The World Bank forecasts that global economic growth will strengthen to 2.7 percent in 2017 as a pickup in manufacturing and trade, rising market confidence, and stabilizing commodity prices allow growth to resume in commodity-exporting emerging market and developing economies. Growth in advanced economies is expected to accelerate to 1.9 percent in 2017, and growth in emerging market and developing economies as will rise to 4.1 percent this year from 3.5 percent in 2016. Read more and download Global Economic Prospects.
Now that the 2017 edition of International Debt Statistics (IDS) has been released, as a member of the team who put these statistics together, I thought I would look back at what the data tells us about financial flows into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
According to IDS 2015 data, net financial flows (debt and equity) to all low and middle income countries were only one third of their 2014 levels ($1,159 billion). In particular net debt flows turned negative (-$185 billion) for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, while foreign direct investment (FDI) showed a marginal increase of $7 billion from $536 billion in 2014. These phenomena were observed in all regions but MENA.
The net debt inflows into the MENA region diverged from global trends. The inflows increased 84 percent from 2014. On the other hand, FDI recorded its lowest level since 2010.
Doing Business in Afghanistan 2017 offers a sub-national perspective on business regulations and their implementation in five Afghan provinces. The report measures regulations affecting four stages of the life of a small or medium-size business: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity and registering property. The reports finds substantial variations across the country. For example, while the capital Kabul leads the way in starting a business and getting electricity, it fares less well in dealing with construction permits and registering property. Read more in the report and download the data.
Map of sub-national locations studied in Doing Business in Afghanistan 2017:
Despite localized success stories, electricity access is still increasing slowly in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Global Tracking Framework, access in Africa increased from 31% to 38% over the period from 2007 to 2014. Globally, just over one billion people today have little or no access to electricity. The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to achieve affordable and clean energy for all with SDG 7. Efforts toward this goal were in sharp focus at the SEforALL Forum in New York City last month, where the latest progress, data, problems and achievements around the Sustainable Energy for All program were assessed and discussed.
Amongst clean cooking solutions, off-grid solar innovations and many others, the World Bank and partners launched a new data initiative. The ENERGYDATA.INFO platform aims to empower stakeholders from every side of the equation ‑ governments, private industry, financers, analysts, NGOs and the public ‑ with access to more and better quality data as well as analysis and tools that are simple and insightful.
One of the flagship apps released along with this platform is the Africa Electricity Grids Explorer, which presents the most complete and up-to-date openly available data on the electricity transmission and distribution networks in Sub-Saharan Africa. The last time a concerted effort was made to map Africa’s grid infrastructure was the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, now 10 years old. The Africa Electricity Grids Explorer attempts to bring such approaches into the modern era, by combining data from utilities and World Bank projects with crowd-sourced data from OpenStreetMap, satellite imagery analysis, and on-the-ground GPS tracking. This has already had a positive response from both policy-makers (who want to see data improved in their home countries) and modelers (who are using this new data in their efforts).
The first World Data Forum was held in Cape Town, South Africa earlier this year. The gathering brought together statisticians, data scientists, business people, public officials and NGOs to learn from each other about how data are being used to measure and drive progress globally.
In this episode, marking the end of the first season of Between 2 Geeks, I share some highlights from the event.
The World Bank hosted a session on “The Future of Data” where the recurring theme was “data integration” - combining multiple sources of data, from multiple types of organization, with multiple types of technology and approach to offer insights that are greater than the sum of their parts. You can watch a video of the whole session here and in the podcast, hear from Mark Ryland of Amazon Web Services, Molly Jackman of Facebook and Andy Tatem of the World Pop Project and University of Southampton.
I also spoke with Anna Rosling Rönnlund of Gapminder who told me about her organization’s journey to make data more understandable and to help promote a fact-based world view. One of the projects they were demonstrating is Dollar Street - a site that lets you explore photographs of the everyday life and possessions of the poorest to the richest people around the world. What’s striking is how similar life looks for someone living on say $100/month in almost any country you care to look at.
This episode of Between 2 Geeks is hosted by Tariq Khokhar and produced by Richard Miron. You can chat with us on twitter with the hashtag #Between2Geeks, listen to new episodes on the World Bank Soundcloud Channel and subscribe to “World Bank’s Podcasts” in your podcast app or on iTunes.
Are you a student or a young professional passionate about development and data? Do you care about poverty and inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)? Then this blog contest is for you.
Regular readers of this space will know by now that we have run a periodic blog series - #LACfeaturegraph – that highlighted a particular data point from our LAC Equity Lab data portal and analyzed critical development issues across the region. Now this is your chance to be a part of this effort. You, too, can use the data from the LAC Equity Lab and come up with a blog entry that addresses some of these issues. Through the contest, we are looking for original, well-written posts whereby participants can share their perspective on poverty and equity issues in the LAC region and also recommend plausible public policy interventions.
The winner of this blog contest will get his or her entry published as part of the #LACfeaturegraph series. The winner will also have the opportunity to visit the World Bank Group headquarters in Washington D.C. at a later date to participate in a poverty event. Blog entries will be accepted for a month – from May 15, 2017 to June 15, 2017.
According to the latest estimates, 33.5% of people in Ethiopia live under $1.90 a day. But how do we know that? Where do this number come from?
Well, it comes from household surveys! To learn more about what it takes to collect these data, we talk to Diane Steele, who’s the Household Survey Coordinator of the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) program here at the World Bank. The LSMS program works with countries to help them collect high-quality household survey data, and also to improve the methods used to collect it.
In this episode, Diane tells us about what it takes to put together a household survey. Among other things, you’ve got to design a questionnaire - but how do you make sure that you’re asking the right questions? And you need to design a sample - but how do you know how large of a sample you need in order for the survey to be nationally representative? And you need to train your interviewers properly - but how do you know that they’ve understood the process clearly?
In a world where 77 countries still don’t have the data that they need to measure and track poverty, it’s all the more important to keep improving the way that we collect surveys, so that we’re confident that we’re getting good data that countries can use to create better policies for their citizens. That’s why the World Bank committed to work with the world’s poorest countries to ensure that they collect household surveys every 3 years, so that we’re all better equipped with the information we need to fight poverty and improve people’s lives.
Aside from all that, you can also tune in to hear me ask Tariq about whether he's the head of his household, how many hours he worked last week, and whether or not he's living under an asbestos roof.
This episode of Between 2 Geeks is hosted by Tariq Khokhar & Raka Banerjee, and produced by Richard Miron. You can chat with us on twitter with the hashtag #Between2Geeks, listen to new episodes on the World Bank Soundcloud Channel and subscribe to “World Bank’s Podcasts” in your podcast app or on iTunes.
The number of stunted children has declined steadily since 1990, and many countries are on course to meet the global target of reducing stunting by 40% by 2025. But the absolute number of stunted children increased in Sub-Saharan Africa from nearly 45 million in 1990 to 57 million in 2015, and the region will not meet the target if the current trend is not reversed. Read more in the 2017 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals.
Which World Bank financed project can you see from space, and on Leonardo DiCaprio’s Instagram?
As Raka and I found out in this episode, it’s the “Noor Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power Plant” in Morocco - an epic energy project that’s part of the country’s plan to have 42% of its energy mix come from renewables by 2020.
Renewable energy seems to be getting cheaper than ever, and we ask the question: are we reaching a “tipping point” where renewable energy is cheaper to produce than energy from fossil fuels.
In our discussion with Mafalda Duarte, head of the $8.3 billion Climate Investment Funds (CIF), I learned that renewable energy (in this case, concentrated solar power) is a bit more complicated than just finding somewhere sufficiently sunny or windy. For example, the concentrated solar power (CSP) technology being used in Noor Ouarzazate is relatively new and so more expensive. With the investment CIF is making, the cost of the CSP technology can be driven down, and the tipping point reached faster for other countries wanting to adopt the technology.
So what are the issues of geography, politics, technology and economics when it comes to large scale renewable energy, and how can we influence them to help countries reach the tipping point where renewable energy becomes the best option?
This episode of Between 2 Geeks is hosted by Tariq Khokhar & Raka Banerjee, and produced by Richard Miron. You can chat with us on twitter with the hashtag #Between2Geeks, listen to more episodes on the World Bank Soundcloud Channel and subscribe to “World Bank’s Podcasts” in your podcast app or on iTunes.
Globally, there are over 98 mobile subscriptions per 100 people, so the chances are, you have a cell phone. Now look at your recent calls, both sent and received: Who do you call most often? Who calls you the most? Do you send, or receive more calls? All this is cell phone metadata: not the content of the calls, but ancillary information, the “who, where and when”.
It’s information that can reveal a lot about you. Your cellphone carrier already uses it to bill you, and may also be using it to target marketing or special offers at you. And with appropriate privacy protections, it can offer researchers a similar opportunity. In this week’s episode of Between 2 Geeks we ask how cellphone metadata (“call detail records”) can help researchers understand entire societies.