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March 2014

What Can Open Data Entrepreneurs Do for Development?

Donna Barne's picture

Four years ago the World Bank Group opened its data to the public hoping innovators would find new ways to use the data. At the same time, a growing number of governments were also opening up their data – to be more accountable, and to spur economic activity around the data.  Today, the open data entrepreneur has emerged.  About 500 companies that use open data in their business have sprung up in the United States alone, and similar businesses are cropping up all over the world, even in countries with limited data — let alone open data.

So far, this open data-fueled sector is still small, but it promises to take the delivery of useful information to a new level as it grows.  In the United States, businesses are using utilities data to promote energy efficiency, education data to help find the best schools, and health data to allow people to check symptoms and make doctor appointments, to name a few examples. A 2013 study by McKinsey & Co. estimates open data could help generate more than $3 trillion a year in additional value for the global economy.

But can open data entrepreneurs help tackle global challenges and make a difference in developing countries, including in the poorest and most fragile countries? A recent World Bank event explored that question, bringing in one of the private sector pioneers in the use of open data, The Climate Corporation, along with Metabiota, a for-profit firm tracking emerging diseases in developing countries, and Joel Gurin, author of Open Data Now and the lead on a New York University-based project, Open Data 500.  

Prospects Daily: Turkish lira surges to near three-month high against U.S. dollar, Eurozone annual inflation slows to a 52-month low, Turkey’s annual GDP growth in 2013Q4 beats expectations

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture

Financial Markets…Developing-country stocks advanced on Monday, heading for the longest streak of gains since July, as Russia and the U.S. sought a diplomatic solution to reduce tensions over Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region over the weekend. The benchmark MSCI Emerging Market Index gained 0.5%, trimming its quarterly loss to 1.3% in the first quarter of this year. Russia’s Micex stock index rose for a second day, but the gauge is still down 10% this year, heading for its steepest quarterly drop since 2011.

Call for Papers: International Symposium on Environmental Change and Migration, Washington, D.C., 28-29 May 2014

Hanspeter Wyss's picture

KNOMAD’s Thematic Working Group on Environmental Change and Migration is organizing a symposium on May 28-29, 2014, and we very much encourage you to submit a paper and participate.  We also hope you will share this call for papers widely with your colleagues.

Scaling up the Private Sector in Education: Three Lessons

Harry A. Patrinos's picture



This week the IFC – the World Bank Group’s private sector arm – holds its 6th International Private Education Conference.  The occasion prompted us to think about what it would take for the private sector to scale up and really make a difference to children’s lives across the globe.  

River Salinity in Coastal Bangladesh in a Changing Climate

Susmita Dasgupta's picture

With a virtual certainty that sea-level rise (SLR) will continue beyond 2100 even if greenhouse gas emissions were stabilized today, it is essential that we gain understanding of the potential impacts of SLR and begin planning adaptation, especially for countries with major risk of SLR. The urgency of responding to the growing alarm over climate change effects worldwide is hitting headlines this week, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just released its Climate Change 2014 report warning that climate change is already having widespread effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans.

Can a Political Economy Approach Explain Aid Donors’ Reluctance to Think and Work Politically? Guest Post from Neil McCulloch

Duncan Green's picture

The more enlightened (in my view) aid types have been wagging their fingers for decades, telling their colleagues to adopt more politically literate approaches to their work. Why isn’t everyone convinced? Neil McCulloch applies a bit of political economy analysis to the aid business.

Over the last fifteen years or more, a new approach to development assistance has been gaining ground in policy circles. Broadly entitled the “political economy” approach, it attempts to apply a more political approach to understanding development problems and, importantly, development “solutions”. In particular, a central tenet of the approach is that many development problems are fundamentally political rather than technical and that therefore solutions to these problems are most likely to come from inside a country’s polity than from outside. Perhaps the most famous recent example of this line of thinking is Acemoglu and Robinson’s 2012 book Why Nations Fail.

Acemoglu and Robinson conclude that if each nation’s fate depends primarily on its domestic political struggles, the role for external development assistance is minimal. However, the response of practitioners to this field is to turn this argument on its head i.e. that is, if indeed each nation’s fate depends primarily on its domestic political struggles, development assistance should be trying to influence these struggles in ways that make pro-development outcomes more likely. Yet despite more than a decade analysis, the political economy “approach” is still rarely used by donors in the field. Why? I think there are four reasons:

Quote of the Week: Rahm Emanuel

Sina Odugbemi's picture

The first third of your campaign is money, money, money. The second third is money, money, money. The final is votes, press, and money.”

- Rahm Emanuel, an American politician who serves as the 55th Mayor of Chicago and previously served as Representative of the 5th Congressional District in Illinois from 2003-2009 and as US President Obama's White House Chief of Staff from 2009-2010.

The Angola paradox: Development aid in a "wealthy" country

Thomas Dickinson's picture



Preparing a recent project mission to Angola, I came across the country’s latest accomplishment: a gigantic new refinery to consolidate its national oil industry. Looking at that massive structure, I was hit with a sudden thought: if they can pull off such an enormous and complex feat of engineering, what do they need me for?

How Kerala is using the Internet to localize delivery of public services to citizens

Tina George Karippacheril's picture

I was intrigued by Kerala's Akshaya program. Kerala is uniquely, a most decentralized state, the only one of 17 in India to enact the Right to Public Services and, to open citizen service centers called Akshaya, run under the oversight of panchayats, 3-tier local self-governments, in 14 districts set within a 2 km radius of households. Akshaya was designed in its first phase in 2003 by the Kerala IT Mission to improve e-literacy in underserved areas and, in its second phase to provide a platform for government to citizen services through a public-private partnership. Over 60% of Kerala's 33 million citizens have been served by 2070+ Akshaya centers run by private entrepreneurs who collectively earn 30 million INR a month, creating employment for over 20,000 individuals. (For more details, see Akshaya Overview and UNDP Report on Akshaya).

Making Political Economy Practical

Rachel Ort's picture

Taking politics seriously
 
The idea political incentives play a powerful role in development—creating opportunities for change in some contexts, frustrating efforts in others—is not a new one.  For many years now, academics and aid agencies have acknowledged that the uptake and impact of best practice reforms depends, in part, on the incentives of leaders and citizens, on formal and informal institutional arrangements, on historical legacies and structural drivers.  And as a result, many aid agencies have made efforts to “take politics seriously.”


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