Mashreq 2.0: Boosting growth & creating jobs through digital transformation

The force of digitalization is driving the global economy, creating distinct groups of mena-mashreq-2-coverleaders and laggards. Through institutional reform that leverages the advantages of digitalization, the Mashreq can become a vital hub in international data networks. Furthermore, digital transformation can assuage pressing challenges. It can deliver higher transparency, accelerate lackluster productivity and increase economic opportunities for all, especially the youth of this region. A new report, Mashreq 2.0, charts the roadmap for the region to capitalize on this rapidly emerging opportunity, and assesses the prospect of a digitally integrated regional market.

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High-Performance Health-Financing for Universal Health Coverage: Driving Sustainable, Inclusive Growth in the 21st Century

Just over a decade out from the SDG deadline of 2030, many developing countries are notUHC_v6 on track to meet Universal Health Coverage (UHC) targets to ensure access to quality, affordable health services to all. People in developing countries pay over half a trillion dollars annually out-of-pocket for health services, which is pushing about 100 million people into extreme poverty each year. The evidence is strong that progress towards UHC would spur not just better health but also inclusive and sustainable economic growth, yet this report estimates that in 2030 there will be a UHC financing gap of $176 billion in the 54 poorest countries.  This  threatens decades-long progress on health, endangers countries’ long-term economic prospects, and makes them more vulnerable to pandemic risks. This report, launched to inform the first-ever G20 Finance and Health Ministers session in Osaka, Japan in June 2019, lays out an action agenda for countries and development partners to bridge the UHC financing gap, and makes a strong case for a focus on innovation in health financing over the next decade.

Download Full report and Executive summary 

Fighting climate change by planting trees in the sea

I started reading about the Aral Sea disaster in 1989 ahead of my first visit, as a student Aral_Sea_4Y2A1499_0and tourist, to Uzbekistan, then still a Soviet republic. In Karakalpakstan, the autonomous republic in current-day Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea has all but disappeared. Where fishing communities once thrived, all that remains is a scarred, desert landscape. Rusted ships are perched precariously on piles of sand and salt, along with a potent, unhealthy mix of toxic pollutants from industrial agriculture.

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Why measuring poverty impacts is more difficult than simply using score cards

Ending poverty is not only one of the twin goals of the World Bank, but also one of the mombasa_image.jpgSustainable Development Goals. To design and optimize projects for poverty reduction, we need to measure their impact on poverty. This is quite difficult because changes in the poverty rate might take some time, and it is usually hard to attribute the impact to a particular project, especially without conducting a randomized controlled trial (RCT). But even if we manage to overcome these challenges, we need to measure poverty before the start of the project – as a baseline and to understand whether the project adequately targets the poor – and at the end of the project to assess its impact. And that is also not easy.

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Chart: 47 million people are connected to a mini grid

A mini grid is an electric power generation and distribution system that provides electricity to a localized community. Mini grids will be critical in achieving universal electricity access by 2030. According to a new World Bank report “Mini Grids for Half a Billion People: Market Outlook and Handbook for Decision Makers”, mini grids are often the most economically viable solution for remote areas with high population density and demand and where extending the main grid is prohibitively expensive.

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Today, 47 million people are connected to a mini grid.  Afghanistan, Myanmar, India and Nepal have the highest number of mini grids, followed by China, Philippines, Indonesia. Analysis by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) shows that by 2030, nearly half a billion people could be connected to a mini grid. 

Mini Grids for Half a Billion People: Market Outlook and Handbook for Decision Makers

STORY HIGHLIGHTS MIniGrids_WebBanner.jpg

  • Mini grids have the potential to provide electricity to as many as 500 million people by 2030, with the right policies and about $220 billion of investment to build around 210,000 mini grids.
  • Over the past decade, mini grid costs have declined significantly, while the quality of service has increased. The per kWh cost of mini grid electricity is expected to decrease by two thirds by 2030.
  • Significantly more mini grids will need to be deployed in the top 20 electricity access deficit countries – from 10-50 mini grids currently deployed each year per country to over 1,600.

To balance debt and development, transparency and purpose are key

Unsustainable debt. Debt distress. Debt trap. These dire terms are once again back in theindex headlines, just a decade after the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.

In the past five years alone, public debt in the poorest countries has increased from 36 percent of GDP to 51 percent of GDP.  In addition, debt-service ratios in some countries are rising at an alarming pace, threatening countries’ ability to invest in much-needed infrastructure, education, health and many other needs crucial for lifting their citizens out of poverty and achieving the international community’s Sustainable Development Goals by their 2030 deadline.

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2019 Embassy Klompen Cup

Every year at the end of spring as the summer is about to be upon us the Netherlands picture klompen cupEmbassy World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank Liaisons organize the annual networking event “Klompen Cup”.  It is a street soccer 4-on-4 tournament, 10 minute games played right outside the embassy.  We assemble teams with (Dutch) colleagues from the respective institutions; World Bank Group (WBG), International Finance Corporation (IFC), Inter American Development Bank (IADB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to compete for the coveted “Klompen Cup”.

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Launching global consultations on the World Bank Group’s upcoming Strategy for Fragility, Conflict and Violence

April marked the official launch of global consultations to inform the World Bank Boys Play Football Near IDP Camp in MogadishuGroup’s first-ever Strategy for Fragility, Conflict and Violence (FCV). Over the next two months, World Bank Group teams will engage with civil society and government representatives, as well as partner organizations and the private sector to discuss priorities and challenges in FCV situations , building on the comparative advantage of the Bank Group in fragile settings. As we embark on this process, the most relevant question for us is how to build on progress made and optimize our interventions to be our most effective on the ground, with special focus on making a lasting difference for the most vulnerable populations. Furthermore, in FCV settings, we know that no single organization can act alone – as the World Bank Group, this strategy is about positioning our analytical, operational, and convening power to contribute to broader international efforts in support of peace and prosperity.

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