Covid-19: time to unleash the power of international co-operation

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By Mario Pezzini, Director, OECD Development Centre and Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary General on Development


This blog is part of a series on tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) in developing countries. The OECD is compiling data, information, analysis and recommendations regarding the health, economic, financial and societal challenges posed by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please visit our dedicated page for a full suite of coronavirus-related information.


Development co-operationThe rapid spread of the dire human, social and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis shows just how interconnected we are. International co-operation has become –literally– vital.

A health crisis has set off a global economic crisis, where shocks on the demand and supply sides are combining in an unprecedented scenario. Many developing countries are bracing themselves. While Europe is struggling to contain and cope with a spiralling number of cases and fatalities, the effects in countries where health systems are already weak, economies are highly dependent on global demand, and strict containment policies are more difficult to implement, could be even more disastrous.

Major outbreaks in developing countries could cause the collapse of weak health systems and expose gaps in social protection programmes, especially in Africa, where so many schemes rely on official development assistance. A humanitarian crisis may be in the making: travel restrictions affect the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and infections in refugee camps – largely hosted in developing countries – will be difficult to fight. The ILO estimates that 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide, possibly more, as the majority of workers in developing countries are in the informal economy. Continue reading

When COVID-19 Comes to Africa

By Arkebe Oqubay, Senior Minister and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, distinguished fellow at the Overseas Development Institute and the author, most recently, of African Economic Development: Evidence, Theory, Policy and The Oxford Handbook of Industrial Hubs and Economic Development


This blog is part of a series on tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) in developing countries. The OECD is compiling data, information, analysis and recommendations regarding the health, economic, financial and societal challenges posed by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please visit our dedicated page for a full suite of coronavirus-related information.


 

covid19-africaThere is no telling how long it will take to bring the COVID-19 coronavirus under control, or how many people will be affected. But African governments, in cooperation with communities and international actors, can take steps now to limit the damage – and lay the foundations for a healthier, more resilient future.

Addia Ababa – The COVID-19 coronavirus – which has now spread to more than 100 countries – has pushed the world into “uncharted territory,” according to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom. So far, Africa has recorded relatively few infections, but there is no reason to believe this won’t change. When it does, the results could be catastrophic.

One need only recall the West African Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016 to comprehend the potential damage. The hardest-hit countries were Guinea (with 3,814 cases and 2,544 deaths), Liberia (10,678 cases and 4,810 deaths), and Sierra Leone (14,124 cases and 3,956 deaths). Moreover, since August 2018, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has faced its own large-scale Ebola epidemic, with more than 3,444 cases and 2,264 deaths (as of March 10, 2020). Continue reading

A “good wife” married to a “real man”: Three million girls still at risk of Female Genital Mutilation

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By Gaëlle Ferrant, Economist, and Estelle Loiseau, Gender Programme Officer, OECD Development Centre

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Three million girls are still at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) every year. Twenty-five years after adopting the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (articles 39 and 93) and five years after setting the Sustainable Development Goal 5.3, which both call for the eradication of FGM, the world has failed to protect its women and girls. An estimated 200 million girls and women in Africa, the Middle East and Asia have fallen victim to FGM. However, the practice is not restricted to these regions only: 600 000 women in Europe and 513 000 women and girls in the United States have undergone FGM. These figures are unacceptable, especially when the exact total number remains unknown and is likely underestimated.

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Energising Africa’s productive transformation: how intermediary cities can be a game changer

By Bakary Traoré, Economist, OECD Development Centre, and Elisa Saint-Martin, Junior policy Analyst, OECD Development Centre 

Electricity-in-Africa-shutterstock_563620138A review of on-going industrial strategies (Africa’s Development Dynamics 2019 report) shows that most African countries have the ambition to expand processing activities in sub-sectors such as agro-industries, fertilisers, metals and construction materials. To achieve this, it is urgent to improve the quality of energy supply across the continent. Regional co-operation for energy among Africa’s cross-border intermediary cities can be a game changer.

First, let’s take a look at the main challenges

Today, industrial processing activities and transport services account for no more than 35% of total energy consumption in Africa (see Figure 1, based on the OECD/IEA 2019 database). Africa’s electrical networks are struggling to cope with current needs: on average, firms in sub-Saharan Africa face 8.5 electricity outages a month (World Bank, Enterprise surveys, 2019), and 40.5% of them consider insufficient access to energy to be a major constraint to their growth and competitiveness.
Continue reading

Transformation productive en Afrique : l’heure des choix

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Par Arthur Minsat, Chef d’Unité, Europe, Moyen-Orient & Afrique, Centre de développement de l’OCDE


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


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Photo by Patrick Sun on Unsplash

Croissance mondiale en baisse, guerre commerciale, automatisation, robotisation … : le commerce international a-t-il encore un rôle positif à jouer dans la transformation des économies de l’Union africaine ?

Si l’on regarde du côté des marchés africains, la réponse est oui : la demande interne a contribué à 69% de la croissance du continent depuis 2000, la maintenant à une moyenne de 4.6% par an, soit la plus rapide au monde après l’Asie (7,4%). Or, cette demande dynamique, portée par une croissance démographique forte, l’urbanisation et l’émergence de « classes moyennes » s’oriente de plus en plus vers des produits transformés comme l’alimentation, les boissons, la viande ou les machines génératrices d’électricité : l’un des principaux obstacles à l’émergence d’un secteur manufacturier africain riche en emplois—la faiblesse de la demande domestique—est ainsi en passe d’être levé !  Or non seulement cette « mégatendance » s’installe pour plusieurs décennies, mais elle prend de l’ampleur au moment où la perspective d’une Zone de Libre-échange Continentale Africaine (ZLECA) rend possible un bond du commerce intra-africain. Continue reading

Urban Management in Africa Observed

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By Naison Mutizwa-Mangiza, Director, Regional Office for Africa, UN-Habitat; and
Marco Kamiya, Head, Urban Economy and Finance Branch, UN-Habitat, Global Headquarters in Keny


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


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Downtown Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: unhabitat.org

Africa is at a defining moment in its developmental journey. After experiencing 5% growth from 2001 to 2014, and a slowdown in between, the continent is projected to grow by over 3.5% in 2020 (UN, 2019). Continued economic progress presents opportunities for further accelerated, sustained, and inclusive growth provided that the right policies are put in place.

However, low productivity levels in manufacturing, services and the agricultural sector pose a major threat of economic stagnation with effects on African cities. Africa’s Development Dynamics 2019 by the OECD and the African Union Commission shows that Africa has a labour productivity ratio that is 50% lower than Asia’s and only 12% that of the United States. We believe that low productivity correlates with the quality of urbanisation. We define the quality of urbanisation as human settlements and communities that are able to capture the benefits of urban growth and expansion, quantified by more local and foreign investment, increased regional and international trade, enhanced revenues for local governments, better services for citizens and the activation of a virtuous circle where economic growth and welfare become self-reinforcing (UN-Habitat, 2017).

So, what are the most pressing needs of African cities to improve their quality of urbanisation? Below, we would like to share some general observations from our field projects that could serve to support policy design.[i] Continue reading

How do Nations Learn? Why Development is First and Foremost About Learning

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By Dr Arkebe Oqubay, Senior Minister and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia 


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


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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Policy makers and academics alike puzzle over why some countries achieve economic ‘growth miracles’ while others lag behind. Of the 100 middle-income economies in 1960, fewer than a dozen transitioned into high-income economies. Economic history and empirical observations show that progress is linked to how nations learn and more specifically to the processes of technological learning, industrial policy, and catch-up. By looking at the cases of Japan, the United States, China and Ethiopia, I argue that commitment to learning by governments and dynamic technological learning by firms are key to economic catch-up. How these and other nations learn can provide valuable insight for African countries.

How did Japan overtake Europe in the mid-20th century?

The key driver of catch-up in Japan was technological learning and an active industrial policy. Japan’s learning experience involved the transfer of skills and knowledge, the importation of equipment and the acquisition of turnkey projects to develop technological capability. Japan also developed industrial infrastructure, including railways and the telegraph, by deploying state-owned enterprises. Continue reading