As President of the Steering Committee for Cameroon’s Health Sector Support Investment Project, I was pleasantly surprised by the innovative character of the Performance-based Financing (PBF) approach; and by its transformative potential.
Since the beginning of time, women have been at a disadvantage when looking for financial loans. One reason is that women have less control over land and assets that can be used as traditional collateral. This puts a real damper on her ability to launch an enterprise or, even when she manages to launch one successfully, to take it to the next level.
In Africa, women’s entrepreneurial knack is self-evident to anyone who sets foot on the continent—just look at any roadside! So, this problem is likely quite costly and holding back development. Can we solve it somehow?
As it happens, the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab, an entity that spun off from Harvard’s Center for International Development in 2010, has developed a tool using something called “psychometric testing”, which measures personal characteristics such as knowledge, skills, education, abilities, attitudes and personality traits as a means to predict how likely it is a person will pay back a loan. And it is proving quite effective. Could this be a way to finally help find a solution for women who don’t have any credit history or hold formal title to assets that are traditionally accepted as collateral?
The World Bank Group’s Global Practice for Finance and Markets (GFMDR) started thinking seriously about this, and worked to see it if it could be integrated in a Bank-funded project in Ethiopia (the Women Entrepreneurship Development Project, US$50m). Francesco Strobbe leads the project team, and started to discuss the issue with us in the World Bank’s Africa Region Gender Innovation Lab (GIL). “I thought this was a great opportunity to test some innovative measures to see if we could reach a real breakthrough with much potential for women entrepreneurs—in Ethiopia and elsewhere.”
Entre 1950 et 2014, la population africaine a progressé à un rythme annuel de 2,6 %, soit nettement plus vite que la moyenne mondiale, estimée à 1,7 % selon des données de projection des Nations Unies (a). Durant cette période, l’Afrique a connu une transition démographique : le taux de mortalité, auparavant très élevé, a reculé, tandis que le taux de fécondité, lui, est resté élevé. D’autres régions du monde, et surtout l’Asie de l’Est, ont su profiter de leur transition pour accélérer leur croissance et tirer parti du fameux « dividende démographique ». Au tour de l’Afrique de saisir cette opportunité !
Africa’s population grew at an average annual rate of 2.6 percent between 1950 and 2014, much faster than the global average of 1.7 percent as estimated from UN population projection data. During this time, the region experienced a demographic transition, moving from a period of high mortality and fertility rates to one of lower mortality, yet still high fertility rates. Other regions, most notably East Asia, took advantage of their transitions to accelerate growth, and reap a so-called ‘demographic dividend’. Africa is now being presented a similar opportunity.
L’information diffusée par les médias sur l’épidémie d’Ebola en Afrique de l’Ouest attire souvent l’attention sur les enfants orphelins. Reportage après reportage, des histoires déchirantes (a) nous parviennent d’enfants qui ont perdu leurs parents à cause du virus Ebola et qui sont parfois même rejetés par leur communauté. Ces enfants méritent notre attention, car chacun sait que la perte d’un parent est lourde de conséquences à court et à long terme. Des travaux empiriques menés au Kenya (a), en Afrique du Sud (a), en Tanzanie (a) et dans l’ensemble du continent font apparaître que les résultats scolaires des enfants devenus orphelins se détériorent rapidement. Certaines observations en Tanzanie montrent que ces impacts négatifs sur l’éducation et la santé continuent de se faire sentir jusqu’à l’âge adulte.
Much of the media coverage of children during West Africa’s Ebola epidemic has been focused on orphans. Repeatedly, we have read heartbreaking stories of children who have lost parents to the disease and even been rejected by their communities. These children deserve our attention: We know that losing a parent has both short-term and long-term impacts. Evidence from Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and across Africa demonstrates significant reductions in educational outcomes for orphans in the short run. Evidence from Tanzania shows that adverse education and health effects persist into adulthood.
The inaugural Annual Bank Conference on Africa examined strategies for converting economic growth into poverty reduction. Taking an economic historian’s perspective, the prospects are complicated by long-term shifts in fundamental patterns, specifically from land abundance to land scarcity and, relatedly, from labor repression to landlessness as the principal source of poverty.
The southern fringes of the Sahara desert host rugged lands where mankind has thrived for more than a millennium. In this vast panorama, the Inner Niger Delta stands out: In a region where limited rainfall is a fact of life, the Delta is a natural dam and irrigation scheme whose flood plain creates a grazing and cropping perimeter that at its peak can reach 30,000 km2 and sustains about 900,000 people.
You could be forgiven if you found deworming to be something of an enigma. Some have hailed it as one of the most cost effective interventions for improving school participation in developing countries. Yet two recent review papers, drawing together the lessons from many studies, find insignificant effects of deworming on learning specifically and only uncertain evidence on cognition more generally. How could this be?
The short answer is that, until a few months ago, both views could be right. I explain why in this 7-minute talk highlighting my recent research.
But if you prefer to read rather than watch the video, allow me to explain.
Inequality is of concern for at least three reasons. First, lower inequality per se is an objective for a decent society. Second, lower inequality improves the efficiency of economic growth in achieving poverty reduction. Third, high inequality impedes growth itself, through its impact on social cohesion and the investment climate.