Kenyan mobile money and the hype of messy statistics

By Susan Johnson

The hype around the success of mobile money in Kenya has been growing as mobile payments develop both there and worldwide. This week’s Economist cites a figure that 43% of Kenyan GDP is being channelled through M-Pesa each year, attributing the statistic to Safaricom itself. The figure has been rising from 31% last year, which was cited by both The Economist and the Financial Times. In August 2013, GSM Association released an infographic on “The Kenyan Journey to Digital Financial Inclusion”, which also used the 31% figure. The World Bank, CGAP, AFI and others have also used or cited such measures of progress in this field. Continue reading

‘Divided brain, divided world?’: International development and Ian McGilchrist’s right-hemisphere deficit thesis

By James Copestake

Ian McGilchrist’s heavyweight work, The Master and his Emissary, is primarily a contribution to neuroscience and psychology but claims also to be saying something more general about “the making of the Western World”. This wider ambition is explored in Divided Brain, Divided World, a text featuring a dialogue between McGilchrist and Jonathan Rowson, which informed a workshop with policy makers and academics, organised by the RSA Social Brain Centre in November 2012. Philosopher Ray Tallis led those who doubted that better understanding of cranial circuitry can help much to explain history. But others, Continue reading

‘Randomistas’ and microcredit: Shutting the evidence gate after the policy horse has bolted?

By Susan Johnson

Microfinance is one area of development intervention that has experienced increased use of randomised control trials (RCTs) in the last few years, now seen by many as the ‘gold standard’ methodology for assessing impact.  The gold standard approach to telling us what the findings impact studies collectively amount to is the systematic review. Since great claims for poverty reduction have been made for the impact of microcredit programmes in the past, the demand for evidence in this field is very high.  Two  recent DFID funded systematic reviews in this field have between them been downloaded more than 15,000 times, whereas DFID funded systematic reviews on other topics have had a few hundred downloads at most. Continue reading