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Latin America & Caribbean

Iberoamerica: Contributing to the long-term prosperity of a continent

Jose Carlos Villena Perez's picture

During my recent business development trip to Spain to represent MIGA at a forum on Latin American port infrastructure organized by Tecniberia, I had an opportunity to see with my own eyes and appreciate the great achievements made by many Iberoamerican nations.

One remarkable point in the still-young economic history of the 21st century is the “decade of sustainable prosperity” in Latin America. The region benefits from one of the longest growth periods in its modern history, with only Chinese and other emerging Asian powers jeopardizing its first position at the imaginary podium of the 21st-century economic empires.

It seems that Iberoamerica has finally managed to break its peculiar Malthusian trap (short periods of booming growth followed by deep recession) in which it fell again and again throughout the 20th century, and has seriously taken a sustained path of progress.

However, there are no grounds for complacency and passive contemplation of what has been achieved in this prodigious decade. Iberoamerican leaders and governments have to continue consolidating their economies, eradicate any poor past practices, and acquire new human resources and technical infrastructure. This will help them position their countries among the most advanced nations of the world and diminish the immediate risks of a slowdown in global growth.

The region is still facing evident challenges: the strengthening of the middle class, reduction of income inequality, exploitation of vast natural resources, and the engagement of minority groups or aboriginal majority in political and social life. Enrique Iglesias, head of the Iberoamerican General Secretariat (SEGIB) and former president of the Inter-American Development Bank, recently pointed out that "Iberoamerica is not going to have it easy going forward.  We are no longer sailing with a favorable wind and we will have to use our own engines—sometimes the wind will even be against us...We have to start thinking in these new terms."

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.

Good Lord! Are we stuck in time?

Kerry Natelege Crawford's picture

Photo by Chico Ferreira, available under a Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0).
(Photo by Chico Ferreira, available under a Creative Commons license - CC-BY-2.0)

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.

Bringing Down Gender Barriers: Testimony of a Colombian Bus Driver

Isabelle Schaefer's picture

When I met Juliette Cadavid, I was immediately impressed with her energy and her smile. I was in Pereira, in the coffee zone of Colombia, filming a video on the mass transportation system of the city, Megabus, supported by a World Bank project.

But when Juliette told me her story, how she was the only woman to drive one of the larger buses (articulados) of the Megabus system (she says there are two more women driving smaller buses), how her career in the public transportation world started and how she carried on with faith and work till she landed a job in an urban transportation system, I told myself that this was a story I wanted to share.

With her urge to achieve her goals, she reminded me of the documentary Girl Rising, and how women face challenges in a world of men, but with the hope that they can overcome them.

As World Bank reports show, women have been key to poverty reduction in Latin America: more than 70 million of them joined the labor force in the last 20 years, and their income, on its own, has reduced extreme poverty by 30%. But there are still many barriers and inequalities concerning the type of work, or salary.

Juliette is one of these women who have been able to overcome challenges and stereotypes, and has managed to make her dream come true.

Listen to her story:
 

Bringing Down Gender Barriers: Testimony of a Colombian Bus Driver

 

 

 

How a ramp for people with disabilities can make a difference for a big city

Arturo Ardila's picture


Can a ramp for people with disabilities make a difference in a big city? The answer may seem obvious to many, but I encourage you to read on to find out the complexities and nuances surrounding the issue of mobility in a large Latin American metropolis. This is a true story. I was attending the launch of a project “Mainstreaming Inclusive Design and Universal Mobility in Lima ”project -  financed by the Japan Policy and Human Resources Development (PHRD) program and I was surprised to see people in wheelchairs asked to move away from the table where coffee, pastries and fruit were being served during the break. 
 
 At the same time blind, deaf and people with cognitive impairments, among other disabilities, were being actively welcomed.
 

Caribbean: Working together to boost growth

Andrea Gallina's picture

What is the solution to low growth in the Caribbean? That's been the question on the minds of  private sector, government and civil society representatives from 12 Caribbean countries for the last year.

They're all member of the Caribbean Growth Forum - a regional initiative designed to share experiences, ideas and expertise to promote a more prosperous Caribbean. Andrea Gallina has been coordinating the process since it launched in May 2012.

Here he explains what has been achieved so far and what the next steps are for the Caribbean.

Caribbean: Working together to boost growth

 

The most “human” bike-sharing system in the world lives in Buenos Aires

Andres Gartner's picture

As porteñas as tango, yellow bicycles from the Buenos Aires’ bike-sharing system have undoubtedly become a part of the urban landmark. In a city dominated by buses and taxis, bicycles have recently made a comeback and are slowly reclaiming the road through the bike sharing system –or bicing as we all call it. Known as Ecobici, this system has celebrated the millionth trip last December and is here to stay.

What makes Ecobici different from other bike sharing systems around the world? We think it’s about two simple answers: it is operated manually and doesn’t cost an Argentinian peso.

Caribbean women entrepreneurs: Smashing down walls to get to the top

Eleanor Ereira's picture


Women entrepreneurs in the Caribbean are breaking through the walls (Credit: infoDev)

In the last few decades, women in the Caribbean have made impressive strides to break through the glass ceiling and obtain positions of power and responsibility. In governments throughout the region, we’ve seen women as national leaders including Janet Jagen (Guyana), Eugenia Charles (Dominica), Portia Simpson Miller (Jamaica) and Kamla Persad-Bissessar (Trinidad). In addition, the region’s women are attaining high levels of academic achievement, and now there are more female than male college graduates in total. While this is all extremely positive news for gender equality in the Caribbean, we shouldn’t rest on our laurels just yet. There is still one area of the playing field that remains to be leveled, and not just in the Caribbean, which is women succeeding as well as men as high growth entrepreneurs.


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