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Romney_-_47_percent_large

On Wednesday night, the anonymous videographer behind the infamous "47 percent video" shot at a private Mitt Romney fundraiser in May 2012 revealed himself on MSNBC's The Ed Show. Scott Prouty was a bartender working high-end banquets in Boca Raton, Florida, including Romney's $50,000 per plate dinner. He is a registered independent who brought his Canon camera with him in case Mitt Romney wanted to meet and take photos with the staff, as Bill Clinton had after a similar event. No one had told the staff not to bring cameras or take photos. A Secret Service agent was some distance behind him. He set the camera down on the bar and pressed "record."

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egypt380If I were to describe a country where the Internet contributes as much as a percentage of GDP as its health services, education and oil industries, and is growing at nearly twice the rate as in Europe — driven in large part by growth in private and corporate-backed entrepreneurship — where would you guess?

Looking forward, if such a country has the largest population of Internet and mobile users in its region with one of the largest youth populations in the world; is a large consumer market in the early days of e-commerce; is a global tourist destination where roughly only five percent of all travel revenue is booked online — might this be an intriguing investment opportunity?

Am I describing Germany? China? Brazil?

Try Egypt.

Two years after the Arab uprisings and in the midst of wrestling significant economic and political change, the Internet is quietly and increasingly growing as a central platform of economic development around the country as it is around the globe. And according to a new Google-commissioned study by The Boston Consulting Group — Egypt at a Crossroads: How the Internet is Transforming Egypt’s Economy — policy makers, executives and investors alike are poised at a central moment of opportunity to embrace this platform for economic growth, job creation and returns.

David Dean, Senior Partner and Managing Director at the Boston Consulting Group — and one of the authors of the study — told me that this is the latest of fifteen country-wide studies his company has done, and he was impressed by what he found. “I think the biggest positive surprise was that there are many entrepreneurial companies using the Internet to grow their businesses.” The report highlights a handful of among hundreds of recent Egyptian startups as diverse as the content portal Masrawy, which now reaches over eight million unique users per month; e-commerce destination Nefsak, which offers over 25,000 products; and Alexandria’s Vimov, whose paid weather app WeatherHD was the fourth-best seller in Apple’s App store after its recent release. It notes that Vodafone, among other global investors, is making serious commitments both to the infrastructure and to funding startups in the region. “The report makes clear that there is much uptapped potential for Egypt’s nascent Internet ecosystem,” Samir El Bahaie, Google’s Head of Policy in the Middle East and North Africa, said — adding that “there is also a great opportunity for investment, economic growth and job creation waiting to be seized.”

The study underscores that the opportunity is now. Egypt’s population of 31 million Internet users is the largest in the Middle East, and while mobile penetration exceeds 100 percent in many parts of the country, the big news is that smartphones — with real computing capabilities — are expected by some to reach 50 percent penetration in the next three to five years. Unmeasured in penetration and GDP figures are what the report calls “ripple effects” on the Egyptian economy and society: The ability to reach new markets, to have better informed consumers, to have greater work efficiencies in the knowledge economy, to have simplified access to government and social services for people to take more control of their lives. Egypt, with its mobile penetration, is especially poised to capture opportunities in mobile banking (as significant success has been seen in Africa) and to fully embrace all the opportunities offered for tourism. Dean notes, in fact, that travel and tourism is “possibly the largest short-term lever that the Internet can have in the country.”

If the opportunity is now, however, so is the potential for missed opportunities. While access to the Internet is growing, there is still a lack of Internet skills in the workforce, even as compared to other emerging markets. While business adoption of the Internet as an economic platform in Egypt is competitive among larger enterprises, small- and medium-sized businesses still rank lowest among emerging growth markets. More fundamentally, there remains significant question of the most appropriate, entrepreneurship-driving policies — areas such as rule of law, copyright protection, lessening bureaucracy in starting businesses. “Of course, these are clearly not just questions for Egypt,” Dean explained to me. “What would really be encouraging would be a commitment by the Government to the Internet as an economic factor — which would mean simplifying the process for opening businesses, encouraging investment, demonstrating the benefits of the Internet in the way the government operates, and using the Internet to address some of Egypt’s most pressing problems, such as youth unemployment.”

Google hopes to play a continued role in working with governments like Egypt’s. Studies like these are extremely useful as they provide factual economic data points around the value of the Internet, El Bahaie noted. “We hope to work with the government of Egypt to leverage these data points to unlock the potential of eCommerce and mCommerce and well-informedly create a more enabling business environment for Egyptian small- and medium-sized business, and to help the country reach its full economic potential.”

Christopher M. Schroeder is a leading U.S. Internet entrepreneur and venture investor, a member of the advisory boards of the American University of Cairo School of Business, the regional entrepreneurship portal Wamda.com and incubator Oasis500. He is the author of “Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution That’s Remaking the Middle East,” to be published September 2013 by Palgrave/MacMillan. He can be followed on Twitter @cmschroed.

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Davidchancellor-list

If you’re an animal lover it’s highly likely you’ll find these images upsetting. The bloodied carcasses of slaughtered beasts have a habit of turning the stomachs of even the most committed carnivore, but David Chancellor’s portraits of hunters in various parts of Africa are also remarkably compelling, inviting us to witness a ritualistic and deeply personal pursuit that very few will ever have experienced.

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Features and Essays

Always been a big Erika Larsen fan…

Erika Larsen: Sámi 2007-2011 (Phaidon website)

Sumit Dayal: The New Tibetans (TIME Lightbox)

Mark Henley: Bank on Us (Panos Pictures)

Lynsey Addario: The New Saudi Life (VII Magazine)

Two new features up on Reportage by Getty Images site this week… the first one isn’t that new though… It’s Ed Ou’s terrific series from Vancouver, which you probably remember from Lens blog earlier this year…

Ed Ou: A Safe Place (Getty Reportage)

Jonathan Saruk: The Strikers: Kabul’s Bowling Alley (Getty Reportage)

Stephanie Sinclair in NYT Mag again…

Stephanie Sinclair: Families (NYT Magazine)

Michael Christopher Brown: China’s Red Restaurants  (Newsweek)

Stefan Bladh: A Family Revisited (TIME Lightbox) Bladh’s website

Lynsey Addario: Muslim Women (New Yorker Photo Booth)

Robert Nickelsberg: A Long and Distant War: Photos from Afghanistan, 1988-2009 (TIME LB)

Mat Collishaw: Last Meals on Death Row, Texas (TIME)

Tim Hetherington’s photos now available in the Magnum Photos archive…480+….Hetherington’s Diary is on Magnum in Motion…

Tim Hetherington: Diary (Magnum in Motion)

Stuart Franklin: Walls That Talk: Libya’s Abu Salim Jail (Magnum Photos)

Peter diCampo: Ivory Coast (TIME)

George Georgiou: Fault Lines: Turkey East West (Panos)

Adam Hinton: Transporting Tokyo (Panos)

Josef Koudelka: Gypsies (TIME LB)

Chris Keulen: Italienische Reise (Panos)

Mark Rykoff: Russian Dacha Diary (TIME)

Giorgos Moutafis: Athens on the Brink (New Yorker Photo Booth)

James Whitlow Delano: Climate Change: Europe’s Shrinking Alpine Glaciers (Photographer’s archive)

Kenneth Jarecke: Game Time: Nebraska’s Farewell to the Big 12 (TIME LB)

Tomas van Houtryve: Borderline : Norther Korea (Magnum Foundation)

Nick Brandt: Portraits of Wildlife in East Africa (NYT Lens) Brandt’s website

As recommended by Christopher Morris…

Enrico Dagnino: Libya (Le Monde)

Also from Libya…

Baptiste Giroudon: Tripoli Rebels (Photographer’s website)

Articles

C.J. Chivers on Tyler Hicks…

NYT Lens: Tyler Hicks: A Decade in Afghanistan (NYT)

On Bob Dylan’s paintings plagiarism controversy…

NYT: Dylan Paintings Draw Scrutiny

Guardian: Bob Dylan in plagiarism row over paintings

Richard Prince: Bob Dylan’s Fugitive Art (New York Review of Books)

I looked into the Dylan paintings myself after, and noticed that two of Gagosian gallery’s four different covers of Bob Dylan: Asian Series catalogue are based on a Bruce Gilden photo and a Jacob Aue Sobol one

The final news regarding VII transition…

PDN: VII Photo Agency Brings in New Members

BJP: VII Transition

Andrea Bruce, who chose not to apply for VII membership has joined NOOR…

BJP: NOOR Images adds Andrea Bruce and Giancarlo Ceraudo as new members

TIME Lightbox: Inside the Mind of a Master Photo Editor (TIME)

Panos Pictures: George Georgiou at MoMA in NY

Real Screen:  Junger making HBO doc on Tim Hetherington

Warren Winter: Freshman Freelancing: Photo Agency Freelancing Fact & Fiction (Photo Brigade)

Digital PhotoPro: Ron Haviv: The Impotence Of Authority

BJP: Sipa founder Gökşin Sipahioğlu dies

Bill Hunt’s new book and exhibition Unseen Eye (TIME LB)

6 Tips to Get Your Fine Art Photography Featured Online (PhotoShelter)

The fake that wasn’t…

PetaPixel: Amazing Reuters Photo of Rebel Firing RPG was Not Photoshopped

The Hacker Factor blog: Without a Crutch

PetaPixel: Nikon says “A Photographer Is Only as Good as the Equipment He Uses”

NYT T Magazine: A Nanny’s Diary (NYT T Mag)

PetaPixel: An Eye-Opening Look at How Many Conflict Photos Are Staged

Joop Swart Masterclass preview (World Press Photo)

BJP: Fifty-two weeks on the streets

BJP: Apple adds new photography features with updated iPhone 4S

Life: Looking for Heroes 

Guardian: Featured photojournalist: Ahmad Masood (Guardian)

Verve: Kenneth O’Halloran (Verve Photo)

Guardian: Photographer Kevin Cummins’s best shot

TIME Lightbox: Fields of Vision: The Early Work of Gordon Parks

BJP: Agency Balcony Jump lands on the iPad

Firecracker: Sophie Gerrard

Guardian: Street Photography Now Project: shoot on sight

Interviews

Seamus Murphy (NPR)

Davide Monteleone (BJP)

Damon Winter & Marcus Yam (NYT Lens)

Nigel Bennet (Conscientious)

Kate Brooks (BBC)

David Kasnic (DVAfoto)

 Chloe Dewe Mathews (BBC)

Exhibitions

Don McCullin at Tate Modern : London : Until 4 March 2012

Awards, Grants, and Competitions

BJP: Chloe Dewe Mathews wins BJP’s International Photography Award

BJP: Facundo Arrizabalaga wins IPA single image prize

National Geographic 2011 photo contest 

multiMedia 

American Journal

Agencies

Paolo Woods joins INSTITUTE

VII : Events, Exhibitions & News Listings, October 2011

Photographers

Daniel Britt

To finish off… the latest from Shit Photojournalists Like

And don’t forget to Think Different.

RIP Steve Jobs

photo: Diana Walker

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