Digital economies at global ‘’margins’’

By Mark Graham, Professor of Internet Geography, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford; Turing Fellow, The Alan Turing Institute; and Research Affiliate, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

digital-economies.jpgBillions of people at the world’s economic ‘’margins’’ are experiencing a moment of changing connectivity. In Manila, Manchester, Mogadishu, the banlieues of Marseille and everywhere in between, the world is becoming digital, digitised and digitally mediated at an astonishing pace. Most of the world’s wealthy have long been digitally connected, but the world’s poor and economically marginal have not been enrolled in digital networks until relatively recently. In only five years (2012–2017), over one billion people became new Internet users (ITU 2016). In 2017, Internet users became a majority of the world’s population. The networking of humanity is thus no longer confined to a few economically prosperous parts of the world. For the first time in history, we are creating a truly global and accessible communication network.

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Visualising urbanisation: How the Africapolis platform sheds new light on urban dynamics in Africa

By Lia Beyeler, Communications Officer and Nisha Schumann, Consultant, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD)

Africa’s urban population is the fastest growing in the world. By 2050, Africa’s cities will be home to nearly one billion additional people. Yet, where and how Africa’s cities of the future emerge and evolve are insufficiently understood.

Traditionally, the focus has been put on larger cities as opposed to smaller urban agglomerations. Yet, smaller agglomerations with populations between 10,000 and 100,000 inhabitants represent one-third of Africa’s overall urban population, accounting for more than 180 million people in 2015. Their significance is highlighted by the fact that many of the continent’s future cities are emerging through the fusion of smaller cities or through population densification in rural areas – trends that are not captured in official statistics and government data, which tend to focus on cities as political units with defined boundaries.

The OECD Sahel and West Africa Club’s Africapolis platform, which launched during the 8th Africities Conference in Marrakesh, seeks to bridge the gap in data on African urbanisation dynamics. It provides a powerful tool for governments, policy makers, researchers and urban planners to better understand urbanisation’s drivers, dynamics and impacts. This understanding, in turn, will help design more relevant policies that address the growing challenges of urbanisation at the local, national and regional levels. Continue reading

Tracing our roots: Understanding African innovation

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By Youssef Travaly, PhD MBA, Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Vice-President of Science, Innovation & Partnerships, and Acting President, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), Senegal


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


Africa-digital-technologyCan you name a famous African scientist?

Barely no one can answer this question, even with some thought. And yet, Africa is the cradle of humanity, and therefore logically, the cradle of science and innovation. So why can’t we name any famous African scientists? The simple answer is that we don’t know much about the history of innovation in Africa. The world’s technologically driven human progress can be divided into two parts: the “Africa” time with major discoveries, including tools, fire, mathematics and steel, and the more recent “industrial” read “western Europe and North America” time with major discoveries such as the steam engine, vaccines, antibiotics, computers and much more. In between the two, the world transitioned from more “informal” homegrown knowledge-based innovation to more “formal” scientific knowledge-based innovation. Within that context, Africa’s research and innovation, which often occurs outside the so-called “formal” innovation framework, completely disappeared from the global map of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). Since then, “playing catch-up” has been the cornerstone of the strategy of every single African nation intending to adopt a knowledge-led economy. But do we really need to catch-up? What does catching up even mean?

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Turning a commitment into actions

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By Mario Cerutti, Chief Institutional Relations & Sustainability Officer, Lavazza Group


To learn more about countries’ strategies for economic transformation, follow the 10th  Plenary Meeting and High-Level Meeting of the OECD Initiative for Policy Dialogue on Global Value Chains, Production Transformation and Developmentin Paris, France on 27-28 June 2018.


logo TOward2030At the beginning of 2017, Lavazza launched ‘’Goal Zero’’ – a call to collective action amongst our many stakeholders to pursue the 17 Global Goals of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. The company decided that co-operation, instead of going it alone, is fundamental for any significant results. Still, we faced the question of how to engage different stakeholders in one all-encompassing plan. For Lavazza, answering this means engaging our different stakeholders – employees, youth, suppliers and the surrounding community – using tailored communications tools. We believe that only a strong commitment originating from within Lavazza can, in turn, fuel external communications. So, here’s how we are proceeding:
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Disentangling urban and rural food security issues in West Africa

By Richard Clarke, Consultant, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat

The rapid growth of cities in West Africa poses significant challenges across development dimensions. In particular, as the location of poverty spreads from rural to urban areas so have issues of food insecurity and malnutrition. Indeed, the potential impact of growing food insecurity in urban areas was highlighted by the widespread rioting over food prices in 2008.

The West African region is set to experience a further doubling of its urban population over the next 20 years, having grown from 6 million to 170 million between 1950 and 2015. This growth will place greater demands on regional food systems, which themselves are increasingly exposed to adverse global climatic and economic conditions, to provide cities with their nutritional needs.   Continue reading

Política 2.0. Combinando la protesta con la propuesta

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De Max Trejo, Secretario General, Organismo Internacional de Juventud para Iberoamérica (OIJ)


Aprenda más sobre este tema en el
Foro Global de la OCDE sobre Desarrollo
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Política 2.0. CombinandoLas formas de participación política juvenil son múltiples, dinámicas e interconectadas y demandan una comprensión de lo político amplia y flexible para no subestimar el compromiso de las personas jóvenes con la transformación. Por ejemplo, uno de los puntos destacados en los análisis sobre el tema es el bajo involucramiento de la población joven en los procesos electorales. En este sentido, el Informe Mundial sobre Juventud de la ONU (2016) señala que en los 33 países consultados sólo el 44% de la población joven “siempre vota”, frente al 60% de adultos.

En Iberoamérica, donde las juventudes representan más del 25% de la población, la situación no es diferente. Por citar algunos casos, en México, que tendrá elecciones presidenciales en 2018 y donde las y los jóvenes representan el 30% del padrón electoral, el registro histórico muestra que, aunque la participación de quienes votan por primera vez es del 69%, ésta disminuye al 53% entre los 20 a 29 años (INE, 2016). A su vez, en Chile, que experimentó el mismo proceso en 2017, la tendencia muestra que las juventudes tienen la participación electoral más baja de la población, aportando cerca del 34% del total de la abstención (PNUD, 2017).
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The blurred boundaries of political violence in the Sahel-Sahara

By Olivier Walther, Visiting Associate Professor, Center for African Studies at the University of Florida and Associate Professor, University of Southern Denmark


Explore the OECD West African Papers series for more work on African socio-economic, political and security dynamics.


The Sahel and the Sahara are faced with exceptional political instability involving a combination of rebellions, jihadist insurgencies, coups d’état, protest movements and illegal trafficking. Analysis of the outbreaks of violence reveals that the region is not just the victim of an escalation of wars and conflicts that marked the 20th century. The Sahel-Sahara has also become the setting of a globalised security environment, in which boundaries between what is local and global, domestic and international, military and civilian, politics and identity are blurred.

Local grievances, global reach

A shared characteristic of many conflicts in the Sahel-Sahara is that belligerents often leverage global ideas to pursue local and national claims. Boko Haram, for example, simultaneously exploits the pan-Islamist vision of a unified Muslim world, whose boundaries transcend national borders to embrace all believers, and the historical narrative of the Kanem-Bornu empire that reigned over the Lake Chad region for around 1 000 years. These players also rely on the investment of global resources into struggles that are driven by local and national aspirations. For Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), in particular, the unofficial ransoms paid by foreign governments in exchange for hostages represent amounts estimated at several tens of millions of dollars.
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