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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. 

 

 

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    ACCELERATING POVERTY REDUCTION IN AFRICA

    Authors: Kathleen Beegle and Luc Christiaensen
    This report looks beyond the traditional entry points of macroeconomic stability and growth to ask what more can be done to speed up poverty reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa and where policy makers should focus their attention. This policy agenda requires growth where the poor work and live, and as such, this report centers on what it will take to increase the productivity and earnings of poor and vulnerable people and the financing necessary to make this happen.
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    THE FUTURE OF WORK IN AFRICA: HARNESSING THE POTENTIAL OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES FOR ALL

    Authors: Mark Dutz, Jieun Choi & Zainab Usman
    The report examines how the adoption of digital technologies may change the nature of work in sub-Saharan Africa. It concludes that African countries can turn the promise of digital into reality by enabling entrepreneurship, enhancing the productivity of the informal sector, and extending social protection coverage. Policy makers and private sector partners need to make bold choices and investments today that will allow the next generation of African workers, entrepreneurs, and innovators to thrive.
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    THE SKILLS BALANCING ACT IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

    Authors: Omar Arias, David Evans & Indhira Vanessa Santos
    Countries face hard choices to strike the right balance between investing in skills that meet the needs of today's highly informal and agrarian economies and investing in the skills needed to foster economic transformation; and between investing in the skills for the current generation and in those for upcoming ones. This report presents rigorous evidence on interventions that work to improve learning, and Sub-Saharan Africa is often at the frontier of these innovations.
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    ELECTRICITY ACCESS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: UPTAKE, RELIABILITY, AND COMPLEMENTARY FACTORS FOR ECONOMIC IMPACT

    Authors: Moussa P. Blimpo and Malcolm Cosgrove-Davies
    Targeting and promoting productive use of electricity, is a new approach to sustainably address the investment gaps to universal access. This report finds that for electricity provision to be financially sustainable, it is important to prioritize reliability and quality of service, and not just access rates. A multi-sectoral approach that coordinates with complimentary development will address access and amplify electricity’s economic impact.
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    WHICH WAY TO LIVEABLE AND PRODUCTIVE CITIES: A ROADMAP FOR SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

    Authors: Kirsten Hommann and Somik V. Lall
    Africa’s cities and towns face hurdles that—unless overcome—will block their paths to urbanization’s long-term benefits. This report sets forth three pillars that should guide governments in Sub-Saharan Africa as they chart their diverse paths toward livable cities: empowering land markets; strengthening urban planning and regulation; and financing public assets and infrastructure investments.
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    ALL HANDS ON-DECK: REDUCING STUNTING THROUGH MULTISECTORAL EFFORTS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

    Authors: Emmanuel Skoufias, Katja Vinha and Ryoko Sato
    This report offers new insights on how data can strengthen multisectoral efforts aiming to reduce stunting. Successful strategies include scaling up interventions in agriculture (food security), health care, and water and sanitation that are jointly targeted to geographic areas or populations with high prevalence of stunting, in order to improve nutrition. This requires taking stock of existing interventions and redirecting resources and operations to where they are most needed.
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    REALIZING THE FULL POTENTIAL OF SOCIAL SAFETY NETS IN AFRICA

    Authors: Kathleen, Beegle, Aline Coudouel and Emma Monsalve
    This report presents evidence of the impact of social safety nets on equity and poverty reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as building resilience and expanding opportunities for the poorest and most vulnerable, and it explains the systemic shifts that are needed to unleash the full potential of social safety nets in Africa. The study recommends good practices in terms of the nuts and bolts of social safety nets, including the design innovations to facilitate scaling up successful programs.
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    LEAPFROGGING: THE KEY TO AFRICA'S DEVELOPMENT?

    This book argues that it is time to go back to basics of development, think big, and foster the environment for more innovation and technology adoption, to provide the chance for Africa to transform. While it has become customary in the development practice to highlight constraints to investing in Africa, this book argues that those constraints can and must be transformed into investment opportunities. For example, skills, service delivery, access to finance, and energy, are often pointed out as constraints to investment; treating those constraints as investment opportunities, attracting domestic and foreign private sector interest, and creating a conducive environment for technological diffusion is precisely how Africa will harness innovation.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Chief Economist

Albert G. Zeufack
Albert G. Zeufack is the World Bank’s Chief Economist for Africa. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from CERDI, the University of Clermont-Ferrand (France) where he taught before joining the World Bank. Prior to his appointment in May 2016, he was Practice Manager in the Macroeconomics and Fiscal Management Global Practice. He has held several positions in the institution in Africa, East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Central Asia regions. Between 2008 and 2012, on leave from the World Bank, Albert was the Director of Research and Investment Strategy/Chief Economist for Khazanah Nasional Berhad, a Malaysian Sovereign Wealth Fund. More

Core Research Team

Cesar Calderon

César Calderón is a Lead Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist of the Africa Region. He holds a Masters’ Degree and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Rochester, New York. Since 2014, he has been a core team member of the “Africa’s Pulse,” regional flagship on recent macroeconomic developments in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cesar has worked on issues of open economy macroeconomics, growth and development and is currently working on issues of dynamics of capital flows and their link to boom-bust cycles in finance, trade diversification and growth, and policy determinants of macroeconomic resilience. More

Zainab Usman
Zainab Usman is a Public Sector Specialist at the Office of the Chief Economist, Africa Region. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oxford.  Prior to joining the World Bank, Zainab worked at the Blavatnik School of Government, taught the Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) course at the University of Oxford and consulted for the UK Department of International Development (DfID), the Nigerian Government and the World Economic Forum (WEF). Zainab’s research is on the governance and institutions of natural resources management, energy sector reforms and service delivery in Africa as well as south-south economic relations. More