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Women driving the Middle East and North Africa forward, one business innovation at a time

Ayat Soliman's picture


Our continued belief in the enormous resourcefulness, resilience and sheer drive of young Arab women has yet again been reconfirmed. 

Weekly wire: The global forum

Darejani Markozashvili's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Report Card on International Cooperation
Council of Councils (CFR)
The Council of Councils (CoC) Report Card on International Cooperation evaluates multilateral efforts to address ten of the world’s most pressing challenges, from countering transnational terrorism to advancing global health. No country can confront these issues better on its own. Combating the threats, managing the risks, and exploiting the opportunities presented by globalization require international cooperation. To help policymakers around the world prioritize among these challenges, the CoC Report Card on International Cooperation surveyed the Council of Councils, a network of twenty-six foreign policy institutes around the world.

Global survey reveals the impact of declining trust in the internet on e-commerce
UNCTAD/Ipsos/Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)
The survey, conducted by Ipsos and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Internet Society, comes as data breaches and the reported hacking of elections in several European countries continues to capture international headlines. The survey results suggest that the resulting impact on trust is hindering further development of the digital economy. Released today at the UNCTAD E-Commerce Week in Geneva, the 2017 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security & Trust shows that among those worried about their privacy, the top sources of concern were cybercriminals (82%), Internet companies (74%) and governments (65%).

One PPP Program, Two World Bank Group Teams, and the MIT

Bernardo Weaver's picture



The largest Public-Private Partnership deal in Central America was recently highlighted at one of the world’s most prestigious universities during the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) 9th Annual Sustainability Summit. Under this year’s theme, Funding the Future, the event brought together more than 300 participants from students, startup CEOs, academia, think tanks and financial investors.

Mapping Africa’s energy infrastructure: open data lights the way

Christopher James Arderne's picture
Credit: World Bank Photo Collection


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).
 

"This map shows current best publicly available data on existing and planned transmission and distribution networks in Sub-Saharan Africa, aggregated from a wide variety of sources. Dark lines are high voltage, while lighter lines are low voltage. Image from Africa Electricity Grids Explorer

Agriculture: An opportunity for better jobs for Afghanistan’s youth

Izabela Leao's picture

 

Pashtuna, a poultry farmer and beneficiary of the National Horticulture and Livestock Project. Credit: Izabela Leao / World Bank

“I was a completely broken person before, a person who was not able to confront the hardship of life,” says Pashtuna, a 32-year-old poultry farmer who lives in the Herat province with her husband and five children.

A beneficiary of the National Horticulture and Livestock Project  she decided to attend the Farmers Field School. Upon completion of her training, she received 100 laying hens and access to equipment, feed, and animal vaccines. Pashtuna was able to maintain 80 laying hens and generated a AFN 560 income, half of which she kept to buy poultry food. “Thanks to the poultry farm and the grace of God, I can afford my life and I have a bright vision for my family future,” she says. 

Revitalizing agriculture and creating agriculture jobs is a priority for the Government of Afghanistan and the World Bank Group as the sector can play an important role in reducing poverty and sustaining inclusive growth.

Until the late 1970s, Afghanistan was one of the world’s top producer of horticultural products and supplied 20 percent of the raisins on the global market. The country held a dominant position in pistachio and dried fruit production, and exported livestock and wool products to regional markets.

Unfortunately, decades of conflict destroyed much of Afghanistan’s agricultural infrastructure. The last fifteen years, however, have witnessed positive and inspiring changes in the lives of Afghan farmers, such as Pashtuna.

While focusing on rebuilding infrastructure, reorganizing farming communities and identifying vulnerabilities and opportunities, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) has brought new ideas and innovations to the agriculture sector in Afghanistan.

“Over the past five years, important changes in the practice and direction of agriculture have demanded greater expectation on performance and responsiveness of our Ministry, as well as other institutions of the government,” explains Assadullah Zamir, Afghanistan’s Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock. “And the demand by women and men farmers, who have discovered the potential of improved methods of growing fruits and vegetables and producing livestock, has been recasting the relationships between MAIL and our clients, the farmers.”

Media (R)evolutions: Virtual Reality – a future business model for newsrooms?

Darejani Markozashvili's picture
New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.
 
Virtual reality (VR) in journalism is still in its early years of development. However, it has enormous potential to transform the way news content is made and consumed. Offering a new narrative form, VR has become increasingly popular in newsrooms. Is this the way of the future? Is virtual reality a feasible way to present news? Is this a lucrative stream of revenue for newsrooms?

VR is “an immersive media experience that replicates either a real or imagined environment and allows users to interact with this world in ways that feel as if they are there.” Immersive storytelling may come in a few forms such as “virtual reality,” “augmented reality” and “spherical/360-degree video.”  While early experimentation of VR in media focused on documentaries, by 2017 there is a larger variety of VR news content expanding to short features, foreign correspondence, political news coverage and others.

According to the recent report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, further success of VR in journalism is highly dependent not only on good/diverse content, but also on the adaptation of VR headsets by consumers to fully immerse themselves in the virtual reality experience. While the experimentation of virtual reality storytelling has been on the rise, the adaptation of VR headsets by consumers is still low. It is estimated that total high-end headset sales are around 2 million worldwide. Others predict that by 2020 up to 34 million headsets will be sold, with virtual reality market reaching $150 billion in sales

Between 2 Geeks: Episode 7 - The Future of Data? (Cape Town Edition)

Tariq Khokhar's picture

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.
 

Three things we need to know about “SOGI”

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture


May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, or IDAHOT.
 
Why should we care about IDAHOT? Because sexual orientation and gender identity, or SOGI, matters.
 
Here are three things we need to know about SOGI:
 
First, SOGI inclusion is about zero discrimination
 
Despite some legal and social progress in the past two decades, LGBTI people continue to face widespread discrimination and violence in many countries. Sometimes, being LGBTI is even a matter of life and death. They may be your friends, your family, your classmates, or your coworkers.

India, Malaysia share experiences how to support start-up SMEs

Mihasonirina Andrianaivo's picture



Both Malaysia and India are countries steeped in innovation with a strong desire to foster new, innovative start-up enterprises. 
 
With a global focus on providing more support to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) – and recognizing that start-ups play a crucial role in creating jobs, growth, exports and innovation within most economies – Asian countries are keen to learn from each other’s experiences. These efforts have taken on a greater priority in India under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and his “Make in India” and “Start-Up India” campaigns.
 
The World Bank has been supporting India for several years in the area of MSME finance, which is one of the most widely recognized impediments to SMEs, particularly for start-up enterprises.  Through the $500 million MSME Growth Innovation and Inclusive Finance Project, the World Bank supports MSMEs in the service and manufacturing sectors as well as start-up financing for early stage entrepreneurs.  The start-up support under this project ($150 million) is for early stage debt funding (venture debt) which isn’t well evolved. (Unlike India’s market for early stage equity which is considered to already be reasonably well developed.)
 
As part of this project, the World Bank and the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), recently held a workshop in Mumbai to allow market participants to learn from one another, and particularly about Malaysia’s successful support for innovative start-up SMEs. The workshop’s participants included banks, venture capital companies, entrepreneurs, fintech companies, seed funders and representatives from the Malaysian Innovation Agency (Agensi Inovasi Malaysia – AIM).

InfraCompass: Helping governments set their infrastructure policies in the right direction

Chris Heathcote's picture

The Global Infrastructure Hub (GI Hub) has launched a new tool to provide a guide for governments to create the best conditions to deliver infrastructure.

The initiative, InfraCompass, pinpoints the leading policies and practices that lead to sustainable and equitable infrastructure through efficient markets, better decision-making, and delivery. The GI Hub analysed 130 infrastructure-related datasets and produced data on infrastructure markets in 49 countries accounting for over 90% of global GDP.
 

InfraCompass online tool
 


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