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Office of the Chief Economist, Africa Region



The Africa Regional Studies Program is the World Bank’s main vehicle to produce and disseminate high quality research and analysis on development challenges facing the entire Sub-Saharan continent or a sub-set of countries in the region. The focus of the Africa Regional Studies varies every year, reflecting current policy questions in Sub-Saharan African countries.

Mar 13, 2023

Digital Africa: Technological Transformation for Jobs

This report examines pathways to produce and promote the expanded use of affordable and attractive digital technologies (DTs) that are appropriate for Sub-Saharan Africa’s growing workforce and facilitate continued learning through use.

Mar 24, 2022

Boosting Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa : Policies and Institutions to ...

This book documents the productivity trends in Sub-Saharan Africa in three different dimensions, assessing productivity at the aggregate level, the sectoral level, and the establishment level. It characterizes the evolution of productivity in the region relative to other countries and regions, as well as country groups in Africa, classified by their degree of natural resource abundance and condition of fragility. The volume suggests that the persistence of the productivity gap in Africa vis-à-vis the technological frontier can be attributed to the slow accumulation of physical and human capital relative to the region’s growing population, as well as the poor allocation of these resources.

Feb 10, 2022

Africa in the New Trade Environment: Market Access in Troubled Times (2022)

A new book from the World Bank, Africa in the New Trade Environment: Market Access in Troubled Times, analyzes the trade track ahead of Africa and recommends the kind of aerodynamics, tires, and engine that the region needs to succeed. The book offers a three-pronged policy approach to bolster Africa’s market access in the current global trade environment: evaluate and re-engineer trade with traditional partners, the United States (US) and the European Union (EU); strategically diversify trade with Asia; and look inward to deepen regional trade integration.

Dec 22, 2021

Social Contracts for Development : Bargaining, Contention, and Social ...

Africa’s progress toward shared prosperity requires looking beyond technical policies to understand how the power dynamics and citizen-state relations shape the menu of implementable reforms. A social contract lens can help diagnose constraints, explain outbreaks of unrest, and identify opportunities for improving outcomes. Policies that reflect the demands and expectations of the people lead to more stable and equitable outcomes than those that do not.

Industrialization in Sub-Saharan Africa: Seizing Opportunities in Global Value Chains (2021)
Nov 23, 2021

Industrialization in Sub-Saharan Africa: Seizing Opportunities in Global ...

This report comprehensively reassesses the prospects for industrialization playing a critical role in Sub-Saharan African countries’ development and shows that manufacturing represents a viable path to structural transformation through GVC integration. While countries are relatively well-integrated into GVCs, there is a need for strengthening linkages by increasing value-added to current exports and strategizing to upgrade into high value-added industries. Due to rising wages productivity growth will be critical to promoting competitiveness for sustained job creation in manufacturing and structural transformation.

Oct 09, 2019

Accelerating Poverty Reduction in Africa

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.

Jul 25, 2019

The Future of Work in Africa: Harnessing the Potential of Digital ...

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.

Jun 10, 2019

The Skills Balancing Act in Sub-Saharan Africa

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.

Mar 08, 2019

Electricity Access in Sub-Saharan Africa: Uptake, Reliability, and ...

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.

Mar 28, 2019

Which Way to Liveable and Productive Cities: a Roadmap for Sub-Saharan Africa

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.

Jul 03, 2019

All Hands on-deck: Reducing Stunting Through Multisectoral Efforts in Sub-...

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.

Jul 17, 2018

Realizing the Full Potential of Social Safety Nets in Africa

In Sub-Saharan Africa, despite strong economic growth and improvements in many dimensions of welfare, poverty remains a pervasive and complex phenomenon. The report identifies gaps by contrasting the levels of poverty and vulnerability and the state of social safety net systems in the various sub-regions and countries of Africa. It argues that decisive efforts must focus on three areas: the political, the institutional, and the fiscal; and presents evidence of the impact of social safety nets on equity and poverty reduction.

Mar 19, 2019

Profiting from Parity: Unlocking the Potential of Women's Business in Africa

This report presents the clearest evidence to date about the barriers to growth and profitability faced by women entrepreneurs, and hopes to drive action to ensure that women can fully access the benefits of improved business opportunities.

Sep 20, 2017

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 experience major positive transformations. While it has become customary in the development practice to highlight and quantify constraints to investing in Africa, this book argues that those constraints must be and transformed into investment opportunities, attracting the private sector, both domestic and foreign, and creating a conducive environment for technological diffusion is precisely how Africa will harness innovation toward its prosperity.

Feb 21, 2017

Reaping Richer Returns: Public Spending Priorities for African Agriculture ...

Enhancing the productivity of agriculture is vital for Sub-Saharan Africa's economic future. Not only does agricultural public spending in Sub-Saharan Africa lag behind other developing regions, but its impact is vitiated by subsidy programs and transfers that tend to benefit elites to the detriment of poor people and the agricultural sector itself. How governments elect to spend public resources has significant development impact. A shift toward more effective, efficient, and climate-resilient public spending in agriculture can accelerate change and unleash growth.

Additional Resources


Rose-Claire Pakabomba
Office of the Chief Economist in Africa