Our Africa, Our Thoughts
A selection of blogs from the African Development Bank Group
Typically, there are two kinds of sovereign wealth funds: saving funds and stabilization funds. The latter is particularly pertinent in countries whose economies are overly reliant on oil and commodity exports, and whose revenues are volatile in nature. Other reasons for the creation of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF) include war chests and, in the case of nations with an abundance of natural resources, a SWF can help to avoid the ‘resource curse’ or ‘paradox of plenty’. These are all valid ‘stabilization’ reasons for setting up a SWF. In Africa, however, stabilization reasons are not enough.
A previous post discussed some of the challenges Liberia is facing in the light of weaker economic growth and how it should focus its efforts on improving the business environment, increasing productivity and value-added in agriculture, and attracting investment in non-extractive sectors. A key part of this effort is to address Liberia’s severely inadequate energy and road infrastructure, which have been identified by various analyses as a critical binding constraint to private sector development and diversification, as well as public service delivery. As such, the government has placed strong emphasis on infrastructure development in its development agenda. This post discusses the country’s progress in addressing its infrastructure deficit.
African resource-rich countries are facing significant economic headwinds. Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, depends on oil for over 90% of its foreign exchange earnings and three-quarters of government revenue. The slump in oil prices has adversely affected Nigeria’s economic prospects, pushing GDP growth into negative territory to -1.5% in 2016.
The imbalance in investment in adaptation and mitigation is both well documented and logical. The Multilateral Development Banks, for example, report that 80% of climate finance is tagged as mitigation whilst only 20% is adaptation, and that comes from institutions whose mandate is development. For the private sector, there is no obvious or easy return for investing in technologies that improve public health or air quality, or provide long term flood defenses or irrigation services to subsistence farmers. These are public goods that are traditionally provided by public funds.
Article 6 of the Paris Agreement makes provision for the development of both market and non-market mechanisms. While there is no formal definition of a market and a non-market mechanism, one may suppose that market and non-market mechanisms could share a common basis of how to methodologically determine baselines and estimate climate outcomes. The verification process could also be similar. The key difference could be that non-market mechanisms do not result in universal and internationally tradable units that could be re-sold and be subject to market price fluctuations and speculation. It may be assumed that non-market-based mechanisms is an umbrella for a variety of climate policies, measures and actions that could not be described as market mechanisms.