Once a concession agreement or any large-scale public procurement contract is signed, who can ensure that the terms are met? How to turn commitments into development on the ground? This is the puzzle that a mix of around 70 government, business and civil society leaders from West Africa began to solve this past week.
In a series of earlier posts, I discussed a number of findings about informal (unregistered) firms in 6 African countries, including Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Madagascar and Mauritius. These findings were based on Informality Surveys collected by the Enterprise Analysis Unit to better understand the functioning of the informal sector—a large sector for which we have virtually no systematic data.
Over on the All About Finance blog, Bilal Zia provides a comprehensive roundup of what we know about the impact of financial literacy programs. As Zia points out, there are a lot of reasons to believe that financial literacy is important, but evaluations of financial literacy programs have so far produced lackluster results.
It is a matter of debate whether governments should play an active role in stimulating industrial upgrading. But it strikes me as highly unlikely that an activist role for government has much benefit for products low on the value chain. A new policy note from ODI on four product markets in five developing countries seems to bear this out.
The PSD Blog will be going on a brief summer hiatus. We'll be back July 8 refreshed and ready for more blogging. I am hoping to introduce a new regular contributor on gender issues and investment climate on my return -- stay tuned!
In a previous post, I highlighted the importance of focusing on the informal sector in developing countries. Most obviously, the informal sector in many developing countries is large.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that working from home makes it easier to balance work and family life. Women may be particularly likely to work from home since they are often viewed as the primary caregivers in the family in most developing countries. However, there is some concern in the literature that family responsibility may limit women’s ability to run a business, leading to fewer hours of operation and lower efficiency for home-based businesses run by women.
I get annoyed by the $3 fees I sometimes get charged by ATMs, but this figure pales in comparison to the high cost migrants face in sending remittances. According to World Bank estimates, some $317 billion in remittances were sent to developing countries in 2009. This money is often a vital income-stream for recipients.
A recent study by La Porta and Shleifer (2008) estimates that for the world as a whole, between 23 and 35 percent of all economic activity occurs in the informal or the unregistered sector; for the poorest countries the figure is even higher—estimates range between 29 and 57 percent. We also have anecdotal evidence that women entrepreneurs and workers constitute a much higher proportion of the informal than the formal sector.