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New Structural Economics: Industrial Policy 2.0 or Same Old Structuralism?

This is a joint post with Julia Clark and Christian Meyer.

Industrial policy—as many have already commented—is back. (See here, here and here).

The recent wave of post-financial-crisis interventionism has reignited the classic (and often heated) debate about whether governments can in fact nurture economic growth. Previous analysis of the East Asian miracle, and frustration at the perceived failure of certain liberalization policies, has led many to (again) embrace a more activist role for governments in economic development.

First Edition of the Oxford Companion to the Economics of Africa Features Essays by CGD Staff and Board

This is a joint post with Julie Walz

Since the mid-nineties, many African nations have ushered in dramatic economic and political changes. But growth in other countries is stalled due conflict, repressive regimes, and lack of infrastructure. A new publication captures the diversity across Africa, using an economic lens to evaluate the key issues affecting Africa’s ability to grow and develop. The Oxford Companion to the Economics of Africa is a compilation of 100 essays on key issues and topics across the continent. It includes contributions from young African researchers, longtime researchers on Africa and four Nobel Laureates. Authors were given the freedom to write their own perspectives, thus the result is not a literature review but an engaging snapshot of concerns and possibilities across the continent. With 48 country perspectives (from Algeria to Zimbabwe) and 53 thematic essays, the book rejects a one-size-fits-all approach yet recognizes that there are continent-wide opportunities and challenges. As the first work of its kind, it is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the field, from graduate students to policymakers.

Does It Matter Who Runs the World Bank?

With Robert Zoellick’s announcement that he will step down from the World Bank presidency at the end of June, now comes the question of who his successor will be, particularly whether it will be an American.  Just a few days ago I commented on the awkwardness of the situation for the White House.

How to Turn Citizens into Owners of National Wealth

This post, co-authored with Alan Gelb, was originally published in Financial Times: This is Africa

On November 28 Anadarko Petroleum doubled the estimate of its massive Mozambique gas discovery. If this proves correct, Mozambique will become a major gas exporter and can expect a hefty windfall.

Mozambique is not alone. Per square mile, proven sub-soil assets in poor countries — notably in Africa — are only about one quarter of those in better-explored, rich countries. Not surprisingly, high prices and new technologies are driving new oil, gas, and mineral discoveries across the developing world. Billions of dollars will be pumped into countries like Uganda, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia and Bolivia. While this should be good news, it also raises concerns.

World Bank Results Initiative: The U.S. Should Support It – But with Independent Verification Please

For more than two years, the staff of the World Bank have been developing a new lending instrument that would link financing to measurable results within countries. If approved, it would be the third instrument at the World Bank; the two that exist now are “investment loans” under which inputs, not results, are financed; and policy based loans, under which policy changes are financed.

Reflections on a Holiday in Zimbabwe

Not too many people would think to take a vacation in Zimbabwe. My wife Caroline and I have our reasons.  Caroline was born and raised in the country, the descendant of an old Zimbabwe “pioneer” family. I am from South Africa.

Could Uganda Be the Next Niger Delta?

That’s the question in Alain Vicky’s piece this morning in Le Monde Diplomatique (gated). Vicky warns that oil discoveries in Uganda’s Bunyoro region threaten to heighten simmering tensions between the local communities whose ground is being drilled and the central government which is pocketing the cash. Unmet expectations and popular frustration with politicians could unleash violence and do raise concerns that Uganda might be heading for a rough patch.

Shortcut to Accountability? A World Bank Call to Try Cash Transfers

This is a joint post with Stephanie Majerowicz

The World Bank’s Shanta Devarajan and Marcelo Giugale in yesterday’s Guardian Poverty Matters blog write:

Except for Botswana, the track record of Africa's mineral and hydrocarbon exporters is sobering. While Africa's central banks are today better equipped to deal with currency appreciation, and its civil society more alert to environmental hazards, the institutions that control graft are not strong. They must be improved. However, this will take time. Is there a shortcut to better accountability in the management of natural resources? Yes, there is: direct transfers of resource dividends to citizens.

Democracy and Development: The Spread of Biometric Voter Rolls

This post is joint with Caroline Decker

The application of biometrics to promote development and democratization is proceeding rapidly in the developing world—and largely below the radar of the media and development experts in high-income countries. Monitoring press releases on biometrics with the help of a news Google alert, I’ve been struck by the astonishing spread of this technology for use in voter registration in developing countries... Nepal, Zambia, Ghana, to name just three and ongoing cases.

Related Working Paper

Cash at Your Fingertips: Biometric Technology for Transfers in Developing and Resource-Rich Countries

Most recently, Gabon announced plans to introduce a biometric voter roll in advance of the next election: the opposition parties have been urging this for years. The election is due in December 2011, but the President is to seek a court ruling on its deferral to 2012 to allow for the orderly introduction of biometrics. The proposal has been supported by a group of NGOs and associations, as well as the Secretary General of one of the main opposition parties. Bolivia provides an example of what can be done to increase political inclusion. Over 5 million people were enrolled in 2009 within a period of 76 days by some 3,000 enrolment stations, increasing the voter roll by an astonishing 2 million people. The main drivers were the opposition parties, which were reluctant to contest an election with the old, discredited, roll. The exercise was very successful, in the assessment by the Carter Center.

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