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Private Sector Development

Powering up Africa through innovation

Simon Bell's picture
Recent World Bank investment climate surveys find that the top two constraints for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa are access to finance and access to energy. Given that SMEs contribute disproportionately to boosting job creation, GDP, and exports, addressing these two constraints is critical to promoting economic development on the continent.
 
A new project combining skills across the World Bank Group and IFC is taking advantage of disruptive advances in the energy and finance sectors to address these longstanding challenges for SMEs.
 
Current access to electricity remains woefully low and is a major impediment to economic growth. More than half of Africa’s population isn’t connected to the energy grid and has no access to reliable power. At the same time, fewer than 50% of adults have an account with a formal financial institution.
 
In recent years, however, two important developments have made it possible to begin addressing these challenges:
  1. Off-grid energy solutions—notably solar power—have fallen dramatically in price with new business models working to scale them
  2. New digital-based financing mechanisms, such as crowdfunding, cryptocurrencies, peer-to-peer lending, psychometric testing, big data, and blockchain have emerged as tools for under-served finance markets.

There are strong parallels in these advances for both sectors. Whereas both energy and finance are traditionally provided by large-scale, centralized service providers—state-owned electricity utilities and large commercial banks, respectively—new solutions have effectively decentralized and democratized the provision of these services. Now a range of smaller, innovative companies can provide these services and consumers can go “off-the-grid” for both their energy and financial needs.
 

Anne Mwaniki, CEO of Solimpexs Africa, a Kenyan company producing solar-powered heating systems.
Photo © infoDev / World Bank

When technology meets agriculture in Bhutan

Yoichiro Ishihara's picture
Commercial Agriculture is important for Bhutan's Development
Based in eastern Bhutan, Mountain Hazelnuts has developed innovative uses of ICT for its commercial agriculture operations. Photo Credit: Bryan Watts/World Bank

Bhutan is a challenging environment in which to develop commercial agriculture. The country has limited areas for agriculture, and its geography and road conditions make logistics and market access costly.

Therefore, commercial agriculture is critical to increase productivity, which will help create jobs and access to more and better food. This can be achieved not only through focusing on high-value products and investing in traditional infrastructure such as irrigation, but also through using information and communication technology (ICT). Based in eastern Bhutan, Mountain Hazelnuts has developed innovative uses of ICT for its commercial agriculture operations.

No pain, no gain: Witnessing ingrained obstacles to public sector reform in Senegal

Thomas Dickinson's picture



One of the great frustrations of top-down reform is that it rarely works out as planned.
In the 58 years since independence, Senegal has undertaken public administration reform 68 times—and on 14 occasions public administration quality was specifically targeted, according to a new study. On the donors’ side, the country saw 27 projects costing over $11 billion between 1998 and 2008 that included public sector institutional reform.

How did starting a business become easier than ever?

Frederic Meunier's picture

With more jobs and competitiveness in mind, many economies worldwide have simplified their business start-up rules and regulations over recent years. Since the first Doing Business report was launched 15 years ago in 2003, a total of 626 national reforms that reduced the time and the costs of starting a business were recorded globally.

Farewell 2017; Hello to More and Better Infrastructure in 2018

Jordan Z. Schwartz's picture


Photo: auphoto / Shutterstock.com

As Washington, D.C.’s infrastructure braces for its first winter freeze and 2017 draws to a close, this feels like the right moment for a recap on what the year has brought us in terms of closing the infrastructure gap across emerging markets and developing economies; policy directions within and outside of the World Bank Group; new instruments, tools, and resources; and—the proof in the pudding—actual investment levels.

There may not be one blog that can capture all of those themes in detail, but here is a brief overview of what 2017 has meant and what is on the docket for 2018 and beyond.

Can tackling childcare fix STEM’s gender diversity problem?

Rudaba Z. Nasir's picture
Girls attend school. Pakistan. © Caroline Suzman/World Bank
Girls attend school. Pakistan. © Caroline Suzman/World Bank


Growing up in Pakistan, I often wondered why boys were expected to become doctors or engineers while girls, including me, were encouraged to pursue teaching or home economics. So, when my cousin Sana became the first woman in my family to start a career in engineering, she also became my idol. But a few months later, my excitement soured when Sana quit her job halfway through her first pregnancy. Sana’s story, however, is not unique. Women make up less than 18 percent of Pakistan’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals. Traditional gender roles and lack of access to formal childcare often play a critical role in many women’s decisions to forgo STEM careers.

Improving access to finance for SMEs in Tanzania: Learning from Malaysia’s experience

Djauhari Sitorus's picture
Malaysia’s experience in addressing access to finance for SMEs has been successful, serving as a learning point for countries like Tanzania. Photo: Samuel Goh/World Bank
Tanzania is set towards becoming a middle-income country as the economy grew by an average of 6.5% per year in the past decade. The “Tanzania Development Vision (TDV) 2025” highlighted small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) sector as one important contributor to the country’s long-term development. It is estimated that Tanzania’s SME sector consists of more than 3 million enterprises which contribute to 27% of overall GDP.  Most of them are in the agricultural sector, and more than half are owned by women.  

India: Digital finance models for lending to small businesses

Mihasonirina Andrianaivo's picture
Economic analysis suggests that the next impetus for growth in India's economy will come from micro, small, medium-size enterprises (MSMEs) and startups.

A slew of programs announced in recent years have fostered a more favorable business environment for financial technology – or fintech – models to emerge in the MSME lending space – in India. 

From the Kenyan Debt Office to Washington: Sharpening skills in PPP fiscal risk management

Robert Osudi's picture



Robert Osudi is an economist at the Public Debt Management Office of the National Treasury of Kenya. In addition to working on debt policy, strategy, and risk management, his work in Kenya’s debt office focuses on analyzing fiscal risks, fiscal commitments, and contingent liabilities of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) pipeline projects. Robert is halfway through a four-month special assignment working with the Infrastructure, PPPs & Guarantees (IPG) Group at the World Bank Group as a PPP fiscal risk analyst under the auspices of the Global Secondment Program.
 
The secondment program offers an opportunity for selected officials of a member country, regional agency, development bank, international organization, academia, or private enterprise, to be appointed to the Bank for a specific period to enhance their skills, share knowledge, build strategic alliances, promote cultural exchange and diversification to contribute to the Bank’s work. Secondees are funded by the releasing organization.
 
We sat down with Robert to understand what he is learning during his on-the-job training in Washington and how he can apply that knowledge upon his return to Kenya.

Waste not, want not: PPPs lead to better waste management in Greece

Nikos Mantzoufas's picture


Photo: European Commission 

Greece has had a very poor track record in reducing the amount of waste going into landfills. One of the main reasons for this, other than the NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) opposition to creating waste management facilities, was that for decades choosing the right technology was the apple of discord, causing disagreement and delaying advancement towards integrated waste management. In the last few years, however, three Public-Private Partnership (PPP) waste management projects have been initiated in Greece.

This past July, within two years of signing the PPP contract in 2015, the first project was inaugurated in Western Macedonia—without a day’s delay, any contract change, or cost overrun. The system will cut the amount of waste going to landfill, reuse material for commercially-viable products, boost the region’s growth prospects through job creation, and raise public awareness to prevent waste.


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