Syndicate content

Africa

Benefits to the poor from clean and efficient energy use

Daniel Kammen's picture

The December 2011 Climate Conference (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa, presents a tremendously important opportunity to advance both the globally critical goal of climate protection, and to do so synergistically with a local agenda of sustainable development and poverty alleviation. 

 

The COP 16 meeting in Cancun last year, while in many ways an important step forward, particularly on the role of energy efficiency, did not result in decisions on the global accord, and much remains to be done. One remedy for this situation may be to achieve local successes that demonstrate how climate protection and clean and efficient uses of energy can directly benefit the poor.

 

The fact that the COP will take place in Africa, which has the highest unmet need -- and demand for reliable and affordable energy access – brings to a head the need to find new tools and paths that can meet both goals. As the plans for the Durban Conference evolve, there must be a premium on action that implements this strategy.

 

A new multi-donor program which is part of the Climate Investment Funds and is managed by World Bank Group and Regional Development Banks, may be an ideal component of that plan:  the new Scaling up Renewable Energy in Low-Income Countries (SREP) program, provides an exciting avenue to meet both goals. Six pilot countries, Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, the Maldives, Mali and Nepal, were selected for initial blocks of funding to bring clean energy technologies rapidly to meet the unmet demand for energy. Discussions are underway to bring in funding to double this pilot group.

 

Last month in South Africa, I had the opportunity to see just how a program like the SREP could build on both local innovative capacity, and the political attention that COP17 can bring to climate and development needs. The World Bank office in Pretoria hosted a meeting of African Ambassadors to South Africa, where I had the opportunity to discuss with them (see picture above) both market changes taking place in the region, and technology options to rapidly bring clean energy to the poor. 

Africa's Evolving Infosystems

Antonio Lambino's picture

Our fascination with information and communication technologies (ICTs) crosses many borders.  The public, private, and nonprofit sectors are all atwitter about it.  The same goes for young and old, rich and poor, and the many groups in between.  For the more affluent, it’s partly about aesthetic coolness and conspicuous consumption.  For geeks, it’s partly about what the newest gadgets can do that previous versions could not.  From a development perspective, it’s partly about more effective and efficient delivery of public and private goods and services.  And for all, it probably has something to do with enhanced opportunities for connections among people who might not have known of each other’s existence otherwise.  So, indeed, our fascination with ICTs crosses many borders.

It was this insight that I took away from a lunchtime seminar jointly organized by CommGAP, infoDev, and the Africa Governance and Anti-Corruption (GAC)-in-Projects Team at the World Bank.  At the event, Prof. Steven Livingston presented findings from his new study published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies entitled Africa’s Evolving Infosystems: A Pathway to Stability and Development.  Summarizing field research from at least six countries in the region, Livingston reasons that

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

POLIS Journalism and Society (LSE)
After Tunisia and Egypt: towards a new typology of media and networked political change

"Social media did not ’cause’ the revolutions in Tunisia or Egypt. But if I want to find out where the next uprising in the Middle East might occur, that is certainly where I would look. Social media is now a useful indicator, if not predictor, of political change.

And regardless of the causal relationship, social media does seem to be a critical factor in the evolution of a new networked kind of politics.

Of course, the most important pre-conditions for revolution are economic. Both Tunisia and Egypt had recently suffered economic downturns on top of gross income inequality in societies that are relatively developed."

Ethiopia: Uptick in Investor Interest

Michael Durr's picture

Here at MIGA, I’m responsible for fielding initial investor inquiries about our political risk guarantees, which is an interesting vantage point from which to note trends. Last year I blogged about the rising interest of foreign investors in Sierra Leone. Talking with investors around the world interested in emerging markets and examining MIGA’s Preliminary Application (PA) data, I see a similar trend emerging in Ethiopia. Investor interest has grown dramatically.

MIGA was created to promote foreign direct investment into developing countries by mitigating political risk. The agency offers insurance to private investors against

Could easier access to AIDS treatment increase risky sexual behaviors?

Damien de Walque's picture
 Photo: istockphoto.com

By the end of 2009, an estimated 5.2 million people in low- and middle-income countries received antiretroviral therapy (ART). In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 37% [34%–40%] of people eligible for treatment had access to those life-saving medicines (UNAIDS 2010). This is an extraordinary achievement, considering that as recently as 2003, relatively few people living with HIV/AIDS had access to ART in Africa. The scaling-up of ART in Africa and other regions has saved the lives of countless people and we hope will continue to do so.

 At the same time, access to HIV/AIDS treatment might have transformed the perception of AIDS from a death sentence to a manageable, chronic condition, not necessarily different from any other chronic disease. Such a change in perception could lead to change in sexual behaviors. If AIDS is not perceived as a killer disease anymore, it might induce complacency and increase risky behaviors and the mixing between higher- and lower-risk groups in the population. That’s what has been described as the “disinhibition” hypothesis.

Developing Countries, Trade Openness and Growth

Merrell Tuck-Primdahl's picture

Debates over the relationship between trade openness and growth have been going on for around 160 years. A key aspect of that debate is how important growth is for poor countries as they strive to catch up with the best-of-the best in a competitive world. For openness to succeed, you must first put in place ports, roads and other building blocks for prosperity, and you need well functioning bureaucracy to help build the foundation for a strong trade sector. Passionate free-trader Arvind Panagariya, Columbia University Economics Professor and Jagdish Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy, spoke eloquently about this at his February 16 Development Economics (DEC) Lecture at the World Bank. His research has entailed cross-country case studies of what he terms ‘debacles’ and ‘successes’ in Asia, Africa and beyond. On the one hand, Panagariya admitted that free trade is no panacea to overcome stagnation and he acknowledged that trade liberalization has failed to catalyze and sustain growth in many instances. On the other, he argued that there are many more examples of countries failing to stimulate growth through protectionism.  Panagariya expressed skepticism about industrial policy, but cautioned that its presence cannot prove either the beneficial or harmful impact of openness on growth. You can watch the interview with Professor Panagariya here.

What Keeps Kids from Learning?

Christine Horansky's picture

What keeps kids from learning? It’s a question that is on everyone’s mind – and an important one -- as the global community looks to move beyond universal access to universal educational achievement. Watch below as Shanta Devarajan, the World Bank’s Chief Economist for Africa, interviews Rakesh Rajani of the East African NGO Twaweza, who gives an excellent overview of the learning problem faced in Tanzania and by many other low-income countries around the globe.

 

Shanta Devarajan interviews Rakesh Rajani from Sense Film Production on Vimeo.

It's Africa's Turn

Rebecca Post's picture

In Washington last Friday, I boarded a flight to Addis Ababa at 11:00 am. By the time I arrived in Johannesburg, Egypt’s president of 30 plus years was no longer in power. The pace of change in the Middle East and North Africa is mind boggling. Anyone doing business in the region is trying to grasp the implications, and the risk profile of doing business in some of the countries has suddenly changed.

In the meantime, sub-Saharan Africa is looking more and more attractive to investors. At least that was the consensus at today’s MIGA-sponsored seminar on managing political risk for cross-border investment. For too long, Western media has portrayed the region as a place of war and famine.

Rising food prices, governance, and other stories this week

Swati Mishra's picture

Rising food prices have once again grabbed everyone’s attention. Prices for some basic foods are nearing the 2008 food crisis levels. In the post ‘Soaring Food Crisis’, Paul Krugman analyzes the data from USDA World supply and demand estimates, and blames the current price spikes on global harvest failures. However, the main question still remains unanswered – is another food crisis afoot? Answers to this and some other concerns are addressed in the latest World Bank Flash and also in the World Food Program’s ‘Rising Food Prices: 10 Questions Answered’ piece.

Should 16 year old Africans vote? Why not… Africa has the youngest and fastest growing population in the worldwhere more than 20% are between the ages of 15- 24, argues Calestous Juma in an insightful post on the Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog. Speaking of Africa, in an interesting post, ‘Do informed citizens hold governments accountable? It depends…’ (Governance for Development blog), Stuti Khemani from the World Bank’s Research Group examines the impact of radio access on government accountability in Benin.


Pages