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Comparative Analysis of AI-Predicted and Crowdsourced Food Prices in an Economically Volatile Region

2024-04-23, Adewopo, Julius, Andrée, Bo Pieter Johannes, Peter, Helen, Solano-Hermosilla, Gloria, Micale, Fabio

High-frequency monitoring of food commodity prices is important for assessing and responding to shocks, especially in fragile contexts where timely and targeted interventions for food security are critical. However, national price surveys are typically limited in temporal and spatial granularity. It is cost prohibitive to implement traditional data collection at frequent timescales to unravel spatiotemporal price evolution across market segments and at subnational geographic levels. Recent advancements in data innovation offer promising solutions to address the paucity of commodity price data and guide market intelligence for diverse development stakeholders. The use of artificial intelligence to estimate missing price data and a parallel effort to crowdsource commodity price data are both unlocking cost-effective opportunities to generate actionable price data. Yet, little is known about how the data from these alternative methods relate to independent ground truth data. To evaluate if these data strategies can meet the long-standing demand for real-time intelligence on food affordability, this paper analyzes open-source daily crowdsourced data (104,931 datapoints) from a recently published data set in Nature Journal, relative to complementary ground truth sample. The paper subsequently compares these data to open-source monthly artificial intelligence–generated price data for identical commodities over a 36-month period in northern Nigeria, from 2019 to 2022. The results show that all the data sources share a high degree of comparability, with variation across commodity and market segments. Overall, the findings provide important support for leveraging these new and innovative data approaches to enable data-driven decision-making in near real time.

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Disruptive Technologies and Finance: An Analysis of Digital Startups in Africa

2024-04-18, Cruz, Marcio, Pereira-Lopez, Mariana, Salgado, Edgar

This paper investigates the relationship between disruptive technologies and access to finance for digital tech firms in Africa. Through textual analysis of data from Crunchbase and Pitchbook, the study explores how firms across different age cohorts incorporate disruptive technologies into their offerings in e-commerce, fintech, and information technology services. The findings reveal three key insights for African digital tech startups. First, African startups are less likely to incorporate disruptive technologies into their offerings compared to other regions, except for mobile payments. Second, incorporating these technologies is associated with more funding, but this link is weaker in Africa than in other regions. These results hold when excluding mobile payments and addressing potential endogeneity using instrumental variables. Third, firms that do incorporate disruptive technologies tend to secure funding earlier, with lower initial amounts, but are more likely to succeed in terms of exit or valuation growth than their peers.

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ID4D Diagnostic in São Tomé e Principe

2024-04-04, World Bank

The World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) Initiative harnesses global and cross sectoral knowledge, World Bank financing instruments, and partnerships to help countries realize the transformational potential of identification (ID) systems, including civil registration (CR). The aim is to enable all people to exercise their rights and access better services and economic opportunities in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. This is especially important as countries transition to digital economies, digital governments, and digital societies, where inclusive and trusted means of verifying identity are essential to ensure accessibility and data protection.

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Using Survey-to-Survey Imputation to Fill Poverty Data Gaps at a Low Cost: Evidence from a Randomized Survey Experiment

2024-03-26, Dang, Hai-Anh, Kilic, Talip, Hlasny, Vladimir, Abanokova, Kseniya, Carletto, Calogero

Survey data on household consumption are often unavailable or incomparable over time in many low- and middle-income countries. Based on a unique randomized survey experiment implemented in Tanzania, this study offers new and rigorous evidence demonstrating that survey-to-survey imputation can fill consumption data gaps and provide low-cost and reliable poverty estimates. Basic imputation models featuring utility expenditures, together with a modest set of predictors on demographics, employment, household assets, and housing, yield accurate predictions. Imputation accuracy is robust to varying the survey questionnaire length, the choice of base surveys for estimating the imputation model, different poverty lines, and alternative (quarterly or monthly) Consumer Price Index deflators. The proposed approach to imputation also performs better than multiple imputation and a range of machine learning techniques. In the case of a target survey with modified (shortened or aggregated) food or non-food consumption modules, imputation models including food or non-food consumption as predictors do well only if the distributions of the predictors are standardized vis-à-vis the base survey. For the best-performing models to reach acceptable levels of accuracy, the minimum required sample size should be 1,000 for both the base and target surveys. The discussion expands on the implications of the findings for the design of future surveys.

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Land Policies for Resilient and Equitable Growth in Africa

2024-04-22, Deininger, Klaus, Goyal, Aparajita

Land institutions and policies will be critical to help African countries respond to the challenges of climate change, urban expansion, structural transformation, and gender equality. Together, they affect urban dwellers’ ability to access productive jobs, live in decent housing, and breathe clean air; farmers’ and women entrepreneurs’ capacity to insure against shocks, increase productivity, and diversify income sources; and governments’ ability to plan, tax property to provide services, and manage public land in a way that provides sustained local benefits by attracting investment, including via climate finance. "Land Policies for Resilient and Equitable Growth in Africa" draws on a wealth of data, examples, and studies from Africa and beyond to show that regulatory and institutional reforms can harness this potential by improving quality, coverage, usefulness, and sustainability of documented land rights. By identifying viable reforms with transformative potential that fully harness digital opportunities, this book provides practical guidance to governments seeking to enhance their land institutions’ performance; to their partners supporting such reform; and to policymakers, land professionals, scholars, and civil society aiming to lay the foundations for Africa to better utilize its economic, human, and ecological potential. "This volume provides an essential reference, based on an impressive review of the literature on land issues in Africa and an exhaustive account of policies and policy experiments aimed to promote the efficient use of this key resource for the development of the continent." — François Bourguignon, Professor Emeritus, Paris School of Economics "Many African governments will find this report highly useful. It is full of little-known successes and practical ways by which they can improve their land policies by harnessing new technologies. Africa’s urban population will rapidly triple: clarifying land rights is an urgent priority in building the successful cities of the future. By 2050, if the inherited policies of the past were retained, today’s youth would be struggling in unliveable mega-slums." — Sir Paul Collier, Professor of Economics & Public Policy, Oxford University "This is an excellent study that combines insights from years of research with practical insights for policy and action on the ground." — Jyotsna Puri, Associate Vice President, Strategy and Knowledge, International Fund for Agricultural Development "Land institutions affect the effective use of land but also the functioning of credit, labor, and product markets. Nowhere are these issues more relevant than in Africa, and this report is important and timely." — Johan Swinnen, Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute "This report illustrates how legal and institutional reforms that capitalize on digital opportunities can strengthen land institutions and policies to optimize land use, enhance people’s rights, narrow gender disparities, and catalyze structural transformation in a manner that aligns with the continent’s distinctive context and serve as a pivotal instrument for social and economic advancement." — Maximo Torero, Chief Economist, Food and Agriculture Organization

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World Bank GovTech Operations in Tunisia: A Digital Transformation Case Study

2024-04-10, World Bank

GovTech is a whole-of-government approach that promotes simple, efficient and transparent government with the citizen at the center of reforms. While earlier e-government programs focused on building IT systems for public administration and moving services online that often remained analog in design, GovTech strategies aim to provide citizen-centric services that are digital by design and coordinated across the government, and it prioritizes two-way interaction with citizens by mainstreaming citizen engagement.

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Digital Conglomerates in East Asia: Navigating Competition Policy Challenges

2024-04-02, World Bank

Competition increases productivity boosting innovation and economic growth. Competition fosters cost reductions, innovation and promotes productivity growth. This paper reviews global and regional trends on conglomeration in digital markets, especially through mergers and acquisitions. In recent years, the landscape of business consolidation has undergone a transformative shift, driven by the convergence of digital innovation and traditional commerce. This paper delves into the intriguing trends surrounding conglomeration in both digital and brick-and-mortar spheres, exploring their implications on a regional and global scale. With diverse models intertwining digital and traditional conglomerates, the strategies employed for consolidation have showcased remarkable diversity. However, at the forefront emerges the prominent strategy of conglomerate mergers, which amalgamate distinct business dimensions under a single corporate umbrella. Thus, this study investigates the readiness of competition authorities and sector-specific regulators to effectively address the intricate challenges posed by such mergers. In this context, policy reforms emerge as a focal point, aimed at bolstering regulatory frameworks to foster fair competition, innovation, and consumer protection in an era of rapid conglomerate digitalization.

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Spillovers in ICT Adoption from Formal to Informal Firms: Evidence from Zambia

2024-04-22, Jolevski, Filip, Nayyar, Gaurav, Pleninger, Regina, Yu, Shu

This paper examines spillovers in the use of digital technologies from formal to informal businesses by exploring differences in geographic proximity. Using a unique set of geocoded data from the 2019 World Bank Enterprise Surveys in Zambia, the findings indicate that closer geographic proximity to formal firms is associated with a significantly higher likelihood of digital adoption by informal businesses. The finding holds for various types of digital technologies, ranging from computers, tablets, and cell phones to mobile money transactions, and is robust to various measures of geographic proximity and model modifications. The results vary by the owner’s level of education and business age. The results also suggest that the spillovers in information and communications technology use can be explained by competition in the local market and learning through enhanced interactions.

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LAC Digital Economy: Country Diagnostics: Jamaica

2024-04-08, World Bank

Jamaica’s progress in digital transformation is paving the way for a foundational change in how the economy and society operate and create value. This report serves as input to guide Jamaica’s digital transformation strategy, in line with the country’s aspirations and its Vision 2030 National Development Plan. The report is based on the World Bank’s Digital Economy Assessment methodology, which analyzes the digital economy across six pillars: digital infrastructure, digital public platforms, digital financial services, digital businesses, digital skills, and trust environment. It examines the current state of Jamaica’s digital ecosystem, including its strengths and weaknesses, and outlines a set of priority actions for the GOJ to accelerate its digital transformation. The report also provides a comprehensive set of recommendations that the GOJ may consider incorporating into its short- and medium-term policy and budget planning cycles to leverage digital technologies across the six pillars outlined above. Although the implementation of some of the recommendations entails new legislation or regulation, many actions can be pursued without legal changes. The report organizes the findings of the six pillars into three main digital economy work streams that have an impact on the overall economy or that can be implemented across different sectors: the digital economy enabling environment, digital public infrastructure and platforms, and digital skills and technology adoption.

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East Asia and the Pacific Economic Update, April 2024: Firm Foundations of Growth

2024-04-01, World Bank

Most economies in developing East Asia and Pacific (EAP) are growing faster than the rest of the world but slower than before the pandemic. Slowing global growth, still tight financial conditions, and an increase in trade protection and industrial support in large and rich countries are key aspects of the external environment shaping the region’s economic performance. Amplified public and private debt, constrained macroeconomic policy, and increased policy uncertainty are the major domestic issues. EAP’s current macroeconomic challenges risk obscuring the microeconomic foundations of longer-term growth. Over the last decade, EAP’s growth has been driven by investment and capital deepening rather than by increased productivity of firms. Now private investment is weak and productivity declining–further inhibiting the incentive to invest. Firms are the protagonists of productivity growth. Some of the weaker firms in EAP countries are beginning to catch up with stronger firms. But the stronger firms in the region are failing to take full advantage of new technologies: regional leaders risk becoming global laggards. Bold policy action to unleash competition, improve infrastructure and reform education with measured state support could revitalize the region’s economy.