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World Bank at annual meetings

At the boards of governors of the World Bank and the IMF meet between October 20th and 22nd in Washington to discuss the work of both institutions, it is a good time to reflect on the evolution of the World Bank Group.

Land, the single greatest asset for the poor

In 2006, the income of Chinese urban residents was 3.28 times that of the rural ones, where 700 million farmers or 56 percent of total population live.

The new survey from the Cato Institute shows how secure land rights can reinvigorate China's rural economy. The graph (below) displays a correlation between issuance of contracts and certificates and farmers' mid and long-term investment in land.

Can Africa surpass Japan?

If a single African country were to incorporate the best practices that are already in place across the sub-Sahara region, it would rank eighth worldwide. This was one of the observations that business leaders made last Friday at an award ceremony for the top two African reformers – Ghana and Kenya.

Islamic finance for big and small

Islamicdome Reuters reports on a burgeoning interest from bankers to provide Islamic microfinance to the millions without adequate access to money. Out of 1.2 billion Muslims around the world, over 400 million are poor.

Primer on remittances

Global recorded remittances to developing countries reached $204 billion in 2006. This amount, which has been growing at almost 30 percent a year, is twice the size of total development aid.

Remittances hold a big promise for development but a lack of transparency and a high volume of unrecorded money flows, pose security risks and keep the costs high.

Waste included for better cell phone service

Cell_phone_sludge_2As more and more people in developing world depend on cell phones for their business, can microbial fuel-cell chargers, which derive electricity from plant waste, bridge the infrastructure gap?

Profitable microfinance and its spillovers

What has very low default rates, relatively high administrative costs and high interest rates? The answer is: microfinance loans.

Despite the unfavorable expense ratios relative to commercial banks – the cost of lending one dollar is below four cents for a traditional bank compared with at least 10, and in some cases over 20 cents, for microlenders - microfinance institutions (MFIs) are beginning to attract serious money.

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