Should firms in developing countries pursue independent R&D or adopt technology to innovate?

By Dai Jianjun and Yang Jianlong, Policy Research and Advice, OECD Development Centre (on secondment from the Development Research Center of the State Council of China)

Research-and-developmentInnovation promotes the global economy’s sustained growth, and innovation in developing countries can be achieved through two main means: independent research and development (R&D) or technology adoption. It is generally believed that developing countries can achieve development at a lower cost and faster by adopting technology. Even though enterprises are subject to certain restrictions in their technology adoption, such as mergers and acquisitions (M&As) that may be rejected due to national security factors, is it still relevant to depend on the adoption of technology for innovation to achieve continuous development?

To help answer this question, two companies in China, Huawei and Lenovo, offer perspectives in analysing different innovation models and their achievements. Both companies are engaged in the information technology industry and were established basically around the same time in the 1980s, experiencing first-hand the process of China’s implementation of the reform and opening-up policy to achieve economic catch-up. Currently, both are Fortune 500 companies, leading in their segmentation and having adopted different innovative approaches. Given the good comparability between the two companies, they offer relevant inspiration and analysis on innovation strategies and performance. How?

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Getting Private Sector Engagement on the Right Track: Four Essential Ingredients

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By Andrew C. Wilson, Executive Director, and Kim Eric Bettcher, Director, Knowledge Management, Center for International Private Enterprise


To learn more about this timely topic explored during
the
Private Finance for Sustainable Development Week,
please visit the PF4SD and GPEDC websites.


kenya-private-sector-andrew-wilson
 The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) engages President of Kenya, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, in pursuit of an enabling business environment in Kenya.

Developing countries face complex challenges that require solutions from a strong private sector in partnership with government and society. Many in international development are actively contemplating how to move such partnerships forward. Notably, USAID issued a new Private Sector Engagement Policy to “embrace market-based approaches as a more sustainable way to support communities in achieving development and humanitarian outcomes at scale.” As part of Private Finance for Sustainable Development Week, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) is hosting a Specialised Policy Dialogue on Private Sector Engagement through Development Co-operation, which will identify actions to scale up private-sector partnerships in ways that effectively use public resources and attract business investments to create shared value.

Business is now starting to make its mark on the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) with innovative initiatives for clean energy, water stewardship and green cities, to name a few. Around 80% of United Nations Global Compact companies are acting on the Global Goals. Business has already been an integral part of past development successes, driving economic growth and creating nine out of ten jobs. Still, the current trajectory is not adequate. The business sector has more to do to fulfill its potential as a responsible investor in emerging markets and an effective partner with the development community.

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Building Trust: How the development community can engage the private sector

By Janet Longmore, Founder & CEO, Digital Opportunity Trust

Giant puzzle pieces

Fundamental to my organisation’s success in delivering local impact against several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been developing an ecosystem of global and local in-country partners. And critical to this ecosystem is private sector participation: Corporate partners bring a different lens on what we do, a welcome push for innovation, creative approaches and efficiencies, and a business-like approach and priority to sustainability. Through mutual trust, we are now co-designing new initiatives that lead to positive impact for development and businesses.

I am a strong advocate for engaging the private sector in effective development. The private sector is often a strong and effective contributor to local development in the countries, cities and towns in which its offices are located and where its employees live, generously supporting local services. The challenge now is to extend local purpose and responsibility from “down the street” to a global perspective within the SDG framework. I advocate for this on the Business Leaders’ Caucus of the Global Partnership (1).

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Maximising the public-private investment multiplier

By Alain de Janvry and Elisabeth Sadoulet, Professors at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellows at the FERDI
 

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At the FERDI-IDDRI conference on “Development, Climate and Security” held in Paris on January 15, 2018, Barbara Buchner from the Climate Policy Initiative reported on the state of global climate finance flows for mitigation and adaptation. She made two points. First, finance is under-invested to combat climate change if the COP21 target in temperature increase is to be met. Second, private investment’s role in complementing public investment in climate finance is large, with an estimated 2/3 private for 1/3 public in current total contributions. This stresses the fundamental part private investment can play in meeting the COP21 objectives, particularly at a time when governments face multiple demands on public expenditures.

With public investment targeted to induce private investment, this raises the issue of public investment’s effect as a private investment multiplier. A useful way of thinking about the under-investment issue is consequently how to target public investment to maximise the public-private investment multiplier.

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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 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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Wanted: mechanism for additionality

By Paddy Carter, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute

development-financeAdditionality is the thorn in the side of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs). It means: making an investment happen that would not have otherwise. Of course, everybody in development wants to make things happen that would not otherwise, and the possibility that aid substitutes for domestic efforts is a concern in other contexts. But additionality torments DFIs because of the constant suspicion that they crowd out private financiers by investing in products that would have been viable without public support.

DFIs are regularly called upon to provide rigorous evidence that their investments are additional. Rigorous quantitative evidence, in the eyes of academics, requires some credible method of estimating the counterfactual (what would have happened otherwise). And that requires something like a randomised control trial or a natural experiment or a valid instrumental variable. Yet, none of these is feasible in the world of DFIs. And without that, we are unable to distinguish correlation from causation.
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