Power Africa has the potential to be transformative for millions of poor people and be the single biggest legacy in Africa for President Barack Obama. Observers now have roughly three years to reflect on the initiative: on what’s progressing well, what’s not, and where future risks may lie. While it is still too early to provide a complete analysis of outcomes, this report card provides a timely assessment at the close of this administration and an input to the next one. While the judgments of Power Africa are largely positive, the coming months will be crucial to keeping the effort on a positive trajectory.
Attention presidential transition teams: the Rethinking US Development Policy team at the Center for Global Development strongly urges you to include these three big ideas in your first year budget submission to Congress and pursue these three smart reforms during your first year.
On July 7, CGD chief operating officer and senior fellow Todd Moss testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing titled “An Assessment of US Economic Assistance.” Moss’s remarks emphasized the role development finance in promoting market solutions to pover
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 Related US efforts have not been deployed in an efficient or strategic manner because authorities are outdated, staff resources are insufficient, and tools are dispersed across multiple agencies.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.
Bringing US Development Finance into the 21st Century: Proposal for a Self-Sustaining, Full-Service USDFC
The imperative for US development finance has increased significantly due to a number of factors over the last decade. There is growing demand for private investment and finance from businesses, citizens, and governments in developing countries. Given the scale of challenges and opportunities, especially in promoting infrastructure investments and expanding productive sectors, there is an increasingly recognized need to promote private sector-based solutions.
Maximizing Access to Energy: Estimates of Access and Generation for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s Portfolio
We conservatively estimate that more than 60 million additional people in poor nations could gain access to electricity if the Overseas Private Investment Corporation were allowed to invest in natural gas projects, not just renewables.
A strengthened OPIC—more efficiently deploying existing tools at no additional budget cost—would (1) increase US commercial access in emerging economies, (2) reflect economic, social, and political priorities in developing countries, (3) promote flagship US initiatives during austere budget conditions, and (4) support stability in fragile or frontline states.
The Future of IDA Working Group shows how IDA could adapt to changing circumstances. By 2025, IDA-eligible countries will be half as large in number and one-third as large in population; they will also be almost exclusively African and much lower performing economically. The working group explores the options available to IDA, from small tweaks to the status quo to bold alternatives for the future.
This CGD working group report offers five practical recommendations for strengthening the International Development Association (IDA)--the World Bank's soft-loan facility for the world's poorest countries--as donors begin replenishment talks that will shape IDA's course from mid-2008 through mid-2011. Among the recommendations: affirm IDA's central role in the international aid system; focus on core tasks; don't hold IDA hostage to broader geopolitical issues; get serious about finding ways to help fragile states; and sharpen incentives for performance.Learn more
Bill Easterly calls Moss's new introduction to Africa "compulsively readable and accessible" and "a masterpiece of clear thinking." Each chapter is organized around three fundamental questions: Where are we now? How did we get to this point? What are the current debates?
U.S. aid to Africa soared during President Bush's first term, to more than twice the level of any previous administration. But the newly divided government--Democratic Congress, Republican White House--could mean a cut in aid. In this CGD Note senior fellow Todd Moss uses just-released data from the first term of the Bush administration to explore patterns in U.S. official development assistance. He finds that aid to Africa is higher when the same party controls both the White House and Congress and that an all-Republican government gives more aid than an all-Democratic one.
Read Moss' 2003 Surprise Party working paper
An Aid-Institutions Paradox? A Review Essay on Aid Dependency and State Building in Sub-Saharan Africa- Working Paper 74
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.
In addition to the possible benefits from increased aid, what might also be the downside? From the recent G8 Summit to UN declarations, calls for a "Big Push" in official development assistance by OECD countries are becoming more frequent and pressing. In this working paper, CGD Research Fellow Todd Moss and Arvind Subramanian (IMF) highlight the importantance of aid effectiveness.
The international goal for rich countries to devote 0.7% of their national income to development assistance has become a cause célèbre for aid activists and has been accepted in many official quarters as the legitimate target for aid budgets. The origins of the target, however, raise serious questions about its relevance.
The Global War on Terror and U.S. Development Assistance: USAID allocation by country, 1998-2005 - Working Paper 62
The launch of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) soon after September 11, 2001 has been predicted to fundamentally alter U.S. foreign aid programs. In particular, there is a common expectation that development assistance will be used to support strategic allies in the GWOT, perhaps at the expense of anti-poverty programs. In this paper we assess changes in country allocation by USAID over 1998-2001 versus 2002-05. We find that any major changes in aid allocation related to the GWOT appear to be affecting only a handful of critical countries, namely, Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, and the Palestinian Territories. Concerns that there is a large and systematic diversion of U.S. foreign aid from fighting poverty to fighting the GWOT do not so far appear to have been realized.
Although nearly all poor countries are classified by the World Bank as IDA-only, Nigeria stands out as a notable exception. Indeed, Africa’s most populous country is the poorest country in the world that is not classified as IDA-only. Under the World Bank’s own criteria, however, Nigeria has a strong case for reclassification. IDA-only status would have two potential benefits for Nigeria. First, it would expand Nigeria’s access to IDA resources and make the country eligible for grants. Second, it would strengthen Nigeria’s case for debt reduction. With a renewed economic reform effort getting under way and the emerging use of debt reduction as a tool for assisting economic and political transitions, the UK, the US, and other official creditors should support such a move as part of a broader strategy for encouraging progress in one of Africa’s most important countries.
Double-Standards, Debt Treatment, and World Bank Country Classification: The Case of Nigeria - Working Paper Number 45
Nigeria is currently classified by the World Bank as a ‘blend’ country, making it the poorest country in the world that does not have ‘IDA-only’ status. This paper uses the World Bank’s own IDA eligibility criteria to assess whether Nigeria has a case for reclassification.
Is Africa’s Skepticism of Foreign Capital Justified? Evidence from East African Firm Survey Data - Working Paper 41
The world has increasingly recognized that private capital has a vital role to play in economic development. African countries have moved to liberalize the investment environment, yet have not received much FDI. At least part of this poor performance is because of lingering skepticism toward foreign investment, owing to historical, ideological, and political reasons. Results from our three-country sample suugest that many of the common objections to foreign investment are exaggerated or false. Africa, by not attracting more FDI, is therefore failing to fully benefit from the potential of foreign capital to contribute to economic development and integration with the global economy.