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May 2012

Where is our road? Taking Politics out of Regional Transport Infrastructure Planning

Charles Kunaka's picture

Africa’s infrastructure deficit is no secret. Several recent studies by the World Bank and others have confirmed that across the continent, roads are inadequate, railways in poor condition and waterways limited. While the problems are most obvious at the national level, they are more acute along routes connecting countries. Lack of resources contributes to the patchy state of infrastructure connectivity between African countries.  But it is not the only hurdle. A key question is: given limited resources, how should infrastructure be planned, prioritized and financed?

Sixteen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are landlocked. To trade goods in overseas markets, they must cooperate with their coastal neighbors, working together to plan roads, transport goods to port and keep borders open. This is harder than it sounds. While numerous regional organizations exist to coordinate infrastructure planning in Africa, in practice they are made up of representatives with interests rooted in their own countries. Decisions by these bodies are often political and driven by members’ desire to see projects in their home territories.

 

Answers to your questions on jobs and skills

Anne Elicaño's picture

 Earlier this week I asked you to send us your questions about the link between jobs and skills --which should I acquire to make it in the current job environment? Thanks for all the replies --there were so many and so interesting that Lars Sondergaard, our expert, will address in a separate blog post next week the ones that couldn't make it into the video interview. Stay tuned!

 

Food and nutrition: How do we balance the equation?

Leslie Elder's picture

Although the world produces a surplus of food, we have yet to achieve the right balance between the production of food and achievement of good nutrition. A new World Bank-hosted knowledge platform will generate better understanding of the links between agriculture, food security and nutrition, to help countries reach the Millennium Development Goal on hunger (MDG 1). Read more on the SecureNutrition blog.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

USAID
Two Guides You Must Read Before Using Mobile Technology for Behavior Change

“As the desire to utilize mobile phones in international health projects has increased in the last few years, organizations continually ask a similar question, “We want to use mobile phones. Now what?” But the decision to introduce or start a mhealth project needs to come after answering many questions before “now what?” especially when dealing with behavior change communication projects. Enter Abt Associates, FrontlineSMS, and Text to Change. Two guides have recently been released to help organizations assess whether or not mobiles are the right tool, and if they are, the process moving forward. One is from Abt Associates and is entitled mBCC Field Guide: A Resource for Developing Mobile Behavior Change Communication Programs. The other one was created in collaboration between FrontlineSMS and Text to Change and is entitled Communications for change: How to use text messaging as an effective behavior change campaigning tool.”  READ MORE

What's the Connection between Power, Development and Social Media?

Duncan Green's picture

I recently gave a talk about ICT and Development at the annual Re:Campaign conference in Berlin, organized by Oxfam Germany. Anyone who knows me will realize that this is a bit odd – despite being a blogaholic, I am actually Rubbish At Technology. In front of 300 trendy, young (sigh) i-thingy wielding activists, I felt like a Neanderthal at a cocktail party. Still, at least the fear of being shamed up finally got me tweeting two weeks before the conference.

I decided to make a virtue of necessity and set out some core processes in development, and then reflected on what ICT does/doesn’t contribute. Why take this approach (apart from being a techno-caveman, that is)? Because there’s too much magic bulletism in development –microfinance, GM crops and now ‘cyber utopianism’. What all of these have in common is that they are too often presented as ‘get out of jail free’ cards, delivering development without all the messy business of politics and struggle. At best, new technologies shift power balances, sometimes favourably, sometimes not, but they don’t replace the process of struggle in development.

How price controls can lead to higher prices

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

The Kenyan parliament just passed a new finance bill and there is one important good news: interest rates will not be capped. Prior to this, there was a risk that Kenya would embrace unconventional economic policies, and there were heated debates regarding price controls over the last months.

Many policy makers and Kenyans think that interest rates ought to be capped at a certain level, especially following their sharp rise since the end of 2011. People are affected by high prices, and inflation has only started to come down over the last few months. Borrowers want cheaper loans. 

The Kenyan debate around price controls reminded me of Germany in the 1980s, as I was growing up.  At that time, my country was still split in two. While West Germany followed a “social market economy”, East Germany opted for a state-led model in line with Soviet and communist philosophies.

What explains huge gender disparities in women’s economic participation in India?

Ejaz Ghani's picture

Despite rapid economic growth, gender disparities have remained deep and persistent in India and other South Asian countries. The UN Gender Inequality Index has ranked India below several Sub-Saharan African countries. Gender disparities are even more pronounced in economic participation and women’s business conditions in India. Using data from the 2011 Global Gender Gap report, Figure 1 shows that while India scores around the mean gender gap index overall (horizontal axis), its score for women’s economic participation and opportunity is below the 5th percentile of the distribution (vertical axis).

What explains these huge gender disparities in women’s economic participation in India? Is it poor infrastructure, limited education, and gender composition of the labor force and industries? Or is it deficiencies in social and business networks and a low share of incumbent female entrepreneurs?In a recent paper we examine gender disparities in women’s business conditions in India. We use detailed micro-data on the unorganized manufacturing and services sectors to explore the drivers of female entrepreneurship across districts and industries.

A second Industrial Revolution, replication worries, yawns, and more…

Berk Ozler's picture

I made a temporary move recently, which left me without a dog walker for our two beloved (and very active) dogs, without a delivery option for good takeout food, and a need to build a fire in a wood stove every day. I had never spent this much time during weekdays walking the dogs, cooking, and carrying wood from the garage to build and maintain a fire throughout the day. Without the takeout food and all the hiking, I am healthier and somewhat less stressed, but the shift in time use takes some adjusting to…

Where is our Road? Taking the Politics out of Regional Transport Infrastructure Planning

Charles Kunaka's picture

A road between the DR Congo and Zambia. Source: World Bank.Africa’s infrastructure deficit is no secret. Several recent studies by the World Bank and others have confirmed that across the continent, roads are inadequate, railways in poor condition and waterways limited. While the problems are most obvious at the national level, they are more acute along routes connecting countries. Lack of resources contributes to the patchy state of infrastructure connectivity between African countries. But it is not the only hurdle. A key question is: given limited resources, how should infrastructure be planned, prioritized and financed?

Sixteen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are landlocked. To trade goods in overseas markets, they must cooperate with their coastal neighbors, working together to plan roads, transport goods to port and keep borders open. This is harder than it sounds. While numerous regional organizations exist to coordinate infrastructure planning in Africa, in practice they are made up of representatives with interests rooted in their own countries. Decisions by these bodies are often political and driven by members’ desire to see projects in their home territories.

Imagining our Future Together Art Competition Update

South Asia's picture

On April 3, 2012, the World Bank announced the “Imagining Our Future Together” art exhibition competition for young artists (those born after 1975) to submit samples of their work to be included in an upcoming traveling exhibition, “South Asia Artists: Imagining Our Future Together.” The deadline for submissions was April 30, 2012.

We received applications from 231 artists in all eight South Asian countries:

Afghanistan: 41
Bangladesh: 25
Bhutan: 7
India: 83
Maldives: 2
Nepal: 15
Pakistan: 50
Sri Lanka: 8


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