Despite improvements in censuses and household surveys, the building blocks of national statistical systems in sub-Saharan Africa remain weak. Measurement of fundamentals such as births and deaths, growth and poverty, taxes and trade, land and the environment, and sickness, schooling, and safety is shaky at best. The Data for African Development Working Group’s recommendations for reaping the benefits of a data revolution in Africa fall into three categories: (1) fund more and fund differently, (2) build institutions that can produce accurate, unbiased data, and (3) prioritize the core attributes of data building blocks.
Getting Serious about Underperformance of the African Growth and Opportunity Act: Policy Options for Supporting Trade Potential in Africa
With the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) scheduled to expire in September 2015, the US Congress and Obama Administration will need to consider its status this year.
Cash or Coupons? Testing the Impacts of Cash versus Vouchers in the Democratic Republic of Congo - Working Paper 320
Despite the increased use of conditional and unconditional cash-transfer programs worldwide, a majority of social protection programs in both developed and developing countries use in-kind transfers and vouchers. This paper reports the results of a randomized evaluation of an unconditional cash transfer and voucher program in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that has been plagued by intense civil war for much of the past two decades.
Jacob Hughes, Amanda Glassman, and Walter Gwenigale discuss the design, opportunities, and limitations of the of Liberia Health Sector Pool Fund.
CGD senior fellow Vijaya Ramachandran argues in this essay that the next U.S. president can play a valuable role in helping Africa to overcome two crucial barriers to poverty reduction: lack of power and lack of roads. Ramachandran urges the next president to create a $1 billion Clean Energy Fund for Africa to facilitate the transfer of U.S. infrastructure technology, including renewable energy; and to encourage the World Bank and the African Development Bank to focus on cross-country regional infrastructure projects, also with a strong emphasis on clean technology. The essay is included in a forthcoming CGD volume: The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President.
With President Bush's trip to Africa making headlines this week, CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet and research assistant Sami Bazzi offer a close look at the latest U.S. foreign assistance numbers. Bottom line: although America's aid has more than doubled since 2000, the new money went mostly to Iraq, Afghanistan and a small number of debt relief operations; and almost all was allocated through bilateral rather than multilateral channels. Assistance to Africa more than quadrupled from $1.5 billion in 1996 to $6.6 billion in 2006 and has been enormously important in funding humanitarian relief and HIV/AIDS programs. But even with the increases, U.S. assistance to Africa still averages less than $9 per African per year. And U.S. assistance for Africa has become less selective: since 2000 the shares going to the poorest countries and to the best-governed countries have fallen.
Aiding Transparency: What We Can Learn About China Exim Bank's Concessional Loans - Working Paper 126
Aid experts interested in China's rapidly expanding development assistance program—particularly in Africa—have been frustrated by lack of information. How much aid is Beijing giving, and to whom? In this new working paper, Paul Hubbard fills in a piece of the puzzle by using Chinese-language sources to review the concessional lending program of China's Export-Import Bank. He finds that more than 48 countries have agreements with China's Exim Bank for concessional loans, and that the average loan of US$20-30 million is typically made available to Chinese exporting firms to develop infrastructure and facilities in developing countries.
This brief summarizes the findings of the CGD working group on IMF Programs and Health Spending, convened in fall 2006 to investigate the effect of International Monetary Fund (IMF) programs on health spending in low-income countries. The report offers clear, practical recommendations for improvements—for the IMF, the World Bank, the governments of countries working within IMF programs, and civil society organizations.
This report of the CGD working group on IMF Programs and Health Spending explores the controversy that surrounds IMF-supported programs in low-income countries and their effect on the health sector. Critics contend that programs unduly constrain health spending though macroeconomic, especially fiscal, policies that are too restrictive towards government spending and wage bill ceilings preventing a scaling up of the health workforce. The working group, chaired by CGD visiting fellow David Goldsbrough, examined the evidence through detailed case studies and cross-country data to make recommendations for the IMF and other relevant actors. They urge the IMF to explore a broader range of options on the fiscal deficit and government spending; clarify the role of the IMF with regards to aid projections; constrain the use of wage bill ceilings to very specific circumstances; and give greater emphasis to the smoothing of expenditures.
A White House conference on social justice in Latin America this week may signal a shift to U.S. engagement with the region that goes beyond security, free trade, and anti-narcotics efforts. CGD president Nancy Birdsall and Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, suggest seven ways that the U.S. could more effectively support Latin American efforts to address persistent inequality--starting with a more effective approach on trade and drugs.
Chinese foreign aid is rising fast and Western aid agencies are concerned: will Chinese aid undermine efforts to promote reform in Africa and elsewhere? Will Chinese loans burden poor countries with fresh debt? In this new essay, CGD visiting fellow Carol Lancaster provides a concise and accessible overview of what is known--and not known--about the Chinese aid system. She advises aid agencies in Europe, North America and Japan to increase communication and to seek opportunities for collaboration with Beijing.
This paper examines IMF projections of donor aid to low-income countries and whether these projections changed after world leaders pledged at the 2005 Gleneagles G8 summit to double aid to Africa by 2010. The authors find that IMF projections since the post-Gleneagles Summit have shown little change for countries in sub-Saharan Africa: only two out of 30 such projections showed increases consistent with the commitment to double aid to Africa by 2010. The authors also explore the role of IMF aid projections and argue for greater clarity about the role of the IMF in the aid architecture.
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
A Trickle or a Flood: Commitments and Disbursement for HIV/AIDS from the Global Fund, PEPFAR, and the World Bank's Multi-Country AIDS Program (MAP)
In response to both public health imperative and unprecedented political pressure, aid to fight HIV/AIDS has increased massively in recent years: global funding to combat the disease in low- and middle-income countries has more than tripled since 2001, from $2.1 billion to an estimated $8.9 billion in 2006. This paper, by Michael Bernstein and Myra Sessions, discusses the increase in aid commitments by the three main financing agencies--the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the World Bank's Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Program (MAP)--and the receiving countries' ability, or lack thereof, to absorb the aid. It is one in a series of analyses of the sources of funding for HIV/AIDS programs in developing countries conducted under the Center for Global Development’s HIV/AIDS Monitor.
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?
Group Versus Individual Liability: A Field Experiment in the Philippines - Working Paper 111, updated May 2009
Group liability--wherein individuals are both borrowers and guarantors of other client's loans--is often described as the key innovation that led to the explosion of microcredit. It is thought to create incentives for peers to screen, monitor and enforce each other's loans. But some argue that group liability actually discourages good clients from borrowing, jeopardizing growth and sustainability. In this working paper, CGD non-resident fellow Dean Karlan and his co-author discuss the results of a field experiment at a bank in the Philippines, where they randomly reassigned half of the existing group liability centers as individual liability centers. They find that converting group liability to individual liability, while keeping aspects of group lending like weekly repayments and common meeting place, does not affect the repayment rate, and actually attracts new clients. This paper is one in a series of six CGD working papers by Dean Karlan on various aspects of microfinance (Working Paper Nos. 106 –111).
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
This note explores the countries most likely to be selected for FY07 eligibility for the Millennium Challenge Account. The authors also discuss key issues the Board will face this year, including deciding eligibility for the four countries with signed compacts that do not pass the indicator test. Most controversially, the authors think it is highly likely that the Board will select both Indonesia and Jordan, but they do not believe that either would be an appropriate choice.