Services, Informality and Productivity in Africa

By Tabea Lakemann, Research Fellow, GIGA Institute of African Affairs and University of Göttingen, and Jann Lay, Acting Director, GIGA Institute of African Affairs, and Head of GIGA Research Programme Growth and Development Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming 17th International Economic Forum on Africa Economic development and a sustained, broad-based increase in […]

via Services, informality and productivity in Africa — Development Matters

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Building Africa’s Entrepreneurial Culture

By Giulia Ajmone Marsan and Jonathan Potter, OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Local Development and Tourism Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming 17th International Economic Forum on Africa Register to attend Over the last decade, Africa has witnessed the emergence of a dynamic start-up scene in some of its countries. The district […]

via Building Africa’s entrepreneurial culture — Development Matters

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Today, on the 2nd anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN, thousands of citizens in more than 100 countries around the world, including Nigeria, raised voices to seek accountability from the world leaders on their commitment made on Agenda 2030 and demanded to #ACT4SDGs.  

Through the We the People ACT4SDGs campaign thousands of campaigners and ordinary citizens have come together around the anniversary in close to a thousand events from Abuja to Lagos to Manila to Buenos Aires to Brussels, Mexico City, Cape Town and Nairobi, to create awareness on the SDGs, highlight local realities, and hold our governments accountable.

Mr Emmanuel Olorunfemi at stunt event in Abuja from Abuja Green Alliance said: “We urge our leaders to #ACT4SDGs and take urgent action to tackle poverty, inequality and climate change. We can work together to create a better, more fair world. Our future, our children’s future, and the future of our planet depend on it.’’

On 25 September 2015, world leaders agreed to a definitive plan for the planet and its people by adopting 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs are a universal call to act on the challenges our generation face e.g. rising inequality, distressed migration, increasing conflict, sabotage of democratic rights of people over the natural resources, threat to peaceful existence by spread of fundamentalism and terrorism, manifestation of various forms of unrest, rise of nationalism so on and so forth.

If the 193 governments who signed the SDGs hold to their commitments, the results will be extraordinary. In Nigeria the challenges for the achieving the SDGs and the demands to our government are:

  • An end to extreme poverty by 2030 that condemns millions of people, especially women and girls, to an early death, poor education and ill health.
  • A turning point in the soaring levels of inequality and discrimination.
  • An end to a highly corrupt system of governance that siphons public resources for personal gains.
  • Protection of the planet, ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030 especially in the face of several quit notices in the country.


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Commitment without action is simply irresponsibility; that is the reason why all concerned citizens in Nigeria have to call on our leaders to take steps in realizing the commitment they made to Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015.


Come Monday 25th September 2017, the whole world will be celebrating second anniversary of SDGs with the message of telling world leaders the need to work towards achieving the Global Agenda by no leaving anyone behind. For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and people​ ​like​ ​you​ ​and​ ​us​.

Therefore, in your own capacity as an organisation or an individual, register your view on how various governments in Nigeria can realize the SDGs and call for the actions that directly affect you and people who are farthest left behind in development.

In view of the significance of SDGs and in making its second anniversary, SustainableNigeria will organise a road show to mark the anniversary and to tell all stakeholders areas where they are doing well and where more actions are needed.

You can join us if you’re within Federal Capital Territory, Abuja at Unity Fountain by 9am on Monday 25th September, 2017. Let’s propel Nigeria towards sustainable path!

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RNA Interference GMOs to enter South Africa and Nigeria

Africa should be carefull in adopting GMOs that they do not have their full knowledge.

AGRA Watch

The African Center for Biodiversity(ACB) warns in an alert published August 10th, that the South African government recently received an application for the import, feed and processing of a new variety of GM Maize, MON87411. This GM Maize is a “multi-stacked variety” meaning it is created through conventional breeding of four distinct genetically modified varieties of maize. Unlike standard first-generation GMOs, this variety uses something called the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway, which means that double-stranded RNAs are introduced into the gene which work to silence certain genes. The new gene editing technique has not been properly assessed for risk before applying to go to the market, according to the ACB’s knowledge of Monsanto’s risk assessment procedure, and ACB lists the potential risks to include possible exposure following consumption, or the potential for off-target regulation of unintended genetic pathways. Such GMOs are the latest in the GM push on the…

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Confronting the Urban Housing Gap

By Robin King

More than 1.2 billion city dwellers―one of every three people living in urban areas―lack access to affordable and secure housing. This housing gap is a major drag on the economy and the environment. The impact is severe in Asia and Africa, where 2.25 billion people are expected to be added to urban populations between now and 2050. If business continues as usual, slums will grow across the developing world, exacerbating inequality and threatening cities’ traditional role as drivers of economic growth.

The latest working paper of WRI’s flagship World Resources Report (WRR), “Towards a More Equal City,” draws on the knowledge of dozens of urban experts to examine whether meeting the needs of the urban underserved can improve the economy and environment.

Sheela Patel on “Confronting the Urban Housing Crisis in the Global South: Adequate, Secure and Affordable Housing.”

Housing is often seen as falling into discrete categories such as public or private, formal or informal, individual or collective. Instead, we view housing options on a spectrum that combines different elements of ownership, space, services and finance. In some cases, land may be public while the dwellings on it are private. This spectrum allows a more nuanced analysis of the reality of housing markets in the global south and consideration of a wider range of possibilities.

While many challenges emerged, we focused on three that city officials can act upon and scale up.

Issue 1: The Growth of Informal or Substandard Settlements

As demand for housing has outstripped supply, informal and substandard settlements have proliferated. Since 1990, even as the proportion of global urban populations living in slums has declined, there has been an increase in the absolute number of people living in these areas.

Solution: Find ways to accommodate people where they are

While some call for “slum-free” cities, this is often code for displacement of people to the edge of town, which disrupts labor markets, social networks and lives and harms the city at large. Instead we suggest finding ways to upgrade existing slum areas, tapping into community knowledge and energy while retaining links to social and livelihood networks. This option is best for cities with large slum populations, except in locations with environmental or geographic risks.

An example is Thailand’s Baan Mankong program, which directs government infrastructure subsidies, soft housing and land loans to poor communities who then negotiate with land owners for formal tenure and use the funds to upgrade their housing. By 2016, 101,224 poor families in 345 cities had been fully upgraded under the program with secure land, decent houses and healthy living environments.

Issue 2: Overemphasis on Ownership

Home ownership is over-emphasized in urban development, which hurts those who lack the resources to buy a home or who need flexibility. People who work in the informal economy are particularly affected. Subsidies meant to encourage home ownership are geared to those with regular, documented incomes, not those who work in activities like recycling, domestic help and construction that do not produce a paper trail in many parts of the world. Moreover, rentals are often not available to the urban poor, or are subject to great uncertainty about rights and responsibilities for both landlords and renters, with unclear processes for dispute resolution.

Solution: Expand rental markets for people of all income levels

Establishing legal protection for landlords and renters, while acknowledging informal sector activity, can help meet the housing needs of the urban poor while maintaining flexibility and encouraging market-driven development. This includes non-standard payment patterns and cooperative housing where tenants collectively purchase land and rent small plots within it. Vibrant rental markets foster a fluid labor market, a necessary prerequisite for economic prosperity in any city.

For example, authorities in Gauteng Province, South Africa, which includes Johannesburg, tackled a housing shortage of 687,000 units by making it legal to rent out formerly illegal informal backyard apartments. This made it easier for low-income people to find places to live and encouraged development of services without government subsidies.

Issue 3: Policies That Drive the Poor to the Periphery

In many cities, land is often tangled up in legal disputes, leaving it under-utilized or unused, even as new residents seek housing in the city. Building and land use regulations often impose costs and limit creative use of incremental improvements and innovative land management tools.

Solution: Convert under-utilized land, especially publicly held land, into affordable housing

Political will to address housing needs is critical. Rather than encouraging sprawl, existing urban land should be used for housing. City officials and real estate developers should revise rules and building standards to expand the availability of housing on under-used land.

For instance, in Cochabamba, Bolivia, 420 families live in the María Auxiliadora community land trust on land purchased and held in trust as community-owned property. The community’s unique governance structure rotates leadership among women in two-year terms, rejects men who engage in domestic violence and provides support to families. The land cannot be sold for profit, which keeps the housing affordable.

These solutions will help urban policymakers in fast-growing cities meet the demand for housing while encouraging economic development and cleaner, safer environments. Closing the housing gap by providing access to affordable, adequate and secure housing will benefit everyone, not just the poor and underserved, as cities become more productive, environmentally sustainable and truly places for all.

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