Creativity & Innovation

  • Broadband Revolution: Innovation and the Threat of Government Regulation – PDF
  • Do Stronger IPRs Deliver the Goods (and Services) in Developing Countries? – PDF
  • The Cellphone Revolution in Kenya – PDF
  • The Dirigiste Divide – PDF
  • Nashville in Africa – PDF
  • Open to Development – Open source software and economic development – PDF

Broadband Revolution: Innovation and the Threat of Government Regulation

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The social, cultural and economic implications of information and communication technology (ICT) are profound. From information aggregators, social networking sites and search engines to Business to Business (B2B) exchanges, online banking and retail websites, the Internet has changed and is changing our lives. ICT is estimated to be responsible for as much as 40 per cent of annual increases in European productivity. Meanwhile, although it represents only about 5 per cent of European GDP, ICT represents over 25 per cent of the continent’s research and development outlays. The potential for future innovation is in principle unlimited. However, innovation might be seriously curtailed by government regulation of telecommunications networks.

We are particularly concerned with certain proposed regulations currently being considered by the European Union, which threaten to prevent broadband access providers (BAPs) from providing the kinds of differentiated services that would benefit consumers.

Do Stronger IPRs Deliver the Goods (and Services) in Developing Countries?

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The 1990s witnessed a global wave of intellectual property rights reform. Anchored in a series of international accords, this wave resulted in the strengthening of intellectual property rights in countries around the world. Despite a continuing and emotive debate about amending or relaxing those accords, global minimum standards are taking root and some countries are even going beyond. Based on more than a decade of experience, the empirical evidence indicates that an appropriate degree of IPR protection does help to deliver access in developing countries to goods, services and FDI from abroad, as well as boosting domestic innovation.

Market mechanisms are operating to deliver improved technology. But, more can be done to improve upon these results. Abuse of intellectual property continues in some areas. Opportunities are missed to promote innovation and sustainable development. This note discusses the experience in developing countries, highlighting why intellectual property matters for economic development.

The Cellphone Revolution in Kenya

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Markets emerge as suppliers find out what consumers want and how to provide for those wants most effectively and hence profitably. The profits then fund new investment for growth.

Seen in this light, the story of the cell phone revolution in Kenya is fascinating. The state failed dismally in the provision of communication services, having focused, as state provision always does, on the technical and engineering matters of traditional telephony. Worse, the incentives in the state-owned organisation bred fraud, corruption and indolence. There was no cost of failure or benefit from success. The cell phone phenomenon burst onto the scene at the turn of the 21st Century.

The Dirigiste Divide: How governments retard development and impede access to ICTs

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Progress towards bridging the gap between the haves and have-nots of the digital world has been lacklustre. While some bridges have been built and even crossed, there remains a huge disparity between countries. Using data developed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to measure the rate of ICT use across countries, the most recent figures portray a distinct inequality of access to technologies that now form the backbone of the information economy across countries.

While it is true that ICTs remain inaccessible for the vast majority of the poor, other revealing development indicators show how clean water, air quality, energy reliability, educational and employment opportunities, and the quality and reliability of other basic amenities are the genuinely important separators that divide rich and poor.

With this more comprehensive view, the real “digital divide” might better be defined as the “development divide” between countries.

Nashville in Africa: Culture, Institutions, Entrepreneurship and Development

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Three ingredients led to the emergence of a country music industry in Nashville:

  • Strong and unique cultural traditions, particularly in musical story-telling;
  • A strong and stable legal institutional environment, which offered protection to property rights, including copyright;
  • Conditions which provided the prospect of financial return for the investments of forward-thinking entrepreneurs.


Open to Development – Open source software and economic development

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This paper examines the role that open-source software can play in an economy and its development, with a focus on empirical evidence and economic logic. Unfortunately, while open-source can clearly be a viable part of a developed software industry, the available evidence does not support the position that open-source software can form the basis of an industry on its own, especially in nations where the technology sector is still embryonic.