How Bitcoin could change the world. A look into Bitcoin for developing nations.

What is Cryptocurrency

a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank

Tell me more:

Bitcoin is a revolutionary design of currency, and a protocol, devised by an anonymous coder, Satoshi Nakamoto. It has been instrumental in the development of FinTech and subsequent regulatory procedures. It is a relatively novel and thus volatile market, but in terms of growth, there has been an astronomical development in the valueof Bitcoin. In October 2009, $1Dollar could purchase 1,309 Bitcoins, which grew to $1,242 dollars per Bitcoin in November 2013. Bitcoin was the same price of gold in 2013. Bitcoin is limited in terms of a denomination of 21 million coins, which can be divided into 100,000 different values per Bitcoin. This has a variety of economic benefits, including removing central banking systems, which have both command style issues and also fees on the movement of money over a global basis.


How can I get Bitcoin?
There are 3 ways in which a person can obtain Bitcoins; you can buy them, you can pay in them, and you can make them. The last way is the most difficult, which is known as ‘mining’. Mining Bitcoin requires seriously powerful computing functions which most regular computers are incapable of achieving. The computer solves problems in the ‘blockchain’ which is a series of transactions between peers. This helps create a solid ledger of all movements of Bitcoin and the reward is paid in bitcoins. This is an incentive for the ‘miner’ to establish a fully comprehensive public record.

Bitcoin in developing countries
60% of people in developing nations do not have access to a basic financial system, in the form of a bank account. Take Kenya for example, 40% have bank accounts, but according to the World Bank, 70% have mobile phones, with internet access. Bitcoin manages to undermine the need for a bank account and changes the route of financial transactions, from a bank account into a Bitcoin Wallet. A Bitcoin wallet is an electronic store of bitcoins which can be accessed by anyone with internet access. You can make payments out of the wallet to other peers, without a fee, and hence there is an opening of a huge market of fee-less transactions. Consumers globally end up paying around 10% for transaction fees from firms such as Western Union. With Bitcoin, transactions could be 0% or 1% if you use a Bitcoin management tool, which opens up a multi-billion dollar market transition. In 2013, $49bn was paid on a total of $550bn of remittances, which could be lowered to a 0-1% fee, of around $5.5bn and create a larger flow of wealth into developing regions. There is also a regional divide between global banking opportunity in terms of urban/rural access to the internet. There are over 640,000 villages in India, with 72% of India’s 1.2 billion living in them. Over 50% of Indian citizens do not have bank accounts, and the ruralites pose considerably weaker figures, Bitcoin could open up wallets for every person with internet access, which would eradicate the need for a tangible store of wealth.


Any examples of this working in developing countries?

M-Pesa is a concept that exists in Kenya which is a ‘mobile’ ‘pesa’, or mobile money. It was designed by Vodafone for SafariCom and Vodacom. It is a novel and unique way of transferring ‘money’ that has had significant impacts on the local population. In fact, it is estimated that in November 2014, M-Pesa transactions for the 11 months of 2014 were valued at KES. 2.1 trillion, a 28% increase from 2013, and almost half the value of the country’s GDP. It is widely seen as the future of currency within developing nations, but of course, it is both fragile and there are significant challenges in terms of scaling up transaction sizes and their geographies of input, (who gets M-Pesa access).



What are the challenges?

Volatility is a major issue for Bitcoin currently, which has led to a mass loss of savings, as well as lack of investment by firms for portfolio security.  There are plenty of regulatory changes as a result of these instabilities.

Geographic inequalities- A flaw in the ability for Bitcoin to generate equality lies in geography exists in the access to technology, namely internet. Of course, this is something that will gradually be reduced, but at current, there is steep inequality as a result of access to the internet.
Illegal transactions -The anonymous use of Bitcoin transaction has meant transactions can’t be traced, and hence dark web usages to purchase illegal paraphernalia have sprung up, through illegal concierge sites such as BitTorrent.

All in all, Bitcoin has a fascinating future, built on fundamentally robust code. In truth, we cannot tell if Bitcoin will dominate the cryptocurrency like it currently does, but it does have the potential. The opportunities are huge, they need good management and the support of the people.



A development crisis. Solve or dissolve.



A timely perspective. 


Human beings are interesting  organisms. They can understand when problems exist, collectively. They solve some of the problems, and the ones deemed unsolvable are slowly cracked. Yet there is one problem that most likely will not be solved by any one person’s genius, but a collective endeavour to achieve success. What if there was a time limit on the amount of time we have to solve this big problem. The problem is that the global ecosystem is rapidly declining and one day could become an irreparable object, assessed in my poem Eden’s Elegy.

Here are a few stark statistics that embody the principles of this problem.

  1. If vehicular consumption in China and India rises to the levels of the United States, the global carbon emission rate will increase by 139% (Glaeser).
  2. Currently, one-third of humans have inadequate access to clean, fresh water. The number is expected to increase by to up to two-thirds by 2050. That is that two-thirds of the population will not have access to clean water.
  3. Deforestation has long posed a threat to our Earth. Forests cover 30 percent of the planet’s land and provide vital protection from sandstorms and flooding as well as the substantive natural habitat for wildlife. They are one of our greatest resources for offsetting much of our carbon emissions and without the canopy we leave areas vulnerable to intense heat, further driving climate change. Yet every single year we lose an area the size of Panama.

So, we can see that there is some sort of rapidity and acceleration to our problems in terms of resources. Looking from a humanitarian perspective, those who have the ability to make a difference should be looking for innovative methods. This can be at three levels.

International level – Through the use of multinational organisations such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, who can begin now to justify heavy investments of capital into resource management and sustainability. These could include capital infrastructure in BRIC and NIC nations – which currently have a choice about how to render their economies’ structure.

Governmental level – Governments can begin to shape society in ways that encourage sustainable living. Examples of this include; Public transport efficiency, incentivisation of clean energy and inclusion of strict sustainability policy adherence in any future governing body.

Individual level – Human beings have individual capacities much greater than they can understand, due to the unintended benefits they can create. Citizens can choose myriad ways to enhance their personal adherence to environmental stewardship. For example, purchasing greener products in vehicles and energy systems, or even recycling their waste more puritanically.

I understand fully that not everyone can afford to be green, hence it is the responsibility in Disraeli parallels, to begin to help. Pertaining to the shocking car consumption statistic, it is not about telling the Asian economies that they shouldn’t develop like the West. That is hypocrisy The West should be investing in new and clean ways to develop infrastructure that doesn’t influence future citizens ability to consume in a post-modernist society.


It is not about telling the Asian economies that they shouldn’t develop like the West. That is hypocrisy. The West should be investing in new and clean ways to develop infrastructure that doesn’t influence future citizens ability to consume in a post-modernist society.


It is a difficult question, to know who will take the lead in investing into the old foe, across cultures into the unknown. However, it will seem in the future that there is only one option. Of course, resource scarcity is such, that the depletion of natural goods may be at an irreparable, critical level within the next two centuries. America under Trump seems to value economic growth over environmental sustainability, which could give another nation such as Russia or even India the opportunity the lead the world charge in stewardship.

To begin this genuine action, changing the qualitative structures of life in their societies, will be met with much opposition. However, the collective governments need to tap into the common human instinct of protection and treasury of a valued item. The item deceives all personal boundaries and is thus a collective subject.

It won’t take just one person to solve these conflicts, it is the role of collective human endeavour.



Eden’s Elegy – a poem of environmental destitution.

I wrote this poem in light of a series of harrowing environmental documentaries, I hope you enjoy.


Eden’s Elegy
It is human nature, or so they say,
Forward, forward!
Weakness in battle, weakness in thought.
Reflection useless,
Forward, forward!
But that beautiful land we had,
Will it ever become ours again?
Was it ever ours to infect?
A gift from the Gods? Such hubristic humans.
Your world, my world, did you ever wonder,
Maybe we did this ‘civilisation’ game wrong,
We screwed up, politicians fear to admit, so do we,
Ignore it, it’s irrelevant, it won’t affect me.
Selfishness to sobriety, it’s gone.
That Eden, doomed from its seed,
An apple, the core of our misrule,
Deceit, pursuit, wealth, satisfaction.
Poor world, a mere site for more greed,
Pursuit, pursuit.
What did we chase, what was our fuel?
Do you wonder why this Earth suffered desolation,
Our soulless economy always wanted more,
Hearts of men and nature,
Swallowed and spat out in a vomit of ruin?
Why do we look for other alternatives,
Our future will go down with the Earth,
We damage ourselves. Each hack or chop of the tree,
Severs our own body.
Did we forget to look back,
To see that what we did was all too much,
Ruthlessness, riot, red lights?
It’s all over for this Eden, isn’t it? A figure of speech no more,
Father Time collects the bails for the end of play.
Human forgot the basics, human became blind, human forgot the impact,
Relished the benefits and ignored the costs.
Do you ever wonder how we destroyed our Eden,
Our once glorious Eden?

Zambia’s president has finally won re-election, and now he just needs to save the economy from disaster — Quartz

Edgar Lungu returned to the inaugural podium on Sept. 13, nearly a month after winning Zambia’s presidency. The contested election rocked the normally stable country. Now Lungu has to make good on the promises he made to save the economy. Zambia’s elections are usually held later in the year, but were brought forward to August…

via Zambia’s president has finally won re-election, and now he just needs to save the economy from disaster — Quartz

Subprime? Too bad to be true?

The outcome of the subprime loan crisis affected our society in many negative ways such as low credit ratings for the borrowers, loss of value of homes and loss of profitability for lenders (Pajarskas & Jočienė, 2014). Due to the lack of social responsibility of the lenders and banks, the subprime loan crisis impacted […]

via Evaluation of Subprime Loans with the notion of Social Responsibility — jcnmgt70198subprimeloans

Grey and Green… Can governments attempt to increase green spaces in inner cities?

One of the nicest things about cycling along the Embankment (apart from the new cycling infrastructure, of course) is… the greenery. This is particularly obvious as you approach the Houses of Parliament from the north. As the bend of the river unwinds, the Palace of Westminster gradually reveals itself through a lovely forest of trees […]

via Greening the city — As Easy As Riding A Bike

Are humans destined to live in cities?

I have been away for a while focussing on my exams- however here is a bumper bit of reading if you are interested!!


Ever since the first human species inhabited Earth, economic theory has been able to explain how and why humans act in the way they do. Maslow outlined the importance of the ‘hierarchy of needs’ which stated that after achieving the fundamental needs of physiology, almost inevitably, humans will look for personal and financial security, most commonly through employment. . The ‘destiny’ which humans could be seen to be controlled by is defined as ‘events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future:’. . Fundamentally, there are arguments to corroborate the question, which revolve around the psychological build up, as Maslow saw, to seek economic opportunity, most common in the cities. However the crucial rebuttal is to understand the ‘cities’ reliance of the rural environment, and their underlying synergy that allows cities to operate efficiently. Historically, cities have proven that they offer more economic opportunity than rural areas. This increased economic opportunity, which aligns with Maslow’s Theory, has been exemplified throughout mankind’s existence. Circa 10000BC, Jericho, in Palestine, had been founded by the Natufian hunter gatherers, as the soils had shown signs of fertility, and therefore they decided to settle there. There were economic opportunities, which were exploited by the Natufian settlers. The Natufian’s did not pre-empt the growth of a major city, that lasts today, however they did align with Maslow’s Theory, which is that people move to areas in which they believe there are economic opportunities, to satiate their personal needs.                                                                                                        More recently in history, the development of Ancient Rome has been argued to have been fuelled by human’s economic interests. The city grew from a small settlement due to the cross roads and River Tiber, merchants of the Mediterranean began to trade, as the footfall was greater than in other areas. Pertinently, there is evidence that humans have perennially demonstrated their economic interests by settling in areas in which there are economic opportunity, in Jericho’s case, fertile soils, and Rome’s locational benefits. Thus, it could be argued that it is human nature to follow economic opportunity. This has been described contemporarily by corporate giant KPMG, as a ‘magnet’ effect. The rationale is that cities with ‘strong’ magnetism draw in new citizens, which leads to an increase in investment, interconnectivity and ideas. The multiplier effect creates jobs, attracting more citizens, assuming they align with Maslow’s Theory. Another economic theorist, Frederick Taylor, developed a concept which stated that the underlying rationale behind work is to receive a reward, which contemporaneously is almost solely financial. Historically, there were opportunities for payment in resource, such as food or seeds, the modern day method is based around money, known as wages. Economic opportunity that exists in the city draws people from all backgrounds, as they want to have financial security of greater calibre than that of the rural areas. This happens in both developing and developed nations, such as Kibera, Kenya; Africa’s largest slum. Rural Kenyan’s move to the city of Nairobi in order to find employment, situating where the land costs are low, yet proximal to job opportunities. Thus, Kibera went through rapid urbanisation in the 1970’s, which is shown in the population figures. There are 2.5 million dwellers in about 200 settlements, with 60% population inhabiting just 6% of the land mass in Nairobi. Similarly, the migration ‘crisis’ which the Europe and the Middle East has witnessed over the last decade has been perceived to be fundamentally driven by political and economic dissatisfaction, which means economic migrants will move from politically unstable, or, economically weak nations, to nations with greater opportunity. This is a valid argument to corroborate the fact that many humans are driven by necessity to find employment, and thus are destined to live in the city.                                                                                                                                   It is an interesting psychological debate to define whether humans have any ‘destiny’. Previously defined as an ‘event that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future, it is certainly difficult to comprehend. Arguably, our pre-ordained movements could prove that we are in fact destined to live in cities, assuming that one day, all humans did live in urban environments. However, the crucial opposition to this, is that the all encompassing term ‘humans’ denotes that all must be involved in ‘city’ dwelling, and thus no human could therefore have a ‘destiny’ in the rural or peri-urban fringe. The debate extends to whether all humans do have the same ‘destiny’ in terms of a locational existence in, or out of, a city. Do Maasai tribesman have the same locational destiny as that of the city born children of financial workers? Most likely not. Humans are too easily agglomerated, thus the fundamental social diversities are ignored. Humans have shown that they have different traits, in terms of social inhabitance, hence it would seem unlikely that in the future all ethnicities will converge into a city dwelling race.                                                                                                                                                                                         The future of urban civilisation can certainly make in-roads to develop the way of settlement in a diverse and unseen fashion. It needs to change the traditions to accommodate more diverse citizens. Literary works such as Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ portrays an inter-planetary supply system, of the fictional city of Trantor, being fuelled by the other planets in Seldon’s plan. This device does open up the possibility of Earth one day becoming an agglomerated urban planet, fuelled by local resource planets. This seems somewhat unlikely in our solar system however. What is more certain, is that cities have the ability to grow and mould around societies needs. The Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities, focusses on ‘flexibility’ which means that cities can evolve and reshape to include and incorporate the ways of modern life, attracting more citizens and potentially altering humans locational destiny. Interestingly, that allows social diversities to remain, and doesn’t rely on future societies to alter their settlement traits, but means that the flexibility of the city will allow them to remain diverse, yet still harbour the ability to function normally in urban society. Cities are perennially providing more diverse opportunities for citizens. The fundamental need for employment for citizens therefore will be wider satiated, as more ranging skills can be of value in future. The multiplier effect of having more citizens, with more diverse skill sets, could mean there is greater tolerance in terms of employment diversity and thus more people will be attracted to seek employment in the city. There is a period of intense global urbanisation predicted over the next half century, especially in the emerging nations. Joan Clos, speaking at the World Urban Forum reported through a United Nations study that “In all human history we have reached 3.5 billion of urban settlers, and in the next 30 years we are going to have 3 billion more,” “Imagine the changing rate — what we have done in all human history, we nearly will do in the next 30 to 40 years of history. (Time, 2013).” It would be easy to analyse this in a basic fashion, that the destiny of humans is clear, and rapid urbanisation proves that ‘humans are destined to live in cities’. However, there is a deeper view, that incorporates what has been described as ‘saturation’. WG Flanagan in his work ‘Urban Sociology: Images and Structure’ recognises, that whilst cities could grow intensely in the short term, they will reach a saturation point. Hence, no matter which echelon of development a nation is in, they will eventually reach a point of stagnation. This stagnation is crucial as it highlights the fact that cities simply cannot grow exponentially. Eventually the city will have a disequilibrium that forces it to either decline or structurally stagnate, as rural and peri-urban settlements cannot efficiently ‘fuel’ the resource hunger of the city any longer. This corroborates the equilibrium needed between a city and its rural surroundings, which is the supply to resources, enabling efficient function of all industry.                                                           As capital and infrastructure grow, there are more numerous opportunities in agriculture and other primary industries. Thus by analysing Maslow’s economic theory, the future may see a new balance in counter-urbanisation, where Berry first saw people moving away from the city for economic opportunity surrounding the primary industry. ‘Urbanisation and Counter-Urbanisation’ in 1976 was Berry’s primary work, which illuminated the fundamentals of a citizens socio-economic movements. In fact, governments are so aware of the fundamental synergy between industry such as agriculture that they subsidise the production of goods, aiding both the city and the rural area’s development. There are natural and clear distinctions too between urban and rural, crucially spatial difference. Cities will never be able to involve agriculture into their realms, and thus, the rural powers will exist in the amaranthine future. Urban sustainability will be prominent on any urban institution’s agenda, yet this cannot ignore that sometimes there needs to be a rural sustainability to facilitate a sustainable urban environment too. A city will saturate much more rapidly as Flanagan suggests, if the rural structure is primitive, or in fact, disproportionate to the size of the city. Although, from studying the artist, Pollard, there are limitations on the extent to which counter-urbanisation will occur. In the UK certainly, there is a lack of ethnic diversity in the rural areas, compared to urban areas. Pollard’s harrowing series ‘Pastoral Interlude’ (1988) illuminated stark ethnic separations of white and black culture in rural areas. She included the words of a black lady in England’s famous Lake District “…it’s as if the Black experience is only lived within an urban environment. I liked the Lake District where I wandered lonely as a Black face in a sea of white. A visit to the countryside is always accompanied by a feeling of unease, dread….” This is a pertinent piece of social analysis, as it underlines the fact that whilst all of these movements of people are theoretically possible, and they could verify all theorems in context, they do not take into account the social implications which often prevent many of these movements to occur. If Pollard’s examination is still useful, it would decide that even before counter-urbanisation has occurred, there are limitations to the extent it will be undertaken.                                                                                                                                                                  In conclusion, humans possess such a ranging characteristics, that it is difficult to agglomerate them into a single body, to determine their locational destiny. Moreover, there is also a difficulty in measuring whether ‘humans’ collectively have a primary destiny, and if so, if that destiny is one of location, rather than another event. Frankly, cities are so synergistically reliant on the rural abilities to create resources, that it seems fundamentally impossible that cities will ever be able to exist without rural environments. Thus, it is logical to assume that not all humans do have a destiny in the city as many will live in the rural areas, taking economic advantage of the need for primary resources such as food, minerals and land. In line with this argument, it seems that due to the spatial implications of obtaining these resources, there will always be a need for the rural environment. Whilst statistics in the quasi-short term could point the naive towards mass urbanisation, there, as Flanagan perceives, is a saturation point which all cities will one day reach if they have a period of rapid urbanisation. The saturation point is difficult to predict, but it is inbuilt with the genetics of an urban environment. All cities have different characteristics and thus will evolve at different rates, and equally decline or stagnate at different points also. Humans will always have to rely on the rural inventory to supply their basic social needs. Although the ‘magnetism’ as KPMG expanded on exists, this only describes the initial urbanisation movement to the city for sole economic opportunity, yet, the most intuitive way to holistically analyse the question is to look at the counter reliance of the city on the rural area to facilitate an equilibrium.

Urban Sustainability

Developing a city needs to satisfy the current generations without jeopardising the satisfaction of future generations. In a world of myopia and rapid urbanisation, it is easy to see how our current development of the urban environment is unsustainable.

There are three key factors to encompass true sustainability:

  1. Economic sustainability
  2. Social sustainability
  3. Environmental sustainability

For current developed areas, the belief that the construction of a building or land cannot be redeveloped to be sustainable, is frankly nonsensical. Most cities currently are going through many variants of regeneration, critical to their sustainability. One example is the nearby city of London, which is being remodelled to satisfy the three  specific criterium. London has been in existence for thousands of years, and thus it is simple proof that cities can be completely remodelled.

During 1991-1998, the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) committed its focus to redeveloping 8.5 square miles in and around the areas such as Newham and Southwark. The LDDC have created iconic landscapes that are both functional and sustainable. Canary Wharf, London City Airport and the O2 Arena are all features of the development.

The history of the area is one of quasi-extreme circumstances. During the 2nd World War, the Blitz destroyed key infrastructural developments in the docklands to try and strangle an already crippled London. Some of the buildings remained structurally derelict until the re-development by the LDDC. The redevelopment task was fascinating, with such a polluted area of land, including live munitions and chemical issues all over the soil being transformed into a plethora of sustainable uses.

The major industry, shipping and exports, became less and less profitable through the globalisation and creation of ‘container shipping’ which has become an image of mass movement and transport. This led to businesses leaving the area in search of newer profits. The LDDC capitalised on the derelict and therefore cheaper land.

After years of transitional development (which is the middle bit between start and finish of a project), a fantastic set of buildings, parks and other designs had been finished. Linking back to the sustainability criteria, the project had done the following

  1. √ Economic sustainability- LDDC had created over 120,000 indirect jobs as a result of their project, ranging from corporate banking in Canada Square, with global corporations such as HSBC and KPMG settling, to mini-businesses and restaurants all over the Docklands area.
  2. √ Social Sustainability- LDDC managed to include a new and affordable range of housing opportunities in the Docklands, contrasting fears that the development may be considered ‘pure gentrification’ rather than regeneration. In conjunction with the economic sustainability, jobs were also created to keep the workforce active and contributing to the wider economy. Eventing venues such as eXcel London have been designed, and are staging world class events regularly.Sports facilities have opened up too, with full size 3G football pitches available for hire too!
  3. √ Environmental sustainability- The docklands area has created more than a square kilometer of protected ‘park’ land. There have been buildings such as the ‘Crystal’ London building which is a building primarily built with environmental sustainability in mind. It is a primarily glass building, and exhibits the process of building a green city, cool for people like me, hopefully for you too!

Here is their official accomplishments!

In its final Annual Report in 1998 it headlined its achievements as follows:

  • £1.86 billion in public sector investment
  • £7.7 billion in private sector investment
  • 1,066 acres of land sold for redevelopment
  • 144 km of new and improved roads
  • the construction of the Docklands Light Railway
  • 25 million sq feet of commercial /industrial floorspace built
  • 1,884 acres of derelict land reclaimed
  • 24,046 new homes built
  • 2,700 businesses trading
  • contributions to 5 new health centres and the redevelopment of 6 more
  • funding towards 11 new primary schools, 2 secondary schools, 3 post-16 colleges and 9 vocational training centres
  • 94 awards for architecture, conservation and landscaping
  • 85,000 now at work in London Docklands



Analysing this, it proves that even built up cities with quite prominent issues in their health, CAN BE CHANGED! Now this is only a fraction of the city, admittedly I do not believe it would ever be useful or practical to redevelop a whole city. However, the fundamentals for development are staged such, that if you can develop one area, many others can be developed. Conflicts do occur often, between usage and users, but one must remember the original reason this needs to happen. Urban developers need to satisfy the current population without jeopardising those of the future. By developing an area that is totally sustainable, it should by definition be able to last for future generations, economically, socially and environmentally.

This example set by the LDDC proved that many cities have not only the ability, but in fact a duty to develop and redevelop their land sustainably.


The Jubilee Park in the very centre of Canary Wharf.

United Nations Environment Programme

“Urbanisation is developing very speedily and is irreversible…”

Frankly I disagree with this comment, it would be far to stubborn to believe that the cities we have built are mere objects of pollution, problems and predicament. We, the people, environmental agencies and governments need to recognise that this is a stellar opportunity to redesign the urban worlds we live in, for the better. Urbanisation can be perceived all too often in a negative fashion, instead it should be viewed as another opportunity to design something similar to the LDDC development.

Whilst some of you sit and question my apparent lack of knowledge pertaining to the fact that these developments all cost A LOT of money! Yes, you are right, they do. But if you look at these developments, they generate profit. Mega-development firms can and will make a profit by redeveloping cities with governments.

Let’s hope that businesses begin to realise they can make a difference in the world by doing good things, AND make a profit for themselves too.




Things we can learn from the Romans, to implement in LEDC nations.


It probably never raced past you that Ancient Rome was arguably the most advanced civilisation of the ancient era. The invention of fundamental infrastructural designs, such as genuine roads, arches and concrete inflated the surge of technological progress they were experiencing.

Rome’s incredible development of urban areas, extending their empire, eventually dominating the whole of the Mediterranean, was a jump into the future. They were so advanced that other races such as the Goths feared they were deities. Comically, in 476 AD when Rome was sacked, invaders were scared to live in these luxurious buildings, as they felt they were haunted.




Well, Rome was the beginning of ultimate urban planning, leading to methodology which even firms follow today. It is important to understand Rome’s modus operandi to analyse where our urban development methods could be improved for LEDC’s.

Rome was more developed than several cities nowadays, and 1600 years ago, one would expect that there would be improved standards globally. Incorrect. Rome had efficient sewerage systems, in parallel with the world famous aqueducts, sustained roads and semi-serviced apartment blocks called Insulae

So, contrasting this city to a modern day LEDC city suburb, it is simple to see that their is a lot of work to be done for modern cities, in weak economies. The striking, overriding matter is that 1600 years have passed and the urban development situation on our own planet has hardly improved.

Kibera is a division of Nairobi Area, Kenya, and neighbourhood of the city of Nairobi, 5 kilometres from the city centre. Kibera is the largest slum in Africa.

The average size of shack in this area is 12ft x 12ft built with mud walls, a corrugated tin roof with a dirt or concrete floor. The cost is about £6 per Month. These shacks often house up to 8 or more with many sleeping on the floor. Not only are the living standards poor, but in fact the land ownership numbers are in fact very low, 10%.

Water                                                                                                                         Kibera had no water and it had to be collected from the Nairobi dam. The dam water is not clean and causes typhoid and cholera. Only recently has this been changed, but one could still argue why and how it took so long to implement this. Now there are two mains water pipes into Kibera, one from the municipal council and one from the World Bank. Residents collect water at around 50p per 20 litres.

Sewage                                                                                                                              Most of Kibera there are no toilet facilities. One latrine (hole in the ground) is shared by up to 400 inhabitants. Once full, young boys are employed to empty the latrine and they take the contents to the river. Strangely these are the highest paying jobs in the area. The UN and a handful of other organisations attempt to redevelop this system but it is time consuming in many ways.

In 2015 it is clear that change is needed:

Rome’s domineering empire meant that they needed to develop and implement their infrastructural designs at every city they inhabited. They had a protocol in which they would structure their cities. It is evident that a global development project is needed to eliminate urban poverty like Kibera’s.

I believe it possible to create a modern protocol that the World Bank, UN and other international organisations so that poverty in urban areas can be reduced and eventually eliminated.

A protocol including the fundamentals of urban success such as

  • Water management
  • Industry management
  • Geo-spatial management
  • Economic management (income/output)
  • Transport management

These five key areas, if externally managed simplistically, could be precursors to success. The cities facing urban issues could evaluate the extent of their issues by using this protocol. By rating their issues, they could receive site specific aid, management and analysis.


I feel there is not enough site specific management in the LEDC urban areas. Just because the name, ‘UN’ is involved in the area, it certainly does not guarantee efficiency or effectiveness. There is certainly scope for development of a development strategy. The Roman civilisation proved that a modern society could develop deprived cities, as long as strict guidelines were administered. They also proved that multiplier effects are subsequently received by their development. Their agricultural, mineral and military imports improved their economy in the short term.

Thanks for reading,












dubai dusk


There are many misconceptions around the developments of a mega neo-city.. 

One key mistake when analysing a city, is to assume that the city has developed solely on a single industry. Whilst there may have been validity in the classical civilisations of Rome, Athens and Carthage, the dynamics of a mega neo-city is far from one-dimensional.

Once upon a time.. Cities would have little diversification in their GDP, and solely depend on a single industry. For example, York in England, after its founding in AD 71, grew as a major wool trading centre and became the capital of the northern ecclesiastical province of the Church of England, a role it has retained throughout the Middle Ages. Another example of this was ancient Greece, a whopping 80% of the population were involved in agriculture, as it was so labour intensive. This economic structure meant that whilst the short term aggregate supply was strong, rarely was the long run able to flourish, as improving the QQE for factors of production was almost impossible.

Today.. International improvements of commerce have not only led to an increase in trade and market income, yet the ability to develop a three-dimensional has become easier. The UAE, my focus today, has been commonly tagged as the ‘oil’ city. How wrong this is, as the GDP diversification is far from ‘oil’ based. The UAE has published its figures, the results are truly fascinating. 71% of the economy comes from non-oil sectors.


Throughout the rich Emirati history, the state has looked for profitable and sustainable alternatives to the oil sector. International commerce has been gradually and consistently improving, and the prominence of upper class tourism has been the beginning. Hotels and foreign accommodation have been developed, with the inclusion of the Burj Al Arab. To improve the international commerce sector the Dubai International Financial Centre was announced, offering 55.5% foreign ownership, no withholding tax, freehold land and office space and a custom financial system with legislation adopted from globally recognised financial cities of New York, London and Hong Kong. A new stock market for regional companies and other initiatives were announced in DIFC.

Dubai has also structured internet and Media free zones, offering 100% foreign ownership, no tax office space for the world’s leading ICT and media companies such as Dell, Intel and Microsoft, with the latest communication systems to encourage inter-linkage. Hundreds of world leaders in commerce have decided to ‘up sticks’ and base their HQ in Dubai, making full use of the welcoming and enticing corporation fees. The likes of the Dubai Mall has encouraged foreign customers, and foreign retailers such as Chanel, Hugo Boss and Hublot, to improve the diversity of the marketplace. Recent freedom in the property market allowing non UAE citizens to purchase freehold property has catapulted the Emirati economy for construction and real estate sectors, with quintessentially Emirati developments such as the two Palm Islands, the World , Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Towers, and a series other developments, offering real estate of all calibre, from commercial to private high-rise residential. Emirates was formed by the Dubai Government in the 1980s and is presently one of the few airlines to witness strong levels of growth. Emirates, which I flew on in November 1st, are able to advertise their cities through their on flight entertainment. One key area that they emphasised was the advent of the 2020 EXPO!

The Dubai 2020 EXPO has given the city opportunity. The manifesto is as such:

  • There is a growing need for new, universal models for sustainable economic development and financial stability.
  • This need is more pronounced in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and as more emerging nations join the global economy.
  • Expo 2020 Dubai seeks to harness new models for the flow of financial and intellectual capital to foster entrepreneurship and innovation.

Financial and intellectual capital is something that will be able to rapidly increase the diversity of the economy. By nature, the development of new ideas, businesses and technology will lead the city to ever faster development. The city of Dubai, whilst founding itself on primary industry, has led a charge on the tertiary and quaternary sectors, demonstrated in the existence of Dubai technology and media free zone.

It will certainly be very interesting to spectate the development of Dubai and the Emirate cities. One can only expect the cities diversification plans to become even more succinct and prominent. The Emirati’s will have learnt that options are the key way forward to improve their economy and it has become a marvel of success.

In conclusion, a city that will stand the test of time will be a city that can demonstrate diversity in all modus operandi. A sustainable, diverse economy, in conjunction with a sustainable, diverse population is critical to a successful economic development. The most effective economies will grow the city upwards and outwards, as the Burj Khalifa may prove. For Dubai, the sky is truly the limit and one of epic proportions.