Over the past five years, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the World Bank Group have coproduced 20 volumes on various dimensions of development in Africa. The Africa Development Forum (ADF) book series has addressed subjects including the agricultural, demographic, climatic, and environmental challenges facing African countries, as well as the various methods of financing infrastructure, cities, and social safety nets. In-depth research brings to light specific and diverse situations encountered around the continent. Moving beyond the results of such endeavors, the question remains of how to conduct research that can make a pertinent and meaningful contribution to public policy. Two fundamental tools are required: robust, and often times original, data and cutting-edge research. This research must not only be connected to international realities; it must be firmly anchored in African realities and geared toward public policy making.
En Afrique, la plupart des parents vous diront que l’éducation de leurs enfants est l’investissement le plus important qu’ils puissent faire. Au cours de la dernière décennie, l’accès à l’école a considérablement progressé, et, aujourd’hui, dans des pays comme le Bénin, le Cameroun, le Rwanda et la Zambie, le taux net de scolarisation au cycle primaire est supérieur à 90 %. Cependant, à l’échelle du continent africain, le taux d’achèvement de l’école primaire et le taux d’alphabétisation des jeunes restent bien trop faibles.
Most parents in Africa will tell you that their children’s education is the most important investment they can make. Over the past decade, great progress has been made in terms of getting children into school, with countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Rwanda and Zambia recording primary net enrollment of over 90 percent. But across the continent, primary school completion and youth literacy rates remain unacceptably low.
Climate change imposes stark challenges in West and Central Africa, where droughts and floods are already frequent. Vast portions of the region’s populations are poor, dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, and unable to prepare and respond adequately to extreme weather events. Weak monitoring and information systems, absence of proper infrastructure, and limited governance capacity render countries in the region unable to manage their climate risks, threatening food and energy security, economic development, ecosystem health, and overall regional stability.
This blog is the latest in a series of posts reflecting on the findings in the 2016 World Bank Poverty in a Rising Africa report, released in its entirety this month. We look forward to your questions and comments regarding this and other blogs in the series.
The consumer price index (CPI) is the most commonly used measure of inflation in the world, and Africa is no exception. But do CPIs reliably reflect the actual change in the cost of living? And if not, how does this affect our understanding of how poverty has evolved in the region?
The CPI is derived from a fixed and supposedly representative basket of goods and services provided in the domestic market to measure a cost-of-living index. To keep up with changing consumption patterns, the basket weights need to be updated regularly. But often they are not. Most get updated every decade or even less frequently, so they become less and less representative of the items that consumers actually purchase.
Last year two of my friends welcomed new babies into their families: James and Maureen (not their real names). Both babies were born in Metropolitan Nairobi - the fastest growing urban area in the country. Their births added to the growing urban popluation in Kenya, which will double to 24 million by 2035 and more than triple to 40 million by 2050. The Kenya Urbanization Review projects that by that time, that there will be nearly as many Kenyans living in urban areas as there are Kenyans today. Kenya’s urban transition has begun.
In Nigeria, Africa’s largest and most populous country, more women are engaging in work than ever before. By 2011, more than half (57%) of women 15-64 years old were in some form of employment. The increase in women working has been driven by women with the least amount of schooling finding work –these are the women who are more likely to be out of work than those who have had access to more schooling.
Static poverty measures fail to distinguish between an individual who has been in poverty all her life, and another who happens to have had a small misfortune for the year the measurement was carried out. But these distinctions matter. The forces that conspire to condemn some individuals to remain stuck in poverty for years are generally somewhat different from those that randomly drag them down for a brief period. The latter group may need only some temporary relief – perhaps only some short-term employment insurance till they get the next job – while the former would need also longer-term interventions aimed at breaking the persistence of poverty. Indeed, the longer people spend in poverty, the lesser tends to be their chance of exiting it. As Africa rose, has its poverty remained mainly chronic, or has it become a more transient state of affairs?
Les indices des prix à la consommation (IPC) font parfois l'objet de débats houleux. En 2013, les projets de l'administration américaine visant à revoir l’indexation des prestations de sécurité sociale sur l’inflation a déclenché une vague de manifestations parmi les employés fédéraux (a). La nouvelle méthode, qui reposait sur une nouvelle version de l’IPC, était conçue pour s’ajuster plus précisément au comportement de substitution du consommateur. Ainsi, les consommateurs auront tendance à acheter des fraises à la place des myrtilles si le prix des myrtilles augmente de manière disproportionnée. L’absence de prise en compte de ce facteur crée un biais de substitution dans l’IPC. Néanmoins, cette mesure s'est avérée extrêmement impopulaire, notamment parce qu’elle a été perçue, selon les mots de Paul Krugman, comme « une réduction pure et simple des prestations » (a). Le président Obama a finalement abandonné la proposition.