Can one improve now-casts of crop prices in Africa? Google can.

With increasing Internet user rates across Africa, there is considerable interest in exploring new, online data sources. Particularly, search engine metadata, i.e. data representing the contemporaneous online-interest in a specific topic, has gained considerable interest, due to its potential to extract a near real-time online signal about the current interest of a society. The objective of this study is to analyze whether search engine metadata in the form of Google Search Query (GSQ) data can be used to improve now-casts of maize prices in nine African countries, these are Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.