Using Big Data for Development as a Platform to Facilitate South-South and Triangular Cooperation- Unlocking the Potential of Big Data Solutions




Many governments from the South still do not have access to adequate data on their entire populations, and this is mainly true for the poorest and most marginalized, the very people that policy makers will need to focus on if they are to ‘leave no one behind’ in the next 15 years. There are currently more than 350 million people worldwide not covered by household surveys. There could be as many as a quarter more people living on less than US$1.25 a day than current estimates suggest, because they have been missed out by official surveys [1]. To target the poorest systematically, to lift and keep them out of poverty, even the most willing governments cannot efficiently deliver services if they do not know who those people are, where they live and what they need. Nor do they know where their resources will have the greatest impact. Therefore, in order to reach and support the most vulnerable and marginalized people, an overhaul on the current way of gathering data is needed.

Thus, strengthening data production and the use of better data in policymaking and monitoring is vital in development. Sustainable Development Goal 17, clearly states the need in the improvement, availability, quality, timeliness and disaggregation of data to support the implementation 2030 Agenda at all levels in all regions.

Due to the high and rapid usage of mobile phones, internet, and geospatial technologies, social and environmental data are being produced at an unprecedented volume and pace.  This wealth of digital data –  commonly referred to as ‘big data’ – has the potential to transform the way data can be analyzed and leveraged to give insights into human well-being and development, and to inform to policy and planning for development programmes [2]. Big Data for Development, a term championed by the UN Global Pulse [3] has been used in many instances to assess poverty situations in rural areas, improve the productivity of the public sector, create a more responsive social protection system, strengthen the resilience of cities against climate change and provide information of higher granularity for urban transportation planning.

To address many of the global challenges, big data needs to be easily accessible and to generate easy-to-understand information could help decision-makers in government, development organizations, non-governmental organizations and private sector actors make better informed decisions when planning and implementing development programmes, especially in the Global South. Our capability to gather and process this information has the potential to transform how we plan and manage development initiatives that has the potential to benefit both people and the planet.

In comparison with their Northern counterparts, Southern countries still deal with challenges in their IT infrastructure, supporting services and human resources. Nevertheless, Big Data for Development has high relevance to the Global South in addressing common development challenges and creating better projections with respect to socio-economic development using big data complementing traditional data collection methods.

For example, following the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, a centralized text messaging system was setup to allow cell-phone users to report on people trapped under damaged buildings.  An analysis of the data found that the concentration of aggregated text messages was highly correlated with areas where the damaged buildings were concentrated.  In Nigeria, a national civil society organization, used forest cover and land concession data to map, monitor and record incidences of corporate land grabs and deforestation. This evidence enabled citizens to lobby the Government of Nigeria to return nearly 14,000 hectares (35,000 acres) of land back to affected communities [4]Sudan is exploring the potential of alternative big data sources such as electricity consumption and night time lights (from satellite imageries) as proxies to estimate poverty levels in the country.

Big data for Development is showing promise to improve, and perhaps substantively change, public sector and the international development sector in novel ways. Making good use of big data will require collaboration of various actors including governments, data scientists, development practitioners, academia, CSO and private sector by leveraging their strengths to understand the technical possibilities as well as the context within which insights can be practically implemented.

Based on the above, Big Data for Development has the potential to fuel the information-driven knowledge economy which can inform Southern partners decision-making process.  Such data could also contribute to addressing regional and cross-border development challenges.


Objective and expected outcomes

The objective of this thematic solution forum is to help answer how big data, data solutions and analytics can inform South-South decision-making processes and address regional integration and cross-border development efforts.  The expected outcomes are as follows:

  • Present examples from Southern partners on how Big Data for Development were used to tackle development challenges and promote South-South exchanges;
  • Discuss and collect experts’ feedback on the need to utilize Big Data for Development in South-South and triangular cooperation;
  • Inform SSC and TrC practitioners and development partners about the importance of Big Data for Development in facilitating regional-integration and cross-border development challenges
  • Make learning and experimenting tools available to the audience, building on UN experience [5].


Target Audience

The forum will be open to participants including representatives from think tank networks, governments, development agencies, civil society organizations and private sector.



Opening Remarks and Introduction of Panelists

  • Mr. Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

The Importance of Big Data in Addressing Development Challenges/Data Tools for Disaster Risk Management

  • Mr. Enda Ginting, Advisor at the Executive Office of the President of Indonesia

Private Sector Role in Collecting and Using Big Data for Development

  • Mr. Sun Tao, Senior Director, Ant Financial (Alibaba Group)

Data Tools for Disaster Risk Management

  • Mr. Enda Ginting, Advisor at the Executive Office of the President of Indonesia

Using Machine Learning to Analyze Radio Content in Uganda

  • Dr. Eddie Mukooyo Sefuluya, Assistant Commissioner at the Division of Health Information, Ministry of Health, Uganda

Monitoring SDG 16 on Peace and Justice Through Big Data

  • Mrs. Laetitia Sarra Jabeur, Chief Engineer in Public Service Administration, The National Institute of Statistics, Tunisia

Turkish Airlines Usage of Big Data to Contribute to Sustainable Development

  • Mr. Ibrahim Oral Emul, Big Data and Business Intelligence Manager, Turkish Airlines

Using Electricity Usage Data from the Utilities to Map out Population

  • Mr. Lilian Galer, Head of the Statistical Methods Division National Bureau of Statistics, Moldova

Can Big Data Help Bridge the Data Divide for Development?

  • Ms. Brenda Killen, Deputy Director, Development Co-operation Directorate, OECD

Open Discussion

  • Mr. Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

Forward Looking

  • Mr. Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP





Mr. Magdy Martínez-Solimán

Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

Mr. Magdy Martínez-Solimán is Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, and UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support. Prior to this appointment he was the Deputy Director, Bureau for Development Policy, UNDP.

He is a lawyer by training, a former practicing barrister and Assistant Professor of International Law. He has worked and written on Political Systems and provided legal counseling in Constitutional and Administrative Law.

In his professional career, he has been State Secretary for Youth in the Spanish National Government, CEO of two public corporations and member of the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games in Barcelona 92. He was also Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, in charge of relations with the Parliament of Andalusia, and elected member of the Municipal Council of his hometown Malaga, the fourth city of the country.

Mr. Martínez-Solimán has been working for the UN for 20 years, focusing on electoral assistance, public financial management, democratic transitions and national dialogue. He was posted in Burundi, Togo, Bangladesh and Senegal. He was UNDP’s Senior Governance Adviser for the 18 West African countries from 2000 to 2003, and until 2006, he was the Practice Manager of UNDP’s Democratic Governance Team at Headquarters. That year he was appointed by the UN Secretary-General as the first Executive Director of the UN Democracy Fund.

From January 2008 until February 2012, he was the UN Resident Coordinator in Mexico and UNDP’s Resident Representative. He is UNDP’s senior focal point for the 2030 Agenda and the Co-Chair of the UN Development Group’s SDG Task Force. Mr. Martínez-Solimán initiated his Law Studies at the University Complutense of Madrid, holds a degree in Law (Juris Doctor) from the Universidad de Malaga and has been a Member of the Spanish Bar Association since 1984.


Mr. Enda Ginting

Advisor at the Executive Office of the President of Indonesia

Mr. Enda Ginting is an Advisor at the Executive Office of the President of Indonesia working on Priority Program Management. His overall focus in on improving government business processes whilst also working on specific sectors such as the sustainable environmental financing portfolio, fiscal reforms and the government’s community driven development program. Prior to this Enda worked for the World Bank as a Public Financial Management resident advisor for the Government of Indonesia. Enda has also worked for the Ministry of Finance, office of the Treasury and also the budget office during the ministry’s early reform stages. Enda holds a Master’s in Economics, Finance and Management from the University of Bristol, UK.


Mr. Tao Sun

Senior Director at Ant Financial (Alibaba Group)

Mr. Tao Sun is a Senior Director at Ant Financial (Alibaba Group). His recent research focuses on systemic risks and prudential regulation framework, global liquidity and capital flows, spillovers to EM countries, asset prices, Sovereign Wealth Funds, capital flow management, macroprudential policies, capital account liberalization, inclusive finance, and internet finance. Before joining Ant Financial, he worked for the International Monetary Fund as Senior Economist in which he produced the semi-annual Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR). He was also a member of the China Financial Stability Assessment Program (FSAP). He started his career at the People’s Bank of China in which he worked on the development of the annual China Financial Stability Reports and quarterly Monetary Policy Reports. Mr. Sun has a Ph.D. in Economics.


Dr. Eddie Mukooyo

Public Health and Information Specialist working as Assistant Commissioner Health Services

Dr. Eddie Mukooyo is a Public Health and Information Specialist working as Assistant Commissioner Health Services. He is a champion for establishing HMIS in Uganda and transforming it to digital /electronic system, training and mentoring national and district staff in the District Health Information Software (DHIS2) and the Medicines tracking using mobile application (mTRAC). He has pioneered the integration of score cards and use of bottleneck analysis for evidence based planning and management of the health services adopted for tracking performance and promoting mutual accountability and effective governance.

Dr. Mukooyo has published widely including on the reliability and validity of the Performance of Routine Information System Management framework and tools; and served as board member on the Advisory Boards of Routine Health Information System Network (RHINO) Washington, DC, USA and was Chair of the Uganda Health Worker Force Advisory Board [2005 – 2008]; member of the Steering Committee of the International Development Evaluation Association, Washington, DC, USA which is affiliated to the World Bank and Measure and Evaluation John Snow Inc. Washington, DC, USA. He has worked closely with bilateral and multilateral donors such USAID, DFID, JICA, WHO, UNICEF, World Vision, Global Fund and the World Bank.

He holds a Master of. Science Degree in Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio – USA – 1994; M.B., Ch. B. Degree from Makerere University Medical School, Kampala, Uganda – 1983 and a Postgraduate Diploma in African Leadership in ICT and the Knowledge Society – Dublin City University, Ireland – 2015.


Mrs. Laetitia Sarra Jabeur

Chief Engineer in Public Service Administration at the National Institute of Statistics

Mrs. Laetitia Sarra Jabeur is Chief Engineer in Public Service Administration at the National Institute of Statistics since February 2005. Since then, she has been assigned to the Office of Development of Computer Applications for Statistics.

She progressively held the position of Head of the Department for “Distributed Computer Operations and Communication Networks”, and Deputy Director for “Development of Computer Applications for Statistics. Mrs. Jabeur contributed to various work at the National Institute of Statistics, including development of applications for data collection (PC, tablet) for social surveys, pre-enumeration, census, etc.


Mr. Ibrahim Oral Emül

Turkish Airlines

Mr. Ibrahim Oral Emül has been leading the Big Data and Business Intelligence practice at Turkish Airlines since 2010. He has a degree in Control and Computer Engineering from the Technical University of Istanbul and holds an Executive MBA from RMIT Australia, with the focus on leadership and management practices.

Being a certified PMP professional, Mr. Emül gained and applied his comprehensive knowledge by working on international IT Strategy and Transformation projects including software development, sales and BI, CRM, ERP and WEB projects. He has intense leadership and management expertise in creating and implementing IT strategies on various industries including banking, manufacturing, telecom and transportation. In all his endeavors, he applied ISO, QPI, ITIL, TDWI, TOGAF and PMBOK standards accordingly.

He has completed more than 500 different BI projects in various sizes. Serving more than 5,000 users, his teams are responsible for BI, Big Data, ODS, ETL, Data Warehouse, Data Analyses, Integration, Modelling, Governance, Reporting and Analytics from end to end IT practice.

He also contributed to many training programs and conferences internationally in Malaysia, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, Vietnam, USA and UK. He is also a member and founder of the Innovation and Informatics Society based in Istanbul. İbrahim Emül is married with two children.


Mr. Galer Lilian

Head of the Statistical Methods Division at the National Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Moldova

Mr. Galer Lilian is currently the Head of the Statistical Methods Division at the National Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Moldova. He has extensive experience in sampling and statistical inference for business and household surveys, and some experience in statistical data linkage. He was involved in Post Enumeration Survey for Moldovan Population and Housing Census in 2014 (PHC 2014). During the quality assessment of the PHC 2014, he used data related to electricity consumption in estimation of the coverage of the census. He is currently working with UNDP to establish a model to estimate population using the electricity consumption.


Ms. Brenda Killen

Deputy Director of the OECD’s Development Co-operation Directorate

Brenda Killen is Deputy Director of OECD’s Development Co-operation Directorate, driving efforts to improve policy-making, delivery, monitoring and accountability of global development finance. She works with partners around the world to ensure development resources are allocated and delivered in support of the SDGs. As OECD’s envoy to the post-2015 process and G20 Development Working Group, she helped translate Agenda 2030 into OECD’s action plan on the SDGs.

Ms. Killen has over 25 years’ experience in international development. As Deputy Director of Health Policy, Development and Services at WHO, she was responsible for defining WHO’s development policy, advising on the macroeconomics of health and developing WHO’s strategy for health systems strengthening. She has also worked for the UK Department for International Development in several senior roles, including as senior economist for Asia and lead author of DfID’s policy on middle income countries. She has extensive field experience in Africa.

Ms. Killen is a member of the UN Secretary General’s Independent Accountability Panel (EWEC).




[1] Carr-Hill, R. Missing Millions and Measuring Development Progress, World Development (2013),

[2] United Nations Global Pulse (2013) Big Data for Development: A primer.

[3] Global Pulse is initiative launched by the UN Secretary-General in 2009 to leverage innovations in digital data, with rapid data collection and analysis to help decision-makers gain a real-time understanding of how crises impact vulnerable population.


[5] UNDP (2016), “A Guide to Data Innovation for Development – From idea to proof-of-concept,” New York: United Nations Development Programme.