Sunday, January 31, 2016

Opportunities and Challenges of Mobile Payment Platforms in Rural Africa

In the past couple of years, there is a growing focus in the tech world on the topic of mobile payment platforms.  The idea is to use smartphone apps loaded with money as replacement of cash in everyday business transactions.  Paying for groceries, restaurant bills, and transport will no longer involve searching for petty cash, not only reducing time and hassle for digging through small change, but also dramatically decreasing possibilities of errors, frauds, and thefts while making it all the easier for tracking spending, checking available balances, and splitting bills across multiple people.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Would a Rural African Try Foreign Foods if They Are Cheap and Filling?

So the author was thinking as he was having his usual lunch combination of rice, boiled beans, boil vegetables, and beef chunks with tomato sauce.  In this little local street-side eatery in the rural village where he goes to work most of the days, this combo plate is the only thing on the menu.  The young owner of the shop makes the exact same thing for lunch and dinner everyday, day in and day out.  Interestingly enough, her eatery is sustained by the same customers who work in the area, who come to eat the exact same thing, day in and day out.  The author has now become one of them.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Identity Politics vs Economic Dependence on the Eve of Taiwanese Elections

It is interesting to see that a day before Taiwanese head to ballot boxes to participate in what many calls the "most pivotal" presidential election in its still-short democratic history, a 16-year-old Kpop band member has taken over the headlines across all local media outlets.  Chou Tzu-yu, a Taiwanese member of Kpop band TWICE, posted a video apologizing for waving the Taiwanese flag in the band's recent publicity video that quickly draw fire from politicized netizens on the Chines mainland.  In the apology video, the girl showed feigned sorrow as she read mechanically from written script.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Should Government Bureaucrats be Trained in Special Schools?

Many countries have one of these.  Promising, self-confident young men and women are thrown into almost endless lectures of political orthodoxy, of the need to serve their country, and of uploading its law, without questioning its underlying morality and validity.  Years later, the indoctrinated youth become government officials, dictating the policies that affect the very future and fortune of the country.  Unfortunately, being isolated in an entirely different academic and living environment makes youth educated under "bureaucrat schools" lose connection with society at large.  As such, government bureaucrats should not be trained in special schools.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

"There is the High, the Low, but Not Much in the Middle"

That was the key phrase of the night as the author found himself at a posh poolside bar on the rooftop of an otherwise ordinary-looking hotel inside a walled compound of an obscure side street.  It was the last few minutes of 2015, and this neighborhood, like any other in Nairobi after nightfall, remained dark, quiet, and devoid of pedestrians.  But as soon as the heavy metal gates of the high-security walled compounds are flung open, a whole new world opens up.  Smartly dressed young locals and expats (but vast majority being locals) headed up to where the DJ was keeping the music thumping.