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Africa

The jobs challenge is bigger than ever in the poorest countries

Akihiko Nishio's picture
Also available in: Français | Español | 日本語 | العربية
Researchers at the CSIR-Crops Research Institute (CSIR-CRI) in Ghana. © Dasan Bobo/World Bank 
Researchers at the CSIR-Crops Research Institute (CSIR-CRI) in Ghana. © Dasan Bobo/World Bank 

Over the next decade, close to 600 million people will be looking for jobs, mostly in the world’s poorest countries. The South Asia region alone will need to create more than 13 million jobs every year to keep pace with its demographics. In Sub-Saharan Africa, despite a smaller population, the challenge will be even greater—15 million jobs will need to be created each year.
 
Adding complexity, the jobs challenge is also a concern for today. Many people in poorer countries who do work are stuck in informal, low-paying, less productive jobs, which are often outside the formal and taxed economy. And as the trends of urbanization continue, scores of internal migrants are searching for work, but can’t find quality, waged jobs, nor do they have the skills demanded by the markets. As a result, too many people are left on the economic sidelines and are limited in what they can contribute to their countries’ growth.  

Blended finance unlocks the keys to affordable housing across west Africa

Martin Spicer's picture
Also available in: Français
Houses under construction. © John Hogg/World Bank
Houses under construction. © John Hogg/World Bank

Affordable housing is a major challenge across West Africa, where fewer than 7 percent of households can afford to buy their own home. The situation is particularly acute in the countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) -- Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo – where demand for decent housing far outstrips supply.

But a new financing tool developed by the World Bank Group, is helping thousands of families across the WAEMU access private housing finance and finally achieve their dreams of owning their own home.

The tool is the $2.5 billion IDA18 IFC-MIGA Private Sector Window (IDA PSW), launched in July 2017 to help catalyze private sector investments and create jobs in the lowest income countries eligible for financing from the World Bank’s International Development Association.

Calling all innovators! Help achieve ‘Good ID’ for the world’s invisible billion

Makhtar Diop's picture
© Daniel Silva Yoshisato
© Daniel Silva Yoshisato

An estimated one billion people around the world – half of which are in Africa – lack official identification to prove who they are. And many millions more have forms of identification that cannot be reliably verified or authenticated. More than 450 million of these are children who have not had their birth registered. Women and the poor in low-income countries are less likely to have official identification.

Without a trusted and secure way to prove their identity, the poorest and most vulnerable face challenges in accessing healthcare, education, and financial services, as well as opportunities that can improve their economic and social mobility.

How Islamic finance can boost infrastructure development

Joaquim Levy's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français
Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan. © littlesam/Shutterstock
Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan. © littlesam/Shutterstock

In many developing countries, there are glaring gaps in the quantity of infrastructure per capita. For example, power generation capacity per person in these countries is only one-fifth that of advanced economies. We know that expanding infrastructure investment in economic and social services is an effective way both to promote inclusive growth and to foster local resilience to global shocks. In particular, investment in quality, sustainable infrastructure helps finance the transition towards a low-carbon, more environmentally friendly economic model. This happens notably in the renewable energy and low-emission transport sectors. Given the scale of resources needed to address the infrastructure investment gap, mobilizing the private sector for this goal has become imperative, especially in countries where financial transactions in banking and capital markets follow Islamic law (or shari’ah) principles.
 
The conventions of Islamic finance are particularly suitable for infrastructure development. They define an asset-oriented system of ethical financial intermediation built on the principles of risk-sharing in lawful activities (halal) rather than rent-seeking gains. This “entrepreneurial” approach by investors requires a high degree of transparency and creates incentives to monitor projects more carefully, which, in turn, strengthen the efficiency in building and operating infrastructure.

Giving people control over their data can transform development

Nandan Nilekani's picture
Suguna, one of the many women who has benefited from Aadhaar– her digital identity. © Bernat Parera
Suguna, one of the many women who has benefited from Aadhaar– her digital identity. © Bernat Parera

In Para village of Rajasthan, India, Shanti Devi’s livelihood depends on wages earned through MNREGA (India’s rural employment guarantee program) and a pension for her and her disabled husband. Eight years ago, a postman would deliver this cash to any household member he found. Sometimes she did not receive the full amount because a relative would claim her money. Even when she did, women like Shanti Devi did not have a secure way to save it because she was unbanked. Opening a bank account needed an individual identification card which many women lacked.

Today, Shanti Devi’s life has changed because of Aadhaar – her digital identity. All of her cash benefits are transferred directly into her bank account, which she was able to open with her Aadhaar number and her fingerprint. She can make and receive digital payments, with any person or business, even without a smartphone. With her ID, she is now fully empowered to exercise her rights, access services and economic opportunities. Most of all, she is afforded the dignity to assert her identity.  

The UN and the World Bank working together in crisis-affected situations

Franck Bousquet's picture
Also available in: العربية
Girls School in Sanaa. © UNICEF Yemen
Girls School in Sanaa. © UNICEF Yemen


Creating sustainable peace and development solutions for countries affected by conflict, crisis and violence is a global responsibility for the international community.
 
At the United Nations General Assembly this week, the UN and the World Bank, together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched the Famine Action Mechanism (FAM), the first global partnership dedicated to preventing famine. With support from the world’s leading tech companies, the FAM aims to use data and state-of-the-art technology to pair decision-makers with better, earlier famine warnings and pre-arranged financing. Our work on the FAM is the latest example of how our organizations are joining forces to reduce the risk of global crises.

Refugee crisis: What the private sector can do

Jim Yong Kim's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية | Français
© World Bank Group
© World Bank Group

There are about 68.5 million forcibly displaced people in the world today, of which more than 25 million are considered refugees. Almost 85 percent of them are hosted by low or middle countries with limited resources such as Jordan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Turkey, and Bangladesh. These countries face enormous challenges in meeting the needs of refugees while continuing to grow and develop themselves. 

I visited Jordan in 2014 and 2016 and was struck by the generosity and hospitality of this small, middle-income country, which accepted the influx of more than 740,000 refugees of the Syrian war and other conflicts (and that only counts the number officially registered by the UN Refugee Agency!) In 2017, Jordan had 89 refugees per 1,000 people –the second-highest concentration in the world. Its services and economy were under tremendous strain. The refugees themselves were frustrated by lack of opportunity to support themselves.  

Women rise to unlock opportunities for SDG implementation

Mahmoud Mohieldin's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية | Français
Lucy Odiwa, an entrepreneur in Tanzania whose firm, promotes safer and more sustainable methods for handling menstrual health hygiene management (MHM) won the first place in the SDGs&Her competition. © Womenchoice Industries

Visit any community and you will see women breathing life into every part of the economy and society, be it in agriculture, healthcare, marketing, sales, manufacturing, or invention. Through their presence in every walk of life, women make significant contributions to the 2030 Agenda, including its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the most ambitious set of goals that the international community has ever set for itself
 
However, despite representing 50% of the population, women remain over-represented among the world’s poorest and most vulnerable groups and under-represented as leaders and drivers of change. The lack of recognition of women’s contributions, particularly through their businesses and economic activities, has severely limited their access to finance, new markets and knowledge – necessary for economic growth and poverty reduction.

Helping East Africa attract investment in priority sectors

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Also available in: 中文 | Français | العربية | Español
© Sarah Farahat/World Bank
© Sarah Farhat/World Bank

This month’s Development Finance Forum is bringing together public and private sector leaders to talk about how we can drive more private finance in three sectors that are key to development in East Africa: agribusiness, housing finance and tourism. The region’s leaders see these as critical to sustained growth, job creation and long-term economic transformation for their countries.

The World Bank Group sponsors the Forum annually to connect key stakeholders who, by working together, can change the investment landscape in the least developed countries. We aim to pinpoint what each major player can contribute, as well as explore promising ideas, initiatives and partnerships that need an extra impetus to succeed. It’s an exciting time to be an investment partner in the region with its extremely dynamic economies and a lot of innovation taking place.

Identification as a centerpiece for development: What can other countries learn from Peru?

Samia Melhem's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français | Español
© World Bank
Juan and his sisters proudly show their identification. © Daniel Silva Yoshisato/World Bank

Peru has placed so much emphasis on the importance of identification that it has created a museum dedicated to it. The "Museum of Identification" in Lima demonstrates to visitors the significance of identity in the country’s narrative. In fact, the Incas, centuries before the Europeans arrived, kept track of the population by using “quipus”, an accounting tool based on strings, with each node denoting a village or community.
 
Peru has continued to prioritize identification, and the uniqueness of each person—long before the Sustainable Development Goals made “legal identity for all and free birth registrations” a global priority (SDG 16.9).
 

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