Albert Einstein once said: “The only source of knowledge is experience.” For years I have wondered about this. Surely you can understand something without actually having done it. After all, mankind’s understanding of the vast universe is greater than what can be directly experienced, and some of it is derived from theoretical reasoning. I was on my way to the 2018 Africa Carbon Forum to share fiscal policy lessons under the CAPE program and the debate was still raging in my head when I arrived at the UN campus in Nairobi Kenya.
Prices in African agricultural markets fluctuate a lot: “Grain prices in major markets regularly” rise “by 25-40% between the harvest and lean seasons, and often more than 50% in more isolated markets.” To an economist, this looks like a massive missed opportunity: Why don’t farmers just hold onto their harvested grain and sell at a much higher price during the lean season?
We're delighted to release the 2017 Global Findex, the third round of the world's most detailed dataset of how adults save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk.
Drawing on surveys with more than 150,000 adults in more than 140 economies worldwide, the latest Global Findex features new data on fintech transactions made through mobile phones and the internet. It also provides time series updates for benchmark financial inclusion indicators.
The data shows that financial inclusion is on the rise globally, with 1.2 billion adults opening accounts since 2011, including 515 million in the last three years alone. That means 69 percent of adults globally have an account, up from 62 percent in 2014 and 51 percent in 2011. We see that Fintech, or financial technology, plays a progressively greater role in countries like China, where 50% of account owners use a mobile phone to make a transaction from their account. Compared to 2014, twice as many adults in Brazil and Kenya are paying utility bills digitally.
The International Comparison Program (ICP) team in the World Bank Development Data Group commissioned a pilot data collection study utilizing modern information and communication technologies in 15 countries―Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam―from December 2015 to August 2016.
The main aim of the pilot was to study the feasibility of a crowdsourced price data collection approach for a variety of spatial and temporal price studies and other applications. The anticipated benefits of the approach were the openness, accessibility, level of granularity, and timeliness of the collected data and related metadata; traits rarely true for datasets typically available to policymakers and researchers.
The data was collected through a privately-operated network of paid on-the-ground contributors that had access to a smartphone and a data collection application designed for the pilot. Price collection tasks and related guidance were pushed through the application to specific geographical locations. The contributors carried out the requested collection tasks and submitted price data and related metadata using the application. The contributors were subsequently compensated based on the task location and degree of difficulty.
The collected price data covers 162 tightly specified items for a variety of household goods and services, including food and non-alcoholic beverages; alcoholic beverages and tobacco; clothing and footwear; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels; furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance; health; transport; communication; recreation and culture; education; restaurants and hotels; and miscellaneous goods and services. The use of common item specifications aimed at ensuring the quality, as well as intra- and inter-country comparability, of the collected data.
In total, as many as 1,262,458 price observations―ranging from 196,188 observations for Brazil to 14,102 observations for Cambodia―were collected during the pilot. The figure below shows the cumulative number of collected price observations and outlets covered per each pilot country and month (mouse over the dashboard for additional details).
Figure 1: Cumulative number of price observations collected during the pilot
Millennium Development Goal 3 is to "Promote gender equality and empower women" and is measured against a target to "Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015" and also includes indicators to measure the proportion of seats held by women in national parliament and the share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector.
Since 1990, the number of women in parliament has quadrupled in the Middle East and North Africa
More women are participating in public life and decision making at the highest levels than in 1990, based on the proportion of parliamentary seats held by women. Latin America and the Caribbean leads developing country regions in 2014, at 29 percent, followed closely by Sub-Saharan Africa at 22 percent. The biggest change has occurred in the Middle East and North Africa, where the proportion of seats held by women more than quadrupled between 1990 and 2014 . At the country level Rwanda leads the way with 64 percent in 2014, higher than the percentage for high- income countries, at 26 percent.
Ceilings on lending rates remain a widely-used instrument in many EMDEs as well as developed economies. The economic and political rationale for putting ceilings on lending rates is to protect consumers from usury or to make credit cheaper and more accessible. Our recent working paper shows that at least 76 countries around the world, representing more than 80% of global GDP and global financial assets, impose some restrictions on lending rates. These countries are not clustered in specific regions or income groups, but spread across all geographic and income dimensions.
In the last few years, CSA—which is an approach to agriculture that boosts productivity and resilience, and reduces GHG emissions- has gained momentum as understanding of its critical importance to the food system has risen. Nearly every government representative and farmer I meet during my missions (most recently in Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan) expresses genuine interest in making CSA part of their farming routines and agricultural sector.
This momentum is reflected in the Bank’s own actions. Since the Bank started tracking CSA in 2011, our CSA investments have grown steadily, reaching a record US$ 1 billion in 2017. We expect to maintain and even increase that level next year as our efforts to scale up CSA intensify.
For every software developer in the United States, there are five open jobs. Africa, meanwhile, has the youngest, fastest-growing population on earth, with more people joining the labor force over the next 20 years than the rest of the world combined.
With this idea in mind, and the powerful belief that "brilliance is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not," Andela, founded four years ago, began recruiting recent graduates in Africa with the mission of connecting them to job opportunities in high-tech companies. Today, about 650 developers in Lagos, Nairobi, and Kampala work full-time for over 100 firms spread across 45 cities worldwide.
In Gaile Parkin's novel Baking Cakes in Kigali, two women living in Kigali, Rwanda – Angel and Sophie – argue over the salary paid to a development worker: "Perhaps these big organisations needed to pay big salaries if they wanted to attract the right kind of people; but Sophie had said that they were the wrong kind of people if they would not do the work for less. Ultimately they had concluded that the desire to make the world a better place was not something that belonged in a person's pocket. No, it belonged in a person's heart."
It's not a leap to believe – like Angel and Sophie – that teachers should want to help students learn, health workers who want help people heal, and other workers in service delivery should want to deliver that service. But how do you attract and motivate those passionate public servants? Here is some recent research that sheds light on the topic.
Sustainable Development Goal target 10.1 aims to progressively achieve, by 2030, sustained income growth among the poorest 40 percent of the population at a rate higher than the national average in every country. This echoes the World Bank’s goal of promoting shared prosperity, although the World Bank does not set a specific target for each country but aims to foster income growth among the poorest 40 percent in every country.