Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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Todd Moss testifies at the SFRC on Zimbabwe's election
December 6, 2018

US Policy Responses to Zimbabwe’s Illusory Reforms

“Events since the election have only reinforced that pessimism. We have heard lots of rhetoric on democracy, national reconciliation, and economic reform. We can point to a few token gestures of change. But below the surface, very little, if any, meaningful structural change has occurred.”

Cover of Policy Paper 120
February 20, 2018

What Can We Learn about Energy Access and Demand from Mobile-Phone Surveys? Nine Findings from Twelve African Countries

We conducted phone-based surveys on energy access and demand in twelve African countries. From these findings, we draw several potential policy implications. First, both grid electricity and off-grid solutions currently are inadequate to meet many African consumers’ modern energy demands. Second, grid and off-grid electricity are viewed by consumers as complementary, rather than competing, solutions to meet energy demand. Third, a market exists for off-grid solutions even among connected, urban Africans.

Cover of Policy Paper 111
November 17, 2017

When Do Subsidy Reforms Stick? Lessons from Iran, Nigeria, and India

This paper covers qualitative case studies from Iran, Nigeria, and India to illustrate a series of lessons for governments implementing subsidy reform policies. From these three country experiences, we find that fostering public support to implement lasting reform may depend on four measures: (1) forming a public engagement plan and a comprehensive reform policy that are then clearly communicated to the public in advance of price increases; (2) phasing in price adjustments over a period of time to ease absorption; (3) providing a targeted compensatory cash transfer to alleviate financial impacts on low- to middle-income households; and (4) capitalizing on favorable global macroeconomic conditions.

Todd Moss testifies at the SFRC on energy in Africa on November 1, 2017. Photo by Kaveh Sardari.
November 1, 2017

Energy in Africa Promotes US Economic and Security Interests

Todd Moss testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy at a hearing titled “Energy and International Development” on November 1, 2017. During his appearance before the Committee, Todd detailed how US efforts to expand meaningful—modern—energy access in sub-Saharan Africa serve US interests and offered recommendations for strengthening Power Africa.

Grading Power Africa cover
October 26, 2016

Grading Power Africa

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.

pp73
February 3, 2016

Alternatives to HIPC for African Debt-Distressed Countries: Lessons from Myanmar, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe

Despite the success of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) in reducing the debt burdens of low-income countries, at least eleven Sub-Saharan African countries are currently in, or face a high risk of, debt distress. A few of those currently at risk include countries that have been excluded from traditional debt relief frameworks. For countries outside the HIPC process, this paper lays out the (formidable) steps for retroactive HIPC inclusion, concluding with lessons for countries seeking exceptional debt relief treatment.

July 20, 2015

Powering Up US Policy to Promote Energy Access

As late as 1930, only 1 in 10 rural Americans had access to electricity. In subsequent years, rapidly increasing power generation and growing the electrical grid across the country became major pillars of the American battle against domestic poverty and a foundation for decades of economic growth and wealth creation. Today, energy access is universal in the United States. Reliable and affordable electricity is considered a basic necessity of life, an indispensable input to almost every aspect of modern living.

That same transformation is possible today in large parts of the developing world, where lack of access to modern energy harms quality of life and constrains economic growth. A concerted policy effort by the United States could help unleash tremendous human and market potential around the world. Pushing to promote electricity generation and access could significantly contribute to doing good in developing countries — and doing well for the United States.

April 3, 2014

Balancing Energy Access and Environmental Goals in Development Finance: The Case of the OPIC Carbon Cap

The international community has ambitious goals for responding to climate change and increasing global access to energy services. To date, these agendas have been viewed to be largely complementary. However, policy makers are now facing more explicit interactions between environment, energy, and economic and social development objectives and associated trade-offs.

Todd Moss , Roger Pielke, Jr. and Morgan Bazilian
December 20, 2011

Direct Redistribution, Taxation, and Accountability in Oil-Rich Economies: A Proposal - Working Paper 281

To enhance efficiency of public spending in oil-rich economies, this paper proposes that some of the oil revenues be transferred directly to citizens, and then taxed to finance public expenditures. The argument is that spending that is financed by taxation—rather than by resource revenues accruing directly to the government—is more likely to be scrutinized by citizens and hence subject to greater efficiency.

Shantayanan Devarajan , Hélène Ehrhart , Tuan Minh Le and Gaël Raballand
March 30, 2010

A Doing Business Facility: A Proposal for Enhancing Business Climate Reform Assistance

Africa remains extremely difficult for entrepreneurs. Donors are increasingly targeting assistance to address the investment-climate constraints that hinder private-sector growth. This report lays out the case for promoting investment climate reforms more strategically, various options for implementing a system to do so, and possible institutional homes for the proposed facility.

The Supporting Business Climate Reforms Working Group
April 21, 2009

Dambisa Moyo's (Serious) Challenge to the Development Business

Senior fellow Todd Moss considers the future of foreign aid in light of Dambiso Moyo’s book, Dead Aid, which argues that Western aid to Africa has brought more harm than help. The relevant question today, he argues, is not whether aid is good or bad, but rather how aid can be made to work better for both donors and the people of Africa.

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?

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