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Category Archives: Resource Based Economy
More than 250 projects worth $5.1 billion launched in first two years of industrialisation plan – Astana Times
Posted: August 25, 2017 at 4:02 am
ASTANA Kazakhstan launched 258 projects worth 1.7 trillion tenge (US$5.1 billion) in the first two years of its second five-year industrialisation plan. The plan is meant to diversify the countrys economy and boost domestic production.
Photo credit: primeminister.kz
Kazakhstans First Vice Minister of Investments and Development Alik Aidarbayev reported on the countrys progress in its State Industrial and Innovative Development Programme for 2015-2019 during an Aug. 22 press conference.
In line with the industrialisation road map, we continue launching new ventures, creating and preserving jobs. We unveiled 258 projects worth 1.7 trillion tenge (US$5.1 billion) since the beginning of the second five-year plan in 2015. We created 21,000 jobs. Since the beginning of this year, 32 projects worth 489 billion tenge (US$1.47 billion) were commissioned, providing jobs to 3,900 people. Over the industrialisation years, [since 2010] 1,060 projects amounting to 5.1 trillion tenge (US$15.33 billion) were launched creating 100,000 jobs, said Aidarbayev.
One of the key goals of the programme, according to the vice minister, is the diversification of the predominantly resource-based Kazakh economy and the subsequent increase of the processing industrys share in the domestic market.
Our economy needs diversification and this programme has been working for several years now. The results are evident and every year we are witnessing the growth of the processing industry. It constitutes 12 percent of the current [gross domestic product] and 30 percent in the economy in general, added Aidarbayev.
A rapidly growing sector in the domestic economy, the processing industry also serves as a main driver of industrial growth, according to Aidarbayev.
Within seven months of 2017 the real growth in the processing industry was 6.3 percent, while production grew 5.3 percent. The volume of exports totalled $6.2 billion, which is 27.8 percent more than in the same period last year. This is due to the favourable conditions in international markets and expansion in new foreign markets. The amount of investments in the processing industry is estimated at 411 billion tenge (US$1.24 billion) in the first half of 2017, which shows a 2.7 percent increase compared to the same period last year, noted the vice minister.
The industrialisation programme allowed the country to produce 500 different commodities previously not produced domestically, including passenger and freight cars, electric locomotives, x-ray equipment and pharmaceutical products.
One hundred projects worth more than one trillion tenge (US$3 billion) are to be implemented by the end of this year.
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Posted: at 4:02 am
A resource-based economy would make it possible to use technology to overcome scarce resources by applying renewable sources of energy, computerizing and automating manufacturing and inventory, designing safe energy-efficient cities and advanced transportation systems, providing universal health care and more relevant education, and most of all by generating a new incentive system based on human and environmental concern.
Many people believe that there is too much technology in the world today, and that technology is the major cause of our environmental pollution. This is not the case. It is the abuse and misuse of technology that should be our major concern. In a more humane civilization, instead of machines displacing people they would shorten the workday, increase the availability of goods and services, and lengthen vacation time. If we utilize new technology to raise the standard of living for all people, then the infusion of machine technology would no longer be a threat.
A resource-based world economy would also involve all-out efforts to develop new, clean, and renewable sources of energy: geothermal; controlled fusion; solar; photovoltaic; wind, wave and tidal power; and even fuel from the oceans. We would eventually be able to have energy in unlimited quantity that could propel civilization for thousands of years. A resource-based economy must also be committed to the redesign of our cities, transportation systems, and industrial plants, allowing them to be energy efficient, clean and conveniently serve the needs of all people.
What else would a resource-based economy mean? Technology intelligently and efficiently applied, conserves energy, reduces waste, and provides more leisure time. With automated inventory on a global scale, we can maintain a balance between production and distribution. Only nutritious and healthy food would be available and planned obsolescence would be unnecessary and non-existent in a resource-based economy. As we outgrow the need for professions based on the monetary system, for instance lawyers, bankers, insurance agents, marketing and advertising personnel, salespersons, and stockbrokers, a considerable amount of waste will be eliminated. Considerable amounts of energy would also be saved by eliminating the duplication of competitive products such as tools, eating utensils, pots, pans and vacuum cleaners. Choice is good. But instead of hundreds of different manufacturing plants and all the paperwork and personnel required to turn out similar products, only a few of the highest quality would be needed to serve the entire population. Our only shortage is the lack of creative thought and intelligence in ourselves and our elected leaders to solve these problems. The most valuable, untapped resource today is human ingenuity. With the elimination of debt, the fear of losing ones job will no longer be a threat. This assurance, combined with education on how to relate to one another in a much more meaningful way, could considerably reduce both mental and physical stress and leave us free to explore and develop our abilities.
If the thought of eliminating money troubles you, consider this: if a group of people with gold, diamonds and money were stranded on an island that had no resources such as food, clean air, and water, their wealth would be irrelevant to their survival. It is only when resources are scarce that money can be used to control their distribution. One could not, for example, sell the air we breathe or water abundantly flowing down from a mountain stream. Although air and water are valuable, in abundance they cannot be sold. Money is only important in a society when certain resources for survival must be rationed and the people accept money as an exchange medium for the scarce resources. Money is a social convention, an agreement if you will. It is neither a natural resource, nor does it represent one. It is not necessary for survival unless we have been conditioned to accept it as such.
Are we ready to start up a resource based economy?
Can we convince everyone to start a resource based economy?
We believe that a resource based economy can be an amazing change for humanity, but can we convince everyone that we can have a society without the want to become rich or motivated?
We guess as with other systems we talk about its not for everyone. You have to be a highly aware human in order to live in a resource based economy as it is created for you to be your very best and to live a life of full human expression.
A resource based economy sees what is best for humanity and takes that direction. It is very opposite to todays system where corporate interest and profit chooses the road that humanity takes together.
Will a resource based economy have to be implemented with force? NO!! You have to start in the small and what we believe is that every idea has to elevate people its way. So lets start a resourced based economy and then let those who want to live in it do so! A real revolution gives people options, that is why we propose as many solutions as possible as people are different and should be able to choose their destiny without socially engineering them towards your solution!
To learn more go to this website!
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Posted: at 4:02 am
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is working to ensure that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector increases its 12.6 per cent contributions to the nations Gross Dometic Product (GDP) this year.
NITDA, through its Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), is already grooming some technology startups that would aid the countrys match towards the enthronement of a knowledge economy.
According to the Director-General, NITDA, Dr. Isa Pantami, at the weekend, in Lagos, NITDA is unleashing digital economy potential to deepen GDP contribution by making ICT play a key role in all aspects of the economy.Pantami said NITDA is organising the StartUP Nigeria programme, the sixth edition, where a number of startups pitched their ideas and IT solutions to angel investors.
The tech Startups that pitched included Acounteer, TheFarmyard, BeatDrone, Six, Nicademia, Livekampus, Comestibles Nigeria, Novael, TapPay, SwiftCheckup and Middleman.com.ng, which is an ecommerce platform connecting buyers and sellers while providing other auxiliary services.
Pantami said, ICT is not only indispensable for developing new products and services but also for ensuring the survival of any business in the competitive world by providing ample opportunities for growth and profitability.
According to him, the Nigerian startup ecosystem, with proper regulations and support, has capacity to become the strong catalytic force for sustainable economic growth across nations.He said that NITDA has since commenced processes for proper regulation and development, crucial for supporting the startup and entrepreneurs ecosystem in the country.
The NITDAs interwoven roles are relevant for the country to achieve its purpose of creative transformation of knowledge and ideas into new products, processes, or services meeting market needs, which culminates in successful enterprises, Pantami said.
He stated that the competitiveness of any economy in the long term depends on innovation potential of the economy gained through entrepreneurship and effective technology transfer, especially now that revenue from the oil and gas industry is on downward trend.Pantami warned that Nigeria cannot remain an oil and gas-based resource based economy, as every projections show other countries are making a turn away from oil.
The NITDA DG said, StartUPNigeria held in Lagos is a prelude to GITEX 2017, as NITDA tends to select the best startups to represent the country. This is critical in helping even the regulatory aspects of the IT sector. We identify with startups that need our technical, financial supports to push their solutions forward.
We believe Lagos is home to innovative startups; thus, we intend to assist them improve on their works. The truth is this: our country relies solely on oil and gas sector; in UK for instance by 2040 they intend to ban diesel or petrol cars, so our reliance on oil is disturbing.
We have to move from oil resource to knowledge-based economy. ICT has the answer to this. The contribution of 12.6 per cent of ICT to GDP is second to oil at the moment, but will soon takeover. India depends on ICT as $143 billion annual comes from ICT; Nigeria accounts for 180 million with 60 per cent young people who are addicted to ICT.
The DG explained that the winners from StartUp Nigeria programme, being held across the country, would later represent Nigeria at this years Gulf Technology Exhibition (GITEX) in Dubai to pitch their innovative ideas to global investment community.
Earlier, Acting National Coordinator of OIIE, Dr. Amina Sambo Magaji, thanked the exemplary leadership of the NITDA DG and the management for giving OIIE platform to meet with startups and solve needs in the ecosystem.
She said that OIIEs vision to drive ICT innovation and entrepreneurship through policies, initiatives, partnership and programs implementation by focusing on socio- economic impact, competitiveness, and sustainable & inclusive growth, was carefully crafted to ensure the startups are impacted positively.
She said the Office is not relenting on its focus, amongst others, on innovation and entrepreneurship by fostering a more innovative digital economy through turning new ideas and inventions into products and technologies that spur job growth and competitiveness while promoting economic development.
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Posted: at 4:02 am
As yet, only around 14 per cent of the raw materials used in German industry are derived from recycling processes. But how can this proportion be increased and waste disposed of in a way that is safer and more environmentally friendly? A study by the German Federal Environment Ministry takes the position that the circular economy would especially benefit from digitalisation whilst at the same time revealing that the subject is not really being systematically addressed yet. Dr Henning Wilts, Head of the Research Unit Circular Economy, and Dr Holger Berg, Project Co-ordinator for the Research Unit Circular Economy at the Wuppertal Institute, are therefore focusing their attention on this issue. They are working on a Circular Economy Literacy framework, which is intended to pave the way for the digital and resource-efficient circular economy. The authors describing in detail this issue in the recently published in brief.
Germanys waste management system is one of the worlds most advanced. Its chief objective is to dispose of waste in a way that is safe for both people and the environment yet, more than 85 per cent of the raw materials for industrial use are still sourced from primary materials. Although the potential for optimisation is great, the reality is still far removed from so-called closed-loop systems. Secondary raw materials recovered from waste referred to as recyclates have previously been fed back into production and usage processes at volumes that are far below what is possible. This means loss of value, creates dependency on volatile commodity markets, lowers resource productivity and increases environmental pollution. The study The Digitisation of Environmental Technology, commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), indicates that no other lead market in the environmental sector stands to benefit from digitalisation more than the circular economy, whilst also suggesting that no sector has ever been so poorly positioned.
Companies are still relying too much on primary materials instead of recycled raw materials although the latter may actually be less expensive. A key reason for this lies in the lack of information: when and where waste is produced that can be used as recyclates is much less clear than is the case for primary materials from mining, for example. In addition, the value of waste materials is heavily dependent on their composition and what is known about them: which are the waste materials that are hazardous and expensive to dispose of, and what waste is practical to recycle? For this reason, Dr Henning Wilts, Head of the Research Unit Circular Economy at the Wuppertal Institute, stresses that: ,There is an urgent need for better coordination of flows of materials and information, if we are to advance the transition to the circular economy.
Information about the quantity and especially the quality of products and the raw materials they contain must be gathered, analysed and retained, adds Dr Holger Berg. For example, there would be significantly higher incentives for the materials-based recycling of plastic waste if the precise material composition (including all additives) of all products contained in the waste were known, or if this information could be obtained at a reasonable cost.
Until now, it has not been possible to overcome much of this information deficit. However, the researchers Wilts and Berg anticipate that the digital transformation could provide the solution, because it is, for a number of reasons, an information revolution and can thus serve as the link to enable the implementation of the circular economy.
Solutions will need to go much further than simple waste disposal concepts, come into effect much earlier in the production process and also include consumption-related decisions to a greater extent than before. The ultimate objective is to prevent waste as far as possible and to enable a resource-efficient circular economy. To that end, the Wuppertal Institute is working to develop circular economy literacy. In the recently established Circular Economy research unit, Dr Henning Wilts and Dr Holger Berg are evaluating how such comprehensive change processes can be made possible and set on the right tracks. Their projects aim to bring together the various stakeholders and provide a strategic vision for a digital circular economy in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany and Europe. Everyone wants digitalisation, everyone wants a circular economy but what is the shared vision, and how do we achieve it? The following four points will be of particular importance:
Wilts adds: In order to establish a resource-efficient and digital circular economy, industry, the waste management sector and companies will need to be networked so that a functioning value creation network can be built.
Posted: at 4:02 am
Nobody has officially declared that they’re running for the leadership of the B.C. Liberal party.
But privately, party members are telling me that four MLAs and one MP are preparing campaigns to replace Christy Clark, who stepped down earlier this month.
There’s no obvious frontrunner, which will make this contest more fun to watch from the sidelines.And there’s no indication yet that the interim leader, Rich Coleman, or the former finance minister, Mike de Jong, are going to seek the top job.
Here are the possible contenders in alphabetical order, along with their strengths and weaknesses:
The former education minister is best known in Vancouver for firing the local school board and for trying to force the district to sell the Kingsgate Mall. It’s not going to serve him well in B.C.’s largest city, but it might win him some support in other areas of the province.
First elected in 2013, Bernier was previously a two-term mayor of Dawson Creek and a one-term city councillor. According to his biography, he worked for 20 years in the natural gas industry.
Strengths: A folksy public speaker, Bernier would be popular in the 250 area code of mainland B.C. where there’s a large number of party members. He might come across to them as the most likable leadership candidate.
Weaknesses: The B.C. Liberal government’s record of funding education was pretty dismal in comparison to other provinces. Bernier’s government was also blown out of the Supreme Court of Canada for its approach to negotiating with teachers.As a former education minister, he will have to wear this if he leads his party into a general election.
Plus, he’s a huge supporter of the natural gas industry just as forest-fire-weary voters are becoming increasingly conscious about climate change. Many won’t buy claims anymore that natural gas is a bridge to a cleaner future, particularly if Andrew Weaver remains leader of the B.C. Greens.
The Straight was the first to mention in print the possibility of the former corporate lawyer and rookie MLA becoming the next B.C. Liberal leader. A long-time party member, Lee worked for former justice minister and prime minister Kim Campbell many years ago.
Lee is the antithesis of Clark with his low-key demeanour. He’s served on a bunch of nonprofit boards and chaired Peter Ladner’s first campaign for Vancouver city council. This makes him remarkably well-connected.
Strengths: He will appeal to centrist B.C. Liberals hoping for the party to perform better in Metro Vancouver. Lee is also not stained by the B.C. Liberal record and he would probably hold his own discussing various public policies during leadership debates.
Weaknesses: Lee doesn’t set the house on fire with his speeches. Party members might feel he’s too boring to defeat a happy warrior like Premier John Horgan.
Plus, his inexperience as an elected politician might lead the media to treat his candidacy less seriously than the others. And one of his biggest problems is that most party members live outside of the Lower Mainland.
The former high-tech executive was appointed transportation and infrastructure minister immediately after being elected as an MLA.And transportation policies in the Lower Mainland led directly to the downfall of the B.C. Liberal government.
But Stone still represents a new generation. He’s from a mid-size B.C. city that’s making a transition from a resource-based economy to one more reliant on other goods and services. Given the number of party members residing outside of the Lower Mainland, he’ll probably be among the frontrunners.
Strengths:Stone was born in 1972, which means he’ll likely be the youngest candidate in the race. He could be the preferred candidate of libertarian young tech workers, which are growing in number. He’s also articulate and he’ll look the best on TV, which counts for a lot in politics these days.
Weaknesses:Stone was the frontman on the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project, the plebiscite defeating much-needed transit and transportation improvements, and even the politically suicidal move to bring ride-sharing to the Lower Mainland by the end of this year.
While these policies might have all made sense to a guy who regularly drives the Coquihalla and is comfortable programming his smartphone, they alienated local mayors. Ride-sharing also ticks off South Asian voters in constituencies that swing back and forth between the NDP and B.C. Liberals. This record as transportation minister raises questions whether he has sufficient political intuition to become premier.
Watts is the former mayor of Surrey and likely has the highest name recognition of any of the potential candidates listed here. Since sidling up to Stephen Harper and becoming a Conservative MP, she’s fallen off the radar somewhat.
Her tenure as mayor was marked by massive public investments to turn Surrey City Centre into the region’s second major downtown. So far, the results have been mixed, though the growth of the SFU campus, the creation of a new KPU campus and new library, and the promotion of a high-tech zone called Innovation Boulevard will probably pay decent dividends over the long term.
Watts has a certain magnetism when she enters a room full of supporters. But it’s an open question whether she has sufficient public-policy depth or an understanding of the nuances of the province to defeat a politician as intelligent as Horgan. Watts’s campaign flyer about terrorism during the last federal election campaign might make some B.C. Liberals question her intellect.
Strengths: Watts will have a fully formed political machine geared up from day one of the campaign. She’ll be seen as a new face on the provincial scene. And she may be able to mobilize the politically influential South Asian community to come on-side with her because she wasn’t associated with the disastrous ride-sharing idea promoted so eagerly by Stone and former cabinet minister Peter Fassbender.
Weaknesses: Watts is a federal Conservative, which will alienate federal Liberals within the party, of which there are many. She’s not going to win over former B.C. Liberal voters who switched allegiance to the B.C. Greens because of Clark’s environmental record. And she’s not likely to help the party make a breakthrough on Vancouver Island, where the B.C. Liberals were nearly shut out this year.
The former minister of advanced education managed to avoid controversy even as the former finance minister, de Jong, was treating postsecondary institutions and students with a great deal of disdain. Wilkinson is a former corporate litigator with a medical degree, which makes him far more educated than his former party leader.
But will his upper-crust, downtown Vancouver sensibility be political poison in the 250 area code?
Strengths: If Wilkinson can keep his chippy side in check, he can be a strong debater. As leader, he has potential to raise lots of money. And he’s not tied to the federal Conservatives, unlike Watts. He’s also brighter than some of the others named above.
Weaknesses:It’s hard to see how Wilkinson, a Rhodes scholar, is going to appeal to blue-collar workers, who’ve become a key part of the B.C. Liberal base under Clark’s leadership. We’ve had boring premiers before and one of them, Bill Bennett, won three terms in office.
But in this modern age of social media and 24-hour news cycles, it’s hard to imagine someone with Wilkinson’s charisma deficit ever igniting passion among the masses. Plus, he hurt himself with environmentally inclined free enterprisers by thrashing the City of Vancouver’s efforts to make the city 100 percent reliant on renewable energy by 2050. It’s not smart if you want to appeal to younger urban voters.
Posted: August 22, 2017 at 11:54 pm
Mark Ansermino, left, and Guy Dumont were working on a device in 2005 to aid people monitoring patients during surgery. Ward Perrin / Vancouver Sun
A deceptively simple device invented at the University of B.C. is saving lives in the worlds most impoverished places.
Called the Phone Oximeter, it clips onto a persons fingertip and is connected by wire to a smartphones audio port. By measuring blood-oxygen levels and heart and breathing rates with unprecedented simplicity, portability and affordability, its enabling easier diagnosis of illness in Mozambique, Pakistan and Uganda.
How it came to be at UBC reveals the magic of universities.
Fifteen years ago, electrical engineer Guy Dumont, an expert in creating intelligent automated systems, met Mark Ansermino, an anesthesiologist who wanted to improve measurement of vital signs during surgery. From that first encounter between two complementary faculty members, a string of inventions followed.
The Phone Oximeters genesis at a university was no accident. UBC, like so many of its peer institutions, attracts experts in diverse fields. Brought together into a larger community, they sometimes share ideas and wind up doing things they could never achieve or even dream of achieving on their own.
But when that lightning does strike, its often by accident or the result of occasional get-togethers. If only we could make such interactions a regular feature on our campuses, imagine the ingenuity that would spring forth.
Now we are now doing just that, with UBCs latest creation: a school of biomedical engineering.
This new cluster of faculty and students, a joint venture of the faculties of medicine and applied science, will break down antiquated academic boundaries. We want to replicate many times over the genius of the Phone Oximeter applying an engineering mindset to disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
That could mean medical devices like the Phone Oximeter. But it also means extending engineering into realms that most people have a hard time grasping: the splicing of genes, the rearrangement of proteins and the cultivation of stem cells, which can be coaxed into repairing or even replacing damaged tissues or organs.
This is a squishier world than many engineers are used to. But its governed by the same physical principles that all engineering students must master. And its just as yielding to their quantitative approach and creative design skills, which offer new solutions to societys major health challenges, including cancer, neurological disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
UBC is the first university in Western Canada to recognize the importance of this burgeoning field with a school of its own. And we are doing it at a propitious time, as B.C. diversifies its resource-based economy by cultivating a vibrant tech sector, and as the province joins the University of Washington in creating the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative, emulating the success of such regional tech hubs as Silicon Valley, North Carolinas Research Triangle and Bostons Route 128 Corridor.
To fulfil even part of that tech-based vision, higher education must position itself several steps ahead by preparing students to readily enter that economy from the moment they graduate, and to play leading roles in both established companies and new ventures. Playing catch-up isnt an option we need to cultivate the talent now or risk having that vision wither for lack of local talent.
The Phone Oximeter, invented at the University of B.C., clips onto a persons fingertip and is connected by wire to a smartphones audio port. By measuring blood-oxygen levels and heart and breathing rates with unprecedented simplicity, portability and affordability, its enabling easier diagnosis of illness in Mozambique, Pakistan and Uganda. Handout / PNG
Clearly, there is a demand for such training. The faculty of applied science started offering masters degrees and doctorates in biomedical engineering a mere seven years ago, and applications have increased steadily to almost 200 in 2016.
The new school will provide those students expected to number about 90 this year with a distinct, high-profile home, signalling to future students our commitment to be a leader in this field. In the years ahead we hope to extend the talent pipeline even further by offering bachelors degrees in biomedical engineering as well.
That higher profile will also help attract the most promising or sought-after biomedical engineering faculty. In fact, it already has: Peter Zandstra, most recently of the University of Toronto, has joined UBC to become the schools first director.
Zandstra wont need much help finding his way around he spent five years at UBC earning his doctorate in biotechnology and chemical engineering. But we recruited him for his ingenuity in growing stem cells, his mathematical modelling to predict how stem cells behave and how they can be controlled, and his success in generating human tissue for drug testing or treatment. On top of all that, he has proven leadership skills, honed from his experience steering large academic research groups and startup companies.
Joining him in the months and years ahead will be seven other new faculty members, along with 20 current faculty members jointly appointed from their current departments, including electrical engineer Tim Salcudean, who has proudly ignored the obsolete divisions that once separated him from his medical colleagues.
Salcudean is advancing two innovations that have already transformed patient care: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound. He is making those technologies more revealing by bringing digital analysis to images that are now mostly eyeballed. He is also making them more useful by superimposing MRI and ultrasound images onto magnified images of a surgical field, so surgeons can see underneath the tissue on which theyre operating, and thus spot patches of cancer that would normally be hidden.
These arent an academics theoretical musings. Thanks to UBCs partnerships with the provinces health system, Salcudean has been able to team up with UBC urologist Peter Black to successfully test ultrasound and MRI image-guided techniques on 27 patients with prostate cancer. Based on those results, there are plans for more.
We cant simply leave those kinds of advances to the random happenstance of the occasional symposium or accidental meeting. The stakes in terms of lives saved or quality of life are too high.
Our new school of biomedical engineering will bring health scientists, clinicians and engineers together on a daily basis and provide them with the space and the tools to collaborate. Just as important, it will bring graduate students and medical students into that collaboration to learn from it, emulate it and, we hope, take it in directions that we havent yet imagined.
Dermot Kelleher is dean of the faculty of medicine and James Olson is interim dean of the faculty of applied science at the University of B.C.
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Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:12 pm
BEIJING Sometimes, when considering the orgy of spending that is Chinas start-up scene, its fun to imagine the pitch meetings.
Its like Uber, but for beds.
I know it sounds funny but
Take my cash.
That exact exchange did not happen. But it may not be far off. Chinese authorities recently shuttered a service that let people pay to sleep in windowless pods. There were questions about hygiene, according to local reports.
Perhaps there should be more questions. Flush with cash and buoyed by a billion-dollar boom in bike sharing, Chinas venture capitalists have gone sharing mad, funding companies that allow users to share items including washing machines, basketballs and umbrellas.
In some ways, the enthusiasm makes sense. Chinas vibrant but tightly regulated tech sector has been booming, with sharing leading the way. Chinese ride-hailing (and -sharing) giant Didi bought out Uber China. Airbnb is fighting Chinese rivals to win a piece of the home-share market.
The countrys top leaders know they must shift from manufacturing and resource extraction to a service-based economy powered, in part, by the Web.
To help things along, the state has thrown money into the start-up scene and nurtured homegrown tech companies, in part by keeping others out. (Sorry, Google.) It has also used its vast propaganda apparatus to cheerlead for local start-ups, waxing poetic about umbrella sharing, for example.
In April, a commentary in the Peoples Daily, a Communist Party-controlled newspaper, calleda Chinese umbrella sharing start-up a sign of progress in public service and a show of human care, releasing the warmth of the city. The company later made headlines when nearly all of its 300,000 umbrellas went missing.
At a 2016 tech conference, Robin Li, chief executive of the search engine Baidu, suggestedthat the sharing economy is in tune with Chinas socialist ethos. Both, he said, focus on distribution according to need.
The new, government-run Sharing Economy Research Centerestimates that the sector grew 103 percent in 2016, with deals close to $500 billion. The researchers predicted an annual growth rate of 40 percent in the years ahead. By 2020, the sharing economy will account for 10 percent of the countrys gross domestic product, the center said.
And yet, nobody seems sure what sharing economy means.
Gao Shen, a partner at Phoenix Tree Capital Partners, said there are two things going on.
Companies such as Didi and Tujia, a Chinese house-sharing firm, took existing resources cars, homes and made them available to others for a fee. Many of the new, self-described sharing start-ups do not useidle resources, he said.
If a company orders a bunch of new bikes or umbrellas and lets people rent them with their phone, is that sharing? Or is it renting with your phone?
A Chinese government newswire recently covered the launch of a shared washing machine service. Theres also a shared drying service. Anywhere else, they would be called laundromats. Or, perhaps, laundromats where you pay with your phone.
Along the same lines, is a phone-activated, two-person karaoke booth in a mall a karaoke share, or just a smaller and louder version of the status quo, plus phone?
Whats more, not everyone seems to understand the meaning of rent.
Like the umbrella company, Chinese bike-sharing start-ups have struggled to keep up with theft and vandalism, with one company, Wukong, reportedly losing 90 percent of its bikes in about six months.
In some cases, companies are launching products that seem like less convenient versions of things that already exist a fact that does not seem to stop the funding.
Andy Xie, an independent economist in Shanghai, said the rush of investment feels a lot like a bubble. In the past four, five years, every year there is something different to speculate on, he said.
Beijing, a city with free workout machines in public parks, now has shared gyms, a.k.a, outhouse-size workout pods activated by your phone. Investors are betting that people will pay for the chance to sweat and jiggle in a small glass box on the street.
A recent Peoples Daily write-up described the opening of the worlds first shared bookstore. Again, you can imagine the pitch.
Shared bookstore? … That sounds a lot like a library.
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Posted: August 18, 2017 at 5:10 am
Nyarai Kampilipili and Kizito SikukaCorrespondents The event had nothing to do with the annual Womens Month that is celebrated here in South Africa every August to remember the sacrifices and contribution of women to the struggle for social equality.
Rather, the sight of Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax addressing the media ahead of the 37th SADC Summit in South Africa was a clear affirmation that women continue to make a positive contribution towards deepening regional integration and sustainable development in southern Africa.
Nkoana-Mashabane is the incoming chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, while Dr Tax is the Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
In fact, Dr Tax is the first woman to assume the top post at the SADC Secretariat, and since her appointment at a summit in August 2013 in Lilongwe, Malawi has exhibited that performance is key and not gender in holding key decision-making positions.
Based in Gaborone, Botswana, the SADC Secretariat is the principal executive institution of SADC, responsible for strategic planning, facilitation and coordination and management of all SADC programmes, activities and projects. The SADC Council of Ministers oversees the functioning and development of SADC by ensuring that regional policies are properly implemented.
In this regard, both Nkoana-Mashabane, who is the South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister and Dr Tax carry the responsibility of making sure the benefits of belonging to a shared community in southern Africa continue to be enjoyed and impact on the lives of SADC citizens.
During her one-year tenure as Council of Ministers chair, Nkoana-Mashabane is expected to provide guidance to the SADC Secretariat on the implementation of regional programmes, while Dr Tax will ensure that the decisions of the 37th SADC Summit are implemented over the next 12 months.
This will include making sure that the momentum built since 2014 in terms of the implementation of the industrialisation agenda is maintained as part of regional efforts to transform from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based one that is able to add value to its own natural resources and compete strongly on global markets.
SADC has over the years made significant progress towards promoting gender equality and equity in the region.
In fact, gender equality is firmly rooted in the Declaration and Treaty that established the shared community of SADC, and member states fully realise that equality and empowerment of both women and men is crucial for the attainment of sustainable development.
This is clearly reflected in the constitutions of most SADC countries that provide for the creation of legal frameworks that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender and other differences.
Some countries have also legislated affirmative action and quota systems that guarantee the participation and representation of women in political and other decision-making positions.
According to the SADC Gender and Development Monitor 2016, four member states are among the top 20 countries in the world with the highest number of women in parliament and other key decision-making positions.
These are Seychelles, South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique, followed closely by Angola, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
In the education sector, gender gaps in literacy levels continue to close, with Botswana, Lesotho, Seychelles and Swaziland having higher literacy rates for women compared to men.
The Revised SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, which was approved at the 36th SADC Summit held in the Kingdom of Swaziland in August 2016, aims to align the protocol with provisions of other instruments such as those relating to the Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2063, and the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.
The revised protocol provides for the empowerment of women, elimination of discrimination and attainment of gender equality and equity through enactment of gender-responsive legislation and implementation of policies, programmes and projects.
The 37th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit is scheduled for 19-20 August, and will deliberate on a wide range of issues, including exploring ways of harnessing the potential of the private sector to contribute to the industrialisation agenda and sustainable economic development in the region.
The theme for the summit is Partnering with the private sector in developing industry and regional value-chains.
At the summit, South African President Jacob Zuma will assume the rotating SADC chair from King Mswati III of Swaziland.
Prior to the SADC Summit, there will be a Double Troika meeting on August 18 to discuss the general political situation in the region. sardc.net
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Posted: at 5:10 am
PAUL FLANAGAN: Arguably for too long PNG has placed too much emphasis on getting the resource part of its economy going well. So focussing on large LNG projects, or copper and gold projects. But that really hasn’t delivered improvements in well being for the vast majority of people in PNG. An alternative approach is to take a more people focussed development line which would try and build on its extraordinary cultural diversity, the strength of its ecosystems, and use that as a path to tap into the incredible potential of its people to have a different development to what PNG has faced previously.
DON WISEMAN: Why is it that there has been so little return from oil, gas and minerals?
PL: A long term feature of countries that go down a path of resource dependence is the somewhat well known Resource Curse. And the Resource Curse comes through in a few different ways. In some ways it is the focus in development towards those big projects rather than those that are more inclusive. It comes through because there is more opportunity for corruption and graft that can come through those big projects. But a more hidden and sinister one is that it tends to lead to overvalued exchange rates. It pushes up the exchange rate which means it’s good for people importing in urban areas but it means a large part of the economy that could be otherwise exporting things that might be tapping into more local, cultural traditions. You know local PNG fashions and things like that – they’re priced out of the international market just because that country is exporting some much LNG and gold and other produce. So dealing with the exchange rate is going to be a very credible and one of the simplest tools one can take to try and improve development outcomes.
DW: You’ve talked about how the effect of this focus on developing mineral resources and oil and gas, has been the creation of dual economies in a sense.
PL: Very much dual economies and it tends to be there is not much linkage between the traditional economy and the resource-based economy. Now PNG could have a really strong agricultural sector, one would think, in terms of exporting things such as coffee and cocoa to much greater levels. But they face price competition and the incentives for people who front up to sell coffee at the local factory, they don’t actually get that much kina for each US dollar, once again because of this overvalued exchange rate that can sort of really hinder development. What can really build up the linkages between those parts of the economy is if the tax regime is taking enough tax out of the resource sector and distributing that back into the local economy through improved infrastructure or through improved health and education outcomes. We know PNG is actually taxing its resource sector quite lightly, relative to that faced by most other countries. So once again that is an area that can be looked at. But that will take probably 5-10 years to put into effect because of binding agreements already with existing projects.
DW: So in the current circumstances, the economy is a grim state, how do you get the exchange rate down?
PL: In some ways that can be a straight decision from the Bank of Papua New Guinea, just in the same way as when it appreciated the currency by nearly 20 percent back in June 2014, it could decide overnight to depreciate the currency once again by 20 percent. One has to be careful with that because there would be potentially imported inflationary impacts and one needs to ensure that staples such as rice and that don’t jump through the roof immediately. And there can be some action taken to try and bring those price increases through time. Any of these sort of adjustments are difficult in terms of their impacts but in terms of putting them into place, fixing up the exchange rate is much, much easier than trying to do something such as Budget repair, which would involve other difficult things. Such as looking at tax increases on consumers or wage earners. Bringing more targets as to where you cut expenditure, more options there, but once again some pretty difficult choices because of some capacity and other limits that PNG faces. So it is always a world of hard choices given how far PNG has gone down this slippery economic slopes, but there are mechanisms to pick things up again and one of the best and easiest of those is improving the exchange rate, making it more competitive, allowing PNG to really enter into the Asia-Pacific century.
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Posted: at 5:10 am
Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister of Communications, said Government was keen on establishing a digital economy which would improve efficiency of government business.
She said the Ministry of Communications was currently implementing a number of projects under the e-Transform initiative namely e-Immigration, e-Parliament, e-Procurement, Tertiary Institutions Connectivity Programme and e-Justice to achieve that goal.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful who said at the inauguration of the Board of Directors of the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) in Accra, urged the Board to be proactive and efficient in its operations to ensure success in their endeavour.
The Board, which is chaired by Dr Mohammed-Sani Abdulai, include, Mr Jeffrey Konadu Addo, NITA Acting Director-General, Mr Gerard Nana Kwakwa Osei-Tutu, Dr Gezer Osei Yeboah-Boateng and Mr Emmanuel Mensah-Bonsu.
Other members are Mr Albert Antwi-Boasiako, Ms Ama Daaku, Mr Kwasi Agyei Tabi, and Mr. Ernest Andam Brown. Section 9(1)(a) of the NITA Act, Act 771, 2008, enjoins members of the Board to submit to the Agency a written declaration that includes details of their shareholdings, debentures or other interests in a company whether directly or indirectly owned, public or charitable appointments as well as directorships held by the member.
The Act also enjoins members to inform the Agency of any change in respect of that members shareholdings, debentures or other interests in the company whether directly or indirectly owned by the member, and not knowingly make a false declaration.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said the successful implementation of the e-Transform initiative depended on the efficient management of NITAs infrastructure and call on Board and management to work to ensure high service level attainments.
She said the Ministry of Communication have set a target to enforce the usage of Government Domain name across all Government Agencies and Department for the transaction of official business and NITA is expected to facilitate the achievement of the target.
The Communications Minister said to be able achieve all these targets, NITA needed to operationalise its regulatory mandate which has not been done since the law was passed in 2008. She said Governments intended to scale up the use of technology at all levels to facilitate the implementation of an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) -led socio-economic agenda for which reason, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has constituted the Board to deliver on this mandate guided by the principles in the NITA Act of 2008 (Act 771 and Act 778).
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said the President, in constituting this Board, considered the diverse expertise and experience of members and have no doubt that members would implement innovative strategies to resolve the challenges of the Agency and transform it into an effective organization capable of leading the implementation of the Digital Ghana Agenda.
She said Government has made significant investment in building an extensive ICT infrastructure that has been placed in the care of NITA and expected that this will be managed efficiently and profitably.
The Public Services Commission has approved the administrative structure and scheme of Service to enable NITA engage qualified professionals into the Agency. I entreat the Board to support the management in its effort to build the requisite capacity for the agency.
In view of the urgency of attracting and retaining requisite skilled manpower to manage government IT assets, I urge the Board to reengage the Public Service Commission to improve upon the conditions of service of your staff, she said.
The Minister said, her outfit have informed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies to seek NITAs input before acquiring any IT solution, application, platform or device to ensure the interoperability of the government IT architecture to end the culture of working in silos.
She urged the board to expedite work to ensure effective discharge of its mandate by Setting the standards for all IT applications, systems, devices procured by MMDAS, Enhance your regulatory functions as soon as possible by passing and implementing the requisite LIs and Establish Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to ensure secure online transactions, enhance delivery of online services and enhance e-government implementation, mindful of the ongoing work in this regard.
They are also to Establish an effective customer complaints unit to address complaints from the public and MDAs on the quality of its service, develop an effective marketing strategy for use of the National Data Centre as a secure and safe infrastructure for data storage, Manage Governments broadband infrastructure effectively to provide efficient services to its client and Recover subscription fees and charges for the supply of Bandwidth to MDAs.
Dr Abdulai assured the Minister of the Boards commitment to re-position NITA by building its human resource based to promote the government digital economy agenda. He said the Board recognised the importance of ICT in a growing economy and that the responsibility of building a quality service delivery would be achieved through revisiting NITAs business strategy and leverage the Community Information Centres to become learning centres of its various locations.
NITA was set up under the National Information Technology Act (Act 771) of 2008 and mandated to regulate the deployment of ICT, Promote standards in technology applications and ensure high quality of technology service among government agencies at the national, regional and local levels in a harmonized manner.
It is also to Promote private sector partnership in ICT deployment, ensure security of networks at all times, advise the Ministry on policy review in the ICT sector and Investigate, resolve disputes between license holders under the Electronic Transactions Act referred to the Agency by license holders and to certify all agencies established under the Electronic Transactions Act, 2008 (Act 772).