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Global Economy

GovTech: Putting people first with simple, efficient and transparent government

Nicholas Nam's picture
Graphic by Nicholas Nam

Rapid technological change and growing expectations of citizens are elevating the importance of digital innovation for governments around the world. The World Bank Group, working together with other stakeholders, has a role to play in ensuring client countries have access to knowledge, the solutions, and the expertise required to bring about digital transformation of government services.

On April 13, the World Bank Group hosted a Spring Meetings event, GovTech: Putting People First with Simple, Efficient and Transparent Government.

Paying for development – Governments are sitting on a ‘goldmine’

Marco Scuriatti's picture
Shanghai at night, Huangpu River.  © Wu Zhiyi/World Bank
Shanghai at night, Huangpu River.  © Wu Zhiyi/World Bank

Four years have passed since the launch of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Mobilizing the necessary resources remains central to its success. Investments in human, social, and physical capital are at the core of sustainable and inclusive growth – and represent an important share of national budgets.

At the World Bank Group we have been at the forefront of the so-called Financing for Development (FfD) agenda to leverage public, private, international, and domestic sources of capital to help reach the global goals.  A short primer on our efforts--which builds on the 2015 Development Committee paper Billions to Trillions - Transforming Development Finance--can be found in the brochure entitled Financing for Development at the World Bank Group.

Ultimately, countries own the responsibility for achieving the SDGs: raising more domestic revenue (and doing so more efficiently), addressing spending inefficiencies, and mobilizing private capital (as the world economy is facing potentially slower growth and political friction). These will not be easy challenges.  

Empowering women entrepreneurs to achieve the SDGs

Mahmoud Mohieldin's picture
© Photos courtesy of Vandana Suri (left) and Saida Yusupova (right).
© Photos courtesy of Vandana Suri (left) and Saida Yusupova (right).

Women are not just potential beneficiaries of efforts to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. They are also active participants in achieving them. That’s why we organized the SDGs and Her competition to highlight the efforts of women entrepreneurs to create jobs and help reach the global goals.
 
The 2030 Agenda cannot be realized without the participation of women, particularly those working in the private sector. Indeed, if women had the same lifetime earnings as men, global wealth could increase by $160 trillion—an average of $23,620 per person—in 141 countries studied by the World Bank.

What’s behind South Asia’s low exports?

Hans Timmer's picture
South Asian countries’ exports are only one-third of what they should be, had they mirrored the experience of economies with similar characteristics. Without further integration into global markets, South Asia will not sustain its growth. Photo: Shutterstock 

This blog highlights the findings from the recent South Asia Economic Focus: Exports Wanted

Bela Balassa worked for the World Bank from 1966 till his death in 1991. Luckily, his insights on international integration, revealed comparative advantages, trade diversion, and natural progress toward political integration have outlived him.

And what Bela is best-known for—and rightfully so—is the Balassa-Samuelson effect.

Put simply, this effect explains why a haircut or a restaurant meal is much cheaper in poor countries than in rich countries whereas the price tag for a car or a television is almost the same everywhere.

What’s behind this phenomenon is simple and can be summed up in three parts.

First, international competition equalizes the price of tradable goods like televisions across countries.

Second, the prices of non-tradable goods like haircuts can differ.

And third, the difference in productivity across countries is much more significant in tradable goods than in non-tradable goods. For example, a barber in Dhaka needs roughly the same amount of time as a barber in New York to cut my hair.

But manufacturers or farmers in Nepal need more labor to produce the same output than their counterparts in Germany.

Countries tend to be poor because their level of productivity in tradable goods is low.  

In Pakistan, tech-savvy youth reinvent government

Emcet O. Tas's picture
Fellows of the KP Government Innovation Fellowship Program
Digital fellows visiting historic sites in Peshawar, Pakistan. Credit: KPITB.


Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), one of Pakistan’s most underserved provinces, is emerging from decades of conflict and has turned to the digital economy to boost economic growth and provide jobs to its youth.
 
Since 2013, the World Bank and its partners have helped the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Technology Board (KPITB) build a strategy to bring the province into the digital age and improve technology-related skills and governance.

These early efforts later morphed into an even closer partnership that aims to foster hundreds of digital jobs for youth and kickstart infrastructure projects to attract technology investments across the province.
 
One outcome of this partnership is the successful KP Government Innovation Fellowship Program which is co-sponsored by Code for Pakistan.

Since 2014, the program has linked up highly talented technologists with government agencies to help these institutions become more user-centric and transparent, as well as deliver better services to citizens. Twenty fellows divided into five teams join each cycle of the program.

Based on their host agency’s needs, each group may bring expertise in web or mobile app development, graphic design, content, user experience, or networks.
 
During the first month, fellows learn how government works as they interact with department staff and stakeholders to understand their problems. Next, they propose solutions and develop prototypes, which they then test and deploy in the final two months.

During their tenure, fellows actively collaborate and train government staff to ensure their solutions are properly used and sustained.
 
To date, four fellowship cycles have produced 70 graduates, who earned great experience within the government.

3 ways to follow World Bank Group activities at the 2019 Spring Meetings

Bassam Sebti's picture
© Dominic Chavez/World Bank
© Dominic Chavez/World Bank

Our 2019 Spring Meetings is just around the corner and it’s time to get organized. Mainstage speakers include representatives from top-notch institutions and organizations such as the United Nations, National Geographic, World Trade Organization, Bloomberg, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among others.
 
The Spring Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an event that brings together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organizations and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

This year's events will take place in Washington, D.C., April 8-14, 2019.

The Middle East and North Africa cannot miss the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Ferid Belhaj's picture

The traditional route of industrialization for developing countries may no longer be available for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This should not be a source of regret, as the aspirations of the region’s young and well-educated population extend far beyond auto assembly lines. Furthermore, the repetitive work of an assembly line will increasingly be performed by machines rather than people. The rapid pace of technological change that is propelling this process, dubbed the "Fourth Industrial Revolution," offers new opportunities for developing countries. Opportunities the MENA region cannot afford to miss. 

Skilling up Bangladeshi women

Tashmina Rahman's picture
Learning new skills for better jobs in Bangladesh: Meet Kamrul Nahar Omi


The Bangladesh garments industry is poised to grow into a $50 billion industry by 2021 and for this, two million semi-skilled workers are needed.

Non-garment industries such as leather, furniture, hospitality and Information & Technology (IT) are also poised to grow.

But how can we think equal, build smart, innovate for change, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day? 

Female participation in the workforce has been increasing but remains less than half of male participation rates across primary working ages.

Of those females joining work, over 80 percent are engaged in low-skilled, low-productivity jobs in the informal sector with little opportunity for career progression.

Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is one important medium to equip women with employable skills and improve their job market participation.  

Overcoming the perception of TVET as ‘male-dominated’ training, women’s participation in technical programs has been steadily rising over the past decade.

Yet, Bangladesh still has a long way to go with female share in enrollments around 25 percent in TVET programs.

In fact, a World Bank study identifies some keys areas of intervention for improving female participation in technical diploma programs:

  1. creating a gender-friendly environment in polytechnics and workplaces;
  2. developing more service-orientated diploma programs;
  3. developing a TVET awareness campaign for females;
  4. (supporting a career counseling and guidance system for females;
  5. improving access to higher education;
  6. providing demand-stimulating incentives; (vii) generating research and knowledge;
  7. leveraging partnerships to promote opportunities for females and
  8. generating more and better data to track progress and inform policy and operations for female-friendly TVET. 

How to succeed as Sri Lanka’s top woman entrepreneur: Honesty, hard work, and perseverance

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
This International Women’s Day I chose to have a conversation with a lady who is recognized as the leading Sri Lankan woman entrepreneur, Mrs. Aban Pestonjee.  

Her story is an inspiration to youth (male and female) and women who are afraid of failure and taking risks.

Starting from a modest home-based business, 50 years ago, today Aban is a household brand name that is island wide in Sri Lanka.

Invest in women to boost growth in MENA

Lili Mottaghi's picture

Only one in five working-age women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has a job or is actively looking for one. Currently, women make up only 21% of the labor force and only contribute 18% to MENA’s overall GDP. Had the gender gap in labor force participation been narrowed over the past decade, the GDP growth rate in MENA could have doubled or increased by about US$1 trillion in cumulative output. Instead, the current gender gap in the traditional labor market has extended to the rest of the economy, including the technology sector, impacting women’s access to, and use of, digital services. Women are 9% less likely to own a mobile phone and 21% less likely than men to use mobile internet. 

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