How can Africa benefit from the private sector’s growing interest in climate finance?

By Anzetse Were, Senior Economist, FSD Kenya

While the private sector across the world is on a journey towards greening their activities, COP26 marked a milestone so significant that it was termed the Business and Finance COP. In other words, COP26 made ‘climate action mainstream business’. But what challenges and opportunities does this newfound interest present for Africa?

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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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How data can help migrants

By Andrew Young, Knowledge Director, The Governance Lab, New York University

Conflict is displacing more and more people across West Africa, including nearly 2.4 million people who have been forced from their homes by the Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin alone. People living in coastal areas face coastal degradation and erosion. Desertification in the western region of the Sahel is leading to significant livelihood and food security risks. Meanwhile the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is making the situation worse.

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A faster path to digital transformation in Latin America

By Angel Melguizo, Vice President, Economic, External & Regulatory Affairs, VRIO Corp; Eduardo Salido Cornejo, Head, Public Affairs Intelligence, Telefónica Hispanoamérica; and Welby Leaman, Senior Director, Global Policy Strategy, Walmart[1]

Covid-19 put in stark relief the urgent need for accelerated digitalisation around the world. The good news is that so many people stepped up to meet this challenge. In many parts of the private sector, digital rollout that business executives thought would take years was achieved in weeks or even days, as customers’ digital adoption soared. Latin America was no exception to this phenomenon: in mid-March 2020, internet traffic increased by more than 40% practically overnight. The robustness of telecommunications infrastructure in the region – built by decades of investment – and the flexibility of many Latin American governments during the pandemic, were among the factors that facilitated this transition.

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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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Above or below the poverty line: Three key questions for understanding shifts in global poverty

By Andy Sumner, Professor of International Development, Department of International Development, School of Global Affairs, Faculty of Social Sciences and Public Policy, King’s College London and Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez, Senior Fellow (Non-Resident), United Nations University WIDER; Research Associate, OPHI, University of Oxford & Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences

In 2010 and the following years, there was attention to the fact that much of global poverty had shifted to middle-income countries (for example herehere, and here). The world’s poor hadn’t moved of course, but the countries that are home to large numbers of poor people had got better off on average and poverty hadn’t fallen as much as one might expect with economic growth in those countries moving from low-income to middle-income. There were also some big questions over the country categories themselves. One could say the world’s poor live not in the world’s poorest countries but in fast growing countries and countries with burgeoning domestic resources to address poverty albeit ‘locked’ by domestic political economy (who doesn’t want cheap petrol?)

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Value chains in Africa: what role for regional trade?

By Eyerusalem Siba, Economist and international expert in private sector development, spatial industrial policies and sustainable urbanisation

The Covid-19 pandemic and associated containment measures hit businesses hard, exposing them to record levels of uncertainty, disrupting value chains, and reversing countries’ hard-earned progress in economic and social development. The knock-on effects of these disruptions on GDP, foreign direct investment (FDI), trade and industrial production have been highest among globally integrated economies that have smaller domestic markets, rely heavily on vulnerable sectors and have limited capacity to adjust.

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How to fix the failures of climate finance

By Saleemul Huq, Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development, Independent University Bangladesh

One of the positive outcomes of the COP26 held in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021 was a universal acknowledgement of the failure of developed countries to deliver climate finance to developing countries, and even of developing countries themselves to actually deliver to the most vulnerable communities within their own territories.

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Why the least developed countries of the Commonwealth are doing better at trade

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

In 2020, the share of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in world trade remained at just 1%. Although the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) for LDCs and SDG target 17.11 both sought to double LDCs’ share of global exports by 2020, the world’s 47 LDCs missed the target. While this could be regarded as a “lost decade” for  gains from trade, the performance of the Commonwealth’s 14 LDCs tells a more promising story: their collective share in global exports was 1.27 times higher in 2020 than in 2011 and two LDCs — Rwanda and Tuvalu — almost doubled their share of world exports.

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Why we need greater transparency on how aid is taxed

By Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate and Pascal Saint-Amans, Director, OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration

Should projects financed by foreign aid be subject to tax? Historically, donors have claimed tax exemptions on most projects funded by Official Development Assistance (ODA), reasonably arguing this would maximise the impact of ODA, not least by sparing these projects from the perceived hazards of high taxes, lack of transparency and corrupt or inefficient government institutions. However, these assumptions have been increasingly challenged in recent years. Many developing countries have made strides in improving their tax systems, simplifying regimes, professionalising administration and reducing the burden of compliance.

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