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.

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. 

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

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).

'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

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:

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 

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.

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 

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)

Afghanistan- Institutional vs Informal Justice?

Having been in many developing countries, including Afghanistan where I was involved in parts of the strategy mentioned below, I have found myself wondering the same questions posed by this article all the time. However, I do admit that, being a poster child of development of Singapore, I often hold a chip on my shoulder about 'imperialism', 'western ideas' and 'technical assistance'. Still, I often wonder if I have traded sides when I started working for the 'international development' industry.

By Jasteena Dhillon
From Friday's Globe and Mail
Published on Thursday, Mar. 04, 2010 4:55PM EST

"It is widely believed that 80 per cent of Afghans use what is called the “informal justice” system to resolve their legal disputes. If this is accurate, we must ask why the international community continues to spend billions of dollars on implementing a Western-style justice strategy that focuses primarily on formal institutional development – like the rebuilding of courthouses and training of the actors in the formal judicial system – when most Afghans are perfectly content with what they already have.

The international community has too often approached the development of institutions in postconflict states from the perspective that they know best how to solve the problems there. But this viewpoint is naive and shortsighted." Read the rest of the article

A Dialogue on ICTs, Human Development, Growth, and Poverty Reduction

(updated 3/4/10) In addition to my own quick responses below, see also the pletora of responses, including one by my friend Michael Best to this essay that have arisen since its publication last year.

(first posted 9/30/09)
As a background paper to the 2nd IDRC-Harvard Forum (which I announced recently), posted their above-titled essay on the Publius Project on September 21 2009, with the purpose of surveying the wide variety of research and action regarding ICTs and development that has surged since the 1st pre-WSIS Forum in 2003.

Acknowledging subjectivity, they claim that current literature comes in the following five following 'stories': universal access, economic and social services, openness, human development and innovation. Below I provide a summary of that essay and also my own responses.