Measuring the pulse of Economic Transformation in West Africa
Principal Country Economist for Guinea-Bissau
Yannis joined the AfDB’s West Africa Department in 2013 as a principal country economist. Prior to that, he worked within the AfDB’s Chief Economist’s office as a research/project economist. In a pre-AfDB life, Yannis also spent time at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development office of the Chief Economist amongst others. He holds a B.A in Economics and East European studies from University College London, and Master degrees in Development studies and Political Economy from Sciences-Po Paris and the London School of Economics respectively.
In 2010, the African Development Bank’s President applauded Cabo Verde for having achieved a “policy induced graduation” into the middle-income country group against all odds, as opposed to reaching it through a drive by natural resources. From 1995 to 2007, Cabo Verde’s real GDP growth rate averaged 7.2%, while the GDP per capita grew 5.1% a year over the same period. Good governance, political stability and sound economic policies have been the key ingredients to the country’s success.
Although Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are often hailed as one the best options for infrastructure development, there appears to be surprisingly little understanding amongst policymakers of what they actually entail. This is even more so in situations of fragility. In a recent policy paper published under the West Africa Policy Notes series of the African Development Bank, I undertook to highlight what are the advantages and pitfalls of PPPs in the context of Guinea-Bissau and provide recommendations on the best course of action for pursuing development in the country
Several policy-makers have cautioned African countries to carefully learn lessons from the Greek debt crisis. Given the importance of debt sustainability to supporting economic growth in Africa and elsewhere, this article is the second in a series of blog entries aimed at promoting debate and distilling the key lessons of the Greek crisis that are applicable in West African countries.
Several policy-makers have cautioned African countries to carefully learn lessons from the Greek debt crisis. Given the importance of debt sustainability to supporting economic growth in Africa, and elsewhere, a series of blog entries, aimed at promoting debate and distilling the key lessons of the Greek crisis that are applicable in West African countries, shall be posted in the coming weeks.
Repeated political upheavals have, in the past 40 years greatly undermined socio-economic progress and the institutions needed for gender-equitable development in Guinea-Bissau.
In West Africa, it is estimated that 57% of the population has no access to electricity, underperforming the continent’s average of about 50%. Although comparable to the continental average, the difference with the developing world (23%) is striking. Considering that the region has become one of the fastest growing places on the continent, energy is considered a substantial bottleneck.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step: What’s next after the Guinea-Bissau international roundtable?
In early February, in a blog post on the run-up to the international donor roundtable for Guinea-Bissau, I argued that “all parties are aware that in order to move forward not only is money needed, but also compact coordination amongst partners and the government, as well as the assurance that planned projects and programmes are coherent and complementary”.
On January 28, the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Board of Directors approved the 2015-2019 Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for Guinea-Bissau. This approval marks a strong step towards the redeployment of international assistance in the country and is a prelude to the country’s planned donor roundtable expected to be held at the end of March.
On my first visit to Guinea-Bissau in 2013, I entered the country after landing at Osvaldo Vieira International Airport. The plane I flew in was a small jet, with no more than 50 seats. That year, I was one of just 30,317 passengers entering the country by plane. The sight of the deserted tarmac, as I landed, spoke much of a seldom-visited country
Guinea-Bissau is one of Africa’s richest countries when it comes to natural resource endowment. Beyond having great biodiversity, its soil is fertile and hosts a multitude of minerals. Also, in addition to known and visible timber and fishing resources, it has been known for the past 40 years that there are significant deposits of bauxite, phosphates and heavy sand in the country.
Challenges of providing efficient banking services in a fragile environment: The case of Guinea-Bissau
Guinea-Bissau’s categorization as a “Fragile state” by many donors and development partners largely mirrors the status of its financial sector. Although it has gone a long way since its complete collapse in the aftermath of the 1998/99 civil war, the financial system is still underdeveloped: in 2013, financial intermediation accounted for about 4% of GDP in 2013 (AfDB, 2014), banking penetration in the country is below 1% of the population and Access to finance is cited as the second most important constraint for business operations behind political instability (80.6%) at par with electricity (75.7%).
West African economies are large commodity producers and many of them are top suppliers worldwide. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana alone account for about 60% of the world’s cocoa production; Guinea-Bissau together with Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Senegal account for 40% of world cashew production, not to mention the importance of oil production in Nigeria alone.
- KPMG Africa Blog
- UN Women, West and Central Africa
- The Trade Post | Making international trade work for development
- Institute for Security Studies: West Africa
- Oxfam: West Africa blog
- CGD Policy Blogs | Center For Global Development
- NEPAD blogs | NEPAD
- blogAfrica | allAfrica
- Baobab | The Economist
- United Nations Office for West Africa
- Nasikiliza | World Bank in Africa