This page lists some of the most interesting recent blog posts on Private Sector Development and related issues. It gets updated regularly and aims to show the insightful things people are talking about right now. Let us know if you have any suggestions on what should be included, or any comments on the blogs.
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Leo Horn-Phathanothai of the World Resources Institute posts, The Private Sector and International Development: A Love Affair, or Cold Feet?
Leo Horn-Phathanothai highlights a recent roundtable with representatives from donor agencies and the private sector on their collaboration, co-organized by WRI and the IIED. He notes the key meeting message of increasing intersection of business and aid, and though the pressure for donors is to do more with the private sector, the real challenge is to do better. Though examples of private public partnership were given, participants indentified major hurdles to further collaboration. To overcome these and scale up collaboration, participants suggested the need for more structured dialogue, better evidence, more standardized metrics and space and resources for innovation, risk-taking, and experimentation
Added: 12 April 2013
David Elliott of The Springfield Centre posts, Exploding the myth of challenge funds – a start at least…
David Elliott notes his growing concern about the increasing use of challenge funds in development despite a continuing lack of
proven effectiveness and results
. Reviewing their suggested impact logics, he questions the validity of input additionality claims, and calls for evaluation and evidence to focus on output and
behavioural additionality, with findings fed back into modified
Added: 5 February 2013
The Business Fights Poverty website
offers a special Aid for Trade (Aft) blog series. The eight blogs include an overview of Aid for Trade's current trends and case examples. Dirk Willem te Velde, ODI, looks at the evolutuion of AfT, from its conception at the WTO, to it decoupling to be considered part of aid, and predicts a third stage of connected AfT
where it is 'packaged into a bundle of support, that leverages other financial flows, and that is more firmly connected to a country’s public and private actors and, by extension, connect countries to value chains.'
Added: 22 January 2013
Alice Lépissier, Liza Reynolds and Owen Barder, Center for Global Development, post on ‘Europe’s Policy Footprint on Development.’
They announce a new Europe Beyond Aid initiative and present a summary of its first working paper. This focuses its Commitment to Development Index on Europe. The index aims to go beyond aid effectiveness, to look at development effectiveness across seven development channels: aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, technology and security
. The paper provides a breakdown of which European countries are impressing and which are not for each channel. Looking at Europe as a whole, they note good performance in regards to aid and the environment, but deficiencies in its approach to trade, migration and security compared to other OECD DAC members.
Added: 13 December 2012
Duncan White posts on the Business Innovation Facility’s Practitioner Hub, ‘Donor finance for business – not so easy to find.' He relates challenges a Malawi food processing company had in raising development finance, despite a strong business case and a business model that supported smallholders and the environment. Though there are a many donor and foundation private sector development programmes out there, he was surprised to find few were able to offer finance to a private business, challenge funds aside. Duncan relates this to a donor culture that is still learning how to work with the private sector, unable to assess the best projects to fund and preferring to channel money to businesses through NGOs. He advises donors to engage directly with the private sector and to actively ‘hunt for impact’ – for businesses/business mechanisms to fund that would have significant development impacts.
Added: 13 December 2012
Is trade the new aid?
Fawzia Sheikh documents how Canada eyes resources in Nigeria and Ghana as aid shrinks
. China, India, Turkey, and Brazil are among the emerging markets that have significantly increased trade relationships with Africa in the past. It seems that donor countries like Canada are now going in the same direction, with an initial focus on investing in oil-producing Nigeria and mineral-rich Ghana. While Canada has been criticised by some in the development community for its reduction in foreign aid,and shifted focus on trade, others argue that Canadian investments are important for Africa's continued growth,
but must be ensure consistency with poverty reduction and development goals, such as by including human rights impact assessments in all trade and investment agreements.
Added: 21 November 2012
Industrial policy comes to the fore in two recent blogs. Chris Blattman, Columbia University, highlights ‘The blind spots in the UN development agenda’.
He is positive about some aspects of what David Cameron, UK Prime Minister and Co-chair of the UN High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda
, is supporting in the new development agenda, specifically the prominence given to stability, property rights and strong institutions. However he argues that corruption shouldn’t be given this same prominence. Though societies being ‘open’ is important in itself, Chris notes that this is not necessarily key to economic development and that institutional checks on power are perhaps more important. Of most concern, though, is the lack of support for industrial policy. He argues “What would I like to see? At the heart of the post-2015 agenda, a recognition that low income countries need industry first and foremost, and that this will require a radical rethinking of governance, trade and aid. Buying things other than corn and cotton from poor countries is part of the deal.”
Duncan Green, Oxfam GB, asks ‘What would a global campaign on production and industrial policy look like?’
He relates a keynote address by Ha-Joon Chang at the UK Development Studies Association annual conference, at which Ha-Joon Chang similarly argued that the upgrading of industry and national productive capabilities has characterized most successful national development experiences. However unfortunately few development actors are supporting industrial policies, as neoclassical economics focuses overly on improving the efficiency of market exchange, and the ‘left’ on multi-dimensional poverty reduction. As such, Duncan asks if NGOs should start to campaign on industrial upgrading. He suggests at a trade level, many NGOs have done this, such as criticising intellectual property rules for blocking technology transfer, or pressing to defend ‘policy space’ within the WTO. Duncan also suggests further ways NGOs could do this, such as at a national level, campaigning for natural resource revenues to be used at least partially for industrial upgrading.
Added: 16 November 2012
Hannah Ryder, DFID, and Todd Moss, Center for Global Development, argue whether or not development agencies should support fossil fuels as weapon against energy poverty?
1.3 billion people have no access to energy, but in responding to this, development agencies often have their choices limited, as they also aim to reduce global CO2
emissions. Todd argues that investing in gas-fired power plants could reduce emissions, as they are more efficient than commonly used used diesel generators, while renewable energy by itself won’t reach the scale needed. He further argues that some of the poorest countries have very low per capita emissions, and increasing their access to fossil fuel based electricity would not drastically increase C02
emissions but would help to close the energy poverty gap. He proposes a 20x Exemption Rule where US development investments are allowed in countries whose GNI and CO2
emissions per capita are at least 20 times less than the US. Hannah argues though that investment in high carbon energy doesn’t necessarily lead to a reduction in energy poverty, as often it instead helps those who already have access, implying additional issues of inequality need to be addressed. Noting an apparent rise in fossil fuel price and price volatility, an increased investment in renewable energies is needed.
Added: 5 November 2012
Chad Bown, World Bank, asks if protectionism has increased or decreased over 2011?
Analysing recent World Bank data from 24 major economies, he suggests import protection through temporary trade barriers – such as antidumping, safeguards, and countervailing duties – has increased considerably for a handful of mostly emerging markets in the past year. He notes though that some countries, such as South Africa and Mexico, have reduced their trade barriers.