Women and conflict in West Africa and beyond

By Dr Diene Keita, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director (Programme), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Photo: Fred Marie

Women are deliberately targeted in conflict

When conflict happens, the rule of law breaks down, freedom of movement is restricted, institutions and services are weakened, creating a lack of access to social services and information, and to food and livelihoods. This situation affects the entire population, but it disproportionately affects women. Research has shown that female-headed households are more vulnerable to stress and less capable of absorbing shocks, due to gender inequality, cultural restrictions and the feminisation of poverty. Conflict affects women and men differently and existing gender inequalities are compounded in times of conflict. Women and girls make up a large proportion of internally displaced populations (IDPs) and refugees. In Burkina Faso, 51% of IDPs are girls under the age of 14. Moreover, gender norms that associate masculinity with aggression make men more likely to perpetrate violence against those over whom they have power – usually women and children.

Overall, conflict increases women’s exposure and vulnerability to sexual and gender-based violence. The Sahel and West Africa Club’s publication on Women and Conflict in West Africa, shows that Islamist organisations and militias deliberately target women. In north-eastern Nigeria where Boko Haram has its roots, women are victims of systemic attacks and kidnappings, and are forced into slavery as sex slaves, informants and even fighters. Additionally, women in conflict are victims of rape and forced prostitution, pregnancy, abortion, sterilisation and marriage, as well as many other forms of sexual violence. The higher risk and exposure to sexual and gender-based violence during conflict leads to increased reproductive health problems, which, compounded with the lack of access to health services in particular in conflict settings, have a severely detrimental effect on women and girls. Age compounds gender discrimination and disparities: in conflict and post-conflict contexts, adolescent girls and young women face even higher risks. Moreover, conflict widens the gender gap in school enrolment and retention.

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Revenue mobilisation through tax transparency: Lessons from Uganda’s transformative journey

By John Rujoki Musinguzi, Commissioner General – Uganda Revenue Authority, Mary Baine,Director – Tax Programmes, African Tax Administration Forum, Zayda Manatta, Head of the Secretariat of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, and Marcello Estevão, Global Director, Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment, World Bank Group

Photo : © Uganda Revenue Authority

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Uganda has significantly strengthened its tax transparency and tax capacity in just a few years to mobilise more domestic resources to finance sustainable development. Moreover, the country has taken significant steps to tackle illicit financial flows by implementing global transparency and information exchange standards. The results have been impressive: USD 26 million in additional revenue has been identified since 2014 through audits and exchange of information, USD 22 million of which has already been paid to government coffers.

The case study on Uganda published today shows how tax transparency can help developing countries strengthen their tax and resource mobilisation capacities to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s 2063 Agenda. It also shows that Uganda’s successful journey is the result of strong political and administrative commitment, clear strategy, and coordinated and steady support from development partners.  

To fight against tax evasion, Uganda joined the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum) in 2012. In doing so, Uganda included exchange of information as a key component of its domestic resource mobilisation strategy to improve compliance of both multinational enterprises (MNEs) and individuals, including ones with high-net-worth. In 2016, Uganda also became a party to the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, the most powerful multilateral instrument for tax co-operation, with over 140 participating jurisdictions.

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Mobilisation des recettes par la transparence fiscale : Enseignements tirés du parcours transformationnel de l’Ouganda

Par John Rujoki Musinguzi, Directeur général – Autorité fiscale de l’Ouganda, Mary Baine, Directrice – Programmes fiscaux, Forum sur l’administration fiscale africaine, Zayda Manatta, Cheffe du Secrétariat du Forum mondial sur la transparence et l’échange de renseignements à des fins fiscales, et Marcello Estevão, Directeur mondial, Macroéconomie, commerce et investissement, Groupe de la Banque mondiale

© Uganda Revenue Authority

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En quelques années seulement, l’Ouganda a considérablement renforcé sa transparence et sa capacité fiscales afin de mobiliser davantage de ressources intérieures pour financer le développement durable. Pour lutter contre les flux financiers illicites, l’Ouganda a pris des mesures considérables pour assurer la mise en œuvre des normes mondiales visant à accroître la transparence et faciliter l’échange de renseignements. Les résultats ont été impressionnants, avec 26 millions USD de recettes supplémentaires identifiées depuis 2014 grâce à des vérifications fiscales et l’échange de renseignements. Sur ces recettes identifiées, 22 millions USD ont déjà été versés dans les caisses de l’État.

L’étude de cas sur l’Ouganda publiée aujourd’hui, montre comment la transparence fiscale peut aider les pays en développement à renforcer leurs capacités fiscales et leurs efforts de mobilisation des ressources intérieures pour atteindre les Objectifs de développement durable et l’Agenda 2063 de l’Union africaine. Elle montre également que le parcours réussi de l’Ouganda est le résultat d’un engagement politique et administratif fort, d’une stratégie claire et d’un soutien coordonné et constant des partenaires au développement.

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Intensifier les possibilités d’emploi dans les systèmes alimentaires pour les jeunes et les femmes en Afrique de l’Ouest

Par Koffi Zougbédé, Secrétariat du Club du Sahel et de l’Afrique de l’Ouest

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En 2011, Fatoumata Cissoko, jeune femme vivant en Guinée et diplômée en comptabilité, a lancé sa société de transformation de fruits secs avec 260 USD. Elle produit environ 16 tonnes d’ananas séché par an vendu dans de nombreux magasins et supermarchés de la capitale, Conakry, et d’autres villes du pays. Récemment, sa société a considérablement accru sa capacité de production pour améliorer sa compétitivité sur les marchés régionaux et internationaux. Fatoumata a également ouvert un restaurant bio pour compléter la chaîne de production et elle emploie directement 15 femmes. L’histoire de Fatoumata est un exemple des nombreuses opportunités d’emploi émergentes dans les systèmes alimentaires d’Afrique de l’Ouest.

Activités non agricoles – une multitude de possibilités d’emploi diversifiées              

L’économie alimentaire régionale, premier employeur d’Afrique de l’Ouest, devrait atteindre 480 milliards USD en 2030, le secteur non agricole représentant 49 % de la valeur ajoutée. En conséquence, la demande de main-d’œuvre dans les activités non agricoles se développe principalement dans les zones urbaines – pour la transformation, la commercialisation et d’autres services tels que les repas pris à l’extérieur du domicile. Ces activités sont susceptibles de créer des emplois décents et permanents, en particulier pour les jeunes et les femmes. Environ 68 % des femmes occupant un emploi travaillent dans l’économie alimentaire et, comme Fatoumata, la plupart d’entre elles évoluent dans des segments non agricoles.

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Africa’s next transformation: connecting people and places

By Jose Luis Guasch, Former Head of the World Bank Global Experts Group on PPP and Logistics, Professor Emeritus University of California, San Diego

Trucks at the border crossing between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Photo by Rainer Lesniewski, Shutterstock

Pedro, a small farmer in the Andes, spends another sleepless night worrying about how to feed his family. He wonders how to improve the productivity of his small crop of vegetables and how to reduce time cost and losses (spoilage) in the process of taking his produce to the market. George is a small and medium enterprise (SME) entrepreneur, who exports his products. He has to face poor and bumpy roads, delays and red tape in securing permits and certifications, cumbersome custom and/or cross border procedures, lack of cooling facilities, losses due to spoilage and even theft, deficient packaging and scale consolidation, low productivity etc. That is the common plight of most SME farmers and producers in emerging economies. The costs of bringing their products to the market hover around 30% of product value, when it should and can be below 10%.

Weaknesses in transportation and logistics are a recurring theme in numerous diagnostic studies analysing the obstacles to productivity, trade and economic growth in most Latin American and African countries. Particularly burdensome are deficient trade corridors and the dismal conditions of feeder roads connecting markets, borders and ports, as well as the lack of effective logistics services.  

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Are African countries heading for a carbon lock-in or leapfrogging to renewables?

By Galina Alova, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford

Non-hydro renewables are likely to account for less than 10% of Africa’s power generation by the end of this decade. My recent co-authored study predicts fossil fuels to continue to dominate the electricity mix in many African countries, and the continent as a whole.

Opportunity to power development with renewables

Africa is presented with an important opportunity to make a decisive leap to renewables this decade. The continent’s energy demand is projected to more than double in the coming years, as countries seek to industrialise and improve the development outcomes for their growing populations, including providing affordable power to close the energy access gap. At the same time, Africa – the land of sun and wind – possesses vast renewable energy resources.  

Against this backdrop, renewables have become increasingly more competitive in the past years, with their cost set to decline further compared to conventional fossil-fuel-based generation. The affordability of battery storage has also significantly improved, with lithium-ion battery packs hitting a record low in 2020.

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Africa: continent of challenges and possibilities

By Professor Aleksander Surdej, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Poland to the OECD

Africa’s development depends to a large extent on African people themselves, including on their ability to strengthen public institutions and end destructive conflicts.

It is often recalled with pride that the African continent is the cradle of civilisation and perhaps its future. At the same time, Africa faces numerous challenges analysed by the OECD, which its Development Centre proposes to address through horizontal co-operation. Let’s delineate the most important ones.

Demography

Around 7.7 billion people populate our planet today. Each year this number grows by 80 million, which means that each day 220,000 people are born globally. If we continue at this pace, the world’s population will reach 8 billion in 2022 and 10 billion in 2050. The world’s population growth stems to a large degree from the demographic expansion of Africa, a continent currently inhabited by 1.3 billion people. If this reproduction rate is maintained – the average number of births per woman in Africa is 4.5 while in Niger it is 7 – Africa’s population may reach 4 billion people by 2100.

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How West Africa’s cashew companies have weathered the COVID-19 crisis

By Violeta Gonzalez, Head of Partnerships, Outreach and Resource Mobilisation, Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF)

April is usually cashew marketing season across West Africa – a lively affair where traders tout bags of recently harvested raw nuts to buyers, most of whom have flown in from Vietnam and India. But 2020 was not a usual year. COVID-19 containment measures meant closures – of international borders, stopping major buyers travelling to West Africa – as well as domestic markets, leading to violent clashes between police and traders. It goes without saying that the impact of these border and market closures came at a great cost to the livelihoods of many West African cashew farmers, producers, and traders. Small businesses faced plummeting revenues or were at the brink of bankruptcy. Instead of offering support, local banks and financial institutions supporting West African cashew producers slashed lending during the pandemic.

Agriculture is a risky business at the best of times – good prices depend on good yields, which depend on good weather. While speciality crops like cashews can generate high returns, the risk of capital loss is also high, meaning many banks are hesitant to provide the capital that’s needed for small businesses in West Africa’s cashew sector to flourish. The cashew businesses that have weathered the economic storm created by COVID-19 have something in common – the long-term backing of impact investors who not only provide capital and technical assistance, but who also have a deep understanding of the challenges of the agricultural sector.

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The sectoral and gendered impacts of COVID-19 in Africa

By Anzetse Were, Senior Economist FSD Kenya

Africa, like much of the world, is still in the throes of the COVID pandemic and related economic fallout. The pandemic has cost the continent about USD 69 billion per month and economic growth is projected to contract by 2.6% in 2020. This downturn is set to cost Africa at least $115 billion in output losses in 2020 with GDP per capita growth expected to contract by nearly 6.0 %. Additionally, the pandemic may push 40 million people into extreme poverty in 2020 across the continent, eroding at least five years of progress in fighting poverty.

Diverse sectoral impact

The sectoral impact of COVID-19 has been and will likely continue to be varied. Some sectors such as tourism, aviation and crude oil exports have been disproportionately hit in Africa, while COVID-19 is spurring certain types of digital technologies (such as mobile payments in Kenya and Rwanda), and food production in some countries has been resilient. This points to four main COVID impact-recovery sectoral performance paths (the chart is illustrative):

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Developing an Artificial Intelligence for Africa strategy

By François Candelon, Senior Partner & Managing Director at BCG, and Global Director of the BCG Henderson Institute; Hind El Bedraoui, Ambassador at the BCG Henderson Institute; Hamid Maher, Partner and Managing Director   

Africa has a unique opportunity to develop its competitiveness through artificial intelligence (AI). From agriculture and remote health to translating the 2,000-odd languages spoken across the continent, AI can help tackle the economic problems that Africa faces.

Africa faces several known challenges in developing AI such as a dearth of investment, a paucity of specialised talent, and a lack of access to the latest global research. These hurdles are being whittled down, albeit slowly, thanks to African ingenuity and to investments by multinational companies such as IBM Research, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, which have all opened AI labs in Africa. Innovative forms of trans-continental collaboration such as Deep Learning Indaba (a Zulu word for gathering), which is fostering a community of AI researchers in Africa, and Zindi, a platform that challenges African data scientists to solve the continent’s toughest challenges, are gaining ground, buoyed by the recent “homecoming“ of several globally-trained African experts in AI.

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