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April 2012

Zambia: Decisions with unintended consequences?

Asumani Guloba's picture

Since the start of 2012, expectations in Zambia have been running high: stable economy; a newly elected government; recently crowned African football champions.  Everything seems possible.  For the new government, fulfilling election promises will require well thought through development decisions. Are the decisions taken so far having the intended consequences?

The Zambian economy has been remarkably resilient, with growth averaging 6.6% in the past five years, supported by strong macroeconomic policies, high copper production and favorable prices. End-year inflation has been in single digits for four of the last five years, the debt and fiscal positions well within sustainable levels. In addition, since independence, the country has witnessed five peaceful elections leading to four changes in government. These factors auger well for the future economic prospects of the country. Or do they?

Prospects Daily: Spanish bonds fall on debt concerns, continued rise in unemployment rate

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture

Important developments today:

1. Spanish bonds fall on debt concerns, continued rise in unemployment rate

2. US consumers buoy economy.

ANSA-Arab World: Networking the excitement of a new MENA mindset

Najat Yamouri's picture
World Bank | Arne Hoel | 2012In Rabat recently, civil society, private sector, media and government representatives from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region warmly greeted each other. They asked about family and friends, customary to the region’s tradition, but there was something unique about this gathering: the participants talked about the region’s transition, youth movements, activists, constitutions, and reforms – sharing each other’s dreams and concerns.

Public Finance for Water in Sub-Saharan Africa

Meike van Ginneken's picture

We know that water and sanitation services do not always recover their costs from tariffs. So, if communities or governments are to maintain the infrastructure properly, they depend on the public budget. And those expenditures must be predictable and transparent.To take a closer look at this issue, the World Bank analyzed public expenditure on water supply and sanitation from fifteen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, assessing how much public money was budgeted for the sector and on what it was spent.

Development Impact turns one – tell us what year two should look like

Jed Friedman's picture


As we celebrate our first year of the Development Impact blog, we thought it would be a good time to take stock and see what our readers would like in our second year. We’ve already done our survey work and RCT, so now its time for direct, self-selected, feedback from you, the reader.  We want to know:

Can mobile phones be used to "bank" the poor?

Gabriel Demombynes's picture

The phenomenal success of Kenya’s M-PESA system, which allows people to store and transfer funds via electronic accounts that they access via mobile phones, has raised hopes that mobile money may provide a way for the poor to access basic banking services. In an earlier post, I presented findings from my recent working paper with Aaron Thegeya, showing that a remarkable 73% of Kenyan adults use mobile money, and nearly a quarter use it every day

We also show that savings with a simple M-PESA account is common, with 2/3 of M-PESA users reporting that they save in some form with M-PESA. We see some mild evidence that M-PESA may increase savings: controlling for various characteristics, those who are registered for M-PESA are 32 percent more likely to report some savings activity.

Why do people save with M-PESA when it doesn’t pay interest?  A possible explanation comes from an experimental study on health savings (not involving M-PESA).  

Why is Only 1 in 5 Firms Managed by a Woman?

Khrystyna Kushnir's picture

Let me start by sharing a telling anecdote:  “At her first job in Tokyo in the 1970s, Ms Yukako Uchinaga hid in the ladies' room every day at 8pm while an inspector made sure all female employees had gone home. Then she came out and put in more hours. "My boss used to say, 'I don't want to be put in jail'," said Ms Uchinaga … referring to a labor law that capped women's overtime at two hours a day. "I complained it was unfair, like being in a 100-metre race with my hands and feet tied while all my male colleagues ran freely.”

According to Bloomberg, women occupy just 1 in 70 management positions at Japanese companies.
And according to the World Bank Group's Enterprise Surveys, which collect firm level data across 125 economies, only every fifth firm has a female as top manager.  Even top tier Fortune 500 companies are not so balanced in gender parity with only 18 out of 500, or 4 % of their top executives being female.


Women don’t have enough time to climb the corporate ladder. 
According to the World Bank Group’s report Women, Business and the Law 2012 the retirement age for women comes earlier than for men in 52 economies (out of 141 covered). But, there is no economy, where the retirement age for men is earlier than for women. Moreover, according to the same report women cannot work the same night hours as men in 44 economies. Meanwhile, the average number of days mandated by law for maternity leave is 106, while the average number of days mandated for paternity leave is only 3.  The Math is self-evident.

Euro 2012: highway contracts in Poland and Ukraine

David Lawrence's picture

The Euro 2012 soccer championships, which are being held in both Poland and Ukraine, have given infrastructure financing fans interesting things to think about. As with any major sports event, roads, stadiums, hotels, airports need to be built or refurbished. How the two governments do this might provide some interesting lessons on best practices.

I was particularly interested in how construction contracts are broken up before they’re bid out, especially if a public-private partnership (PPP) transaction is involved. Some governments prefer to issue one gigantic contract in a winner-take-all scenario. But if the job is too big, it limits competition to very large firms. On the other hand, if the same job is broken into several smaller contracts, then more firms have the resources to compete and costs are generally driven down.