Economic Briefs


Africa Economic Brief - Volume 8 Issue 9 - Selling early to pay for school in Malawi

In markets across sub-Saharan Africa, the nominal prices of some crops increase by as much as 50-100% from their harvest-season trough to their peak in the lean season (Burke, 2014; Kaminski, Christiaensen and Gilbert, 2014). These price cycles are regular and partly predictable, so they offer farmers profitable opportunities for inter-temporal arbitrage. Those who can afford to wait to sell their crops until prices rise during the lean season enjoy returns that are often better than what savings groups or other financial mechanisms can provide.

Africa Economic Brief - Volume 8 Issue 10 - Estimating Development Resilience: A Conditional Moments-Based Approach

Natural disasters, food price and other economic shocks, and conflict have resulted in recurring humanitarian emergencies in many of the world’s lowest income countries. In direct response, international development and relief agencies have recently become focused on the concept of resilience, committing increasingly large amounts of funding, programming, and research toward “building resilience.” They struggle, however, to define the concept rigorously in order to guide policy and project design, measure progress, and evaluate interventions. In his seminal work on poverty measurement, Sen (...

Africa Economic Brief - Volume 8 Issue 1 - Truth is the Safest Lie: A Reassessment of Development Economics

Ghanaians pride themselves for being the first African country to reclaim its independence from colonialists. The pride and the boasting have reached new heights this year, as they celebrate the sixtieth year of their freedom. But behind the chanting, dancing, talking, and conferencing, the question often discussed mezza voce is the true length of the road traveled since then, and the size and value of the dividends of freedom. Many Ghanaians in the poor slums of Accra and Kumasi, and in the miserable rural areas of the country, are blaming their political leaders of the past six decades for...

Africa Economic Brief - Volume 8 Issue 2 - Decentralization in Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau is a small country with a population of 1.7 million along the West African coast. Since gaining its independence from Portugal in 1974, the country has wit - ness ed recurrent political upheavals, with four successful coups d’état, 15 coup attempts, and a short civil war in 1998– 99. In 1994, the country opened itself to “multipartyism,” with hopes of political stabilization. Under the new and more democratic Constitution, revised in 1996, decentralization was put forth as an explicit political requirement, based on the belief that full democracy could not be achieved without...

Africa Economic Brief - Volume 8 Issue 3 - Africa’s Agricultural Transformation: Identifying Priority Areas and Overcoming Challenges

Africa has achieved unprecedented economic growth over the past two decades and is experiencing its longest period of sustained economic growth since the 1960s. The growth rate has not only accelerated, but also spread geographically. In 2015, average real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.5 percent, higher than the global average of 3.1 percent, and the Eurozone average of 1.5 percent (Figure 1). During the same year, five African countries were among the world’s 10 fastest-growing countries with real GDP growth of 7 percent or higher2. In spite of global and regional headwinds that...

Africa Economic Brief - Volume 8 Issue 5 - Labor Market Outcomes during Life Transition

There is growing evidence that noncognitive skills affect economic, behavioral, and demographic outcomes in the developed world. Recent research, albeit more limited, suggests that noncognitive skills, which encompass the socio-emotional status of an individual and include an extensive set of skills and characteristics, such as personality, motivation, perseverance, self-control, time preference, selfesteem, and the ability to work with others, are important for economic success—affecting labor market participation and earnings, as well as a broad range of related outcomes, including school...

Africa Economic Brief - Volume 8 Issue 4 - The unintended consequences of agricultural input intensification: Human health implications of pesticide use in Sub-Saharan Africa

Modern agricultural inputs such as inorganic fertilizer and pesticides potentially help farmers boost productivity significantly, a goal critical to structural transformation and poverty reduction, particularly in regions like sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). There is a strong, causal relationship between the use of modern agricultural inputs and crop yields and, subsequently, economic growth (McArthur and McCord 2014). This new empirical evidence builds upon a well-theorized literature and brings into focus the drivers of agricultural productivity growth as a prerequisite for structural change in...

Africa Economic Brief - Volume 8 Issue 6 - Teen Fertility and Labor Market Segmentation in Madagascar

Women’s economic opportunities are both an important outcome and driver of successful economic development (Duflo 2012). In recent decades, increasing rates of female participation in the labor market and declining fertility across the globe were simultaneously witnessed (Heath and Jayachandran 2016). Fertility rates are often cited as an important determinant of female employment outcomes (Verick 2014). Adolescence may represent a critical window for intervening to influence the economic opportunities of women (Bandiera et al. 2015), as early childbearing and marriage can interrupt human...

Africa Economic Brief - Korean Experiences in Agricultural Development and Policy Proposals for Structural Transformation of African Agriculture and Rural Space (STAARS)

Agriculture in Africa is vital to the develop - ment of African nations. Africa’s agriculture accounts for a high portion of the economies of a number of African nations in terms of GDP, employment, and food security. Despite the significance of agriculture, the agricultural industry is relatively stagnant compared to other industries in Africa. In the case of SubSaharan Africa, overall economic growth has recovered since 2000, but the proceeds from growth have not been spread equally, resulting in discrepancies in urban and rural areas and serious poverty among rural populations (AUC, 2014a).

Africa Economic Brief - Moving towards a green productive agriculture in Africa: The role of ICTs

Despite the importance of the agriculture sector in Africa, its productivity considerably lags other developing regions. Africa has the highest area of arable uncultivated land (202 million hectares) in the world but countries have not yet taken advantage of it. Food production, transformation, and consump - tion systems are not functioning optimally. In consequence, the continent has the highest incidence of undernourishment, estimated at almost one in four persons (World Food Programme, online), and African countries import increasingly more agricultural prod - ucts than they export,...

Economic Brief - A défis communs, solutions communes : resoudre la question de l’emploi en Europe et en Afrique du Nord

La région englobant les pays du pourtour Méditerranéen, du Nord au Sud, est confrontée au même grave problème du chômage qui constitue une source majeure d'instabilité sociale et économique. La seule réponse à ce défi commun repose sur une amélioration de la croissance dans la région. Cependant, à l'heure actuelle, celle-ci est limitée par deux facteurs : le manque de développement des chaines de valeur et la faiblesse de l'innovation au sud avec un manque de compétitivité hors-prix, des populations vieillissantes et une compétitivité prix qui décline au nord. Des deux côtés de la...

Africa Economic Brief - Chinese Special Economic Zones: Lessons for Africa

This brief analyzes 35 years of Chinese special economic zone (SEZ) development, identifies Chinese SEZs’ success factors and challenges, and provides recommen da - tions to Africa for successful implementation of SEZs. The impact of Chinese SEZs on national development has been impressive. Its insightful application was a critical factor for triggering a period of quick industrializ - ation, which in turn enabled China’s recent success history of economic transformation. SEZs acted as experimental laboratories for testing new approaches towards enabling economic transformation – including...

Africa Economic Brief - Gender equality in agriculture: What are really the benefits for sub-Saharan Africa?

Women’s contribution to economic development is hard to over-emphasize. In the agricultural sector of many developing countries, they represent the main driving force and spend considerable amount of time planting, weeding, ridging, and harvesting, while simultaneously doing their regular chores. However, irrespective of the sub-Saharan African (SSA) country under investigation, women are often found to be less productive than their male counterparts in the agricultural sector. Indeed, empirical evidence suggests that women’s deficits in agricultural productivity range from 4 to 50% across...

Africa Economic Brief – Sources of gender productivity differentials in Africa: A cross-country comparison

This economic brief provides recent evidence on the extent of gender inequality in agricultural productivity and decomposes its main sources. The empirical analysis relies on micro-level survey datasets recently collected in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. In these countries, agriculture remains the mainstay of the economy and understand - ing the extent and sources of gender productivity gaps is crucial for building policy interventions and empowering women. Our econometric approach consists initially in estimating a model of agricultural producti - vity to uncover the impact of gender of the...

Africa Economic Brief - The role of road networks in addressing fragility and building resilience

The principle of ‘leaving no one behind’ through the development of inclusive societies is at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But the scale of ambition raises immediate questions about implementation, especially in fragile states, which are the farthest from achieving the vision of progress laid out by the SDGs, and likely to face the hardest road to get there (OECD 2015). The poor are increasingly, and dispro por - tion ally, located in fragile situations in Africa. Poverty rates are projected to be high - est in these countries in 2030, double (about 40 percent)...

The Africa Infrastructure Development Index (AIDI) 2016

The Africa Infrastructure Development Index (AIDI) is produced by the African Development Bank and serves a number of key objectives, principally: (i) to monitor and evaluate the status and progress of infrastructure development across the continent; (ii) to assist in resource allocation within the framework of ADF replenishments; and (iii) to contribute to policy dialogue within the Bank and between the Bank, RMCs and other development organizations.

Africa Economic Brief - Why and when to introduce a single currency in ECOWAS

This paper seeks to inform the discussion on the introduction of a single currency in West Africa in an uncertain economic context disrupted by the Euro zone crisis. Far from slowing down monetary integration, the recent experience of the European single currency demonstrates the importance of hastening the introduction of a single West African currency in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) space. In fact, no country in this zone is able alone to resolve the serious externally-created monetary problems confronting ECOWAS, not even Nigeria, the continent’s new economic...

Africa Economic Brief - The Challenge of Job Creation in Nigeria

Abstract In this paper attempt is made to show the structural nature of jobless growth in Nigeria. This is done from the perspective of, firstly, structural transformation and its effect on the resultant sectoral composition; secondly, from labor market dynamics; and thirdly, from production organization of sectors that are driving GDP growth. We found that the rate of unemployment rose by 1.1% a year between 2000 and 2010. This is caused, on the supply side, by a 2.5% annual increase in the number of new entrants into the labor market; and on the demand side, by sectors’ inability to...

Regional Integration Brief - Tanzania’s seaports and transport corridors as development opportunity for east and southern Africa

African Development Bank, the European Union, and Trademark East Africa Favorable economic growth prospects for the East and Southern Africa region will result in increased trade flows. This puts significant pressure on Tanzania’s port and transport infrastructure, suggesting the need to address trade gaps through interventions, which need to balance between infrastructure investment and institutional reform aspects. Specific investments should prioritize port development and transport corridor infrastructure to facilitate regional trade connectivity. Institutional upgrades can contribute...

Africa Economic Brief - Closing South Africa’s High-Skilled Worker Gap: Higher Education Challenges and Pathways

Key Messages • South Africa has a peculiar high level of unemployment especially among the youth, women and low-skilled workforce. This is partly due to constraints inherited from the apartheid era, such as the imbalance in the spatial distribution between jobs and people, as well as inequities in access to quality training for certain population groups. • Unemployment is also persistent due to the progressive erosion of low-skilled jobs to the benefit of highly skilled jobs. This structural transformation in the economy poses a real risk of increased marginalization of low-skilled...