As the oldest university in Tanzania, the University of Dar-es-Salaam (UDSM) has an impressive line-up of notable alumni: Just try and google them. As presidents or policy leaders from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, or, indeed, from Tanzania itself, they have one thing in common—their imprint on public policy within their countries, either as actors or as critics.
There is a lot of discussion right now about mobile payments and its potential in rural and urban communities. Who uses these services and how will this impact various key markets?
According to the latest Mobile Payments report by the GlobalWebIndex, the next wave of growth in mobile payments will be in rural areas. Defined as the financial transactions performed via mobile devices, mobile payments may offer solutions to traditional methods of delivering financial services. Currently 7 in 10 mobile payment users live in urban environments.
Globally, there are about 2 billion adults without access to a basic bank account. Although this is a 20 percent decrease from 2.5 billion adults in 2011, it’s still a high number. Regardless of barriers of opening a bank account (lack of enough money, distance to the nearest financial service provider, lack of proper documentation papers, etc..), one thing is clear: traditional financial services are not meeting the needs of the low income users. Will mobile payments fill this gap?
Suppose that you’re at your doctor’s office, discussing an important health issue that may become a concern in the near future. There are multiple drugs available in the market that you can use to prevent unwanted outcomes. Some of them are so effective that there is practically no chance you will have a negative event if you start taking them. Effectiveness of the other options range from 94% to much lower, with the most commonly used drug failing about 10% of the time for the typical user. Somehow, you go home with the drug that has a one in 10 failure rate: worse, you’re not alone; most people end up in the same boat…
This blog summarizes the findings of the Agrifood Youth Employment and Engagement Study (AgYees). The authors, all at Michigan State University, are Andrea Allen, Julie Howard (corresponding author), M. Kondo, Amy Jamison, Thomas Jayne, J. Snyder, David Tschirley, and F. Kwame Yeboah.
Africa’s share of the global population is projected to rise dramatically from 12% in 2015 to 23% by 2050. This huge demographic trend will certainly amplify Africa’s political and economic impact on the rest of the world, and this impact will largely be determined by young Africans between 15-35 years who constitute about 55% of the labor force. At the same time, Africa faces a big employment challenge, about 11 million young Africans are expected to enter into the labor force each year until 2035. Yet formal job creation in Africa’s growing economies has not kept pace -- more than half of Africa’s un- and underemployed are youth. Research by Michigan State University in collaboration with The MasterCard Foundation, the Agrifood Youth Employment and Engagement Study (AgYees) examines the potential for African agrifood systems to provide employment opportunities for Africa’s youth, focusing on Tanzania, Rwanda and Nigeria.
The study found that, throughout the next decade, expanding investments in Sub-Saharan Africa’s agrifood system will be critical to generate greater numbers of higher paying jobs —both on and off the farm — that can reduce poverty among the large rural youth population and accelerate economic transformation.
In the fiscal transparency arena, people often hear two conflicting claims. First, governments complain that few people take advantage of fiscal information that they make publicly available. Many countries - including fragile and low-income countries such as Togo and Haiti – have been opening up their budgets to public scrutiny by making fiscal data available, often through web portals.
Increasing the supply of fiscal information, however, often does not translate to the adequate demand and usage required to bring some of the intended benefits of transparency such as increased citizen engagement, and accountability. Providing a comprehensive budget dataset to the public does not guarantee that citizens, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the media will start digging through the numbers.
Last August, I visited Quang Ngai, a central coastal province in Vietnam, to collect data for a survey on women’s participation in resettlement activities. I expected our first meeting with the local community to be short and uncontroversial. It wasn’t.
“We, women? Our participation? It doesn’t matter. We all stay at home. We don’t care about you coming here and asking about our participation,” said one female participant. “What we do care is to know the extent to which the recommendations we make today will be addressed. We need a resettlement site with community house, trees and kindergarten as promised during the project preparation.”
That comment brought to light an important perspective, highlighting the tension between what we might expect women to want, and their actual needs.
The impacts of development-induced resettlement disproportionately affect women, as they are faced with more difficulties than men to cope with disruption to their families. And this is particularly the case if there is no mechanism to enable meaningful participation and consultation with women throughout the project cycle in general and in the resettlement process in particular.
Socio-emotional skills are the new hot topic in education. Governments, ministers of education, policymakers, education experts, psychologists, economists, international organizations, and others have been captivated by these skills and their contribution to students’ academic and life outcomes. The goal seems clear, but the way to achieve results is not so obvious. Most of the literature focuses on the impact of socio-emotional skills on different outcomes, while much less illuminates the specific mechanisms through which teachers can boost students’ socio-emotional development.
Much is written about Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) from the perspective of the public sector, but one often forgets the private sector forms its own perspectives based on national and domestic market perceptions as well. These perceptions are always based on the availability of reliable qualitative and quantitative information.
Discussions with private sector leads has revealed that information gaps, more often than not, have proven to be obstacles that have resulted in “no-go” decisions on poorly articulated procurements initiated by inexperienced public sector procurement officers. Overcoming private sector hesitation is pertinent to the success of a procurement.
Examples abound of leading tech companies that have adopted open source strategy and contribute actively to open source tools and communities. Google, for example, has been a long contributor to open source with projects – such as its popular mobile operating system, Android – and recently launched a directory of the numerous projects. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is another major advocate, running most of its cloud services using open source software, and is adopting an open source strategy to better contribute back to the wider community. But can, and should, public institutions embrace an open source philosophy?
In fact, organizations of all types are increasingly taking advantage of the many benefits open source can bring in terms of cost-effectiveness, better code, lower barriers of entry, flexibility, and continual innovation. Clearly, these many benefits not only address the many misconceptions and stereotypes about open source software, but are also energizing new players to actively participate in the open source movement. Organizations like the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) have been systematically adopting and leveraging open sources best practices for their geospatial technology, and even the U.S. Federal Government has also adopted a far-reaching open source policy to spur innovation and foster civic engagement.
So, how can the World Bank – an institution that purchases and develops a significant amount of software – also participate and contribute to these communities? How can we make sure that, in the era of the ‘knowledge Bank’, digital and re-usable public goods (including open source software, data, and research) are available beyond single projects or reports?