Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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April 11, 2012

Supporting Private Business Growth in African Fragile States: A Guiding Framework for the World Bank Group in South Sudan and Other Nations

In this report, Benjamin Leo, Vijaya Ramachandran, and Ross Thuotte assess the bank’s private-sector interventions in African fragile states. They summarize and analyze project-level data from IDA, IFC, and MIGA, and introduce a new framework to assist in the design and implementation of projects in fragile states.

February 19, 2008

The Good News Out of Africa: Democracy, Stability, and the Renewal of Growth and Development

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who will host President Bush on Thursday in the final stop of his five-country Africa tour, has news that may surprise some people: despite the problems in some African countries, things are clearly improving in much of the continent. In a new CGD essay co-authored with senior fellow Steve Radelet, Sirleaf describes how a growing number of African countries are embracing democracy and good governance, strengthening macroeconomic policies, and benefiting from debt relief. These countries are in the midst of an economic and development rebound, with economic growth averaging 5 percent for a decade, poverty rates beginning to fall, and social indicators beginning to improve. The essay concludes with recommendations on how this progress can be sustained and consolidated.

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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Steven Radelet
November 26, 2007

Reviving Economic Growth in Liberia - Working Paper 133

In this new CGD working paper, CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet explores the challenges Liberia faces in revitalizing economic growth after 25 years of gross economic mismanagement and 14 years of brutal civil war. He examines the new government's progress, including the major steps it has taken in its first 18 months and the unique way that it has organized government-donor relations. Based upon patterns of post-conflict recovery in several other African countries, he suggests that Liberia's recovery is likely to proceed in three phases: an immediate phase driven by aid and rebounding urban services; renewal of traditional natural resource-based activities; and, finally, processed products and other goods and services that can compete on global markets. Radelet writes from a unique perspective: he is serving as an advisor to Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

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Cover of Global Warming and Agriculture: Impact Estimates by Country
September 12, 2007

Global Warming and Agriculture: Impact Estimates by Country

In this new book, Bill Cline, a joint senior fellow at CGD and the Peterson Institute for International Economics, provides the first ever estimates of the impact on agriculture by country, with a particular focus on the social and economic implications in China, India, Brazil, and the poor countries of the tropical belt in Africa and Latin America. His study shows that the long-term negative effects on world agriculture will be severe, and that developing countries will suffer first and worst.

August 27, 2007

We Fall Down and Get Up: Carol Lancaster Reports on Elections in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone, where a brutal decade-long civil war finally ended in 2002, has just held remarkably fair, peaceful and well-organized elections. CGD visiting fellow Carol Lancaster, a former deputy administrator of USAID, was there as an election observer. In a new CGD Essay, she reflects on what democracy means in a country with a mere 35 percent literacy rate, a 70 percent unemployment rate, and life expectancy of only 40 years. She writes that progress will depend upon the new government's ability to tackle corruption, rebuild infrastructure and encourage investment. It will also require the emergence of a domestic constituency with the knowledge, power and commitment to hold new leaders accountable.

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Carol Lancaster
April 16, 2007

Inexcusable Absence: Why 60 Million Girls Still Aren't in School and What to do About It (Brief)

Remarkable increases in primary schooling over the past decade have brought gender equity to the education systems of many poor countries. But some 60 million girls are still not attending school. In this CGD brief, non-resident fellow Maureen Lewis and visiting fellow Marlaine Lockheed explain the key discovery of Inexcusable Absence, their recent book: three out of four girls not in school belong to ethnic, religious, linguistic, racial or other minorities. Based on this important finding, the authors present new practical solutions to achieve universal primary education for girls and boys. Learn more

April 9, 2007

Will the Poor Be Flooded Out? The IPCC's Predicted Flood Disasters and Their Implications for Development Aid

The April 5, 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report predicts that droughts and floods will become more frequent and severe as a result of global warming. In this CGD Note senior fellow David Wheeler shows that citizens of poor countries are much more likely than citizens in rich countries to suffer homelessness, injury and death from flood. He urges the international community to help low-income countries develop stronger protective institutions, greater resources for flood protection, and affordable insurance.

March 8, 2007

Do No Harm: Aid, Weak Institutions, and the Missing Middle in Africa - Working Paper 113

Does aid to Africa undermine the emergence of a robust African middle class? If so, what can be done about it? In this new working paper, CGD president Nancy Birdsall argues that high and unpredictable aid flows could be making life harder for Africa's small and medium-sized businesses by, for example, inflating wages and making governments less reliant on domestic revenue—and hence less accountable to taxpayers. She urges that donors systematically monitor such impacts in aid-dependent countries and suggests ways that aid could help to bolster Africa's crucial but fragile middle-income groups. Learn more

March 5, 2007

African Development: Making Sense of the Issues and Actors

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?

February 20, 2007

Why Doesn't Africa Get More Equity Investment? Frontier Stock Markets, Firm Size and Asset Allocations of Global Emerging Market Funds - Working Paper 112

Africa receives only a tiny fraction of global investments in emerging markets. But the problem is not that fund managers are scared away by a seemingly steady stream of bad news out of Africa, nor is a general marketing of Africa to global investors the solution. Instead the authors of this new CGD working paper find that the small size of African markets and low levels of liquidity are a binding deterrent for foreign institutional investors. Drawing on firm surveys to explore why African firms remain small, the authors offer practical recommendations for increasing portfolio investment in Africa. Learn more

Todd Moss , Vijaya Ramachandran and Scott Standley
January 16, 2007

Why Are There So Few Black-Owned Firms in Africa? Preliminary Results from Enterprise Survey Data - Working Paper 104

Countries cannot grow without a vibrant domestic private sector, yet most growth in sub-Saharan Africa in the past decade has come from extractive industries, not private, entrepreneurial activity. Furthermore, non-extractive activity in the private sector is often dominated by firms owned by minority ethnic entrepreneurs--of Asian, Middle Easterner or Caucasian descent--not indigenous Africans. In this working paper, CGD visiting fellow Vijaya Ramachandran and her co-author analyze the constraints faced by domestic firms in five countries in sub-Saharan Africa. They offer policy recommendations to help indigenous entrepreneurs enter and survive in the private sector, including increasing university education and building networks among business professionals.Learn more

Vijaya Ramachandran and Manju Kedia Shah
October 13, 2006

Microfinance as Business - Working Paper 101(Revised November 2006)

Microfinance is a widely celebrated strategy for helping poor people in the developing world. Leading microfinance institutions, including the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Grameen Bank, reach millions of clients. CGD research fellow David Roodman and Uzma Qureshi analyze why some microfinance institutions succeed in covering costs, earning returns, attracting capital, and scaling up. They conclude that financial imperatives can explain much about how microfinance products are designed, for example, the common emphasis on group lending to women. Thus the business acumen of microfinance innovators is underappreciated. But more rigorous study is needed to understand when and where these design choices help clients.

David Roodman and Uzma Qureshi

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