Unlimited Potential, Base of the Pyramid and Emerging Markets

[a long post]

Economist 20090926issuecov The Economist magazine recently published (Sept. 26, 2009) a “Special Report on Telecoms in Emerging Markets”.

While the headline is a bit misleading, the 14 page report covers much more ground than just ‘mobile money’ The Economist makes a very strong case that the balance of power and innovation has shifted form the developed world to the developing world.  I would very much recommend reading the article from start to finish but in the mean time these are the key points I gleaned from the article.

First and foremost, Why are mobile phones so important and impactful in the developing world? As the Economist states

… being able to make and receive phone calls is so important to people that even the very poor are prepared to pay for it. In places with bad roads, unreliable postal services, few trains and parlous landlines, mobile phones can substitute for travel, allow quicker and easier access to information on prices, enable traders to reach wider markets, boost entrepreneurship and generally make it easier to do business. A study by the World Resources Institute found that as developing-world incomes rise, household spending on mobile phones grows faster than spending on energy, water or indeed anything else.

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Lawrence Lessig’s “Green Culture” and the global financial crisis

lawrence-lessig

“It is the duty of government to make it difficult for people to do wrong, easy to do right.” – William E. Gladstone

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of hearing Professor Lawrence Lessig, the founder of Creative Commons,  speak at the Seattle Green Festival.  The title of his talk was “Green Culture”, which meant that in 45 minutes he covered the similarities and differences between the green movement and the free culture movement. A video of the talk has just been posted and is well worth a listen.

He started by introducing to the non-economists in the crowd (including me) the concept of externalities.  To quote wikipedia Continue reading