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Regional Papers on Africa

The Globalisation of Corporate Governance and Implications for African Corporates in a Changing Regulatory Landscape
Hippolyte Fofack, World Economics, December 2017
Adopting global corporate governance standards remains a challenge for most corporates in developed and developing economies, but shareholder capitalism is probably set on an irreversible growth path. The growing number of African corporate entities abiding by global corporate governance standards, despite the regulatory costs associated with compliance, is a positive development. The short-term costs in trade finance, financial intermediation and banks’ balance sheets are outweighed by the long-term benefits of adopting global corporate governance standards. Improving compliance requires better data and in Africa an initiative led by the African Export-Import Bank aims to provide centralised single sources of the primary data required to conduct customer due diligence checks on African counterparties.
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Problem or Solution: Data on Sub-National Debt for Infrastructural Development in Nigeria
Kingsley Imandojemu, World Economics, June 2017
Nigeria has witnessed a substantial rise in sub-national debt at the state level in an economy characterised by infrastructural decay and macro-economic imbalance. The mismanagement of sub-national debt in Nigeria has culminated in the inability of most states to meet their daily obligations. Secondary data sourced from the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Debt Management Office shows that external indebtedness of the states grew from US$2 billion to US$3.4 billion between 2010 and 2015, a rise of 68.4%. Sub-national debt has been identified as a conduit for embezzlement. A more sustainable approach to infrastructure financing should be the adoption of a public-private partnership (PPP) approach.
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Implications of Illicit Financial Outflows for Macro-economic Management and Development Effectiveness in Africa
Hippolyte Fofack , World Economics, December 2016
In Africa, a persistent rise in illicit financial outflows has compounded macroeconomic management challenges and heightened the risks of recurrent balance of payments crises. It has undermined the build-up of fiscal buffers that could have mitigated the macroeconomic impact of adverse external shocks helping to sustain investment. A cross-section analysis suggests that wherever the management of foreign reserves has been undermined in the region, whether by illicit financial outflows in a context of poor governance or by macroeconomic policy malpractices, countries have tended to be more vulnerable to global volatility and commodity terms of trade shocks. Differences across the region’s natural resource-dependent economies in the severity of macroeconomic shocks emanating from global demand contraction and the collapse in commodity prices, suggest that such shocks are probably amplified by illicit financial outflows. Still, sustained illicit financial outflows are also vectors of lopsided growth and unequal distribution of income in both source and destination countries.
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The Paris Climate Agreement heightens development challenges in Africa
Hippolyte Fofack, World Economics, June 2016
Although the Paris Agreement lacks a binding mechanism for capping carbon emissions, and a legally binding financial commitment to support climate change adaptation and mitigation in the developing world, it establishes a legal framework to accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon economy at the global level. The rise of the green economy under the proposed Agreement offers tremendous opportunities for growth and economic development, especially for Africa, which has abundant endowments of renewable energy and resources. African countries’ ability to seize these opportunities and accomplish the transition to the low-carbon development economy articulated in the Agreement will depend on their capacity to increase their access to carbon-free technologies and to draw consistently on these technologies to expand the scope of green investments in support of structural transformation and trade diversification.
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Yin Yang Oil Prices and the Rise of African Economies: Policy Implications
Hippolyte Fofack, World Economics, December 2015
African oil exporters have been hard hit by the sustained decline in international oil prices. African oil importers are seeing dramatically lower oil import bills, but most have economies that are not energy-intensive enough to benefit greatly from the oil price change. For the continent as a whole, growth forecasts have been revised downwards, as the benefits of cheaper oil are being offset by costs associated with reduced demand for African exports of other primary commodities, especially metals and minerals. These developments highlight the continuing vulnerability of African countries to adverse terms-of-trade shocks and to the costs associated with lack of progress in structural transformation and trade diversification away from primary commodities, oil included. The poor growth outlook for Africa clearly shows that success in diversifying trade partners, though it has been highly beneficial and growth-enhancing, does not eliminate the risks associated with commodity-dependent development models.
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Investing in green growth for sustainable development in Africa
Hippolyte Fofack, World Economics, September 2015
An overview of the distributional impact of global warming shows that the negative externalities of carbon-intensive development models are already significant in Africa. The most compelling reasons for promoting green investments in Africa is the direct economic returns in terms of savings and employment opportunities. Most renewable energy jobs created over the last few years have occurred outside Africa possibly another missed opportunity after the information and communication technology (ICT) revolution. Carbon-free technologies must not be used to sustain income inequality and macroeconomic imbalances between industrialized and developing countries, but to uniformly boost green investments.
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Can Intra-Regional Trade Act as a Global Shock Absorber in Africa?
Zuzana Brixiova, Qingwei Meng & Mthuli Ncube, World Economics, September 2015
The global financial crisis and the subsequent uneven recovery have underscored the need for Africa’s resilience to output and other shocks originated in the rest of the world. A comparison of two regional economic communities – the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) – suggests that deeper intra-regional, and in particular intra-industry, trade ties have contributed to the EAC’s resilience to external output shocks. More broadly, intra-regional and intra-African trade with fast-growing economies, together with geographically diversified trade links, can strengthen the capacity of African countries to absorb global output shocks. Besides helping shield countries from external shocks, intra-regional trade also supports economic diversification and participation in regional value chains.
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African Diaspora Remittances are Better than Foreign Aid Funds: Diaspora-driven development in the 21st century
Adams Bodomo, World Economics, December 2013
In this article, two sources of socio-economic development finance for Africa, African Diaspora remittance funds and Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) funds, are compared. It is argued that Diaspora remittance funds constitute a better alternative to ODA funds for the development of Africa for a number of reasons. Not only have Diaspora remittance funds outpaced ODA funds, but they are more efficiently deployed for the development of the African continent in three main ways. The funds are less likely to be misspent as compared to the misappropriations and legendary inefficiencies in the foreign aid industry. Diaspora remittance funds, as gifts of love, are better focused on building the family and hence the nation. The distribution of these Diaspora remittance funds is far more efficient than ODA funds since these monies go directly to paying school fees, building houses and growing businesses. Some proposals are made to indicate how African governments can facilitate more remittance funds over and above ODA funds.
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Remittances and their Macroeconomic Impact: Evidence from Africa
Mthuli Ncube & Zuzana Brixiova, World Economics, December 2013
This paper examines the macroeconomic trends, drivers and the impact of remittances in Africa. First, it documents the increasing share of remittances relative to other foreign capital flows to Africa, the distribution of remittance inflows across countries, and some key properties. This is followed by an analysis of the macroeconomic drivers of remittances in recipient countries, such as the level of income, inflation and nominal exchange rate depreciation. Specifically, remittances are positively impacted by higher income, but deterred by an unstable macroeconomic environment, pointing to the investment motive in remitting to Africa. The paper also examines the role of remittances in funding Africa’s external balances. Finally, drawing on the case of Egypt, the paper shows the positive impact that rising remittances can have on public debt sustainability.
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Strengthening the Early Warning Exercise: Enhancing IMF and FSB coordination
Bessma Momani, Skylar Brooks, Michael Cockburn, Warren Clarke & Dustyn Lanz, World Economics, September 2013
Following the 2007–2008 global financial crisis, the G20 leaders tasked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the newly created Financial Stability Board (FSB) to jointly undertake Early Warning Exercises (EWEs) in order to identify vulnerabilities within the global financial system and encourage appropriate policy responses. This paper argues that a series of challenges have prevented the EWE from realizing its full potential. In particular, the advantages accruing from the joint nature of the exercise have not been fully realized. The paper then puts forward recommendations intended to improve the process and encourage implementation of EWE findings among national policymakers.
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Pastoralism: Africa’s Invisible Economic Powerhouse?
James MacGregor & Ced Hesse, World Economics, March 2013
Many elements of developing economies are missing from their national accounts. This is more than a statistical dilemma. It hampers the development of government policy, results in under-investment in those missing elements and simultaneous over-investment in others, and helps to paint an incomplete picture of the health, wealth and opportunities existing in these economies. There is a considerable literature on how the informal economy is excluded and the need to strengthen data collection for better policy development. This paper builds on this literature by examining pastoralism in order to exemplify this underinvestment and marginalisation, which creates a vicious circle of impoverishment, conflict and environmental degradation in most developing countries with significant pastoral communities. Investment in data collection and analysis will result in considerable benefits to policy, activities to achieve sustainable development and transparency.
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Agricultural Statistics: Who benefits from distortions?
Morten Jerven, World Economics, March 2013
In developing economies the data on agricultural production are weak. Because these data are assembled using competing methods and assumptions, the final series are subject to political pressure, particularly when the government is subsidizing agricultural inputs. This paper draws on debates on the effect of crop data subsidies in Malawi. The recent agricultural census (2006/2007) indicates a maize output of 2.1 million tonnes, compared to the previously widely circulated figures of 3.4 million tonnes. The paper suggests that ‘data’ are themselves a product of agricultural policies.
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Measuring African GDP: The next success story?
Joe Downie, World Economics, June 2011
There is much speculation about the growth potential of African economies. But in the light of unreliable official statistics and the highly selective information often presented by investment companies with an incentive to highlight the positive, this article aims to provide some extra analysis to add to the recent widespread comments on high growth rates within the continent. Problems are noted with official economic data and the strengths of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) measures for GDP comparisons are noted. GDP figures for Africa and five other major economic areas are analysed for the three decades to 2010 in terms of GDP growth and GDP level by decade. These figures are then viewed in per capita terms, drawing attention to significant population growth within the continent, and therefore less impressive per capita figures. A closer look at the location and distribution of economic activity within the African continent highlights the high concentration of economic activity within a small number of countries. However, it is concluded that the future prospects for African growth are still generally positive. Despite the heavy reliance on oil exports in some countries, headline GDP figures also reflect incidences of broad-based growth which looks set to continue so long as Asian demand remains high and good economic policies are pursued.
Global Financial Crisis, Protectionism and Current Account Deficit: South Africa on the brink?
Peter Draper, Andreas Freytag & Sebastian Voll, World Economics, June 2011
The recent financial and economic crisis, and the resurgence in the popularity of emerging markets has raised fears in these economies of a resumption in capital flight or a sudden stop of capital inflows. The latter, in particular, is intensively discussed in South Africa. We try to evaluate this danger by focusing on the sustainability of South Africa’s current account deficit during the recent past, and on longterm economic policy developments in the country. We argue that the macroeconomic as well as the relevant microeconomic policy variables do not suggest a sudden stop. However, to lower this risk further, the microeconomic environment has to be improved considerably in the future. This includes mainly reforms in the areas of infrastructure, competition and trade policy.
Africa’s Water: Big issues with big consequences for a big continent
World Economics, June 2011
Water underpins the whole of Africa’s economy, be it municipal, agricultural, industrial or mining, and is, unfortunately, often a critical factor in limiting economic growth or peace and stability. Aside from the issues of poor health, inadequate water and sanitation infrastructure debilitates the continent’s potential. This happens by making life difficult for businesses, which have to contend with daily problems relating to security of supply for economic activity and international investors who are simply put off by not being able to drink tap water in hotels when exploring business development opportunities. But such observations are glib in light of the significant public health difficulties imposed on millions of Africans, which result from the lack of environmental regulation in the sector.

In the municipal supply sector, there is a long history of aid-related water schemes in Africa, from the micro to macro scale, which have met with varying degrees of success. Examination of the success of privatesector participation in both rural and municipal supply is presented, along with an analysis of where projects have encountered difficulties. The rise of food and commodity prices has delivered the economic justification to develop a better understanding of the water economy in Africa. The argument for Africa to develop an understanding of the wider water economy, to ensure profitable and sustainable development, is presented in relation to agricultural and industrial use. Consideration is also given to the role of water in conflict mitigation.

The benefits and pitfalls of water in the industrial economies of Africa, namely mining and hydrocarbon exploitation, are considered, along with a discussion on the need to understand the environmental regulatory framework for the water economy.

C onclusions are drawn in relation to how water underpins all of Africa’s economic activity along with a summary of the key points that need to be considered by policymakers in developing the continent’s potential.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Outlook and challenges
Veronica Kalema, World Economics, June 2011
Sub Saharan Africa’s (SSA’s) growth bounced back to 5% in 2010 following a slowdown to 2.8% in 2009 because of the GFC. Moreover, SSA’s 5-plus growth rate is sustainable. Improvements in domestic fundamentals due to better economic management and improved political stability have been mainly responsible for the turnaround in the past decade. The impact of high commodity prices, reorientation of trade to fast growing Asian countries, advances in new technology, especially mobile telephony, will continue to be growth drivers. SSA’s good growth prospects will be underpinned by domestic demand and a surge in Asian demand for some time. However, growth could be higher still, more durable and job-creating if some of the region’s key constraints – infrastructure, governance and skills – were addressed.
Vibrant Africa Continues to Attract: The economic potential of Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa
Funmi Akinluyi, World Economics, June 2011
The global economic crisis of 2007–09 left Sub-Saharan countries relatively unscathed. There are a number of reasons for this, but one crucial factor has been the relative lack of integration of the economies of most Sub-Saharan countries with the world economy. This insulated much of the region from the severities of the asset ‘boom’ and ‘bust’ that whiplashed global financial markets in the developed world between 2007 and 2009. There are some positive, rather than neutral, aspects of Africa’s growth potential and the unfolding investment story.
A New Challenge: The myriad new opportunities offered by East Africa’s oil and gas basin
Ziwase Ndhlovu, World Economics, June 2011
Over the last five years there has been a noticeable shift in focus among leading oil and gas companies active in the continent of Africa. Rather than focusing on West and North Africa for investment opportunities, there has been a move to explore new prospects in East Africa. The region is rapidly becoming a prominent investment destination in both the upstream and downstream oil sectors. In 2011 several majors including BG, Eni and Petrobras, are planning to sink wells and all of them are investing significant amounts in search of deepwater gas reserves. Alongside these exploration initiatives the author assesses plans for a new pipeline with a capacity of 450,000 barrels a day, to be constructed from Juba in Southern Sudan to Lamu on the Kenyan coast. Increasingly, as the author notes, the region is emerging as a significant location for investment in hydrocarbon resources.
Malthus Postponed: The potential to promote palm oil production in Africa
Keith Boyfield & Inna Ali, World Economics, June 2011
The authors examine the potential to promote palm oil production in the tropical regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Given world population pressures and soaring food prices, the need to grow more food has never been more urgent. Palm oil cultivation offers one possible route to meet this demand; it also has a variety of other uses, notably biofuel. Major investors are committing substantial sums to develop palm oil plantations throughout West Africa. However, this major driver of economic growth has triggered controversy, particularly from environmental NGOs. The article assesses how far these criticisms are valid. In the process, four key challenges surrounding the development of plantation crops are identified. The REDD initiative – aimed at restricting forest land conversion for commercial purposes – is analysed and a number of practical hurdles to successful implementation are highlighted. The authors conclude that large-scale commercial plantation agriculture clearly has a major contribution to make in resolving the rapidly emerging global food crisis.
The European Union’s Trade Policies and Africa’s Exports
Olayinka Idowu Kareem, World Economics, June 2011
An important determinant of the sustainability of growth in Africa is the extent to which the continent can exploit the opportunities available from trade. Trade barriers exist to key African exports, which make it difficult for the continent to take advantage of the growth-enhancing benefits of trade or to follow an export-orientated development plan, leaving Africa dependent on the world price of natural resources and minerals such as oil, copper and diamonds. This study evaluates the impact of trade policies in the European Union (EU) and other large trading blocs on a range of African exports. We found that, contrary to many pronouncements, trade policies in the EU, especially tariff barriers, have not significantly hindered Africa’s exports. Furthermore, it was discovered that the export performance of African exports is hampered more by non-tariff barriers to African exports and by capacity constraints within African countries.
Connecting the African Continent: Infrastructure, growth and poverty reduction
Peter Dearden, Nemat Shafik & Leonard Tedd, World Economics, June 2011
This paper provides an overview of the contribution of economic infrastructure to growth and human development in Africa. Challenges for infrastructure provision including finance, recurrent costs and public-sector responsibilities are covered, together with assessment of the global trends of urbanisation, climate change and future resource scarcity. The paper describes and explains the work of the UK Department for International Development on economic infrastructure in Africa, covering innovations in areas of private-sector infrastructure, regional approaches, improving the investment climate, and international coordination. The paper concludes with several policy directions for current political processes.
Boosting Infrastructure Investments in Africa
Donald Kaberuka, World Economics, June 2011
The absolute and relative lack of infrastructure in Africa suggests that the continent’s competitiveness could be boosted by scaling up investments in infrastructure. Such investments would facilitate domestic and international trade, enhance Africa’s integration into the global economy and promote better human development outcomes, especially, by bringing unconnected rural communities into the mainstream economy. While there are yawning gaps in all infrastructure subsectors, inadequate energy supply is directly correlated to low education levels, poor health outcomes, as well as limited economic opportunities and technology choices. Efforts by government to invest in infrastructure have proved inadequate to close the infrastructure gap. These investment opportunities have not been seized by the private sector due to the unfavourable business environment, poor incentives and regulatory frameworks. Therefore, Africa’s infrastructure challenge is not only in closing the huge financing gap, but also in building the necessary skills and capacity to attract investments. Although scaling up infrastructure investments offers the private sector enormous opportunities, unlocking these investments should be preceded by appropriate policy and structural reforms. The good news is that there is hope, and current developments are signalling an increased awareness by African governments. Development partners should therefore take advantage of the increasing political will for reform through knowledge and capacity building activities, especially, in fragile and post-conflict countries where the need is greatest.
Keith Boyfield on Dambisa Moyo: Dead Aid
Keith Boyfield
World Economics, June 2010
There is no summary available for this paper.
Governance and Development: The current role of theory, policy and practice
Michael Chibba, World Economics, June 2009
Governance matters are arguably at the core of international development. What role do theory, policy and practice play in shaping matters of governance with respect to development? This review paper, which is organised in three parts, focuses on this subject since the demise of communism in 1991. In the first part, the theories on the governance and development nexus are outlined. In the second, governance policy is discussed with reference to: the early strategic policy shift; the concepts, principles and framework for enhanced governance; selected reviews by scholars and practitioners; and numerous key current issues. Governance in practice is examined in the third part with the same or similar questions, reviews and current issues. In addition, lessons are drawn from a case study. The conclusion of this paper is threefold: first, it is a fallacy that there is a pre-eminent system of governance that is universally applicable; second, the relevant theories on the subject have a remarkably limited role to play in sculpting policy and practice; and, third, perhaps the single most important problem in policies and practices on governance for development is the failure to temper interventions to the contextual dynamics found in each developing country setting.
Monetary Policy, Governance and Economic Development: The Botswana experience
Michael Chibba, World Economics, September 2007
Botswana is at a crossroads, as economic growth has slowed significantly in recent years while social problems remain largely unresolved. Exacerbating this situation is a monetary policy in crisis as over a decade of generally high interest rates have failed to address inflationary pressures. Thus, the Botswana experience challenges generally accepted wisdom on the relationship between interest rates and inflation. The main lessons learned highlight the need for (i) enhancing the knowledge and information base; (ii) tempering monetary policy to prevailing mores; and (iii) ensuring the provision of good governance at the central bank. Policy and programme recommendations that are offered are relevant not only to Botswana but also to other developing countries that face similar challenges.
How Many Wildebeest do You Need?
Mike Norton-Griffiths, World Economics, June 2007
The catastrophic decline of wildlife in Kenya—some 60% over the last 30 years—finally galvanised the government into a review of wildlife policy. But what should have been a sober discussion of market failures, institutional failures, policy failures and conservation failures was hijacked by the international animal welfare lobby and degenerated into a sterile shouting match about the reintroduction of consumptive utilisation and sport hunting. The resulting Wildlife Act, by pandering to the welfare lobby, removes all remaining incentives for communities and landowners to keep wildlife on their land.
Monetary Policy, Macro-stability and Growth: South Africa’s recent experience and lessons
Janine Aron & John Muellbauer, World Economics, December 2005
There is greater appreciation now amongst economists of the negative effect of uncertainty on investment, growth and equality, especially when credit constraints are widespread. This implies an important linkage between the transparency and predictability of the policy environment, and growth and equality. The paper begins with a literature survey on the inflation and inflation volatility link, the uncertainty and investment link and the inflation volatility and growth link. This framework is used to examine the experience of South Africa’s new monetary policy regime (inflation targeting, IT) in achieving greater macrostability. South Africa is an interesting case study, being one of the more advanced of the emerging markets with its deep and sophisticated financial system, and yet with around 35 percent unemployment and a legacy of developmental problems from the Apartheid era. The authors demonstrate using evidence from three sources of micro-data that the new monetary regime is more credible, transparent and predictable. They examine the performance of monetary policy and argue IT has not resulted in real interest rate levels that are a hindrance to growth. They explore the better response under IT to big external shocks like exchange rate depreciation, as compared with the monetary regime prior to IT. The paradox is examined of success in achieving macro-stability, where greater household acquisition of debt and increased demand is both inflationary and limits saving, hence constraining corporate investment. The paper concludes with lessons from South Africa’s recent successful monetary policy experience for other emerging market countries and for less developed countries’ central banks e.g., in Africa.
The Health and Wealth of Africa
David E. Bloom & David Canning, World Economics, June 2004
Among Africa’s problems, chronic poverty and poor health stand out. Traditional development thinking has maintained that health improvements are a consequence of income growth. But new evidence shows that investing in health, with the aid of the international community, could make a big difference in Africa’s economic prospects. Moreover, some feasible, low-cost interventions would likely have high returns. The pathways by which health can make a difference economically include those based on the heightened effectiveness of labor, increased savings, more effective educational investments, and demographic change.
Can Africa Catch Up?
Arne Bigsten, World Economics, June 2002
The trend towards globalization of the last few decades has been manifested in the sustained growth of world trade and flows of investment and technology. For most regions this growing integration has led to rapidly growing per capita incomes, while Africa has stagnated at the income level achieved about three decades ago. This paper shows that Africa is marginal to the world economy, but that the world economy is very important for Africa. In terms of openness to trade Africa closed up during the 1960s and 1970s, while it has been trying to open up since then. So far the results in terms of growth have been modest. The question posed here is whether Africa can effectively link up with the rest of the world and start a catch-up process, or whether marginalisation is inevitable.
Policy-Making in Resource-Rich Countries: Lessons from Zambia
Arne Bigsten, World Economics, September 2001
Economic development depends upon resource availability, resource allocation, and the efficiency of resource use. One would presume that countries with an abundance of natural resources would stand a better chance of developing than resource-poor countries. Recent experiences in less developed countries show, however, that countries with an abundance of natural resources have grown at a slower pace than countries with scarce natural resources. Zambia is a case in point. Its economy has been based on copper mining, but over the last three decades per capita incomes in Zambia have been halved. This paper shows how policy-making in such a resource abundant economy is biased by the availability of resource rents. It further discusses the implications for the policies of international financial institutions and other donors in such a setting, and the possibilities for the domestic process to sustain a system of good governance.