African Head of States and Governments will convene in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia later this month to launch a continent-wide free trade agreement (CFTA). The summit will focus on solutions to the numerous impediments that hinder intra-African trade: inefficient transit regimes and border crossings procedures for goods, services and people; poor implementation of regional integration commitments.
"How was school today and please don’t forget to bring milk on your way back home". This simple conversation between Halima, a 36–year-old woman from Dodoma and her young daughter on their mobile phones was almost impossible 15 years ago: only 2 percent of Tanzanians had a phone and only one of two children attended a primary school (Figures). Today those figures reach 50 and almost 100 percent respectively. Daily life has evolved in Tanzania with technology and education as the main drivers.
Politicians, pundits, and (sometimes) development practitioners have been arguing that 2012 will be a make-or-break year in Kenya’s history, similar to 1963 or 1992. Is the 2012 challenge real or just a case of pundits playing Cassandra? Specifically there are three challenges coming together.
First are national elections. The last general elections ended in a catastrophe. If the 2012 elections are again violent, Kenya’s image as a peaceful, mature democracy may be tarnished for a generation. Investors and tourists would be even more reluctant to come to Kenya and quick to dismiss the “friends of Kenya” (including your blogger) who strongly believe in the strengths of this country and its medium-term potential.
A tremendous amount of development research is all but unknown in the countries that are the subject of that research. In Kenya, this is the case with path-breaking papers like the Kremer-Miguel Worms study and the Cohen-Dupas insecticide-treated net pricing experiment.
To increase the visibility of such policy-relevant work, we’re producing a "Kenya 2011 Poverty Research Review" that will be published early next year as part of our larger Poverty Update report, which will be widely publicized in Kenya.
The Poverty Research Review will give an overview of poverty-related research on Kenya published in 2011 in journals or working paper series. There is a wide pool of work to draw from: a search on "Kenya" and "poverty" in Google Scholar produces 12,900 references for works produced in 2011.
As an experiment, I’m going to try drawing from the wisdom of crowds for this project. Please help me with your suggestions for high-quality papers on poverty-related issues in Kenya that you would like to see highlighted in our review.
When I was growing up in Bavaria—Germany’s largest and proudest state—there were a lot of efforts to revive remote regions, especially those bordering the former East Germany and Czechoslovakia.
There were special incentives for industries to locate in these regions and important federal subsidies to their local governments. Other countries made much more radical attempts at reshaping their economic geography.
Indonesia forced people from “overpopulated” Java to resettle in remote parts of the country, including to the culturally distinct province of Papua. Brazil, Nigeria, and Tanzania relocated their capitals to “decongest” their mega-cities.
All of these experiments yielded the same result: complete failure! Germany’s remote regions never became centers of economic activity, while the big cities—especially in emerging economies—continued to mushroom and grow.
These lessons are important for Kenya as it embarks on a massive decentralization program—arguably the most radical in the world today.
In times of regional and global turbulence, Rwanda’s economy has demonstrated remarkable resilience. A new Rwanda Economic Update shows why.
In 2011, growth will reach 8.8 percent, inflation has been contained below 10 percent and the exchange rate remains stable. This economic resilience reflects sound macroeconomic management.
Rwanda’s growth prospects for 2011 compare favorably with others in the region, but this outlook is contingent on three factors. First, prudent macroeconomic management continues, inflation is at single digits and the exchange rate remains stable.
Over the last decade, there has been increasing enthusiasm for empowering poor people by giving them information. For instance, sharing information about absentee teachers and doctors, the availability of drugs in clinics, and the effectiveness of development projects will enable poor people (the intended beneficiaries of these programs) to demand better services—and get them.
I share this enthusiasm and may even have contributed in a small way to it. But at a recent aid data conference, I thought I’d consider the criticisms that such efforts have received, and some responses.
1. They already know. Poor people don’t need to be told that the teacher is absent from the public primary school. Their children have been telling them this for years.
The World Bank and IMF have received much press attention in recent weeks in Kenya. The Kenyan Kazi Kwa Vijana (“work for youth”) initiative, which the Bank was supporting through its Youth Empowerment Project, and Government’s decision to request substantial IMF funding to support macroeconomic stability have been the source of heated debates in parliament.
In recent years, the aid industry has been a focus of critical examination and the object of debate.
by Michael Clemens and Gabriel Demombynes
Contrary to persistent perceptions that sub-Saharan Africa is mired in intractable misery, many of the region’s countries have experienced sustained economic growth, deepening democracy, improving governance, and decreasing poverty in recent years.
To take just one aspect of the African Renaissance, in five of six countries for which recent data is available—Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, and Ghana—rates of child malnutrition as measured by stunting have declined in the last decade. Because so much is changing in Africa, it is crucial to take this “background” change into account when evaluating the impact of local policy interventions.
This is evident when considering the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) evaluation, which we critiqued in a peer-reviewed journal article. Recently, we examined the three peer-reviewed papers that dealt with the MVP’s impacts and showed that they do not back up the project’s claims of large impacts, in part because they don’t take “background” change into account.
There’s a new development: The MVP has just released its first study that does try to distinguish changes observed at its village sites from broader changes happening across Africa.
Today poverty data are available for almost all countries in the world1. Because a country’s success is measured by the number of people it lifts out of poverty, identifying best performers is a fair exercise only if poverty indicators are fully comparable. One indicator used is the share of the population whose consumption (or income) level is below a nationally defined poverty line or the US 1.25 dollar PPP per day. But even if policy makers and other stakeholders can count on readily available statistics, the poverty numbers should not be taken at face value.
Data are useful if they give us a sense of reality
Poverty data are based on a set of arbitrary assumptions that may lead to erroneous conclusions.