From the Editor's Desk (May 2014)
28 May 2014
One indispensible part of modern life is the mobile phone. The communications revolution continues to surprise almost everyone—including those most directly involved in rolling out the new technology. UNU-WIDER researcher, Han Ei Chew, recently completed a study with UNESCO on how mobile technology is helping reading and literacy in developing countries. The report, Reading in the Mobile Era, finds that hundreds of thousands of people now use mobile technology as a portal to text. In countries where illiteracy rates are high and physical text is scarce, many people use mobile technology to read full-length books, and often stories to their children. Perhaps you are reading May’s Angle on your mobile device.
But there are also basic needs that cannot be satisfied directly by technology. One is the need to eat. Many millions of the world’s people depend on fishing for their livelihood. And for 20 per cent of the world’s population, fish are their main source of animal protein. So fish matter, and overfishing is a problem everywhere, including on Africa’s west coast. In this Angle, UNU-WIDER researcher Wisdom Akpalu, from Ghana, looks at fishing as a livelihood in Ghana, and the consequences of illegal fishing.
May’s GUESTAngle welcomes back Roger Williamson, on the vices and virtues of data. The idea of big data has captured a lot of imaginations, but is it hype, or does it have real substance for development and poverty reduction?
In RESEARCHAngle, we bring you two recent WIDER Working Papers. The first one is based on the paper by Sarah Bibler and Elaine Zuckerman on unpaid care work in World Bank projects. The other is based on a paper by Terry F. Buss on Haiti, and the difficulty of getting aid to work well there. Both have come out of our ReCom project. There are many more WIDER Working Papers available here. Of the 90 published so far this year, recent papers include: Channing Arndt, Sam Jones and Finn Tarp on the rate of return to aid; Sam Wangwe and the REPOA team on manufacturing in Tanzania; Fiseha Gebregziabher and Miguel Niño-Zarazúa on welfare outcomes from social spending; and Robin Biddulph on Cambodia’s land management. These are just a few of the topics covered by the latest working papers.
May’s VIDEOAngle is an interview with Carol Newman from Trinity College Dublin, by Roger Williamson. Carol has been working with UNU-WIDER on issues of learning to compete in Africa, as well as on Vietnam with us. She has a number of research papers with us, which can be found here (1) (2).
I head to Ghana shortly for the AERC conference, and then to Jordan for the International Economic Association world congress, in which UNU-WIDER has some sessions. You might also meet us at the Global Development Network conference later in June in Accra, where we also have a special session. Finally we round off June with a major UNU-WIDER conference in Hanoi. But we will bring you more news of that, and other UNU-WIDER events and outputs in our June-July issue. In the meantime, greetings from the UNU-WIDER team to all friends, old and new, across the world wherever you may be.
Tony Addison is Chief Economist-Deputy Director, UNU-WIDER.