Steppes in Figures #6: 2013 Global Infrastructure, Transportation, Tourism, Inequality within the United Nations, Global Entertainment and Universal Convergence

Last updated on December 7, 2013

Zhong Jianhua, China’s Special Representative on African Affairs:

We will work with any group of people who want to understand China better – our history, aims and ambitions.

some of the figures are not from 2013 but were put into context of the 2013 events by our team for you to decide how to interprete the correlation between the stats. $ in most cases stands for USD

Global Infrastructure, Transportation, Tourism

Rail in PRC
Rail in PRC

From the Financial Times: The EU estimates Europe’s infrastructure needs in transport, energy, and IT at €1.5 trillion to €2 trillion between now and 2020, a good proportion of that in the new member states suffering from decades of under-investment.

During a visit to Warsaw in April last year, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced a plan to launch a $10 billion fund to finance joint projects in infrastructure, high-tech and green energy in Emerging Europe.

Last year, 83 million Chinese shelled out $100 billion on trips overseas.

2013-2032 Civil Aviation Market Forecast. Russian infographic by Boeing. (Courtesy of

10,000 flights take off every day from 200 airports in China, compared to 60,000 daily flights from 10,000 airports in the US.

As reported by the Railway Bulletin, a cargo train from Zhengzhou in central China to Hamburg in northern Germany was launched recently to boost trade.

The container train [will] pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland before reaching Germany. The train will travel 10,214 km for 16 to 18 days… The trade volume is worth $1.52 million, according to customs authorities in Zhengzhou. In 2014, the number of cargo trains from Zhengzhou to Hamburg will rise to 50, generating a trade volume worth $1 billion.

The modern Silk Road is likely to carry computers and other electronics, moved by rail along an often-desolate 11,000km+ route. In approximately three weeks, a freight train carrying thousands of Hewlett-Packard notebooks and displays makes its way from Chongqing in China’s South-west, that produces 20 million laptops and 15 million printers a year, to distributors and customers in Duisburg, Germany.

China Railway Corporation 中国铁路总公司, founded in March 2013, as part of the now defunct Ministry of Railways used to have its own police force and court system, which is unique among the world’s railways. As of 2008, approximately 2 million people worked in the China Railways. The United Nations has 32,417 members of staff.

For a year, HP navigated government and rail import/export requirements in the six countries through which the train travels: China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany. Pilot trains began test routes in March 2011, and in March 2012, HP launched the rail route being used today… The voyage between Dalian and Rotterdam along this southerly route takes 48 days. By sailing the Northeast Passage, the Yong Sheng is expected to reach its destination on September 11 – a transit time of only 35 days.

Impact of Vessel Size Development on Port Development by Hamburg Port Consulting GmbH
Impact of Vessel Size Development on Port Development by Hamburg Port Consulting GmbH. (Courtesy of

But this doesn’t mean that the idea of sea freight was left entirely behind by the global trade players. As reported by the FT, the Yong Sheng, a vessel operated by Chinese state-owned Cosco Group, set sail on August 8 from Dalian, a port in northeastern China, bound for Rotterdam. The 5,400km journey via the Bering Strait (known as the Northern Sea Route) could shave as much as 15 days off the traditional route through the Suez Canal and Mediterranean Sea.  

Back in 2009, the Daily Mail‘s Simon Parry suggested that:

if ever you had an irrational desire to charter one, now would be the time. This time last year, an Aframax tanker capable of carrying 80,000 tons of cargo would cost £31,000 a day ($50,000). Now it is about £3,400 ($5,500).

The cost of sending a 40ft steel container of merchandise from China to the UK has fallen from £850 plus fuel charges last year to £180 this year. The cost of chartering an entire bulk freighter suitable for carrying raw materials has plunged even further, from close to £185,000 ($300,000) last summer to an incredible £6,100 ($10,000) earlier this year.

There is a three-year lag between the placing of an order and the delivery of a ship.

In the same account by Parry he cited a major UK broker estimating that it cost £7,000 a day to put a container ship to sea.

Russian authorities have granted 372 permits this year to ships intent on sailing all or some of the passage. 

But analysts caution that it will be years before the route, which is only passable for a few months, is commercially viable let alone a rival to the Suez Canal, which handled more than 17,000 ships in 2012. In the Suez Canal where in 2011 almost 18,000 vessels transported 929m tonnes of cargo.

The UNESCO estimates that over 3 million shipwrecks are spread across ocean floors around the planet.

From Ninety Percent of Everything by Rose George:

There are more than 100,000 ships at sea carrying all the solids, liquids, and gases that we need to live. Only 6,000 of them are container vessels.

In 2011, the 360 commercial ports of the United States took in international goods worth $1.73 trillion, or 80 times the value of all U.S. trade in 1960.

Only 12% of ship crews have freely available Internet access at sea. Two thirds have no access at all.

2,000 seafarers die at sea every year. More than two ships are lost every week.

Filipinos make up more than a third of all crews worldwide. 250,000 of them are at sea.

Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate by Rose George
Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate by Rose George

Shipping is so cheap that it makes more financial sense for Scottish cod to be sent ten thousand miles to China to be filleted then sent back to Scottish shops and restaurants than to pay Scottish filleters.

Lawyers who fight for seafarers’ rights describe their clients as moving targets who work in no- man’s-lands. They describe an industry that is global but also uniquely mobile, and diffi cult to govern, police, or rule.

Buy your fair- trade coffee beans by all means, but don’t assume fair- trade principles govern the conditions of the men who fetch it to you.

As suggested by the Ukrainian financial daily Kapital, $US300 (2.5K hryvnia) is an ideal price of an one-week tour to Egypt per person. Data as of early December 2013.

Global Inequality within the United Nations

United Nations System: total staff by organization
United Nations System: total staff by organization

From Martin Meredith’s The State of Africa:

After spending $4 billion in the hope of rebuilding Somalia and fulfilling Boutros-Ghali‘s grand dream [laid out in his An Agenda for Peace: Preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping] the UN departed, handing Mogadishu over to its warring factions.

Amid the ruins of Mogadishu, the UN had constructed a giant fortress for its expatriate personnel, complete with a shopping mall, street lights, satellite communications systems, a modern sewerage network, flower beds and other comforts. Costing $160 million, it had all come from the Somali aid budget. As the UN withdrew, looters swarmed over the area. …Just as a far greater catastrophe than Somalia [Rwanda genocide of 1994] was about to erupt, the US and the UN had been reduced to the role of bystanders.

According to Chi-Chi Okonjo and Uzodinma Iweala of Ventures Africa, there are more than 10,000 Africans with investable assets greater than $50m.

According to a 2011 United Nations Federal Credit Union report (cited here from the UNDP Watch website), from the United Nations Development Progamme 637 individual accounts are at $1 million+. Other 1,041 UNDP staffers have enough salary (income) to justify million dollar homes in New York (or tri-state area NY/NJ/CT).

A man with a shotgun guards graves in the main cemetery in Port au Prince. Violent crime and poverty are on the rise in Haiti and graves are regularly raided by people who steal coffins to resell Read more:  Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
A man with a shotgun guards graves in the main cemetery in Port au Prince, Haiti. Violent crime and poverty are on the rise in Haiti and graves are regularly raided by people who steal coffins to resell.

According to a Forbes Ukraine account by Tatiana Revutskaya, an international  logisitics business owner from Ukraine, — who cites research by Marketing & PR Studio FreshLook — every day there are around 150 strikes and demonstrations taking place worldwide. Too little to be true, probably. But the idea itself is thought-provoking.

The $5.7 billion United Nations Development Program bills itself as the U.N.’s flagship antipoverty agency, but [argues IO Watch] when it comes to helping the world’s 1.3 billion poor people, that description appears to be more of a facade, according to a report commissioned by UNDP itself. … According to the document, UNDP’s efforts often have ‘only remote connections with poverty’” Its anti-poverty programs are ‘disconnected,’ and are frequently ‘seriously compromised’ by a lack of follow-up to help poor countries learn ‘what works and why.’

[After] spending more than $8.5 billion on anti-poverty activities between 2004 and 2011—and just how much more is something of a mystery– UNDP has only ‘limited ability…to demonstrate whether its poverty reduction activities have contributed to any significant change in the lives of the people it is trying to help.’

Moreover, it lays … [much] of the blame] on the way that UNDP has spread itself across a growing range of activities in the name of promoting ‘development’ –from environmental projects to trade promotion and border management—that ‘dilute’ its anti-poverty effort.

“NGO executives berated for their ‘fat cat’ salaries have bills to pay too – and work for much less than the market rate,” argues Oxfam GB’s Duncan Green in a recent piece for The Guardian. He further claims that, “For an organisation such as Oxfam, the challenge is to find the right balance between duty (keeping salaries relatively low in the context) and effectiveness (understanding that the external market has an effect on the likely talent you are having to attract/retain from within and, more importantly, from outside the sector).”

32.4 million people were forced to flee their homes in 2012 by disasters such as floods, storms and earthquakes. While Asia and west and central Africa bore the brunt, 1.3 million were displaced in rich countries, with the USA particularly affected.

The 2013 GAR
The 2013 GAR

A 2010 study argues that millionaires (those in the top 1% of earners) pay approximately 40% of all taxes in the United States.

According to Wikipedia, socialites of New York spend between $98,000 and $455,000 per year (young and old, respectively) to be and maintain their role as a successful socialite

Around 80% of millionaires are college graduates. Only 18% of millionaires have Master’s degrees. 8% have law degrees, 6% have medical degrees, and 6% have PhDs. Around 80% still go to work.

The average millionaire goes bankrupt at least 3.5 times. Those with Russian ancestry have the highest concentration of millionaire households in America (ca $1.1 trillion, or nearly 5% of all the personal wealth in America). The Scottish rank second and Hungarians rank third. Most modern American millionaires today (about 80%) are first-generation millionaires. Usually the fortune they build will dissipate by the second or third generation.

The 2012-13 World Ultra Wealth Report by Wealth-X
The 2012-13 World Ultra Wealth Report by Wealth-X

In the year 1900, there were only 5,000 millionaires in the United States. In 2000, there were more than 5 million. In 2008, there were 10 million people around the world who were classified as millionaires in U.S. dollars.

The world’s 1,226 billionaires have more combined wealth than 3,5 billion people (half of the current population of the planet). This piece of data has no confirmed source. Please suggest one if you are aware of it.

Less than 100,000 people worldwide own about $9.8 trillion of the wealth held offshore. According to a BBC report, a global super-rich elite had at least $21 trillion hidden in tax havens by the end of 2010 [10% of all the privately held wealth?], the equivalent of the size of the US and Japanese economies combined.

Since the 1970s, the richest citizens of 139 developing countries had amassed $7.3 trillion to $9.3 trillion of “unrecorded offshore wealth” by 2010.

From The State of Africa:

A report prepared for the African Union in 2002 estimated that corruption cost Africa $148 billion annually — more than a quarter of the continent’s entire GDP.

Carlo Slim Helu, a Mexican billionaire worth $69 billion, is considered to be the first “world’s richest man from a developing nation.” He has lived in the same modest home for the past 30 years. His wealth is equal to 5% of Mexico’s economic output. He earns almost $30 million a day.

One in five people in Singapore is a millionaire, making it the city/state with the most millionaires per capita. It has 188,000 millionaires.

Source: 2012-13 World Ultra Wealth Report by Wealth-X

According to the Ukrainian financial daily Kapital that cites the Ministry of Revenue and Duties, there are 3,200 hryvnia millionaires in Ukraine. The daily aslo provides stats from the 2012-13 World Ultra Wealth Report by Wealth-X saying that currently 480 ultra-millionaires live in Ukraine (net worth USD30 million+). These people own a third of the Eastern European country’s GDP that equals USD55 billion.

If we talk about ultramillionaires worldwide, there over 187,000 of them. 65,000+ in North America, over 53,000 in Europe with only 2,535 reported to call Africa their home (USD325 billion total net worth).

In the July 2013 supplement on private banking, Kapital also cites Maintaining Momentum in a Complex World: Global Wealth 2013, a report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). According to this report that came out in May 2013, USD135.5 trillion worth of wealth was privately held, as of end 2012. Out of this sum, USD39.1 trillion was owned by people in the emerging economies.

Today every fourth person out of the world’s 13.8 million millionaires come from an emerging economy. Just in 2012, the emerging economies graduated 469,000 new millionaires, including 415 people whose net worth is USD100 million each.

According to BCG, only 6.3% of the privately-held wealth in the world (USD8.5 trillion is stored outside the jurisdictions inhabited by its owners). Switzerland is the offshore champ of the world (26% of world’s offshore welath). Out of USD3.5 trillion that is managed here, USD2.2 trillion trickled in from abroad.

Ecological footprint by country (Source:
Ecological footprint by country (Source:

The Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2013, prepared by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), says disasters have cost $2.5 trillion since 2000. A new risk model developed by UNISDR estimates that annual losses just from earthquakes and cyclonic winds will be in the range of $180 billion annually this century.

According to an account published by Huffington Post:

750 million plus people are illiterate. An estimated 200 million primary school children struggle to read even basic words. UNESCO estimates are that the world needs almost 7 million new trained teachers by 2015 just to address primary education.

250 million children cannot read, write or count well. According to  Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, “Today, around the globe, an estimated 61 million primary-aged children are out of school, almost half of them in conflict-affected poor countries. And in Africa’s poorest states, UNESCO projects that the lives of 1.8 million children could have been saved if their mothers had at least a secondary education.

A recent World Development Report on Jobs by the World Bank estimates:

1.6 billion people work for a wage or a salary, while 1.5 billion people work in farming and self-employment;

115 million children working in hazardous conditions;

21 million victims of forced labor;

600 million jobs needed over 15 years to keep current employment rates;

621 million youth neither working nor studying;

10 million entrants to the labor force per year in Sub-Saharan Africa;

30 million postsecondary students in China;

90 million people working abroad, with 3% international migrants as a share of the world population;

In 1800, only 3 % of the world’s population lived in cities.

In 1900 only 12 cities had more than 1 million people. Today, this number of people moves to a city every month, with 7 billion people (current population of the Earth) expected to live in urban centers by 2050.

Over the next decade, China plans to spend $6.5 trillion on moving 400 million people from the country to its cities. In the last 30 years over 600 million Chinese have been lifted from poverty.

Issuess for future research:

Number of non-Han Mandarin learners in the world?

Amount of annual loss in Africa due to corruption?

Agricultural subsidies by non-African governments versus the UN-promoted 0.7% of annual GDP (The 0.7% target) that a donor country should pledge to aid Africa versus at least three-months of import amount in foreign currency reserves, considered safe?

Toyota Land Cruisers, Rolls-Royces, Ferraris and Mercedes-Benz’s by African nation?

Global Entertainment and Universal Convergance

According to the Hollywood Reporter: “In 2017, the US entertainment and media market is expected to account for $632.09 billion, or 29.4 % of the worldwide total of more than $2.152 trillion, according to the report.”

Deadline reports that “PricewaterhouseCoopers’ soothsayers see the annual growth in filmed entertainment spending accelerating over the five-year period through 2017; it will average +3.4% a year to $36.4 billion.”

See related reading

Steppes In figures # 1: creative industries

Steppes In Figures # 2: sustainability, hospitality and transportation

Steppes In Figures #3

Steppes In Figures #4: Southern Africa trivia from last year

Steppes In Figures #5: Ukraine and the world

On trailers and containers

Just how many satellites are there in the outer space?

Global Tourism Prospects and Trends

On prospects of inter-African tourism

Post-Soviet nations gradually embrace high-speed overland transportation

Making sure that Zimbabwe Reads

Making sure that Zimbabwe reads II: from Boston via Beira to Harare

NBC or UNDP, MoMa or Mobil: no problem! The World’s most accomplished logo designers on principles of identity design

Culture Fund concludes: Zimbabwean cultural industries are challenged by lack of research. Steppes in Sync suggests: go beyond Harare asap, watch Zimbabwe reads do the trick with Nambya and Kalanga communities

Inspired by stats from Basic Lead. But still wondering what the future holds for African films in Russian-language markets

Africa-Asia prospects II: more solid research on Africa needed to inform Sino-African relations

How culture contributes to development: an UNESCO indicator suite

What a young Ukrainian expert in international relations can learn traveling for 15 days with 450 people by Indian train

Biosphere Connections by Star Alliance+UNESCO+National Geographic

How Ukraine is providing the world with high-end IT solutions. Via Uruguay’s Montevideo

Steppes book review. Africa Rising: how 900 million African consumers offer more than you think

The one where the first Chilean satellite fails to separate from Sich-1, the first Ukrainian satellite. And where Sich-2 supports Cameroonian-Nigerian flood relief effort

The Perks of Traveling by Rail in Zimbabwe (if any)


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