Editor's note: Dorsati Madani is a Senior Economist with the Strategy and Analysis Unit of the World Bank Group's Investment Climate Advisory department.
I was passing through Accra recently and while walking through the lobby of the hotel was stopped by a poster for a regional conference on Freedom of Information and at the same time ran into several colleagues and old friends. It was an interesting exercise to be very aware of an issue and personalities but be on the outside looking. The conference was well attended, drawn by the start power of former US president Jimmy Carter, his center and high level activist and political figures from Africa. The Carter Center which has been at the forefront of this work is able to draw attention to and raise the profile of the issue in West Africa.
But what did it all mean to local people? When I asked Ghanaians working or staying at the hotel about the conference, there was very high recognition but mostly it was linked to former President Carter. But the issue drew little recognition or excitement. Ghana did announce that after years of languishing on the books an FOI bill would be introduced into Parliament. But to the people outside of the conference this would have little impact on their daily lives. Their worries were much more about food, shelter, safety, schooling and the actions of the government in power on their lives.
"Princes should delegate to others the enactment of unpopular measures and keep in their own hands the means of winning favors." -- Niccolò Machiavellli
For economists interested in climate change, some news. The long awaited regional version of Bill Nordhaus' DICE model is now out. (Actually it’s been out since February, but I just got to it...) It’s called RICE with the ‘R’ standing for Regional. A quick overview of some of the key results can be downloaded here.
Nordhaus is one of the earliest and most prominent climate modelers in the economics profession. He and Nicholas Stern are often set up as the two book ends of the climate change economists’ spectrum. I believe their differences are not that great.
By Aidan Mulkeen, Education Consultant, Africa Region
The last two decades have seen a profound change in participation in education in sub-Saharan Africa. Enrollment in primary education has grown rapidly, there are now more children in school in Africa than at any other time in history, and most African children now enroll in school at some point.
This remarkable achievement has involved increases in the number of teachers and placed national systems for teacher provision and management under increased stress. Countries have struggled to recruit sufficient qualified teachers, to deploy them to where they are needed, and to provide the management and support structures to ensure that quality education is delivered.
April 15 is the date that Americans have to send in their tax returns. Many folks scramble at the last minute to get their returns post-marked by this date or pay penalties on their taxes. (Of course, things got easier this year for American employees of international organizations after the release of the Geithner edition of TurboTax.) But in celebration of tax day, I thought I'd share a few data points from tax regimes in other parts of the world.
Climate change in the news (Apr 10 - 16)
One of the key findings from a recent report by the OECD was that "the digital divide in education goes beyond the issue of access to technology. A second digital divide separates those with the competencies and skills to benefit from computer use from those without."
Most visitors to this blog will be quite familiar with the term digital divide, which was popularized in the 1990s as the Internet exploded into public consciousness, but which has been around in concept for a few decades. Much of the related dialogue, and certainly most of the action by governments in developing countries, has so far treated unequal access to ICTs (especially the Internet) as a largely technical challenge at the core of digital divide initiatives, and as a result technical solutions have been explored and implemented (usually led by very technical people) all over the world.
What's different about a 'second' digital divide?
The latest March 31 balance of payments data from India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), shows that India received $50.6 billion in private transfers in the 2009 calendar year. This represents a modest decline (-1.4 percent) compared to private transfer receipts for the 2008 calendar year.
Perhaps more importantly, the data on private transfers - which comprise mostly remittances from Indian migrants - shows that remittance flows to India declined sharply in the first quarter of 2009, but then have picked up in the remaining quarters, with a clear upward trend in the fourth quarter of 2009. Whether this recovery will continue into 2010 is still an open question. Look out for our forthcoming Migration and Development Brief for some answers!
The Economic Times erroneously reported last week that inward private transfers to India reached $55 billion in 2009. The correct figure is $50.6 billion.