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  • Author: Maryam Akmal, Lant Pritchett
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for education include the goal that “all youth...achieve literacy and numeracy” (Target 4.6). Achieving some absolute standard of learning for all children is a key element of global equity in education. Using the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) data from India and Pakistan, and Uwezo data from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda that test all children of given ages, whether in school or not, on simple measures of learning in math, reading (local language), and English, we quantify the role of achieving equality between the richest 20% and the poorest 40% in terms of grade attainment and learning achievement toward accomplishing the global equity goal of universal numeracy and literacy for all children. First, excluding Kenya, equalizing grade attainment between children from rich and poor households would only close between 8% (India) and 25% (Pakistan) of the gap to universal numeracy, and between 8% (Uganda) and 28% (Pakistan) of the gap to universal literacy. Second, children from the poorest 40% of households tend to have lower performance in literacy and numeracy at each grade. If such children had the learning profiles of children from rich households, we would close between 16% (Pakistan and Uganda) and 34% (India) of the gap to universal numeracy, and between 13% (Uganda) and 44% (India) of the gap to universal literacy. This shows that the “hidden exclusion” (WDR, 2018) of lower learning at the same grade levels—a gap that emerges in the earliest grades—is a substantial and often larger part of the equity gap compared to the more widely documented gaps in enrollment and grade attainment. Third, even with complete equality in grade attainment and learning achievement, children from poor households would be far from the equity goal of universal numeracy and literacy, as even children from the richest 20% of households are far from universal mastery of basic reading and math by ages 12-13. Achieving universal literacy and numeracy to accomplish even a minimal standard of global absolute equity will require more than just closing the rich-poor learning gap, it will take progress in learning for all.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Sustainable Development Goals, Language
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Kenya, Africa, Middle East, India, Asia, Tanzania
  • Author: Bright Simons
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Just before the yuletide of 2018, I arrived in my native Ghana after one of my long spells away. I flipped out my phone, opened Uber, and tried to flag a ride from inside the shiny new terminal of Accra’s international airport. After a couple of false starts I gave up, walked out, and headed for the taxi stand. In the many days that followed, this ritual repeated itself with remarkable regularity. Sometimes I got the Uber, but on as many occasions, I couldn’t. The reasons for the frequent failure ranged from curious to bizarre. The “partner-drivers” would accept the request. Then they would begin to go around in circles. Sometimes they would start heading in the opposite direction. On a few occasions they would call and announce that they were “far away,” even though their registered location was visible to me on the app and their estimated time of arrival had factored into my decision to wait. It would take me a whole week to figure out that the problem wasn’t always that many Ghanaian Uber drivers couldn’t use GPS all that well, or that they were displeased with fares. There were other issues that I’d left out of my calculation, such as my payment preference, which was set to “bank card” instead of “cash.” The drivers want cash because it allows them to unofficially “borrow” from Uber and remit Uber’s money when it suits their cashflow. Though Uber offers two tiers of service, the difference in quality appeared negligible. Even on the upper tier, it was a constant struggle to find an Uber whose air conditioner hadn’t “just stopped working earlier today.” As something of a globetrotter used to seamless Uber services in European and American cities, I found the costs of onboarding onto Uber as my main means of mobility in Accra onerous. Why is a powerful corporation like Uber, reportedly valued by shrewd investment bankers at $120 billion, with $24 billion in capital raised, unable to maintain even a relative semblance of quality in its product in Ghana? And in other African cities I have visited? It may seem bleedingly obvious why heavily digitalised Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Google manage to deliver fairly uniform standards of product quality regardless of where their customers are based, whilst Uber, because of its greater “embeddedness in local ecosystems” and lower digitalisation of its value chain, fails. But in that seemingly redundant observation enfolds many explanations for why the innovation-based leapfrogging narrative in frontier markets, especially in Africa, unravels at close quarters.
  • Topic: Development, Science and Technology, Governance, Digital Economy, Emerging Technology
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Alex Ezeh, Jessie Lu
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In order to achieve sustainable development outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), African institutions must be the leading experts on and primary providers of research solutions to local problems. Despite years of investment in capacity building, SSA lags behind every other region in terms of research outputs and government investments, and new models for building institutional capacity are needed. Through interviews with African institutional leaders and development partners working in SSA, this study finds that funding inefficiencies lead to key challenges within institutions’ governance and management structures, financial systems, talent management processes, leadership and institutional vision capacities, and peer support networks, all of which obstruct the ability of African institutions to become impactful and sustainable drivers of development outcomes in the region. We present for consideration three possible innovative models that can facilitate the emergence of strong Africa-based, Africa-led institutions: a multi-stakeholder funding platform, an integrator organization model, and a scale model.
  • Topic: Development, Research, Sustainability, Socioeconomics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Author: Vijaya Ramachandran, Alan Gelb, Christian J. Meyer
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We consider economic development of Sub-Saharan Africa from the perspective of slow convergence of productivity, both across sectors and across firms within sectors. Why have "productivity enclaves", islands of high productivity in a sea of smaller low-productivity firms, not diffused more rapidly? We summarize and analyze three sets of factors: First, the poor business climate, which constrains the allocation of production factors between sectors and firms. Second, the complex political economy of business-government relations in Africa's small economies. Third, the distribution of firm capabilities. The roots of these factors lie in Africa's geography and its distinctive history, including the legacy of its colonial period on state formation and market structure.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Industrial Policy, Markets
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Amanda Glassman, Justin Sandefur
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Across multiple African countries, discrepancies between administrative data and independent household surveys suggest official statistics systematically exaggerate development progress. We provide evidence for two distinct explanations of these discrepancies. First, governments misreport to foreign donors, as in the case of a results-based aid program rewarding reported vaccination rates. Second, national governments are themselves misled by frontline service providers, as in the case of primary education, where official enrollment numbers diverged from survey estimates after funding shifted from user fees to per pupil government grants. Both syndromes highlight the need for incentive compatibility between data systems and funding rules.
  • Topic: Development, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment, Governance, Developing World
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Amanda Glassman, Alex Ezeh
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Despite improvements in censuses and household surveys, the building blocks of national statistical systems in sub-Saharan Africa remain weak. Measurement of fundamentals such as births and deaths, growth and poverty, taxes and trade, land and the environment, and sickness, schooling, and safety is shaky at best. The challenges are fourfold: (1) national statistics offices have limited independence and unstable budgets, (2) misaligned incentives encourage the production of inaccurate data, (3) donor priorities dominate national priorities, and (4) access to and usability of data are limited. The Data for African Development Working Group's recommendations for reaping the benefits of a data revolution in Africa fall into three categories: (1) fund more and fund differently, (2) build institutions that can produce accurate, unbiased data, and (3) prioritize the core attributes of data building blocks.
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Dean Karlan, Pia Raffler, Greg Fischer, Margaret McConnell
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In a field experiment in Uganda, we find that demand after a free distribution of three health products is lower than after a sale distribution. This contrasts with work on insecticide-treated bed nets, highlighting the importance of product characteristics in determining pricing policy. We put forward a model to illustrate the potential tension between two important factors, learning and anchoring, and then test this model with three products selected specifically for their variation in the scope for learning. We find the rank order of shifts in demand matches with the theoretical prediction, although the differences are not statistically significant.
  • Topic: Development, Health
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa
  • Author: Michael Clemens, Gabriel Demombynes
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Millennium Villages Project is a high profile, multi-country development project that has aimed to serve as a model for ending rural poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. The project became the subject of controversy when the methodological basis of early claims of success was questioned. The lively ensuing debate offers lessons on three recent mini-revolutions that have swept the field of development economics: the rising standards of evidence for measuring impact, the “open data” movement, and the growing role of the blogosphere in research debates.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Kevin Ummel
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: South Africa and many other countries hope to aggressively expand wind and solar power (WSP) in the coming decades. This presents significant challenges for power system planning. Success hinges largely on the question of how and where to deploy WSP technologies. Well-designed deployment strategies can take advantage of natural variability in resources across space and time to help minimize costs, maximize benefits, and ensure reliability.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Economics, Energy Policy, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Benjamin Leo
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The United States government has made repeated declarations over the last decade to align its assistance programs behind developing countries' priorities. By utilizing public attitude surveys for 42 African and Latin American countries, this paper examines how well the US has implemented this guiding principle. Building upon the Quality of Official Development Assistance Assessment (QuODA) approach, I identify what people cite most frequently as the 'most pressing problems' facing their nations and then measure the percentage of US assistance commitments that are directed towards addressing them. By focusing on public surveys over time, this analysis attempts to provide a more nuanced and targeted examination of whether US portfolios are addressing what people care the most about. As reference points, I compare US alignment trends with the two regional multilateral development banks (MDBs) – the African Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Overall, this analysis suggests that US assistance may be only modestly aligned with what people in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America cite as their nation's most pressing problems. By comparison, the African Development Bank – which is majority-led by regional member nations – performs significantly better than the United States. Like the United States, however, the Inter-American Development Bank demonstrates a low relative level of support for people's top concerns.
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Development, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, America, Latin America