Visa on Arrival

My passport seems to profess a deep love for visa stamps. Every time the possibility of travel to another country arises, I can hear its excitement of filling yet another passport page with a brand new and (maybe) shiny visa stamp. The more, the merrier – although blank pages to host additional stamps are becoming scarce, yet again.

Finding an index for all sort of things is one of the traits of our data age. Yes, there is a passport-power index that ranks countries according to visa-free travel. For 2018, Japan and Singapore shared top honors followed by Germany and Denmark. The usual suspects sat comfortably in the basement: Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. My passport is part of the middle-class having recently risen in the ranks thanks to the addition of the Schengen

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Heading to Baghdad III: A time-space warp

No one in the team traveling to Iraq was very excited about missing the helicopter. Most of them had slept close to nothing in the last 24 hours and were really yearning for a comfortable place to rest. I was a bit ahead of all of all of them -actually, 8 hours ahead, thanks to my own jet lag and the time difference. After having dinner/breakfast af the DFAC, my body was on a late evening mode. And 1am in the morning is still manageable on a normal day. So I was tired but not really sleepy.

I had no idea that UNAMI had its own building at the Victory Base Complex (VBC) which is relatively close to BIAP. Camp Victory is the main base in the complex – and, this is very important, where the DFAC is located. One can walk from the UNIMA one story installations to the DFAC (and the PX/BX) in less

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Heading to Baghdad II: So close but yet so far

It still seemed like the middle of the night when we exited the plane and started walking on the tarmac. A UN security guide was leading us into the US army based located at the airport. The base is called Camp Sather (see here for more details) and has been in place since the invasion started in 2003. While walking towards the base installations, we could see BIAP about 1 kilometer away to our right. It looked just like any other modern international airport. No signs of war or destruction there.

The wind was still blowing quite hard but now it was much colder than when we left Amman. That same wind toyed with the light airplane while landing. The plane was swinging mildly from left to right and back while descending into Baghdad. Some travel peers thought we will probably miss the landing

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Latinux Magazine Interview

“Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are not an end in itself but rather a means to reach people and enhance their lives.” (Raúl Zambrano)

Born in Colombia, Raul Zambrano is trained as an engineer, sociologist and economist. He currently works as ICT and e-governance policy advisor at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) headquarters in New York City.

Raul kindly accepted a last minute request to do this interview in the cozy lobby of the Hotel Bella Italia where most of the speakers of LatinWare 2009 were staying. In the midst of a tropical thunderstorm that was hovering over Foz do iguazú (Brazil) since the early morning, we began our conversation around topics that went far beyond technology and focused much more on human and sustainable development, issues

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South Africa BTOR

1. The two day mission to Johannesburg/Pretoria on 14/16 May had two objectives: 1) To participate in the ICTD Strategy Task Force meeting that the Department of Communications (DoC) is leading with support from the Markle Foundation; 2) continued dialogue on the OS Resource Center with representatives of CSIR

2. The Task Force meeting took place on 15 May. A 170-page draft report, prepared by a local consultant recruited by DoC, was presented to task force members for comments. The discussion was open and most task force members contributed to the discussions. DoC brought in a new dimension by linking the upcoming �convergence� legislation with the work of the task force and finalisation of the strategy. A small working group that included UNDP and Markle captured feedback from task force

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Mozambique BTOR

Mozambique BTOR

1. The two day mission to Maputo on 12-14 May had three objectives: 1) assess the status of the ICTD programmes; 2) assist the CO in the ongoing ICTD mainstreaming efforts; and 3) discuss with GoM and the CO the planning of the ICTD Strategies workshop

2. The ICTD programme has been advancing at a slow pace. One of the obstacles for implementation has been the apparent glitches that the CO has faced in terms of equipment acquisitions. This has now been solved and the first Provincial Digital Resource Centers (PDRCs) are expected to be deployed within the next weeks. The ICT Policy Commission has been strengthened and now has adequate staff and resources to support the overall programme implementation. Markle�s $200k contribution to the programme has been well received by both

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Out of (South) Africa

Flying from Maputo to Johannesburg, which takes 45 minutes, is an efficient gateway to easily notice the huge gap between the two countries. The same goes for most of the sub-Saharan African nations. It is almost like flying from Mozambique to a Latin American country at the speed of sound.

The first time I visited Cape Town a couple of years ago I immediately though of Rio de Janeiro. I shared this with my fellow travelers back then but unfortunately none of them had ever been to beautiful and dangerous Rio. After seeing the �twin cities� in South Africa, I concluded that this country is in fact a lot like Brazil, with a very different historical background, but facing many of the same challenges. Pretoria is in fact Brasilia and Joburg, yes, of course, a nearby Sao Paolo.

South Africa,

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Maputo in May, again

Six months is probably not a long time to expect and run into major changes in most countries. Mozambique is, of course, no exception. Maputo is still an intriguing city with its beautiful geographical surroundings and coastline that hosts the grayish Indian Ocean. Unlike New York City, time in Maputo is less expensive and much more patient and considerate; it even stops sometimes to check us out and remind us of local history.

For reasons I did not quite understand, I spent my two nights in Maputo in two different hotels. One a good 3 star which offered a room almost the size of the upscale cubicle that some call �my office� in NYC; the other a guesthouse in a beautiful four-story house near the UNDP office. Neither offered Internet access from the room.

I thought I was going to be off

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Africa ICTD Strategies Workshop

Today we had a lunch meeting with Salomao Mani�a (ICT Policy Commission), Laureno Chemane (ICT Policy Commission), Aeneas Chuma (DRR) and Violet Kakyomya (PO).

Salomao started by explaining the reasons as to why they would rather not hold a meeting with 8 countries (one powerful being the issue of country selection, the second the issue of impact at the continental level).

We all agreed with having instead a full Africa meeting. Given the existing schedule of events it was suggested that the workshop be held between 18 and 20 August in Maputo. A new international conference facility is now operating and will be used for the upcoming AU meeting in July.

The idea is to now invite government and non-gov representatives to the meeting. Salomao was specially keen in including civil society in

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Dominican Republic BTOR

Back to Office Report
Mission to Dominican Republic
21-25 April 2003

Garry Garriott, SURF Panam�, and I visited the country at the request of the CO who recently signed an MoU with INDOTEL, the Dominican telecom regulator. The main purpose of the mission was to kick start the process for the elaboration and finalisation of a national ICT for development strategy.

The mission main findings were:

� INDOTEL is the leading institution on ICTD and has a long term vision and a pragmatical approach focused on the implementation of projects and initiatives

� INDOTEL has a young and dynamic staff which is highly qualified and has made efforts in bringing other sectors to the tables

� The creation of the National Commission for the Information Society (CNSI) is a sep forward. However, the CNSI

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