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Europe and Central Asia

​Are we harnessing the power of the sun?

Isabel Chatterton's picture

Also available in: العربية

Are we harnessing the power of the sun? With the success of rooftop solar and other initiatives, we’re beginning to head in the right direction.
Photo: Bernd Sieker/flickr

Solar success has come from unexpected quarters. For example, Germany is probably not the first country that comes to mind when you think of sunshine, but we can follow Germany’s lead. It’s the world’s biggest small-scale photo-voltaic user with an installed capacity of 32 gigawatts, and 60 percent of capacity is from solar panels that are installed on people's roofs.

Germany also launched a 100,000 rooftops program, which provided concessional, 10-year loans along with attractive feed-in tariffs to further incentivize households to participate. This was soon after the success of its pilot 1,000 rooftops program, which created the right incentives and targets were achieved a year ahead of schedule – in 2003. 
Germany, Japan and the U.S. state of California are fulfilling their strong solar power potential, and we could all learn from their examples – especially nations that haven’t yet explored the proven promise of solar.
Statistics like these convince me that there is so much more we can and must do. I’m heartened that progress in India has been steady, with successes that prove the country is ready for more.

Protecting Your PPP: Stabilizing partnerships in uncertain times

Waleed Youssef's picture
Uncertainty is inherent in developing and operating complex infrastructure and services projects, and it is for this very reason that government officials seek public-private partnership (PPP) partners to mitigate the most complex of risks. Yet legal and regulatory frameworks, in place for legitimate reasons (especially in emerging markets), often dampen the private sector’s ability to address in an optimal manner the challenges that can and often do arise during the term of a concession.

It is important to distinguish between projects that exceed expectations — and therefore generate greater than expected financial returns to both parties, yet require additional, unanticipated capital investments — and struggling projects where there is an urge by the developer to reduce ongoing investment and maintenance.
Istanbul Ataturk Airport. 
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“Successful PPPs are all alike…”
To paraphrase Tolstoy, successful PPPs are all alike, but every unsuccessful PPP is unsuccessful in its own way.

Successful projects are easier to manage owing to positive cash flows, and could additionally incorporate an obligation by the developer to increase its investment according to certain capacity-related triggers on the basis of floor and ceiling for project returns. This could also be supplemented by sponsor commitments to co-investment or to extend the concession terms based on minimum returns, as well as a sponsor sinking fund to ensure independence from the uncertain and tedious public budgeting process. Very often, concession agreements focus on what to do when things go wrong, but not how to continue to meet demand when things go well, especially toward the end of the concession term.

Why do students and scholars need budget literacy?

John Ivor Beazley's picture
After one and a half days of intense discussions in Moscow with a group of experts from four continents, I have come away excited and energized by the possibilities of making students more aware of the business of government and becoming more active and responsible citizens. 
In most developed countries, anywhere from one-third to half of all national income is managed by the government - but how much does the average person really understand about the budget or the difficult choices and trade-offs being made by governments every day?
Should taxes be raised or lowered?
Should they spend on schools? Better hospitals? Pensions?
Is it better to run a deficit and let future taxpayers settle the bills or save today to pay down the debt? 
Why is this barely discussed in schools?  
To help address this basic question, the Russian Ministry of Finance, helped by the World Bank, is piloting an initiative designed to encourage responsible citizenship and greater engagement in the budget process. The idea is that high school seniors will debate and discuss these issues, using real life cases and information from government budgets. 

Part of the #Youthbiz movement? Share your story!

Valerie Lorena's picture

Also available in: Français | العربية

A boat trip from Port Elizabeth to Kingstown, in the Caribbean country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, is a one-hour trip that locals take several times a day. It was during one of these journeys that the boat of Kamara Jerome, a young Vincentian fisherman, ran out of gas six miles from Bequia City in what is termed locally as the "Bequia Channel." While waiting for help with strong wind gusts and the sun on his head, the idea of developing a boat that would run with wind and solar energy was born. Soon after, the idea became a prototype; a boat using green technology was on the water making 20-year-old Jerome a winner of international innovation competitions and a role model to other Caribbean youth. 
In Mexico, young engineer Daniel Gomez runs a multimillion bio-diesel company originally conceived as a research project for his high school chemistry class. Gomez and his partners - Guillermo Colunga, Antonio Lopez, and Mauricio Pareja - founded SOLBEN (Solutions in bio-energy in Spanish) in their early twenties. 
Although Daniel and Kamara have different educational backgrounds, they do share one important skill, the ability to identify a problem, develop an innovative solution, and take it to the market. In other words, being an entrepreneur, an alternative to be economically active, that seems to work and not only for a few.

How universities can respond to the new demands of the labor market and society

Claudia Costin's picture

Every moment- but most especially today- we should celebrate young people and the great potential they have. Happy International Youth Day!

I’ve been fortunate to meet and talk to several bright young people in my work. Last May, on the sidelines of the Bologna Ministerial Conference in Armenia, I had a chance to visit the (World Bank-supported) Simulation Center at the Yerevan State Medical University. My colleagues from Armenia and I observed how mannequins connected to a computer simulated medical situations where students would work on a dummy and it would ‘respond’ to them by closely mimicking the reactions of real-life patients. The university rector, Professor Narimanyan, explained that this innovative method allows students to upgrade their practical skills and reduce the number of mistakes they could potentially make in their medical careers.

Return Migration and Re-Integration into Croatia and Kosovo (Roundtable, May 11-12, 2015 -- Zagreb/Croatia)

Hanspeter Wyss's picture
The goal of KNOMAD’s roundtable Return Migration and Re-integration into Croatia and Kosovo was to probe the hypothesis that return migration and homeland reintegration promote development through the transfer of enhanced human and social capital that migrants commonly acquire in their host society integration.

More oil from old wells: Innovating for Kazakhstan’s future

Yeraly Beksultan's picture
Although innovation has been a hot topic in Kazakhstan for over a decade now, it’s not always easy getting brilliant ideas “from the laboratory to the market.”
Kazakh scientists navigate this winding, unpredictable road for years and generally come to the realization that great scientific research is not enough in itself. Too often, they face a lack of support when it comes to applying the results of their scientific research in a useful, practical way.
Fortunately, a team of Kazakh scientists at the Private Entity Institute of Polymer Materials and Technology in Almaty has had a somewhat more positive experience. This team has been working on a truly innovative project: developing a solution to improving the recovery of oil from old oil wells in Kazakhstan.
But why, you might ask?

Residential sector reform: Ukraine at the crossroads

Grzegorz Gajda's picture
Reform of the residential and utilities sector in Ukraine is now imminent, as much as the modernization of law enforcement or reform of the public health care system. In fact, Ukrainians deal with these areas on a daily basis and, historically, reforms in the residential sector were usually postponed until better times. First, it is important to explain why Ukraine finds itself in this situation. After gaining independence, Ukraine received, among other things, a tremendous amount of state-owned residential property.

MOOCs and e-learning for higher education in developing countries: the case of Tajikistan

Saori Imaizumi's picture
There has been a lot of talk and research on massive open online courses (MOOCs) and their potential impact, but is it really applicable to developing countries? How can universities take advantage of online content? And what kind of regulations and quality assurance mechanisms do we need? 

Last year, as a part of the “Tajikistan: Higher Education Sector Study,” I led a team to conduct pilot activities to assess the feasibility of using MOOCs and other e-learning content in higher education institutions (HEIs) in Tajikistan.

Recently the Government of Tajikistan has decided to discontinue existing correspondence-based programs for part-time students and shift to a “distance learning” system using computers and Internet technology. Thus, this study was conducted to assess the possibility of using information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve access, quality and relevance of higher education in Tajikistan. In addition, the study supported a mini-project to pilot a number of ICT-based solution models to tackle challenges identified in the country’s National Education Development Strategy.

Recently, we interviewed pilot participants about their experience participating in MOOCs, e-learning and distance education, and then produced a series of short video clips. These videos showcase the impact of potential use of online learning and distance education for improving access, quality and relevance of education as well as reduction of the gender gap. One of the female students in the video mentioned that distance education allows her to continue studying after having kids.

Here is the overview video that we produced:
ICT for Higher Education? The Case of Tajikistan

Sharing PPP experiences across borders

David Lawrence's picture
How valuable are lessons of experience in PPPs from other countries? Legislative and regulatory environments differ, as do market conditions and the overall investment climate. So replicating a successful PPP in another country isn’t a simple as following the same steps or using similar contract or tender documents.
But that doesn’t mean lessons cannot be transferred. Even if conditions vary, the underlying principles of PPPs remain the same regardless of where it is executed. For example, a PPP is always a long-term contractual agreement between a government entity and a private company; it must be financially sound if it is to work; and risks must be identified, mitigated and allocated effectively. The details of how these principles are applied will vary depending on the regulatory and market conditions of each country. But the examples remain valid nonetheless.
In Ukraine, PPPs have been slow to catch on, initially because the business climate was so weak. The country’s neighbors were all more successful at implementing PPPs: Poland has 65 PPP projects underway according to the Ministry of Economy’s PPP database, and Moldova’s first PPP established a radiology and diagnostic imaging center. But none of Ukraine’s neighbors have done as well with PPPs as its Black Sea neighbor, Turkey.
Turkey is a regional PPP powerhouse. The 2014 PPI Global Update, which provides information on private infrastructure investment in emerging markets, puts Turkey in second place globally for the second year in a row with US$12.5 billion. In 2014 alone, 17 new projects were launched in mainly in power and transport. Not surprisingly, Ukrainian officials have been looking with great interest to Turkey’s success.