Marine Le Pen shakes the French Establishment.
Nigel Farage crushes Establishment forces, triggering BREXIT.
Donald Trump makes mincemeat of the combined power of the American media and policy elite.
The rise of isolationism. The worship of barriers. The decline of Western internationalism etc.
Some say that these walls shall keep fresh ideas and energies from flowing into the west.
Some say that it is merely a phase and a good thing because if people can’t flee then they will stay and fight, fight bad governments and cultures that breed poverty and despair that is.
And then there are those who advise that we focus on the human lives at the center of this drama, the migrants and the dismembered families, the people in the boats, the human flotsam tossed up by all these cockfights of the powerful and the megalomaniacal.
I think that as usual the world misses the subtle countercurrents that gather in the seams whilst we are focused on the canvas.
There are many Westerners slowly growing disenchanted with the West. In a way that is different from the anomie of the 60s. They are tired of the culture wars because they’ve never really been all that ideological to begin with. They’ve had enough of the drama and pointless circling of old dung. They have become emotionally estranged.
Behold, I give you the phenomenon of “emotional refugees” and “emotional migration”.
These “heart exiles” may not be willing to put their feet to where their heart is yet, but they are detaching from the civic anchors that tie them to the West and as a result are becoming more “globally opportunistic” not less.
In this sense, there is definitely a countercurrent of renewed globalisation amidst all the doom and gloom mongering of a new ultranationalism in the west.
That is about all we can say for now. Will this lead to an export of talent away from the West, in a less imperious way than has been the case in the old “expatriate” model?
Will the internet exarcebate/accelerate the trend? Will it pose new risks for African and other third world interests as better resourced Westerners swoop in looking for greener material and emotional pastures.
We are already seeing a surge of “African startups” managed from New York and London.
Or is this the melting pot of world dreams the likes of John Lennon sang about?
Time will tell.
The idea that new technologies provide us with all the tools we need to literally create “new geographies” has always fascinated me, and I once did a short paper for DLD about it (cf. http://dld-conference.com/users/bright-simons).
Nonetheless, I have always had this nagging feeling that I was missing something, a secret sauce that can make it all very practical. Something that can make it possible to create a “cross-frontier geographic entity” to advance certain economic goals that traditional African countries acting within their normal territories or using the standard inter-national regimes cannot achieve.
At dawn, it came to me. Remember how Adama Barrow was sworn in during the confrontation with Jammeh? That’s the clue: mixing diplomatic real estate with technology and priming it for business!
It may involve some creative re-wiring of the Vienna Convention norms, but the truth is that if the Ghanaian embassy in London in indeed Ghanaian territory, so many fascinating possibilities we have never contemplated become *practical* all of a sudden.
More in due course. All good things come to those who wait.
Ghanaian elections have been relatively peaceful for decades. But in 2012, the country saw its most disputed elections in two decades. What is worse, the alleged irregularities were showcased on live TV for all Ghanaians to see, courtesy of a decision by the Ghanaian Opposition to challenge the results of the elections in the Ghanaian Supreme Court.
Some have wondered whether the profusion of recorded irregularities were merely the effect of the additional scrutiny enabled by the legal process, but few have bothered to look into the data for hints of another theory.
In the 2008 elections, turnout in the country was a little less than 70% and the average number of voters per polling station was 376. There was no biometric based voter verification. Average voting time is estimated at about 5.5 minutes. The lower rate of urbanisation meant that the skew of polling stations with more than 1000 voters was, say β.
Fast forward to 2012, the turnout had turboed to 80%, and the average number of voters per polling station was now 432. The addition of biometrics to PVT did not only imply increased voting time but it added another layer on top (i.e. if biometric fails, switch to manual), with the combined effect that voting time is estimated to have hit 10 minutes. The overall impact was thus not a mere 30% in the “time-congestion rate” but a potential 40% due to heightened probability of conflict. The perverse outcome was less time for administrative activities such as filling forms properly etc.
In the wake of these problems the Electoral Commission (EC) resolved to increase polling stations to 34,000. This was later revised to 30,000. And finally 29,000. In fact, we currently have a little less than 29000. Meanwhile urbanisation has now hit 54%, the result of a 3.4% annual positive rate change. β must now be at least (β + 0.4β).
Should we see a continued growth in the turnout rate, to say 85%. Then the overall increase in this variable we are calling the “time-congestion factor” should be at least 60% compared to 2004 levels, meaning that we cannot expect a higher quality election than what was observed in 2012. Simple.
At this stage, it seems the best hope for a relatively congestion-free polls in Ghana, and therefore for fewer irregularities overall, is for a lower growth in turnout rate plus a higher voter arrivals rate in the early half of the day on December 7th.
This 2014 study (http://scitation.aip.org/…/jou…/jasa/135/4/10.1121/1.4865269) by Kardous and Shaw validates the use smartphone apps for the accurate measurement of ambient noise levels.
This 2013 study (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11524-013-9843-6…) by Pujol et al grounded a long-held suspicion that certain levels of ambient noise are detrimental to the school performance of pupils.
A preliminary scoping of school locations in Accra, cross-referenced with rudimentary smartphone-charted “noise maps”, indicates a high concentration of school sites in “extreme-noise zones”, characterised by all-day, continuous, high decibel, exposure.
A hypothesis is proposed that the failure to perform routine noise audits when siting new schools and the failure to enforce anti noise pollution regulations, especially in school vicinities, account for a perceptible part of the worsening “educational performance to public education expenditure ratio”.
Whilst longterm institutional research and consequential reforms are vital in addressing the potential damage posed by this state of affairs, an interim solution is proposed.
Affordable noise-muffling and soundproofing innovations may be developed at low cost by schools to mitigate the degree of noise impact on the classroom environment.
Due to the absence of airconditioning, the chief design constraint for soundproofing Accra schools is the need to blend effective ventilation with noise-muffling objectives.
Luckily, new, low cost, windows technologies allow the creation of sound diffraction ‘bubbles’ that sucks in air but repels as much as 25 decibels of unwanted noise, more or less insulating the classroom from much of the surrounding din.
Whilst the implementation of such technologies would be brilliant, the authorities may consider, at the very least, a ranking index of schools based on ambient decibel levels. Such an index (the “Schools Noise Impact Measurement & Evaluation” – SNIME – index) could, for instance, be configured to further gauge the correlation between noise pollution and BECE performance.
For effective advocacy, visualisation of the underlying data should help tremendously, something for which the same smartphone apps alluded to earlier can be most useful.