Tag Archives: Kenya

More Quotes About Obama from Around the World

More amazing quotes (some hopeful, others frightening) about President-Elect Barrack Obama from around the world, including some from the United Nations, Cuba, Nicaragua, Liberia, Iraq, and Afghanistan:

“This is, I believe, an historic opportunity…I am confident that we can look forward to an era of renewed partnership and a new multilateralism. If ever there were a time for the world to join together, it is now: the global financial crisis; the crisis of climate change; the challenge of fulfilling our promises on the Millennium Development Goals, made more difficult by the twin crises of food and energy prices.” -Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary-Genreal, Nov 5 2008, Daily Briefing

“I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.” -Senator John McCain, conceding presidency to Obama night of Nov 5 (full text)

“We believe this is the decision of American voters. We respect their will. But there are many upcoming challenges. We don’t think there will be change in policy overnight. There won’t be quick disengagement here. A great deal is at stake here.” -Hoshyar Zebari, Iraqi Foreign Minister

“As any successful CEO will tell you, leadership, vision and motivation has far more impact on results than any tax cut or increase.” -Mark Cuban, American billionaire entreprenuer, from Blog Maverick

“If Obama takes some action to ease the embargo, it would be welcomed and of course it would be of help, but we’re prepared for conditions to remain the same.” -Cuba’s Foreign Investment Minister Marta Lomas

“Really it’s a miracle that the United States for the first time in its history has a black president who has shown he is willing to dialogue with Latin American countries and is open to reviewing free trade agreements.” -Nicaraugan President Daniel Ortega

“This is a momentous day not only in the history of the United States of America, but also for us in Kenya. The victory of Senator Obama is our own victory because of his roots here in Kenya. As a country, we are full of pride for his success.” -Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki

“All Africans now know that if you persevere, all things are possible.” -Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first woman elected to head an African country

“The election of Senator Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States has taken the American people and the rest of the world with them into a new era – an era where race, colour and ethnicity, I hope, will also disappear… in politics in the rest of the world.” -Hamid Karzai, Afghan President

For more quotes, including some from Obama’s speech, check out my previous blog entry: Obama’s Victory Speech & Notable Quotes.

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Information Poverty & Global Rankings

I recently read a Google blog post entitled Information Poverty that highlighted how detrimental lack of access to information is to quality of life and development. A couple notable quotes:

According to the Kenya Poverty and Inequality Assessment released by the World Bank this year, 17 million Kenyans or 47% of the population were unable to meet the costs of food sufficient to fulfill basic daily caloric requirements. The vast majority of these people live in rural areas and have even less access to the information that impacts their daily life. Data on water quality, education and health budgets, and agricultural prices are nearly impossible to access.

The right information at the right time in the hands of people has enormous power…Where does [the] money go, who gets it, and what are the results of the resources invested? The power to know plus the power to act on what you know is the surest way to achieve positive social change from the bottom up.

There are a lot of possible ways to measure a population’s access to information, including internet connectivity, mobile phone proliferation, or mass media market penetration, but also literacy and education, or the presence of libraries and universities. While many indicators and rankings are available, I don’t believe that any global index exists that compresses available data together into a single Global Information Access Index.

The United Nations, namely the UN Statistics Division, tracks country data to measure development progress. The World Bank collects and calculate development indicators largely based on economic factors. A host of other organizations have created their own tools to read in publicly available data and summarize and present it in more useful ways. My favorite example of this is Gap Minder World, which let’s you graphically manipulate country indicators over time. The International Telecommunications Union is the closest I’ve seen with its Digital Access Index (only 2003 data publicly available), described as:

The Digital Access Index (DAI) measures the overall ability of individuals in a country to access and use Information and Communication Technology.

The DAI ranks countries using 8 categories: telephone & mobile phone subscribers, price of internet access, bandwidth, broadband internet subscribers, literacy and education, and total internet users.

The DAI is a great start, but it is still lacking. For example, the DAI cannot adjust for information-restricting policies in China. Libraries and library usage are not considered. Index does not allow for the huge marginal returns that can be gained when a society that has little information access installs a single internet-connected computer. Distribution of information sources is crucial.