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April 2017

Between 2 Geeks: Episode 1 - The ups and downs of demography

Tariq Khokhar's picture

Between now and 2050, Africa will add over 1 billion people to its population.

That’s a startling statement about something that’s 30 years in the future. One group with a record of making such long-range projections is demographers like Dr. John May with the Population Reference Bureau.

In our discussion with John, he explains that the growth and structure of populations is linked to one fundamental issue: mortality rates. When infant and child mortality rates decline, fertility rates also eventually decline and population growth slows down. And as life expectancies increase, the share of older people in a country’s population goes up.

But it turns out things are a bit more complicated than that, and there are large implications for public policy that are ultimately driven by demography.

Even when a region like Africa has declining fertility rates, “population momentum” means that countries will continue to grow. With this growth comes the need for better infrastructure, services, and crucially, jobs.

By one estimate, the global economy will need to add 600 million jobs over the next 10 years - mostly in Africa and Asia - just to keep up with young people entering the workforce.

So how is demography shaping our future, and how can we make it the future we want?

This episode of Between  2 Geeks is hosted by Tariq Khokhar & Raka Banerjee, and produced by Richard Miron. You can chat with us on twitter with the hashtag #Between2Geeks , listen to new episodes on the World Bank Soundcloud Channel and  subscribe to “World Bank’s Podcasts” in your podcast app or on iTunes.

How can green growth benefit Africa?

Eun Joo Allison Yi's picture
Photo: Sarah Farhat/World Bank Group


What exactly do we mean by green growth? For us, it’s not just about riding bikes and planting trees. The Korea Green Growth Trust Fund (KGGTF) defines green growth as adopting an innovative approach toward reaching nations’ goals for sustainable development and addressing climate change. It is a framework for decision-making and a proven process for turning people’s hopes into reality.

Caribbean Voices Attest to the "Return of Confidence” in the Region

Emily Bartels Bland's picture

“While Caribbean countries are faced with a challenging environment, they also have opportunities that point towards a brighter future - particularly for the small states comprising Organization of Eastern and Caribbean States (OECS).”

That was a common message highlighted by World Bank Country Director Tahseen Sayed in the opening of the The Caribbean Dilemma conference on March 30, and shared by many senior policy-makers, CEOs and international partners gathered in Miami for the event. Here’s what the participants told us:

20th Century policies may not be enough for 21st Century digital disruption

Duncan Green's picture

It’s often a good sign when you rock up at a conference and hardly know anyone there. That was my experience at a recent, rather grandiosely-named, ‘Digital Development Summit’, hosted by IDS, Nesta and the Web Foundation, which clearly got people’s attention – the places were fully booked within a day of going live. Participants were diverse: developing country ministers, donor officials, tech company execs, AI pioneers, and civil society types like me.

The topic was ‘the future of work in the digital age’ (see the IDS background paper for more details), and I got to listen to a day of presentations, taking in both the substance and the mood of the discussion. This topic, more than most others, attracts both tiggers and eeyores (for Winnie the Pooh fans – optimists and pessimists, if you’re not). The tiggers bounce around telling stories of amazing start-ups in African slums, or how drones are about to start delivering aid; the eeyores sigh and say ‘every driver in America is about to lose their job to driverless vehicles, and developing country jobs are even more at risk’. Both were represented in roughly equal numbers (and some people seemed to move from one to the other at a startling rate). Who’s right?

Are hybrid and electric buses viable just yet?

Alejandro Hoyos Guerrero's picture
Photo: Volvo Buses/Buses Fan
Hybrid and electric buses may be the future of public transport. But today, they are costlier than their diesel equivalents. Therefore, their implementation requires that private operators be subsidized, or that the higher costs for public operators be covered. For now there are more efficient alternatives for reducing GHG and local emissions.

The most significant emissions reduction will not come from the vehicles; it will come from people leaving their cars at home.

Let’s take the example of a Mexican commuter who chooses whether to ride a bus or drive to work each morning. If she drives, her commute will generate 8kg of CO2, vs. only 1.5kg when riding a diesel bus. By making the greener choice, she is saving up to 6.5kg of CO2. With a hybrid bus, that same ride would emit 1kg of CO2, and zero emission with an electric (assuming zero-emission grid)—translating into additional savings of 0.5kg and 1.5kg over a diesel bus, respectively. The extra savings are welcome, of course, but they pale in comparison to the emissions reduction generated by shifting from a private car to a public bus.

If we analyze a whole system instead of an individual, technology’s potential to reduce emissions gains importance, but is still lower than that of modal shift. That means we first need to focus on providing incentives for drivers to leave their cars behind and turn to public transit. When a bus system with exclusive lanes opens, for instance, 1%-5% of passengers are likely to be new riders who used to drive and made a conscious decision to switch. This proportion can increase to 10-15% with the right ancillary interventions, such as providing non-motorized transport infrastructure, improving accessibility and service quality.

Another great source of emission savings is a more efficient system. We have seen reductions of up to 30% in vehicle-kms after a system reorganization. The following graph compares the potential emission reductions of modal shift and fleet rationalization by shifting vehicles to hybrid (left column) or electric (right column) technology.

Chart: Over 1 Billion People Had No Access to Electricity in 2014

Tariq Khokhar's picture

Nearly 1.1 billion people or 15 percent of the world’s population had no access to electricity in 2014. Nearly half were in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly a third were rural dwellers in South Asia. In all, 86 percent of people without electricity lived in rural areas, where providing infrastructure is more challenging. Read more in the Global Tracking Framework and their 2017 report on progress towards sustainable energy. 

Quote of the week: Jean-Claude Juncker

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“Forgetting the importance of national landscapes, cultures, national behaviours, reactions and reflexes is a big, big mistake. I am against nationalists, but I am very much in favour of patriots.”  

Jean-Claude Juncker - The President of the European Commission.

Quoted in Financial Times print edition March 25, 2017 "Lunch with the FT" by Lionel Barber.
 

Development Impact turns 6: six questions for our sixth birthday

David McKenzie's picture
We are proud to have kept the blog going for another year, and would like to note its 6th birthday. In lieu of presents, we’d love your thoughts on what things you would like to see more or less of going forward. In particular, any comments or feedback on the following would be great:

The Hills are Alive: Credit, Livelihood and Micro-enterprises Empower Women’s Groups in North-East India

Mohini Datt's picture
India’s North-East Region (NER) – comprising ‘the seven sister’ states plus the small state of Sikkim - is a uniquely rich and complex tapestry of social, cultural, natural resource and biological diversity. This remote region, of poor connectivity but with an eager and literate workforce[1], is increasingly being transformed into a key frontier under India’s ‘Act East’ policy and its NER Vision 2020 . The World Bank supported North-East Rural Livelihoods Project (NERLP) is working with nearly 23,000 women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in Sikkim, Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura. It is steadily adding value to the region’s labor pool – scoping out economic opportunities for the poorest of the poor, training the young workforce in the skills they are hungry for, seeding SHGs, providing them credit, and enabling them to set up new enterprises and improve their socioeconomic status.   

An Eggless Bakery in Sikkim

Tucked away behind the monastery at the popular Buddha Park, on one of South Sikkim’s many serene hilltops, stands the eggless Tatagatha Bakery. The bakery is run by a Self-Help Group of local village women with funding through a microcredit program supported by the NERLP. A bakery is an unusual, innovative idea for microcredit, but the Buddha Park attracts many pilgrims, and the bakery is always in demand.  Going eggless and dairy free has meant it can better cater to its core clientele of monks, pilgrims and visitors; it has also reduced the need to transport perishable supplies up the steep hilltop.

The project team mobilized a veteran baker from the rail head town of Siliguri to train the local women initially.  The project ran into teething problems early on: a single SHG was rallied, but not all members were equally committed, which saw high dropouts after training. The team changed tack, and elicited individual interest regardless of membership.  Twenty women have now been trained. Uptake by SHGs has undoubtedly been gradual, but it is early days yet – the bakery only opened in May 2016.  These women see the bakery’s potential and are willing to bet on its success, accepting lower wages for now.  
Tatagatha bakery was recognized by the South District Zilla Panchayat as an excellent sustainable but profitable venture, run with good business acumen.

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