Towards a Human Rights Based Approach to Bridging Africa’s Gender Digital Divide

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By Nadira Bayat, Programme Director, Global Economic Governance (GEG) Africa1


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


SIGI-Digital-Human-RightsThe rapid rise of the Internet, together with emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), advanced robotics and drones, Blockchain, the “Internet of things” (IoT) and 3D printing, are unleashing new opportunities and transforming the global economy. While these technological advances can address some of the most pressing 21st century challenges – from education, health care and public services to agriculture, economic inclusion and the environment – the benefits are not being shared equally. Despite Internet connectivity having finally reached 50% of the world’s population in 2018, the rate of Internet access growth has slowed down considerably.2 In Africa, specifically, only about 20% of the population has regular Internet access3 – a challenge with significant implications for harnessing the transformative power of the technology-driven Fourth Industrial Revolution for inclusive and sustainable development.

Women from developing countries comprise the majority of the unconnected. The gender divide has narrowed in most regions since 2013, but it has widened in Africa. The proportion of women using the Internet on the continent is 25% lower than the proportion of men.4 Notwithstanding the significant potential of mobile phone technology to spur women’s entrepreneurship through mobile banking and payment services as well as improved access to information and finance, sub-Saharan Africa follows South Asia with the second largest average gender gap in both mobile ownership and mobile Internet use.5 A widening gender digital divide concerning the availability, affordability, accessibility, and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) negatively impacts women’s economic empowerment. It further undermines full gender equality that lies at the core of human rights and is integral to the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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What’s behind West African migration? Findings from nationwide surveys

By Matthew Kirwin, United States Department of State and National Intelligence University 2017-18 Research Fellow and Jessica Anderson, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University

Gambian migrants deported from Libya stand in line as they wait for registration at the airport in Banjul
© Luc Gnago/Reuters

The movement of sub-Saharan Africans through North Africa and on to Europe persists in the media spotlight. Over 700 000 African migrants have arrived in Italy through the perilous Central Mediterranean Route since 20141, and nearly 190 000 arrived in 2017 alone according to the International Organization of Migration (IOM). While 2018 numbers for this route are slightly lower2, Africans are now testing their luck with both the Central Mediterranean Route and a new path, seeking to reach Europe via Morocco and Spain. In the first half of 2018, the number of migrants entering through Spain has risen dramatically.3 Continue reading

Understanding South-South migration

By Jason Gagnon, PGD1 coordinator, OECD Development Centre

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Migration is the talk of the moment. Last week, I participated in the 11th GFMD2 Summit and the Intergovernmental Conference on the GCM3, where experts debated migration’s place in today’s global context. The outcome: 163 member countries of the United Nations pledged their support for a ground breaking document establishing migration – and migrants – as a vehicle for good.

Amongst the many debates, much talk was on South-South migration (SSM) and on the future particularly of Africa in this regard. But why this focus? Most studies on SSM fail to clarify what is different about SSM and why we should pay attention to it. Arguments are good for why SSM may be similar or different to what we’ve come to expect from previously studied migration corridors. But there are also many misconceptions on SSM – particularly in Africa. So what do we know?

Most of this misconceived perception lies in how we measure stocks, which currently tells us that more migrants born in the South live elsewhere in the South (than in the North): 53% to be exact in Africa. And the numbers are indeed much higher when we dig more locally: 71% in sub-Saharan Africa. Dig down deeper and the rate increases even more: up to 79% in Middle Africa.

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Visualising urbanisation: How the Africapolis platform sheds new light on urban dynamics in Africa

By Lia Beyeler, Communications Officer and Nisha Schumann, Consultant, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD)

Africa’s urban population is the fastest growing in the world. By 2050, Africa’s cities will be home to nearly one billion additional people. Yet, where and how Africa’s cities of the future emerge and evolve are insufficiently understood.

Traditionally, the focus has been put on larger cities as opposed to smaller urban agglomerations. Yet, smaller agglomerations with populations between 10,000 and 100,000 inhabitants represent one-third of Africa’s overall urban population, accounting for more than 180 million people in 2015. Their significance is highlighted by the fact that many of the continent’s future cities are emerging through the fusion of smaller cities or through population densification in rural areas – trends that are not captured in official statistics and government data, which tend to focus on cities as political units with defined boundaries.

The OECD Sahel and West Africa Club’s Africapolis platform, which launched during the 8th Africities Conference in Marrakesh, seeks to bridge the gap in data on African urbanisation dynamics. It provides a powerful tool for governments, policy makers, researchers and urban planners to better understand urbanisation’s drivers, dynamics and impacts. This understanding, in turn, will help design more relevant policies that address the growing challenges of urbanisation at the local, national and regional levels. Continue reading

Why understanding the relationship between migration and inequality may be the key to Africa’s development

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By Professor Heaven Crawley, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR), Coventry University, UK


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


Africa-MigrationPick up any newspaper or switch on any TV in Europe over the past five years and you might think that the entire population of Africa is on the move – and heading across the Mediterranean. Images of young men travelling in boats in search of protection and a better life for themselves and their families have become a staple part of the media diet, with the so-called ‘migration crisis’ dominating political debates within the European Union and beyond. The use of development assistance to leverage co-operation and compliance from African countries in limiting migration flows has, in turn, become an increasingly important focus of policy efforts.

But these representations and the policies with which they have come to be associated reflect long-standing biases in how we think about migration in the African context.

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Unlocking Africa’s Aviation Potential

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By Hassan El-Houry, Group CEO, National Aviation Services (NAS)


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa
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Check out the 30 October 2018 OECD EMnet Meeting on Africa’s
“Infrastructure and Regional Connectivity”


africa-aviationAfricans make up 12% of the world’s population but only 2.5% of the world’s passengers. Why the gap?

Africa has 731 airports and 419 airlines with an aviation industry that supports around 6.9 million jobs and USD 80 billion in economic activity. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Africa is set to become one of the fastest growing aviation regions in the next 20 years with an annual expansion of nearly 5%. While it is evident that aviation in Africa has the potential to fuel economic growth, several barriers exist. Weak infrastructure, high ticket prices, poor connectivity and lack of liberalisation rank amongst the many challenges.

Consider the reality: Airport infrastructure in most African countries is outdated and not built to serve the growing volume of passengers or cargo. Airlines and airports are often managed by government entities or regulatory bodies. Foreign investment is discouraged. In Malawi, for example, it’s illegal for a foreign airline or private investor to own more than 49% of a national airline. So, this prevented Ethiopian Airlines from purchasing more than a 49% stake in Malawian Airlines. Continue reading

How can the new African free trade agreement unlock Africa’s potential?

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By Professor Landry Signé, David M. Rubenstein Fellow in the Global Economy and Development Program and the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution, Distinguished fellow at Stanford University’s Center for African Studies, Chairman of the Global Network for Africa’s Prosperity, and author of “Innovating Development Strategies in Africa: The Role of International, Regional and National Actors.


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


Africa-TradeAfrica has an opportunity to show leadership on the world stage through strength in unity, as the rest of the world retreats from multilateralism and increases protectionism. For the first time in recent history, with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Africa could wholly embrace intra-African relations, global trade, structural transformation and sustainable development. But for the agreement to succeed, businesses, which make up the backbone of the deal, need to be aware of their potential gains and be actively involved in its implementation, working alongside governments and regional institutions that are ultimately responsible for speeding up the process.

The challenges to African trade have been immense: Africa only represents 2.4% of total global exports. Intra-African trade only represents 15% of total African exports (compared to 58% and 67% for Asia and Europe, respectively), even if the regions of Eastern and Southern Africa are outperforming Central Africa.

The AfCFTA, launched with signatures from 44 African countries in March, has the potential to open up the free movement of goods, services and people, building the capacity of African businesses. If successfully implemented, the AfCFTA could generate a combined consumer and business spending of USD 6.7 trillion by 2030, accelerate industrial development, expand economic diversification, and facilitate quality job creation — including for youth (72% of poverty rate), women (majority of small-scale traders), and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (about 80% of regional employment).

But all this will depend on how well businesses are able to engage in the deal’s implementation. These are a few things they need to know:

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