News & Events

Can Higher Education Reduce Inequality In Developing Countries?

Developing countries often face two well-known structural problems: high youth unemployment and high inequality. In recent decades, policymakers have increased the share of government spending on education in developing countries to address both of these issues. The empirical literature offers mixed results on which type of education is most suitable to improve gainful employment and reduce inequality: is it primary, secondary, or tertiary education? Investigating recent literature on the returns to education in selected developing countries in Africa can help to answer this question.

2017 Global Forum On Development

Session 4: Delivering sustainable urbanization in Africa: the role of the private sector

The magnitude of the current wave of urbanization taking place in Africa calls for a more environment-friendly and less resource-consuming process than in the past. Discussions will bring together representatives from the private sector and African policymakers to share views and experiences on how the private sector can contribute to addressing the demand for low-carbon, climate-resilient urban infrastructure in Africa.

Africa’s Urbanisation And Structural Transformation

We don’t know the name, or the place and exact date of birth, of the baby who changed world history. My guess is that she was born somewhere in Africa in 2007. Not that she cared as she lay there all wrinkled and raging at the disagreeable turn her life had just taken, but it was thanks to her that for the first time ever, the world had more urban dwellers than country folk.

We don’t know the name, or the place and exact date of birth, of the baby who changed world history. My guess is that she was born somewhere in Africa in 2007. Not that she cared as she lay there all wrinkled and raging at the disagreeable turn her life had just taken, but it was thanks to her that for the first time ever, the world had more urban dwellers than country folk.

Africa itself won’t pass that landmark until sometime in the 2030s, but when you look at the numbers rather than the percentages, you can see why this year’s African Economic Outlook from the OECD Development Centre, African Development Bank, and UNDP is focusing on “Sustainable Cities and Structural Transformation”. In 1990, Africa was the world’s region with the smallest number of urban dwellers: 197 million. Now it has more than twice that at 472 million, and the urban population is expected to almost double again between 2015 and 2035. By 2020, Africa is forecast to have the second highest number of urban dwellers in the world (560 million) after Asia (2348 million).

Integrating The Local And Global Urban Agendas

In October, world leaders will gather in Quito for the Habitat III summit to launch the New Urban Agenda. This is on top of the start this year of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is odd that to date these two vitally important global urban initiatives led by the United Nations have been kept separate. It would be far more logical and extremely valuable, however, to link them by using SDG 11, the urban goal, as a monitoring and evaluation framework for the New Urban Agenda. A specific comparative urban experiment conducted last year could serve as a model for achieving just such a link.

The work to develop and secure wide support for an urban-focused SDG in 2014 and 2015 in the run-up to the launch of the SDGs revealed that on-the-ground testing would be essential if the targets and indicators to be adopted were simple enough to use in a diverse range of urban areas worldwide. Complexity and excessive resource and opportunity costs would defeat the goal of developing useful indicators of progress. They would also stand in the way of encouraging local and national authorities to invest in enhanced urban sustainability.

Africa’s Blue Economy: An Opportunity Not To Be Missed

The world’s oceans, seas, and rivers are a major source of wealth, creating trillions of dollars’ worth in goods and services as well as employing billions of people. Three out of four jobs that make up the entire global workforce are water-dependent. It is forecasted that the annual economic value of maritime-related activities will reach 2.5 trillion euros per year by 2020, while the International Energy Agency estimates that renewable energy from the ocean has a power potential sufficient to provide up to 400% of current global energy demand. Yet Africa’s blue potential remains untapped.

African Development Report 2014

The Report’s main conclusion is that regional integration is still a relevant pillar for Africa’s development, although the global context has changed greatly since the continental goal was first introduced in the 1960s. The challenge going forward is not so much the formulation of new policies but rather the implementation of those formulated in the recent past. This will require political resolve and heightened institutional capacities.

Africa’s Industrialization: Leaving No Woman Behind

Africa must industrialize to fulfill its economic potential. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the 2030 Agenda, we need to support Africa in accelerating its development by promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization.

Inclusive industrialization means ensuring that no one is left behind, especially not women. Including women is critical, not only because gender equality is a fundamental human right, but also because it enables faster economic growth, shared prosperity and sustainable development. The 2016 Global Gender Gap report shows a positive correlation between gender equality and gross domestic product, economic competitiveness and human development. The economic benefits of increasing female labor force participation are real. The OECD estimates that GDP would increase by 12% if participation rates for women were to reach those of men by 2030.

We must recognize the importance of the gender equality-industrialization nexus particularly in the African context. The 2017 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development will bring this interlinkage to the fore, as both SDG 5 on gender equality and SDG 9 on the industry, innovation, and infrastructure will undergo in-depth review. Like many of the goals included in the 2030 Agenda, gender equality is not only a goal in itself, but also a means to accomplish other development goals.

African Economic Outlook 2017

The African Economic Outlook 2017 presents the continent’s current state of affairs and forecasts its situation for the coming two years. This annual report examines Africa’s performance in crucial areas: macroeconomics, external financial flows and tax revenues, trade policies and regional integration, human development, and governance. For its 16th edition, the report takes a hard look at the role of entrepreneurs in Africa’s industrialization process. It proposes practical steps that African governments can take to carry out effective industrialization strategies. Policies aimed at improving skills, business clusters and financing could remove important constraints on African private enterprises.

A section of country notes summarises recent economic growth, forecasts gross domestic product for 2017 and 2018, and highlights the main policy issues facing each of the 54 African countries. A statistical annex (available only online) compares country-specific economic, social and political variables.

Africa should embrace new economic giants and boost social inclusion, says African Economic Outlook 2011

African countries should develop closer cross-border ties in dealing with traditional and emerging partners so they can boost sustainable and inclusive growth, according to the African Economic Outlook 2011, launched today.

Africa´s economies have weathered the global crisis relatively well and have rebounded in 2010. Recent political events in North Africa and high food and fuel prices are likely to slow the continent’s growth down to 3.7 percent in 2011. During this year, sub-Saharan Africa will grow faster than North Africa. The new report predicts a rebound to 5.8 percent in 2012. 

“Africa is growing but there are risks. Urgent attention is needed to foster inclusive growth, to improve political accountability, and address the youth bulge,” said Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist and Vice-President of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Co-authored by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the OECD Development Centre, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the report emphasizes that governments’ efforts need to include measures to create jobs, invest in basic social services and promote gender equality.

“Prioritizing health, education and basic services is key to ensuring that the most vulnerable are not left behind,” said Pedro Conceição, Chief Economist at UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa. Growth alone is not enough for human development. Growth must be broad-based and bring down high levels of inequality.  

However, new routes opened between Africa and emerging countries are promising, states the report. “New partners bring new opportunities for African countries. Defining national development priorities, trade, aid, and investment is key to reaping the benefits of this new configuration,” said Mario Pezzini, Director at the OECD Development Centre.

Africa is becoming more integrated into the world economy and its partnerships are diversifying, revealing unprecedented economic opportunities. In 2009, China surpassed the US and became Africa’s main trading partner, while the share conducted by Africa with emerging partners has grown from approximately 23 percent to 39 percent in the last ten years. Africa’s top five emerging trade partners are now China (38 percent), India (14 percent), Korea (7.2 percent), Brazil (7.1 percent), and Turkey (6.5 percent).

While traditional partners, as a whole, still account for the largest proportion of Africa’s trade (62 percent), investment (80 percent) and Official Development Assistance (90 percent), the report notes that emerging economies can provide additional know-how, technology and development experiences required to raise the standard of living for millions of people on the continent.

Putting people first must go hand in hand with efforts to accelerate regional coordination and integration. Trade agreements that benefit the continent as a whole, unleash the full potential of the private sector and develop regional investment opportunities are the way forward.

“A race to attract the largest amounts of investment or aid from emerging partners at any cost should be avoided,” said Emmanuel Nnadozie, Director of the Economic Development, UNECA. “Africa needs more progress towards regional integration and bigger markets to improve the bargaining power of African countries and improve economic growth.” 

While a greater diversity of partnerships can benefit Africa, over-specialization on unprocessed raw materials, debt burden, and good governance remain important challenges to address. The report recommends that African countries put in place development policies that promote different economic sectors and reduce reliance on commodities such as cash crops and minerals to address these challenges.