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Financial Sector

Why investors must take a chance in the world's most fragile countries

Stephanie von Friedeburg's picture
Microfinance in DRC. © Anna Koblanck/IFC
Microfinance in DRC. © Anna Koblanck/IFC


Fragility, conflict and violence affect more than two billion people across the globe. And while poverty on the whole is declining, that's not the case in countries affected by conflict.

It is these countries plagued by near-constant political and economic instability that are often the ones most in need of private investment. Yet they are also the places few private investors are willing to go. The risks seem to outweigh the rewards.

If you build it (roads), will they (financing) come?

Sumit Agarwal's picture

Investments in public infrastructure is a key component of economic growth strategy among emerging economies, and a particular focus of the Modi government. In general, policymakers and financial economist assume that financing will follow once the roads are built, and thus, facilitate the best use of new productive opportunities created by new road connectivity. However, many rural and agrarian economies suffer from chronic problems of financing, characterized by the absence of formal financial institutions and reliance on informal moneylenders who often are unreliable and charge usurious interest rates. Therefore, a key question remains: if you build it (roads), will they (financing) come?

Can Islamic finance unlock funds for development? It already is

Amadou Thierno Diallo's picture

Also available in  العربية | Français



Two years in the making, last week the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDBG) and the World Bank Group officially launched the landmark report Mobilizing Islamic Finance for Infrastructure Public-Private Partnerships at a discussion broadcast online from Washington, D.C. We illustrated that, through partnerships, the power of Islamic finance can be instrumental in unlocking financial resources necessary to meet the tremendous demand for critical infrastructure.
 
In fact, infrastructure PPPs funded with Islamic finance have proliferated in the Middle East, and have flourished in other countries throughout Africa and Asia. Both of our institutions are committed to leverage our competitive advantages, achieve effective interventions, and yield measurable results in scaling up and broadening the use of Islamic finance.

A glimpse into state financial institution ownership in Europe and Central Asia

Aurora Ferrari's picture

State-owned financial institutions (SOFIs) are back in vogue. Although the theoretical and empirical debate on state ownership in finance may continue to sway back and forth, the 2007–08 global financial crisis renewed policy makers’ interest in SOFIs as a policy instrument.

This interest is particularly visible in countries in Europe and Central Asia (ECA), where policy makers have turned to SOFIs for countercyclical interventions, as quantitative easing appears to have little impact on economic growth; the cost of bailing out privately-owned financial institutions has mounted; and many countries face significant fiscal constraints. From the publicly-owned British Business Bank (established to assist smaller businesses), to the Investment Plan for Europe (the “Juncker Plan,” which relies on “National Promotional Banks” to intermediate resources from the European Fund for Strategic Investments), SOFIs have been used to fill perceived gaps or complement the public policy toolkit.

Africa’s partnership with the G-20: Compact with Africa in 2018

Jan Walliser's picture
Expansion of the Azito Thermal Power Plant, in Côte d'Ivoire, will improve access to electricity for Ivoirians and help sustain the country's economic growth. © Cedric Favero/IFC
Expansion of the Azito Thermal Power Plant, in Côte d'Ivoire, will improve access to electricity for Ivoirians and help sustain the country's economic growth. © Cedric Favero/IFC


Editor's Note: Below is a viewpoint from Chapter 6 of the Foresight Africa 2018 report, which explores six overarching themes that provide opportunities for Africa to overcome its obstacles and spur inclusive growth. Read the full chapter on the changing nature of Africa's external relationships here.

Germany’s presidency of the G-20 in 2017 introduced a new initiative for supporting African countries’ development: the G-20 Compact with Africa. The compact brings together interested African countries with the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank, and other multilateral and bilateral partners to develop and support policies and actions that are essential for attracting private investment. To date, 10 countries have signed up for the initiative and outlined their aspirations and reform programs under a framework adopted by the G-20 finance ministers in March 2017. 

What triggered the oil price plunge of 2014-2016 and why it failed to deliver an economic impetus in eight charts

Marc Stocker's picture
Also available in: Español

Download the January 2018 Global Economic Prospects report.

The 2014-16 collapse in oil prices was driven by a growing supply glut, but failed to deliver the boost to global growth that many had expected. In the event, the benefits of substantially lower oil prices were muted by the low responsiveness of economic activity in key oil-importing emerging markets, the effects on U.S. activity of a sharp contraction in energy investment and an abrupt slowdown in key oil exporters. 

Biggest drop in oil prices in modern history

Between mid-2014 and early 2016, the global economy faced one of the largest oil price declines in modern history. The 70 percent price drop during that period was one of the three biggest declines since World War II, and the longest lasting since the supply-driven collapse of 1986.

Real oil prices
Source: World Bank.
Notes: Real oil prices are calculated as the nominal price deflated by the international manufacturers unit value index, in which 100=2010. World Bank crude oil average. Last observation is November 2017.

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

Delivering secure retirement - lessons from Canada

Fiona Stewart's picture


How does my pension fund invest my money? More and more people around the world are asking this question. As the global population ages, it has becoming increasingly important to ensure that pension funds are efficiently and effectively managed so they can deliver a secure income in retirement.
 
At the same time, countries require more investment in productive areas such as infrastructure, housing and new businesses to continue to grow. Pension funds can provide that long-term domestic capital that countries desperately need for investment in these areas. 

Globally, pension funds have some US$38 trillion in assets under management; the world’s 300 largest pension funds manage around $16 trillion. This ranges from the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) in Japan -- the largest pension fund in the world with $1.3 trillion in assets -- to funds such as the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) in Namibia which, though smaller in absolute terms (owning $7 billion), constitutes almost 70% of domestic Namibian GDP.

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.

Improving access to finance for SMEs in Tanzania: Learning from Malaysia’s experience

Djauhari Sitorus's picture
Malaysia’s experience in addressing access to finance for SMEs has been successful, serving as a learning point for countries like Tanzania. Photo: Samuel Goh/World Bank
Tanzania is set towards becoming a middle-income country as the economy grew by an average of 6.5% per year in the past decade. The “Tanzania Development Vision (TDV) 2025” highlighted small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) sector as one important contributor to the country’s long-term development. It is estimated that Tanzania’s SME sector consists of more than 3 million enterprises which contribute to 27% of overall GDP.  Most of them are in the agricultural sector, and more than half are owned by women.  


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