Archive for June, 2009

R&D in Developing Nations

An interesting look into Microsoft’s R&D in India by Navi Radjou at the blog. It’s great to hear that Microsoft is employing “development economists” and “social anthropologists” to develop products designed to specifically address real problems affecting subsistence farmers and small businesses in developing nations. The article also has several good recommendations to other multinational corporations as to how to conduct R&D and deploy solutions in developing nations.

What is missing from the article though is whether the inventions that come out of this research are patented and/or are restricted to work only with Microsoft products. Or are the inventions that come out of this made available to local and other entrepreneurs or NGOs, so that the products developed as a result of the research are affordable enough and without crippling restrictions as to their use and distribution to make them useful to their intended audience?

I guess my fear is that IT multinationals will follow the footsteps of agribusiness multinationals and their genetically modified seeds and the horror stories we keep hearing about the experiences of farmers in developing nations who use these seeds.

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Give Tsvangirai a Chance

It doesn’t look like Zimbabwe’s prime minster Morgan Tsvangirai was able to raise as much money as he hoped during his trip to the US and Europe, which is unfortunate. As the article indicates, the situation in Zimbabwe is far from perfect as there are still human rights violations going on, and as such the western leader’s reluctance to provide more aid is understandable.

I was skeptical that the power sharing deal would work, and I still have my doubts given that Mugabe’s party is doing all it can to ensure that this deal fails. However, having watched and read several interviews with prime minster Tsvangirai, it clear that he is very determined and doing everything in his power to make this work. Like many Zimbabweans Tsvangirai has experienced the brutality of Mugabe’s security forces firsthand, and if he is willing to give this deal a chance, then we should give him the benefit of the doubt and wish him the best of luck.

And if the power sharing government fails, the blame will rest entirely on Mugabe and his party; and those who forced Tsvangirai into this flawed deal will have to admit that Mugabe will have to go if Zimbabwe is to have any chance of becoming a successful, free and democratic nation.

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