By Welby Leaman, Senior Director Global Policy Strategy, Walmart, Ana Valero, Director of Public Affairs and Regulatory for Latin America, Telefónica and Amy Alvarez, AVP, International External and Regulatory Affairs, AT&T 
Accelerated digital transformation has boosted e-commerce and digital service offerings. Across 13 African countries, more than 1 in 5 firms started using or expanded their use of digital technology in response to the shock of the pandemic. Decades of investment in connectivity, public-private collaboration and greater adoption of digital technologies by the public sector, including for public services, further accelerated digital transformation across emerging markets. Now, as countries struggle to return to growth, digital transformation can accelerate productivity and global trade. A 10% increase in digital connectivity between countries has been shown to increase trade in goods by nearly 2% on average, trade of parcels by 4%, and trade in services by over 3%.
There is a dangerous contradiction in the prevailing narrative on migration and development. Despite the fact that international labour mobility has proven to be one of the most effective and powerful levers for individual and collective progress, many development co-operation actors treat migration as a problem that must be solved. This logic responds to the myth of ‘root causes’: human mobility as a mere escape from poverty and the lack of opportunities, rather than as an effective strategy against them. Migrants are victims who must be rescued from their own decisions, and aid is an adequate tool to do so.
By Rolph van der Hoeven1 International Institute of Social Studies at Erasmus University, The Hague & Member of the Committee for Development Policy of the United Nations
It is almost as if the lyrics of the world’s best rated song ‘Hotel California’ were written for the large category of middle-income countries (MICs) as since the classification was introduced in 1992 only four2 MICs outside Eastern and Western Europe (The Republic of Korea, Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina) have so far managed to ‘graduate’ to the high-income category. Are all other countries unable ‘to leave’?
Carlos Lopesand Alan Hirsch, Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, University of Cape Town
This blog is part of a thread that aims to challenge existing narratives about Africa and its development.
Africa’s positioning in the global scene is seldom immune to controversy. The numerous debates about Africa’s true size and developmental successes can deflect Africans and potential partners from a coherent continental development strategy.
Despite its landmass of 30 million square kilometres, the commonly used Mercator projection maps Africa’s size to be equal to Greenland’s, which is fourteen times smaller. That such a depiction is popularised even by Google Earth shows the endurance of certain perceptions. Moreover, contemporary afro-pessimism is rooted in history and is not limited to the injustices of modern-day cartography or the erroneous views portrayed in contemporary literature. It is about risk perceptions, levels of conflict, political instability, and the variety of economic experiments. Many continue to identify Africa as uniformly beset by conflict, crisis, bad governance, and a risky place for making investments.
Par Firmin Edouard Matoko, Sous-directeur général, Département Afrique, UNESCO
Ce blog fait partie d’une série qui invite acteurs et penseurs à renouveler le discours actuel sur l’Afrique et son développement.
La crise du COVID-19 qui a révélé l’extrême fragilité des économies africaines, est venue nous rappeler les limites du développement en Afrique. De nombreux africains réclament une révision urgente des modèles de développement et prônent pour l’élaboration de nouveaux paradigmes propres à l’Afrique. Ce discours n’est pas nouveau. Samir Amin, qui fut l’un des plus grands économistes africains, révélait déjà les limites des modèles fondés sur des théories importées de l’extérieur. Thandika Kandawire, autre penseur africain de renom et bien d’autres ne disent pas autre chose aujourd’hui. L’Afrique a besoin de repenser son développement et de réinventer son histoire sociale et économique, comme l’affirmait encore récemment le groupe d’intellectuels africains réunis par l’UNESCO pour débattre de la crise du COVID-19 en Afrique : « cette crise est une occasion de repenser les hypothèses actuelles sur les paradigmes de développement adoptés par les États africains. Il s’agit de se concentrer sur les priorités de développement centrées sur l’homme, et d’investir en priorité dans l’éducation, les soins de santé, la protection sociale et la recherche scientifique comme base pour créer une nouvelle Afrique, capable de regarder vers l’intérieur et de trouver des solutions endogènes à ses problèmes, tout en assurant sa place sur la scène internationale ».
By Kensuke Tanaka, Head of Asia Desk, OECD Development Centre and Mario Pezzini, former Director, OECD Development Centre and Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary General on Development
This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.
First detected in China, COVID-19 has spread rapidly to other countries, infecting more than 2 million people worldwide and killing more than 127,000 to date (14 April). From mid-March, Southeast Asian countries started to see their number of cases climb (Figures 1 and 2). As of 14 April, India confirmed over 11,000 cases, though the sharp increase can partly be attributed to more testing. Malaysia and Indonesia each surpassed the bar of 4,800 confirmed cases, while the Philippines has counted over 5,200 as of the same date. The rapid evolution of the disease has prompted authorities to announce various measures including putting entire cities and countries into lockdown to stop the virus. As early as January in China and March elsewhere, many Emerging Asian countries have imposed local or even nationwide lockdown and curfew measures (Table 1), with varying durations, geographical coverage, and scope. Lockdown measures contribute to containing the spread of the virus, but they also prevent economic activities that would otherwise take place. As the debate in countries turns to when and how to end a lockdown and restart the economy, the health and economic implications of lockdown measures need to be considered carefully.
The launch this week in Addis Ababa of the new flagship joint report Africa’s Development Dynamics 2018 alongside the African Union Commission reflects a fundamental commitment to an ongoing conversation on Africa, with Africa and for Africa. Thus, we did more than unveil a report on paper about the challenges of growth, jobs and inequalities. What we are also doing is strengthening an inclusive platform for policy dialogue on how best to turn Africa’s own vision and strategy for its development as captured in the African Union’s ambitious Agenda 2063 into reality and practice. And it is a platform in which we envision engaging with and involving more and more diverse actors to tap their expertise and add their perspectives to drafting future editions of our joint analysis.
By Tabea Lakemann, Research Fellow, GIGA Institute of African Affairs and University of Göttingen, and Jann Lay, Acting Director, GIGA Institute of African Affairs, and Head of GIGA Research Programme Growth and Development
Economic development and a sustained, broad-based increase in living standards on the African1 continent are critically connected to the capacity of African economies to create decent jobs at a rate that keeps up with the rapid growth of the workforce. This, in turn, depends on the ability of African governments to develop innovative, tailor-made strategies towards private sector development taking full advantage of countries’ comparative advantages. Private sector development strategies require governments to recognise the significance of informality and to look beyond industrialisation — to the service sector — for private sector growth and job creation.
The potential of informal firms
On average, the informal economy is estimated to make up almost 40% of GPD in Africa.2 Informal firms are typically much smaller than formal ones, but even when controlling for size, they are on average less productive, less likely to access external finance and have less educated managers.3 At the same time, heterogeneity between informal firms is considerable. Some firms exhibit very high marginal returns to capital, and between 28% and 58% of informal entrepreneurs in West Africa are identified as “constrained gazelles” with low capital stocks, but some unrealised growth potential.4 Many informal firms thus have the likely potential to provide an improved livelihood to their self-employed owners and family members engaged in the business. Continue reading “Services, informality and productivity in Africa”
Some countries in the South Asia and Pacific region are experiencing a rapid increase in the number of working-age people. This will create some opportunities as it will contribute to reducing the dependency ratio and increasing the possibilities for social cohesion policies. But if these people fail to find decent jobs, then per capita income may slow down. With less income, people face lower living standards and difficulties accumulating capital and assets. For young people, these changes potentially bring significant challenges. Take, for example, youth in Cambodia.
By Milan Brahmbhatt, Senior Fellow, New Climate Economy (NCE) and World Resources Institute1
Explore this topic further with the upcoming launch of the 2017 African Economic Outlook: Entrepreneurship and Industrialisation in Africa.
Stay tuned for details
Policy makers across Africa have embraced industrialisation and economic transformation as keys to accelerate inclusive growth. They also increasingly see the need for economic transformation to deliver green growth – growth that does not endanger Africa’s natural environment in ways that reduce the welfare of present and future generations. Economic transformation and green growth depend on doing new things: making risky investments in new, unfamiliar sectors or products or adopting new, unfamiliar methods, processes, technologies, inputs or business models. All this depends crucially on the activity of entrepreneurs, who drive change through their innovation and risk-taking. Fostering entrepreneurship, including green entrepreneurship, is thus a key policy aim for African countries.