With rigorous economic research and practical policy solutions, we focus on the issues and institutions that are critical to global development. Explore our core themes and topics to learn more about our work.
In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
Moss served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State 2007-2008 while on leave from CGD. Previously, he has been a Lecturer at the London School of Economics (LSE) and worked at the World Bank, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and the Overseas Development Council. Moss is the author of numerous articles and books, including African Development: Making Sense of the Issues and Actors (2018) and Oil to Cash: Fighting the Resource Curse with Cash Transfers (2015). He holds a PhD from the University of London’s SOAS and a BA from Tufts University.
“An Aid-Institutions Paradox? Aid dependency and state building in sub-Saharan Africa,” with Nicolas van de Walle and Gunilla Pettersson, in William Easterly (ed.) Reinventing Aid, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2008.
“The Ghost of 0.7%: Origins and Relevance of the International Aid Target,” with Michael Clemens, International Journal of Development Issues, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2007.
“Compassionate Conservatives of Conservative Compassionates? US political parties and bilateral foreign assistance to Africa”, with Markus Goldstein, Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 24, No. 1, October 2005.
“Is Africa’s Skepticism of Foreign Capital Justified? Preliminary Evidence from Firm Survey Data in East Africa”, with Vijaya Ramachandran and Manju Kedia Shah, in Magnus Blomstrom, Edward Graham, and Theodore Moran (eds), Does a Foreign Direct Investment Promote Development?, Institute of International Economics, Washington DC, May 2005.
“Irrational Exuberance or Financial Foresight? The Political Logic of Stock Markets in Africa”, in Sam Mensah & Todd Moss (eds), African Emerging Markets: Contemporary Issues, Volume II, African Capital Markets Forum, Accra, 2004.
“Stock Markets in Africa: Emerging Lions or White Elephants?” with Charles Kenny, World Development, Vol. 26, No. 5, May 1998.
“Africa Policy Adrift,” with David Gordon, Mediterranean Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 3, Summer 1996.
“US Policy and Democratisation in Africa: The Limits of Liberal Universalism,” The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 33, No. 2, June 1995.
More than 25% of businesses surveyed in some of Africa’s biggest economies cited losing double-digit sales due to power outages
Center for Global Development
+1 (202) 416-4040
Washington – In Sub-Saharan African countries with unreliable power, outages cost some companies as much as 31 percent in sales, according to a new study released today by the Center for Global Development.
Researchers from the Center for Global Development (CGD) examined data from more than 3,000 firms in 37 African countries in an effort to examine how businesses across Sub-Saharan Africa respond to frequent power outages, and what it means for their businesses’ bottom lines and growth prospects.
“While there’s a lot of effort put into providing solar panels and generators to African households to power their daily lives, to actually change the economic development equation in Africa we must focus our efforts on the energy infrastructure that can power businesses,” said Vijaya Ramachandran, the study’s lead author and a senior fellow at CGD. “We found that unreliable power can have a major impact on businesses, dampening their growth prospects and undermining job creation opportunities.”
The study found:
In some of the continent’s largest economies like Nigeria, Angola, and Ghana, more than 25% of businesses lose double-digit sales due to power outages—with some firms averaging losses of 31%.
The largest grouping of firms are just surviving. Thanks to a heavy reliance on generators their sales are mostly unaffected by power outages, but they average just 3% growth.
Across the continent, some firms have grown rapidly despite frequent power outages—even in very poor countries.
In middle-income countries, especially in Southern Africa, many firms suffer relatively limited power outages and don’t see significant effects on sales.
The hardest-hit firms average more than 200 hours without power each month, while even the least-affected firms average more than 10 hours per month.
Some individual firms report losing over 70% of their sales.
“Of course, there’s no single story of how African businesses cope with unreliable power, but it’s clear that across the continent, a huge number of firms suffer high costs and lost sales,” said Ramachandran. “Better power infrastructure could enable business growth, create jobs, and produce better economic outcomes for the region.”
You can read the full study at https://www.cgdev.org/publication/how-do-african-firms-respond-unreliable-power-exploring-firm-heterogeneity-using-k-means.
The Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), the latest phase of debt reduction for poor countries from the World Bank, the IMF, and the African Development Bank, will come close to full debt reduction for at least 19 and perhaps as many as 40 countries. Debt relief proponents see it as a momentous leap in the battle against global poverty. CGD research fellow Todd Moss argues that actual gains in poverty reduction will be modest and slow.
We’ve been surprised at all the attentionTodd’s new fridge has gotten recently—including comments saying the comparison against African per capita electricity consumption isn’t fair because many of those people don’t have refrigerators. Exactly our point!
The future of development policy is in development finance. Developing countries need aid less and less as their incomes rise and economies grow. What they need now is private investment and finance. US development policy, however, has failed to bring its development finance tools in line with this reality. Related US efforts have not been deployed in an efficient or strategic manner because authorities are outdated, staff resources are insufficient, and tools are dispersed across multiple agencies.
Other players are doing more. Well-established European development finance institutions (DFIs) are providing integrated services for businesses, and these services cover debt and equity financing, risk mitigation, and technical assistance. Moreover, emerging-market actors — including China, India, Brazil, and Malaysia — have dramatically increased financing activities in developing regions such as Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Reliance on natural resource revenues, particularly oil, is often associated with bad governance, corruption, and poverty. Worried about the effect of oil on Alaska, Governor Jay Hammond had a simple yet revolutionary idea: let citizens have a direct stake. Thirty years later, Hammond’s vision is still influencing oil policies throughout the world.
Does foreign aid help develop public institutions and state capacity in developing countries? In this Working Paper, the authors suggest that despite recent calls for increased aid to poor countries by the international community, there may be an "aid-institutions paradox." While donor intentions may be sincere, the authors conclude that it is possible that aid could undermine long-term institutional development, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ghana’s rapid economic growth and the recent GDP rebasing exercise put Ghana suddenly above the income limit for IDA eligibility. This paper considers the implications of the country’s new middle-income status.
To enhance efficiency of public spending in oil-rich economies, this paper proposes that some of the oil revenues be transferred directly to citizens, and then taxed to finance public expenditures. The argument is that spending that is financed by taxation—rather than by resource revenues accruing directly to the government—is more likely to be scrutinized by citizens and hence subject to greater efficiency.
By 2025, the number of IDA client countries will likely shrink substantially and primarily be smaller in size and overwhelmingly African. This working paper predicts how these changes will impact IDA's operational and financial models and recommends the World Bank begin addressing the implications of these developments sooner rather than later.
Todd Moss proposes that countries seeking to manage new natural resource wealth should consider distributing income directly to citizens as cash transfers. Beyond serving as a powerful and proven policy intervention, cash transfers may also mitigate the corrosive effect natural resource revenue often has on governance.
Zimbabwe faces a daunting array of obstacles to full economic recovery, including a crippling external debt burden. Todd Moss and Benjamin Leo urge that the current government must address the legacy of debt arrears and manage external debt in order to generate opportunities for reconstruction and growth.
CGD vice president and senior fellow Todd Moss and reasearch assistant Lauren Young propose direct cash distribution of Ghana's oil profits to help the country avoid the natural resource curse. One positive effect of the plan would be to strenghten democratic pressure on the government to be good stewards of the resource.