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Africa Regional Studies Program

The Africa Regional Studies Program, managed by the Office of the Chief Economist for Africa, is open to researchers across the World Bank Group. It seeks to sponsor the production of several in-depth studies with financial and analytical support. It does so by providing funds to carry out research, and creating the fora for authors to share ideas and receive feedback from top experts on the topics they are exploring. The Chief Economist for the Africa Region serves as the head of the research program, leading regional efforts to select the best and more relevant topics for research, chairing all review meetings, and clearing all final reports for publication.

The focus of the Africa Regional Studies varies every year, reflecting current policy questions in Sub-Saharan African countries. It has covered such issues as youth employment, conflict, vulnerability and risk, and structural transformation, among others. Some of the studies are led by researchers in the Chief Economist Office of the Africa Region, who assemble a team of cross-sectoral experts from inside and outside the World Bank. Others are led by staff sitting in Global Practices with similarly diverse teams. 

Several Africa Regional Studies are published as books in the Africa Development Forum Series, the premier collection of World Bank research on Africa, sponsored by the Agence Française de Développement and the World Bank. The manuscripts chosen for publication in these series represent the highest quality in each institution’s research activities and are selected for their relevance to the development agenda following an external review process. 



Africa's Cities: Opening Doors to the World
This study, however, identifies a deeper reason: African cities are closed to the world. Compared with other developing cities, cities in Africa produce few goods and services for trade on regional and international markets.
Published in February 2017

Africa Youth Employment Flagship
The goal of this study is to produce original analytic work to influence the policies and programs of Sub-Saharan African governments to assist them in increasing the access of youth to opportunities for higher productivity employment.
Published in 2014

Natural Resources and Conflicts: Could Public Spending Have Mitigating Effects?
This study researches the evidence on the role of public spending in mitigating conflict risks by discussing international experience and offering policy options.
Published in 2014

Improving Skills Development in the informal sector: strategies for Sub-Saharan Africa
The goal of this piece is to raise the productivity and incomes of those working in household enterprises; and developing a strategy to help improving skills for the informal sector and strengthening links between education/skills development and informal economy.
Published in 2013

African Success Stories
The objective of this research study is to showcase recent African development successes with a view to deepen understanding of how countries have overcome development challenges; promote regional learning; and facilitate spread of that learning in terms of transferability and adaptation.
Published in 2012

A Study of Cargo Delays and Logistics costs in Sub-Saharan Africa 
This study is collects disaggregated data on dwell time for a selected number of ports in Africa and data from logistics services operators to assess their costs and services prices. It also undertakes firm surveys (manufacturers and retailers) to assess the extent of logistics constraints on importers/exporters, large/small-scale companies, traders.
Published in 2012

Impact of fuel price distortion to transport costs and economic growth in Africa
The goals of the study are to examine, identify and quantify the fuel price build-up in selected countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and to quantify the impact of high fuel prices to transport costs through which the export competitiveness of the countries could be affected.
Published in 2012

ICT Transformation in Africa
This study looks at ICT as enabler of transformation in Africa and examines how they (especially mobile phones) have the potential to change fundamental business and service delivery models in key sectors of Africa, including Agriculture, Education, Energy/Clean Technology, Climate Change Adaption, Financial Services, Health, and the delivery of Public Services. It also looks at how the local ICT sector is being harnessed to promote innovation, job creation and export potential. It analyzes the impact of emerging innovative approaches from around the world, and recommends practical approaches to implement such applications on a large scale in Africa.
Published in 2012

Financing Africa: Through the Crisis and Beyond
This study provides a new approach to Africa's financial sector development. First, policy makers should focus on increasing competition within and outside the banking sector to foster innovation. This implies a more open regulatory mindset, possibly reversing the usual timeline of legislation-regulation-innovation for new players and products. It also implies expanding traditional infrastructure, such as credit registries and payment systems beyond banks. Second, the focus should be on services rather than existing institutions and markets. Expanding provision of payment, savings and other financial services to the unbanked might mean looking beyond existing institutions, products, and delivery channels, such as banks, traditional checking accounts, and brick-and-mortar branches.
Published in 2012

Albert G. Zeufack
Chief Economist, World Bank Africa Region

Cesar Calderon
Lead Economist, World Bank Africa Region

Zainab Usman
Social Development Specialist