Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Publications

 

A server blinks in a datacenter.
November 12, 2019

The New Economy of Africa: Opportunities for Nigeria’s Emerging Technology Sector

Nigeria has a vibrant and growing tech sector. In a survey of tech firms conducted in 2018, we find that most firms start small but grow quickly, more than doubling their size in the few years since the start of operations. Many are addressing inefficiencies in distribution of goods and services. But firms are still hampered by the business environment, notably unreliable electricity and lack of access to credit. Most suffer significant power outages, forcing them to purchase generators. Few firms have access to financial institutions or venture capitalists, relying instead on family and professional networks. Finally, tech firms employ very few women. While the Nigerian government has made the tech sector a priority, it needs to do more to improve the basics of the business environment. The government and the private sector must also take steps to increase the participation of women in the tech sector.

Cover of Policy Paper 149
July 11, 2019

Fuel Subsidy Reform and Green Taxes: Can Digital Technologies Improve State Capacity and Effectiveness?

Reforming inefficient and inequitable energy subsidies continues to be an important priority for policymakers as does instituting “green taxes” to reduce carbon emissions. The paper outlines how the use of digital technology can help accomplishing those reforms, drawing on four country cases. The technology is only a mechanism; it does not, in itself, create the political drive and constituency to push reform forward.

Close-up of hands using a phone to call a ride-sharing app
March 21, 2019

Why “Leapfrogging” in Frontier Markets Isn’t Working

There are two big questions about modern innovation: Why does it tend to confine itself to only a narrow “vanguard” of the economy in every part of the world? And why does it not provide as big a boost to productivity as expected, especially since the dotcom bust?

Bright Simons
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.

Practical Considerations with Using Mobile Phone Survey Incentives: Experiences in Ghana and Tanzania
July 25, 2016

Practical Considerations with Using Mobile Phone Survey Incentives: Experiences in Ghana and Tanzania - Working Paper 431

As mobile phone surveys are gaining popularity among researchers and practitioners in international development, one primary challenge is improving survey response and completion rates. A common solution is to provide monetary compensation to respondents. This paper reports on our experience with using incentives with a mobile phone survey conducted in Ghana and Tanzania in June 2015. 

Call Me Educated: Evidence from a Mobile Monitoring Experiment in Niger - Working Paper 406
May 21, 2015

Call Me Educated: Evidence from a Mobile Monitoring Experiment in Niger - Working Paper 406

In rural areas of developing countries, education programs are often implemented through community teachers. While teachers are a crucial part of the education production function, observing their effort remains a challenge for the public sector. This paper tests whether a simple monitoring system, implemented via the mobile phone, can improve student learning as part of an adult education program. 

Jenny C. Aker and Christopher Ksoll
June 1, 2010

Mobile Phones and Economic Development in Africa - Working Paper 211

Over 60 percent of Africans have access to a cell phone, a simple technology that many believe will fundamentally change the dynamics of agricultural markets, banking, and government service delivery. In a new paper, Jenny Aker and Isaac Mbiti separate the hype from the reality.

Isaac M. Mbiti