Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in Project Finance International. A version is reprinted here with their permission.
“How can we as government make the best use of our external advisers?” This is a question we often hear as regular advisers to host governments, or from multilateral or other agencies supporting governments, on the procurement of much needed energy and infrastructure—especially in emerging markets.
Thankfully, this question now comes up more often at the earlier end of the project procurement, rather than near the end.
The World Region
It’s 3/14, also known as Pi Day – a mathematics holiday to celebrate the irrational, transcendental number we learned in school, for the most part, to calculate the circumference or area of circles. While there are a number of fulfilling Pi(e) related activities you can indulge in, from feasting on scrumptious pies to chasing down the value of Pi (good luck!), it is also an apt moment to turn attention to where children across the world stand in mathematics achievement and other learning outcomes.
When we think of scorecards, we think of football or other sports where we want to keep track of how our favorite players and teams are doing. We at the World Bank are also a team – a team battling a very tough opponent; in fact, two opponents: poverty and inequality. While this not a “game” by any means – the stakes are high as the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world are on the line – we also want to keep track of how we’re doing.
Although countries have dramatically closed gender gaps in education and labor force participation, gender differences within education and employment persist. Women earn less income and work in lower paying occupations and sectors than men do. Women are less likely to become entrepreneurs, and, when they do, they typically run smaller, less-profitable firms. These gender gaps in entrepreneurship, incomes, and productivity persist at all levels of development, despite a multitude of policies aimed at eliminating them. And as countries move forward with closing glaring gender differences, other gaps become visible.
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Investing in infrastructure relies on well-designed, solid projects that both governments and private sector investors can confidently support. But globally, the pipeline of such projects is weak. No surprise, then, that actual infrastructure investments fall far short of demand—the resulting infrastructure gap is estimated to be $1 trillion annually. In the poorest developing countries, the situation is worse: since 2012, they have seen overall private investment in infrastructure fall leaving billions without basic services such as electricity, clean water, or sanitation.
As we mark International Women’s day, I’ve been considering how laws often apply differently to men and women. When they work well, laws ensure greater gender equality, offer protection against child marriage and domestic violence, and open up economic opportunities for women and girls.
A new policy paper from the Women, Business and The Law team discusses laws that protect women from violence. Child marriage is one of the first issues they address - . Even where the legal age of marriage is 18 or above, many countries allow countries allow girls to be married earlier with parental consent.
And 17 economies have a different legal age of marriage for boys than for girls. Where this is the case, girls are allowed to get married at a younger age:
As a political scientist specializing in the comparative politics of development, including particular attention to issues of governance and democracy, I have followed this year’s World Development Report with special interest. I have not been alone. WDRs usually attract attention, but this year’s report seems to have attracted more than most. Several constituencies have pushed for some time for a WDR on the topics addressed in this report, and there thus was a lot riding on it in terms of hopes and expectations for a strong statement on governance.
Photo Credit: Flickr user n8agrin
Seven years ago I began working in the infrastructure field, and it has been truly remarkable to witness so much knowledge and so many incredible bright minds dedicated to the cause of providing sustainable and inclusive infrastructures globally, really!
During this time, I have realized how crucial project preparation is even though in the scheme of things it seems like a minute phase of a very long infrastructure life cycle. In fact, I compare the project preparation phase to the “cornerstone concept,” defined as the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.
In other words, if a project is well-prepared, well designed, well-thought of, it is more likely to flow better across the infrastructure life cycle and provide the desired services to the population, and vice versa.
As we mark International Women’s Day this week, and its call for bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity, the role of law in fighting for the human rights and gender equality of women is paramount.
When governments use the law to discriminate against women in some way that disadvantages them in relation to men, they clearly violate the letter and spirit of Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which reinforces equal protection under the law.
Where should telecom providers place their towers and what frequencies should they use?
How can governments best calculate commodity imports to ensure food security?
How can communities better manage areas at risks of floods?
These are just some of the questions that organizations around the world try to answer by using open government data — free, publicly available data that anyone can access and use, without restrictions. Yet around the world, much government data is yet to be made available, and still less in machine-readable formats. In many low and lower-middle income countries, finding and using open data is often challenging. It may take a complicated request process to get data from the government, and the data may come in the form of paper-based documents that are very hard to analyze. A new study looks to better understand how organizations in low and lower-middle income countries utilize machine-readable open data.
In producing the study, the Center for Open Data Enterprise, supported by the World Bank, interviewed dozens of businesses and nonprofit organizations in 20 countries. The organizations were identified through the Open Data Impact Map, a public database of organizations that use open data around the world, and a resource of the Open Data for Development (OD4D) Network. Over 50 use cases were developed as part of this study, each an example of open data use in a low or lower-middle income country.