Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Publications

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An image of the policy paper.
July 28, 2021

Identifying Binding Constraints on Digital Payment Services in Ethiopia: An Application of a Decision Tree Framework

While several comparable countries in sub-Saharan Africa have seen a significant increase in financial inclusion, mainly driven by digital financial services, Ethiopia still performs poorly. Even digital payment and transfer services, which lower-income and less literate segments of the population could benefit from, are rarely used.

Getnet Alemu , Tadele Ferde and Alejandro Fiorito
Cover of How China Lends paper
March 31, 2021

How China Lends: A Rare Look into 100 Debt Contracts with Foreign Governments

China is the world’s largest official creditor, but we lack basic facts about the terms and conditions of its lending. Very few contracts between Chinese lenders and their government borrowers have ever been published or studied. This paper is the first systematic analysis of the legal terms of China’s foreign lending. We collect and analyze 100 contracts between Chinese state-owned entities and government borrowers in 24 developing countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Oceania, and compare them with those of other bilateral, multilateral, and commercial creditors.

Cover of Policy Paper 206
March 15, 2021

Mobilizing External Financing for Africa’s Crisis Recovery

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on African economies. On the continent, countries continue to face significant financing needs to protect lives and livelihood and bolster prospects for a stronger and more resilient economic recovery. To help meet these needs, the international community must act promptly.

Front cover of Zambia domestic resource mobilization paper
December 11, 2019

How Erratic Tax Policies Are Impeding Revenue Mobilization in Zambia

This case study assesses whether Zambia’s tax and fiscal policies have been impeded by political and technical constraints. Tax policy is a deliberate—yet intricate—process requiring not just well-measured choices, but also stability. Zambia has undertaken several tax reforms that have included broadening the tax base, establishing a revenue collection agency, and introducing a value-added tax (VAT). 

Ramos Emmanuel Mabugu and Eddie Rakabe
The cover of the report
September 4, 2019

Building an EU-Africa Partnership of Equals: A Roadmap for the New European Leadership

The arrival of a new leadership team in Brussels provides an opportunity for Europe to reinvigorate its role as a global development power and to build a true partnership with its continental neighbour, Africa. These tasks have never been more urgent. 

Cover of "Mindful Saving: Exploring the Power of Savings for Women"
March 22, 2018

Mindful Saving: Exploring the Power of Savings for Women

Mobile savings hold great promise, because they can considerably reduce transaction costs that can be unduly heavy for women. Two questions guide us: how can we encourage more women microentrepreneurs to access formal savings accounts, and is mobile saving a particularly fitting solution? This series uses empirical evidence to address these issues.

Cover of Working Paper 478
March 16, 2018

Short-Term Impacts of Improved Access to Mobile Savings, with and without Business Training: Experimental Evidence from Tanzania - Working Paper 478

This paper presents short-term results from an experiment randomizing the promotion and registration of a mobile savings account among women microentrepreneurs in Tanzania, with and without business training. Six months post-intervention, the results show that women save substantially more through the mobile account, and that the business training bolstered this effect. 

Gautam Bastian , Iacopo Bianchi , Markus Goldstein and Joao Montalvao
March 9, 2017

Meeting Sub-Saharan Africa’s Frontier Market Financing Needs: More Is Better from the IMF

An energizing development for IMF staff working on sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) over the past decade was the region's clear growth uptick and progress in reducing poverty relative to earlier periods. A number of African countries graduated to lower middle-income country (MIC) status and became "frontier economies." This was the essence of the “Africa Rising” story. But since my time at the Fund, I have pondered whether the IMF has fully adjusted to the evolving financing needs of these countries. I think it’s fair to conclude that this adjustment is a work in progress and that SSA frontier countries can themselves do more to accelerate it.

November 7, 2016

Banking the Unbanked: Evidence from Three Countries - Working Paper 440

We experimentally test the impact of expanding access to basic bank accounts in Uganda, Malawi, and Chile. Over two years, 17 percent, 10 percent, and 3 percent of treatment individuals made five or more deposits, respectively. Average monthly deposits for them were at the 79th, 91st, and 96th percentiles of baseline savings. Survey data show no clearly discernible intention-to-treat effects on savings or any downstream outcomes. This suggests that policies merely focused on expanding access to basic accounts are unlikely to improve welfare noticeably since impacts, even if present, are likely small and diverse.

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