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My top three and Bono's top ten

Shanta Devarajan's picture

For the World Bank's internal website, I was asked to list the three most important developments of the past decade.  To elicit a broader discussion, I am sharing it on this blog.  In a subsequent post, I will list the three most important challenges and opportunities for the coming decade.  One or two of my items are also reflected in Bono's excellent piece in yesterday's New York Times, "Ten for the Next Ten."  Here are my top three:

1. Sustained and widespread economic growth in Africa. 

For the first time in three decades, growth in Africa was equal to that of all developing countries (except China and India). Until the global crisis of 2008-9, average economic growth had been accelerating from around 4 percent in the early part of the decade to 5.7 percent in 2006 to 6.1 percent in 2007 (with a pre-crisis forecast of 6.4 percent in 2008). This growth was not just due to high oil prices either—22 non-oil-exporters sustained better-than-four-percent average annual growth between 1998 and 2008.

2. African response to the global economic and financial crisis.

African countries were perhaps the worst hit by the global crisis—as private capital flows, remittances, tourism, primary commodity prices and foreign aid either slowed down or declined. The response of African policymakers was to continue the prudent macroeconomic policies of the past—running modest countercyclical policies when they had fiscal space—sustain as much as possible the medium-term development agenda, and in some cases even accelerate reforms. As a result, the policy environment for economic growth and the productive use of external resources in Africa has never been better.

3. The ICT revolution

Although Africa continues to have a massive infrastructure deficit, one component—information and communications technology—really took off during the decade. The number of mobile phone users rose from 10 million in 2000 to 180 million in 2007; some 94 percent of the population is covered by the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM). Farmers in Niger now get price information from different markets on their cell phones before deciding where to sell; M-PESA’s mobile banking enables poor rural households in Kenya to receive remittances from anywhere in the world.

Comments

Submitted by Sisay on
Hello Dear Shanta I really appreciate you to post the three most important developments in the past in Africa. I fully agree with you that sustained growth in Africa was a great success for the continent. In addition I also agree with you that Africa has done better during the financial crisis by maintaining the prudent policies that it had followed in the past decade. Shanta what about economic policy managment( you can say it making) , I think it also was among the most important developments during the past decade. Because now African's are capable of following prudent macropolicies. Shanta I hope in your next post you will post the failures in Africa. In my view, I think African countries might not be in good speed in transforming their economies. Because despite the growth in Africa there are also things that we need to change. We need to become exporters of not just primary products, but we should start trying to export manufacturing & other advanced products. We African's , as a continent, are not capable of feeding ourselves steel, I think we need to make our Agricultural sector more productive than with more land.

I would like to propose the Paralegal Advisory Services Institute (PASI) in Malawi to be listed as one of Africa's great success stories. Despite being hounded by difficulties with financial support, the dedication of this organisation has resulted in tremendous impact on the reduction of prison populations in a number of African countries (and in Bangladesh) and raising awareness among justice institutions of the capacity of non-lawyer paralegals to assist in providing justice. PASI's Paralegal Training programme has been delivered in Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Bangladesh and is being sought after in Southern Sudan, Liberia and other countries. PASI has also developed the Village Mediation Programme (VMP), inspired by work of the Madaripur Legal Aid Association in Bangladesh, which trains members of the community to assist their fellow villagers in resolving day-to-day disputes, confidentially and free of charge; relieving the workload of both Courts and traditional leaders and thereby maintaining peace and harmony in the community. The VMP has proved successful in Malawi and Bangladesh and is now being replicated in Sierra Leone and is available for replication elsewhere in Africa and Asia. Interest is enthusiastic in post-conflict countries where justice systems have been destroyed and confidence in government eroded.

Submitted by e okul on
Despite being hounded by difficulties with financial support, the dedication of this organisation has resulted in tremendous impact on the reduction of prison populations in a number of African countries (and in Bangladesh) and raising awareness among justice institutions of the capacity of non-lawyer paralegals to assist in providing justice. PASI's Paralegal Training programme has been delivered in Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Bangladesh and is being sought after in Southern Sudan, Liberia and other countries. PASI has also developed the Village Mediation Programme (VMP), inspired by work of the Madaripur Legal Aid Association in Bangladesh, which trains members of the community to assist their fellow villagers in resolving day-to-day disputes, confidentially and free of charge; relieving the workload of both Courts and traditional leaders and thereby maintaining peace and harmony in the community. The VMP has proved successful in Malawi and Bangladesh and is now being replicated in Sierra Leone and is available for replication elsewhere in Africa and Asia. Interest is enthusiastic in post-conflict countries where justice systems have been destroyed and confidence in government eroded.

Submitted by Dr. Rebecca K Lutte on
I attended the second Pan African Aviation Training Conference in Cairo in June. I am a public administration and aviation faculty member from University of Nebraska at Omaha and my research area is aviation policy in Africa. The key for improving and creating a sustainable, efficient, safe aviation infrastructure lies in the key theme which emerged from the conference - harmonization. States must develop means to standardize training, achieve cross-border acceptance of certification, and share resources for training purposes. The conference which had representatives from CAAs, training organizations, etc developed important steps to meet those goals. It will take funding and commitment to move into the implementation stage but this is vital for meeting the needs for qualified personnel in the aviation industry.

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