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Does rural Africa have a ‘youth problem’?

26. Februar 2020 - 14:11

More than 20 million young people aged 15-24 join the workforce in Africa south of the Sahara every year. These young job seekers will need to find work in today’s more competitive global economy, and not everyone thinks they will be successful.

Many governments are concerned about the prospect of widespread youth unemployment and the political unrest that this “youth bulge” could bring. Concerns are perhaps greatest for rural Africa, where global poverty is concentrating and job opportunities beyond smallholder farming are few and far between.

Although creating enough jobs in Africa is a daunting challenge, there are reasons for optimism. Many people highlight the fact that younger Africans are generally better educated than older generations and are often more comfortable with new technologies.

Young people may be better equipped to use modern farming practices, start new businesses in rural areas, or take advantage of opportunities in Africa’s growing cities.

In short, many people think young job seekers could be the “agents of change” that rural Africa sorely needs.

It turns out, though, that the concerns and optimism about African youth is not well grounded in evidence. In our new book, Youth and Jobs in Rural Africa, we revisit the so-called facts that underpin much of our understanding about the prospects of African youth.

A more careful look at the data reveals that Africa does not have a “youth problem”, but rather faces the broader challenge of promoting inclusive economic development. Moreover, while young people are better educated, this is no guarantee that they will be in the vanguard of rural development.

We compare Africa’s youth bulge to those of other developing regions and find that, while Africa’s youth bulge is late, its scale is not unprecedented. The share of youth in Africa’s workforce today is similar to what it was in other regions back in the 1970s and 1980s.

Africa’s economic performance today is also, by some measures, better than it was in other regions back when their youth populations peaked. This should make us more hopeful about Africa’s ability to address its own demographic transition.

Our coauthors revisit the assumptions made about youth in rural Africa.

It is commonly believed that youth, with their better education, will lead the way in modernizing agriculture.

However, evidence from household surveys in five African countries suggest otherwise.

Young farmers in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Malawi are less likely than older farmers to use improved seeds and fertilizers or receive advice from extension officers.

The larger problem, however, is that young and older farmers alike have limited access to new technologies and that, even when used, these technologies may not make farming much more productive.

It also often assumed that the youth are more likely to start and run successful businesses. This turns out to be true in Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, and Tanzania. However, the non-farm sector in these countries remains small and creates few jobs.

Moreover, despite being better educated, young people often run less productive businesses, such as informal trading. So even when youth are actively participating in rural transformation, it may still be their elders who benefit more.

Urban migration is often seen as a pathway that favors youth. Young workers in Malawi and Tanzania are more likely to migrate to cities and towns, and this raises their incomes and benefits their households back in rural areas.

But most young migrants do not move to urban centers, but rather to other rural areas where they continue to work in agriculture. So, while youth are more inclined to migrate, their role in linking rural areas to urban opportunities should not be overstated.

Ultimately, for younger and older Africans alike to prosper, they need policies that produce better economic opportunities overall—not policies that narrowly focus just on youth or technology.

While job creation is a major goal for most African governments, the needs of rural job seekers are not well-represented in policies.

A review of African policies reveals that labor supply issues, such as skills development, are paid far more attention than labor demand issues, such as stimulating private sector growth.

Education is not enough—evidence from Ghana and Tanzania shows that a successful rural enterprise depends on access to roads and electricity and on the broader economic environment.

Substantial policy reforms and investments are needed to create enough jobs in Africa. The good news is that there is a clear alignment of interests and incentives. Surveys show that young Africans are only slightly more likely than adults to protest, but they are more often motivated by concerns about unemployment.

To avoid youth protests, governments need to assure young people that their policies are aimed at enhancing the youth’s long-term job prospects rather than simply mobilizing short-term political support.

Africa can avoid widespread youth unemployment, just as other regions have, but this will require policies that help whole economies to flourish and create better jobs for everyone.

This is an International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) original post. Please find the original here.

Het bericht Does rural Africa have a ‘youth problem’? verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Development policy in the populist era

25. Februar 2020 - 10:11

When people are not voting in their economic self-interest, how should development policy be designed? By emphasizing redistribution over efficiency, to signal that government is delivering to the public, thereby helping to restore people’s confidence in government.

Notwithstanding remarkable progress in reducing poverty, including in the last decade, the developing world enters the 2020s in a precarious state. India is running out of water. Much of the Middle East is mired in civil war or violent conflict. The number of African countries in debt distress has more than doubled. Climate change is already affecting the Sahel, home to some of the world’s poorest people. The trade war between the U.S. and China, if it escalates, could disrupt a main engine of poverty reduction. Rich countries are putting up barriers to migration, stifling opportunities to increase productivity sixfold and to provide aging societies with young people.

Most, if not all, of these problems are the result of public policies that are politically attractive but eventually end up hurting everybody, including the poor. India has resisted charging for water on grounds that water is essential for life and the poor will not be able to pay for it. As a result, the country is running out of water and the poor have the least access to what is left. The crises in the Middle East stem from policies such as fuel subsidies and guaranteed public-sector jobs that were not sustainable. African countries borrowed for infrastructure without the necessary policy reforms, leading to little improvement in infrastructure services and hence growth. The U.S.’s tariffs on Chinese imports have hurt American producers and consumers. Migration restrictions, aimed at reducing unemployment in the host country, have the opposite effect because migrants and indigenous workers are typically complements not substitutes.

Despite the harmful effects of these populist policies, politicians who advocate them get elected and reelected. Efforts at reforming the policies are met with resistance and potentially destabilizing protests (the civil war in Yemen broke out the day after they cut fuel subsidies). Why, in a world that is becoming increasingly democratic, do people vote for politicians who are not delivering for the majority? Why do they oppose reforms that could leave them better off?

One answer is that the voters are not well-informed, especially about the link between public policies and outcomes. [Anecdote: I spent a week in western India, living and working with a poor woman. One day, her son was sick, and she took him to a local, private doctor (who I suspect was a quack). When I asked her why she didn’t take him to the public clinic, which was free, she replied, “Because the doctor is never there.” I then asked her why the doctor was not there. Her answer was poignant: “It’s because the rains didn’t come this year.”] Politicians have an incentive to keep voters in the dark, so they would not be held accountable for poor development outcomes. In response, there have been several efforts at improving information and transparency in developing countries. Rigorous evaluations of these programs show that, in some cases, disseminating information about performance has an effect on electoral outcomes. For example, publishing information from audit reports in Mexico led to the parties of malfeasant mayors being defeated in the next election.

But recent events prompt a reconsideration of this information-driven model of populism. The U.K.’s vote on Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. are arguably examples where a relatively well-informed electorate voted against their economic self-interest. When, in early 2012, the Nigerian government announced a sharp reduction in fuel subsidies, protests broke out all over the country. Even though the subsidy cuts disproportionately hurt rich people, many of the protestors were poor. Why? Because the levels of corruption and mismanagement in Nigeria were so high that fuel subsidies were the only way ordinary Nigerians saw any benefit from the country’s oil wealth. When the government promised to use some of the savings from fuel subsidy reduction to compensate the poor, the protests continued. Since the government had done little to help the poor in the past, why would they do so now?

When the government loses credibility, populist policies such as subsidized water and electricity, are much harder to reform. No amount of information (including information about how the poor will benefit from the reforms) will stop the protests against reforms.

We need a new model, one that is aimed at rebuilding trust in government.

A clue to that model comes from an experience in Iran with subsidy reform. In the mid-2000s, energy subsidies in Iran constituted an unsustainable 25 percent of GDP. But promises that subsidy removal would be accompanied by targeted cash transfers were met with skepticism. The government of Iran did something different. They handed out the cash transfers ahead of the subsidy reform. People could see the money in their bank account but they could not spend it until the subsidies were removed. The reforms were implemented with hardly any protest.

The Iranian experiment could be the basis of a new model. The typical sequence is that governments propose an efficiency-enhancing policy, such as subsidy reform or trade liberalization, and then consider redistributive policies to compensate those who are harmed by the efficiency policies. A new model would reverse that sequence. Government first commits to redistribution and then looks for efficiency-enhancing policies to pay for it.

At one level, the net result of the package of policies will be no different. However, in the setting where citizens have lost faith in government’s ability to do something for them, this reversal of the order is critical. It signals government’s commitment to benefit the poor—something government has been unable to do in the past. It may help reestablish citizens’ confidence in government and, as in the case of Iran’s subsidy reform, build political support for these efficiency- and equity-enhancing reforms.

The populist era—not to mention the dangerous situation the world is in—calls for a substantial reconsideration of development policies. Seemingly beneficial, pro-poor reforms are stymied because citizens, even if they are fully informed, do not trust governments to act in their interest. One solution is to shift the stance of government from a growth-with-equity engine to one that is focused on equity, with the growth component mainly to finance its redistributive stance.

This blog is sourced from the Brookings blog series Future Development. The original can be found on the Brookings website here.

Het bericht Development policy in the populist era verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Webinar: private sector interventions and better-quality job creation for Africa’s youth

17. Februar 2020 - 17:11

On 5 February, INCLUDE and the Youth Employment Funders Group organized a webinar during which Evert-jan Quak, research officer at the Institute of Development Studies, presented the key findings from the evidence synthesis paper on Private sector development interventions and better-quality job creation for youth in Africa: linking business performance with productivity growth and sustainable job creation. This paper, co-authored by Justin Flynn, was published in the frame of the ‘Boosting decent employment for Africa’s youth’ joint research initiative between INCLUDE, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), under the umbrella of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth. Following the presentation of the paper, Theodore Klouvas, Programme Manager for Orange Corners Africa & Middle East and Policy Officer for Youth & Employment at the Netherlands Enterprise & Development Agency (RVO), commented on the findings from a practitioner’s perspective. The webinar ended with a round of questions from the audience.

Watch the webinar:

You can also download the webinar’s PowerPoint and the evidence synthesis paper, including the complete list of recommendations.


Key findings and recommendations

Below you can find a summary of some of the key points presented during the webinar by Evert-jan Quak and Theodore Klouvas.

Evert-Jan Quak

Selected key findings
  • The main research question in this evidence synthesis paper is: How can donors and governments, through private sector development interventions, provide greater employment opportunities (quality and quantity) for Africa’s young people?
  • Low productivity firms and sectors in Africa are one of the most important constraints on economic development (e.g. competitiveness, attracting investment).
  • There are different types of private sector development (PSD) interventions:
    • Micro-level PSD interventions, directly supporting firms (financially and non-financially)
    • Meso-level PSD interventions, supporting the development of specific sectors and value chains
    • Macro-level PSD interventions, supporting the development of the overall business enabling environment and the investment climate
  • The effectiveness of PSD interventions differs with the level and size of the firms targeted.
  • So far, research shows mixed results about the impact of PSD interventions on better quality job creation for youth in Africa.
  • Among PSD interventions, those enhancing higher productivity in labour-intensive sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing (especially food processing and light industry such as textiles), and construction create most employment (for youth) in Africa.
  • Investments in capital-abundant sectors may produce relatively few jobs in the short term, but in the long term they generate ‘transformational’ effects, such as increases in labour productivity, which are the source of higher incomes and could spur labour market dynamics through induced job creation.
Selected conclusions
  • On the micro-level, finance tends to have positive effects on job creation, particularly for larger firms. However, for micro and small firms better access to finance may result in better firm performance, but not necessarily job creation.
  • On the meso-level, value chain/sector interventions are most effective when targeting labour-intensive sectors (e.g. agriculture, manufacturing), due to the potential for increases in (labour) productivity. However, job quality remains low. Higher quality may be achieved in more capital-intensive sectors.
  • On the macro-level, investment climate and business environment interventions are linked to the demands and needs of larger businesses (often through powerful political connections), while smaller firms are often not involved in decision-making processes or even consulted.
  • Context-specificity and better data are key for employment outcomes through PSD interventions and investments to develop certain types of businesses, value chains, or sectors.
Selected recommendations PSD intervention providers should seek a balance between generating additional jobs for youth in the labour market and better quality jobs (both in informal and formal sectors).

To understand specific and localized constraints, PSD interventions should sensitize engagement with specific youth groups, targeting diagnostics on these groups.

PSD interventions should internalize youth employment issues and aggregate data collection to secure youth employment outcomes.

Invest in long-term comprehensive PSD approaches focused on a specific value chain or sector that include seeking linkages between large formal and small (informal) firms, as they demonstrate the best youth employment outcomes.
Theodore Klouvas

Selected reflections More (long-term) programmes supporting job creation for youth should be co-created with local partners and youth themselves to ensure a good understanding of the local context.

A context conscious approach is very important. International organizations should invest more time in trying to understand the context they operate in. That way, continuity is inserted and guaranteed, as well as the better involvement of local teams.

Data collection is key! Practitioners need reliable aggregated data to properly measure the progress and impact of their programmes.

Different youth employment programmes need more local visibility to inform and attract youth. Social media and e-commerce platforms can play an important role and increase the outreach of organizations and programmes through advertising. For this, investment in new or improved physical infrastructure is needed.

Donor harmonization is necessary. Open and transparent donor coordination and knowledge exchange would reduce the inefficiency of some programmes and help avoid possible duplications. Donors should be finding synergies in their plans and ideas.


Het bericht Webinar: private sector interventions and better-quality job creation for Africa’s youth verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Four ways governments can leverage 4IR to achieve the SDGs

13. Februar 2020 - 10:56
Key messages
  • Digital technologies can drive inclusive and sustainable growth in low and middle-income countries.
  • Governments must develop policies to maximize the benefits from digitalization.
  • If not managed well, the digital revolution could exacerbate inequalities.


The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is expanding at an exponential rate. Global internet traffic has grown from 100 gigabytes a day in 1992 to more than 45,000 a second in 2017 – transforming industries, economies and societies.

Technologies are driving development: satellite data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing are being used to detect illegal mining, tackle deforestation and manage freshwater resources; drones and machine learning are increasing crop yields; e-learning is making education cheaper and more accessible; and smart grids and solar panels are bringing electricity to underserved rural areas.


Read INCLUDE’s two-pager series on the future of work, skills and industrialisation in Africa.


If managed well, digitalization can open up new pathways for regional integration, economic development and prosperity. However, gains from 4IR are unevenly distributed, both between and within countries. ODI research shows that, while expanding internet penetration has boosted productivity by 11% in middle-income countries, the impact in low-income countries is just 3%.


Low and middle-income countries (LMICs) urgently need to unlock the new possibilities of digital technologies to drive inclusive and sustainable growth to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensure that no one is left behind. Unleashing the full potential of technologies means scaling them faster, globally and in an appropriate way in order to deliver on the 2030 Agenda in time, and ensure that the benefits of 4IR are distributed inclusively and sustainably. Here are four ways governments can help do this.

1. Expand access for the bottom billion

Lack of access to digital infrastructure is a key challenge in LMICs: both hard infrastructure, such as telecoms networks, sensors and ICT equipment; and software, human capabilities and appropriate regulation, including taxation and fiscal policy. Strengthening basic digital infrastructure will mean lowering the cost of capital and internet in developing countries, developing public-access solutions and sharing digital infrastructure. In terms of data infrastructure, there is a need for governments to build capabilities and frameworks around the classification of data and lay down data standards. Companies need to lead on the collection and processing of data.

Connectivity must improve. ITU data suggests that only 25% of people in sub-Saharan Africa have access to the internet, compared to the global average of 50%. Within Africa there is significant disparity in internet access and use; penetration lags behind in landlocked countries, in rural compared to urban areas, and between men and women, who tend to have less access to digital technologies and skills. Poor infrastructure – unreliable power supply, low postal competency, inadequate roads and ports – also constrains the use of digital technologies.

2. Innovate for sustainability and job creation

While there are growing concerns that automation will displace jobs in some sectors, digitalization will also create new employment opportunities by lowering the costs of trade, reducing barriers to market entry, expanding market access and boosting productivity. In Tanzania, for example, the Flying Labs hub is creating new jobs in robotics technology and data product.

Generating these new jobs will require investment in digital and soft skills through education and training, and policies for fostering competitive and innovative economies. Digital solutions can help, at least to some extent; EdTech, for instance, can increase productivity at the point of delivery, improving connectivity. But the Digital Manifesto, developed by the Pathways Commission, reminds us that technology is not a silver bullet: governments need to be wise with their choices to ensure that health, education and other services are effective, efficient and equitable.

3. Finance and scale tech for good

Unclear direction, short-term goals and lack of government support for investment are key challenges in leveraging the full potential of technologies for the SDGs. There is a lack of a common purpose and language – including an agreed definition of “tech for good”. These challenges are compounded by lack of capital and insufficient early-stage investment. Financing models are not set up to incentivise investment for long-term gains. Effectively scaling up these technologies will require efforts across multiple stakeholders. The Coalition for Digital Intelligence, for example, is a multi-stakeholder community that will coordinate the implementation of a digital intelligence framework across both the technology and education sectors, making sure that both work together.

4. Update regulatory frameworks for the platform age

LMICs are facing even greater regulatory challenges with the rising power of e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Alibaba. The emergence of these digital giants is making it increasingly important for countries to build capacity to develop appropriate competition and fiscal policies. Australia, for instance, has passed new tax legislation on low-value imported goods and digital goods and services (e.g. music bought online or digital streaming services).

4IR is also changing the nature of work. While digital platforms such as Upwork are reducing the cost of exchange within the informal economy, the demand for digital labour comes mainly from wealthy economies, with workers across the globe competing for employment.

This distributed supply and concentrated demand implies significantly increased competition and rising precarity of work, with online work often being re-outsourced to LMICs under worse conditions. A recent survey by the International Labour Organisation found that crowd-workers in North America, Europe and Central Asia earn more than workers in Africa and the Asia-Pacific: in North America $4.70 per hour and in Europe and Central Asia $3.00 per hour, compared to $1.33 in Africa and $2.22 in Asia and the Pacific. Labour regulations therefore need to be reshaped to protect and bolster the livelihoods of both the physical and the digital workforce.

There is an urgent need for governments in LMICs to weigh up the opportunities and challenges presented by the digital economy and develop appropriate policies to maximise the benefits from digitalization, complementing both national and regional priorities for achieving the SDGs. The opportunities presented by the digital revolution are enormous but, if not managed properly, they could be outweighed by the risk that they will exacerbate existing inequalities and/or create new ones, slowing progress towards the SDGs.

This article was part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. The original post can be accessed here.

Het bericht Four ways governments can leverage 4IR to achieve the SDGs verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Will the 2020s be the decade of Africa’s economic transformation?

13. Februar 2020 - 10:12

Ethiopia’s remarkable record of economic growth and home-grown development path has inspired the whole continent of Africa.

In reviewing the decade, a recent Financial Times article, Ethiopia seizes crown as the fastest-growing country in the 2010s acknowledges this fact. The country’s focus on productive investment, industrialisation, and education continues to generate jobs and economic growth. Here I look at the growing impact of foreign investment across Africa and consider the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for the continent.

Africa’s bright spot

As the last decade drew to a close, Ethiopia, with its population of 112 million, is one of many countries to top the list for economic growth. The country’s gross domestic product has jumped by 146.7% since 2009, and its per-capita purchasing power parity has risen by 149%. According to the World Development Indicators, Ethiopia’s economic growth has averaged 10.5% since 2004, twice the African average, while life expectancy in the country rose from 44 to 66 years between 1990 and 2016, also twice the average for the continent.

Unlike other countries, Ethiopia’s development path has been home-driven, without the advantages of endowment in natural resources such as oil and minerals. It has therefore focussed on developing productive capacity and attracting productive investment by building physical infrastructure and developing human capital, especially in vocational education and transforming the university system.

Towards investment in the manufacturing sector

In 2010, Ethiopia shifted its attention towards attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) into the productive sector, particularly manufacturing, promoting targeted sectors and firms, and working closely with investors. Four-fifths of FDI inflow into Ethiopia in the last few years has been destined for manufacturing, indicating that the government’s strategy of shifting investment into productive sectors is bearing fruit.

Manufacturing FDI also needs to be channelled towards expanding the export sector to tackle the balance-of-payments constraint. A major challenge for policy-makers is how to sustain double-digit growth while at the same time:

  • Generating enough decent jobs;
  • Expanding the export sector;
  • Resolving the balance-of-payments constraint;
  • Building a solid manufacturing base;
  • Transforming the agriculture sector.

Ethiopia has built world-class industrial parks to attract investment, facilitate skill and know-how transfer, and promote linkages and environmental sustainability. This enabled it to increase FDI four-fold between 2012 and 2017. The country’s share of East Africa’s FDI inflows rose from 10% to about 50% and inflows into the rest of the continent from 1% to 10%.

For many foreign investors, the main reason for investing in landlocked Ethiopia has been the government’s commitment to support investors and engage in dialogue.

Attracting targeted and productive FDI is essential for creating jobs, broadening the skills base of the local industrial workforce, motivating domestic firms, and sharing management know-how.

Three ways to attract productive FDI

Africa’s economic performance since 2000 has significantly improved following the sluggish growth of the 1980s and 1990s, a period associated with Washington Consensus prescriptions for economic liberalisation. Although not comparable with that of Asia, Africa’s average annual GDP growth rate for the last 20 years has been 4.6%, but growth has been uneven across African countries (see my forthcoming book on African Economic Development: Evidence, Theory, and Policy with Cramer and Sender).

Ethiopia’s rapid and inspirational growth symbolises the continent’s bright future. At a time of slow global economic growth, African policy-makers should single-mindedly focus on building the continent’s production capacity and attracting productive FDI in three ways.

1. Create the necessary conditions for productive investment

While improving the business climate is essential, it is not enough. Productive investment requires educated personnel, energy infrastructure, and investment in efficient connectivity.

2. Avoid focussing solely on generic foreign investors

Evidence shows that the growth outcomes of FDI for host countries are mixed, with some of it simply ‘phantom’ rather than real capital and bricks-and-mortar investment. African governments should identify their priority sectors and the most promising sources for better quality FDI, and should also target selected firms. An institution fit for purpose should be developed to act as a single investment window, provide better coordination mechanisms, and build the diverse expertise required to attract, facilitate, and retain targeted FDI. Without these essential reforms, there can be no improvement in investment promotion outcomes.

3. Build pockets of excellence and create an industrial ecosystem

There is a need to build and expand industrial parks. Unfortunately, even policymakers often misunderstand the role of industrial parks and that they require a strategic approach linked to creating a wider productive ecosystem. Ethiopia’s approach to building an industrial ecosystem has been driven by learning from others and finding unique solutions to the various challenges and binding constraints.

The mission and challenges ahead

Many countries have encouraged their firms to invest in Africa, but have failed to have a major impact.

The conventional paradigm in advanced economies (such as European countries) must change from the dominant ‘donor‒recipient’ to ‘new growth generation’ that positively feeds Africa’s economic transformation.

The focus must shift to expanding trade, productive investment, financing infrastructure, and collaboration to build human capital.

For instance, in the last few years, the UK’s Official Development Assistance has increasingly focussed on supporting Ethiopia’s industrialisation path. The UK government is also organising the UK‒Africa Investment Summit to give more impetus to the flow of productive investment. However, it is important to note that these efforts are not enough and can only succeed where a government committed to rapid economic growth and economic transformation is playing a key developmental role (see the forthcoming book The Oxford Handbook of Industrial Policy). More needs to be done if the growth initiative and dynamics of many African countries are to be infused.

What Africa needs is not predatory states, but governments that have a strong commitment to economic progress, are capable of setting out policies that benefit Africans, and that support initiatives from the private sector and other social groups. Governments that champion economic development provide stronger support to the private sector, generate new investment opportunities, and improve the livelihoods of their people. It is a pity that the most fashionable prescription of our time has focussed on preaching for a dysfunctional or inactive government, rather than a proactive government that champions economic transformation.

Another critical issue is that Africa should continue to engage with its traditional partners (the ‘west’ and the ‘north’), but it also needs new partners from the east and the south. The economic ties between Africa and China are a good example of how African countries can generate win-win benefits, especially when it comes to attracting productive investment, trade, financing infrastructure, and human capital. This should induce other countries to develop ties with Africa’s interest at their heart, not governed by ‘pre-conditionality,’ but based on values of mutual respect and non-interference in others’ internal affairs.

This will help to build a more prosperous Africa and turn the coming ten years into the decade of Africa’s economic transformation.

This blog is sourced from the Overseas Development Institute website. Access the original here.

Het bericht Will the 2020s be the decade of Africa’s economic transformation? verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

All eyes on inequality in the 2020s

5. Februar 2020 - 10:44

INCLUDE identifies the reduction of inequality as the core of its inclusive development agenda, as outlined in its 7 policy principles on inclusive development and its knowledge agenda. Development is not automatically inclusive, as wealth does not automatically trickle down through society in an equitable manner. Hence, the first and foremost policy principle is “to assess policies, programmes and interventions for their distributional consequences, not merely their absolute outcomes”.

While inequality has been studied for many years, there has recently been more attention paid to the detrimental socio-economic costs of high levels of inequality, such as the limits on economic growth, macroeconomic stability, and various social and political impacts. An overview of these is provided in this two-pager.

This wider acknowledgement of the issue is reflected in the frequency of recent high-level reports that centre their message around inequality reduction, including:

…and so on. The rising piles of evidence on the implications of current levels of economic inequality can no longer be ignored.

Figure 1. Trends in income inequality (GINI) in Africa 1993–2011 (Source: UNDP, 2017)

Towards achieving SDG 10

In the meantime, progress on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 – ‘Reduced inequalities’ – remains slow. The 2019 SDG progress report describes the levels of inequality within and among countries as “a persistent cause for concern, despite progress in some areas”.

Within the African context, inequality trends have varied significantly over space, time and level of development. Countries like Ethiopia, Mali and Burkina Faso have experienced drops in rates of income inequality (GINI) since the 1990s, while particularly the southern part of Africa has experienced the opposite (with the exception of Namibia). Figure 1 shows the various trends of inequality since the 1990s, where several countries have seen their inequalities increase and then decline (inverted U-shape) or vice versa (U-shape). The relationship between economic development, poverty and inequality is heterogeneous, with some countries experiencing large drops in poverty, yet rising inequality, and vice versa. Moreover, countries in the Sahel with low levels of inequality have higher levels of human development.

With 10 out of the 19 most unequal countries being located in Africa, the reduction of both income and non-income inequality is a top priority for the continent. Despite the abundance of evidence, inequality reduction has not yet become a priority for policymakers, as it is amongst knowledge institutions. While the drivers of inequality reduction are somewhat country specific, it is clear that countries that make little attempt to reduce inequality are seeing inequality increase. Having already been underway for five years, achieving SDG 10 on inequality, thus, requires national governments, particularly those with largely dualistic economies, to seriously step up their game in the 2020s. And the publications listed above describe numerous ways for them to do so, including social protection, progressive taxation and labour policies.

Het bericht All eyes on inequality in the 2020s verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Social protection papers of 2019

27. Januar 2020 - 12:22

It has been a very exciting year for social protection! In 2019, my weekly social protection links newsletter reviewed 1042 materials in 43 editions. So here is a personal selection of papers articulated around 10 major themes. Enjoy!

1. Economic and other long-term effects

Daidone et al have a great article summarizing and explaining the economic effects of cash transfers in 7 African countries. Egger et al add another precious data point on the multiplier effects of cash transfers (I counted 12 such points for the moment): in Kenya, every $ injected generates $2.6 in the local economy.

Blattman et al show that after 5 years, a one-off cash grants in Ethiopia has fading effects. Similarly, in Malawi Baird et al estimate that the impact on reduced fertility of an unconditional cash transfers on adolescent girls rapidly vanished.

In Mexico, after 20 years of operations cash transfers ex-beneficiaries showed higher ownership of durable assets (Aguilar et al); 49.2% of them experienced upward mobility (Yaschine et al); they grew 2.8-4.1cm taller and have 5.3-5.7 more years of schooling than their parents (Gutierrez et al), with enrollment in secondary school increasing by 5-10 percentage points over grades 7-12 (Behrman et al). A 10-country review by Millan et al found that the evidence is strong on school completion, more mixed on learning, and limited on employment. Another paper by Millan et al estimate that 13 years after its inception, transfers in Honduras increased secondary education completion by 50%, but also rose the chance of migration by 3-7 percentage points.

2. Health, nutrition and education

Klein et al show that cash transfer participants in Buenos Aires showed higher success rates against tuberculosis (TB); yet Rudgard et al estimate that making transfers “TB-sensitive” would require an additional budget between $165M and $298M per country. Choko et al showed that in Malawi cash plus HIV self-test kits increased HIV anti-retroviral therapy compared to other solutions. Palermo et al find that in Ghana, combining cash and health measures increased enrolment in health insurance in the treatment group from an average of 37.4% to 46.6%.

In Ecuador, Moncayo et al show that a 1% increase in the coverage of cash transfers decreases mortality from malnutrition by about 3%. In Nigeria, Okeke and Abubakar estimate that cash reduced mortality of children in utero by at least 20%. Celhay et al found that cash increased the survival rates of birth cohorts exposed to the program by up to 14.7%. and Dow et al find that in the US, a 10% increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit or in the minimum wage reduces suicides between 3.6 and 5.5%.

In Ghana, Gelli et al found that the national school meals program improved stunting among children of 5-8 years (effect size: 0.12 standard deviations). Neufeld et al on the history of nutrition evidence on cash transfers in Mexico. And a paper by Evans and Yuan shows that girl-targeted versus general interventions in education seem to deliver similar gains, including featuring cash transfers both at the top and bottom among the most effective interventions.

3. Gender

Peterman et al summarize the impacts of safety nets on gender in Africa: safety nets perform well in reducing physical violence as well as improving psychological well-being, dietary diversity and savings. But changes in labor force participation are minimal. In terms of toolkits, FAO produced great guidelines on gender-sensitive cash transfers and public works.

A review of evidence on social assistance and intimate partner violence (IPV) by Hidrobo and Roy shows reductions in physical violence between 25-41% in Bangladesh, Ecuador, and Mali. Another brief by Heise summarizes results from 22 studies across 13 countries.

4. Crime

Tuttle shows that banning convicted drug felons from SNAP food stamps in the United States makes them more likely to return to jail. Sviatschi estimates that in Peru, cash transfers reduced drug production. And in Brazil, Machado et al find that Bolsa reduced homicide rate and hospitalizations due to violence by 8-25%.

5. Crises

Barca and Beazley estimate that it takes between 2 weeks to 14 months to scale up social protection in response to natural disasters. Bruck et al show that a new generation of 7 high-quality evaluations sheds light on social protection in fragile and displacement settings. Cherrier et al produced an excellent compendium on humanitarian-social protection linkages, while Seyfert et examine the trade-offs of integrating refugees into national safety nets.

6. Universality and targeting

A new book by Gentilini et al offers a framework to navigate the analytics, evidence and practices on universal basic income (UBI), while Banerjee et al discuss how UBI may address barriers like lack of credit, insurance or psychological factors among low-income people. Jolliffe et al show that SNAP, the American “floor for the poorest”, has been sinking over the past 30 years.

ILO and UNICEF have an overview note on “universal” child grants present in 21 countries, while Kidd and Athias offer a critique of proxy means testing. In Indonesia, Tohari et al estimates that the poverty-based unified database of beneficiaries improved the chance of participating in 3 core programs by 117%, while Bah et al estimate that if all households were included in such database undercoverage would be reduced by one-third. Bonus: Ndiaye et al trace the evolution of the national social registry in Senegal.

7. Insurance and labor markets

Packard et al examines how social protection could be adapted to the changing nature of work, while Jorgensen and Siegel unveil social risk management 2.0. Guven shows that in Africa only 10.6% of Africa’s working-age population contributes to pension schemes. The ILO has a fascinating “living document” laying out a number of options disaggregated by occupation.

review of minimum wages in high-income countries by Dube finds “… muted effect of minimum wages on employment, while significantly increasing the earnings of low paid workers”. However, a new compilation of evidence on minimum wage in low and middle-income countries by Neumark and Corella finds that “… when minimum wages are binding and enforced, and when they apply to vulnerable workers, the disemployment effects are most apparent”.

8. Tech and financial inclusion

Gelb and Mukherjee take stock of lessons from India’s biometric ID (Aadhaar) in providing inclusive services; Masino and Nino-Zarazua show that transitioning to electronic cash payments in Mexico increased households’ access to formal financial services. In South Africa, however, Torkelson documents abuses in using cash transfers as loan collateral by a financial company delivering cash itself.

9. Political economy

Hickey et al have an amazing open-access book on the political economy of cash transfers in Africa. Mosec and Mo found that in Pakistan those receiving BISP cash transfers increased support for their political leaders and institutions, while in typhoon-hit Fiji Rios et al show that people receiving cash transfers are up to 20% more likely to be very satisfied with the government than non-recipients. In Brazil and Turkey, Zucco et al show that conditional transfers are only marginally more popular than similar unconditional transfers. Ciminelli et al find that reforms generating large short-term adverse distributional effects are associated with electoral costs for politicians. In Mexico, Cantu documents that cash-vouchers to be used in local supermarkets were provided in exchange for electoral support.

10. Cash plus and cash versus….

In Bihar, Khemani et al asked whether people prefer cash or other services: only 13% chose cash instead of spending on public health and nutrition; in contrast, if cash came in lieu of improving roads, preference for cash rose to 35% (see counter views). In Mozambique, De Walque and Valente compare the effects of a conditional cash transfer program with the sole provision of information to parents on school attendance: information provision is as large as 75% of the effect of the CCT.

Two papers – one on Ghana by Banerjee et al and another on Uganda by Sedlmayr et al – points to the power of combining cash transfers with assets and complementary measures (as opposed to individual components). Also, Carneiro et al evaluate an integrated cash program for 3,600 mothers in Northern Nigeria: after 2-4 years, the program reduced stunting by 8%. Bonus: Bedoya et al show that a package of transfers and assets in Afghanistan increased consumption by 30% and poverty fell from 82 to 62%.

This blog was originally published on the ‘Let’s Talk Development’ blog by the World Bank. Please find the original post through this link.

Het bericht Social protection papers of 2019 verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Two pager series: The future of work, skills and industrialisation in Africa

24. Januar 2020 - 12:21

On 16 January, Marleen Dekker from INCLUDE joined the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs seminar ‘Globalization, digitalization and the future of work and skills’. During the panel discussion, following a roundtable with Minister Sigrid Kaag on the future of work that highlighted the opportunities and challenges that the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) poses to employment and skills needs, Marleen emphasized the need for realistic thinking on how the 4IR impacts Africa and what can be done to make sure that new opportunities do not increase existing inequalities.

To support this discussion, INCLUDE produced four articles which address complementary aspects of the debate on the employment, skills and industrialisation in Africa:

  • In search of structural transformation: ‘Made in Africa’ and industries without smokestacksby Obadia Miroro tackles the issue of weak job creation in productive economic sectors. It discusses various strategies to revive growth, such as boosting domestic manufacturing, attracting foreign investment and developing high-productivity services and agribusiness, and stresses the need to protect against the exploitation of labour and raw materials.
  • Advancing Africa’s Capabilitiesby Hannah Itcovitz makes a distinction between those already left behind due to inequalities in basic capabilities, and those at risk of falling behind again as global shifts demand higher skills, knowledge and connectivity. Given the African context, with both a unique demand for skills and unique challenges in providing them, this two pager calls for strengthening educational quality and minimising inequality to avoid unintended losers from digital developments.
  • Small is beautifulby Caspar Swinkels shows the continued importance of formal and informal small economic units (SEUs) in providing jobs and skills to African people and shaping economic transitions. It shows the additional constraints faced by SEUs as they attempt to grow and highlights the need to include SEUs (including informal operators) more actively and centrally in skills, labour and structural transformation policies.
  • A fourth article by Agnieszka Kazimierczuk (forthcoming) presents how the future of work in most African countries will likely differ from that of more advanced economies, and how the region’s employment challenges stem mostly from high population growth, low levels of industrialisation and poor connectivity as opposed to widespread automation.
Download each of the articles by clicking on the relevant title link and find them in the relevant items listing below.


Het bericht Two pager series: The future of work, skills and industrialisation in Africa verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Foresight Africa 2020-2030: How will development priorities shift in the coming decade?

16. Januar 2020 - 10:19

Brookings’ latest Foresight Africa report is a special edition reflecting on the past 5 years of development and marking the 10-year countdown to the SDGs. The report takes an optimistic outlook on growth and recognises multiple opportunities for inclusion and empowerment, but also warns of the looming threats of demographic and climate change which make this period ‘make or break’ for the continent. Here, we reflect on key features of the report and how they compare with previous Foresights.

  • Many of the conclusions presented in this year’s report reiterate and build on the recommendations of past editions. Resource mobilisation, large-scale job creation, women’s empowerment, better governance and harnessing the digital potential continue to be of top priority for achieving inclusive growth across Africa. The continent must find innovative ways of overcoming constraints to finally achieve these goals, in particular new financing mechanisms, deeper partnerships and more inclusive institutional processes.
  • Certain additional foresights of the new report should be considered. One of these foresights, occupying a whole chapter on its own, is the urgent need to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The authors make it clear that all other efforts to accelerate human development are redundant without addressing the region’s vulnerability to natural disasters, food insecurity and displacement.
  • Emphasis is also placed on harnessing the revolutionary aspects of technological change (Chapter 5, written by INCLUDE platform member and executive director of the AERC Njuguna Ndung’u). Where past reports discussed the need to balance the threats to labour with the opportunities for education and productivity that are linked to digital developments, the 2020 report explores how, in the coming years, things like artificial intelligence will transform ways of doing work and achieving wellbeing and how important it is to invest in and embrace technological solutions to climate change, multi-dimensional poverty and de-industrialisation.
  • Another noticeable trend is the shift towards an externally-orientated approach to development. In 2018, a major focus was on inner strength, institution building and regional partnerships for defence and diplomacy. In 2019, the emphasis was on fixing fragility through local private sector development, regional free trade and attracting foreign investment. The 2020 report envisions a stronger leadership role for Africa in the global economy over the coming decade by taking advantage of its natural resources, growing workforce and multi-lateral relationships.
  • The notion of good governance has transitioned to inclusive governance. Instead of focusing on the effectiveness and stability of institutions, the who and how of development processes will become more and more important for shaping the environment to enhance peace, prosperity and equality.

Overall, the report foresees a shift for Africa from playing catch-up to taking a greater leading role in its own as well as global development. Progress in the next 10 years depends on the region fostering real cooperation and innovation, and on positioning itself ahead of the game to prepare for the growing challenges it will face in the coming decade.

Download full report To read the full Foresight 2020-2030, click here.

Het bericht Foresight Africa 2020-2030: How will development priorities shift in the coming decade? verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Moving forward in Africa’s poverty reduction: reflections from the AERC biannual research workshop in Nairobi

16. Dezember 2019 - 15:35

Authors of the World Bank report ‘Accelerating Poverty Reduction in Africa‘, Luc Christiaensen and Kathleen Beegle, have spent the past weeks sharing their valuable findings with a wide range of stakeholders around the world. These events sparked some important debates on how to prioritise, manage and implement the report’s recommendations. Building upon last month’s seminar in the Netherlands, here we share the main insights from the event which brought the report to the African continent.

In November, INCLUDE co-organised a presentation of the report by Christiaensen and Beegle, followed by a dynamic panel discussion and Q&A session. The conversation honed in on how to translate the technocratic solutions found in the report into feasible and effective pro-poor policies. The political economy issues involved in putting small-holder farmers first and enhancing the fertility transition were raised, along with debates on how to create the political and fiscal space needed for change and how to prioritise strategies for poverty reduction in Africa.

On 3 December 2019, Christiaensen presented the report at the 51st Biannual research workshop of the   Africa Economic Research Consortium (AERC) in Nairobi. The Q&A session at this event addressed more the questions of how to embed the report’s recommendations in different local contexts and sectors which could support the poverty-reducing capacity of growth and fertility reduction. The following key points were made:

  • Redistribution is dynamic, and uniform recommendations will not work. Redistribution should be linked to a country’s fiscal space and changing economic conditions. For example, resource rich countries could achieve greater redistribution by leveraging rents from natural resource. Moreover, once redistribution is implemented, it is often difficult to revoke (for instance, the withdrawal of subsidies in France led to public outcry), establishing alternative livelihood strategies, communication and cooperation among key actors is key. However, because a country ‘cannot redistribute its way out of poverty’ (look at South Africa, which has many  redistribution schemes, but remains highly unequal), more investments should be made in public goods to improve capabilities.
  • Conflicts lead to poverty and make it difficult for individuals to improve their livelihoods. Cases of increasing internal conflicts in some African countries were cited. Conflicts destroy assets, livelihoods, undermine investment in rural areas, and prevent exploitation of market opportunities. It is difficult to achieve sustainable reductions in poverty without addressing conflict through preventive strategies and risk management systems during disasters.
  • The role and management of informality must be considered. Low productivity household enterprises are unlikely to create jobs, but formal enterprises (defined by registration) have more job creation potential (look at the World Bank enterprise survey in Ethiopia).
  • Harnessing the poverty, fertility and demographic transition. Fertility rates among the world’s poor have been reducing at a slow rate. It is still not clear the cause-and-effect between household size and poverty (namely, if ‘households are poor because they have a lot of members, or households have many members because they are poor’) and how demographic change will impact poverty in the future. Although demographic transition is associated with a higher share of working-age people, a potential challenge is when they have no jobs. From this view, other accompanying measures aside from fertility reduction are required to eliminate poverty. The demographic dividend is linked to quality of education and not just the proportion of people of those who join the labour market. In this regard, addressing inequalities in education is key.
  • Addressing poverty dynamics. Investment in growth has not been adequate to help everyone escape poverty or prevent falling back into poverty. Growth is an aggregate value and its effect on poverty depends on which sectors experience growth and where individuals work. Ensuring that the poor get a higher share of the benefits from overall growth and that their incomes grow relatively quickly is essential for inclusive growth and poverty reduction.

Het bericht Moving forward in Africa’s poverty reduction: reflections from the AERC biannual research workshop in Nairobi verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Empowering Africa’s women farmers

12. Dezember 2019 - 16:21

More than 60% of all employed women in Africa south of the Sahara work in agriculture. Yet the region’s women farmers often reap a meager harvest, not because of inclement weather or poor soil quality, but because of their gender—or, more specifically, because of a dense web of laws, policies, programs, and customs that put them at a significant disadvantage.

Closing the gender gap in agriculture will require action on three fronts. The first is land rights. In most of Africa south of the Sahara, women rarely own land. Instead, women farmers usually access land through a male relative, most commonly a husband, brother, or father. This arrangement leaves them highly vulnerable; a death, divorce, or simply a man’s change of mind can leave a woman farmer landless overnight.

The resulting insecurity affects the way women farm. At constant risk of displacement, long-term productivity-enhancing investments don’t make financial sense. Why build terraces to reduce erosion and improve soil health if someone else can claim the land and its improvements as soon as the work is finished? Why plant an orchard if it can simply be taken away once the final tree is in the ground?

Over the last two decades, many countries have taken important steps to promote and protect women’s land rights. For example, Ethiopia introduced joint land registration—with the names and photographs of both husband and wife included on certificates—thus formalizing women’s rights to the land they farm. Such reform has been shown to lead to increased investment in land, especially by women. The investment rises even higher among women who are also educated about their land rights, highlighting the importance of legal literacy programs.

But land is only the first step. Women also lack equal access to inputs, including fertilizer, better seeds, mechanical equipment, and agricultural extension services that would connect them with information about improved agricultural practices. This inequality is compounded by unequal access to the credit farmers need to purchase inputs. In Kenya, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, studies have shown that women are less likely to benefit from financial services.

Improving access to financial services and agricultural inputs thus constitutes the second front for empowering women farmers. Development agencies and NGOs have begun working to design woman-focused financial services and programs to improve access to agricultural inputs. African women are also helping one another, with a growing number of women’s organizations, such as microfinance groups, working to improve access to financial services, new technologies, and information. In Kenya, members of such self-help groups are likelier than other women to know about climate-smart agricultural practices, for example.

The final front is perhaps the trickiest: decision-making power. In far too many contexts, women farmers lack the authority to manage the crops they produce or the income they generate. This has far-reaching implications for development.

In Africa south of the Sahara, agriculture is 2-4 times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in other sectors. Moreover, as the Goalkeepers report released last month by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation showed, women are likelier than men to invest resources under their control in meeting their children’s needs (food and education).

Given this, enabling women farmers to control their resources is important to achieving not only UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5—gender equality and empowerment of women and girls—but also many others, including eliminating poverty (SDG1) and ending hunger (SDG2).

Though some progress has been made on all three fronts to empower women farmers, it is nowhere near enough. To encourage and guide further action, my colleagues at IFPRI and I designed the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index, which measures decision-making power, access to resources (including credit), control over income, time burdens, and membership in groups.

By providing insight into the extent and sources of women’s agricultural disempowerment in various contexts, the WEAI—and a later adaptation, pro-WEAI, which facilitates project impact assessments—is helping governments, donors, and NGOs to design effective interventions. So far, the WEAI (including adaptations) has been used by 99 different organizations in 54 countries. For example, WEAI insights guided the design of Bangladesh’s ANGeL project, which aims to identify actions and investments in agriculture that will improve nutrition and empower women.

When Africa’s women farmers thrive, everyone benefits: the women themselves, the children in whom they invest, the communities that they feed, and the economies to which they contribute. With the right investments and policies, Africa’s woman-run farms could produce a bumper crop of development.

This blog was originally published through Project Syndicate here. You can also read it through the IFPRI website here.

Het bericht Empowering Africa’s women farmers verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

The Decent Jobs for Youth Knowledge Facility: Learning, sharing, and engaging

11. Dezember 2019 - 8:04

Partners of the UN Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth launch knowledge facility and data finder on youth employment

INCLDE and partners of the UN Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth have launched a joint Knowledge Facility.

The Knowledge Facility is a place for policy makers and practitioners to learn, share, and engage on youth employment themes through searchable, shareable, and downloadable resources and tools. Partners power the platform by supplying curated content.

Watch this one-minute animated video to get oriented and see how it works:

The Knowledge Facility offers many tools:

  • Data finder: What is the rate of young people not in employment, education or training in your country? Use this interactive data discovery tool to explore key youth employment indicators from all over the world, create charts, and download versions.
  • Publications: Discover text-based resources that provide guidance for policy makers, practitioners, and researchers, including global and country-level reports and case studies.
  • Tools: Browse practical tools, including guides and checklists that help policy makers and practitioners in the design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of youth employment policies and programmes.
  • Policy platforms: Explore a diversity of platforms full of information relevant to youth employment policies, standards, and legislation.
  • Partner platforms: Access a curated list of platforms from trusted partners, which provide insights into best practices for youth employment.
  • News and blogs: Read inspiring stories about commitments, actions, and solutions from partners working to achieve decent jobs for youth.
  • Multimedia: Learn from interactive resources about youth employment, including videos, webinars, and online courses.
  • Events: Attend an event near you that aims to advance the goal of decent jobs for youth.
Key features for a user-friendly platform:
  • Lean meta-website, leveraging existing platforms: The Knowledge Facility is available through the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth online engagement platform. It builds on the work of existing knowledge platforms on youth employment, and maps and links resources and tools related to youth employment and allows users to manage knowledge of, and communicate about, youth employment interventions.
  • Curated approach: The “What is it?” and “Highlights” sections offer a summary of the resource in a few sentences and bullet points. The “Fast facts” column provides even quicker comprehension of the most important characteristics and related information. This curation ensures that all resources are immediately useful and highly practical.
  • Powerful search engine: The strong search functionality, cross-references and a shared taxonomy between resources and tools facilitate maximum visibility and interactivity throughout all platform content. Users can easily search, download, and contribute resources and tools, as well as read about news and events and discuss key topics, using the search feature.
  • Thematic areas: Resources are organized around thematic priorities, which tackle the youth employment challenge. These thematic areas are used across the Decent Jobs for Youth Knowledge Facility and focus on interventions that are locally owned, aligned with national development priorities, and based on rigorous evidence of what works in different contexts.
What’s next?

Now that you’ve gotten familiar how users might leverage the Knowledge Facility, get started! The Knowledge Facility becomes more powerful when stakeholders and partners utilize, share and add new resources and tools to the platform.

Browse the platform using the search feature, explore thematic priorities, and consider becoming a partner of our alliance and contributing to the Knowledge Facility. We are an alliance that strives to make decent jobs for youth a reality, and the Knowledge Facility is one important way we’re working to achieve it.

About: The UN Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth is the multi-stakeholder alliance to scale up action and impact on youth employment under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It brings together governments, social partners, youth and civil society organizations, the private sector, the UN System and others working together to share knowledge, leverage resources and take action at country and regional levels to support young people in accessing decent work and productive employment worldwide.

Het bericht The Decent Jobs for Youth Knowledge Facility: Learning, sharing, and engaging verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Linking business performance with sustainable job creation – the evidence is here!

9. Dezember 2019 - 20:46

Private sector development (PSD) interventions alone will not automatically create the (better-quality) jobs needed for youth in Africa. A balance must be found between a focus on creating much needed short-term jobs and tackling underemployment in low-productivity firms and sectors in Africa and creating better-quality jobs in high-potential growth firms and large firms. These are some of the key findings of the new evidence synthesis paper, Private sector development interventions and better-quality job creation for youth in Africa: linking business performance with productivity growth and sustainable job creation, prepared for INCLUDE by Evert-jan Quak and Justin Flynn from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS).

In the frame of the ‘Boosting decent employment for Africa’s youth partnership between INCLUDE, IDRC and ILO, under the umbrella of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, a series of evidence synthesis papers will be released in the coming years. Led by INCLUDE, these papers will take stock of existing evidence on themes relevant to the youth employment debate. The first paper in the series was prepared by Evert-Jan Quak and Justin Flynn from IDS. It consolidates the available evidence linking PSD interventions with job creation for youth in Africa for three outcomes: job creation for youth, better-quality jobs creation for youth, and sustainable job creation for youth.

The private sector, through job creation, is seen as key to addressing the current youth employment crisis in Africa. It is clear that more high-quality jobs are urgently needed to address the high youth unemployment rates in North and South Africa, high underemployment in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the generally insufficient number of formal jobs available. One way to do this is through PSD interventions, which seek to improve firm performance and increase labour productivity in firms and sectors. Increasing labour productivity is important for firms to increase economic surplus, creating greater value and, thus, increasing incomes, particularly in low-productivity sectors. Research shows that employment (for youth) in Africa will be mostly achieved through PSD interventions, enhancing higher productivity in labour-intensive sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing (especially food processing and light industry such as textiles), and construction. However, what may count more in the long term are the investments in capital-abundant sectors, which can generate ‘transformational’ effects spurring labour market dynamics through job creation. Context-specificity is key, so PSD strategies should consider a country’s income level and phase of economic transformation to develop more targeted approaches.

With donors and governments increasingly focusing on PSD interventions that aim to improve a firm’s productivity, business performance and employment outcomes, it is important to consider the interactions between these outcomes. Different types of PSD interventions (on micro, meso and macro levels) targeting different types of firms (especially in term of size) have mixed results with regards to better-quality job creation for youth in Africa. Larger firms in Africa, those that have 100–250 or more employees, are seen as better able to increase the amount of sustainable jobs than smaller firms. This does not mean that small firms do not create jobs – in fact, the opposite is true, as 8 or 9 out of 10 jobs on the continent are created by small or medium-size enterprises (SMEs) – but over time the failure rate of SMEs is high, which may result in job losses. Because larger firms have higher productivity levels, they can generally provide higher wages and better and more sustainable jobs. Therefore, a PSD strategy should balance the focus between formal sector job creation in larger firms (mainly by encouraging investments and an enabling business environment) and tackling the constraints that SMEs (especially those in the informal sector) face, so that they can not only survive, but increase production, productivity and better-quality employment in the long term.

The youth employment challenge can be partly addressed with PSD interventions that improve firm performance and productivity. However, PSD interventions should further internalize youth employment issues and aggregate data collection to secure youth employment outcomes and understand them better. To this end, based on the evidence gathered, the paper recommends the following:

  • PSD interventions and investments should be more targeted and context specific. It is necessary to understand potential sectors for high job creation for youth (light manufacturing and food processing) and a firm’s potential to increase productivity significantly with positive spillovers to the economy, including generating high quality jobs.
  • Local and regional markets, as well as the informal sector, should not be ignored.
  • It ought to be acknowledged that the success of PSD interventions in Africa depends heavily not only on economic factors, but on political factors as well.
  • Better and standardized data that captures labour market dynamics is needed to improve the evidence base on firm performance with regard to employment outcomes for youth.
  • Funders should encourage the implementation of an iterative learning component in their programmes to shed more light on their effectiveness and to ensure greater adaptability to the context.


Read the summary here

The full paper will be available shortly.

Want to hear more? INCLUDE together with the Youth Employment Funders Group is organizing a webinar during which one of the authors will present the key findings of the evidence synthesis paper on Private sector development interventions and better-quality job creation for youth in Africa: linking business performance with productivity growth and sustainable job creation.

Date: Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Time: 16:00–17:00 CET (10:00–11:00 am EST)

Speaker: Evert-Jan Quak, research officer at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK

To register, please email Agnieszka Kazimierczuk at

Het bericht Linking business performance with sustainable job creation – the evidence is here! verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Political empowerment of women in Africa: Influence or number?

4. Dezember 2019 - 9:57

In recent decades women’s political representation has significantly increased in Africa. From 2000 to 2018, the proportion of women parliamentarians almost doubled, and women’s representation in cabinet increased fivefold to 22% between 1980 and 2015. Unfortunately, the numbers do not necessarily imply influence. Women’s political representation in Africa is more descriptive than substantive. Women represent almost half of the population in Africa, and yet they are the least likely to hold political positions and exercise authority across the continent. Often, female politicians in Africa overcome many barriers and constraints to access political positions. But once there, many of them have little decision-making power or are excluded from important government decisions on legislation, policies and budget allocation.

In this article we discuss the level of influence female politicians in Africa hold, and explore how beyond representation, female politicians’ access to political influence and leadership in social institutions reduces gender discrimination with respect to the rights of women in the family code, physical integrity, access to financial resources, and civil rights.

Systemic gender bias against female leadership, entrenched in socio-cultural and religious values, still persists in Africa. Rwanda, for instance, may have the highest proportion of women representation in parliament (61.3%) and South Africa may have the highest percentage of female ministers (44.7%) but can we say these numbers translate to actual influence?

Women’s representation in political parties, the legislative and executive arms of government, and at points of crisis matter, but what matters most is how these numbers translate into improving policy content and direction. Comparing women’s cabinet appointments to the percentage of budget managed, on average women with cabinet positions manage a relatively low proportion (18.9%) of budgets. This is evidence that strides made in increasing the number of women in politics in Africa is at best only symbolic and at worst, redundant.

Why grant more political influence to women?

When female policymakers have influence, they positively impact the lives and well-being of women, girls, and society in general. One important factor that restricts the rights of women in parts of Africa is the entrenched nature of gender discrimination in social institutions. By social institutions we mean norms, traditions and codes of conduct that are rooted in culture, religion and customs. These institutions can be long-lasting and difficult to remove, yet it is their removal that will create more egalitarian societies in which women may have the freedom and resources to reach their full potential.

Policymakers are key actors who can implement and enforce laws against any form of gender discrimination. Female policymakers are in better positions to understand the hurdles associated with gender discrimination in social institutions and may be better able to fight against them. In this article we show that when female policymakers have more influence, they reduce gender discrimination in social institutions.

Effects of women’s political influence

We test how an increase in female political leadership and influence would affect the different forms of gender discrimination in social institutions. To do so, we rely on two different indexes. One index is the Women’s Leadership Index from IRLI that measures the level of government and executive influence of female politicians in African countries. The index considers legislative and executive influence. Legislative influence captures the percentage of women represented in national assemblies and the percentage of legislative committees chaired by women. Executive influence measures the percentage of heads of the executive cabinet or ministry held by women and the percentage of the national budget allocated to ministries led by women.

The second index is the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) taken from the OECD Gender, Institutions and Development Database. The index measures the extent to which women are discriminated against in terms of social institutions and norms. This index is an aggregate of these four sub-indexes: gender discrimination in the family code, restricted physical integrity, civil rights, and access to financial resources.

Effects of women’s legislative & executive influence

In Figure 1, we plot the index of gender discrimination in social institutions on the index of female political leadership to test if there is any correlation. The figure shows that countries with a higher level of female political influence, record lower levels of gender discrimination in social institutions. South Africa records the highest female political influence and also the lowest gender discrimination in social institutions.

Figure 1: The Effects of Female Leadership on Gender Discrimination in Social Institutions

Figure 2 shows the relationship between female political leadership and gender discrimination in the family code, physical integrity, civil liberties and access to finance. The graphs highlight that when women have more political influence, there is less discrimination in the family code, and women and girls are less restricted in terms of physical integrity. Similarly, when there is more political influence for women, it decreases restricted civil rights and enhances access to assets and financial services.

Figure 2: Relationship Between Leadership, Family Code, Restricted Physical Integrity, Civil Liberties and Access to Finance

Concluding remarks

The Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5) calls for gender equality and full empowerment of women and girls by 2030. One of its targets is the political empowerment of women. Facts show that whereas political representation continues to increase in Africa, equal representation is not achieved in most African countries. When women overcome hurdles and gain political seats, they hardly lead the most important political positions. Most striking, they get little influence and decision-making power in legislation and budgets. Countries would benefit enormously from increasing the influence and decision-making power of female politicians. We have shown in this article that giving more influence to female policymakers would help many African countries become more egalitarian and fair toward women and girls. Increased women’s political representation may help in the success of the SDGs, but only when representation comes with actual influence and leadership.

This is a republished blog written by INCLUDE platform member Maty Konte and her colleague from UNU-MERIT Victor Osei Kwadwo. You can find the article through the UNU-MERIT website or read the original at Impakter.


Het bericht Political empowerment of women in Africa: Influence or number? verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Angel investment funds: the future of work in Tunisia?

2. Dezember 2019 - 17:56

The future of work reflects the changes taking place in global labour market structures, which are expected to stimulate entrepreneurship and job creation, but only for those with adequate skills. In Tunisia, the rise of automation has led to a decline in demand for manual labour. Consequently, an increased number of young Tunisians are seeking to start their own business, however, they are constrained by a lack of finance. According to our research, angel investment funds can help bridge this financial gap. In addition, stimulating entrepreneurship will help youth obtain the necessary skills to meet the challenges associated with the changing nature of the future of work. Hence, we call on the Dutch government to join forces with the Tunisian government and Carthage Business Angels to support the establishment of an angel investment fund.

The challenge of the future of work in Tunisia

The future of work encompasses the changes in global labour market structures through the growing influence of automation, robotization, and artificial intelligence. In this new world, the youth in Tunisia lack the socio-behavioural and entrepreneurial skills to compete for tomorrow’s jobs. Starting a business would increase their chance of obtaining these skills, however, lack of finance opportunities is a major constraint. Tunisian entrepreneurs have trouble finding adequate financing for investments in the range of USD 20,000 to 500,000. The businesses in this range are both risky and promising to invest in. Other, more conventional finance institutions, such as banks or venture capitalists, do not usually invest in businesses in this range, or demand large amounts of collateral to do so. A new funding instrument is needed to close this financing gap.


One of the main reasons for this finance gap is risk – so to reduce risk and bridge this gap we suggest establishing the Tulip Angel Investment Fund (TAIF). A recommended co-investment structure of the Fund would allow multiple partners to share the risk, stimulating investment. It is envisioned that this fund would be managed by the Dutch and Tunisian governments, together with Tunisian ‘business angels’. Business angels are experienced entrepreneurs who teach young entrepreneurs the necessary skills, while also investing in their ventures. Therefore, TAIF would not only focus on finance, but also on directly giving young people the entrepreneurial skills they need to compete for tomorrow’s jobs.

The Tulip Angel Investment Fund (TAIF)

Suggested structure of the fund

TAIF’s disposable capital could be provided by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Tunisian government, Tunisian business angels and other potential sponsors (governments or financial institutions). Crucially, a representative of each group would be part of the four-member board of directors in charge of the executive decisions of the fund. The fund would have three divisions: investment in entrepreneurial ventures, training young entrepreneurs, and training business angels.

Investment in entrepreneurial ventures

This division would be in charge of funding young Tunisian start-ups. Here, already trained or experienced business angels would help young Tunisian entrepreneurs to scale up their business model by providing them with the necessary finance and mentorship.

Training young Tunisian entrepreneurs

This division would be in charge of training entrepreneurs who are not yet receiving funding. Once entrepreneurs complete this training, they would be eligible to apply to TAIF’s investment division and receive funding and mentorship. The training would be financed by the fund and conducted by business angels or external instructors.

Training business angels

This division would be in charge of training investors – individuals who have the necessary monetary capacity and potential to become business angels, but have not yet obtained the skills to do so. Furthermore, business angels would be supported in acquiring the licence they need to operate. Their training would be paid for by the investors (in or outside Tunisia) signed up to the programme. The revenue would flow back into the fund.

To establish the TAIF, our idea is to build on the existing network of Carthage Business Angels, an angel investment group based in Tunisia. Their network has the capacity to assemble the pool of potential partners necessary for such a fund. However, more partners willing to financially contribute to the fund would still need to be actively recruit. Furthermore, the continued economic diplomacy efforts of the Dutch Embassy in Tunisia could aid in developing our idea. It is hoped that the concerned parties will consider our suggestion to give Tunisian youth a chance for a better future.

About this research In the frame of the course ‘Development Project Management’ at Leiden University College, The Hague, our groups of students was asked by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to identified potential issues related to discussions on the future of work in Tunisia and provide informed advice. Our proposal, brings in the youth perspective to this ongoing policy discussion.

Het bericht Angel investment funds: the future of work in Tunisia? verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Moving forward in Africa’s poverty reduction

28. November 2019 - 13:26

Despite gains since 1990, poverty is still a severe reality for millions of Africans. Due to population growth, the absolute number of Africans living in poverty is on the rise again, and poverty has become more concentrated in rural areas. Accelerating poverty reduction, economic growth and stability are not enough – these need to be accompanied by increased earnings and mitigated risks for the poor.

These are some of the highlights of the report Accelerating Poverty Reduction in Africa, published by the World Bank in October 2019. Authors Kathleen Beegle and Luc Christiaensen presented the report at a seminar co-hosted by INCLUDE and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague on 22 November. The highlights of this seminar are shown in the video below.

More than just a presentation of the report, the seminar enabled a policy discussion on the implications of the report. Kitty van der Heijden, Director General of International Cooperation for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emphasised that the report contains not only the diagnostics of poverty, but also delves into the political economy of why poverty persists. She aligned herself with a key message of Beegle and Christiaensen: to put the poor in the driver seat to enable them to graduate from poverty.

A panel consisting of Simon Groot (EastWestSeed and 2019 World Food Prize winner), Professor Peter Lanjouw (VU University), Dr Maty Konte (UNU-MERIT) and Professor Rolph van der Hoeven (UN-CDP/ISS) examined some of the findings in the report more. Some of the issues that came up were spatial differences in the drivers of poverty (are rural and urban poverty such different phenomena?), the importance of staple crops in providing adequate income and the scope of redistribution as a policy option to reduce poverty. A recurring issue was not just what types of policies and programmes are needed, but by whom they need to be implemented and what political and fiscal space they require in (Pan-)African national contexts.

The presentation by Beegle and Christiaensen can be accessed here. You can also read the full report or its key messages.

Het bericht Moving forward in Africa’s poverty reduction verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

What’s the Latest Research in Development Economics? A Round-up from NEUDC 2019

13. November 2019 - 9:52
In October 2019, over 150 research papers were presented at the North East Universities Development Consortium annual conference covering a wide range of topics in development economics. The Centre for Global Development’s David Evans summarises these research findings in his recent World Bank blog. Below, INCLUDE provides a shortened version of this blog, relaying those results related to the African region.


Households and human capital Child nutrition and child health:
  • A training program for parents of young children in Rwanda that included “listening to a radio show and…discussions over the course of seventeen weekly village-level meetings” led to improved child development outcomes nearly three years later. (Justino et al.)
  • Providing community-based parent training and nutrition counseling in Sierra Leone reduced wasting, improved parenting practices, increased fathers’ involvement in parenting, and reduced physical and violent punishments. (Chandra et al.) #RCT
  • Randomly selected lower secondary school students in Ghana received guidance on how to apply to upper secondary schools and information on which were the best. It changed which schools students applied to, but it didn’t change whether they graduated. (Ajayi, Friedman, and Lucas) #RCT
  • Scorecards, i.e., providing school performance information to parents, improved school management outcomes (parental satisfaction, public access to school information) in the Angolan province of Kwanza Sul. Collective action, especially  when combined with information, is a relevant component of these effects. There was no impact on students’ test scores and absenteeism.  (Di Maro et al.)
  • Richer patients in the Democratic Republic of the Congo receive better health care. More than half of that is explained by the fact that richer areas have better health facilities, but the relationship holds even within facilities. (Fink, Kandpal, and Shapira)
  • What is the demand for glasses in a resource-poor setting? In Burkina Faso, willingness to pay for glasses is low, amounting to 20 percent of their market price. A layaway scheme does not affect willingness to pay, while a video intervention raises the willingness to pay by 16 percent without having a lasting influence on the use of corrective glasses.  (Grimm and Hartwig)
Household bargaining and community interactions
  • Is following traditions driven by social image concerns? In Malawi, those who plan to marry off their under-age daughters are seen as more pro-social in villages where child marriage prevalence is high, but alternative signals (public donations) change perceptions and decrease favorable attitudes towards harmful traditions by 20–30 percent. (Haenni and Lichand)
Intimate partner violence and gender discrimination
  • Providing women in Ethiopia with jobs increases their income but has no impact on physical intimate partner violence. There are reductions in emotional abuse in the short-run, but for women who had little bargaining power in their relationships before the jobs, the job offers may have increased abuse. (Kotsadam and Villanger) #RCT
  • Increased female migration within South Africa at the end of Apartheid reduced employment and hours of low-skilled male non-migrants. (Sharp)
Government, institutions, and conflict Civil service
  • Performance pay attracted more money-oriented teachers in Rwanda, without comprising teacher effectiveness. Overall, the effect of performance pay is at 0.21 standard deviation of pupil learning. One quarter of this impact can be attributed to selection at the recruitment stage, with the remaining three quarters arising from increased effort. (Leaver et al.)
  • Exposure to terrorist attacks in Kenya reduced children’s primary school enrolment attendance. (Alfano and Görlach)
  • Regions receive more health aid when a region-born health minister is in New borns from the same region as the health minister are less likely to die, as data from 45 African countries shows. (Widmer and Zurlinden)
Infrastructure and property
  • Even though the Bus Rapid Transit system reduced commuting time by about 18 percent in Accra, Ghana, it did not dramatically change howpeople commute. (Abeka-Nkrumah, Opoku Asuming, and Telli)
Political economy, institutions, and voting
  • Mobile phone and internet access reduced violent collective action by 21 percent during the Libyan (Absher and Grier)
  • Are the state and traditional leaders (village chiefs) substitutes or complements? If chiefs are integrated into the institutional structure, chiefs become complements (state presence will increase service provision by the chief).  If they are not integrated,  they  are  substitutes (service provision by the chief will decrease with greater state presence). (Henn)
  • Do voters care about (education) service delivery in Liberia? Yes! The presidential candidate who had set up private-public partnerships to improve school quality was rewarded  by  voters  in  places  where  the  program was successful, and punished where the program diminished school quality. (Sandholtz)
  • An anti-vote-buying campaign in Ugandastruggled to instill norms of refusing gifts from politicians in exchange for votes, but it levelled the electoral playing field by convincing some voters to abandon norms of reciprocity—thus accepting gifts from politicians but still voting for their preferred candidate. (Blattman et al.)
Public finance
  • Are tax rates too high in developing countries? in Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo, when tax liability decreases by half, tax compliance increases by 94 percent, bribes decrease by 75 percent, and there is no change in contributions to informal taxes, particularly among the poorest and least politically connected citizens. (Bergeron, Tourek, and Weigel) #RCT
Utilities and Energy
  • A field experiment of energy efficient cookstoves in Nairobi, Kenya, shows “an average rate of return of 300% and savings of $120 per year in fuel costs—around one month of income…  Factoring in financial savings and avoided environmental damages we estimate that a subsidy on the energy efficient technology would have a marginal value of public funds of $20 per $1 spent.” (Berkouwer & Dean)
Working and saving Agriculture
  • What drives subsistence farmers to start growing cash crops in Uganda? Agricultural extension did, especially for farmers who started with poor info on the price of the crops. (Bonan, Kazianga, and Mendola) #RCT
  • Providing subsidized watchmen to farmers in Kenya increased agricultural production and dramatically reduced disputes among farmers. (Dyer) #RCT
  • Village level inequity aversion and fairness norms protect tenants by lowering the rent landowners can charge in rural Malawi. (Krah et al.)
  • Training farmers on aflatoxin (a food safety hazard) and its prevention substantially improves post-harvest practices in Northern Ghana. (Magnan et al.) #RCT
  • In Burkina Faso, households with access to warrantage substantially increased the take-up  of  storage   (94 percent),  while  credit  take-up  was  moderate (38 percent). (Delavallade and Godlonton)
  • Two different interventions in Kenya—including a game that helped farmers understand how weather index insurance works—both led more farmers to indicate they’d buy it in an auction. Two months later, very few bought it regardless. (Janzen et al.)
  • In Rwanda, irrigation enables dry season horticultural production, which boosts farm cash profits by 70 percent. However, adoption is constrained: Access to irrigation causes farmers to substitute labor and inputs away from their other plots. Eliminating this substitution would increase adoption by at least 21 percent.  Substitution is largest for smaller households and wealthier households. (Jones et al.) #RDD
  • Chinese  FDI in district-sector induces competing domestic Ethiopian firms to shrink, as output prices drop, while firms in up/downstream sectors expand. There is a zero effect on the local economy. (Crescenzi and Limodio)
  • Placing “young professionals for one month in established firms to shadow middle managers” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, increases their likelihood of subsequent wage employment (but not self-employment). (Abebe et al.)
  • A seven-day training for firms in Liberia on how to bid on “contracts from large buyers that are awarded through a formal bidding process” led firms to bid on more contracts and to win both more and better contracts. The biggest effects were for firms that had access to the internet. (Hjort, Iyer, and Rochambeau) #RCT
  • Among women school-feeding workers in South Africa, “private feedback on performance is more effective at boosting effort than competing for public recognition,” and “image motivation crowds out intrinsic motivation.” (Delavallade and Burns) #RCT
  • Certifying the skills of youth looking for jobs in urban South Africa “and allowing them to share the certification with firms substantially increases employment and earnings.” (Carranza et al.)
  • How does risk affect technology adoption by farmers? In Malawi, a one standard deviation increase in the coefficient of variationof predicted yields reduces fertilizer application (use of improved seeds) by between 12.2–18.8 percent. Sensitivity to price risk is highest early in the season, when reliable information on output prices is still many months away. (Soumaila and Dillon)
Savings and credit
  • A large expansion of microcredit in Rwanda led more people to take loans not only from microlenders but also from commercial banks. (Agarwal et al.)
  • Offering a savings account that automatically deducts from the paycheck and then pays out after three months (with zero interest) led agricultural workers in Malawi to save more and then make more large purchases after the payout. They also work more. (Brune, Chyn, and Kerwin)
Methods Measurement
  • “Using  nationally  representative  data  from four sub-Saharan African countries, we find strong evidence that measurement error in plot size reflects a mixture of farmer misreporting and misperceptions.” (Abay, Bevis, and Barrett)

Het bericht What’s the Latest Research in Development Economics? A Round-up from NEUDC 2019 verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english