Improving sustainable development data is a task for all

by Martine Durand, OECD Chief Statistician and Director of the OECD Statistics Directorate


This article is featured in the Development Co-operation Report 2017: Data for Development to be released on 17 October 2017. Read the report and find out more about data for development.


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In an era of fake news and alternative facts, statisticians have a special responsibility. As the custodians of the evidence base for policy making, they must stand up for the right of all citizens to true, reliable and accessible information.

This is especially the case in the development field, and even more so since world leaders adopted the extraordinarily ambitious and wide-ranging 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015. At the heart of this global “plan of action for people, planet and prosperity” are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that “are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental”, with the ultimate objective to leave no one behind. Achieving the SDGs will require informed choices about priorities and strategies, and for this we will need a better evidence base than we have today.

But statisticians – and especially statisticians in developing countries – cannot do this job alone.

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Financing African SMEs: can more of the same help bridge the gap?

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By Rodrigo Deiana, Junior Policy Analyst, and Arthur Minsat, Head of Unit for Europe, Middle East and Africa (acting), OECD Development Centre


The topic discussed here builds on the success of the 2017 Africa Forum


Africa-SMEsAfrican firms don’t have it easy. Among the many constraints faced by formal companies, access to finance consistently ranks as a top issue. Almost 20% of formal African companies cite access to finance as a constraint to their business.1 Overall, African micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) face a financing shortfall of about USD 190 billion from the traditional banking sector.2 African firms are 19% less likely to have a bank loan, compared to other regions of the world. Within Africa, small enterprises are 30% less likely to obtain bank loans than large ones and medium-sized enterprises are 13% less likely.3

To bridge this gap, governments and market players need to strengthen existing credit channels as well as expand new financing mechanisms.

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Helping entrepreneurs thrive in Africa

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By Rémy Rioux, Director General of Agence Française de Développement


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
17th International Economic Forum on Africa
Register to attend


Africa-AFDAfrican entrepreneurs are a key driving force for the continent’s emergence. 80% of Africans view entrepreneurship as a good career opportunity. Take African start-ups. They pioneer social innovations. Thanks to the fintech industry, for example, the diaspora can connect with their relatives and directly finance their health expenses, as in the case of Leea. This company benefitted from Digital Africa, an initiative of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) to help African start-ups through financing, coaching and business training. African entrepreneurs and customers show the way forward and accelerate the continent’s leapfrogging in terms of technology innovation in banking, health, agriculture, urban mobility, education, and more.

However, at a macro level, 80% of Africa’s labour force works in the informal sector. Unemployment is high, especially amongst the youth, who are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. Development banks can play a role in addressing the macro policy, nurturing job-intensive growth across the continent and financing gaps. How?
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Development in transition

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By Alicia Barcena, Stefano Manservisi and Mario Pezzini


This blog is part of an ongoing series evaluating various facets
of
Development in Transition. The 2019 “Perspectives on Global Development” on “Rethinking Development Strategies” will add to this discussion


 

3Understanding and supporting the development trajectories of countries have long been the driving force behind all of our careers. If we, as a global community, are serious now about ensuring prosperity for all through the universal and comprehensive 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), then we must close all remaining gaps. And this means changing the way we think about development policy.

We can all agree we should continue to focus primarily on those left the furthest behind. However pockets of fragility also remain in those economies that have succeeded in climbing the economic ladder. While income inequality between countries may have reduced, inequality within countries has in fact risen. More than 75% of people in developing countries are living in societies where inequalities are higher today than they were 25 years ago. In Namibia, for example, which is considered an upper middle-income country, just over a quarter of its poorest inhabitants are covered by social protections, whereas Malawi, considered a low-income country, covers over 40%.

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Development Finance 2.0: Improving Conditions for Local Currency Financing

By Harald Hirschhofer, Senior Advisor, TCX 1 

Development-Finance-shutterstock_524218915Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require very large investments measured in the trillions until 2030. To mobilise such amounts, policy makers try to crowd-in the private sector, its financial resources and its entrepreneurial creativity. But private sector engagement will not happen if risk-adjusted returns are perceived to be unattractive. While telecom and mobile banking have shown that achieving development goals also means good business, perceived risks in most other sectors and countries are still too high for expected economic returns.

That is why donors, recipients and development banks have been developing programs to lower and share risks, including policy and structural reform, technical assistance and information sharing, and providing financial de-risking instruments. Especially in situations where private investors perceive risks as higher than they actually are, such de-risking measures can be impactful in catalysing private investment flows. Accordingly, development finance institutions (DFIs) are expanding their focus from mere funding to blending risk tolerant donor funds with commercial capital to offer de-risking services and support for (perceived) high risk activities.

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Fiscal space in developing countries: It’s about revenues

By Alexander Pick, Fiscal economist, OECD Development Centre

planting-moneyFiscal space is big right now. It was an important part of the OECD’s policy prescriptions in last year’s Economic Outlook and was high on the World Bank President’s agenda at this year’s Spring Meetings in Washington. It also featured in discussions at the 2017 Forum on Financing for Development in May. Yet the term has a different meaning depending on whether it is applied to a developed or a developing country, and it doesn’t appear to resonate with policy makers at a national level.

So what does fiscal space mean for developed economies? The OECD and IMF view the concept in terms of long-term debt sustainability. By this approach, fiscal space is interpreted as the distance between actual debt levels and a theoretical higher level of debt that is nonetheless safe. Fiscal space suggests how much wiggle-room national governments have to increase growth-enhancing spending, such as infrastructure investment, without raising taxes. This is important in the current context of a sluggish global economy where monetary policy has done all it can to support growth and the pressure is thus on fiscal policy and structural reform to propel the recovery.

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Making aid RANDy

By Simon Scott, Counsellor, OECD Statistics Directorate

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Entrance to the RAND headquarters in Santa Monica in 1968 (photo courtesy of the RAND Corporation)

It was the go-to think tank for the US Department of Defense during the Cold War. It was where Nathan Leites deciphered The Operational Code of the Politburo and Paul Baran conceived the “hot potato routing” system that would lead to the Internet.

But the RAND Corporation, spun off from an Air Force project with the Douglas Aircraft company to do Research ANd Development on intercontinental warfare, was active across the whole field of international relations. And at the height of East-West tensions during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, DoD contract number ARPA/SD-79 had it investigating … a better way to measure foreign aid.

Up until that time, all official flows from rich to poor countries had been summed up indiscriminately, whether they were grants or loans, and whether or not they targeted development. John Pincus of RAND came up with a new idea – get rid of the non-developmental aspects and “reformulate the definition of aid [so that] all forms of aid are reduced to their value as grant or subsidy.”

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