KfW Development Bank transparency portal
In collaboration with Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, we implemented the Transparency Portal of the KfW Development Bank. The aim was to provide the general public a simple, easily understandable overview of all global subsidies of the KfW Development Bank. With just a few clicks, figures can be analysed in detail. This allows interested parties to obtain the latest information on the sources, uses and effects of KfW funding. The relevant data can be viewed by anyone, both horizontally and vertically, so the Transparency Portal makes a significant contribution to improved efficiency and transparency in collaborative development.
Our Managing Director Christian Kreutz was also interviewed by KfW about the new portal. Here is an excerpt:
KfW: Some critics claim that the only beneficiaries of transparency are non-governmental organisations and IT specialists. So how will poor countries profit from greater transparency?
Kreutz: In developing countries, the public sector in particular will profit enormously from it. Civil servants in those countries are faced with such a deluge of project proposals that they quickly lose any overview. If we here in the donor countries reduce their labour by offering them sets of data analysed to international standards, then it will be much easier for them to integrate the data into their analytical tools, and control and allocate cash flows more efficiently. This will pay off in hard cash!
KfW: Do the developing countries possess the infrastructure for that?
Kreutz: The biggest innovations in Internet and telephone technologies are taking place in the emerging economies! East Africa is the first region in the world where people have been able to transfer money using a mobile phone. Of course, we still have to develop and refine the analytical capacities, and enable people here and in the emerging economies to recognise the added benefits. In that respect it’s still early days. The data are still highly aggregated. Things will get really interesting when the user can see how much is being spent on human resources, how much on materials and equipment. That’s also a highly political issue, of course…
KfW: Does that mean that transparency has its limits?
Kreutz: Of course we have to protect personal data – and ask ourselves what is to be gained from this ocean of data. Quantities of data alone do not generate transparency. But we’re living in the age of data, and we have to learn how to deal with that. There is no way round it. If we do not collect these data sets, and if we no longer use open source technologies, we will lose out. The website “bund.offenerhaushalt.de” gets thousands of visits a month. If it takes me between ten and twenty seconds to scan the budgets of specific ministers, instead of wading through a 3,000-page PDF file, then imagine how much I’m saving in transaction costs alone!
KfW: How will the new transparency benefit donor countries?
Kreutz: The status quo today is that nobody has an overview. Right now there’s nowhere for me to find out how many health projects there are in Tanzania. Transparency will be achieved when we know who is doing what, where and when. A single organisational standard worldwide will enable donor institutions to access data much more quickly and simply.
KfW: …You are referring to the standard of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), which the German government has also joined…
Kreutz: Right. Once you’re able to compare the data of the World Bank, USAID and others with one click, new horizons open up. Organisations will also be better able to communicate with each other. And when we link the project data to tendering procedures and evaluations, things will really take off! One day, perhaps we’ll even be able to take a look at organisations’ planning processes, without having to struggle to obtain this information from formal or informal sources, perhaps at a high price. This will save costs, and prevent corruption and cronyism. It’s early days yet, but we see huge potential.
Hundreds of financial subsidies from KfW Development Bank at a glance. Innovative data visualisation by crisscrossed GmbH.