Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD in the News

April 17, 2017

A Big Bond for Africa (Project Syndicate)

From the op-ed:

The countries of Sub-Saharan Africa have reached a critical juncture. Strained by a collapse in commodity prices and China’s economic slowdown, the region’s growth slipped to 3.4% in 2015 – nearly 50% lower than the average rate over the previous 15 years. The estimated growth rate for 2016 is lower than the population growth rate of about 2%, implying a per capita contraction in GDP. 

Sustained economic growth is essential to maintain progress on reducing poverty, infant mortality, disease, and malnutrition. It is also the only way to create sufficient good jobs for Africa’s burgeoning youth population – the fastest growing in the world. As Gerd Müller, Germany’s development minister, noted at a recent press conference, “If the youth of Africa can’t find work or a future in their own countries, it won’t be hundreds of thousands, but millions that make their way to Europe.”

Read the full op-ed here

March 8, 2017

On Women's Day, Take the Next Step for Girls' Education (CNN)

From the op-ed:

In the movie "Hidden Figures," Janelle Monáe's character Mary Jackson petitions a Virginia State Court judge for the right to enroll in engineering classes at the local all-white high school. She reminds the judge that he was the first in his family to join the Armed Forces and to attend college. Now he can help her be the first female engineer at NASA. "Your Honor," Jackson says, "out of all the cases you're going to hear today, which one is going to matter one hundred years from now? Which one is going to make you the first?"

"You are the first," is a phrase that the two of us, despite living in starkly different countries, have heard more times than we can remember. It resonates for us both as the world marks International Women's Day. Most notably, we are the first women appointed to our respective cabinet positions. A woman in a leadership role is a rarity in our regions, let alone women like us with economics and computer science backgrounds. No wonder: today, in 2017, 130 million school-age girls around the world are not even in school. The main reason? Existing financial resources for education, especially for girls, both within countries and by multilateral and bilateral donors, are woefully inadequate. We must, as a global community, commit to reversing troubling trends and improving outcomes when it comes to girls' education -- and education for all children.

Read the full op-ed here

March 14, 2016

Ensuring Africa's Continued Rise (Project Syndicate)

From article:

Africa’s rise is in danger of faltering. After years during which the continent’s economy grew at an average annual rate of 5%, global uncertainty, depressed commodity prices, and jittery external conditions are threatening to undermine decades of much-needed progress. Ensuring the wealth and wellbeing of the continent’s residents will not be easy; but there is much that policymakers can do to put Africa back on an upward trajectory.

First and foremost, policymakers must secure the financing needed to pursue sustainable development in an uncertain global environment. The World Bank estimates that Africa will require at least $93 billion a year to fund its infrastructure needs alone. Climate-friendly, sustainable infrastructure will cost even more. And yet, as long as global growth remains weak, Africans cannot count on developed countries to fully honor their commitments to help attain the Sustainable Development Goals.

Read full article here.

February 15, 2016

Shine A Light On The Gaps (Foreign Affairs)

From article:

Agriculture forms the backbone of African economies, accounting for 32 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). A majority of the continent’s farmers earn their living on small plots of less than two hectares, which represent 80 percent of all farms across sub-Saharan Africa. But these smallholder farmers are largely excluded from financial services and are therefore constrained from improving their wellbeing and transforming their farms into economically viable businesses. Although smallholder farmers face a number of challenges to raising productivity, bridging the financial access gap must be a priority.

There is much literature on expanding financial inclusion among the world’s poor. The issue has been a development priority since Group of Twenty (G20) leaders launched the Financial Inclusion Action Plan in 2010. But Africa’s smallholder farmers have received little attention, and women farmers—who make up half of the continent’s agricultural labor force—have received even less.

Being excluded from financial services has negative consequences for smallholder farmers. Access to credit can help raise farm productivity by expanding access to inputs as well as better storage, marketing, and processing. Access to savings instruments at harvest enables families to put money aside and helps smooth consumption at other times of the year. Access to payment platforms can offer a secure and efficient way to make transactions. And access to insurance products can protect against illness and weather-related shocks. In the absence of these formal mechanisms, smallholder households often rely on informal instruments. Although they are accessible and flexible, informal financial services can also be inefficient and costly in the short term, and they do not always offer the services needed to help transform subsistence farming into a profitable business.

Read full article here.