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Europe and Central Asia

Five Things You Never Knew about the World Bank

Ravi Kumar's picture

The World Bank is the largest international funder of education.

The World Bank Group is the largest international funder of education.

Education is one of the most important tools young people need to get good jobs. That’s why the Bank works with national governments, United Nations agencies, civil society organizations, and other partners in developing countries to ensure everyone has access to education.

A New Partnership With Moldova

Abdoulaye Seck's picture

I landed in Chisinau on a short flight from Frankfurt a mere two years ago. I immediately liked this vibrant and cosmopolitan city built with white limestone and awash with greenery, and remember thinking that it has the potential to attract scores of tourists. But tickets to fly into Chisinau were expensive in 2011.

I also recall so vividly my first trip through the Moldovan countryside shortly after.  An amalgam of bright green leaves on walnut trees contrasted the yellow of the sunflowers that grow in fields with some of the most fertile soil in the world. I was immediately struck by the immense potential that Moldova holds in agriculture.

 

Good things have happened since then.

Girls and Technology Can Change the World

Liviane Urquiza's picture

Young woman working on a computer.
Young woman working on a computer. Tunis, Tunisia. Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank

“Girls programming isn’t just a cool thing; it’s also doubling the chances of developing innovative tools and making the world a better place for everyone.” These words are from my friend Julie, who has been working as a web developer for the last four years. She has also been involved in a few volunteer programs in Africa, mainly to train young women on IT tools.

Energy Efficiency: Scaling Up to Cut Costs And Emissions

S. Vijay Iyer's picture

Energy Efficiency
Energy is essential to heat homes and cook meals. It is needed to deliver proper health care in hospitals and to teach children. It is essential for economic growth and development and for powering industries, farms and businesses. It is at the heart of any effort to make a better life possible for people all over the world, in particular for the world’s poorest.

Young People Will Invent Their Future

Ravi Kumar's picture
#youthday 2013Students from Tonga's Tailulu College making the most of new high-speed broadband services at 2013 World Telecommunication and Information Society Day celebrations in the the Tongan capital, Nuku'alofa. Nukua'lofa, Tonga. Photo: Tom Perry / World Bank
 

Kelvin Doe found that batteries were too expensive for a project he was working on in 2009. He used acid, soda, and metal parts that he found in trash bins in his neighborhood to build his own battery. Doe, then a 13-year-old from Sierra Leone, constructed a generator to light his home and operate an FM radio station that he built. He now employs his friends at the radio station.

Don’t Put All Your Exports in One Basket (That Means You, Resource-Rich Country!)

Gonzalo Varela's picture

Baku, Azerbaijan. Source - flickr.com/photos/9464116@N08/7816929566/in/photolist-cUKNPG-fdSCiF-feJL8Y-feaJrS-feurU8-feuqP6-feb4rd-fdVqvc-febfvm-fdVVrX-fdVQWB-fe7YGL-fdSz12-feb68j-feJFA5-fevRZT-fdSAzV-feaNqs-fdVWBi-feJK3C-feanKW-feap55-8Sgjmp-fe5RVE-fe5vvC-fdQwrK-fdQpv4-fe5y7w-fdQtuK-fe5KvW-fe5Agf-fe5Nbm-fe5CjQ-fe5HHs-fe5Sbs-djYTYR-8F59Fq-bkr5Tf-8E86t9-8c3pDH-8c6JB5-8AjSRo-8AjSUJ-8eGwJc-aDwLd2-8AjSWj-8E86Tb-8E4VK2-8E85Mo-a4NYwC-7ZnFFRDiversification of a country’s exports – increasing both the number of products it produces and the destinations of those products – is considered part of the path to development. Many economists and policy-makers see export diversification as an important means for increasing employment and speeding growth. Diversification also makes growth more stable, as it provides protection against shocks; a country that exports many products will not be hit so hard when the price of one falls, and similarly, a nation that exports to a wide variety of destinations will be shielded against a recession in one of them.

But new evidence contributes to a body of work suggesting that countries with an abundance of natural resources might be more prone to export concentration during spurts of high natural-resource prices – mainly in products, but also to a milder extent in trading partners – leaving them more vulnerable to price swings. 

Big educational laptop and tablet projects -- Ten countries to learn from

Michael Trucano's picture

tablets loom increasingly large on the horizon in many places[also available in Thai]

Recent headlines from places as diverse as Kenya ("6,000 primary schools picked for free laptop project") and California ("Los Angeles plans to give 640,000 students free iPads") are just two announcements  among many which highlight the increasing speed and scale by which portable computing devices (laptops, tablets) are being rolled out in school systems all over the world. Based on costs alone -- and the costs can be very large! -- such headlines suggest that discussions of technology use in schools are starting to become much more central to educational policies and planning processes in scores of countries, rich and poor, across all continents.

Are these sorts of projects good ideas? It depends. The devil is often in the details (and the cost-benefit analysis), I find. Whether or not they are good ideas, there is no denying that they are occurring, for better and/or for worse, in greater frequency, and in greater amounts. More practically, then:

What do we know about what works,
and what doesn't (and how?, and why?)
when planning for and implementing such projects,
what the related costs and benefits might be,
and where might we look as we try to find answers to such questions?

Dealing with Uncertainties in Energy Investments

Uwe Deichmann's picture

 John Hogg/World Bank

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global energy demand is likely to grow by more than one-third between now and 2035. Mobilizing investment capital is one major task. Additionally, energy infrastructure such as electric power facilities has a long time span – up to 40 or 50 years in the case of base-load nuclear or coal plants. As the new Growing Green report, released by the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Region, points out, with such a long time span and the enormous amount of capital at stake, power sector investments need to consider at least three types of uncertainties—changing regulations, changing technology, and changing climatic conditions.

Regulatory Uncertainty

Regulatory uncertainty persists in countries without formal greenhouse gas emission restrictions. Even in the EU, the emissions trading system is still evolving and future prices for carbon emissions will in large part depend on political decisions. Such schemes may spread to other parts of Europe and Central Asia as the implications of climate change become more apparent and support for climate action rises. A price on carbon, either through a cap-and-trade sys¬tem or a tax, can profoundly alter the comparative economics of different power generation technologies. With a price on carbon emissions, the cost differential between fossil-fuel plants and low-carbon alternatives shrinks and in some cases disappears.

Many international firms and banks already incorporate an assumed carbon price into their financial investment feasibility calculations. Expectations of future carbon pricing have already altered investment decisions favoring natural gas over coal-fired power plants in the U.S. (although more recently the drop in gas prices has been a larger factor). Conversely, regulatory uncertainty also hinders investments in low-carbon generation. The IEA estimates (pdf) that uncertainty in climate change policy might add a risk premium of up to 40 percent to such investments, driving up consumer prices by 10 percent.

How Fit Are Feed-In Tariff Policies?

Fan Zhang's picture

 Tomislav Georgiev
World Bank study of Eastern Europe and Central Asian experience finds that complementary policies needed to get more renewable bang out of FiT buck.

Given that the effects of energy efficiency measures tend to be offset by a greater energy consumption that comes with economic growth, these measures, while important,  will not by themselves be sufficient to achieve major reductions in emissions – making the move toward cleaner energy a rising priority for climate change mitigation.


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