Data for Better Lives – World Development Report 2021

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Data for Better Lives – World Development Report 2021

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World Development Report 2021: Data for Better Lives – the first WDR focused solely on the role of data for development – comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the global economy, bringing to the fore global data inequalities. How do we tap the full value of data, ensuring equitable access for poor people? What reforms are needed in data governance to protect individuals, businesses, and societies from harm?

As we chart a course for a resilient recovery, World Bank Group President David MalpassEstonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Microsoft President Brad Smith, and WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will discuss data’s tremendous potential to improve lives.

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Moderator

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  • 00:02 [Raj Kumar]: Well. Welcome, everyone.
  • 00:03 I'm Raj Kumar, the President and  Editor-in-Chief of Devex. Really honored to  
  • 00:08 help moderate this conversation today. This is  always a moment in the calendar when we look to  
  • 00:13 the publication of the World Development Report.  Right? Every year this report comes out of the  
  • 00:17 World Bank Group and it hits on a key issue in  development, probably an issue we talk about, but  
  • 00:22 it brings it to a new level in the conversation  and that's what we're here to do. Today,  
  • 00:26 the topic is data and we've got an incredible  group to help guide this discussion. It would be  
  • 00:33 an insightful conversation with any of the four  of you. We got all four, which is a real treat.
  • 00:37 [Raj Kumar]: I want to welcome President Kersti Kaljulaid,  
  • 00:40 who's the President of Estonia, David Malpass,  of course the President of the World Bank Group,  
  • 00:44 President Brad Smith of Microsoft and Ngozi  Okonjo-Iweala, who is now the Director-General,  
  • 00:50 I don't have to say nominee anymore, the new  Director-General of the World Trade Organization.  
  • 00:55 Fantastic to be with all of you to talk about  this important subject. We've all become armchair  
  • 01:01 epidemiologists during the pandemic, we're quite  used to looking at data and charts. Those of us in  
  • 01:06 journalism, you see our stories now replete with  charts, but this report is telling us something a  
  • 01:12 little bit different. In fact, it's a big idea  around data, which is why it's so important.
  • 01:16 [Raj Kumar]: The idea is this, that  
  • 01:18 we are not taking advantage of the  enormous opportunity that data provides  
  • 01:23 to serve the lowest income countries and  the poorest people. That there is this  
  • 01:28 yawning gap of inequality in the world. We've all  seen it, it's gotten worse during the pandemic  
  • 01:33 and data, both hold some promise and some peril  that there's opportunities here, if we focus on  
  • 01:38 it and think about it in the right way. So, it's  an important report, it's got a really big idea  
  • 01:43 in it and we're going to get into that today  with this group. So I'm excited to do that. I  
  • 01:48 wanted to just start with you David, if we could,  you focus on low and middle income countries,  
  • 01:53 you're looking at this growing gap, this growing  inequality, the heightened extreme poverty and  
  • 01:59 you're thinking about many tools that the bank has  to address it. Where do you see data fitting in?
  • 02:04 [David R. Malpass]: Yeah, thanks Raj and I'm  
  • 02:07 very interested in the views of the others on  the panel. What we've done with this report is,  
  • 02:13 and it's been two years in the making,  it goes through and shows that data is  
  • 02:20 very positive and has huge potential  but then how do we fill in the gap?  
  • 02:25 So, if I can give one aspect of that is the actual  digital systems in developing countries are behind  
  • 02:33 advanced economies. And so, how do you create the  infrastructure that allows more data to be used  
  • 02:40 by the people of the country? That's a very  positive side and a challenge. Then, on the-
  • 02:47 [crosstalk]: I think he's not connecting or something.
  • 02:50 [David R. Malpass]: Another-
  • 02:51 [Raj Kumar]: We got a little crosstalk  
  • 02:53 from somebody who didn't turn off their mic, but  they'll go ahead and do that, you continue, David.
  • 02:57 [David R. Malpass]: Okay. So then, another aspect is to apply data to  
  • 03:04 the immediate challenges. We're trying to do that  with vaccine, with the vaccine effort, that means  
  • 03:11 for example, simply the systems in countries  to keep track of who's been vaccinated. Those  
  • 03:17 are very important because then you can move more  quickly through the population. We're doing that.  
  • 03:22 We were able to do assessments on 100 countries,  developing, many of them very poor countries of  
  • 03:30 what do they need in order to be able to  vaccinate their population when those vaccines  
  • 03:37 become available? One other timely importance  of data is we're in the process of rolling out  
  • 03:47 our climate change action report and one thing  I hope we can do this morning is talk about  
  • 03:54 what actions would be most useful for various  countries in terms of expanding their data?
  • 04:00 [David R. Malpass]: With regard to climate then one of the key things  
  • 04:04 is to prioritize efforts so that they have the  most impact. In order to do that, you have to have  
  • 04:10 a lot of data about what emits carbon, what are  the ways to slow that down or reverse it? I know  
  • 04:21 Microsoft's been very involved in that effort.  Those are some of the things that we're looking  
  • 04:26 at and the report gives this important baseline  for people to study or to read as far as both the  
  • 04:39 very positive story of data, of big data, of  small data, of useful data for farmers. Then,  
  • 04:47 also some of the challenges or the drawbacks or  the dangers that are inherent in these areas.
  • 04:54 [Raj Kumar]: Yeah, we're going to get into all of that. For  
  • 04:56 those who are following along, the report is out,  it just came out 30 minutes ago. You can follow on  
  • 05:02 Twitter, #WDR2021. Tell us what you think of this  conversation. We're also getting questions in the  
  • 05:08 chat that we'll try to integrate as we go through.  President Kaljulaid, maybe we can just start with  
  • 05:12 this focus on the pandemic. Right? We've all  started to see data in a new light due to it.  
  • 05:18 Your country and you personally are known  for digitization, for thinking about  
  • 05:23 data as a key tool in governance,  in public policy, decision making.  
  • 05:27 Has anything shifted for you due to this pandemic?  Have you had a new realization about how to use  
  • 05:31 data or do you think we're in a different place in  policy making, in governance due to the pandemic?
  • 05:37 [Kersti Kaljulaid]: Well, not really. Two things had to  
  • 05:42 change immediately when the pandemic started.  First thing was that previously in Estonia,  
  • 05:47 you had to go to a doctor when you fell sick and  then the doctor started in your eHealth file,  
  • 05:52 your sick leave. The first weeks of  pandemic, we realized that much safer  
  • 05:57 is to allow people themselves to start their  sick leave in eHealth. Their doctor gets informed  
  • 06:03 and then gets in phone or Zoom or whichever  media contact with the patient and then  
  • 06:10 the service delivery goes from there. So, we  avoided people going to the doctor's offices to be  
  • 06:16 infected by others who are there while not knowing  they might be Corona positive. One example.
  • 06:22 [Kersti Kaljulaid]: Second example.  
  • 06:25 Well, nowadays in Estonia, you might be in  the group who has the right to be vaccinated,  
  • 06:30 not everybody does. You have to be above  the age of 60 or work in frontline job.  
  • 06:37 If you have the right to be vaccinated, your  eHealth system flashes a red button for you.  
  • 06:43 You click on this red button and then you can  match your right to be vaccinated with the space  
  • 06:49 and the time to get the shot. Just two examples.  But of course, you cannot create such a system  
  • 06:56 when pandemic starts. I mean, all Estonians,  a whole generation already because it's  
  • 07:01 20-years-old system what we use here. Nothing  to do with big data shift frankly speaking,  
  • 07:05 it's a KSI or a keyless signature infrastructure,  something similar to how Bitcoin is run. Safe,  
  • 07:12 secure, digital identity timestamp. So this is  not database system, which Estonia is running.
  • 07:18 [Kersti Kaljulaid]: Of course, a lot of data is created and a  
  • 07:21 lot of this data safe, the regulation here is in  place, this regulation created 10 years earlier  
  • 07:26 than European Union did. But the basic service is  not shifting data for the benefits of the people  
  • 07:32 but allowing people to use the e-Government  services without going to the offices.  
  • 07:38 Frankly speaking, my daughter who has three  children, cannot imagine she would have to  
  • 07:43 go to anywhere to register the name for the  baby, ridiculous idea for her. She's 32 now.
  • 07:51 [Raj Kumar]: Yeah, I've been in  
  • 07:53 countries where you see the mothers, new mothers  holding their newborn babies in line at a notary  
  • 07:59 to register births. In fact, David talked about  the huge gaps. One point that the report makes is  
  • 08:05 that there's not a single low income country  that has a complete vital statistics system.
  • 08:11 [Kersti Kaljulaid]: I'm sorry. I mean,  
  • 08:12 that really scratched my ear  when you get talking about  
  • 08:17 low income, middle income, high income and having  different digitalized systems. Yes, it's true.  
  • 08:24 Rich countries, quite a lot run dual systems  that are lots and lots of government offices,  
  • 08:29 lots and lots of obligations to go these offices  and somewhere in the background, the eSystems  
  • 08:34 which help the clouds to deal with people turning  to the offices. I don't know of any high income  
  • 08:41 country where a citizen has a single one-stop  self-service shop for all government services.
  • 08:50 [Kersti Kaljulaid]: I know only one lower level high  
  • 08:53 income but at the low end and this is Estonia.  I know another, which is pretty close and this  
  • 08:59 is Portugal. I know a third one, which has really  good eServices, which is high income but doesn't  
  • 09:05 have ethos compatible digital ID. This is Denmark.  This is an encouragement for middle income and low  
  • 09:12 income countries. You don't have to be terribly  rich, you don't have to be terribly expensive  
  • 09:17 data exchange systems, most of Estonian  e-Government system is ready to run on 3G.  
  • 09:23 As I said, it only uses keyless signature  infrastructure. It's 20 years old technology, free  
  • 09:29 by the way to be used. So, this is a myth that you  need really a lot of money to develop eServices.  
  • 09:38 It's not simply true and developed nations  simply cannot boast that they have really  
  • 09:44 advanced e-Government systems. They have lot  of legacy systems. That's what they have.
  • 09:48 [Raj Kumar]: That's a fair point. I want to bring you  
  • 09:51 into this, Ngozi and get your take on where we are  in general in the discussion. You're thinking of  
  • 09:55 the WTO about trade but of course, the economy of  the future, and of today, really and the massive  
  • 10:02 inequality we see is reflected in the digital  economy and in the data and the lack of access to  
  • 10:08 it or the way it's held or transferred. How do you  see this issue of data from your new perch at WTO?
  • 10:14 [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala]: Well, thank you so much,  
  • 10:17 Raj. I mean, I think I want to really  congratulate David and the bank for this  
  • 10:23 WDR because I think it's exciting. It  shows a lot of potential for what data  
  • 10:29 can do and I completely agree that part of  the key for inclusion, for fighting poverty  
  • 10:37 lies in how we use data and how we can use  data responsibly, to change people's lives.  
  • 10:45 From the trade perspective, just looking at one  aspect, you mentioned digital services and digital  
  • 10:53 trade where we have the eCommerce negotiations  that are ongoing now among members.
  • 11:00 [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala]: Admittedly, they are plurilateral  
  • 11:03 negotiations, not all members around the table  yet, but a good number of developing countries  
  • 11:10 among the 80 or so, who are participating in these  negotiations. But there are also many who are not.  
  • 11:16 Now what the negotiations are trying to do  is to recognize the explosion of the digital  
  • 11:22 economy and the importance of eCommerce, which  has really shown itself during this pandemic and  
  • 11:28 the realization that many developing countries  can benefit from this, that micro, medium and  
  • 11:36 small enterprises can have platforms that can  help them reach others and sell on the internet.
  • 11:44 [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala]: All of these, women in particular,  
  • 11:47 you're talking of women in trade. This is  also a platform, but we don't have rules  
  • 11:52 and standards that govern the eCommerce.  To make sure we have a level playing field,  
  • 11:58 we need these rules. That is why the negotiations  are ongoing, trying to put in place standards,  
  • 12:04 that can govern the use of  data, trade data in this case.
  • 12:08 [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala]: We don't have those standards. There's  
  • 12:10 a lot of fear. We have massive cross-border  data flows, but many developing countries don't  
  • 12:17 have the regulatory capacity to manage this. So  committing to these negotiations without knowing  
  • 12:24 what it will mean in future is difficult. So lots  of data, but how to manage it, how to govern it  
  • 12:32 within the trades. Yeah. That's what  we are struggling with, right now.
  • 12:35 [Raj Kumar]: Brad, you've been very outspoken on  
  • 12:37 exactly this topic. I remember when GDPR came out  and you announced Microsoft was going to use it as  
  • 12:42 a standard globally. You've talked a lot about the  legal frameworks, regulatory frameworks. I guess,  
  • 12:48 I wonder what your feedback is on Ngozi's point  here. Is it that the technology and the amount of  
  • 12:54 data being generated is just moving too fast for  countries, unlike Estonia, perhaps to catch up and  
  • 13:01 to stay on top of this, or what do you think is  actually needed to do what this report is asking  
  • 13:06 us to grapple with and take the data that's  out there and make it actually serve people?
  • 13:10 [Brad Smith]: Well, it's a great question and  
  • 13:12 I would say a few things. Number one, I think that  the report is so well timed. It's so important and  
  • 13:17 I think we should all recognize that it doesn't  matter in what area you work. If you are working  
  • 13:24 on an important problem, data is really the new  and indispensable tool to help you address it.  
  • 13:30 We're working with governments around the  world on very concrete issues like COVID  
  • 13:36 and carbon and corruption and data really is what  can make the difference in advancing our efforts.
  • 13:44 [Brad Smith]: The second thing I would say is it  
  • 13:46 actually starts, I think, with a very practical  aspect. You can really put data to work only if  
  • 13:53 people are measuring the same thing the same way.  Otherwise, it actually just creates confusion.  
  • 14:00 A year ago, one of the big questions around  the world, it still is a big question today,  
  • 14:06 is what was the hospital capacity? How many  intensive care unit beds were available in that  
  • 14:12 hospital? How many of them were occupied?  How many of them were occupied by COVID  
  • 14:16 patients? You needed to know that on a regional or  national basis, to manage the healthcare system.  
  • 14:23 But until every hospital was measuring the  same thing, the same way, you couldn't tell.
  • 14:29 [Brad Smith]: You need data systems that  
  • 14:31 capture that and then reported very quickly.  That's where the digital tech comes into play.  
  • 14:38 Then you need to make it easy for people to  understand. This is where data visualization  
  • 14:43 is such a game changer. We're all so used  today to seeing different graphs that show  
  • 14:48 us whether COVID rates are going up or down,  or how quickly are vaccinations going up? So  
  • 14:54 you just take those ingredients and then I  think you just recognize one other thing.  
  • 15:00 Unlike most of the economic assets  in the world, data is non-rival risk.
  • 15:05 [Brad Smith]: Meaning I can use it,  
  • 15:07 you can use it. We need to have safeguards  in place and this is where your reference to  
  • 15:11 regulation is so important. We need safeguards  in place to determine who gets to control  
  • 15:17 it and how we protect privacy and security in  it. But the good news is, humanity is probably  
  • 15:24 better at creating data faster than almost  anything else. There will be more and more  
  • 15:30 data and we can help every country, I think,  figure out how to put it to better work.
  • 15:35 [Raj Kumar]: 
  • 15:37 Yeah. There's in fact, a section in the  report that gets into exactly that point,  
  • 15:40 the opportunity to reuse data and the idea that  it's not so clear, you can't just say, "Well,  
  • 15:46 this person owns it or this government owns it."  You need to think about data in a more nuanced  
  • 15:50 light. It is complex as an issue, and maybe  it gets to a point in the report that perhaps  
  • 15:55 all of you want to comment on. The report talks  about data as a double-edged sword, right? That  
  • 16:00 it has all this fantastic potential, but because  of the downside risks and the lack of trust, and  
  • 16:06 there's a tremendous lack of trust of institutions  and groups that have access to and control data,  
  • 16:12 that there's a challenge in threading  this and getting to a productive future  
  • 16:17 for governments, for digital services for  e-Government. I wonder, maybe I can just  
  • 16:20 start with you David, to chime in here, on  this point of data as a double-edged sword  
  • 16:26 and how you think about the opportunity,  but how do we bridge this gap of trust?
  • 16:30 [David R. Malpass]: Right. Thanks. It clearly is  
  • 16:35 a double-edged sword and like many things,  if you MIS misuse them, they're going to  
  • 16:40 cause some harm and if you use them well, it's  going to be very advantageous. I guess my thought  
  • 16:48 has been that if there's a regulatory structure  within a country, that allows the expansion of the  
  • 16:58 digital systems, of the data systems and gives  and thinks through in the country's own norms,  
  • 17:06 what's a reasonable way to proceed? We see the  differences, obviously between Europe, the US,  
  • 17:12 China, and in how they think about data privacy.  Well, that's true across the developing world.
  • 17:20 [David R. Malpass]: 
  • 17:21 I think the A way that we can proceed  is for countries to recognize the  
  • 17:28 value, and then have a lot of transparency in what  their rules are. So that the regulatory framework  
  • 17:38 is not arbitrary, and that will allow some of the  expansion. One other thing I'll mention that's  
  • 17:46 related is the avoidance of monopolies or the  allowance of innovation in a rather rapid way.  
  • 17:56 It's really important, I think for developing  countries to allow that change and that's  
  • 18:02 very true in the post... If we can get to a  post-COVID world, I expect it to be very different  
  • 18:08 in the pre-COVID world in terms of the services  that people want that and need. So it's all the  
  • 18:16 more important to have that both transparency  and a regulatory framework that will work.
  • 18:21 [Raj Kumar]: President Kaljulaid,  
  • 18:22 you were talking about your experience  in Estonia and how it may be relevant  
  • 18:25 to countries regardless of their income level. I  wonder what your experience is on this particular  
  • 18:30 point about trust, right? Where people are now,  they're using a digital identification. They're  
  • 18:34 connecting with government. Digitally, data is  being transferred and held. How do you ensure  
  • 18:38 people feel trust in that system? They don't think  it's abused. How should we think about that issue?
  • 18:44 [Kersti Kaljulaid]: By creating  
  • 18:47 permissive legal space for technologies to  thrive, but at the same time, giving people  
  • 18:51 the guarantee that data is not misused. You said,  to begin with that data is a double-edged sword,  
  • 18:59 but frankly speaking, I don't know anything  humankind has created starting from firearm  
  • 19:06 demand, which isn't. Everything is. I mean,  everything has a positive and a negative use.
  • 19:11 [Kersti Kaljulaid]: The difference here is that previously we  
  • 19:14 had the time and space because the technological  development was relatively slow, which meant that  
  • 19:21 our norms be the illegal or just customs could  develop in the same rhythm. I mean, we had 100  
  • 19:27 years to create traffic code before we got the  highways. Didn't we? Nowadays, what we have is  
  • 19:33 that technological development is faster than  of course our natural norm creation as a society  
  • 19:40 and even faster than our legal cycles, our tech  cycles are shorter than legal cycles. Which means  
  • 19:46 that we simply don't have time to create national  and international law for the current technology.
  • 19:53 [Kersti Kaljulaid]: It's always slower. The  
  • 19:54 technology will be already, I mean, on another  planet when we reach this. For some reason, we  
  • 20:02 mishandle this badly. We try to regulate  even stronger, the pathways, the processes,  
  • 20:09 rather than objectives. AI give you a very simple  example, grounded deeply in analog technologies.  
  • 20:16 Previously, we all said that our doctors  need to keep our private files safe.  
  • 20:23 Nowadays, when we regulate technology, we try not  to say, "File has to be kept safe." We try to say,  
  • 20:30 "It has to be kept in a windows room with screen  door in a cupboard with this type of lock."  
  • 20:38 See the difference. We are going in a intuitive  way, but it's totally wrong. What we need to do  
  • 20:45 is we need to regulate sector neutrally and  current technology neutrally for the future,  
  • 20:52 the objectives and outcomes, which means we need  to regulate who has the right to gather data?  
  • 20:58 Who has the right to handle data? And  how data is not only used in an well,  
  • 21:04 analyzed way, for example, but also how it  is disposed of and lead technology creators  
  • 21:11 and apply us, to demonstrate us that  they do apply these kind of standards.
  • 21:16 [Kersti Kaljulaid]: In Estonia, for example,  
  • 21:18 the government has set itself a standard that it  only asks citizens for any kind of data once. It's  
  • 21:27 called once only principle, if you have been given  this information by a person once, this is my  
  • 21:33 address, this is where I live. This is with whom  I live. The government cannot ask second time.  
  • 21:38 It has to be able if a citizen consents to find  this in its files, and we don't have one big file.  
  • 21:46 We have actually quite separated the proportions  of data in all the data files in the government.
  • 21:51 [Kersti Kaljulaid]: Second promise which government made was,  
  • 21:54 it's only each and every citizen who can  aggregate all the data, which concerns this  
  • 22:00 particular citizen. Nobody else can. Third, every  time somebody has looked at somebody's data in the  
  • 22:09 government's files, there is a concrete, digital  fingerprint of a person, not an entity. It's  
  • 22:15 not like police check my files. It's a concrete  police officer or [inaudible 00:22:20] officer,  
  • 22:20 and I have the right to query. If the answer  doesn't satisfy me, I will complain and the state  
  • 22:27 takes this person who was not nosing in my  file to the court. Now, all these principles  
  • 22:32 have applied for 20 years in Estonia and digital  ecosystem. Nevermind, which kind of technology  
  • 22:39 underlies this system. It's tech-neutral,  it's sector-neutral, it's general. It's easy  
  • 22:44 to understand for the people and therefore, easy  to verify. This is how we have created the trust.
  • 22:51 [Raj Kumar]: Brad, your book  
  • 22:53 makes the exact same point. It's titled Tools  and Weapons. The idea that technology can  
  • 22:58 be a good thing and a bad thing  as the president describes.  
  • 23:02 She's talking about the need for principles, as  opposed to very detailed regulatory frameworks,  
  • 23:07 to start at that framework level, not to say  precise what you do. I guess what the report  
  • 23:11 is getting at too, though, is that there are  more opportunity... If we can look at data,  
  • 23:15 not as just something to be controlled, but look  at it, the opportunity to improve lives. Take the  
  • 23:22 medical example, your medical records example, the  metadata there. Might actually be very valuable.
  • 23:27 [Raj Kumar]: If you can ensure  
  • 23:28 it's anonymized. If you can, not violate the  people's privacy, there may be a lot of benefit.  
  • 23:32 I guess, I wonder how you see this balance in the  double-edged sword frame here. Are we too much on  
  • 23:38 the over-regulating details or are we moving in  the right direction or is it a open playing field  
  • 23:45 and a race to the bottom where companies who  don't subscribe to these kinds of principles,  
  • 23:49 look for the loopholes and do what they want  while there isn't a strong regulatory system?
  • 23:54 [Brad Smith]: Well, I think right now,  
  • 23:55 it's still early days. I do think as everyone  is capturing, we have to start by agreeing on  
  • 24:01 the problems that we want regulation to solve  and I think the word trust is very apt. We need  
  • 24:08 to protect people's privacy. We need to protect  the data security so it's not breached or stolen.  
  • 24:15 I think we do need to ensure that there's  competition and that this doesn't add to market  
  • 24:22 domination by a small number of companies. I  think we need to ensure that it serves the purpose  
  • 24:29 that governments are seeking to advance and  that is in this context, economic development,  
  • 24:35 the sustainability of the planet, broad-based  public health and the like. I do think having  
  • 24:41 a set of straightforward principles is  key. I think it's such a good, a point.
  • 24:45 [Brad Smith]: What we really need is  
  • 24:48 something that is technology-neutral, so that  as the technology changes, we don't find that  
  • 24:54 the regulation has unintended consequences. Then  we can let people go to work. I will say though,  
  • 25:01 the other thing that I think is worth keeping in  mind is every country in so many ways has an equal  
  • 25:07 opportunity to create data. This isn't like  looking for oil or some other raw material  
  • 25:15 that human history would guide us towards. The  truth is there's really only two things that  
  • 25:22 over the next 20 years will probably determine  how much data a country creates. The first will  
  • 25:27 be the size of its population and the second  will be the number of digital devices it has.
  • 25:34 [Brad Smith]: These don't need to be  
  • 25:35 the world's biggest digital devices. Although you  do need some data centers to put this data to use.  
  • 25:40 But fundamentally it's phones.  It's going to be billions of very  
  • 25:45 small devices through the internet of  things. The truth is 20 years from now,  
  • 25:51 Africa should probably be the continent that is  creating some of the largest amounts of data in  
  • 25:57 the world. And then the key will be to ensure  that it not only serves economic development,  
  • 26:03 but the broader public good. I will say, this is  the last aspect where international collaboration  
  • 26:10 and regulation and an organization like the  WTO and the World Bank becomes so important.
  • 26:16 [Brad Smith]: Yeah. I just think it's  
  • 26:19 probably not realistic to think that there's going  to be 50 huge data centers in every country in  
  • 26:25 Africa. You're going to need to move some across  borders so that it can be used in a broader way.  
  • 26:33 But governments are only going to be comfortable  with that, if there is some kind of international  
  • 26:38 legal framework in place. The faster we do  get to some shared understanding of that,  
  • 26:45 I think the faster we'll see the creation and use  of data accelerate to serve economic development.
  • 26:51 [Raj Kumar]: 
  • 26:52 Yeah. And I guess I wonder for you and Ngozi,  to what extent do you feel like lower income  
  • 26:56 countries are part of this? Are engaged in this  discussion today? You're actively negotiating,  
  • 27:02 actively looking at trade agreements.  Are Brad's points being reflected in  
  • 27:07 the current negotiations, ongoing? Are you hearing  it from presidents of low income countries that  
  • 27:11 they want to think about the future of digital  businesses, data centers, other related issues?
  • 27:17 [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala]: Well, thank you, Raj. I,  
  • 27:20 I think building on both what Brad said,  and President Kersti of Estonia said,  
  • 27:28 two or three points. We just have to recognize  that for many countries, this discussion  
  • 27:37 sometimes about data and digitization may seem  esoteric because the basics of what it needs,  
  • 27:45 the countries need to participate and generate  data, make use of it is sometimes missing. This is  
  • 27:52 why many countries talk about the digital divide.  The shear lack of infrastructure, sometimes  
  • 27:59 impedes countries from participating  in these discussions that they should.  
  • 28:04 The President of Estonia was saying you don't  have to be rich to be able to have e-Government  
  • 28:10 and participate. That's true to some extent,  once you have the basic infrastructure in. But  
  • 28:16 for many countries laying this infrastructure  is very expensive, so we need to think about  
  • 28:21 that. How do we get countries to participate when  they don't even have the access to the internet.
  • 28:28 [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala]: You look at the numbers, okay, our young  
  • 28:30 people on the continent, about 43% of them have  access. But overall population, 15%. So you can't  
  • 28:37 even begin to talk of people really participating  when they don't have that. This is something we  
  • 28:44 need to really focus on, that digital divide. If  we don't solve it, instead of data being a good,  
  • 28:51 we are going to have more inequality, which  poor up countries and people are left out.  
  • 28:57 The second thing is trust. If people feel the  data works for them, then they will be willing  
  • 29:05 to participate in sharing their own data. To the  extent we've seen people see their data being used  
  • 29:12 to give them access to services, conditional cash  transfers, access to other government services,  
  • 29:20 using it to get them access to education and  health, vaccination for their children, et cetera.
  • 29:26 [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala]: People are less mistrustful and more willing  
  • 29:29 to engage. So I think, it's one thing as the  report says to have data, is another to extract  
  • 29:36 value from that data. The fact that many low  income countries don't have the capacity yet to  
  • 29:43 extract that value makes them leery of engaging  in discussions on data governance. I think this  
  • 29:50 is one issue we really have to tackle head on,  how do we bridge this digital divide and how-
  • 29:59 [Raj Kumar]: Ngozi, Brad talked about the amount of data  
  • 30:01 is determined by the size of the population and  the number of digital devices and your point is,  
  • 30:06 for many of these countries, the number of digital  devices, the number of connected devices is very  
  • 30:10 small and this gets into a theme we wanted to  get into, today. We're getting some questions  
  • 30:14 about it. That is, we've seen in  the pandemic at the very beginning,  
  • 30:18 there was this idea that this was the great  equalizer. Everyone is affected by COVID, but  
  • 30:24 we realize quickly it's actually a very unequal  situation and it's exacerbating that inequality.  
  • 30:30 Is data the same thing? Are we going to basically  see, that advanced economies, wealthier people  
  • 30:36 have many devices, they're much more connected.  They're moving to 5G. They're moving to AI.  
  • 30:41 While many others really are still using  a feature phone or not connected at all.
  • 30:45 [Raj Kumar]: Is the divide  
  • 30:46 going to get worse before it gets much  better? I pose that to you and to everyone,  
  • 30:50 as we start to get toward the end  of the conversation and think about  
  • 30:53 what is this new social contract like? What  is required of all of us to avoid that future?
  • 31:01 [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala]: Well, I really think that,  
  • 31:03 that's the issue. If we don't make the effort  to include countries that are left behind  
  • 31:13 in terms of this access to digital infrastructure,  then we're going to have increasing inequality.  
  • 31:22 They will have, less access to these devices,  less ability to participate, less desire to engage  
  • 31:29 in global discussions on governance. So we have  to bear that in mind and that means that a large  
  • 31:36 part of the population is left out. Can this be  solved? Yes, absolutely. That's why I say that for  
  • 31:42 an organization like the WTO, my interest is  in partnering with David at the World Bank,  
  • 31:48 partnering with the regional development banks to  make sure this infrastructure is provided, one,  
  • 31:54 to those countries that don't have it. Two,  we build capacity for regulatory frameworks.  
  • 31:59 If we do all of this, then instead  of having increasing inequality,  
  • 32:03 we will bring closer together those low  income countries that are logging behind.  
  • 32:08 That's the point I really would like to make.  The world has to pay attention to this because  
  • 32:14 a world in which we have inequality of  access and use of data is not a good world.
  • 32:19 [Raj Kumar]: Go ahead, Brad.
  • 32:22 [Brad Smith]: One thing I would add to that is  
  • 32:25 obviously the digital divide is  very pronounced in the world today.  
  • 32:30 I think one of the big questions for the next  decade is will this get better or will this get  
  • 32:35 worse? It will go in one direction or the other.  If you look at the history of technology and how  
  • 32:41 quickly it reaches places that are underserved, I  think one thing to always look at, is whether the  
  • 32:48 technology that's used to move something, whether  it's electricity or data or anything else,  
  • 32:54 ask whether it's done on a wire or can be done  wirelessly. Anything that can be done wirelessly  
  • 33:01 is the game changer. It is cheaper and it can  leapfrog your wired technology. Electricity  
  • 33:08 cannot be delivered wirelessly, but most  of what we're talking about today can.  
  • 33:14 What that means in the first in is in addition  to continuing to build out undersea cables,  
  • 33:19 that's the wired portion, look to Low  Earth Orbiting satellites. They will  
  • 33:24 be one of the defining technologies of this  decade and they can reach the entire planet.
  • 33:29 [Brad Smith]: Second, I think,  
  • 33:30 especially for a lower income countries, you  don't need to reach every building or every home  
  • 33:38 through a fiber optic cable under the  ground. You'll want that in your urban  
  • 33:42 areas, it will be critical, but use spectrum,  use wireless spectrum. When I look for example  
  • 33:49 around the world, and I see who is using say TV  white spaces, which is effective for broadband,  
  • 33:55 the countries that are really at the forefront are  countries like Kenya or Nigeria or Columbia, where  
  • 34:02 there is an interest in putting unused spectrum  and leapfrogging some of the other countries  
  • 34:10 where you have more legacy providers fighting over  that spectrum that has made it scarcer. Of course,  
  • 34:16 in addition to reaching people through broadband,  we need each them with two other things as well.
  • 34:22 [Brad Smith]: One is devices.  
  • 34:24 So we have to keep figuring out for us,  in our industry, how do we make them  
  • 34:28 cheaper? How do we make them more available?  Then the last thing is skills. Yeah, it's not  
  • 34:35 enough just to equip people with the device and  a connection to the internet. This is where the  
  • 34:40 development banks, the world bank and all of the  other development banks, I think are going to  
  • 34:45 need to be at the forefront in expanding digital  skilling programs in partnership with governments.
  • 34:51 [Raj Kumar]: Maybe I could just bring David in,  
  • 34:53 on this one point about, you're talking about the  cost of devices and they have to come down Brad.  
  • 34:59 There's a data point in the, in the reports saying  for the 20% of the world's poorest households,  
  • 35:05 the cost of an entry level smartphone  today is 80% of monthly income, right? So,  
  • 35:11 what David is doing at the World Bank focusing on  the 800,000,000 or so people at the very bottom,  
  • 35:16 the people living on less than a dollar, 90 a day,  
  • 35:18 how do we ensure David, they aren't  left out of this digital revolution?
  • 35:22 [Brad Smith]: Thanks, Raj. We can think of it as,  
  • 35:28 I think there is a digital divide. So if we focus  a lot on that, we're going to maybe come up with  
  • 35:35 solutions that aren't optimizing for the  people. The biggest value for people are often,  
  • 35:42 maybe it's not the smartphone, it's any kind of  digital data that has financial information on it.  
  • 35:49 As we've seen in Kenya, a good measure of  the success of the system is the number of  
  • 35:57 transactions that occur and what the cost per  transaction is. So if you can have a billion  
  • 36:03 transactions at a small fraction of ascent,  you're probably providing huge value in gains  
  • 36:10 for people that are very low, on the income scale.  That's what's going on in quite a few countries.  
  • 36:17 I think the things Brad said made sense, as  far as choosing where you can use the spectrum.  
  • 36:28 That's important and the regulatory  structure, I think for countries to do that,  
  • 36:33 I want to note, monopoly power is  problematic for some of the countries.
  • 36:39 [Brad Smith]: For example, in west Africa,  
  • 36:41 there's, there's a pretty tight monopoly on  the fiber optic cable itself. That creates  
  • 36:48 limitation. I think having an environment that  allows competition and innovation is going to  
  • 36:58 be important. I wanted to mention, in addition  to, or I think as we define financial inclusion,  
  • 37:08 we should be doing that, not so much in terms of  a bank account anymore, but in terms of access to  
  • 37:14 really low cost transactions. If your income  per day is five dollars per day, you can't  
  • 37:21 afford a transaction that's 10 cents. You need a  transaction that's cheaper, and you need a lot of  
  • 37:28 them in order to survive, in order to innovate  and have children learn the systems. I think we  
  • 37:37 should focus some on the actual infrastructure  and those parts of the developing world that  
  • 37:43 haven't allowed, or are not moving forward in  terms of low cost transactions. I'll mention that.
  • 37:51 [Raj Kumar]: Yeah. I appreciate David, you  
  • 37:53 expanding the conversation around data, because  obviously we often will go directly to things like  
  • 37:58 digital data that are you produced on devices,  but as you say, it really touches everything,  
  • 38:02 including financial data. So we're getting  to the end of the conversation and I wanted  
  • 38:05 to try to leave people with an action point,  right? With something that we can actually do,  
  • 38:11 given what this report is calling all of us  to do. The question I want to ask everyone is  
  • 38:16 what is the most important contribution  data can make to improve people's lives,  
  • 38:21 and what more need do we need to do to get there?  Maybe we can start with you, President Kaljulaid,  
  • 38:26 I'd love to get everyone's take  on this. What's the one thing,  
  • 38:29 the most important contribution data  can make to improve people's lives?
  • 38:32 [Kersti Kaljulaid]: Well, the way we started here in Estonia  
  • 38:39 was to declare access to internet a human right?  Of course, we didn't write it in the law, exactly,  
  • 38:44 but this is how we acted. I would re really like  to relate to something which was said before. It  
  • 38:50 was said before that, I mean data and digital  accesses, I mean, have their costs and digital  
  • 38:57 services have their costs to be delivered.  But frankly speaking, let's take an analogy  
  • 39:03 from the paperwork world. If you have an universal  or means-tested child support in any country,  
  • 39:10 then delivering it by internet applications  and I mean, simple transactions,  
  • 39:15 which can be more or less automatized from state  budget to people while bank accounts or cell phone  
  • 39:20 accounts, I don't mind, is definitely cheaper than  having a paper-based, office-based development.
  • 39:27 [Kersti Kaljulaid]: Which means that, I mean,  
  • 39:28 if you didn't have means to do these services  before you are not going to have them today,  
  • 39:33 neither, simply because you have technology. But  technology makes it inherently easier and cheaper  
  • 39:40 to deliver for people. But inclusivity doesn't  happen all by itself. 20 years ago in Estonia,  
  • 39:47 if you think everybody had even a fixed line  phone at home, you're wrong. But what we did was  
  • 39:52 we declared internet a human right  and if you had a school or a library,  
  • 39:58 you had an internet access point through which  you could use government eServices. So everything  
  • 40:04 starts with making your legislation to withdraw  everybody in. That's the most important thing.  
  • 40:11 If you want to achieve inclusivity, you have  to act political, you have to act regulatory  
  • 40:18 way. You cannot just sit back and wait this to  happen. It cannot be delivered in any other way.
  • 40:24 [Kersti Kaljulaid]: The last moment is that we very often  
  • 40:27 think that governments don't matter. Governments  do matter. The digital transformation in Estonia  
  • 40:33 only happened because government and private  sector created the digital identity for each and  
  • 40:38 everybody together. We have loads of countries who  have lots and lots of digital private services,  
  • 40:44 but what is missing link is exactly this  government is not in this digital space.  
  • 40:49 It's not present. That makes the digital space  wild, unsafe and anonymous. You have to drive  
  • 40:57 anonymity from this space. So inclusivity and  lack of anonymity, my two suggestions. Thank you.
  • 41:02 [Raj Kumar]: Thank you very much for that,  
  • 41:04 President Kaljulaid, maybe Brad, we can go  to you for your final thought here. What  
  • 41:07 is that one most important contribution  data can make to improve people's lives?
  • 41:11 [Brad Smith]: Well, I'll just pick  
  • 41:13 one practical issue that I think is the issue  of our time and that's climate and carbon.  
  • 41:20 Data is going to be indispensable to the  world's efforts to reduce carbon emissions  
  • 41:27 and we cannot possibly reduce carbon emissions,  unless we all have a standardized approach to  
  • 41:34 measure it, to monitor it, to just  know how much progress we're making.  
  • 41:39 I do think a point you made earlier is important.  People can look at this and say, "Well, this data  
  • 41:45 thing. What are we talking about? It feels very  esoteric." I put it in a different context.  
  • 41:51 Doesn't matter how old or young you are or where  you live. We all pretty much start every morning  
  • 41:56 doing one thing everywhere. We look at the weather  forecast. We ask ourselves, what's the temperature  
  • 42:03 going to be today? Now the good news is there's  only two ways in the world to measure temperature.
  • 42:09 [Brad Smith]: It's called Fahrenheit  
  • 42:10 or Centigrade, but at least there's only two  and we can go back and forth between them.  
  • 42:15 We have these tools that are everywhere on the  planet. It's called a thermometer. It tells  
  • 42:20 us what the temperature is. We have people who  then accumulate all of that data from the past,  
  • 42:26 and they predict what the temperature's  going to be this afternoon. Just think about  
  • 42:31 that when you get up in the morning and think  about the problem that you want to go to work  
  • 42:36 to solve. In this case, I'll say it's reducing  carbon. It could be reducing COVID. It could be  
  • 42:42 reducing corruption. It doesn't matter what  it is. That same analytical framework that  
  • 42:48 you use to think about the temperature is the  analytical framework that you can put to work,  
  • 42:54 to solve whatever problem you need to address  when you start doing your job in the day.
  • 42:59 [Raj Kumar]: 
  • 43:00 That's a great way to look at it, Brad.  It makes me think, I wonder how many of us  
  • 43:04 look at our phone to see the temperature before  we even look out the window in the morning  
  • 43:07 to see what's happening. Ngozi, maybe I  can turn to you for your thought here.  
  • 43:12 What is that one most important contribution,  data can provide to improve people's lives?
  • 43:16 [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala]: I think that if data can give, and  
  • 43:20 I'm talking very much from the point of view of  people in poorer countries, data that gives people  
  • 43:26 access to services, that can make a difference  in their lives and I'm talking of education,  
  • 43:34 of health. That is what is important. That's what  I think will make people trust the system and  
  • 43:44 participate in it. For me, getting value out of  data for people such that they can feel included,  
  • 43:55 as part of the economy, I think that is very...  That's perhaps the best that one can can hope for.
  • 44:03 [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala]: How can it help  
  • 44:05 make education more accessible for girls  and for boys, particularly those in rural  
  • 44:12 areas. How can we use GPS data to  track where they are and find them,  
  • 44:17 or those who are in urban slums who have forgotten  that GPS data that gets to them, finds them,  
  • 44:24 and they can get access to these services. How  can we get women access to the internet so that  
  • 44:32 they can improve the economic wellbeing and that  of their family. So every bit of data that can  
  • 44:38 give access to services to improve people's  lives, that's what I think my wish would be.
  • 44:45 [Raj Kumar]: Thank you so much  
  • 44:46 for that Ngozi, and David, maybe  we give you the last word here.  
  • 44:49 What is that important contribution  from your perch at the world bank?
  • 44:52 [David R. Malpass]: Thanks, Raj. And thanks everybody on the... It's  
  • 44:57 really interesting discussion. I don't know  if I have one thing Raj, I want to give three.  
  • 45:02 One is access as Ngozi was saying. One, I  think is an uncensored flow of information.  
  • 45:09 That's really critical. Once you start down  the path of censoring, the information,  
  • 45:15 I think, you lose a huge part of the value of  data and of information. That's critical in the  
  • 45:22 makeup of the whole backbone of the internet. Then  I do want to mention the importance of low cost,  
  • 45:30 digital transactions, financial transactions,  because markets are so powerful. If you think  
  • 45:36 of the course of human history, it's how do  people trade goods and services? Because,  
  • 45:41 that's where a big part chunk of the efficiency  gains come from. So to do that, if the cost of  
  • 45:48 that can be brought down, then people really  respond and are able to move forward faster.
  • 45:54 [David R. Malpass]: I'm sorry, but I give you three, we got  
  • 45:58 to have access. That means infrastructure. That  means regulatory power. We've I think, I think  
  • 46:05 got to have uncensored information so that people  are free within the digital world. Then third is  
  • 46:14 this importance of having a backbone, a financial  backbone that gives you transactions. Thanks, Raj.
  • 46:19 [Raj Kumar]: I think that third one David,  
  • 46:21 is an important underlying of what this report is  trying to do, which is to make us think of people  
  • 46:26 in the world who may be at the very bottom  of that economic ladder. For many of us,  
  • 46:30 a tiny transaction cost might seem insignificant,  it might seem worth it for the way we go about  
  • 46:35 our daily lives. But those very small numbers, as  you said earlier, can add up. I think that's why  
  • 46:40 this report talks about data. Data's not a new  question. All of you have been dealing with it,  
  • 46:44 thinking about it, talking about it in many ways,  but what the World Development Report does every  
  • 46:49 year is it makes us think about an existing  issue in a new way. I think, I recommend all of  
  • 46:54 you haven't seen it yet. It's a free report. You  can download it from the World Bank's website and  
  • 46:58 get a sense for this idea of a new social contract  and what does it actually look like and understand  
  • 47:03 many of the nuances that I think our panelists  ably brought up in the conversation today.
  • 47:08 [Raj Kumar]: I want to thank  
  • 47:09 all of you for a fantastic  discussion. I'm sure people  
  • 47:11 at home are clapping and applauding this group  virtually. It was a really rich conversation  
  • 47:16 and congratulations to the authors of the  World Development Report, 2021. Look forward  
  • 47:21 to seeing all of you on social media and at  the next virtual event like this. Thank you.
  • 47:26 [David R. Malpass]: Raj. Can I give a shout out  
  • 47:30 Carmen Reinhart and her group did a huge job on  this report. It's fabulous. Just coming out today.
  • 47:36 [Raj Kumar]: Check it out. Nice to be with all of you.
  • 47:39 [David R. Malpass]: Thanks.
  • 47:40 [Brad Smith]: Thank you. [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala]: Bye.
  • 47:41 [Brad Smith]: Bye.
  • 47:42 [David R. Malpass]: Bye all.
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World Bank Live

Sustainable Development Goals - The Data Story: The Role of Data in Leading a Resilient Recovery 
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susan aaronson

While developing countries are rich in data, they may need capacity building to govern data effectively. Are there governments that are effectively governing personal, public and proprietary data? Are these states that are buiilding trust in the data driven economy or those that effectively use economies of scale and scope for data?
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What economics policies could be suggested to the political leadership of African nations? Solutions that canhelp reduce the gap between the rich and poor in African countries or redistribution of wealth amongst
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Quite privileged to be part of this conversation.What are the measures being put in place to ensure that the poor people benefit from the sustainable economic policy of the World bank?
Wed, 03/24/2021 - 08:11

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