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Europe and Central Asia

Nepal one month after the earthquake

Johannes Zutt's picture
Kathmandu after the first earthquake


It has been a month since a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit central Nepal on April 25. What happened next? 
 
Having experienced a real threat of death, many survivors manifested avoidance (“I don’t want to talk about it!”), hyper-vigilance (“What’s that noise? Is the ground moving?”), intrusive thoughts (“What if the next big one may come while I’m asleep …?”) -- classic stress reactions.
 
Many Bank staff have had many sleepless nights as the aftershocks continued, more than 250 to date above a magnitude of 4, thirty above 5, four above 6, and—just when we first thought that life was becoming normal again—a 7.3 on May 12.
 
That one came like the first one, in the middle of the day, but it felt like an unwelcome nighttime guest, full of foreboding.  People ran into the streets screaming, or silly giddy on realizing that they had survived another one—but even more terrified at what would come next.  More people died; more buildings collapsed.  People who had moved back into their houses moved out again. 

Closing thoughts on the "Harnessing Digital Trade for Competitiveness and Development" conference

Rosanna Chan's picture

Fiber optic light bokeh. Source - x_tineDigital entrepreneurs have the potential to connect to global markets like never before. Whether selling physical goods on internet platforms, or providing digital goods and services that can be downloaded and streamed, an entirely new ecosystem of innovative micro and small businesses has emerged in the developing world.
 
The World Bank Group hosted some of the pioneers in this space for a full-day conference on Harnessing Digital Trade for Competitiveness and Development on May 19. Here, we heard entrepreneurial success stories—an online platform for jewelry in Kenya, a provider of software solutions in Nepal, an online platform for livestock trade in Serbia—and dove into the constraints and challenges of running a digital business in an emerging economy.
 
The scope of these challenges made these success stories, and the broader potential they represent, even more inspiring. From internet connectivity to logistics, from financial payments to trade regulations, from bankruptcy laws to entrepreneurial and consumer digital literacy-- clearly, more needs to be done to fully harness the potential of digital trade for competitiveness and development and to foster an enabling environment to digital trade.

CEO: Why Europe’s largest energy companies support carbon pricing

Gérard Mestrallet's picture
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Gérard Mestrallet is chairman and CEO of ENGIE, formerly GDF Suez. He spoke at the World Bank Group about his company's support for carbon pricing and the involvement of Europe's energy companies in reinvigorating the EU's emissions trading system. 
 

Poland’s educational boom and what it means for future employment

Piotr Lewandowski's picture
The lessons from the Polish educational boom show that tertiary education can be expanded relatively quickly, especially when the demand for skilled labour grows, wage premiums are high and the private providers are allowed to cater to the growing demand for education. However, what seems tougher is ensuring that the structure of education faculties and the skills being taught reflect not only the current demands but also future needs. Looking at the demographics, we can see that by 2030 most of beneficiaries of the education boom will prime-aged. There will be less people on the labor market, but they will be better educated and should be much more productive than the current workforce, cushioning the impact of ageing on the economy.
 

The new European Agenda for Managing Migration: How to find the needle, and not destroy the haystack

Dilip Ratha's picture
Earlier this week, the EU announced a new agenda to address the latest wave of migration through the Mediterranean. Some 30,000 migrants are estimated to have arrived in Europe this year already, and over 1,800 have died in the sea. Last year Syrians and Eritreans were the two largest groups of such migrants. Most of them took to the sea from Libya.

​Stories from the field: World Bank-IFC collaboration on new PPP legislation in Albania

Christina Paul's picture
There is a wide range of issues to address when initiating and implementing a country’s national program for public-private partnerships (PPPs). One of the first priorities is providing an adequate legal and institutional framework to help create and/or develop a market for PPPs. In the recent case of Albania, this involved an assessment of the country’s current PPP legislation, especially in terms of its ability to attract private sector investment and generally move its PPP agenda forward.
 
IFC advised on Albania's Ashta
hydropower plant. Photo: © Energji Ashta

Particularly over the last decade, Albania has seen a number of PPP projects being implemented, most of them in the energy sector; for example, the Ashta hydropower plant on whose development the International Finance Corporation (IFC) advised. Given, however, that the country’s overall capacity and readiness to carry out PPPs has been assessed as only slightly above average (Source: Infrascope for Central and Eastern Europe 2012, The Economist Intelligence Unit), there is an apparent need to further build up and strengthen its institutional and implementation ability vis-à-vis PPPs. To this end, the Government of Albania is now focused on the further streamlining of its legal and regulatory PPP framework as one area of reform.

In February, a joint team from the World Bank and the IFC therefore participated in a review of the country’s current PPP legislation as well as the changes proposed to it, and organized a workshop for the Government of Albania. The latter focused on the institutional and legal/regulatory context essential for carrying out PPPs. Two colleagues and I represented the World Bank’s PPP group during our visit.

Is the region ready for the next big one?

Joaquin Toro's picture

By now everybody is witnessing the devastating consequences of the 7.8 magnitude (Richter scale) earthquake in Nepal. According to the latest figures, more than 7,000 people have died and more than 10,000 have been injured. These numbers are likely to increase as the authorities and relief agencies reach more remote locations.

In light of this event we asked ourselves a series of questions for our region:

When will the next catastrophic earthquake hit?
Where will it be?
Is it going to be in East Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region?
Are we prepared for it?


The answers to these questions are both simple and complex.

Understanding Europe’s immigrants’ challenge from the viewpoint of the bottom 40%

Sudharshan Canagarajah's picture
A recent Economist (April 25th, 2015) cover story on the “Europe’s boat people: A moral and political disaster ” (requires a subscription), refers to a critical global challenge of migrants and asylum seekers as countries around the world undergo trying times due to war, economic crisis, and joblessness, resulting in more poverty and deprivation.

What happens when the economics of everything meet the internet of things?

Miles McKenna's picture

What will digital innovation mean for trade and development? Source - RiderofthestormWhen we think of eradicating extreme poverty, most of us associate this idea with the provision of basic needs. Food. Water. Shelter. Some argue to include clean air, security, even access to basic healthcare and primary education. But what about access to the internet? Where does the internet fit into development?

This is one of the overarching questions put to the authors of the upcoming 2016 World Development Report: Internet for Development. It was also the topic of a recent roundtable discussion entitled Digital Trade: Benefits and Impediments here at the World Bank Group, where economists and development professionals, including representatives from the public and private sectors, sat down to discuss some of these issues in detail.

The conversation hinged on what the internet meant for trade, especially for online entrepreneurs in developing countries. The internet, in many ways, signifies innovation. How then can we ensure that individuals seeking to introduce their ideas to the world and tap into the global marketplace can best do so? Is this a question of infrastructure? Is it a question of regulation?

Here’s what the numbers tell us.

Greek tragedy: 'Sleepwalking' toward an economic abyss, with eurozone fears pervading the Spring Meetings

Christopher Colford's picture

“All roads lead to Rome” may have been true in ancient times, but policymakers during this Spring Meetings season in Washington have been focused on another classical crossroads: All roads now lead to Athens, as the intensifying eurozone crisis is again stoking fears that Greece may soon “crash out” of the European common currency system – potentially dealing a severe shock to the still-fragile global financial markets.

“The discussions about Greece have pervaded every meeting” during this fast-forward week of finance and diplomacy, said the United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. That viewpoint was reinforced by a studious chronicler of the Greek drama’s daily details, Chris Giles of The Financial Times, who asserted – in an unusually dismissive swipe – that “the antics of Greece dominated the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.”

The Greece-focused anxiety was palpable to many Spring Meetings attendees, judging by the number of corridor conversations and solemn sidebars that dwelled on the eurozone drama – especially on the Fund’s side of 19th Street NW. While most forums and panels on the Bank’s side of the street focused on the progress of many developing countries, events at the Fund seemed consumed by the policy contortions within Greece's faltering economy, as Meetings-goers monitored every tremble of their text messages to follow the week’s the week’s staccato bulletin-bulletin-bulletin news of Greece’s financial flailing.

“The mood is notably more gloomy than at the last international gathering,” said Osborne, “and it’s clear . . . that a misstep or miscalculation on either side [of the Greece negotiations] could easily return European economies to the kind of perilous situation we saw three to four years ago.” Having received a $118 billion bailout in May 2010 and a second package of $139 billion in October 2011, Greece is now at an impasse with its creditors: the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission. A new government in Greece – having denounced the loan conditions reluctantly accepted by its predecessor governments – is debating how, or whether, it should comply with lenders’ pressure for far-reaching reform. Greece's foot-dragging has exasperated the lenders even as Greece envisions a potential third bailout program.

As the Greek tragedy unfolds, the doleful observation of Wolfgang Münchau in the FT seems all too apt: “Until last week, discussions with Greece did not go well. That changed when the circus of international financial diplomacy moved to Washington for the Spring Meetings. Then it became worse.”


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