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The past 30 days in technology for development

Twitter Chat on Mobile Tech for Social Change

The next installment of the monthly Twitter-based #SocEntChat (short for Social Entrepreneurship Chat) conversations is happening on Wednesday, July 1, from 4-6pm US EDT (GMT-4), and is focusing on mobile innovation. Taking place a week after a “Cell Phone Technology for Social Good” event in Nairobi co-hosted by Ashoka and the Lemelson Foundation the discussion will explore the opportunities and possibilities of mobile technologies to bring about change.

Development in Africa

Some interesting observations that I've made (obviously from a western perspective) about Senegal:The entire place shuts down from 1pm to 3pm. Without exception, people take a 2 hour long lunch break. It's really hard to do anything when there's no air conditioning and the humidity is like 70-80%.

Snip-its of life in Kampala

A few quick anecdotes of some daily occurances:
-today, despite it being the dry season, it decided to pour and pour, which was also when we originally decided to go to the internet. Which meant that my white skirt was a) now a nice brown tinge from the dust and b) completely and totally see through, down to my lime green poka dotted underwear. classy.

U.S. troops may be leaving Iraqi cities...

...but the UN is staying. Almost 500 international personnel (and again that many Iraqis) work for the UN in Iraq, maintaining a key presence in cities like Baghdad, Mosul, and Kirkuk. And as pretty much everyone acknowledges, what's most important for the country in the coming months is national dialogue, political reconciliation, and regional cooperation -- the very areas where the neutral brokers wearing the blue berets are taking the lead.

Tim Wirth: Where's the Natural Gas?

UN Foundation President Senator Tim Wirth laments that there is little in the recently-passed Waxman-Markey climate change legislation to encourage the natural gas industry.   In the video below, Wirth explains how natural gas can be a bridge between carbon intense energy, like coal, and renewables.  

Photos: Of Students By Students

Although we haven't "formally" met any of the students, we are around and so are they. We also have fun green toys in our hands that most students are curious about. Yesterday we busted out a few extra computers and they were off. At the same time one student found my camera and a few others found James' juggling sticks. It was one big XO / Photography / Juggling party at the school. Here are some of the photos they took:

Might the U.S. contribute more personnel to UN peacekeeping missions?

U.S. Permanent Representative Susan Rice suggested as much, in a statement during a Security Council debate on peacekeeping yesterday:

Highlight: Ashoka-Lemelson Fellow Joseph Adelegan

Ashoka-Lemelson Fellow Joseph Adelegan (Nigeria) is developing a commercially viable product that converts cow excrement into cooking gas.  The biodigester product, named "Cows to Kilowatts," offers farmers access to cheap energy while reducing river and groundwater contamination.  Take a look at his interview on CNN:

Embedded video from <a href="" mce_href="">CNN Video</a>

Goodbye Seth

Due to international politics, Seth is officially leaving M'boro tomorrow morning to make his several day treck back to Mauritania. Seth is Eli's brother and has been a great help informally training teachers and acting as our translator. This year's group of Peace Corps volunteers to Mauritania was recently cancelled and current volunteers have been given the option to "IS" or interupt their service and return home with full benefits. Seth and other PCV's in Mauritania have until July 6th to decide.

The long arc of international justice...

...bends toward ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Yesterday, Chile became the 109th member of the ICC and the last South American state to ratify the treaty.  Bienvenidos! 

WGSDIA – Lobby For Cheaper SMS Charges

This entry is part of a series, What Google Should Do In Africa»

This third  “What Google Should Do In Africa” post could be subtitled “Grow some balls”.  Why, oh why, is it that Google, so unafraid to tackle telco and broadcast market behemoths in the United States, behaves like a timid NGO in Africa?

Exciting XO Computers in Action

The deployment in Gisenyi (Rwanda) is well on its way.   The laptops are being deployed at EPGI primary (elementary) school to 84 children in P5 (fifth grade). 

Paul Collier's [email protected] lecture

Paul Collier has been on my mind recently.  He's written tons about coups and how they can sometimes provide useful checks on unrestrained power of emerging democracies.  Of course, Honduras isn't exactly and emerging democracy. It's been there for years.  Still, Collier, who wrote The Bottom Billion and, more recently, Wars Guns and Votes, is a wealth of knowledge about conflict in the developing world. 

Ban Ki-moon is "second best in the world"

We knew he was hip, but "second best in the world?"
United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon is the second-highest ranked world political leader who has the confidence of many people around the world.

First Trip to St. Mary's

Still jet-lagged, I arrived at St. Mary’s for the first time since my last trip to South Africa almost 2 years ago. The kids came rushing in, excited to continue playing and learning on the XOs. Aimee and I quickly realized there was no way we could have an organized lesson plan off the bat because the kids were too eager just to play around. We knew this was important for the kids to play around first themselves and discover things individually, after sharing with friends and us as well!

Christmas morning as a 5-year old.

That’s the closest comparison I can think of when trying to describe the look I saw on 85 Rwandan kids’ faces this afternoon as we handed them their new XO laptops. It really was incredible to see the amazement come out as they booted up what was now their first trip into the information age. During the next few months, and then for the rest of their lives, they will be able to progress like never before.

Today is the day.

Today we’re going to the ULK Primary School to deploy 85 XO laptops to 85 5th graders who won’t even know what hit them.They’ll have no idea that with these new machines, they will be able to take education into their own hands. Right now, they have no idea that they’ll soon be:• Writing the stories of their lives• Adding pictures of themselves to the stories• Sharing activities with their colleagues• Drawing pictures of their favorite animals• Learning English by creating their own memorize activities

The Tipping Point: Fascinating but Mythological?

by William Easterly

The “tipping point” is a popular concept covering a whole range of phenomena (and a best-selling book by Malcolm Gladwell) where individual behavior depends on the behavior of the herd.

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