Sherillyn Raga (ODI) |Halted economic transformation as a consequence of coronavirus: evidence and implications from employment data in the Philippines

The lockdown in the Philippines not only led to the loss of millions of jobs but also pushed those who remained employed towards lower-productivity agriculture and informal sector work. To preserve the existing skills necessary for economic transformation, the government and its partners need to make a conscious effort to ensure that those who have been laid off in high-productivity sectors such as manufacturing can return to previous or similar employment. Moving forward, it is continued public investment in higher-level education that will increase job security, ensuring the economy is more resilient in similar crises in the future.
This blog examines disaggregated sectoral employment data in the Philippines through the lens of economic transformation, which has implications for the Philippines’ medium- to long-term economic growth, and which may be of relevance to other low- and middle-income countries.

Karishma Banga and Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | Seven ways to harness Cambodia’s digital sector in the recovery from COVID-19

Cambodia has one of the lowest numbers of coronavirus cases in the world but it is facing among the world’s highest economic losses in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The IMF expects incomes to contract by 1.6% in 2020 in the baseline scenario as a consequence of major disruptions in tourism, garments and construction. Some sectors are expected to fare better, such as information and communication technology (ICT) and e-commerce, but these industries need to be nurtured more actively and the opportunities need to be made more inclusive if they are to be a significant base for a prosperous and more inclusive recovery.

Jodie Keane (ODI)| Enhancing resilience within global value chains: the implications of COVID-19 for climate change adaptation and mitigation policies

The increase in global trade in recent decades, through the expansion of production networks and the integration of newly industrialised economies within global value chains (GVCs), has contributed to unprecedented reductions in poverty and historically unparalleled socioeconomic progress. However, severe environmental costs, and other losers within specific industries, have accompanied these socioeconomic gains. Even without consideration of climate change, the coronavirus crisis has laid bare the fragility of global supply chains and of the nature of relationships with suppliers in poorer countries. With a few lead firms (buyers and traders) typically controlling access to end markets, suppliers have reduced market power, which limits their capacity to adapt to demand shocks. Reduced inventory management as a result of just-in-time delivery has presented visceral limitations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | Using high frequency data to monitor the economic impacts of crises

Dirk Willem te Velde (Principal Research Fellow, ODI) 18 May 2020 A multitude of trackers cover policy responses to COVID-19 but when it comes to up-to-date monitoring of actual social and economic impacts there appears to be a gap. Impact data are not collected systematically and in a comprehensive manner. Obtaining access to reliable, good … Continue reading “Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | Using high frequency data to monitor the economic impacts of crises”

Jodie Keane (ODI) | Securing a climate-compatible trade regime and supporting sustainable economic transformation

The world is facing major climate change challenges. A number of important international discussions and negotiations are planned for 2020 that relate to trade and the environment. These include discussions around the 12th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial and under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as well as deliberations by Commonwealth Heads of Government and Ministers as part of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. The decisions taken, avoided, blocked or misconstrued in these fora will influence how the international support architecture that governs trade and the environment supports or hinders inclusive and sustainable economic transformation.

Phyllis Papadavid and Sherillyn Raga (ODI) | The eco and West Africa’s economic transformation

West Africa started the decade with plans for the eco – its newest single currency. It was announced that, in 2020, the 74-year old CFA franc would be replaced in the 8 member states of West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).[1] This blog identifies three key risks for the eco and its links to prospects for economic transformation – those of devaluation, shocks and debt.

Arkebe Oqubay | Explaining Asia’s economic transformations.

Asia’s economic transformations hold crucial lessons for latecomer countries, including those in Africa. Deepak Nayyar’s latest book, Resurgent Asia, convincingly demonstrates the fundamental importance of technological development, learning and industrialisation in Asia’s transformational journey from developing to industrialised economies. The book also illustrates the essential role of the state as leader, catalyst and supporter of Asia’s transformation, albeit with different roles in different sectors, countries and development stages.

Linda Calabrese (ODI)| Reflecting on the China-trade- industrialisation nexus in Uganda

Our recent analysis  on industrialisation in Uganda confirms that Museveni is right to focus more on attracting investors from China, but Uganda’s exports need to diversify more and need to go beyond primary products to China.

Dirk Willem te Velde(ODI) |Industrialisation in a digital era

The Industrial Development Report 2020 (IDR 2020) by UNIDO, ‘Industrialization in a Digital Age’, is spot on when it points to the centrality of building more industrial or productive capacities, as this will help in engaging better with the digital economy. This builds on our past findings in Africa and supports our preliminary findings in Cambodia, where we recently held a consultation. It is also a message to take to Africa Industrialisation week in November 2019.
The plight of industrialisation is often overlooked when countries move to a digital economy. Some countries are wrongly advised that manufacturing is yesterday’s strategy. This new UNIDO IDR corrects that narrative.

Sherillyn Raga (ODI) | Will the US-China Trade War Derail Economic Transformation Prospects in the Poorest Economies?

Sherillyn Raga (Senior Research Officer, ODI)
5 July 2019
Last weekend, the G20 Leaders discussed a range of important global economic issues from innovation to climate change, among many others. Of particular interest to many, however, was how the G20 Leaders might apply political pressure to halt the ongoing US-China trade tension, given its impact in and beyond G20 member countries. This blog examines how a prolonged trade war might spillover to non-G20 low and middle income countries through lower global demand, changes in bilateral trade patterns, possible dumping and changes in relative exchange rate positions, and hence prospects for economic transformation. To address the possible consequences of the trade war, regulators should consider calibrating targeted sectoral interventions and forward-looking policy toolkits, diversifying external trade and investment partners, and building fiscal and balance of payment space moving forward.

Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | Trade, technology and China: opportunities or threats for Cambodia’s economic transformation?

Dirk Willem te Velde (Principal Research Fellow, ODI) 24 April 2019 Unless Cambodia addresses a number of short- and long-term challenges related to the impact of trade, technology and China, future pathways for inclusive economic transformation are at risk. As we discuss at greater length in a new SET scoping note in co-ordination with CDRI and support by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Cambodia has been the sixth-fastest growing country in the world over the past two decades.However, Cambodia currently also faces major challenges to its hitherto successful growth model and these need a response. The challenges can be summarised as trade, technology and China.

Neil Balchin, David Booth and Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | How economic transformation happens at the sector level

Neil Balchin (Research Fellow ODI, David Booth (Senior Research Associate, ODI) and Dirk Willem te Velde
(Principal Research Fellow, ODI) 9 April 2019 A new Gatsby Africa-ODI paper detailing sector transformation in eleven African and Asian cases shows how sector dynamics depend crucially on correct identification of the economic opportunities, conducive political-economic conditions at the sector level, credible commitments to investors, reasonably good provision of public goods, specific efforts to tackle investment coordination problems and taking advantage of a moment of unusual opportunity.

Karishma Banga (ODI) | Making Firms Work Series | Using digital technology to become globally competitive: Funkidz

Karishma Banga, ODI
18 December 2018
Funkidz, a one-of-a-kind Kenyan small or medium enterprise (SME), has successfully managed to leverage digital technologies to increase its global competitiveness. Founded by a female entrepreneur, Wanjiru Waweru-Waithaka, Funkidz manufactures furniture for children locally. It has successfully embraced digital technology to innovate, diversify and survive in a challenging market place.

Phyllis Papadavid (ODI) | Kenya needs to gear up its macroeconomy to boost its manufacturing sector

Phyllis Papadavid (Senior Research Fellow – Team Leader of International Macroeconomics, ODI)  19 July 2018 Kenya needs to gear up its macroeconomy to boost its manufacturing sector Kenya has a compelling story to tell when it comes to its economic diversification. The country has sizeable agriculture and services sectors, which account for a respective 32% and … Continue reading “Phyllis Papadavid (ODI) | Kenya needs to gear up its macroeconomy to boost its manufacturing sector”

Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | Sports balls, disruptive change and opportunities for manufacturing production

Dirk Willem te Velde (Principal Research Fellow, ODI) 15 June 2018 The production of footballs, tennis balls, table tennis balls, golf balls and baseballs is highly concentrated in a few countries. However, much production is frequently subject to disruptive change, which involves opportunities – and challenges – in relation to attracting manufacturing production. Understanding how … Continue reading “Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | Sports balls, disruptive change and opportunities for manufacturing production”

Neil Balchin (ODI) | Making Firms Work Series | Midal and clustering around megaprojects in Mozambique

Neil Balchin (Research Fellow, ODI) 11 June 2018 This blog is part of our ‘Making Firms Work’ series. Read other blogs in the series: on Tanzanian textile manufacturer A to Z, Nepali ICT firm CloudFactory and Kenyan garment firm Hela. The presence of Midal shows that clustering around megaprojects can help build manufacturing in Mozambique, … Continue reading “Neil Balchin (ODI) | Making Firms Work Series | Midal and clustering around megaprojects in Mozambique”

Sonia Hoque (ODI) | Women and economic transformation: It’s a win-win if #SheTransforms

Sonia Hoque  (Programme & Operations Manager, ODI) 7 June 2018 It’s no secret that women are key to unlocking the full potential of economies across the developing world. They are not a ‘marginalised group’ (they make up half of the population), but nor should it be assumed they benefit evenly from increased opportunities through economic … Continue reading “Sonia Hoque (ODI) | Women and economic transformation: It’s a win-win if #SheTransforms”

Karishma Banga (ODI) | A globally competitive, locally relevant Africa: managing the new oil, currency and commodities of the digital era

Karishma Banga (Senior Research Officer, ODI) 5 June 2018 An African digital industrial strategy is needed to consolidate a common stance on data governance and control; build digital trust in African countries for regional e-commerce; re-equip workers with suitable skills; and protect digital labour against exploitation. Africa in the digital era In March 2018, 44 … Continue reading “Karishma Banga (ODI) | A globally competitive, locally relevant Africa: managing the new oil, currency and commodities of the digital era”

Alberto Lemma (ODI) | Making Firms Work Series | Harnessing the power of digital technology in Nepal: CloudFactory

This blog is part of our ‘Making Firms Work’ series. Read other blogs in the series: on textile manufacturer A to Z and Kenyan garment firm Hela.  Alberto Lemma (Research Fellow, ODI) 4 May 2018 CloudFactory is a remarkable example of a multinational digital firm. Operating from Nepal, it has 2,000 well-paid jobs worldwide, with … Continue reading “Alberto Lemma (ODI) | Making Firms Work Series | Harnessing the power of digital technology in Nepal: CloudFactory”

Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | Making Firms Work Series | Kenya’s window of opportunity in manufacturing is open: Hela garments

This blog is part of our ‘Making Firms Work’ series. Read other blogs in the series: on textile manufacturer A to Z and Nepalese ICT firm CloudFactory. Dirk Willem te Velde (SET Programme Director, ODI) 10 April 2018 Over the past two decades, many low-income countries have faced major challenges in developing their manufacturing sector. In much … Continue reading “Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | Making Firms Work Series | Kenya’s window of opportunity in manufacturing is open: Hela garments”

Stephen Gelb (ODI) | Five priorities to tackle the 7,000 jobs a day challenge in East Africa

Stephen Gelb (Principal Research Fellow – Team Leader, private sector development, ODI) 6 April 2018 Seven thousand new jobs a day for fifteen years!! This is the daunting challenge East Africa faces if it is to meet the need for work for its young, fast-growing population. In the six countries of the East African Community … Continue reading “Stephen Gelb (ODI) | Five priorities to tackle the 7,000 jobs a day challenge in East Africa”

Max Mendez-Parra (ODI) | The African Continental Free Trade Area and economic transformation

Max Mendez-Parra  (Senior Research Fellow, ODI) 22 March 2018 African leaders gathered this week in Kigali to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This is a key step in African efforts to eliminate barriers to trade among countries of the continent and will provide the foundations for smarter and deeper continental integration and … Continue reading “Max Mendez-Parra (ODI) | The African Continental Free Trade Area and economic transformation”

Sonia Hoque (ODI) | Making Firms Work Series | How to create African factory jobs responsibly: from A to Z

This blog is the first in our ‘Making Firms Work’ series. Read the second, on Kenyan garment firm Hela, here. Sonia Hoque  (Programme & Operations Manager, ODI) 1 March 2018 A to Z Textile Mills Ltd (A to Z) is a remarkable example of how African manufacturing can flourish. A locally owned, diversified, vertically integrated … Continue reading “Sonia Hoque (ODI) | Making Firms Work Series | How to create African factory jobs responsibly: from A to Z”

Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | Economic transformation and job creation: trends to watch in 2018

Dirk Willem te Velde (SET Programme Director, ODI) 4 January 2018 Job creation has taken centre stage globally as an issue over the past few years. Failure to create jobs in the inland US was key to the presidential victory of Donald Trump, job losses in northern England contributed to the Brexit referendum outcome in … Continue reading “Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | Economic transformation and job creation: trends to watch in 2018”

Leah Worrall (ODI) | Reducing fishery subsidies to support trade and transformation: where next?

Leah Worrall (Senior Research Officer, ODI) 22 December 2017 There was optimism at the start of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) 11th Ministerial Conference (MC 11) that an agreement on fisheries subsidies would be reached. In the aftermath, Member States’ failure to conclude such an agreement represents a heavy burden, as this was once described … Continue reading “Leah Worrall (ODI) | Reducing fishery subsidies to support trade and transformation: where next?”

Karishma Banga (ODI) | The digital industrial revolution: will African countries sink or swim?

Karishma Banga (Senior Research Officer, ODI)
The digital economy is here, and is rapidly growing, ushering in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Though definitions have evolved over time, it is broadly agreed that the digital economy describes a worldwide network of economic and social activities enabled by digital technologies, including mobile and communication networks, ‘Cloud Computing’, Artificial Intelligence, ‘Machine Learning’, ‘Internet of Things’ and ‘Big Data’. Such new and cutting-edge technologies have led to creation of ‘smart machines’, such as driverless vehicles and cognitive robots, as well as widespread adoption of ‘smart platforms’ like Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alibaba. Digitalisation of the economy, through the increasing use of digital technologies, is changing the global landscape of manufacturing, presenting both challenges and opportunities in less-developed countries.  Often an alarmist approach is taken while discussing the future of manufacturing-led development in African economies, which have traditionally used manufacturing as a first step towards economic transformation and employment generation.

Neil Balchin (ODI) | Mozambique needs to act now to avert a jobs crisis

Neil Balchin (Research Fellow, ODI) 16 October 2017 Many countries in Africa are facing a looming jobs crisis. According to the African Development Bank, only one-fifth of the 12 million young people entering African labour markets each year are able to find waged employment. Rapidly expanding working-age populations on the continent only intensify competition for … Continue reading “Neil Balchin (ODI) | Mozambique needs to act now to avert a jobs crisis”

Judith Tyson (ODI) | Three priorities for post-Brexit UK policy on private investment in low-income countries

Judith Tyson (Research Fellow, ODI)
In 2017, the UK government put economic growth at the core of its development policy by publishing its first ever economic development strategy. Concurrently, there was greater focus on the post-Brexit agenda of international opportunities for UK trade and investment. A key part of this agenda is increasing UK trade and investment in low-income countries (LICs) with the dual goal of creating positive development impact and greater opportunities for UK companies. To be able to achieve this dual goal, which represents an opportunity for both the UK and LICs, recent ODI work on private finance suggests there are three key areas of focus in the short term.

Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | Fostering a debate around practical industrialisation models in Tanzania

Dirk Willem te Velde (Principal Research Fellow, ODI)
ODI recently hosted two book launches, on the importance of industrialisation in Africa and on Tanzania’s future industrialisation. These books, one by Justin Lin and the other by Ali Mufuruki and three fellow Tanzanian authors, reiterate the importance of stimulating a debate around industrialisation in Tanzania.

Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | Supporting Kenya’s industrialisation: Mombasa port, SEZs and targeted development cooperation

Dirk Willem te Velde (Principal Research Fellow, ODI)
The SET programme has highlighted Kenya’s lagging industrialisation, characterised by falling manufacturing to GDP ratios in the past few decades. Nonetheless, there is a real opportunity in the coming few years to get it right, doubling manufacturing output and creating 300,000 manufacturing jobs in the country. This will require implementation of a range of appropriate policies.

Sonia Hoque (ODI) | Ethiopia’s economic transformation and job creation: the role of Hawassa Industrial Park

Sonia Hoque (Programme & Operations Manager, ODI)
In the quest for faster industrialisation and economic transformation, governments in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have established a number of special economic zones (SEZs) and industrial parks. At the ACET-ODI Light Manufacturing in Africa Chapter launch on 5 June 2017 (part of the Pan-African Coalition for Transformation, PACT), these zones were a hot topic. Given past stigma around SEZs foreign investors, participants from SSA were keen to learn from each other, and in particular from Ethiopia.

Linda Calabrese (ODI) | Four ways to help East African manufacturing

Linda Calabrese (Senior Research Officer, ODI)
Manufacturing has finally taken a central place in the policy and economic debate in East Africa. Not so long ago, industrialisation was largely ignored but it is now widely understood that the manufacturing sector is crucial in creating employment and spurring growth in the region. The second East African Manufacturing Business Summit in Kigali brought together regional institutions, national governments and private sector bodies from East African Community (EAC) countries to discuss the future of East African manufacturing.

Linda Calabrese & Stephen Gelb (ODI) | Are factory jobs good for the poor? Evidence from Myanmar

  Linda Calabrese (Senior Research Officer, ODI) & Stephen Gelb (Principal Research Fellow – Team Leader, private sector development, ODI) 27 June 2017 Recently The New York Times published an article by Christopher Blattman (Columbia University) and Stefan Dercon (Oxford University and DFID) questioning the poverty-reduction effect of sweatshop work in developing countries. They carried … Continue reading “Linda Calabrese & Stephen Gelb (ODI) | Are factory jobs good for the poor? Evidence from Myanmar”

Phyllis Papadavid (ODI) | How a weaker US dollar could support economic transformation

  Phyllis Papadavid (Senior Research Fellow – Team Leader of International Macroeconomics, ODI)  19 June 2017 Further US dollar weakness The US dollar rose by 5% in trade-weighted terms following the US election of President Trump in November 2016.[1] Since its peak at the end of December 2016, the dollar has reversed all of its post-election rise … Continue reading “Phyllis Papadavid (ODI) | How a weaker US dollar could support economic transformation”

Phyllis Papadavid (ODI) | What ‘stagflation’ means for economic transformation

  Phyllis Papadavid (Senior Research Fellow – Team Leader of International Macroeconomics, ODI)  15 May 2017 ‘Stagflation’ risks could rise According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), recent global manufacturing activity and global trade is showing some signs of recovery. The start of 2017 saw world trade volumes expand by an average 10% annualised rate, compared to … Continue reading “Phyllis Papadavid (ODI) | What ‘stagflation’ means for economic transformation”

Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | Four entry points for UK policy in Africa’s economic trajectory

Dirk Willem te Velde (Director of SET Programme, Head of IEDG and Principal Research Fellow, ODI) 24 April 2017 (based on a presentation at Chatham House 20 April 2017). This note argues that the UK can offer an appropriate support package using smart aid, targeted development finance, free trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) promotion and temporary (legal) migration policies to help with economic transformation and job creation in Africa.

Phyllis Papadavid (ODI) | How debt sale can aid Ghana’s economic transformation

Phyllis Papadavid (Senior Research Fellow – Team Leader of International Macroeconomics, ODI)  20 April 2017 Ghana’s recent debt sale presents an opportunity The cost of, and access to, finance is important for economic transformation in developing countries’ manufacturing sectors. However, among some firms in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the costs for borrowing are significantly higher than for … Continue reading “Phyllis Papadavid (ODI) | How debt sale can aid Ghana’s economic transformation”

Jun Hou (ODI) | The relocation of Chinese manufacturing companies to Africa

Rising wages for unskilled workers in China signals that low-cost manufacturing may start to lose its competitive limit. [1] Our own ongoing background work suggests that from 2009 to 2014, China’s real manufacturing wages increased by an annual average of 11.4%, even though this was in the aftermath of the worst financial crisis since the Second World War. Both foreign multinationals located in China and Chinese manufacturers that are engaged in labour-intensive production in China are therefore actively seeking to relocate to new low-cost destinations.

Phyllis Papadavid (ODI) | How the naira can aid Nigeria’s economic transformation

Economic transformation often denotes a move away from low-productivity to high-productivity growth. Promoting economic transformation in the aftermath of shocks is one strategy for developing economies to build resilience to further shocks. This is particularly true for resource dependent economies, given that they are more vulnerable to shocks. Many of these countries are still managing the fallout from multiple economic shocks, including the continued effects of the commodity price downturn. Fuel exporters saw GDP growth fall from 5.7% in 2014 to -1.6% in 2016 and these countries now face the risk of external debt distress.

Gerrishon K. Ikiara | Kenya’s institutional structure behind industrialisation

Industrialisation of the Kenyan economy has remained an important goal for Kenyan policy-makers since independence and especially since the mid-1970s. This was when the country started facing more socioeconomic challenges, partly associated with a slowdown in the country’s economic performance following the global oil crisis. It has become clear over the years, however, that, for the country’s industrialisation process to experience a truly transformative phase, there is a need for a conducive institutional framework that encompasses the following areas: industrial policy-making; trade facilitation; clustering; investment promotion; building local capability; infrastructure modernisation; a more focused public–private sector dialogue and coordination; and building financing capability.

Neil McCulloch | How not to diversify: Nigerian style

‘I am giving preference to those who are “Made in Nigeria,”’ announced the moderator at the Nigerian Economic Summit, which took place from 10 to 12 October in Abuja. His bias, echoing the theme of the summit, perfectly encapsulated Nigeria’s response to its current economic malaise… and the muddled economic thinking that is making it hard for the country to emerge from its current economic crisis. As Africa’s largest economy, and with its largest population, of 170 million people, Nigeria should dominate the continent. But the country has long been one of the world’s prime examples of the resource curse: 60 years after discovering oil Nigeria still relies on it for over 90% of export revenue, and the government depends on it for 62% of its revenues.

David Primack | Services trade data: a fundamental roadblock to negotiations and policy-making to support structural transformation

Despite improvements in the collection of services trade data over the past 15 years, in many low-income and least- developed countries (LICs) the macro- and micro- level services data needed for meaningful economic analysis simply do not exist. This acts as a fundamental roadblock to having informed services trade negotiations and to using services trade policy to leverage services for inclusive growth and structural transformation. The relative paucity of services and services trade data has contributed to obscuring the role that services have increasingly been playing, alongside agriculture and manufacturing, in the process of structural transformation.

Alberto Lemma (ODI) | Structural transformation and climate change in Africa

In a new report published jointly by The New Climate Economy and the ODI’s Supporting Economic Transformation programme, we aim to shed light on a key question that will probably become ever more relevant within the economic policy sphere in Africa: how do economic transformation, climate change and societal change intersect? More importantly, what are the requirements for positive economic transformation in the light of these interactions? In light of these, we have attempted to highlight the fact that economic transformation in Africa can present win-win scenarios that promote both growth and climate change adaptation.

Olu Ajakaiye | Nine imperatives for progressive economic transformation in Nigeria

Nigeria has so far missed the opportunity to embark on progressive economic transformation as characterised by a reallocation of economic activities away from low- towards high-productivity activities. Rather, under the rubrics of laissez-faire policy and its associated aversion to development planning, during the high-growth era of 2000–14 Nigeria experienced a perverse form of economic transformation, whereby economic activities shifted from low-productivity agriculture and high-productivity manufacturing to other low-productivity other industry and services.

Paddy Carter (ODI) | Africa: What have economists got wrong?

Morten Jerven made a splash with his exposé of the woeful state of economic data in the developing world, Poor Numbers, and his second act Africa: Why Economists Get it Wrong has won him more fans. In this book he argues that economists were misled by cross-country growth regressions into thinking that Africa is incapable of development, and that by seeking to explain a failure of growth economists missed the chance to study historical growth episodes and show how Africa can grow.

Linda Calabrese, Neil Balchin, Maximiliano Mendez-Parra (ODI) | 10 priorities for a smart regional integration agenda in Africa

Linda Calabrese, Neil Balchin and Maximiliano Mendez-Parra (ODI) 15 June 2016 Africa’s regional economic communities (RECs) are looking to achieve deeper regional integration that goes beyond reducing tariffs. This has generated greater focus on trade facilitation to ease the movement of goods across borders and promote economic transformation. A recent paper prepared jointly by the … Continue reading “Linda Calabrese, Neil Balchin, Maximiliano Mendez-Parra (ODI) | 10 priorities for a smart regional integration agenda in Africa”

Sonia Hoque (ODI) | National strategies for African transformation: how to make it happen

Economic transformation now has the attention of African leaders. National strategies with the goal of economic transformation need to be developed inclusively and ultimately have the buy-in of citizens. Those developing them must be prepared to move from technical, rigid documents with unrealistic targets, to flexible, visionary ones, led by “politically savvy leaders” and supported by citizens who hold them to account. These were among the key messages emerging from the first African Transformation Forum (ATF) in Kigali in March 2016.

Helen Hai | Made in Africa: a practical initiative to jumpstart African manufacturing

Africa can become the next manufacturing hub for global markets. The Made in Africa Initiative aims to help the continent capture the window of opportunity for industrialisation arising from the pending relocation of light manufacturing from China and other emerging market economies. By capturing this opportunity, Africa will achieve sustainable, dynamic and inclusive growth. What Africa needs now are success stories, to provide the aspiration, confidence and experience necessary for it to realise its potential in terms of industrialisation and shared prosperity. The Made in Africa Initiative hopes to create such successes in African countries.

Ganeshan Wignaraja (ADB) | Building global supply chains for economic transformation: lessons from Asia

The world’s trade ministers are concentrating on the outcome of 10th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Nairobi and its aftermath. The intense discussions under the Doha Development Agenda seek to advance a multilateral trade deal and to restore credibility in the WTO’s trade negotiating function. But the real issue for trade ministers is whether latecomer African economies can emulate the success of first mover East Asian economics in joining global supply chains and achieving rapid economic transformation.

Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | Realising the potential of trade in economic transformation

Promoting quality growth and economic transformation is crucial to sustained progress and job creation. Trade plays a special role in this process but unfortunately this is not always acknowledged in policy design or realised in practice. New ideas in trade related to identifying niches in value chains, nudging firms towards exporting or facilitating services trade fail to make it onto the radar screen of policymakers, who may instead choose to stick with unrealistic targets for old-style full-blown industrialisation. It requires hard work to embed new thinking on trade in the mind set of policy makers.

Pedro Martins (UNECA) | Structural change: concepts, data and methodologies

Structural change is back in fashion. After a promising start in the mid-20th century – owing to the seminal works of Allan Fisher, Colin Clark, Simon Kuznets and Hollis Chenery – the topic was subsequently relegated to obscurity during the years of structural adjustment (a rather different concept!). It remained sidelined in the 2000s, when the attention of the research and policy communities was mainly devoted to the Millennium Development Goals and their focus on social outcomes.

Steve Wiggins (ODI) | Tracking agricultural transformation – if measuring productivity is hard, should we focus on rural wages?

As low income countries (LIC) grow and transform their economies, agriculture plays a key role. It has to raise production to feed increasing numbers living in towns, as well as to provide raw materials to domestic manufacturing — cotton for textiles, hides for shoemakers, palm oil for biscuit and cake makers, etc. For LICs lacking oil, gas, minerals, and substantial manufacturing, agriculture will probably be the largest source of exports to finance imported capital goods. With populations still largely rural, it helps domestic manufacturers if agricultural incomes rise since this expands the domestic market. Last, and certainly not least, agriculture has to free up labour for manufacturing and services — and, depending on the effectiveness of the financial system in rural areas — it may also transfer capital to other sectors.

Dirk Willem te Velde (ODI) | The future of economic transformation in Africa

Having concluded the UN conference on financing for development in Addis Ababa in July and approaching the conclusion of new development goals at a UN summit in New York in September, this is a crucial time for the global community  to stand behind Africa’s priority objective of economic transformation. It will require  a sustained effort of discovering and experimenting with new ways of economic transformation, involving the right stakeholders from across society, led by African countries and supported by others as appropriate. The rewards are potentially huge, and early results look within reach.

Sehr Syed (Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services) | Beyond the numbers: the case of Liberia

Working as an ODI Fellow in the statistics bureau for Liberia, the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), I experienced at first hand the challenges of producing and obtaining statistics in a developing country environment, from logistical, technical and political aspects. It is widely agreed that some data is better than no data, and that generally data is as good as it can be, given the context, but this is true only to the extent that the country context is understood. Liberia provides an instructive example of an extreme case where data collection, and resultant indicators, may suffer as a result of constraints, whether logistical, financial, cultural, educational or otherwise. I briefly discuss a very limited number of these below.

Morten Jerven (Simon Fraser University) | Mind the Gap: What do we know about economic transformation in low-income countries?

One of the stylised facts in debates on data quality and data availability is that over the past few years we have seen more and better data on many, if not most, aspects of development. But when it comes to economic statistics, and particularly statistics on economic transformation, there is a lack of good data.

Gaaitzen de Vries (University of Groningen) | Rebasing sector GDP time series

Gross value added (VA) in current and constant prices by sector is normally available from the National Accounts (NA). As these accounts are compiled according to the UN System of National Accounts, international comparability across countries is high, in principle. However, national statistical offices frequently update their methodologies.