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June 2010

Wax, gold and accountability in Ethiopia

Shanta Devarajan's picture

The exchange between Helen Epstein and my colleague Ken Ohashi about the role of aid donors in “subsidizing” what Epstein calls a politically repressive regime highlights the difficulty in linking politics at the top with poverty alleviation on the ground. 

Even politically open regimes, such as India, have difficulty delivering basic services to poor people—the absence rate for teachers in Indian public primary schools is 25 percent; the rate for doctors in public primary clinics is 40 percent.   Conversely, as Epstein points out in her reply to Ken’s letter, “poverty and disease have fallen sharply in some repressive societies, from Cuba to China…”

Will the South African economy get a kick from the World Cup?

Sandeep Mahajan's picture

As the month-long FIFA 2010 World Cup tournament kicks-off on June 11, all eyes will be on South Africa. Quite literally, since the 2006 tournament in Germany had a global viewership of around 30 billion.
 
The event is an opportunity for South Africa to showcase itself not just as an attractive destination for tourism and investment but also as the Rainbow Nation, home to people of every race, color, and creed.
 
The economic dividends will be plenty. As President Zuma explained: “the country’s transport, energy, telecommunications, and social infrastructure are being upgraded and expanded. This is contributing to economic development in the midst of a global recession, while improving conditions for investment.” 
 

Some economists are skeptical, seeing white elephants in large stadium constructions and citing analyses that show little net economic benefit to the hosts of previous such events.

Running on One Engine

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

This week, the World Bank launched its second Kenya Economic Update. We have been positively surprised to see such a strong uptake of our previous report and were pleased to have a full house at the launch and informal briefings we have in the run-up of the launch. These Economic Updates aim to replicate a model of shorter, crisper and more frequent country economic reports, which have become a trademark of the World Bank’s analytical presence in other countries, in particular China and Russia.

Africa as a BRIC

Shanta Devarajan's picture

My colleague and good friend, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, gave an inspiring speech at Harvard where she described Africa as the next BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China).  Everything she says in the speech is music to my ears (confession—I provided some background materials to her staff)—that Africa’s growth prospects are strong, that reforms seem to have taken hold—and her idea of African Development Bonds is innovative and worthy of discussion.
 
My only concern is the labeling of Africa as the next BRIC.  First, Africa is not a country, whereas each of the BRICs is.  Africa is 47 countries, some of which are quite small (20 countries have populations less than 5 million).  The distinguishing feature of the BRICs is that they are both middle-income and large.  So it’s not clear how any individual African country can aspire to being a BRIC. Countries such as Malaysia or Chile may be more appropriate models for most African countries.