Photo Credit: Flickr user n8agrin
Seven years ago I began working in the infrastructure field, and it has been truly remarkable to witness so much knowledge and so many incredible bright minds dedicated to the cause of providing sustainable and inclusive infrastructures globally, really!
During this time, I have realized how crucial project preparation is even though in the scheme of things it seems like a minute phase of a very long infrastructure life cycle. In fact, I compare the project preparation phase to the “cornerstone concept,” defined as the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.
In other words, if a project is well-prepared, well designed, well-thought of, it is more likely to flow better across the infrastructure life cycle and provide the desired services to the population, and vice versa.
Public Sector and Governance
Photo: Visual News Associates / The World Bank
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, if there is one concept to keep in mind above all others, it’s that gender equity is vital 24-7-365, and not just as a once-a-year observance.
You have heard the argument before and you will hear it again: Economies cannot reach their full potential if half the population is systematically blocked from full participation. This fundamental idea motivates the World Bank Group as it redoubles its efforts to address gaps in gender equality.
Our deepening work to close key gender gaps shows that the issues go far beyond economic inequity. Barriers to women’s full economic participation also impose moral, emotional and at times even physical costs.
We see this in the laws that prevent wives from making autonomous decisions about their careers. We see it in instances of violence against women in the workplace. We see this when harassment occurs at rural border crossings where women traders can encounter threats, and worse, from border guards.
In developing and developed countries alike, women face obstacles to starting and managing a business, to accessing finance, to earning equal pay for equal work, and to owning land or other assets. Many countries maintain laws and regulations that advantage men while discriminating against women, often relegating them to the status of a legal minor.
As Emeritus Professor Linda Scott of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School told us recently, “Women are economically disadvantaged in every country on the planet” and “women’s economic exclusion imposes a significant drag on world economies and societies.”
A key part of the Bank Group’s gender effort revolves around the importance of leveraging the private sector to ensure that reform goes beyond policy statements and creates real economic benefits for women and men. The Bank Group’s Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice (T&C) has developed an approach to gender equity that focuses on expanding market opportunities, enabling private initiative, and developing dynamic economies.
The work we are doing recognizes the entrenched nature of the obstacles to fuller economic empowerment for women. Achieving results at scale will require sustained commitment. But we also understand the importance of realizing near-term progress to catalyze change, and we recognize how interventions in particular countries can show the way forward elsewhere.
The concept is simple: Good results generate more good results.
- women business and the law
- women's political empowerment
- women's property rights
- women's land rights
- women's empowerment
- women's economic empowerment
- International Women's Day 2017
- Law and Regulation
- Social Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Private Sector Development
- doing business
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From my long experience in development assistance, I saw how information poverty in its many forms has led to policy planning and management without facts, disconnected enterprises, inefficient markets, poor service delivery, disempowerment, corruption, and more. The ongoing ICT revolution has been long ignored in development thinking and practice. Development practitioners and ICT specialists remain disconnected. I studied the experiences of countries pursuing digital transformation, and captured key lessons and takeaways in several books.
Digital transformation is not a technological fix, a blueprint plan, a one-off event, or a one-size-fits-all strategy. Rather, it is a social learning process, sustained over time, involving diverse stakeholders. Its ultimate objective is to harness the global digital revolution to meet a country’s specific socio-economic priorities. This process is a marathon, not a sprint. It is driven by vision, leadership, innovation, learning, and partnerships among government, business, and civil society.
However, much less is known about the impact of the Sistema Integrado de Transporte (SITP), a more recent reform to modernize and integrate all of the city’s bus services, eliminate the old, sometimes unsafe traditional buses, and put an end to the guerra del centavo—a phenomenon whereby drivers aggressively compete for passengers at the expense of everyone’s safety. The reform introduced a number of sweeping changes:
- The multitude of small private operators were required to form companies and to formalize their drivers and maintenance personnel
- Services were contractualized via concession arrangements
- The overall number of buses on the roads was reduced
- Bus routes were reorganized
- Old buses were replaced with a more modern fleet
- Cash payment gave way to a smartcard system
- The city applied stricter quality control, regulation and enforcement.
Where should telecom providers place their towers and what frequencies should they use?
How can governments best calculate commodity imports to ensure food security?
How can communities better manage areas at risks of floods?
These are just some of the questions that organizations around the world try to answer by using open government data — free, publicly available data that anyone can access and use, without restrictions. Yet around the world, much government data is yet to be made available, and still less in machine-readable formats. In many low and lower-middle income countries, finding and using open data is often challenging. It may take a complicated request process to get data from the government, and the data may come in the form of paper-based documents that are very hard to analyze. A new study looks to better understand how organizations in low and lower-middle income countries utilize machine-readable open data.
In producing the study, the Center for Open Data Enterprise, supported by the World Bank, interviewed dozens of businesses and nonprofit organizations in 20 countries. The organizations were identified through the Open Data Impact Map, a public database of organizations that use open data around the world, and a resource of the Open Data for Development (OD4D) Network. Over 50 use cases were developed as part of this study, each an example of open data use in a low or lower-middle income country.
In March, the international community of statisticians will gather in New York and Ottawa to discuss and agree on a global indicator framework for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the 169 targets of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. The task at hand is ambitious. In 2015, heads of state from around the world committed to do nothing less than “transform our world”. Monitoring progress towards this ambition is essential, but technically and politically challenging: it will require endorsement from all UN Member States on how to measure progress. In March, it will be the second attempt at getting this endorsement.
Why is it important? “What gets measured, gets done”. Measuring progress is essential for transparency and accountability. It allows us to understand our accomplishments and failures along the way, and identify corrective measures and actions—in short, it allows us to get things done.
What is the issue? Politically, the SDG process has been country led. This means that countries—and not international agencies, as in the case of the Millennium Development Goals—have guided the whole SDG process, including leading discussions and the selection of goals, targets and indicators. Technically, the development of a robust and high-quality indicator framework is highly complex: the indicator should align closely with each target, have an agreed-upon methodology, and have global coverage. In reality, many indicators do not. For example, the indicator proposed to measure the 11.2 SDG target (“By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all”) is the “proportion of population that has convenient access to public transport”. Data is not yet available for this indicator. Additional indicators may be needed to cover all aspects of the target.
Photo Credit: Axel Drainville via Flickr Creative Commons
Our research at the Stanford Global Projects Center aims to improve the way institutional capital is invested in critical public infrastructure. On one side, we research how institutional investor capital that has a commercial objective can be pooled most efficiently for infrastructure. On the other side we research government policies and practices to procure infrastructure assets through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and other methods most effectively. In this blog we highlight a few specific initiatives that have been set up to achieve these two objectives holistically, a few of which we touched upon in our first blog.
Editor's note: This blog post is part of a series for the 'Bureaucracy Lab', a World Bank initiative to better understand the world's public officials.
“By introducing an automated customer management system we took a noose and put it around our own necks. We are now accountable!”
This reflection from a manager in the Nairobi Public Water and Sewerage utility succinctly captures the impact of MajiVoice, a digital system that logs customer complaints, enables managers to assign the issue to a specific worker, track its resolution, and report back to the customer via an SMS. As a result, complaint resolution rates have doubled, and the time taken to resolve complaints has dropped by 90 percent.
MajiVoice shows that digital technologies can dramatically improve public sector capacity and accountability in otherwise weak governance environments. But is this example replicable? Can the increasingly cheap and ubiquitous digital technologies—there are now 4.7 billion mobile phone users in the world—move the needle on governance and make bureaucrats more accountable?
In 2014, the Brisbane G20 Leaders’ Summit tasked its newly announced Global Infrastructure Hub with ensuring there is a “comprehensive, open-source project pipeline database, connected to national and multilateral development bank databases, to help match potential investors with projects.”
The G20, based on advice from the B20 (a private sector forum) had recognized a key issue for the private sector: the lack of clear and consistent early stage information on government infrastructure projects across the globe.
Private investors armed with billions of dollars were being hamstrung by a lack of useful and informative data to guide their planning for investments.
In my previous blogs I have argued that to realize the potential of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), the public sector needs to develop Public to Public Partnerships (P2P Partnerships). The more the public sector can work as P2P Partnerships, the more it can change the economic and social value achievable by PPPs above what the public sector can achieve alone.
As P2P Partnerships develop to create an increased scale and scope of PPP opportunities, so too will the need for the private sector to evolve to enable it to respond to those opportunities. This may be in the form of diversified organizations or consortia of private sector organizations through Private to Private Partnerships (Pr2Pr Partnerships).
A key test of organizations seeking to achieve “joint working” (working collaboratively or in partnership together) whether for PPPs, P2P Partnerships, or Pr2Pr Partnerships, is whether they have PALS. PALS is an acronym for the key activities in joint working that stand for Prioritize, Aggregate, Learn and Share.