Are emerging economies already engaging with Industry 4.0 technologies?


By Michele Delera, UNU-MERIT, Carlo Pietrobelli, UNU-MERIT and University Roma Tre, and Elisa Calza and Alejandro Lavopa, UNIDO[1]


There are many controversies among economists but one fact is undisputed: long-run productivity growth depends on the absorption and deployment of new technologies. Some estimates indicate that differences in technology diffusion account for a quarter of cross-country differences in per capita income. In the midst of a new Industrial Revolution driven by artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine communication, cloud computing and additive manufacturing, countries’ capacity to catch-up will likely depend on the speed with which they absorb these technologies. The implications for emerging economies are profound. New technologies may undermine the viability of labour-intensive development. Yet they may also open up new ways for developing countries to integrate in the global economy.

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Rural conflicts Africa

Conflicts are becoming increasingly rural in North and West Africa


By Steven M. Radil, U.S. Air Force Academy, Olivier Walther, University of Florida, Nicholas Dorward, University of Bristol, Matthew Pflaum, University of Florida and Marie Trémolières, Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC), OECD


Political violence is moving away from cities in North and West Africa, even as urban populations continue to grow at an unprecedented pace in the region. More than half of the violent events observed in 2021 took place in rural areas, against 20% a decade ago. The emergence of Jihadist insurgencies in the Sahel and its southern peripheries explains this ruralisation of conflict that affects a growing number of civilians and border regions.

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The expanding threat to food security in least developed countries


By Brendan Vickers, Head, International Trade Policy Section; Salamat Ali, Economic Adviser & Trade Economist and Neil Balchin, Economic Adviser, Trade Policy Analysis, The Commonwealth Secretariat, London.


The number of severely food insecure people across the world is estimated to have doubled in the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic to 276 million. This number is expected to reach 323 million in 2022 due to the war in Ukraine. Least developed countries (LDCs) are particularly exposed to this crisis within a crisis: data from the Food and Agriculture Organization indicates more than 251 million people in LDCs are severely food insecure.

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A new global economic diversification index


By Aathira Prasad, Director, Macroeconomics and Nasser Saidi, President, Nasser Saidi & Associates


“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.” 

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The well-known “natural resource curse” comes from the observation that economic growth in nations with an abundance of natural resources tends to be lower and more volatile. A number of empirical regularities characterise these countries: (a) resource-abundant countries tend to underperform their resource-poor counterparts, with evidence of a negative relationship between real GDP growth per capita and resource exports; (b) resource-based economies’ exposure to adverse external shocks leads to macroeconomic instability and higher economic risks; (c) non-resource based activities get crowded out; and (d) institutions tend to be weak and anarchic.   

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Why stronger regional value chains can help Africa rebound from economic shocks


By Yeo Dossina, Head of Economic Policy and Research, African Union Commission, Arthur Minsat, Head of the OECD Development Centre’s Unit for Africa, Europe and Middle East and Rodrigo Deiana, Consultant, OECD Development Centre


Africa’s value chains hold the key to unlocking its productivity, deepening its economic integration, and strengthening its resilience to shocks. Yet regional value chains accounted for just 2.7% of Africa’s total value chain participation in 2019, compared to 26.4% in Latin America and the Caribbean and 42.9% in developing Asia according to the latest edition of Africa’s Development Dynamics, a joint report by the African Union Commission and the OECD Development Centre.

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Women working in a potato field in Bangladesh

Three thoughts on the graduating Commonwealth LDCs          


By Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and Member, United Nations Committee for Development Policy & Ms Mamtajul Jannat, Programme Associate at CPD


The recent experience of a significant number of least developed countries (LDCs) graduating from that category has generated a certain level of interest in the development discourse. The Commonwealth Secretariat’s latest report is a welcome addition to that. It presents a cogent picture of the accomplishments and challenges that the 14 Commonwealth LDCs have experienced over the past decade. Five of these LDCs, Bangladesh, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Zambia, are poised to graduate in this decade.

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Towards gender-inclusive industrialisation in a post-pandemic world


By Elissa Braunstein, Colorado State University, Elisa Calza and Alejandro Lavopa, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)[1]


The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world unlike any other crisis in recent history. During 2020, world gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 3.3%, the deepest global recession in 70 years, with an estimated loss of 255 million full-time employment jobs and an additional 97 million people falling into poverty. The effects were especially severe in developing and emerging industrial economies, which suffered an average estimated output loss of 7.7% compared to 3.9% for industrialised economies, according to the UNIDO Industrial Development Report 2022. Within countries, SMEs were more likely to shut down operations than large firms and suffered larger declines in sales and profits. Across workers, women experienced greater labour-market losses than men.

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Resilient state-building: A new approach for the hardest places


By Jonathan Papoulidis, Global Director of Fragility and Resilience, Food for the Hungry Inc., Fellow, Columbia World Projects


Today, fragile contexts are the centre of the global development crisis and poised to bear the worst of the pandemic and climate change. Even before COVID-19, some 80% of the world’s poorest were estimated to live in fragile contexts by 2030—the end of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

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How Africa can move up the value-chain


By John Stuart, tralac Associate[1]


Africa is a resource-rich continent, specialising in fuel, mineral and agricultural exports. Statistics on revealed comparative advantage (RCA) show that Africa exports proportionally more primary products than most other regions. Crude materials, which include ore, metal, wood, cotton and other raw textiles, are the continent’s dominant product category, followed by tobacco, various agricultural products and fuel. One consequence of specialising in primary product exports is that other countries get to enjoy the benefits of the value they add to these raw materials. These benefits can range from higher profits for their corporations to a more diversified industrial base and consequently better insulation from economic shocks, as well as a more highly skilled, higher-earning workforce.

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Can the African Continental Free Trade Area drive Africa’s automotive industry?


By Anthony Black, Professor of Economics at the University of Cape Town [1]


With a large and growing middle class, Africa has huge potential as an automotive market. Vehicle ownership rates across the continent are low, at just 45 per 1 000 persons compared with a global rate of 203 per 1 000. Even more striking is the low level of production: the continent accounts for less than 1% of global vehicle output. Outside South Africa and Morocco, production is minimal: most small national  markets are supplied by imports, consisting mainly of used cars shipped primarily from Europe, Japan and the US.

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