Internet Access and Human Development

A recent news article nicely summarized efforts by Silicon Valley tech giants to close the so-called digital divide in developing countries. Not that this kind of initiatives is new – not at all. In fact, a plethora of projects and programs with a similar goal have been launched since the mid-1990s, with mixed results at best. Twenty plus years later, close to 60% of the world’s population is still not connected to the Internet.  And Internet access growth rates for most countries are now converging around 7% per annum, down from double digits in previous years.1 While mobiles have spread faster in the Global South, the latest GSMA report suggests that growth rates in the sector are also slowing down due to the socioeconomic barriers this group of countries face.

One common trait these

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Endnotes   [ + ]

1. While mobiles have spread faster in the Global South, the latest GSMA report suggests that growth rates in the sector are also slowing down due to the socioeconomic barriers this group of countries face.

Blockchain ICOs Revisited

A couple of weeks ago, Coindesk launched an ICO tracker which seems quite comprehensive and includes data starting in 2014. It has information on 164 ICOs1 I downloaded the data on 18 August but was unable to replicate some of the charts Coindesk has on its web site. The data I downloaded ends on 27 July of this year whereas the  Coindesk site includes data until 31 July. and the data is expected to be updated every week or so.

In a recent post,  I shared some insights on the nature of ICOs. In a nutshell, ICOs should not be equated with crowdfunding nor are they comparable to the more traditional IPOs. What has really changed since my initial posting is the fact that SEC is now planning to get involved in the process and will soon start to regulate how ICOs are run and managed. In the

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Endnotes   [ + ]

1. I downloaded the data on 18 August but was unable to replicate some of the charts Coindesk has on its web site. The data I downloaded ends on 27 July of this year whereas the  Coindesk site includes data until 31 July.

Evolution of Global Internet Access – 1990 – 2015

No doubt Internet access has come a long way in the last 25 years. The latest estimates for 2016 show that 3.45 billion people have access to the Internet. That is 47% of the world’s population. The flip side of this number is perhaps more revealing: more than half of the world is not connected to the network. Bear in mind these statistics measure Internet access from home thus excluding those who log in from public access sites such as libraries and CyberCafes, for example. It is possible that these numbers underestimate actual usage. But as long as such underestimation is consistent over time, we can safely use the data to do some analysis,

In this post, I will look at Internet access by country1 Note that 2016 data by country is not yet available. and by income levels as defined by

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Endnotes   [ + ]

1. Note that 2016 data by country is not yet available.

ICOs: Crowding-in Blockchains?

Nowadays, ICOs (or Initial Coin Offerings) are all the rage. Unlike traditional IPOs, ICOs allow startups to streamline the capital raising process while at the same time enhancing the number of potential investors.  While venture capital is still part of the equation, other non-traditional investors and stakeholders are more than welcome to join. How is this possible? Is venture capital being democratized?

By default, blockchain technology (BCT) has built-in financial incentives. In the now classic case of Bitcoin, such incentive is the generation of a cryptocurrency. Users mining the Bitcoin blockchain to process network transactions get rewarded a certain amount of Bitcoins for their efforts which are computationally expensive and power hungry. Without such incentive, Bitcoin network

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Cryptocurrencies and WannaCry

I have been doing extensive research on Blockchain Technology (BCT) focusing on its potential impact in developing and emerging economies. In particular, I am exploring BCT role in tackling the most vexing socio-economic gaps in these countries. One of my early findings suggests that BCT usability might prove to be a formidable challenge for the billions of people sitting at the bottom of the pyramid.
Both cryptocurrencies and BCT use cryptographic tools with public key cryptography being at the core. The advantages are clear: These technologies enhance privacy, security and transparency, among others. From the end user perspective, however, using such tools in effective fashion might not be that simple. Recall how Snowden had a difficult time getting journalists to use encrypted channels

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Blockchain Mining: Competition and (de)Centralization

“One-CPU-one-vote”.1 CPU stands for Central Processing Unit, nowadays also known as microprocessor. From a governance perspective, this is perhaps one of the most interesting phrases included in the original Bitcoin paper penned by a still anonymous author. Could we then say the goal is to build a democracy of devices, a CPU-democracy where each node has the same “power”, so to speak?

The phrase is part of the paper’s discussion of the so-called proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm.2 Needless to say, PoW is not the only algorithm used to add records to a blockchain. Others such as proof-of-stake and proof-of-value for example have been developed. As a decentralized peer-to-peer network, blockchain allows any CPU to run PoW. In principle, any network node could be a blockchain miner. Attaching

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Endnotes   [ + ]

1. CPU stands for Central Processing Unit, nowadays also known as microprocessor.
2. Needless to say, PoW is not the only algorithm used to add records to a blockchain. Others such as proof-of-stake and proof-of-value for example have been developed.

Tax Season 2017

Spring finally arrived but today feels more like summer. Not sure it will last but in I know New York Springs usually tend to be relatively short. Summer seems to always be extremely eager to enter the scene.

In any event, the arrival of Spring is always associated with the US deadlines for submitting taxes, the so-called Tax Day. The usual date is 15 April which works as long as it does not fall on a Friday or over the weekend. This time around it falls on a Saturday so the official deadline for filing 2016 income is Tuesday 18 April.

Filing taxes have also benefited from the rapid development of new technologies, the Internet included. Now it is possible to use one of the many online tax platforms to file one’s taxes. Some of them are free but most will charge between 30 and 50 USD

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Wealth and Income Inequality Data

A new version of the World Wealth and Income Inequality database has been available online since last January. The new website has a new slick look. It also offers an interactive tool to view and visualize data on a global scale or by country. For those who love to poke around, looking at the raw data is also feasible, as well as download in interactive fashion.  Several formats are available for downloading such as CSV, for example. Selecting a specific data structure for downloading is possible as the site offers four different options.

However, downloading the whole data set with one click is not an option users can select. Nor are there any APIs available that could facilitate such process. The website does not really support Open Data access, unfortunately.  Nevertheless, I have no

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Global Allocation of IP Addresses

Akami recently published its latest State of the Internet report for the 3rd quarter of 2016. As a content delivery provider, Akamai has access to real-time data on the status of Internet traffic and even monitors Internet attacks by country. Using primary data, Akamai reports summarize Internet traffic by quarter for over 150 countries. The report’s main focus is on broadband but also includes an analysis of security related events.1 The company produces a separate report on Internet security.

Data Collected

The report’s data comes from the company’s support network which comprises over 800 million IPv4 addresses representing over a billion Internet users. The latter is about 25% of all global users, according to the latest statistics((There are now 4.1 billion people using the Internet

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Endnotes   [ + ]

1. The company produces a separate report on Internet security.

Democracy Index and Human Development

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has recently published the latest iteration of its democracy index. The biggest headline about the new EIU report was the demotion of the US from “full” to “flawed democracy”, complemented by the medium-term decline of democracy in Eastern and Western Europe, and in North America. The latter is based on trends that first emerged a decade or so, according to EIU. Even so, Norway continues to take top prize while North Korea seems to be persistently stuck at the very bottom of the rankings.

Figure 1 presents the overall distribution of the 167 countries that the report covers. Flawed democracies are the most common type of regime, followed by authoritarian countries. In fact, full democracies only account for 11% of the total, while hybrid and authoritarian

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