reference work for netscout.net.


Wednesday, December 11, 2002


I suggest that there are impacts in the developing nations from the use of the Internet. There are also impacts from non-use of the Internet, both in terms of impacts of using it less than others do, or using it less than one might or might be expected to do.

I suggest that impacts may be positive or they may be negative.

Thus one can think of the following table that might be useful for considering Internet policy (pardon the dashes used for spacing within the table):

---------------l----Use of the Internet---l-Non-use of the Internet-l

I suspect that most of the popular literature on the Internet focuses on the potential positive impacts of use of the Internet, or (in Digital Divide literature) on the potential negative impacts of non-use of the Internet. It would probably be useful to spend time considering the other boxes in the table!
I hear that the American Association for the Advancement of Science is reorganizing and planning to close its International Office. This is apparently one of the cutbacks the organization is making due to falling revenues caused by the weak economic climate. I am sorry to hear it, for while international programs will continue managed by other units of the AAAS, the International Office has been a center for the scientific community's international activities, and it has carried out interesting and useful programs. I understand that the long-time director of the Office, Richard Getzinger will be retiring from the AAAS. Lets hope someone out there puts him in another leadership position in which he can continue to provide leadership in international scientific affairs.

The International Office URL is:

The National Map is the subject of an article in this week’s Science magazine. The Map will provide public domain core geographic data about the United States and its territories that other agencies can extend, enhance, and reference as they concentrate on maintaining other data that are unique to their needs. In order to produce this map, the US Geological Survey (USGS) will have to revise its previous methods, which no longer can keep up with the flood of geographic data, and coordinate the efforts of some 3,000 counties and other mapping agencies. Producing the US National Map is expected to have a central budget of $150 million per year for a decade. The UK, Canada and Australia are publicly debating the need for such computerized national maps. While developing nations will not be able to afford such massive programs, knowledge of the US experience might suggest approaches to better meeting their mapping needs.

This is the web site at USGS describing the project:

Wednesday, December 04, 2002


The African Studies Association Roundtable (see below) has sought people who could share their direct experience of negotiating the Internet in Africa. I don’t have much such experience to share, but I might make some comments from my experience within donor organizations. I will try to illustrate a few points:
· Negotiations don’t always take place where you might think they do;
· The negotiating position of donor agencies, itself the result of negotiations, influences the outcomes of negotiations in Africa;
· To some degree one can predict donor negotiating positions from their published policies and from knowledge about the donor organizations;
· To some degree one can predict the effect of the donor agencies from an understanding of the institutionalization of the interface between donors and African nations.

Let me begin with a few cases:

1. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) used its Leland Initiative in order to promote policies conducive to the rollout of the Internet in Africa. The Initiative was the subject of considerable Congressional interest, perhaps because it was named in honor of a U.S. Congressman who died on a fact finding mission to Africa, and perhaps because the Republican Senate was skeptical of the Democratic Administration’s initiative. It was modestly funded, given the magnitude of its task of promoting the rollout of the Internet in Africa, but it was the centerpiece of USAID’s efforts on ICT in Africa. USAID and the U.S. Department of State collaborated closely in the policy dialog. The program involved policy dialog with African nations, with its representatives striving for policies favoring open competition among Internet Service Providers (ISPs), cost-based pricing of Internet-enabling telecommunications services, and freedom of content on the Internet. Technical assistance, financial assistance for installation of VSAT terminals, and training for potential Internet users in development organizations were offered as incentives to countries that had or moved toward policies appropriately favorable to the development of the Internet. This negotiating stance was arrived upon as a result of debate among professional staff within USAID, and discussions between representatives of USAID, the Department of State, the Congress, and other organizations.
2. The World Bank Group was a significant lender for telecommunications infrastructure projects, utilizing its loan windows through the 1980’s. The Bank in this respect was an intermediary, getting funds from other sources and making loans available to African nations at rates lower than they would otherwise obtain (as a result of risk sharing, and subsidies from the Bank’s donors). With the development of the so-called “Washington Consensus”, which included concepts about the superiority of private sector approaches over governmental provision of (telephone) services, the Bank Group essentially ceased making such loans. Instead it switched action to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) within the Group, using IFC investments and technical assistance in order to facilitate private sector investment in telecommunications. The Bank policy group has consistently offered policy advice and services to developing nations. The Bank’s negotiating position thus switched from one enabling governmental telecommunications investments through development finance, to one encouraging privatization by facilitating the flows of financing to privatized telecommunications companies. This stance was undoubtedly arrived upon in part by Bank staffers examination of the research on telecommunications, and the recognition that governmental telecommunications agencies would be less effective in raising funds for investment in telecommunications infrastructure than would be the private sector. The enthusiasm for telecommunications investment in global markets in the late 1990’s must have been noted. It would seek likely that the Directors of the Bank, representing the member nations, and especially the major contributors to the Bank, also played a role in moving Bank policy toward the Washington Consensus, as did the Presidents of the Bank.
3. The ITU Regulatory Forum was established by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and infoDev to provide a forum in which regulators, industry, scholars, and others could discuss regulatory matters. Of course, this supplemented the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Assembly, which is a forum for discussion of telecommunications policy issues among the representatives to the ITU of its member states. When the ITU withdrew its sponsorship from the Forum, infoDev offered a challenge grant for a non-governmental organization to develop a sustainable independent regulatory forum. The result was the World Dialog on Regulation for Network Economies. The African Connection has also received two grants from infoDev to encourage communication among African policy makers on telecommunications issues and policies. infoDev is a program hosted by the World Bank, and receiving funds from a consortium of donors. In funding the activities noted above, it has acted on the assumption that better understanding of policy issues relating to telecommunications, and specifically to the Internet, would improve the negotiations involved in rapidly and sustainably expanding the information infrastructure. The decision of infoDev to support these initiatives can be understood within the context of infoDev’s grant review process, the bureaucratic processes and staffing of the World Bank, as well as the influence of infoDev’s various donors, and also in terms of infoDev’s mission of providing relatively small grants to facilitate improve ICT policy and pilot ICT applications in developing nations.
4. The U.S. Telecommunications Training Institute was created as a U.S. initiative at the beginning of the Reagan Administration. Supported by contributions from a consortium of firms, its secretariat arranges for courses telecommunications courses offered in the U.S. to be attended by people from developing nations without charge. USAID has supported the transportation and living costs of many trainees, and has emphasized support for African experts with that funding. The U.S. delegate to the ITU Assembly provided the key leadership in the creation of USTTI, and the program has been described by subsequent U.S. delegates to ITU meetings as making a significant improvement in the negotiating climate. The improvement in the negotiation atmosphere has been attributed both to better understanding of various parties of the rationale for positions of the others, and for improved relations with the large number of delegates to ITU meetings who have benefited from USTTI training. The ITU plays a key role in international telecommunications policy, and is where key decisions on spectrum allocation and other matters are made. It is an important source for technical information and assistance on telecommunications. U.S. officials often share an ideological belief in technical rather than political solutions in international affairs – a belief which probably helped in the creation of USTTI. The creation of USTTI should be understood in terms of the policies of the Reagan Administration, and the efforts of U.S. industry to be and be seen as socially responsible, as well as the bureaucratic processes within the U.S. government and industry.

Where do negotiations take place? One thing I think these examples illustrate is that negotiations relevant to the Internet take place not only within a national setting, but also internationally. They take place in the ITU. Moving discussions to forums like the World Dialogue on Regulation relieves people from the responsibility to promote and fully support the negotiating positions of the organizations that they represent and allows them more freedom in discussions. Regional forums are also important for some issues. And of course, negotiations that determine the U.S. negotiating position on African Internet rollout take place largely within the United States, as negotiations about other donor agencies’ positions take place in the offices of those agencies.

Why are donor agencies important in African Internet negotiations? Foreign donor agencies play a larger role in decision making in Sub-Saharan Africa than in other regions because:
· African governments on the average depend more on foreign aid for their budgets than nations in other regions;
· Many African governments are relatively weak or lacking in stability, and therefore draw on the institutional strength and continuity of donor agencies;
· Donor agencies have been able to place highly qualified personnel in key locations to participate in decision making as consultants or technical assistance experts, and thus draw on the personal intellectual authority of these people;
· Many African governments depend on donor agencies for occasional emergency assistance, giving those agencies influence not only during the period of emergency but also in other times.
Moreover, the donors use powerful instruments in their negotiations. As the cases above illustrate, the donors, of course, adduce evidence based conceptual arguments. They also offer subsidies for countries with policies the donors desire (as USAID did with the Leland initiative), and change the cost and availability of policy options (as the World Bank did with the change from lending to government to facilitating the flow of private investment). One suspects that the U.S. State Department representatives who worked with the Leland Initiative offered other inducements for adoption of pro-Internet policies.

How can one predict the positions of the donor agencies? In analyzing donor negotiation positions, one can consider (in addition to the classification of the donor given below):
a. The charter and formal mission of the donor agency;
b. The governance of the agency;
c. Spheres of influence (e.g. Commonwealth agencies are more active in Commonwealth countries, French in Francophone countries);
d. Sources of financing;
i. Government allocations;
ii. Tax financing;
iii. Commercial sources of financing, etc.
e. Organizational dynamics; and
f. Staffing.
Thus, UN Agencies, governed by Assemblies with a one-country, one-vote rule tend to have different objectives than multilateral banks (which are most responsive to their largest donors), while bilateral agencies are most likely to reflect the (multiple) objectives of their governments. Bilateral agencies, dependent on parliamentary budget allocations are likely to be more political in operation than endowed foundations. Yet foundations and non-governmental foundations, dependent on tax financing, are likely to be constrained in their negotiating instruments by the tax laws under which they operate. USAID did not enjoy the telecommunications expertise in its staff for which the ITU excels, and was probably limited by this factor in starting the Leland Initiative mentioned above.

The influence of individual donors should not be overestimated. The Donor agencies are many and diverse. For example, there are:
· The International Financial Institutions such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank;
· The UN family of Agencies, including the ITU, UNESCO, the UNDP, and UNECA;
· Bilateral Donors, including USAID and many European bilateral donors;
· Foundations;
· Private Voluntary Organizations channeling donations from the private sector to Africa; and
· Corporate Donors.
· There are hybrid organizations, and partnerships are increasingly common.

How has the interface between donors and African nations has been institutionalized? In predicting the effect of donor negotiating positions on African outcomes, it would be a mistake to assume that the donors represent a single unified negotiating unit. One metaphor that might help understand the situation would be to consider donor agencies as the suppliers in a number of markets, such as a market for development finance and the one for technical assistance. Developing country organizations would be equated with the consumers in such markets. Of course the market analogy is not exact, but negotiations between donors and recipients do take place in a situation in which each may negotiate with others; governments may engage in donor shopping, and donors may take their resources to other countries for deals that better achieve their objectives. Negotiation would take place not only between donors and governments of developing nations, but among donors, and indeed within donor agencies. The donors will tend to form coalitions to encourage certain kinds of policies, but the nations also form coalitions, and in fact have direct roles in the governance of multilateral donor agencies. One may also note that “geographic spheres of influence or focus”, specialization in assistance instruments (e.g. financing versus technical assistance), and topical specializations have been institutionalized in the interface. Moreover, some donors deal only with governments, while others only with non-governmental organizations.

Negotiating the Internet for Africa turns out to be an international undertaking, and one of considerable complexity. Donor agencies count; and to some degree their negotiating positions and instruments can be predicted. If an African country differs from the policy desired by the European nation which once colonized its lands, it can reduce dependency on the former colonial power by seeking assistance from another bilateral donor, multilateral donors, or indeed its neighbors. And while I favor policies based on theory and evidence of what works, I must admit that there is room for considerable debate on what those policies might be.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002


The donor agencies with which I am familiar don’t see the creation of knowledge for the sake of knowledge as a priority for sustainable development, much less for poverty alleviation. Thus their focus in S&T has been applied science and technology.

Donor agencies like multimillion dollar projects: their procedures tend not to adapt well to smaller projects. On the other hand, few scientific projects run to that kind of funding. The result is that donor agency applied science funding typically goes through intermediaries who accept relatively large amounts of funding in order to fund relatively large numbers of small projects. Such projects may be either:
· centrally operated to fund activities in many nations, such as the International Foundation for Science, or the PSTC and CDR programs of USAID, or
· funded to one large country, through an agent in that country, as in the cases of USAID’s S&T project in Egypt, or World Bank S&T projects in Mexico and Brazil.
The network of International Agricultural Research Centers coordinated through the CGIAR is an example of high funding levels and activities focusing on Centers in a number of nations.

The focus of the applied science projects and project elements tends to be applied research. Historically agricultural and biomedical research have been important elements of agricultural and health sector assistance. Bureaucracies within donor agencies and governments tend to be territorial, and the agricultural and health offices have retained control over much applied research in their fields. As a result, donor agency “S&T” projects tend include be “all other” types of applied research.

Typically not enough such research is done in small countries to justify donor projects. Consequently S&T projects tend to be concentrated in large and/or relatively affluent nations. Donor agencies generally deal with individual governments, and have little opportunity to develop (multi-national) regional S&T projects; the experience of USAID in encouraging the development of the Central American network of schollarly institutions did not seem to be such as to encourage emulation. The site for applied research funded under S&T projects is typically the university or government laboratories (since there would seem to be little rationale for funding applied research in the laboratories of profit making firms).. Indeed I suspect that research scientists in universities have sought to develop science funding agencies to guarantee support for their research in the face of conflicting demands on the educational ministries for expansion of university education. Donor agency funding for applied science projects and project elements has focused on funding applied research in universities and government (non-agricultural and non-health) research laboratories.

In these cases the argument has to be made that the funding is a sustainable investment. I seems that as a result, the funds are usually justified as building research capacity, rather than in paying the recurring costs for applied research. Emphasis is on acquisition of capital equipment and training of cadres of researchers. At the same time, donors tend to emphasize changing policy under which applied research is carried out, and institution building, especially in funding agencies (national science foundations). Interestingly, I have never seen a donor agency applied science project that focused importantly on building other scientific institutions, such as professional associations networking researchers, or research regulatory institutions such as those needed to assure biosafety.

As in the case of science, donor agency technology efforts in “S&T” projects tend to exclude agricultural and biomedical technologies, leaving them to agriculture and health projects, programs, and bureaucracies. The focus then seems to turn toward technology in the manufacturing sector. Indeed, since “S&T” has seldom been seen as a sector per se, there seems to be tension as to whether they should be seen as projects within the education sector or the private enterprise sector.

Again, policies promoting technological innovation and deepening are of concern, as is certain kinds of institution building. Supported institutions can include those dealing with intellectual property rights, standards and mensuration, and technological business services (especially those focusing on SMEs). I have seen one project (in Mexico) in which there were efforts to institutionalize better links between university and government research laboratories and commercial firms. I have not seen S&T projects that explicitly sought to build other critical institutions such as markets for engineering and other technological consulting services or professional associations allowing the networking of technological professionals.

Ultimately, the issue is selecting a portfolio of applied science and technology activities that fulfill several criteria:
· sufficient in total funding needs to justify a reasonable size project;
· sufficiently coherent to be managed by a small number of intermediaries, who in turn may be coordinated easily within the project framework;
· sufficiently oriented toward economic development and poverty reduction to be justified within the donor agency justification frameworks;
· sufficiently distinguishable from the activities undertaken within other projects and sectors to justify a new project.

Whether projects so constructed are optimal in terms of sustainable development and poverty alleviation can be questioned.

Monday, December 02, 2002


There is a roundtable on this topic at the African Studies Association meeting here in Washington on Thursday. It occurs to me that it is important to consider the Internet in broad context in Africa, and consider negotiating the Internet also in this broad context.

In my experience most people associate negotiation primarily with the rollout of Internet services. The key policy issues related to the rollout seem to be related to whether or not to have a monopoly ISP, whether or not to allow VSAT terminals to access the net internationally, (in many countries) the role of national telephone service provider monopolies vis a vis the ISPs, and regulation or limitation of content. Many seem to be interested in the rollout of telecenters which allow local community access via local “points of penetration” of the Internet in urban neighborhoods or rural communities.

Those already equipped with personal computers and (hard-wired) telephone service have been relatively quick to seek Internet service. (It has been suggested that there is little digital divide between nations in Internet connectivity, if one considers the denominator population in each country to include just those with hard-line telephone service and computers.) However, to achieve per capita rates of connection to the Internet approaching those in other continents, Sub-Saharan Africa is going to have to greatly expand telephone service and penetration of computers. Thus Africa’s negotiation of the Internet involves its negotiation of telephone and computer policy.

I would note that these negotiations are quite different in nature from that for Internet service for the already wired, and one from the other.
· The telephone system is a common property or commons. The key elements of negotiation have revolved around privatization of the telecommunications infrastructure, regulation, competition in provision of services, and pricing.
· The computer infrastructure is private property - owned piecemeal - with huge numbers of organizations and individuals investing in computers to serve their own individual needs. Negotiating the rollout of PC’s has involved issues of tariffs on hardware, software intellectual property rights and open-source policies, budgets for information technology within government agencies, incentives to the private sector for computer acquisition, and providing enabling services, such as computer training and computer related business services.

The “last mile problem” may be considered the problem of how one gets information between the ultimate users and the Internet terminal. In Africa, the vast majority of people will not have direct Internet access in the foreseeable future. Thus the last mile will be through intermediaries. Radio could be a major vehicle for getting information from the Internet to large numbers of Africans, and thus negotiating radio access may be a major element of “negotiating the Internet”. This involves not only negotiating the interface between the Internet and large scale broadcasters (often government radio networks), but also negotiating community radio – low power, low cost radio stations that can broadcast to local communities, and indeed broadcast in local languages.

I suggest that negotiating the Internet is also a matter of negotiating for content to be provided on the Internet that serves the need of the broadcast communities.

Intermediaries that can help large number of people to request and receive information from the Internet also include teachers, health workers, extension agents, officers of non-governmental organizations, etc. Indeed, in Africa, the most important aspect of the “last mile problem” for the next decade may be interconnecting these folk with the Internet rather than directly connecting the masses of the poor. I would suggest a role for telephone, such as the Voxiva system being test run in Peru, in addition to a role for radio and television (mass) media. The explosive growth of wireless telephony in Africa suggests that this will also be an important vehicle for dealing with the last mile, especially for the critical intermediaries. Again, I am suggesting an amplification of the concept of “negotiating the Internet” to include negotiating the availability and utilization of the Internet by a large class of intermediaries (individuals and organizations in which they function), as well as negotiating the content to be made available via the Internet to serve these intermediaries and (indirectly) their client populations.

I am interested in sustainable development in Africa, and especially in development that reduces poverty. I am not especially interested in rollout of the Internet per se, but rather in the way that rollout facilitates poverty-reducing and sustainable development. Thus I have been interested in the negotiations relating to the developmental applications of the Internet, such as those relating to e-commerce, e-government, telemedicine, distance education, etc. This too fits under my expanded definition of “negotiating the Internet”. Indeed, I suggest that negotiating the Internet may be an element within a Knowledge for Development framework, in which the application of knowledge to development becomes an overall approach to development, pervading all sectoral and institutional policies. If one can develop the institutions and policies that encourage people to seek and utilize more information well, then negotiating the role of the Internet in facilitating collection, organization, analysis and access of/to that information.

The above discussion has been positive in tone. I also believe that the Internet has considerable downside potential. In countries lacking sound policies promoting sustainable development and sound pro-poor policies, the Internet may prove to be a powerful instrument in implementing the wrong policies. It may enable African nations to move more rapidly toward isolationism, coercive government, adventuristic intrusion into the affairs of neighbor states, economic dualism, or general economic wrongheadedness. Moving faster in the wrong direction is not progress! How does one negotiate to avoid the “dark side” of Internet use?

Let me ask, to what degree does “negotiating the Internet” require negotiating overall development and poverty policies? Is it sufficient to negotiate the rollout and utilization of Internet services only in countries with good overall policy and institutional conditions (the approach which appears consistent with the new Bush Administration initiatives)? Or should our awareness of the development potential in the Internet suggest a more vigorous effort to negotiate for good overall sustainable development and poverty reduction policies and strategies? And how does one develop the right balance between negotiating on narrow issues to facilitate getting to positive results versus negotiating on larger and larger issues to assure the net will be well used?