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World Bank Group and IMF mobilize partners in the fight against COVID-19 in Africa

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The World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund today convened African leaders, bilateral partners, and multilateral institutions to spur faster action on COVID-19 response in African countries. H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Director General of the WHO Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Africa Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, and officials of individual countries outlined their policy plans for effective use of resources, multilateral organizations including the United Nations pledged their continued support, and bilateral partners reemphasized their commitment to a debt standstill beginning May 1, 2020. This comes in response to calls from the World Bank Group President Malpass, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Georgieva, and other partners for creditors to suspend debt repayments in order to provide much-needed support to the poorest countries.

“This pandemic has already had a devastating impact on Africa and its effects will deepen as the rate of infection rises. It is a setback for the progress we have made to eradicate poverty, inequality and underdevelopment,” African Union Chairperson and President of South Africa, H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa said. “While recent announcements from international partners are very welcome, large financing gaps remain and greater support is needed to ensure that African countries are able to respond effectively to the health crisis and address economic challenges.”

Together, official creditors have mobilized up to $57 billion for Africa in 2020 alone—including upwards of $18 billion from the IMF and the World Bank each—to provide front-line health services, support the poor and vulnerable, and keep economies afloat in the face of the worst global economic downturn since the 1930s. Private creditor support this year could amount to an estimated $13 billion. This is an important start, but the continent needs an estimated $114 billion in 2020 in its fight against COVID-19, leaving a financing gap of around $44 billion.  

The World Bank Group and the IMF suggested a range of financing options and policy tools as part of the pandemic response, many of which African countries are looking to implement as they plan for the medium and long-term impacts of the crisis. These include further financing from official and private sector creditors.

The World Bank Group is putting its full capacity to work for people across Africa as they fight this pandemic,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “The world has rarely seen a crisis of this magnitude, and no one can stand on the sidelines; we cannot leave any country behind in our response. We have provided emergency support to 30 countries across Africa so far, with more to come, and will continue to advocate for debt relief and increased resources, especially for those countries hardest hit by COVID-19.

“Our message is clear: We stand with Africa: Through our commitments today we are ‘Mobilizing with Africa’ to help soften the blow of COVID-19 on the continent,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said. “The pandemic is having a monumental impact across Africa and the IMF is leaning forward with many other partners to leverage our resources and to help save lives and livelihoods”. She added that “The IMF will provide more concessional financing and we count on others to step up and do their part, to shield the economy and the people, and provide the foundations for a strong and sustainable recovery”.

It will also be critical for African countries to work together especially on the health response and on limiting trade disruptions to ensure freer movement of medical and food supplies. With so many people working in informal jobs – 89 percent of workers in Sub-Saharan Africa alone – countries need to take immediate steps to expand social safety net programs and support workers and small enterprises. Government services will equally need attention to keep running effectively for the duration of this crisis.

World Bank Group and IMF leaders applauded the groundbreaking accord among G20 countries to temporarily suspend debt payments to IDA and least developed countries beginning May 1, 2020.

The World Bank Group is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response, increase disease surveillance, improve public health interventions, and help the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. It is deploying up to $160 billion in financial support, $55 billion of which will be for Africa, over the next 15 months to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery.

The IMF has been moving rapidly to provide comprehensive support its member countries, by leveraging our $1 trillion lending capacity; doubling annual access limits for our rapid disbursing vehicles to about $100 billion to respond to unprecedented calls for emergency financing from more than 100 countries; approving  a short-term liquidity line for countries with very strong economic fundamentals and exploring additional tools to help meet countries’ financing needs; and, revamping our Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to help 29 of our poorest and most vulnerable members through rapid debt service relief, 23 of which are in Africa.

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3 Amazing Success Recipes from TED-speakers That All Students Will Love

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What is success for you? Does it have to do with grades, money, or popularity? Or do you feel successful when people around you respect you and trust your opinion? Or does success equal winning? There are approximately 7.8 billion definitions of success in the world right now because, for every single individual, it would mean something different. But Maya Angelou, an outstanding American writer and civil rights activist, managed to sum it all up in one sentence when she wrote that “success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” You will hardly find a single person who could disagree with this axiom. However, though the task outlined by Angelou might sound like a simple one, very few people know how to achieve success and are ready to share their secrets. TED is the unique platform that unites such people around their mission to make the world a better place. We invite you to join this vibrant community of enthusiasts and learn more about the amazing success recipes that will help you unlock your potential and make the best of it. 

4 Pillars of College Success from Freeman Hrabowski

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When Freeman Hrabowski was 12 years old, he marched with Martin Luther King and was taken to jail in the aftermath of the historic event, which later became known as the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham (1963). He did this because he believed in the transformative power that education possesses and his right to let this power define his future and the future of every single child on this planet irrespective of their skin color and social background. Since then, Hrabowski has faithfully served his ideals. As president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), he turned a mediocre commuter college into the ninth most innovative university in the USA known for its focus on research, high teaching standards, and inclusive education.

In his TED-talk “4 pillars of college success in science,” Hrabowski shares four principles that helped him achieve success and make the dreams of thousands of students come true. First and foremost, students’ lives can be changed by high expectations. And here, Hrabowski is not talking about scores and grades. He believes that it is not enough to be smart and ready to learn. You have to be excited about learning and eager to ask good questions. “High expectations have to do with curiosity,” he argues. Secondly, students need to learn to work in groups, “to understand each other, to build trust among them, to support each other, to learn how to ask good questions, but also to learn how to explain concepts with clarity” and thus form a flourishing community. Third, whatever the discipline, research has to be placed into the very focus of attention because “it takes researchers to produce researchers.” Finally, there is no place for indifference at college. So, be curious and eager to learn, ask good questions, become a team player, focus on the research, and take ownership of your studies – no doubt, you will reach great heights!

If you want to find out more about this tested success recipe, listen to this illuminating TED-talk. It lasts 15 minutes, yet it is definitely worth the effort. But if you are short on time, you can always delegate some of your assignments to highly-skilled professionals from essayservice.com and spend some quality time boosting your motivation.

8 Secrets of Success from Richard St. John

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The short TED bio offers a humorous and yet precise description of Richard St. John’s life achievement: “A self-described average guy who found success doing what he loved, Richard St. John spent more than a decade researching the lessons of success — and distilling them into 8 words, 3 minutes and one successful book.” Great news! You only need 3 minutes to learn the universal formula of success. Let us name the key ingredients of St. John’s recipe to get you started. To become a success story, you need to:

  1. be passionate about what you are doing (because “if you do it for love, the money comes anyway”);
  2. work hard (and yet manage to have fun!);
  3. focus on one thing;
  4. persist;
  5. come up with good ideas;
  6. be good at what you are doing;
  7. push yourself (or let your mother do it!);
  8. serve other people.

For more details, a dose of good mood, and motivation, watch this funny and insightful talk from one of the most inspiring TED-speakers ever. It is an absolute must for students all over the world!


A Millennial’s Unexpected Secret to Success from Daniela Zamudio

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Millennials are only too often criticized for failing to be resilient, loyal, determined, and hardworking enough, as well as jumping from job to job. However, Daniela Zamudio, a millennial and the head of marketing and communications for Tommy Hilfiger Mexico, believes that the notorious propensity of the millennials to quit when feeling uncomfortable is a strength rather than a weakness and also an essential ingredient of the success recipe. Zamudio has developed a philosophy of “conscious quitting,” which teaches you to follow your heart but also to be ready to face the consequences of your life-changing decisions. Listen to her enthusiastic and humor-packed TED-talk to discover how quitting consciously has helped Zamudio achieve personal success and happiness.

No matter which recipe you pick, we wish you good luck on your way to achieving success and living your dream!

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Most countries failing to protect women from COVID-19 economic and social fallout

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Photo: ILO

The COVID-19 pandemic is “hitting women hard”, but most nations are failing to provide sufficient social and economic protection for them, the head of the UN gender empowerment agency said on Monday.

And women have often become victims of domestic violence “locked down with their abusers, as unpaid caregivers in families and communities, and as workers in jobs that lack social protection”, adds the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

New data released by gender agency and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) taken from the COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker, reveal that most countries are not doing enough to protect women and girls from the economic and social fallout being caused by the virus.

Lacking support

The analysis signals that one-fifth of the 206 countries analyzed, or 42 States, had no gender-sensitive measures in place to respond to the pandemic.

And only 25 countries have introduced measures aimed at tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG), support unpaid care and strengthen women’s economic security. 

These may include helplines, shelters or legal support to counter the surge in violence; cash transfers directly targeted at women; or childcare services and paid sick leave.

“The COVID-19 crisis provides an opportunity for countries to transform existing economic models towards a renewed social contract that prioritizes social justice and gender equality”, said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. “This new gender response tracker can help accelerate policy reform by guiding on gaps in national efforts and funding and highlighting best practices”.

Breakdown

Across 135 countries, the tracker identified 704 measures to prevent and/or respond to VAWG. Of these, 63 per cent focused on strengthening essential services, such as shelters, helplines and other reporting mechanisms. 

However, only 48 countries, less than a quarter of those analyzed, treated VAWG-related services as an integral part of their national and local COVID-19 response plans – with very few adequately funding these measures.

At the same time, social protection, care crisis and jobs response has been largely blind to women’s needs, with only 177 measures in 85 countries explicitly aimed at strengthening women’s economic security, and just 60 taking action to support unpaid care and strengthen care services for children, older persons or persons with disabilities.

Varying responses

The tracker also shows that gender actions vary widely across countries and regions. 

According to the analysis, Europe is leading the response on addressing VAWG and unpaid care – accounting for almost 32 per cent of all violence measures and 49 per cent of all unpaid care measures. 

Meanwhile, the Americas has the largest number of measures aimed at strengthening women’s economic security, followed by Africa.

“The Global Tracker supports Governments in making the right policy decisions by sharing good practices and monitoring progress in care policies and measures to address violence against women”, said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. 

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Technological Revolution Accelerated by Coronavirus Crisis in Latin America

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Latin America and the Caribbean is in the midst of a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” of technological innovation which requires enhancing the productivity of the services sector, investing in human capital and rethinking labor regulations and social protection policies, according to a new World Bank report.

These policy priorities have become all the more urgent now that the COVID-19 pandemic is fueling the biggest contraction in economic activity since the great depression. Digitization has become more important to support economic activity at a time of social distancing and is accelerating this technological transformation, potentially putting jobs at risk across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

According to Going Viral: COVID-19 and the Accelerated Transformation of Jobs in Latin America and the Caribbean employment transformations that were already apparent in the last few decades are bound to deepen, and the question in this context is how to recover from the crisis and build back better.

We need to rethink the future and not just try to get back to where we were before the pandemic,” said World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean Carlos Felipe Jaramillo. “Governments need to find ways to support the creation of new jobs, train workers to be ready for these new jobs and support their citizens through this disruptive transformation.”

Premature deindustrialization and rapid technological innovation will require policies to support a smooth transformation of jobs that is socially acceptable. The region was already struggling with the end of the so-called “Golden Decade” (2003-2013) of rapid development and strong improvements in social indicators. Economic growth and poverty reduction had stalled. The pandemic has only made things worse.

While fears of mass “technological unemployment” are largely unfounded, many jobs are at risk due to lower external demand, a protracted period of quarantines and lockdowns, solvency problems for firms, and financial crises in some cases. In addition, the social unrest seen in 2019 is a warning. It is urgent to restore economic growth and create more and better jobs.

However, this “Fourth Industrial Revolution” of technological innovation means that further industrialization or re-industrialization will be limited in many developing countries. Low-paid, uneducated workers and those in high-contact activities typical of the informal sector are at highest risk of being replaced by machines. In addition, informal workers are harder to reach with essential social protection programs. The COVID-19 crisis could accelerate these changes, bringing the future much closer than anticipated.

With limited scope for employment growth in manufacturing, modernizing the services sector is a priority. This calls for  an emphasis on removing the distortions that prevent competition and innovation from occurring at a rapid pace.

Preparing workers for the changes is also fundamental. “Education offers the best insurance against the risks of automation,” said the report’s lead author Guillermo Beylis, Research Economist in the World Bank’s Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Workers will have to adapt to demand for cognitive or analytical skills, as well as interpersonal skills.”

Adult learning and re-training will be key as new automation technologies are adopted in LAC countries. The focus should be on policy reforms to increase productivity in the services sector, which already employs 60% of the workforce and will play an increasingly important role in the future.

Finally, a rethinking of labor regulations and social protection policies is needed. This involves flexible regulation of the emerging forms of work in a way that encourages employment and supports formalization, thereby expanding the coverage of social protection to larger segments of the population.

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