Syndicate content

Africa

Twaweza, One of the World’s Cutting Edge Accountability NGOs

Duncan Green's picture

Rakesh Rajani is an extraordinary man, a brilliant, passionate Asian Tanzanian with bottle-stopper glasses and a silver tongue. The persuasive eloquence may stem from his teenage years as an evangelical preacher, but these days he weaves his spells to promote transparency, active citizenship and the work of Twaweza, the organization he founded in 2009.

Rakesh is a classic example of a hybrid social movement leader, bridging the divide between policy makers and poor people, equally at ease in the homes and meetings of poor villagers and the corridors of the White House or the Googleplex (both of whom he has advised).

Last week I spent two days at a review of Twaweza’s work; an intense, exhausting, intellectually tumultuous couple of days with the smartest group of people I’ve met in a long time. Not sure how many posts it will take to do justice to it, but here goes.

First, some background on Twaweza. Its name means ‘we can make it happen’ in Swahili. It is a ‘ten year citizen-centered initiative, focusing on large-scale change in East Africa.’ Its strategy was so brilliant and ahead of its time that I nearly blogged on it just as a piece of thinking. Here’s my feeble attempt to summarize it:

How to Create Jobs for Young People

Ravi Kumar's picture

Ask one of the millions of youth in Nairobi or New Delhi about their concerns for the future, and more than likely the response will be that he or she is worried about finding a job.

There are more than 1.2 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24 in the world. Seventy-five million of them are unemployed, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Disrupting Low-level Political Equilibria

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Absentee teachers, negligent doctors, high transport costs, missing fertilizers, and elite-captured industrial policy all stand in the way of poor people’s escaping poverty.  While the proximate reason for these obstacles may be a lack of resources or an erroneous policy, the underlying reason is politics. Lawmakers meet during a session of Parliament in Accra

- In many developing countries, teachers run the political campaigns of local politicians, in return for which they are given jobs from which they can be absent.  The situation can be described as an equilibrium, where the candidate gets elected and re-elected, and teachers continue to be absent.  The losers are the poor children who aren’t getting an education.  The equilibrium has no intrinsic force for change, especially if, as in Uttar Pradesh, India, 17 percent of the legislature are teachers.

 - High transport costs in Africa are due not to poor-quality roads (vehicle operating costs are comparable to those in France) but to high prices charged by trucking companies, who enjoy monopoly power thanks to regulations that prohibit entry into the trucking industry.  High transport prices and monopoly trucking profits are an equilibrium. In one country, the President’s brother owns the trucking company, so prospects for deregulation there are grim.

- Several countries subsidize fertilizer, sometimes to the tune of several percentage points of GDP, only to find that it fails to reach poor farmers.  Thinking that the problem is the public distribution system, some governments have tried to use the market to allocate fertilizer, by giving farmers vouchers that they can redeem with private sellers.  A scheme in Tanzania found that 60 percent of the vouchers went to households of elected officials. When subsidies are captured to this extent by political elites, their reform will be resisted—another equilibrium.

Helping Africa win better deals for its minerals

Makhtar Diop's picture

Helping Africa win better deals for its minerals © jbdodane
With oil in Niger and Uganda, natural gas in Mozambique and Tanzania, iron ore in Guinea and Sierra Leone―African countries are increasingly finding rich new deposits of oil, gas, or minerals and just as quickly, attracting the courtship of international companies that are drawn to Africa’s new bonanza in extractives wealth.

Preparing African youth for high-paying engineering jobs

Peter Materu's picture
Training Young Engineers to Transform Africa


At the 2013 Global Social Venture Competition held at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, two African students, Moctar Dembele and Gérard Niyondiko, won the first prize for creating an anti-malarial soap bar. They tested and developed this product at the International Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering in Burkina Faso, a small country in West Africa.

Is Trust a Crucial Factor in Business Success? (Part II)

Jacques Morisset's picture
Also available in: Français

Running a small business in a developing country is tough. Many entrepreneurs have little education to operate their business efficiently. They have also to do it in a difficult environment; full of predators –such as customers that do not want to pay their purchase, employees that leave with equipment and creditors that charge exorbitant interest rates. Many of those problems are rooted in the lack of trust (see part 1). Unfortunately, in most developing countries, traditional channels of regulation and trust between people and businesses have not yet been replaced by alternative mechanisms. This has to change.

A great many odds
Maasai women make, sell and display their bead work In the industrialized world, small firm owners are generally more educated and wealthier than the average citizen. In the US, they are about three times richer. Entrepreneurship is by choice, especially for those who have the initial assets, and this self-selective mechanism ensures that small firms do expand as their owners are also the people most capable to make them succeed.
 
By contrast, in developing countries entrepreneurship is not a choice for the vast majority. It is often their only option for economic survival. For this reason, the rate of entrepreneurship is four times higher in Uganda and Tanzania than in the US or 10 times higher than in France. (Tanzania National Panel Survey 2010/11) However, these entrepreneurs have little education and suffer severe cash constraints and limited access to credit. These factors explain why so much attention is devoted to improving entrepreneurs’ assets and capacities, mostly through skills development and better access to credit. The most successful programs appear to be those that have targeted young entrepreneurs by combining both training and financing programs.
 

Thinking About Going Back Home After Studying Abroad?

Michael Boampong's picture

 Trevor Samson / World Bank

As a young migrant living in the African diaspora, I am often quizzed by people regarding my plans to return and contribute to the development process of Ghana – my country of origin. Such questions remind you of your origin country and the fact that it needs you more than you can imagine.

Notes From the Field: A Pot of Money to Help Countries Trade

Julia Oliver's picture

About "Notes From the Field": With this occasional feature, we let World Bank professionals who are conducting interesting trade-related projects around the globe explain some of the challenges and triumphs of their day-to-day work. The views expressed here are personal and should not be attributed to the World Bank. All interviews have been edited for clarity.

Ian Gillson. Source - World Bank.The interview below was conducted with Ian Gillson, a Senior Trade Economist in the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) network. Before coming to the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., Mr. Gillson worked in Malawi and the United Kingdom on issues surrounding preferential trade between developed and developing countries, trade-related taxation systems, trade in services and agricultural trade. He spoke with us about his work managing a World Bank trust fund that supports trade-related assistance to poor countries around the globe.

The Making of the Middle Class in Africa

Mthuli Ncube's picture
Also available in: Français

Robust economic growth over the past 15 years has led to visible changes across Africa. Visitors to cities on the continent cannot help but notice the emerging African middle class.  Defined as those earning between $2 and $20 a day in 2010, Africa’s middle class is expected to grow from 355 million (34 percent of Africa’s population) to 1.1 billion (42 percent of the population) in 2060. To be sure, about 60% of them – approximately 180 million people – remain barely out of the poor category. They constitute the ‘floating’ class, earning between $2 and$4 a day. They are in a vulnerable position, constantly at risk of dropping back into poverty in the event of any unexpected shocks, such as the loss of income and the death of the head of household.
Pointing out business processess at ITU-Inveneo ICT Entrepreneurship Training Not only is Africa’s middle class crucial for economic growth, but they are essential for the growth of democracy and will play a key role in rebalancing the African economy. Consumer spending by the middle class has reached an estimated $680 billion in 2008 – or nearly a quarter of Africa’s GDP. By 2030 this figure will likely reach $2.2 trillion and Africa will comprise about 3 per cent of world-wide consumption.

Despite a reputation for thrift, middle-class households do allocate part of the household budget to leisure and entertainment. Our analysis shows that middle-class households are likely to spend more on private education and health, as well as on household assets such as televisions and refrigerators. In addition to being better off in material terms, the middle class are in general both more satisfied and more optimistic about the future than their poorer compatriots.


Pages