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A critical piece of the infrastructure puzzle: good governance

Chris Heathcote's picture
Allô École! training for parents, primary school, Tshikapa, DRC. (Photo: Ornella Nsoki / Moonshot Global, Sandra Gubler / Voto Mobile Inc., Samy Ntumba / La Couronne)


Mobile solutions for better governance in education

Let’s look at these pictures together: villagers examining a poster, teachers putting a similar poster on the wall, adding a number to it; government officials choosing designs for a dashboard with a help of a technician.  None of these can be described as “cutting-edge technology” but these photos show moments in the life of a cutting-edge, disruptive project.

It’s the kind of project that works technical innovation into the lives of citizens and incentives to respond to the needs of these citizens into the workflows of government officials. 

Allô, École! is a mobile platform funded by Belgian Development Cooperation and executed by the Ministry of education of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with the help of the World Bank.

Why 2018 global growth will be strong, and why there is still cause for concern, in 10 charts

Carlos Arteta's picture
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Download the January 2018 Global Economic Prospects report.

Global growth accelerated to 3 percent in 2017, supported by a broad-based cyclical recovery encompassing more than half of the world’s economies, and is expected to edge up to 3.1 percent in 2018. Global trade regained significant momentum, supported by an upturn in investment.

As headwinds ease for commodity exporters, growth across emerging and developing economies is expected to pick up. However, risks to the outlook remain titled to the downside, such as the possibility of disorderly financial market adjustment or rising geopolitical tensions.

A major concern in the subdued pace of potential growth across emerging market and developing economies, which is expected to further decline in the next decade. Structural reforms will be essential to stem this decline, and counter the negative effects of any future crisis that could materialize.

The broad-based recovery should continue

Global growth accelerated markedly in 2017, supported by a broad-based recovery across advanced economies and emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs), and it is expected to edge up in 2018.
 
Growth

Energy and raw materials prices gained in December, beverages and fertilizer prices fell – Pink Sheet

John Baffes's picture
Energy commodity prices gained 2 percent in December—the sixth consecutive monthly gain—led by a 6 percent increase in coal prices, the World Bank’s Pink Sheet reported.

Agriculture prices declined marginally, as a 5 percent decline in beverages, led by cocoa (down 10 percent) outweighed a 2 percent increase in raw materials prices, led by cotton (up 6 percent) and natural rubber (up 5 percent). Fertilizer prices declined 5 percent, led by a 11 percent drop in urea.

Metals and mineral prices gained less than 1 percent. A large gain in iron ore (up 12 percent) was offset by declines in zinc and nickel. Precious metals prices declined 2 percent, led by a 1 percent decline in gold.

The pink sheet is a monthly report that monitors commodity price movements.
 
Energy and raw material price indexes increased in December while beverage and fertilizer prices declined sharply.

 

The New ASEAN Green Bonds Standards

Ashraf Arshad's picture
The ASEAN Green Bonds Standards are a big step forward towards more green investments in the region. Photo: bigstock/jamesteoh


Climate change poses a significant threat to the economic development of countries around the world. The World Bank estimates that up to a 100 million poor people could be pushed back into poverty by 2030 as a result of climate changein part due to a combination of higher agricultural prices and threats to food security and health – especially in the poorer parts of the world. The Paris Agreement and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have provided commitments to tackle the most urgent of these environmental challenges.

Building benchmarks for infrastructure investors: a long but worthwhile journey

Sarah Tame's picture
Installing a solar panel in Bangladesh. Xiaoyu Chang/World Bank



In the village of Aharkandhi in northeastern Bangladesh, life has changed since homeowners began installing solar panels on their roofs. At night, families gather at the local grocery store to watch TV, which boosts business. Children study longer than before.
 
This is due in part to a World Bank-financed electrification project to promote off-grid electricity in rural communities. This year, the project became the first renewable energy program in Bangladesh to be issued carbon credits for lowering greenhouse gas emissions and the world's first Programme of Activities for solar home systems under the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to generate carbon credits.
 
With access to electricity, people are finding new ways to increase their income, and the word is spreading quickly across villages.

Africa is paving the way to a climate-resilient future

Tara Shirvani's picture


Since the presentation of the World Bank’s first Africa Climate Business Plan at the COP 21 in Paris in 2015 and the Transport Chapter in Marrakech in 2016, a lot of progress has been made on integrating climate adaptation and mitigation into our transport projects.

The World Bank initially committed about $3.2 billion toward mainstreaming climate action into transport programs in Sub-Saharan Africa in the form of infrastructure investments and technical assistance. Following the Paris Agreement, and building on African countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the size of this portfolio grew to $5 billion for 2016 to 2020.  In 2017, the institution added another $1.9 billion to that amount, bringing the total to $6.9 billion in projects with climate co-benefits— more than twice the size of the original portfolio. These investments will help improve the resilience of transport infrastructure to climate change and improve the carbon footprint of transport systems.
 
Climate change has already started to affect African countries’ efforts to provide better transport services to their citizens.  African transport systems are vulnerable to multiple types of climate impact: sea level rise and storm surge, higher frequency and intensity of extreme wind and storm events, increased precipitation intensity, extreme heat and fire hazard, overall warming, and change in average precipitation patterns. The increased frequency and intensity of extreme climate event challenges the year-round availability of critical transport services: roads are damaged more often or are more costly to maintain; expensive infrastructure assets such as ports, railways or airports can be damaged by storms and storm surges, resulting in a short  life cycle and capacity than they were originally designed for. Critical infrastructure such as bridges continue to be built based on data and disaster risk patterns from decades ago, ignoring the current trend of increased climate risk. For Sub-Saharan Africa alone, it is estimated that climate change will threaten to increase road maintenance costs by 270% if no action is taken.

Powering up Africa through innovation

Simon Bell's picture
Recent World Bank investment climate surveys find that the top two constraints for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa are access to finance and access to energy. Given that SMEs contribute disproportionately to boosting job creation, GDP, and exports, addressing these two constraints is critical to promoting economic development on the continent.
 
A new project combining skills across the World Bank Group and IFC is taking advantage of disruptive advances in the energy and finance sectors to address these longstanding challenges for SMEs.
 
Current access to electricity remains woefully low and is a major impediment to economic growth. More than half of Africa’s population isn’t connected to the energy grid and has no access to reliable power. At the same time, fewer than 50% of adults have an account with a formal financial institution.
 
In recent years, however, two important developments have made it possible to begin addressing these challenges:
  1. Off-grid energy solutions—notably solar power—have fallen dramatically in price with new business models working to scale them
  2. New digital-based financing mechanisms, such as crowdfunding, cryptocurrencies, peer-to-peer lending, psychometric testing, big data, and blockchain have emerged as tools for under-served finance markets.

There are strong parallels in these advances for both sectors. Whereas both energy and finance are traditionally provided by large-scale, centralized service providers—state-owned electricity utilities and large commercial banks, respectively—new solutions have effectively decentralized and democratized the provision of these services. Now a range of smaller, innovative companies can provide these services and consumers can go “off-the-grid” for both their energy and financial needs.
 

Anne Mwaniki, CEO of Solimpexs Africa, a Kenyan company producing solar-powered heating systems.
Photo © infoDev / World Bank

Farewell 2017; Hello to More and Better Infrastructure in 2018

Jordan Z. Schwartz's picture
Volatility in financial markets gets wide attention in the public eye. Less noticed is what we in the development world call macroeconomic volatility—faster-than-desired swings in the broad forces which shape an economy. Think investment, government spending, interest rates, foreign trade and the like.

There are three key questions to analyze: how do these forces interact, what is their effect on overall growth, and what policies are best to follow? All this is of more than academic interest: macroeconomic volatility can bring substantial hardships to millions of people

Three reasons why maritime transport must act on climate change

Nancy Vandycke's picture



Getting more youth to engage productively in agriculture is not, and won’t be, an easy job. As an aspiring goat farmer and student in agribusiness management, I know that it takes real passion and commitment to make a living from agriculture. I am currently rearing 40 free range goats on a small farm in my village. On average, I spend about Uganda Sh30,000 to rear each goat—which I normally sell off during the Christmas season at Shs 200,000. This year, I intend to use the money to expand the business, and invest in high value crops to take advantage of the free manure from the goats.

How young people are rethinking the future of work

Esteve Sala's picture
(Photo: Michael Haws / World Bank)


When we talk about the future of work, it is important to include perspectives, ideas and solutions from young people as they are the driving force that can shape the future.  As we saw at the recent Youth Summit 2017, the younger, digitally-savvy generations —whether they are called Millennials, Gen Y, or Gen Z— shared solutions that helped tackle global challenges.  The two-day event welcomed young people to discuss how to leverage technology and innovation for development impact.  In this post, we interviewed —under a job-creation perspective—finalists of the summit's global competition.


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