Syndicate content


From population bomb to development opportunity: New perspectives on demographic change

S. Amer Ahmed's picture

A generation ago, the World Development Report 1984 focused on development challenges posed by demographic change, reflecting the world’s concerns about run-away population growth. Global population growth rates had peaked at more than two percent a year in the late 1960s and the incredibly high average fertility rates of that decade – almost six births per woman – provided the momentum to keep population growth rates elevated for several decades (Fig 1). Indeed, the population and development zeitgeist spawned works such as Ehrlich’s 1968 book “Population Bomb,” which painted apocalyptic images of a world struggling to sustain itself under the sheer weight of its people. The policy discussion of the WDR 1984 reflected these concerns, focusing on how to feed the growing populations in the poorest and highest fertility countries, while also presenting a case for policies that would reduce fertility.

The road not shared: Turning to the arts to help increase pedestrian safety

Patrick Kabanda's picture

The Creative Wealth of Nations is a series of blogs related to Patrick Kabanda's forthcoming book on the performing arts in development.

It was a scene I still can’t forget.
A few years ago on a busy Kampala intersection, cars zoomed by while pedestrians braced themselves to cross a road. They lurched back and forth, like a fence being blown hither and tither by heavy winds. In frustration, a voice of a woman with a baby tucked on her back cried out: senga no wabawo atusasira. “I wish someone would be kind to us.”

The impact of low oil prices in Sub-Saharan Africa

Gerard Kambou's picture
Growth picked up in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2014, after moderating in 2013, but remained weaker than during the pre-crisis years. It softened around the turn of the year owing to headwinds from the plunge in the price of oil. Sub-Saharan Africa’s oil exporters, which account for nearly half of the region’s aggregate output, have been hit hard by the sharp decline in the price of oil. From June 2014 to January 2015, oil prices fell by nearly 50 percent, and have remained low despite the recent uptick.        

Despite low commodity prices, growth prospects in low-income countries remain robust

Gerard Kambou's picture
Large agricultural sectors, remittances, and public investment have cushioned the impact of sharply weaker terms of trade in commodity-exporting low-income countries (LICs). Growth in LICs was flat in 2014, but is expected to pick up in 2015 and remain robust during 2016–17.  Declining commodity prices, however, are likely to increasingly put pressure on fiscal and current account balances of LICs that rely heavily on exports of energy and metals. Many commodity-exporting LICs have limited buffers to absorb this deterioration.

What drives local food prices? Is it world prices? Weather? Seasonality? Policies? Fuel prices? Other costs?

John Baffes's picture
The question has been asked often in the context of the post-2005 commodity price boom. In a recently published working paper, What drives local food prices? Evidence from the Tanzanian maize market, we examine the factors driving movements of prices in 18 major regional maize markets in Tanzania.

When China met Africa

Tehmina S. Khan's picture
China’s expanding presence in Sub-Saharan Africa has been a major catalyst for growth in the region. Contrary to widespread opinion, its engagement covers all aspects of development. Stronger domestic policies will help countries in the region increase the gains from this growing partnership.

Large scale mining in Africa is a mixed blessing for women

Anja Tolonen's picture

The African continent is rich in natural resources, like oil, gas and minerals that contribute to a large share of exports, and are now a major source of foreign direct investment. In our paper African Mining, Gender and Local Employment, we investigate how this recent, rapid expansion in large-scale mining affects women’s job prospects.

According to previous research and policy documents, it is ambiguous whether industrial mining increases or decreases female employment. The “African Mining Vision” spells out the risk that extractive industries might make gender disparities in economic opportunities larger. The sector is generally known for weak local multipliers, i.e., for each job created in the sector, too few jobs are created in auxiliary sectors, such as services, manufacturing or construction. This is known as the ‘enclave’ hypothesis: that a large-scale mine generates few economic opportunities for local community members. On the other hand, mining activities may generate jobs in services and sales, which are relatively female dominated in the region and which are locally traded.

The yawning divide between big city and countryside Tanzania

Nadia Belhaj Hassine's picture

Achieving shared prosperity, one of the World Bank’s twin-goals, isn’t just a middle-income country’s preoccupation. It has a special resonance in Tanzania, a US$1,000 per capita economy in East Africa.

Tanzania has seen remarkable economic growth and strong resilience to external shocks over the last decade. GDP grew at an annualized rate of approximately 7 percent.  Yet, this achievement was overshadowed by the slow response of poverty to the growing economy. The poverty rate has remained stagnant at around 34 percent until 2007 and started a slow decline of  about one percentage point per year, attaining 28.2 percent in 2012. To date, around 12 million Tanzanians continue to live in poverty, unable to meet their basic consumption needs, and more than 70 percent of the population still lives on less than US$2 per day. Promoting the participation of the poor in the growth process and improving their living standards remains a daunting challenge.

Nigeria, where is your bourgeoisie?

Vasco Molini's picture
The Phrase, “Nigeria: the giant of Africa”, has been on the lips of its citizens lately, and to an extent, they have earned the right to say so. Over the last decade, the Nigerian economy experienced tremendous growth and was recently named Africa’s Number One Economy by The Economist. This accolade is due to the recent GDP rebasing, which has enabled the size of the Nigerian economy to surpass that of South Africa, as well as a solid growth record. This fast economic growth is reflected in an increase in specialized professionals that predominantly make up Nigeria’s Middle Class.

Why are women farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa less productive?

Kevin McGee's picture
Researchers have documented a wide array of gender disparities in sub-Saharan Africa that have important implications for individual and household well-being. Perhaps one of the most significant disparities is in agricultural production, the primary economic activity for the majority of the population in sub-Saharan Africa. Closing this gender gap in agricultural productivity would not only improve the welfare of female farmers but could also have larger benefits for other members of the household, especially children.