Being able to prove who you are is a powerful tool that can serve as a basis for exercising rights like voting, accessing financial services and receiving transfers, and reducing fraud. Yet billions of people in the developing world lack a means to officially identify themselves. In this week’s Wonkcast, Alan Gelb and Julia Clark draw from their ongoing research on biometric technology and development to explain how developing country governments and donors can tap advances in biometrics to help empower poor people.
CGD Policy Blogs
Electric power has been restored across northern India to the 600 million people who recently found themselves sweltering in the dark. But the massive blackouts have left lingering questions about the country’s ability to provide the infrastructure necessary to sustained growth and poverty reduction.
This show was originally posted on January 11, 2011
In developed countries, official identification systems are a fact of life, providing the foundation for a myriad of transactions including elections, pension payments, and the legal system. Without functional ID systems, citizens of many developing countries miss out on the benefits of official identification. On this week’s Wonkcast, I am joined by CGD senior fellow Alan Gelb who has been researching the potential for new biometric technology, such as computerized finger printing and iris scans, to help poor countries leapfrog the long and complicated process of setting up ID systems.
This is a joint post with Julia Clark and Christian Meyer.
Industrial policy—as many have already commented—is back. (See here, here and here).
The recent wave of post-financial-crisis interventionism has reignited the classic (and often heated) debate about whether governments can in fact nurture economic growth. Previous analysis of the East Asian miracle, and frustration at the perceived failure of certain liberalization policies, has led many to (again) embrace a more activist role for governments in economic development.
A new report from the World Bank asks a key question--why does cargo spend weeks in Sub-Saharan African ports—and comes up with some very thought-provoking ideas. Authors Gael Raballand, Salim Refas, Monical Beuran and Gozde Isik, argue that the answer is NOT that the lack of port capacity.
First Edition of the Oxford Companion to the Economics of Africa Features Essays by CGD Staff and Board
This is a joint post with Julie Walz
Since the mid-nineties, many African nations have ushered in dramatic economic and political changes. But growth in other countries is stalled due conflict, repressive regimes, and lack of infrastructure. A new publication captures the diversity across Africa, using an economic lens to evaluate the key issues affecting Africa’s ability to grow and develop. The Oxford Companion to the Economics of Africa is a compilation of 100 essays on key issues and topics across the continent. It includes contributions from young African researchers, longtime researchers on Africa and four Nobel Laureates. Authors were given the freedom to write their own perspectives, thus the result is not a literature review but an engaging snapshot of concerns and possibilities across the continent. With 48 country perspectives (from Algeria to Zimbabwe) and 53 thematic essays, the book rejects a one-size-fits-all approach yet recognizes that there are continent-wide opportunities and challenges. As the first work of its kind, it is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the field, from graduate students to policymakers.
When a poor country finds oil, bad things often get worse. Countries rich in extractable natural resources, especially oil, frequently suffer from crummy governance, high poverty, endemic corruption and conflict. Is it possible to beat this oil curse? My guest on the Wonkcast this week, Todd Moss, CGD vice president for programs and senior fellow, says yes. He argues that a government that transfers some or all of its oil revenue to citizens in a universal, transparent, and regular taxable payment, could strengthen the social contract, fight corruption, and lay the foundation for future prosperity.
This post, co-authored with Alan Gelb, was originally published in Financial Times: This is Africa
On November 28 Anadarko Petroleum doubled the estimate of its massive Mozambique gas discovery. If this proves correct, Mozambique will become a major gas exporter and can expect a hefty windfall.
Mozambique is not alone. Per square mile, proven sub-soil assets in poor countries — notably in Africa — are only about one quarter of those in better-explored, rich countries. Not surprisingly, high prices and new technologies are driving new oil, gas, and mineral discoveries across the developing world. Billions of dollars will be pumped into countries like Uganda, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia and Bolivia. While this should be good news, it also raises concerns.