Development aid fell by 4% in real terms in 2012, following a 2% fall in 2011. Though this decline must be reversed, it is not the only issue to address. Also being questioned is how that aid is measured in the first place. As Jon Lomoy explains, while it is high time to revisit the concept of official development assistance, the outcome of the discussion will influence the effectiveness of development policy over the next decade or more.(932 words)
Trusting in crowds
“Crowdsourcing” pools the strength of the many to perform complex tasks–everything from funding a film to sequencing DNA. At its heart is trust–not a blanket belief in great institutions, but rather the confidence among individuals that each will do the right thing. Its power is being increasingly felt today, even in the world of international development.
You paint a positive picture of Turkey’s economy in terms of growth of GDP and employment (OECD Observer No 290-91, Q1-Q2 2012). Nevertheless, the interview states that for the future of the Turkish economy, “labour market reform is key, especially to encourage the shifting of resources from the informal to the formal sector: a more flexible labour contract is needed and minimum wage setting should be decentralised”(319 words)
In May 2012 the OECD Ministerial Council endorsed the OECD Strategy on Development, describing it as an essential tool for adapting the organisation’s work to fast changing realities. What are the factors behind the new strategy and what are the aims?(949 words)
With over 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24–a figure that will double by 2045–Africa’s fast-growing population is the youngest in the world. In the coming decades, hundreds of millions of young Africans will pour on to the job labour market as they leave schools branding qualifications of various levels.(690 words)
Aid from major donors in the OECD area to developing countries fell by nearly 3% in 2011, ending a long trend of annual increases: until 2011, aid had been increasing for more than a decade, and by 63% between 2000 and 2010, the year it reached its peak.(277 words)
In a relatively short time, microfinance has become a major tool of international development. But too many potential entrepreneurs still have little or no access to financing. Innovation and government policy have a central role to play in correcting this imbalance.(952 words)
With the crisis still unfolding, can governments meet their agreed development aid targets? Total net official development assistance (ODA) from donor countries in the OECD Development Assistance Committee came to $119.6 billion in 2009, which is a real increase of 0.7% from 2008. If debt forgiveness is excluded, the real increase jumps to 6.8%. In fact, development aid rose by some 30% in real terms between 2004 and 2009, and continued to grow during the crisis, unlike other financial flows to developing countries, which have fallen sharply. Nonetheless, more aid effort is needed.(235 words)
Is Africa finally on the move? The signs are promising.Rich in natural resources and with more than one billion people, it achieved five consecutive years of economic growth averaging more than 5% over 2004-08. In fact, private investment rose every year from 2000 to reach US$472.2 billion in 2008. And despite some fallout from the economic crisis that started in the OECD area in 2008 and brought African GDP per head to a virtual standstill in 2009, activity has started to ramp up again.(928 words)
In the current economic climate, in which early signs of recovery give grounds for optimism, the countries of the MENA region are keenly aware of the common challenges that must be met through stronger principles of good governance and economic freedom, consolidation of the rule of law and democracy, the fair distribution of wealth and compliance, and respect for the environment.(525 words)
The Maghreb coastal corridor links Morocco to Egypt by road and from there connects to the Arab countries of the Mashreq. Much of the 31,000 km of planned roads are in place. Part of a major road plan that some hope will one day link much of the African coastline, the corridor embodies a future of promise.(1947 words)
A salmon would find it a hardscrabble life in the waterways of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Not because of dried riverbeds, overfishing or pollution, but because the region has more dams per cubic metre of water than any other place on earth.(588 words)
Unemployment at historic highs, declining oil prices, plummeting government budgets and low investment due to persistent political uncertainty-one or more of these barriers to progress exist in many MENA states, but add them all and combine the security concerns in the aftermath of war and that is the unique challenge for Iraq. For years, arms and oil have been the major trade activity, but with security improvements being implemented in tandem with political, legal and regulatory reforms, investors are once again beginning to view the Mesopotamian cradle of civilisation also as a cradle of investment.(316 words)
The world is going through hard times. Though there are some signs of an economic recovery, global confidence remains fragile. From the economic and social crisis to climate change, natural disasters and conflict, rarely in modern history have we faced such a testing period.
The crisis has taught us many lessons, about our policies, our practices and our ways of life. But if there is one lesson that stands out, it is the importance of international co-operation to help us overcome the challenges we face.(782 words)
The forces driving Asia’s rapid growth–new technology, globalisation, and market-oriented reform–are also fuelling rising inequality. Some income divergence is inevitable in times of fast economic development, but that shouldn’t make for complacency, especially in the face of rising inequality in people’s opportunities to develop their human capital and income-earning capacity.
Emblazoned on the front of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington DC is a quote from American poet, author and judge, Oliver Wendell Holmes: “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society ” It is the potential to inspire better governance through raising revenue that matters to civil society, and everyone has a role to play. To act as responsible corporate citizens, companies must pay the right amount of tax and be transparent about it. Yet Christian Aid estimates that developing countries lose as much as $160 billion–greater than the global aid budget–to companies dodging tax.(657 words)
A lot of debate about tax and developing countries nowadays tends to focus on how to reduce revenue leakage through offshore tax havens. But there is another hot issue called transfer pricing which developing countries have to be mindful of, particularly if they want to avoid the risk of losing out on tax revenue from cross-border transactions carried out by multinational enterprises. How does it work?(1800 words)
Through the ages, the countries of the Middle East and North Africa have been known for their great feats in engineering. The marvels are legion, from the Mesopotamian irrigation systems to the Great Pyramid. But did you know that the first concentrated solar steam engine was built near Cairo in 1914? A century later, solar energy is again putting the region on the cusp of new exploits, this time in renewable energy.(1470 words)
Hana Barqawi realised her dream of opening her own children's furniture store two years ago in the Jordanian capital of Amman. Ms Barqawi is part of a wave of female entrepreneurs that has swept across the Middle East and North Africa area over the past decade or more. She is not surprised: "Arab women are well-educated, openminded, open to new ideas, new cultures, new challenges," she says. Nor has she found cultural attitudes to be a major problem, with Jordanian men accepting the new female business presence. But Ms Barqawi notes that while servants and nannies are available to help with childcare, balancing work and family life has now become a daily juggle for many women like her. But to what extent do Ms Barqawi's experiences reflect those of other women across the Middle East and North Africa region?(1932 words)
Since antiquity, governments, emperors, kings and queens have been providing traders and investors with special sites offering respite from normal import-export tax regimes and regulations in return for a steady stream of much needed revenue for the public purse. Before modernity, such places were concentrated in the Mediterranean basin, at Delos in Greco- Roman times, and in Venice, Genoa and Marseilles during the Middle Ages. By the 19th century, they had spread to Southeast Asia. But it was not until the latter half of the 20th century that so-called free zones made their mark as deliberate tools of economic development, most notably in China in 1979 when one of the most famous free zones of all was set up at Shenzen.(1816 words)
The University of Al-Karaouine is located in Fez, Morocco. Founded in 859, it is regarded by many as the oldest university in the world. Today, as countries in the Middle East and North Africa region begin to compete more vigorously in the global economy, they are again focusing more concertedly on how to rekindle their great, historic asset: human capital.(1315 words)
State building is governance writ large. Seen from without, the accomplishments of a nascent state stand in harsh juxtaposition to the fine-tuning of politically and economically stable governments. One is a stone mason and the other a builder, confident the foundations will support his project.(602 words)
Small and medium-sized enterprises may be the flavour of the moment in development policy, but the potential role of large multinational firms, or MNEs, should not be overlooked. After all, there is some evidence of MNEs having a positive effect on employment and wages, as well as plugging local suppliers into international markets, which boosts skills, technology and productivity.(524 words)
Investment is essential for development, but not all investment brings the wide benefits it promises. This is because the impact of investment on development depends on many things. The type of investment is one factor, but more important is the way in which businesses conduct their activities. This also largely depends on whether the policy and regulatory environment provided by governments encourages or discourages responsible business conduct.(288 words)
The Egyptian government is focusing on several regulatory reform and improved governance priorities. An initiative now underway, ERRAD, aims to collect and review all legislation and ministerial decrees in the areas of investment, trade and industry. A Transparency and Integrity Committee was also formed to help establish a national strategic plan for governance in civil service. Special attention is also given to reforming the social security system.(265 words)
The countries of the Middle East and North Africa stand at a crucial stage in their development. Though several of them had until recently witnessed high growth-Morocco's economy expanded by over 5% in 2008, Egypt's and UAE's by over 7%-the global crisis has finally dealt a blow.(1699 words)
The global crisis and how to get growth and development back on track led the agenda as ministers from MENA and OECD countries gathered at Marrakech in Morocco on 23 November 2009. In our ninth OECD Observer ministers' roundtable, we asked representatives from four MENA countries-Morocco (as hosts of the ministerial meeting), Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen-and from three OECD members-Italy, Korea and Spain: "What action is your government taking to help improve development prospects in the MENA region?"(2536 words)
Africa's economies were on the rise when the financial crisis hit in 2008. Growth was running high on the back of commodity price increases, with African exports almost doubling between 2000 and 2006. Over the same period, foreign capital flows quintupled. Yet the crisis has jeopardised this progress, resulting in a severe investment slowdown, particularly in oil and mineral production, and halving Africa's growth rate from 5.7 % in 2008 to 2.4 % in 2009.(406 words)
The wave of natural disasters that swept the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions in recent weeks has left a heavy human and economic toll. Thousands have perished, lives and communities have been shattered. Could some of this have been avoided, or the toll reduced? We have been here before, notably following the tsunami that struck southern Asia and the east coast of Africa in 2004. The latest tsunamis, typhoons and earthquakes are tragic reminders of how vulnerable some human settlements are, and underline the importance of integrating disaster risk into development practices.(384 words)
“The Chinese government rightly advocates firm opposition to trade and investment protectionism, as emphatically stated by Premier Wen Jiabao on several occasions in the past few weeks. As it did a decade ago during the Asian crisis, China has set itself firmly against inward retrenchment in the face of economic downturn. We celebrate this commitment at OECD.(669 words)
Where are we in the current economic crisis?