Ghana is a politically, economically, ethnically and demographically diverse country. The origins of economic and social inequality between the north and south of Ghana are largely due to geography and historical legacies of inequality established in colonial times. Still, the country had and has been successful in preventing tensions and conflicts, in part because Ghanaian government has maintained ethno-regional balances in representation.
Expanding the coverage of safety net programs in Africa represents a serious fiscal challenge. While there is substantial variation across countries, on average governments in Africa spend about 1.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) on social safety nets (see figure). This is lower than the spending on other sectors such as energy, health care, education, and, in some cases, the military. Crucially, this level of spending is inadequate to face the high chronic poverty rates and vulnerability to shocks households face in Africa.
The design of the safety net program is perfect; it is based on the latest data and evidence; it enjoys political support at the highest levels, and it has sufficient financing.
So why can this safety net program not even get started after a year?
Maybe the answer has something to do with institutions. Accounting for the formal and informal “rules of the game” for social safety nets is key to the success of any program or system. In our chapter “Anchoring in Strong Institutions to Expand and Sustain Social Safety Nets” in the recently-released regional study on safety nets, we discuss some critical aspects of institutions that can make (or break) a social safety net program and how these evolve as programs grow in Africa.
The Triple Threat, as it is referred to in South African policy circles, remains a key policy priority for the government; namely, inequality, poverty and unemployment. The latter – unemployment – was 27.2% in the second quarter of 2018 and at such high rates, it is a critical development issue in contemporary South Africa.
Ethiopia has been suffering from multiple refugee crises – some more protracted, some more recent – that put a strain on coping capacity of national and local authorities. A new World Bank survey and report inform policies on durable solutions for the displaced populations through an evidence-based approach.
Displacement situations in Ethiopia resulted from a combination of protracted conflicts in neighboring countries (Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan), more recent crises (South Sudan, Yemen), and endemic internal ethnic unrest in some peripheral regions (Oromia, Somali/Ogaden, Afar). As a result of these regional and domestic conflicts, Ethiopia has been one of the most important refugee hosting countries for decades.
There are four main Ethiopian regions that host refugees, each of whom hosts a specific group and has a unique ethnic composition: Tigray and Afar (hosting Eritreans), Gambella (hosting South Sudanese), Benishangul Gumuz (hosting mostly Sudanese, but also South Sudanese), and Somali (Somalis). Thus, the displacement contexts are remarkably diverse: the regions hosting refugees are all peripheral and relatively underserved. Eritreans, Somalis, South Sudanese and Sudanese were displaced due to different drivers related to conflict and fragility, and each group is integrated to different degrees within Ethiopian economy and host communities.
While traveling from the Ndjili Airport to the city center of Kinshasa, you will be introduced to a unique urban experience. The ambient chaos, high traffic congestion and crowded streets may remind you of other African cities, but in Kinshasa—Kin as locals fondly refer to her—everything is larger, faster and louder than life.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital is a festival of the senses; a dynamic amalgam of people and places that mix the rich and poor, blending the activities of people with opportunities and people fighting for survival, where fancy multi-story buildings are erected just miles away from massive slums. Although poverty is apparent, the lust for life, the vibrancy of local cultures, and the vivid manifestation of cultural expressions thrive among the Kinois.
The mobile money market is booming in Somalia. Approximately 155 million transactions, worth $2.7 billion or 36% of gross domestic product (GDP), are recorded every month. Mobile money accounts for a high proportion of money supply in the domestic, dollarized economy and has superseded the use of cash; seven out of 10 of Somalis use mobile money services regularly.
Although it’s Africa's largest economy, Nigeria is missing out on the region’s most exciting financial innovation: mobile money.
Twenty-one percent of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa have a mobile money account, nearly double the share from 2014, according to the latest Global Findex report.
By contrast, Nigeria lags behind: just 6% of adults have a mobile money account, a number virtually unchanged from 2014.
In 2010 Gabon was lagging far behind in the development of its digital sector. The cost of internet access was exorbitant and service quality left a lot to be desired. This was due largely to the monopoly enjoyed by the traditional provider, Gabon Telecom, and to the lack of fiber optic transport infrastructure in the country. Furthermore, the legal and regulatory framework of the sector was not conducive to the attraction of private sector investment.
The good governance of public financial resources is often more challenging during good times than during bad times. In the event of an unexpected negative shock – say a drought or a sudden decline in demand for the commodities produced in the country – it is generally rewarding, from a political perspective, for the government to launch ‘stimulus packages’ to keep the economic engine running.