This post is coauthored with Francisco Campos
Teachers in Tanzania are absent 23 percent of the time; doctors in Senegal spend an average of 39 minutes a day seeing patients; in Chad, 99 percent of non-wage public spending in health disappears before reaching the clinics.
These and other service delivery failures have been widely documented since the 2004 World Development Report, Making Services Work for Poor People.
But why do these failures persist? Because they represent a political equilibrium where politicians and service providers (teachers, doctors, bureaucrats) benefit from the status quo and will therefore resist attempts at improving services. For instance, teachers are often the campaign managers for local politicians. They work to get the politician elected, in return for which they get a job from which they can be absent. Powerful medical unions ensure that their members can work in the private sector and neglect their salaried government jobs. The losers are the poor, whose children don't learn to read and write, or get sick and die because the public clinic is empty.
Africa’s development agenda is inherently regional due to the large number of landlocked countries (15) and trans-boundary rivers (63 basins), as well as an uneven distribution of energy resources and load centers. Though Africa is endowed with a generous supply of water resources, most of its rivers, lakes and aquifers cross country borders - the Nile crosses 10, the Niger 9, the Senegal 4, and the Zambezi 8. This therefore calls for cooperative water resource management and coordinated investments to increase basin yields of food, power, and other economic opportunities, while strengthening environmental sustainability and mitigating the effects of droughts and floods.
“Individuals don’t lose identity in the crowd and they don’t lose control over their behaviour or rationality. Rather they shift to a shared social identity and seek to act in terms of that shared identity.”
Systemic financial crises require swift and comprehensive solutions by the government. In 2008 it quickly became clear that characterizing the U.S. securitization crisis as one of liquidity was inaccurate, and hoping that it would be cured by auctioning off increasingly poorly collateralized central bank loans to distressed firms was futile. That led to -TARP- a plan to repurchase troubled assets from banks, which quickly evolved into a bank recapitalization plan when it became clear pricing toxic assets was nearly impossible.
More recently, Spanish banking system has seen its situation worsen, partly because of Madrid’s failure to force an earlier cleanup of bad debts stemming from a real estate bust. Austerity measures to remedy the region’s debt crisis have since led to greater deterioration of Spanish bank balance sheets, as more and more Spanish businesses folded and homeowners went into foreclosure. Over the weekend Spain became the largest euro-zone nation to seek an international bailout, and the 17-nation currency area agreed to lend Madrid up to $125 billion for its bank rescue fund. At this point there is little disagreement that there needs to be a broad-based approach to resolve the Spanish bank insolvency problem, but not as much discussion over the form it should take.
As countries search for ways to accelerate growth, a big attraction is investment and innovation, especially if it enhances workers' skills. We spoke with Ricardo Hausmann, an expert on growth strategies, and Director of the Center for International Development and Professor of the Practice of Economic Development at Harvard University. Hausemann urges policymakers to be responsive to "explorers" who are trying to innovate, weighs the issue of providing subsidies for pioneer investments, and suggests that the international division of the value chain is making it easier for countries to get into the game.
When we talk about growth, we typically focus on growth rates, and so if we were to look at which countries had the greatest percentage increase in GDP per capita over the last decade (at constant international prices according to the World Development Indicators), we would get a table like this:
Start-up eHealth innovations are popping up all over Africa, providing a glimpse of how ICTs can transform the delivery and governance of health services in the region. Many of these pilots show promise, but their rapid growth also poses challenges: At an eHealth conference held in Nairobi in May and co-organized by the World Bank, health professionals and development partners discussed how to identify the best of these evolving tools and bring them to scale.