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Toward Great Dhaka: Seize the golden opportunity

Qimiao Fan's picture
Toward Great Dhaka
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Originally Appeared on the Daily Star

Had you looked across Shanghai's Huangpu River from west to east in the 1980s, you would mostly have seen farmland dotted with a few scattered buildings. At the time, it was unimaginable that East Shanghai, or Pudong, would one day become a global financial centre; that its futuristic skyline, sleek expressways, and rapid trains would one day be showcased in blockbusters like James Bond and Mission Impossible movies! It was also unimaginable that the Shanghainese would consider living in Pudong.

How wrong that would have been! Pudong is now hosting some of the world's most productive companies, and boosting some of the city's most desirable neighbourhoods. And Shanghai has become China's most important global city, lifting the entire hinterland with it.

The same potential for urban transformation exists in Bangladesh, across the Pragati Sarani Airport Road that divides Dhaka into its west and east. West Dhaka is urban, hosting vibrant centres. East Dhaka remains largely rural, with a vast expanse of farmland. This sharp contrast presents a golden urban development opportunity for Dhaka, one that is not available to other major Asian cities.

Realizing the Promise of a Great Dhaka


Dhaka's population has grown from three million in 1980 to 18 million today and it continues to increase rapidly, which is a clear sign of success. However, Dhaka's development has been mostly spontaneous, with its urban infrastructure not keeping pace with its population growth.

Bringing Sri Lanka's traders one step closer to the global market

Marcus Bartley Johns's picture
Making trade more efficient in Sri Lanka
The recently launched Sri Lanka Trade Information Portal is a one stop shop for traders. Photo Credit: Joe Qian/World Bank

Sri Lanka’s traditional lacework famously known as Beeralu is slowly moving into the spotlight of the global fashion industry. Udeni, who is a traditional Beeralu lace maker from Galle, learned the technique from her mother and developed it into a part-time business. 

At the moment, she sells to buyers from Colombo who then sell her product internationally. She would like to export directly one day, but for the time-being, she must rely on “middlemen” because of the complexity of the export process. A major barrier is the lack of information on what government procedures apply in Sri Lanka before her product can even reach a foreign buyer. 

Being unable to access information related to export and import procedures isn’t just a problem for entrepreneurs like Udeni, but a significant barrier for the entire Sri Lankan trading community. In a recent set of interviews conducted by the World Bank, every business interviewed said that personal experience was the leading source of information on import and export procedures. Only half said that they turn to government agencies for information, with concern expressed that the little information available online is often out of date, and spread across many websites. 

Six ways Sri Lanka can attract more foreign investments

Tatiana Nenova's picture
In 2017, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Sri Lanka grew to over $1,710 billion. But Sri Lanka still has ways to go to attract more FDI.
In 2017, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Sri Lanka grew to over $1,710 billion. But Sri Lanka still has ways to go to attract more FDI. Credit: Shutterstock 


To facilitate Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Sri Lanka launched last week an innovative online one-stop shop to help investors obtain all official approvals. To mark the occasion, this blog series explores different aspects of FDI in Sri Lanka. Part 1 put forth 5 Reasons Why Sri Lanka Needs FDI. Part 3 will relate how the World Bank is helping to improve Sri Lanka’s enabling environment for FDI.

Sri Lanka and foreign investments read a bit like a hit and miss story.

But it was not always the case.

Before 1983, companies like Motorola and Harris Corporation had plans to establish plants in Sri Lanka’s export processing zones. Others including Marubeni, Sony, Sanyo, Bank of Tokyo and Chase Manhattan Bank, had investments in Sri Lanka in the pipeline in the early 1980s.

All this changed when the war convulsed the country and derailed its growth. Companies left and took their foreign direct investments (FDI) with them.

Nearly a decade after the civil conflict ended in 2009, Sri Lanka is now in a very different place.

In 2017, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Sri Lanka grew to over $1,710 billion including foreign loans received by companies registered with the BOI, more than doubling from the $801 million achieved the previous year.

But Sri Lanka still has ways to go to attract more FDI.
 
As a percentage of GDP, FDI currently stands at a mere 2 percent and lags behind Malaysia at 3 – 4 percent and Vietnam at 5 – 6 percent.

د افغانستان راتلونکی نقشه کول، هرځل یو سړک

Walker Bradley's picture
Also available in: English | دری
Mapping Afghanistan’s future, one road at a time
اوپن سټريټ مپ د جغرافيايي معلوماتو يوه وړيا منبع ده چې د کارپوهو نقشه اخيستونکو يوې ډلې رامنځته کړې او فعاله يې ساتي.  انځور: ټایمني/نړیوال بانک

د ۲۰۱۷ کال په مې مياشت کې نړیوال بانک په افغانستان د خپلو فعاليتونو د بيا پيل ۱۵ مه کليزه ونمانځله. دا په داسې حال کې ده چې د دغو ۱۵ کلو په اوږدو کې نړیوال بانک افغان دولت ته اړينې مرستې برابرې کړي او دولت يې افغانانو ته د عامه خدمتونو رسولو جوګه کړی. په دې بهير کې مو له دولت سره په ګډه د روغتيا، پوهنې او زېربناوو په برخو کې ګڼې شمېرې او معلومات راټول کړي.

سره له دې چې په بېلابېلو سکتورونو کې معلومات په خوره وره او ګډه وډه بڼه په عام ډول د لاسرسي وړ دي، خو دا معلومات لا دومره نه دي چې له افغانانو او پراختيايي ملګرو سره د پروژو په طرحه او پاليسي جوړولو کې، چې کليدي ونډه لري، مرسته وکړي. د بېلګي په ډول: موږ په داسې حال کې چې د واکسينو د تطبيق او د نویو زېږېدلو کوچنیانو شمېرې لرو، د هغو سړکونو په اړه چې صحي مرکزونو ته ورغلي معلومات نه لرو. همدا راز، موږ ښايي په ښوونځيو کې د زده کوونکو د حاضرۍ او د هغو زده کوونکو چې په ازموينو کې کاميابېږي د شمېرو په اړه معلومات ولرو، خو په دې اړه چې زده کوونکي په څومره وخت کې ښوونځي ته رسېږي، کافي معلومات نلرو.

دا بېلګې روښانوي چې څنګه دقیق لومړني معلومات او شمېرې را سره د صحي مرکزونو او خدماتو په غځولو کې مرسته کوي او يا څنګه ښوونې ته لاسرسی پياوړی کولای شو. د هر کيلومتر سړک نقشه اخيستنه موږ ته راښوولای شي چې کوچنيان تر ښوونځي څومره پلي ځي‌، او يا يو ناروغ په څومره وخت کې تر روغتونه رسېږي. بې له شکه چې لومړنیو معلوماتو او شمېرو ته څرګنده اړتيا ليدل کېږي، چې په رڼا کې يې اړوند چارواکي په هر پاټکي کې له دې ګټه واخلي.

اهمیت نقشه برداری برای اینده افغانستان، اما یک سرک در یک وقت

Walker Bradley's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
Mapping Afghanistan’s future, one road at a time
اوپن ستريت مپ يک منبع رایگان معلومات جغرافيايی است که توسط یک گروهی از متخصصان  نقشه برداری بميان آمده و فعالیت می نماید. عکس: تایمنی فلم/ بانک جهانی

بانک جهانی در ماه می سال ۲۰۱۷، از پانزدهمین  سالگرد از سرگیری فعالیت هایش در افغانستان تجليل نمود.  این در حالیست که طی این ۱۵ سال گذشته بانک جهانی حمایت لازم را برای دولت افغانستان غرض فراهم آوری خدمات عامه به افغانها فراهم نموده است. در اين فرایند، مشترکاً با دولت افغانستان ما توانستیم معلومات و آمار بسیاری را در بخش های صحت، معارف و هم چنان زیربنا ها جمع آوری نمايیم.

با آنکه معلومات در عرصه های مختلف بصورت پراگنده و غیر هماهنگ در دسترس عام قرار دارد اما این معلومات هنوز هم کافی نیست تا افغانها و همکاران انکشافی را در طرح ریزی برنامه ها و تدوین پاليسی ها که نقش کلیدی دارند، کمک نماید. به طور مثال ما در حاليکه آمار تطبيق واکسين و اطفال نوزاد را داريم، اما در مورد سرک ها ییکه به مراکز صحی منتهی میشوند آگاهی نداریم. به همین ترتیب، ممکن است در رابطه به میزان حاضری شاگردان در مکاتب و شاگردانيکه در امتحانات کامياب ميشوند بدانیم، اما  در مورد اینکه آیا چه زمانی را در برمیگیرد، تا شاگردان به مکتب برسند، معلومات کافی در دست نداريم.

این مثال ها نشان دهنده این است که چگونه  معلومات و آمار اساسی و دقیق ميتواند در گسترش پلانگذاری تسهيلات و خدمات صحی کمک نماید  و يا هم چگونه میتوانیم با دسترسی به این آمار دسترسی معارف را تقويت بخشیم. در نهایت امر، نقشه برداری هرکيلومتر سرک به ما کمک مينماید، تا بدانیم که اطفال بعد از طی چه مصافتی به مکتب میرسند، یا چه زمانی نیاز است، تا یک بیمار به شفاخانه برسد. بدون شک، دسترسی به آمار اساسی و دقیق یک نياز شمرده می شود، تا در روشنی آن مسوولین ذیربط در تمام سطوح از آن استفاده نمایند. 

Mapping Afghanistan’s future, one road at a time

Walker Bradley's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
Mapping Afghanistan’s future, one road at a time
OpenStreetMap is an open source geospatial data portal built and maintained by a community of mappers. Photo Credit: Taimani Films/ World Bank


In May 2017, the World Bank celebrated its 15 years of reengagement in Afghanistan. Since reengagement, we have helped the government deliver public services to its citizens and, in the process, accumulated a wealth of data on many sectors from health and education to infrastructure.

However, publicly available base data used across sectors – also called ‘foundation’ data-- is still lacking. As it happens, that information is important to design projects and inform policies.

Case in point: while we may have data on vaccines given or babies born, we don’t know much about the roads that lead to the clinic. Similarly, we may get data on school attendance and passing rates of students, but we don’t know how long it takes for students to reach their schools.

These examples highlight how foundation data can help better plan the expansion of healthcare facilities or enhance access to education. After all, each mapped kilometer of a road can help us understand how long Afghan children must walk to get to school or how long it takes sick Afghans to reach a hospital.

Without question, there is a clear need for better foundation data to inform decision making at all levels.

Improving Agricultural Systems and Raising Prosperity in Rural Bhutan

Izabela Leao's picture
Tara Nidhi, farmer and beneficiary of the Remote Rural Communities Development Project
Tara Nidhi, farmer and beneficiary
of the Remote Rural Communities
Development Project (RRCDP) in Bhutan.
Photo Credit: Izabela Leao/World Bank

“I never thought I would see a road passing by my house in this lifetime,” says Tara Nidhi, a 70-year old farmer who lives in a remote community of Samtse Dzongkhag in Southwest Bhutan. A beneficiary of the Remote Rural Communities Development Project (RRCDP), he and his family have benefitted from the construction of a new farm road and protection from landslides through RRCDP support – a project that promotes the increasing of agricultural productivity and development of communities’ access to markets, irrigation, agricultural technologies, and community infrastructure in 26 Gewogs (village groups) under six Dzongkhags (districts) in Bhutan: Chhukha, Dagana, Haa, Samtse, Trongsa, and Wanduephodrang.

Driving Prosperity through Access to Rural Roads

Coming to completion in May 2018, RRCDP has improved road access to markets to at least 11 project Chiwogs (hamlets) in Samtse and Trongsa Dzongkhags – building 22.9 kilometers of farm roads and benefitting about 299 households. With the construction of new farm roads, the most commonly marketed agricultural and livestock products amongst farmers in project areas have been cardamom, vegetables, butter, cheese, and citrus, and to a lesser extent, rice, potatoes, and eggs. Additionally, beneficiaries have also reported a significant reduction in the time of travel between their households and markets – up to 8 hours in some cases! The majority of the Bhutanese population live in remote rural areas – hours, sometimes days of walking from the nearest road. They walk their children through dense forests and rivers to reach schools and health clinics; they carry their agricultural and livestock products to nearby markets on their backs – an average load of 30kg. A horse carrying a 50kg load costs approximately Nu.5 per kilogram.

Now, with road accessibility, farmers use pick-up trucks at the cost of Nu.2 per kilogram. After a RRCDP farm road construction in Samtse, for example, four households bought pick-up trucks and ten individuals bought motorcycles – mainly benefitting the transport of cardamom. Better road accessibility through RRCDP have also fostered the construction of concrete flush toilets outside households and the construction of new concrete-built homes, as well as the expansion of irrigation schemes. Finally, road accessibility has also impacted social dynamics in rural areas benefitted by the project. While in the past mostly men would go to the nearest town markets on their own, today, all family members, including women and children can go to the market in the morning and return to their homes in the evening. Some women have even reported that they are learning to drive.[1]

The project has also supported beneficiaries in 88 Chiwogs with access to community and marketing infrastructure, such as power tiller tracks, power tiller machinery, and food bridges – with a total of 3,597 households benefitted. In Norgaygang Gewog, for example, with support from the project, the construction of 4 kilometers of power tiller track in 2016, has brought multiple benefits to the community, such as easier access to schools and healthcare in case of emergency.

When technology meets agriculture in Bhutan

Yoichiro Ishihara's picture
Commercial Agriculture is important for Bhutan's Development
Based in eastern Bhutan, Mountain Hazelnuts has developed innovative uses of ICT for its commercial agriculture operations. Photo Credit: Bryan Watts/World Bank

Bhutan is a challenging environment in which to develop commercial agriculture. The country has limited areas for agriculture, and its geography and road conditions make logistics and market access costly.

Therefore, commercial agriculture is critical to increase productivity, which will help create jobs and access to more and better food. This can be achieved not only through focusing on high-value products and investing in traditional infrastructure such as irrigation, but also through using information and communication technology (ICT). Based in eastern Bhutan, Mountain Hazelnuts has developed innovative uses of ICT for its commercial agriculture operations.

Bicycles can boost Bangladesh's exports

Nadeem Rizwan's picture
Bangladesh is the 2nd largest non-EU exporter of bicycles to the EU and the 8th largest exporter overall
Bicycles are the largest export of Bangladesh’s engineering sector, contributing about 12 percent of engineering exports. Credit: World Bank
This blog is part of a series exploring new sources of competitiveness in Bangladesh

Did you know that Bangladesh is the 2nd largest non-EU exporter of bicycles to the EU and the 8th largest exporter overall?

Bicycles are the largest export of Bangladesh’s engineering sector, contributing about 12 percent of engineering exports.
 
This performance is in large part due to the high anti-dumping duty imposed by the EU against China.
 
Recently, the EU Parliament and the Council agreed on EU Commission’s proposal on a new methodology for calculating anti-dumping on imports from countries with significant market distortions or pervasive state influence on the economy.
 
This decision could mean that the 48.5 percent anti-dumping duty for Chinese bicycles may not end in 2018 as originally intended. China is disputing the EU’s dumping rules at the World Trade Organization.
 
As the global bicycle market is expected to grow to $34.9 billion by 2022, Bangladesh has an opportunity to diversify its exports beyond readymade garments. Presently, Bangladesh is the 2nd largest non-EU exporter of bicycles to the EU and the 8th largest exporter overall.
Bangladesh is the 2nd largest non-EU exporter of bicycles to the EU and the 8th largest exporter overall
EU27 bicycle imports in 2016 (Million $). Bangladesh is the 2nd largest non-EU exporter of bicycles to the EU and the 8th largest exporter overall. Source: UNComtrade through WITS

However, if the EU anti-dumping duty against China is reduced or lifted after 2018, Bangladesh’s price edge might be eroded.
 
Bangladeshi bicycle exporters estimate that without anti-dumping duties, Chinese bicycles could cost at least 10-20 percent less than Bangladeshi bicycles on European markets. And Chinese exporters can ship bicycles to the EU market with 35-50 percent shorter lead times.
 
So, how can Bangladeshi bicycles survive and grow?

Six reasons why Sri Lanka needs to boost its ailing private sector

Tatiana Nenova's picture
 Joe Qian / World Bank
A view of the business district in Colombo. Credit: Joe Qian / World Bank

Sri Lanka experienced strong growth at the end of its 26-year conflict. This was to be expected as post-war reconstruction tends to bring new hope and energy to a country.
 
And Sri Lanka has done well—5 percent growth is nothing to scoff at.  
 
However, Sri Lanka needs to create an environment that fosters private-sector growth and creates more and better jobs. To that end, the country should address these 6 pressing challenges:

1. The easy economic wins are almost exhausted

For a long time, the public-sector has been pouring funds into everything from infrastructure to healthcare. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka’s public sector is facing serious budget constraints. The island’s tax to growth domestic product (GDP) ratio is one of the lowest in the world, falling from 24.2% in 1978 to 10.1% in 2014. Sri Lanka should look for more sustainable sources of growth. As in many other countries, the answer lies with the private sector.
 
2. Sri Lanka has isolated itself from global and regional value chains 

Over the past decades, Sri Lanka has lost its trade competitiveness. As illustrated in the graph below, Sri Lanka outperformed Vietnam in the early 1990s on how much of its trade contributed to its growth domestic product. Vietnam has now overtaken Sri Lanka where trade has been harmed by high tariffs and para-tariffs and trade interventions on agriculture.


Sri Lanka dropped down by 14 notches to the 85th position out of 137 in the recent  Global Competitiveness Index.
           
3. The system inhibits private sector growth

Sri Lanka’s private sector is ailing. Sri Lankan companies are entrepreneurial and the country’s young people are smart, inquisitive, and dynamic. Yet, this does not translate into a vibrant private sector. Instead, public enterprises are the ones carrying the whole weight of development in this country.
 
The question is, why is the private sector not shouldering its burden of growth?


From the chart above, you can see how difficult it is to set up and operate a business in Sri Lanka. From paying taxes to enforcing contracts to registering property, entrepreneurs have the deck stacked against them.
 
Trading across borders is particularly challenging for Sri Lankan businesses. Trade facilitation is inadequate to the point of stunting growth and linkages to regional value chains. The chart explains just why Sri Lanka is considered one of the hardest countries in the world to run a trading business. Compare it to Singapore–you could even import a live tiger there without a problem.

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