How COVID-19 could help eliminate fossil fuel subsidies

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By Mario Pezzini, Director of the OECD Development Centre and special adviser to the OECD Secretary-General on development, and Håvard Halland, Senior Economist at the OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


Oil pumpjacks in Tatarstan, Russia
Photo: Yegor Aleyev/Tass/PA Images

As oil-exporting countries struggle to respond to the crisis, there is a way to make critical fiscal resources available.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit oil-exporting countries at the worst possible moment. Severely strained health systems, and the need for economic stimulus, call for unprecedented growth in public spending. At the same time, oil export revenues have plummeted, following the demand collapse caused by the pandemic and a breakdown of traditional price-setting mechanisms. As a result, many oil exporters in the low- and middle-income category will struggle to muster anything near the level of expenditure required for an efficient response to the virus. Continue reading

COVID-19 in Latin America: Promoting entrepreneurship and reducing social vulnerabilities

By Jorge Arbache, Private Sector Vice-President, Development Bank of Latin America (CAF)


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Vendor in Quito, Ecuador. Photo: teranbryan_ecu/Shutterstock

Statistics show that economic growth in Latin America is highly volatile, with periods of acceleration and collapse. This dynamic hides perverse implications. The combination of low growth persistence with high-growth volatility is associated with greater risk aversion, which in turn encourages financial speculation and firms to invest in lower risk, but also lower social return projects. Additionally, poverty and other social indicators are also very sensitive to the harmful combination of short growth spells and high volatility. Continue reading

Fighting COVID-19 in Africa’s informal settlements

By Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‐Habitat)


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Kibera informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: Boris Golovnev/Shutterstock

The COVID-19 pandemic has cost hundreds of thousands of lives in the world’s richest cities but poses an even greater threat to cities in the developing world. There are now more than 150,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across Africa, in all 54 countries, with South Africa and Egypt the worst affected.

One of the most pressing concerns for Africa is that over half the population (excluding in North Africa) live in overcrowded informal settlements. In these areas where several people have to share one badly ventilated room, diseases such as COVID-19 spread fast and it is impossible to practice physical distancing whether in homes or outside. Continue reading

Is COVID-19 widening educational gaps in Latin America? Three lessons for urgent policy action

By Nathalie Basto-Aguirre, Paula Cerutti and Sebastián Nieto-Parra, OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Classroom in Jaqueira Village, city of Porto Seguro, Brazil. Photo: Joa Souza/Shutterstock

COVID-19, like most crises, is exacerbating inequalities in the region. To contain the pandemic, most Latin American countries have closed their schools, affecting the learning of 154 million students. However, not all students are affected equally. While distance education can contribute to alleviate the immediate impacts of school closures, it requires a number of conditions to deliver meaningful results. Students from poorer socio-economic backgrounds tend to suffer the most and risk bearing lasting consequences in terms of learning outcomes and, ultimately, opportunities. In particular, three interconnected dimensions stand out. Continue reading

Et si la crise sécuritaire du Sahel était aussi (voire avant tout) économique ?

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Par Maman Sambo Sidikou, Secrétaire permanent du G5 Sahel[1]


Ce blog fait partie d’une série marquant
le 19e Forum économique international sur l’Afrique


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Femme tirant de l’eau d’un puits en Natriguel, Mauritanie. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam/Flickr

Le Sahel vit un tournant, une accélération de l’histoire dont le coût humain est élevé. Nos jeunes pays connaissent une croissance démographique sans précédent. Notre population est de plus en plus jeune et de plus en plus urbaine. Même si elle est élevée, la croissance économique ne permet pas de répondre aux attentes des habitants de plus en plus nombreux. Sur nos vastes territoires, certaines interrogations se font aujourd’hui pressantes. Pourquoi, alors que la « frontière » est la marque de l’État, sa présence y est-elle si discrète ? Quelle attention est accordée aux citoyens vivant loin des capitales ? Comment, lorsque l’on est absent, être perçu comme « légitime », digne de confiance et capable de changer le cours des choses ? C’est à ces questions que nos États et sociétés doivent répondre. Continue reading

Nigeria’s border closure: Why it will not pay off

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By Léopold Ghins and Philipp Heinrigs, OECD Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat


This blog is part of a series marking the upcoming 
19th International Economic Forum on Africa


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Men offload rice at Bodija market, Ibadan, Nigeria. Flickr/IITA

It has been three months since Nigeria closed its land borders and to date there are few indications as to when they will open again. The country said it wants to reduce the smuggling of goods and stop illegal inflows of Asian rice and outflows of subsidised fuel. More fundamentally, Nigerian authorities justify the closure by the need to support the domestic agricultural sector and accelerate national productivity growth.

The closure is badly affecting livelihoods in local border economies. In Benin, communities in areas close to the Seme border near the sea, or further up north near the Owode border, largely depend on Nigerian markets for their sustenance. The sudden shutdown has caused thousands of smallholder farmers to lose their produce and default on credits. In the Dendi region (an area that spans across northern Benin, Niger and Nigeria), economic networks are strongly integrated across borders. Small traders that live on these networks have lost their principal sources of income. Continue reading

Bassin du lac Tchad : la riposte militaire ne suffira pas contre Boko Haram

Par Seidik Abba, journaliste et écrivain

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La paix définitive passe par la lutte contre la pauvreté : ici des femmes récoltant du poivron sur les rives de la Komadougou-Yobé. Crédit photo : Ado Youssouf

La stratégie du tout militaire et sécuritaire semble avoir montré ses limites dans la riposte contre le mouvement jihadiste nigérian Boko Haram. Désormais, il faut passer à une approche holistique associant les défis du développement et la prise en charge de l’urgence écologique autour du lac Tchad.

Depuis 2009, Boko Haram [qui signifie l’école occidentale est un péché en langue hausa] a basculé dans la violence armée au Nigéria, pays de naissance de ce mouvement qui se réclame du jihad, mais aussi au Cameroun, au Niger et au Tchad. En dix ans, selon l’ONU, près de 27 000 personnes ont été tuées par Boko Haram, ce qui a provoqué les déplacements internes ou externes de près de 2 millions de personnes. Face à la violence inouïe de ce mouvement jihadiste, les États concernés ont choisi l’option du tout militaire et sécuritaire. Continue reading

Mapping the Geography of Political Violence in North and West Africa

By Olivier J. Walther, Assistant Professor in Geography, University of Florida and consultant for the OECD Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC/OECD); Steven M. Radil, Assistant Professor in Geography, University of Idaho and David Russell, consultant for SWAC/OECD

A worrying turn

The security situation in North and West Africa has taken a worrying turn. Within the span of a few years, Mali has faced a military coup, a secessionist rebellion, a Western military intervention, and several major terrorist attacks. In the Lake Chad region, Boko Haram is attempting to revive an Emirate, killing thousands and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee to neighbouring countries. In Libya, the bombing campaign by NATO in 2011 hardly put an end to the civil war that continues to oppose rebels and militias. If the trend observed so far continues, this year will be the deadliest recorded in the region since 1997, with more than 8 300 killed through June.

Despite the multiplication of security studies, the geography of conflict throughout the region is obscured by the large number of belligerents, their divergent political strategies, and a focus on individual countries as the primary context of the continuing violence. While violence remains on the increase, it remains unclear whether violent organisations are intensifying their efforts in particular localities, spreading insecurity to a growing number of regions, or relocating under the pressure of government forces. Continue reading

The food economy can create more jobs for West African youth

By Léopold Ghins and Koffi Zougbédé, OECD Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat 

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Muhammad Sanyang, General Manager of MBK Farms, Banjul, Gambia.
© SWAC/OECD

Youth employment and job creation loom high on development agendas in West Africa. The issue is also a priority at the continental and international levels: decent work and youth empowerment are priority areas within the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and ‘youth and jobs in the Sahel’ will figure prominently amongst talks at the G7 Summit which begins this Saturday in Biarritz.

Such policy focus is necessary in view of the demographic realities in the region. Although unemployment is low overall, informality remains prevalent, and growing numbers of young people struggle to access attractive training or sources of income. West African economies need to create more and better jobs. Yet, from a policy perspective, how to support decent and inclusive job creation is not always clear. Trade-offs in public resource allocations across sectors and information gaps abound.

In this context, what and where are the opportunities for policymakers willing to address the challenge of decent job creation? Continue reading

The Case for Gender-Smart Work Policies: Key to Equality, Good for Business

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By Sandie Okoro, Senior Vice President and World Bank Group General Counsel


This blog is part of a special series exploring subjects at the core of the Human-Centred Business Model (HCBM). The HCBM seeks to develop an innovative – human-centred – business model based on a common, holistic and integrated set of economic, social, environmental and ethical rights-based principles. Read more about the HCBM here, and check out an event about it here

The HCBM project originated in 2015 within the World Bank’s Global Forum on Law, Justice and Development and is now based at the OECD’s Development Centre

This blog is also part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


We have witnessed numerous efforts to enhance gender equality throughout the past decade. Legal reforms are taking place worldwide, and discriminatory laws are slowly being struck down in favour of parity.[1] But despite developments in employment laws, inequality persists. Women’s labour participation has been stagnant, and last year, the already low number of female CEOs tumbled even further.[2] As the provider of 90% of jobs worldwide,[3] the private sector plays a significant role in the push for gender equality in employment. By adopting gender-smart policies, companies may be able to fill the gaps unaddressed by laws and minimise the impacts of inequality in the workplace. Although not all women work in these institutions, such policies are nonetheless impactful for those who do and could set in motion a new and replicable culture of work – one that is both business-smart and more gender-inclusive. Continue reading