Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD Policy Blogs

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Identity and Development – Alan Gelb and Julia Clark

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.

Taxing Kenya’s M-Pesa Picks the Pockets of the Poor

Kenya has instituted a new tax that affects users of M-Pesa -- a widely popular phone-based money transfer service used by more than half of Kenya’s adult population. The new 10 percent excise duty on fees charged for money transfer services applies to mobile phone providers, banks, and other money transfer agencies. Operated by Safaricom, the largest mobile network operator in Kenya, M-Pesa accounts for the largest share of users of money transfer services. Users of M-Pesa products will therefore bear most of the impact of the tax.

“No One Gets Past a Raptor” The 2012 Biometrics Consortium Conference: Tampa

Even with global sales around $5 billion, the biometrics industry is surprisingly clubby.  Most participants at the 2012 Biometrics Consortium Conference I attended recently seemed to know each other.  Most were from the US, but some  came from Europe, and from India and other developing countries.  Their backgrounds were diverse:  academics, entrepreneurs, engineers, lawyers, police, security and military personnel. And, of course, sales departments!

Introducing the Global Fund Forum

When the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was created in 2002, it was intended to combat the global burden of these diseases while simultaneously delivering aid in new, innovative ways. In 2012, an increasingly austere budget climate has added pressure for the Global Fund to explore new approaches to global health financing and generate better “value for money"—a top concern to global health donors, who want the biggest bang for their buck in terms of lives saved and epidemiological progress.

The 2012 Commitment to Development Index

This post is coauthored with Julia Clark. You can listen to the pre-release podcast with David Roodman and Owen Barder.

We're proud to announce the release of the tenth edition of the Commitment to Development Index. Each year since 2003, the CDI has ranked wealthy nations on how much their governments' policies and actions support global prosperity. Nations are linked in many ways: through trade, aid, climate, technology, and more. The CDI assesses policies in all these areas in order to communicate that helping takes more than aid, and to organize a comprehensive agenda for development policy.

Identification for Development, US Election Edition

This is a joint post with Julia Clark

On the surface, it’s hard to see how requiring a photo ID for elections could be problematic. What’s the big deal? Nearly everyone we know has at least one photo ID—a driver’s license, state ID, or passport. Plus, preventing double or illegitimate voting is a favorable goal in any democracy. Who could argue with a law that promises to protect electoral integrity?

Recognizing and Rewarding the Best Development Professionals

This blog post is co-authored with Martin Ravallion, who has been the Director of the World Bank’s Development Economics Research Group for several years and is currently Acting Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the Bank. The blog is cross-posted on the World Bank site here.

These days there is a lot of discussion within development organizations and governments across the globe (including the World Bank) about how to assure a greater emphasis on development impact. It would no doubt help if senior management gave stronger verbal signals on the ultimate goals of the institution, and more actively supported staff to attain those goals. But such “low-powered incentives” have been tried before, and the problems seem to persist.

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