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2017
Asia Needs more Dialogue
Solutions to urban pollution may prove complex
Spread of ESGs could herald new global movement
Investing in quality education is imperative if India wants to reap demographic dividends
China needs to lead in new multi-stakeholder world
China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
Education is key - but long-term: Can we survive?
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
China needs to continue with its ‘heavy lifting’
Time is right for Chinese firms to invest in Europe
Robots to the rescue for China?
Asian Multinationals are Going Global, But to Where?
China ratchets forward with energy efforts
China’s calm necessary for globalization push
Bridging managerial gaps involves trust-building
China well-placed to power its future through green technology advances
China's new 'springtime' is here
2016
China’s moves show it’s banking on the future
Mindset for action at the G20 summit will be determined by Chinese presidency
Chinese head-hunting intensifies for rare managers that can steer overseas firms
US talk of isolation jars with growing links in Europe and Asia
Electoral rhetoric on global trade not in sync with reality
Is it time to be prudent and consider austerity policies again?
What will we do if we have no oil?
Unlock talent by finding the right fit for a person
The benefits are real and tangible
Trade along China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ won’t succeed without the currency of trust
Reasons for optimism about the long term
2015
Can big oil go green and win?
Poorer Nations Could Sway Climate Talks
Combating Idleness and Deprivation
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
Kyoto II – Is it a Done Deal?
A meeting of the two largest economic powers
Why China will experience a 'soft' landing
Beware of superstitions
The Elephant and Dragon move ahead
G-7 target on fossil fuels raises many questions
Why Battle for Net Neutrality in the US Matters Globally
China’s resurgence – the ‘normal new’
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
China's early education plan a smart investment in the future
The New Normal for China and India
2014
China's infrastructure push offers a sure track to better growth
US-China climate pact a good start, but not quite enough
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
China springs a carbon surprise
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
Dialogue vital for survival of Iraqi nation
China must nurture a new generation of beautiful minds
Great expectations in China and India
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
Weathering the Storm of Climate Change
Making a Big Decision? Beware of Your Biases
West Deserves Better Logistics Infrastructure
Digital Currencies do Represent the Future
From 'Printed' Houses to Wooden Skyscrapers
It’s time to bail out our schools, not our firms
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
And the most promising green technologies of 2014 are ...
Transport infrastructure key to domestic, export growth
Oil stopgaps: Not worth risking
2013
Why the US should grant Edward Snowden amnesty
May we be more optimistic!
China headed for another massive social experiment?
A dialogue that worked
Yes, politicians deserve vacations - because we benefit
NPOs, NGOs invaluable as creators of dialogue
Look closer and ask: Is America reinventing itself?
Boston bombings case underlines need for dialogue
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
As usual it's about balance - and timing - of course
Chinese strategists make right moves for growth
2012
Preparing for tomorrow
Austerity or growth?
Japan in danger of becoming 'just a place to fly over'
Beware of the business cycle?
An inconvenient truth
Limited offer sale: Buy a country
Where did our money go?
Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
Driving towards a green future
Waiting for springtime
Preserve or Perish
Startlingly similar Asia policy for Obama, Romney
Globalisation remains an irresistible trend
Google has the edge in smartphone war
U.S. Braces for China's Rise
Mankind’s General Scourge
The summer holidays are over and nothing has changed!
Put the hidden trillions to work
Making sense of India’s woes and wonders
Storm in a teacup!
Let’s give bad bankers a venue to admit their sins
News is about depth, not puff or velocity
Booming India, but too few toilets
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
We need media to reflect on data and offer public a balanced view
Big polluters can lead in forging common purpose
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
EU-India Relations - Facing similar challenges
Educating with a goal
The Judicial Malaise
We are growing out, but not growing up
EU´s retrenchment enigma
Urbulence in the Eurozone and the effect on SMEs
Skolkovo May Help Russia to Diversify
Make things more effective
Tapping into the Commonwealth connection
Innovative models for public finance
Facebook revolution but Indian style
The feel-good factor
Asian investors - a private equity opportunity
India needs to be taller and stronger
China´s low sales volume...
Nations playing leapfrog
Shafts of sunlight
What webs we weave
As performers go to Davos, the circus steals the show
Can we control the politicians?
 
2011
Europe’s reminiscence
China firms should go for win-win in overseas ventures
Of procrastination...
Making sense of profiteering
Truth about financial mess must be laid bare
Small is also beautiful
China can help Europe with debt crisis
Excising the cancer of global corruption
Education, a critical asset
Arab uprisings set in motion forces of creative destruction
A new era of change
We must ensure better education for all
Beijing wary of bankrolling a lost cause
Asean's re-emergence as a local and global leader
Why India's Role in the Global Economy is Still Work in Progress
Its the leadership, stupid!
Reverse globalisation: The new buzzword
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
Nikkei Asian Review, August 4, 2014
 

We all use the infrastructure around us without usually noticing it, just as we ignore our skeleton unless we suffer a strain. Recently in Asia, I have read calls for greater support for local industries to mimic the German Mittelstand model of relying on the health of small and mid-sized companies to grow an economy. These calls are worth heeding, but going local usually demands things that are distant -- for raw materials supply and for delivery to markets. It is all about the requisite balance.

Developing nations have increased their investments in road, rail, sea and air facilities, often separating passenger from freight traffic to benefit both modalities. They achieved high growth rates, but many have also been held back by fearful regulators. For instance, China, even with its vast new transport network, has not developed its logistics infrastructure. This is a task demanding a broad education covering the management of transportation, warehousing and the intricate digital and physical integration of long-distance consolidation with flexible short-distance delivery.

China spends 18% of its gross domestic product on logistics, which is double the average level spent in the developed world. The U.S. lifted its productive growth rate some 20 years ago, through its "technological dividend." But China is far behind -- it has relied on buying new capital equipment to raise productivity, yet it has not invested in wide open digitization and web interconnection. It needs to do so as its demographic dividend of surplus labor has ended. Only a quarter of China's small and mid-sized companies are web-connected, compared with 75% in the U.S. The Chinese government must take a new leap forward and allow full digital access to all to kick-start smart working practices.

For example, after India became connected to undersea communications cables -- which have landfalls in Mumbai, Chennai and Kochi -- it led to the blossoming of the country's nascent IT industry. Indian rent-seeking officials could charge a fortune on goods passing along roads and ports, but they never hindered unseen digital traffic. Well-educated Indian returnees and the Indian diaspora developed IT consultancies and back-office skills that they then exported successfully to businesses the world over. Other knowledge-based skills have followed. China says it wishes to become a knowledge-based economy, but to gain a foothold on such ground, it must allow unfettered web access. This will permit companies to advertise globally as well as more effectively source their requirements.

Communicating with Africa
We may be seeing a copy of the Indian Model developing in East Africa. Long ago, only townships were deemed rich enough to support fixed land-line telephony (later giving access to the Internet) as the African countryside was too poor and had sparse potential. This changed when mobile communications became cheap and both towns and people in the countrysides could connect, especially with mobile banking apps. Even so, only 12% of Africa's trade takes place in the continent. In comparison, 60% of European countries' trade is with each other.

In Africa now, as it was in India, rent-seekers are missing out on digital trading. But there are technical limits to using mobiles for data handling. We are seeing entrepreneurs laying fiber-optic cables inland up East Africa, from Cape Town to Kenya, enabling reliable fast mass data transfers as well as onward connections to the undersea cables already laid around Africa that then go to the rest of the world. This will open up much trade, which will support a new wave of entrepreneurs and educators. This $650 million project, 75% funded by Africans, will enable more sophisticated banking systems and will support venture capitalists in properly assessing risks to create loans. Then new entrepreneurs will be able to communicate with customers and suppliers worldwide along the new fiber links and raise Africa's well-being though greater trade.

Western leaders agonize about falling growth rates. They do not have enough cash to spend on better formative education, on upgrading old systems or on redeveloping physical infrastructure. It is a fallacy to believe we can all live in knowledge-based societies -- everyone needs food, clothing and the means to live. Integrated supplies are needed worldwide. Conversely, leaders in developing nations agonize about their internal development and how to lift their citizens quickly to the levels they aspire to. All these needs could dovetail well together. But they do not. Which is why guidance is needed.

A bank for all
Until recently, nations relied on the World Bank for loans and the IMF for economic oversight. Many have criticized the structures, actions and advice of these two institutions. Now we have a third player -- the BRICS Bank. This institution created by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa has a simple one nation, one vote system. It also has the adequate start-up capital to begin major funding programs. And, while it is true that China has been offering loans for years to India, Africa, Brazil and other nations, the new bank suggests a new way that is based on this system of five equal shareholders. There ought to be more transparency -- and surely the rest of the world cannot complain about it having an uneven playing field.

We will need time to see how this simple governance at this bank will pan out. The World Bank and IMF are quite venerable institutions that incorporate all nations, but they are governed predominantly by developed nations, and this has created tension. As Asia is becoming more dominant in global affairs, perhaps it is time to show a fairer way forward. If the BRICS Bank can hire good managers, and if it can work independently of political pressures, I believe it will be able to offer good support to all entrepreneurs. In this sense, emergent Asian values promoted by the Indian and Chinese shareholders ought to show the world how to be less greedy. And they might be able to persuade both the old-developed and the still-developing nations about a fair way forward. We must hope.

 

Frank-Jürgen Richter is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global visions community.


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