It’s the classic conundrum that governments typically grapple with. Which projects are most beneficial in the long-term? How do large, expensive projects impact on the debt dynamics and macroeconomic stability? While there is a need for large infrastructure investment in the developing world it is often difficult for governments to determine the most beneficial projects.
The recent revolutions in the Middle East have brought even more urgency to the perennial challenge of how policies can help create better job opportunities for youth. North Africa, along with Sub-Saharan Africa and South India, has among the world’s highest population growth rates and as one widely quoted study put it, “the Arab Spring could not have occurred without the ideological and numerical push of a huge mass of angry youth.” Neighboring countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which still has among the highest birth rates in the world, noticed.
For generations, coastal communities in West Africa have lived off the land and sea, depending on the region’s abundant natural resources for their nutrition, health and economic activity. Coastal habitats such as mangroves and coral reefs, both important breeding grounds for fish, as well as hydrocarbon and mineral deposits, have helped foster thriving cities, trade, commerce and economic development in the region’s coastal zones, the source of 56% of West Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP.)
The 2009 financial crisis demonstrated how closely local government finances and housing policies are intertwined with the financial systems and the economy as a whole. The ramping up of efforts to combat global warming and the prospects created by the COP 21 preliminary discussions have once again thrust local governments into the spotlight, with their growing responsibilities in the areas of adaptation and mitigation.
The issue of adaptation will feature more prominently than ever in the discussion. Agreeing to limit warming to two degrees means the negotiators recognize that certain degree of warming is unavoidable. Countries need to adapt, and adequate resources are needed to help poorer countries make the transition.
How should countries go about adaptation? The answer is not an easy one. The technological solutions to reduce emissions are well known, but exactly how development decisions in response to anticipated climate change are most effectively made is a lot trickier.
Leading up to the 26th anniversary of “Africa Industrialization Day,” a big new report by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) puts the structural transformation of African economies through industrialization back in the spotlight as imperative to ensure sustained economic growth and poverty eradication on the continent.
The recently-published Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by the International Monetary Fund underscores the enduring view of international financial institutions that the depth, pace and perfecting of structural reforms needs to continue, not only for competitiveness and growth but also for resilience should external headwinds emerge. The report also presents an important opportunity to further develop this agenda, by the additional treatment of the underlying causes, particularly non-price based ones, and thereby generate a more actionable view of the growth, competitiveness and equality trends so incisively presented in the report.
Challenges for African Agriculture was first published in 2008 in French by Karthala, and then in English by the World Bank in 2011 as part of the Africa Development Forum Series, in partnership with Agence Francaise de Developpement. The book deals with the challenges facing Sub-Saharan agriculture.
Since the work appeared, the rural development challenges analyzed at length in the book, whether demographic, economic, environmental, social, cultural or political, seem even more difficult to contend with. Many Sub-Saharan countries, the Sahel in particular, have yet to begin their demographic transition. The agricultural economy, still largely dominated by small family farms, is hindered in achieving its full potential by the lack of interest demonstrated by weak public authorities and scattered aid agencies.
This blog was first published on September 15, 2015 by Alexandre Marc, Chief Specialist for Fragility, Conflict, and Violence at the World Bank and author of the recently published book, “The Challenge of Stability and Security in West Africa. It is being re-posted this week to highlight the book’s launch event in Europe, at the Agence Française de Développement in Paris.
A few months ago, as I was walking through the streets of Bissau, the capital of Guinea Bissau, I reflected on what had happened to this country over the last 20 years. It had gone through a number of coups and a civil war; its economy had barely been diversified; electricity and water access was still a major issue. There was the city of Bissau on one side, where a semblance of services where provided, and the rest of the country on the other.