2015 marked a significant ramp up in the International Growth Centre’s efforts to generate new and collaborative ideas with the aim of reducing poverty and powering growth in our partner countries. Recognising that effective policy comes from researchers and policymakers working together, we have renewed our focus on cultivating an integrated research agenda and deepening in-country relationships to accelerate policy impact.
Echoing this, at last year’s IGC Africa Growth Forum, Dr. Arkebe Oqubay, former Mayor of Addis Ababa, pointed to Ethiopia’s success in achieving double-digit growth over the last decade, on the back of agricultural and industrial performance. Dr. Oqubay credited Ethiopia’s growth to well-designed and implemented policies. Ethiopia’s example highlights three lessons: (1) innovation through measured experimentation; (2) effective states for policy implementation; and, (3) undifferentiated policy prescriptions must be replaced with locally tailored approaches.
There are four common pillars of growth: building effective states, creating functioning cities, expanding access to energy, and raising productivity of domestic firms and industries.
These four key themes are fundamental to growth. States can only be effective if they have the necessary resources. Therefore, we must understand how to generate higher tax revenues. Our work in Pakistan, examines the role of incentives in increasing the effectiveness of tax collectors. Facing similar challenges, researchers in Rwanda are experimenting with electronic billing machines to increase Value Added Tax compliance.
Revenue generation is only one-side of the equation. Better recruitment and retention are needed for well-functioning civil services to deliver public services for growth. A flourishing engagement with the government of Zambia led to reforms in recruitment and management of public sector workers. Growing appetite for evidence-based policy has spurred further collaborations on urban policy such as a study on the economic impact of water and sanitation outages in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.
Energy too is important for growth. Expanding access and service quality must overcome persistent and pervasive problems of non-payment. Last November, the IGC hosted its first energy conference, showcasing grid and off-grid solutions, and research tools including satellite and GIS mapping to monitor energy access overtime.
Capping a 7-year engagement with Bangladeshi NGO BRAC, last December we presented results of BRAC’s innovative Graduation Programme, which has transformed employment opportunities for millions of ultra-poor. Bangladesh results were presented alongside several other countries where the programme was tested successfully.
As the Ebola crisis unfolded, the IGC spearheaded 8 rapid response studies in Sierra Leone and Liberia capturing high-quality emergency and aid response data to improve future crisis response.
Our growing programme provides a coherent framework for generating new evidence and ideas to strengthen local solutions to growth challenges. Unprecedented access to world-leading researchers provides our partners with support in co-generating policy solutions that are not imported, but developed in accordance with local realities.