Information and stories about economy.

Oil Discovery in Guyana
The 2018 oil discovery in Guyana means this former British Colony can expect a massive increase in wealth by the early 2020s. The country found over three billion barrels worth of oil off its coast and it will likely positively impact its future economy. By 2020 Guyana will be a major petroleum producer. This may lead to a 300 percent increase in Guyana’s GDP by 2025.

For a country that heavily relies on agricultural, mining and lumber exports such as sugar, rice, bauxite, timber and gold, the oil revenue will heavily impact the Guyanese economy. As of now, Guyana’s agriculture industry experiences many ups and downs because of its vulnerability to floods. Between 1990 and 2014, floods were responsible for 93.6 percent for Guyana’s economic inactivity.

Currently, the oil project is still under production so it does not account for any percentage of the GDP. The oil and gas revenue, however, for the 2017 fiscal year is $2.8 billion. This accounts for only 14 percent of the Guyanese revenue generated by extractives.

As of 2017, 36 percent of Guyana’s population lived in poverty with unemployment rates almost reaching 12 percent. Education and trade learning are essential for the elevation of a country out of poverty. However, many are unable to continue their education after primary school. Youth from 15 to 24 make up 40 percent of the population, yet unemployment rates for them are 22 percent. Fortunately, with the recent oil discovery, Guyana’s oil industry has hired 10 more graduates of the University of Guyana in 2018 than it did in 2017. However, since the oil discovery, Guyana’s unemployment rates have remained around 11 to 12 percentage. As of 2019, oil and gas companies claimed 51 employees making up only 0.02 percent of the population.

What is the Resource Curse?

The resource curse refers to the idea that countries with a significant amount of their own natural resources experience little economic growth, development and more authoritarianism. The oil industry is unpredictable, and when governments tend to rely on it, citizens suffer. Several countries that were once in Guyana’s shoes, like Nigeria and Venezuela, experienced corruption and a contradicting lack of economic growth when their oil business began to boom. The influx of wealth that accompanies the discovery of oil, transparency, accountability and active oversight are important for avoiding the feared resource curse.

Venezuela, Nigeria and the Resource Curse

Venezuela’s oil reserves are larger than any other country’s. Since Venezuela’s focus on oil meant that it ignored other industries, however, poverty in Venezuela has reached devastating highs. Children have been suffering from malnutrition at alarming rates, and as of 2018 up to two million people have fled the country.

In Nigeria, the influx of oil came with a bevy of problems including theft of oil pipes, damage to nearby ecological systems, oil spills and abuse of the natural resource wealth. According to the World Bank, only one percent of the Nigerian population benefits from just 80 percent of the revenue brought in by the oil. The attention and support that Nigeria received for its oil industry also meant that the country neglected other industries like agriculture.

The EITI and NPPDG in Guyana

Upon the recent oil discovery in Guyana, the country has become apart of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the New Petroleum Producers Discussion Group (NPPDG).

The goal of the EITI is to ensure that a country is managing its natural resources in a way that benefits its citizens as much as possible. Some key standards of the EITI include informing the public, providing transparency within governments and companies dealing with the natural resources and holding those in power accountable.

As of 2019, the EITI has introduced new transparency requirements. One requirement impacting Guyana specifically is the contract transparency requirement. This states that by the year 2021, all participating countries must publish new oil, mining and gas contracts. Guyana has committed itself to the formulation of new contracts along with three other countries.

The purpose of the NPPDG is to help emerging oil producers make effective policies and decisions and remain proactive. Governments receive training sessions, mentorships and existing techniques via current successful oil-producing countries. Countries can provide one another with advice and support when facing novel challenges. In a summary of the most recent NPPDG meeting, consistency and politics were topics of discussion for Guyana. Because oil-production is a long-term project, keeping plans consistent and on track despite the occasional election of new leaders is a topic of concern for Guyana. This is mainly because prior to the discovery of the oil, Guyana began its Low Carbon Development Strategy. In this strategy, the country developed plans to fight climate change through sustainable development. According to the report, participants of the meeting are concerned that the recent oil discovery and subsequent oil production may not fit in with the Low Carbon Development Strategy.

Guyana’s New Sovereign Wealth Fund

Another proactive step taken by the Guyanese government since the oil discovery in Guyana includes the recent approval of the creation of a sovereign wealth fund. A sovereign wealth fund comprises of money from the country’s natural resources and a country uses it to boost its economy. With a sovereign wealth fund, Guyana has allowed the opportunity for other industries it relies on, such as sugar and gold, to benefit from the revenue that the oil will produce. Furthermore, since the oil industry is somewhat unpredictable, the sovereign wealth fund will allow the country to save up money in the event of hard times.

All in all, this oil discovery in Guyana could have an extremely positive impact on the Guyanese economy. Looking at other successful oil-producing countries for guidance, and learning from other country’s mistakes will allow Guyana to make the best decisions for its citizens.

– Desiree Nestor
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in San Marino
In the northeastern part of the Italian Peninsula lies San Marino, one of the world’s tiny micro states surrounded entirely by the country of Italy. Its modern form has shaped since 1463 and the country has maintained its autonomy until today. In fact, it is the world’s oldest republic. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in San Marino.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in San Marino

  1. Population: As of 2019, there are 33,683 people living in San Marino. It has the fifth smallest population on Earth. Roughly 15 percent of the population are migrants and 53 percent are individuals within the working ages of 18 to 65. The nation’s official language is Italian. The poverty rate of the country is very low, so the country does not officially measure it.
  2. Education: Education is compulsory until the age of 14 and attendance is free. Almost the entire population has completed secondary school as the country has a 91 percent completion rate. Over 10 percent of government spending goes towards education. Citizens of San Marino mostly pursue college degrees in surrounding Italy or abroad.
  3. Economy:  Economic output relies heavily on finance and manufacturing. The banking sector accounts for more than half of the country’s GDP at roughly 60 percent. Corporate taxes are low in comparison to the EU and the standard of living is high.
  4. Health Care: Life expectancy in San Marino is 83.4 years old. Health care is not free, but a universal system exists parallel to a private system.  The Azienda Sanitaria Locale insurance fund provides the government system. There are six physicians for every 1,000 inhabitants as of 2014. Child mortality is extremely low with only one death in 2018.
  5. Government System: San Marino has nine municipalities and the country is a parliamentary, representative, democratic republic. The legislation is within two chambers and there are two captain regents as heads of state. The country directs foreign policy mostly towards aligning with the EU. Therefore foreign aid policy is similar to that in the European Union.
  6. Social Security: There is social insurance for the elderly and the disabled. Furthermore, there are survivorship benefits for the unemployed and the widowed even though the unemployment rate has reduced in the past years.
  7. Communications: As access to information can make a big difference in human development, an important aspect of the top 10 facts about living conditions in San Marino is the country’s access to this right. Its living standards reflect this. More than half of the population are active internet users and broadband is widely available. There are 38,000 cellphone subscriptions active today which is more than the entire population.
  8. Labor Conditions: The law forbids workplace discrimination for any reason. The state guarantees contracts and the minimum wage is 9.74 euros per hour. In general, labor conditions are safe with an eight-hour working day in guaranteed humane conditions. Meanwhile, as of 2018, the unemployment rate was only eight percent.
  9. NGOs in San Marino: There are no specific NGO projects in San Marino, but a number of NGOs do exist from time to time specially aiding in education and training as well as health. For instance, the British organization, Hope is Kindled, was present in 2006 with a project to advance health through medical and technological research.
  10. The Serene Republic: As a small enclave, San Marino does not have large natural reserves within its territory. Nonetheless, it shares the geography of surrounding Italy which is slightly mountainous and mild. It imports most of its resources and food. To be able to keep its stable political and social system while being dependant on other countries, it must be in good terms with its neighbors and the international community.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in San Marino demonstrate why this small nation has been able to maintain such serenity for more than six centuries. As a result, it has been able to ensure its citizen’s freedom and security in all aspects.

– Diego Vallejo Riofrio
Photo: Flickr

Reducing Poverty
Africa has a long and complicated history. From the Portuguese exploration of the continent in 1460 to the Atlantic slave trade and modern-day ethnic conflicts in Sudan, it is, unfortunately, no surprise that the continent has long-standing issues with poverty. Ethiopia and Ghana are changing this trend. New, innovative farming techniques such as flexible growing practices and government-sponsored programs are reducing poverty, and famine rates have been declining in these countries. Worldwide organizations such as Africa Renewal are hoping that the agricultural reforms taking place in Ghana and Ethiopia can spread throughout the rest of Africa to reduce poverty.

While the mining industry is important for African countries such as South Africa, agriculture is by far the most important economic sector for a majority of African countries. Not only does agriculture provide jobs for residents, but it also acts as the main food source for over 1.2 billion Africans.

Farming in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has relied on ox-driven plows for centuries. Ethiopian farmers are primarily field farmers, which means they grow their crops on typical farmland rather than other alternatives such as in water-soaked rice patties. Ethiopia has dealt with severe famine over the past several decades, and farmers have helped alleviate famine by being flexible. Over the past century, Ethiopian farmers have shifted their main food source from enset to tef-based crops. Another change Ethiopian farmers are adopting is more flexible growing practices, which means rather than growing one crop at a time, farmers are beginning to grow as many as 10 different crops at once. Flexible growing practices add diversity to the food supply and help fight against weeds and pests, leading to increased food supplies, ultimately reducing poverty.

Ethiopia’s government launched the Growth & Transformation Plan II in 2015 that aims to significantly increase economic growth by investing heavily in sustainable and broad-based agricultural practices and manufacturing sectors. The end result of this initiative is for the world stage to recognize Ethiopia on the world stage as a lower middle-income country by 2025. While no one will know the full results of this initiative until 2025, the preliminary data shows that the program has been helping with Ethiopia’s GDP increasing from $64.46 billion in 2015 to $84.36 billion in 2018.

These new farming practices, along with government investment into agricultural practices, increased Ethiopia’s GDP by nearly 10.3 percent over the past decade, which is one of the fastest growth rates in Africa. The new agricultural practices that are stimulating the economy are a significant reason why Ethiopia’s poverty rate has also fallen from nearly 40 percent in 2004 to approximately 27 percent in 2016.

Farming in Ghana

Like Ethiopia, Ghana also has a history of poverty, with 24.2 percent of all residents facing poverty as of 2013. Ghana’s approach to reducing poverty is unique because the country is using economic growth. While Ethiopia is also focusing on economic growth, Ghana is not utilizing new farming practices in order to achieve economic growth. Rather, Ghana is using increased GDP to revitalize its agricultural sector.

Ghana’s unemployment rate is 6.71 percent as of 2018. With many residents unemployed, the agricultural sector provides job opportunities. Approximately 40 percent of Ghana’s available agricultural land is still available for use, which means there are many opportunities for agricultural expansion. Today estimates determine that the agricultural sector employs 33.86 percent of all Ghanian workers, meaning agriculture is the country’s main source of income for a third of its residents. Alarmingly, though, agriculture makes up only 19.7 percent of Ghana’s GDP as of 2017, which is the lowest total since 1983, when agriculture made up approximately 60 percent of the total GDP.

World Vision, a non-governmental organization, has worked in Ghana since 1979. Currently, World Vision implements 29 area programs. One such project is the Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage Project that provides instruction to farmers on how to store cowpea without chemicals. Storing cowpea without chemicals helps reduce post-harvest losses and maintain cowpea’s nutritional value.

With vast amounts of land still available and with the GDP increasing by 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2019, the unemployment rate will decline significantly as more residents head to the fields and plant crops. Agriculture’s share of the GDP will also rise, reducing the downward trend since 1983, and ultimately, put more money into resident’s pockets.

Reducing Poverty

Ethiopia and Ghana have made gains in their plans to reduce poverty among their citizens. Poverty in Ethiopia has fallen from 71.1 percent in 1995 to 27.3 percent in 2015, and Ghana’s poverty rate has fallen from 52.6 percent in 1991 to 21.4 percent in 2012. While these countries are making improvements, there is still a lot of work remaining before all of Africa’s citizens are free from poverty.

– Kyle Arendas
Photo: Flickr

Mall for Africa Boosts Prosperity
Mall for Africa boosts prosperity by allowing African consumers to purchase items from retailers located in the United States and the United Kingdom. The company’s innovation offers a secure and easy way for African citizens to purchase items online.

The Foundation of Mall for Africa

Chris Folayan, a Nigerian citizen and the founder and CEO of Mall for Africa, opened Mall for Africa in 2016. Foloyan founded this organization in Nigeria because this nation is the most affluent and high-powered country in Africa. Folayan has plans for Mall for Africa to expand in several other African nations as well, such as Ghana and Kenya.

The primary objective of Mall for Africa is for customers to purchase items from the U.S. and the U.K. and to market their own goods effectively in the absence of fraud and theft. Companies transport their products to the United States and United Kingdom infrastructures. Africa then receives the items.

In 2018, Mall for Africa began coordinating with the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in order to construct facilities in 15 of Africa’s nations. The purpose of this was to reduce shipping costs from international companies and allow for secure payment methods with provincial dollars.

Africans who make purchases online often pay high-cost fees for shipping items. To counter this, Mall for Africa opened storehouses in Portland, Oregon and London to reduce transportation costs. Furthermore, customers are able to purchase items using their own currency through new payment options.

Market Advantages

Mall for Africa boosts prosperity in Africa because of the availability of supplies and materials that generate employment opportunities, improve schooling and new forms of medical treatment. In particular, one entrepreneur purchased a sewing machine which enabled her to begin her own sewing operation. Educational institutions have benefited from Mall for Africa by having the ability to purchase necessary academic materials. These materials include items such as computers and books.

The medical field has benefited from the ability to obtain medical equipment. This gives doctors the ability to effectively pronounce medical conditions and offer treatment options.

Mall for Africa has helped create jobs for Nigerian residents. For instance, more than 60 citizens work full-time. Some expect the number of workers to increase with the implementation of new infrastructures in other African countries.

Since the company first launched, Mall for Africa has boosted prosperity in terms of profit. In fact, it has produced millions of dollars in yearly profits. An expansion of profits should happen due to the implementation of this business in other African nations. In 2019, Nigeria and Kenya are expecting to see a large increase in sales due to the development of various enterprises and the expansion of the working class earning more pay.

eBay’s Collaboration with Mall for Africa

While Africans are able to purchase products overseas as of 2017, Americans now have the ability to purchase original artifacts from Africa through the Mall for Africa application on eBay. Residents in some countries have the ability to sell their artifacts through eBay and market these products to U.S. consumers. Some of these countries include Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Burundi. The commodities will be available through the Mall for Africa application on eBay, which enables entrepreneurs to expand brand awareness and increase economic prosperity in Africa.

The primary groupings of products are fashion, antiques and jewelry. Mall for Africa will likely include other groupings in the future with the addition of other African countries selling their products.

Mall for Africa’s shipping co-partner, DHL, handles the transportation of all packages. The merchant packages their items then delivers the package to the closest DHL shipping facility. In February 2017, DHL reported a substantial rise in international sales. The company predicts that by 2020 the online market will progress at a rate of 25 percent annually. That is close to double the volume of sales achieved nationally.

While this partnership is expected to expand inventory to the United States, there will also be opportunities for economic advancement for Africans who now have the option of selling their products internationally. Overall, Mall for Africa boosts prosperity for the African continent.

– Diana Dopheide
Photo: Flickr

Abiy Ahmed’s Political Accomplishments

On April 2, 2018, Abiy Ahmed became the prime minister of Ethiopia. Ahmed has a history of being in the military, formerly serving as an army intelligence officer.  He also has a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and a master of arts degree in transformational leadership. Yet, these facts do not even compare to Abiy Ahmed’s political accomplishments thus far.

Abiy Ahmed as Prime Minister

At 42 years old, Ahmed is the youngest African leader to have a leadership position.  In his first 12 months of office, Ahmed has already enacted political reforms that will privatize state-owned sugar plants, railways and industrial parks. He also intends to partially privatize Ethiopian airlines, telecom, electric power corporation and shipping & logistics services enterprises. These four industries are the most crucial for Ethiopia since Ethiopia considers them “the four crown jewels of the economy.” Ahmed’s privatization process has already garnered international support, gaining $1.2 billion dollars for Ethiopia from the World Bank. This is the largest loan a Sub-Saharan country in Africa has ever received. Ahmed is not only implementing reforms that are leading to global outreach, but he is also bringing in more money for Ethiopia’s economy in doing so.

Repression in Ethiopia

Many consider Ethiopia to be one of the most politically repressive countries.  Historically, leaders would lock journalists for doing their jobs or torture inhabitants of detention centers. The political repression has not completely improved, but Ahmed is making sure to take steps in that direction. He has already admitted to the repression that exists and even to the government using torture.  Ahmed is attempting to undo Ethiopia’s brutal history of repression by admitting to it and releasing the prisoners. This will not fix Ethiopia’s problems overnight, but it is a small step that should bring the country to a better place for itself and its citizens.

Despite the fact that Ahmed has committed some very important actions that could ultimately impact Ethiopia’s economy, the results have not always been positive. Communal violence has broken out since Ahmed has been in office, resulting in messy and confusing times for many of Ethiopia’s citizens. Ethiopia has an incredibly big, diverse population, which makes it one of the more difficult ones to govern. Many of its citizens still live in poverty and the literacy rates reach only half the population. While Ahmed’s new policies and reforms will be beneficial, that does not mean they will have overall positive effects. However, there is some hope amidst the chaos. It means that the citizens care and that they are looking for something to believe in. Abiy Ahmed’s political accomplishments could be that hope.

Ethiopia still has a long way to go. Abiy Ahmed’s political accomplishments are already paving the way to Ethiopia gaining a more benign government and country. The small steps he is taking will be significant in enacting big change.

– Haley Saffren
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in South America
The poverty that affects so much of South America comes from a history of colonialism, which has left the region with extractive institutions including weak states, violence and poor public services. In order to combat these issues, it is vital to understand these top 10 facts about poverty in South America.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in South America

  1. Dependence Theory: According to the Council of the Americas, the South American economy is suffering from the U.S.-China trade war, a drop in crude oil prices and generally worsening economic conditions throughout the region. This poor economic performance has been present in the region for a long time. NYU Professor Pablo Querubín noted in a lecture that this is largely due to Dependence Theory. This theory argues that poorer countries and regions will have to specialize in raw materials and agriculture due to the comparative advantage other countries and regions have in producing industrialized products such as computers, advanced technology and services. Therefore, because Latin America has a comparative advantage in producing agricultural products and oil, it will have much greater difficulty moving into the industrial sector.
  2. The Reversal of Fortune Theory: The South American economy has also had such a difficult time growing because of the history of colonialism and extractive institutions. Professor Pablo Querubín also referenced the Reversal of Fortune Theory which explains how the pre-Columbian region of South America was so much more wealthy than pre-Columbian North America, yet those roles have reversed in the modern era. The reason is that South America put extractive institutions into place to send wealth back to Spain rather than “promote hard work or to incentivize investment, human capital, accumulation, etc.” Yet, in areas with low population levels, such as pre-Columbian North America, settlers had to establish inclusive institutions “designed to promote investment, effort, innovation, etc.”
  3. Political Instability: Political consistency has been rare in the history of South America. New leaders would often change the constitution when they entered office to better suit their political wishes. In fact, while the U.S. has only ever had one constitution with 27 amendments over the course of about 200 years, Ecuador had 11 separate constitutions within the first 70 years of its history. In Bolivia, there were 12 within the first 60 years. This instability and very quick political turnover have been detrimental to the steady growth of the economy and confidence in the government. Understanding the effects of this issue and the other top 10 facts about poverty in South America are integral to fighting poverty in the region.
  4. Inequality: Inequality is incredibly high in South America. As a result, the incredibly wealthy can afford to use private goods in place of public ones. For example, the rich use private schools, private health insurance, private hospitals and even private security forces instead of relying on the police. Therefore, there is very little incentive for the wealthy to advocate for higher taxes to improve public goods such as public education, police or public health initiatives. As a result, the public services available to the poor in Latin America are extremely lacking.
  5. Education: Education in South America is full of inequality both in terms of income and gender. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment, an institution which evaluates teenagers on their educational performance in key subject areas, most countries in South America perform below average. In one evaluation it determined that the highest-scoring country in South America, Chile, was still 10 percent below average. Furthermore, poor educational performance highly correlates with income inequality.
  6. Indigenous Women and Education: In addition, indigenous women are far less likely than any other group to attend school in South America. According to UNESCO, in Guatemala, 70 percent of indigenous women ages 20 to 24 have no education. The issue of unequal education spreads further to affect women’s livelihoods and presence in the South American workforce. According to the International Monetary Fund, about 50 percent of women in Latin America and the Caribbean do not work directly in the labor force. However, the International Monetary Fund also noted that “countries in LAC [Latin America and the Caribbean] have made momentous strides in increasing female LFP [labor force participation], especially in South America.”
  7. Teenage Pregnancy: One major driver of the cycle of poverty in South America is the persistence of teenage pregnancies which lead to impoverished young mothers dropping out of school and passing on a difficult life of poverty to their children. The World Bank reported that Latin America is the second highest region in terms of young women giving birth between the ages of 15 and 19 years old. Furthermore, a study called Adolescent Pregnancy and Opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean interviewed several South American teen mothers including one who noted that sexual education was not the problem: “We knew everything about contraceptive methods,” she said, “but I was ashamed to go and buy.” Thus, the study advised that in addition to preventative methods for pregnancy such as education and the distribution of contraceptives, there needs to be action to “fight against sexual stereotypes.” Fortunately, there are activist campaigns such as Child Pregnancy is Torture which advocates for raising awareness about the issue of child pregnancy in South America and encourages the government to take steps such as increased sex education, access to contraception and the reduction of the sexualization of girls in the media.
  8. Food Insecurity: Hunger is a growing issue related to poverty in South America. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, 39.3 million people in South America are undernourished, which represents an increase by 400,000 people since 2016. Food insecurity in the region as increased from 7.6 percent in 2016 to 9.8 percent in 2017. However, the issue is improving with malnutrition in children decreasing to 1.3 percent. Additionally, there are many NGOs such as the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Action Against Hunger and Pan American Health Organization of the World Health Organization (PAHO) that are implementing vital programs throughout the continent to fight hunger.
  9. Migration: The economic instability and rising poverty in South America have caused many people to migrate out of the region. Globally, 38 million people migrated out of their countries last year with 85 percent of that 38 million coming from Latin America and the Caribbean. Dr. Manuel Orozco from the Inter-American Dialogue think tank stated that “The structural determinant is poor economic performance, while demand for labour in the United States and the presence of family there encourages movement.”
  10. Violence: The high level of violence in South America exacerbates the cycle of poverty in South America. Fourteen of the 20 most violent countries in the world are in South America and although the region only contains eight percent of the world’s population, it is where one-third of all murders take place. Dr. Orozco went on to say that “There’s a strong correlation between migration and homicide. With the potential exception of Costa Rica, states are unwilling or unable to protect citizens.”

Fighting poverty in South America is dependent upon an understanding of the history and realities of the region. Hopefully, these top 10 facts about poverty in South America can shed light upon the cycle of poverty in the region and how to best combat it in the future.

– Alina Patrick
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon
A short distance from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador lies Saint Pierre and Miquelon, an overseas collectivity of France. Its remoteness and obscurity marks it as culturally, economically and demographically distinct from the rest of North America. Living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon compare well with much of the developed world in some respects, but not all. Below are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon

  1. Economic Disputes Disrupted the Fishing Industry Fishing quota disputes with neighboring Canada have devastated the islands’ traditional economic reliance on the fishing industry. Moreover, in response to rampant overfishing, the International Arbitration Tribunal of New York’s prohibition on deep-sea cod fishing in 1992 ended centuries of this practice, contributing to the decline in living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
  2. The Service and Energy Sectors and Government Employment Supplanted Fishing – With the decline of the fishing industry, the service sector and government employment dominate the economy. As of 2010, the services sector comprised 86 percent of the islands’ GDP, while 2006 data indicates that (as of that year) agriculture constituted two percent of the GDP and industry comprised 15 percent. The construction of a thermal power plant in 2015 precipitated the expansion of the extractive industries and energy sector.
  3. Sex Ratios Differ Between Age Groups in this Aging Population – As of July 2018, the population of Saint Pierre and Miquelon stood at 5,471. At 41.44 percent of the total population, citizens 25 to 54 years old comprise the largest share of the population. Citizens 55 to 64 years old are 13.69 percent and citizens 65 years and older are 21 percent of the population. In younger age groups, the sex ratio skews in favor of males, a characteristic shared with citizens 55 to 64 years old but not with those 25 to 54 years old or 65 years and older.
  4. A Transforming Economy Impacts Unemployment Rates – Unemployment in the islands decreased from 9.9 percent of the labor force in 2008 to 8.7 percent of the labor force in 2015. The marginalization of the traditional fishing industry and the rise of the service sector and certain industries influence employment rates.
  5. Most Inhabitants are French-Speaking Catholic Basques and Bretons – As an overseas collectivity of the Republic of France, French is the official language of the islands. Most of the population descends from Basque and Breton fishermen. An estimated 99 percent of the population identifies as Roman Catholic.
  6. With Little Arable Land, the Population is Overwhelmingly Urban – As of 2018, 90.2 percent of the population resided in urban centers, mostly concentrated on Saint Pierre Island. Agriculture constituted two percent of the GDP as of 2006, although it employs as much as 18 percent of the labor force. As of 2011, only 8.7 percent of the land qualified as arable.
  7. Fertility is Low, While Life Expectancy is High – Estimates in 2018 indicated that total life expectancy was 80.7 years, 78.4 years for men and 83.2 years for women. Infant mortality lies at 6.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, 7.4 per 1,000 for male births and 5.3 per 1,000 for female births. However, the fertility rate is low, averaging at 1.57 children born per woman as of 2018.
  8. The Health Care System Functions Well – Saint-Pierre and Miquelon boasts a universal health care system. Until 2015, pursuant to an agreement between France and Canada, islanders could seek medical treatment in St. John’s, the capital of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Starting in 2015, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon began probing for an alternative to this prior arrangement as a result of increasing costs.
  9. The Educational System Conforms to Metropolitan France – Saint Pierre and Miquelon provides mandatory and free education from the ages of six to 16. Primary education lasts five years and secondary education lasts up to seven years, following the French model. Secondary education consists of a four-year program followed by three further years of study and the bestowal of a baccalaureate degree.
  10. Citizens Directly Elect Representatives to a Local Autonomous Legislature – As an overseas collectivity of the French Republic, Saint Pierre and Miquelon governs itself through a unicameral territorial council elected by absolute majority vote. This legislative body consists of 19 seats, 15 from Saint Pierre and four from Miquelon. An electoral college vote guarantees representation in the French Senate by a single senator for five-year terms.

Though living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon are not intolerable, opportunities for improvement exist. The archipelago’s relative remoteness allows it to avoid the attention of outsiders, yet it has not escaped the forces of globalization, of which the economic and cultural consequences have been tremendous. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon ought to dispel any notion that this is an inconsequential territory.

– Philip Daniel Glass
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Living Conditions in Madagascar

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, still affected today by the aftermath of colonization and political violence. A history of conflicts has left most of its populace impoverished. These 10 facts about living conditions in Madagascar show some of the larger issues the country is facing, as well as what the future holds for the island.

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Madagascar

    1. More than two-thirds of the population in Madagascar lives below the poverty line, with most living on less than $1.90 a day. Three-quarters of the population live in rural areas, and only 13 percent of the population has access to electricity. The country has one of the lowest Human Capital Indexes in the world at 0.37.
    2. In 2009, Andry Rajoelina led a coup that overthrew the elected president at the time. Ever since then, the political system has been accused of corruption. The judicial system in the country is both slow and weak, and this hampers other systems of the government as well as the business sector.
    3. Madagascar is no stranger to natural disasters, and the island experiences three or four devastating cyclones each year. Cyclones cause massive structural and property damage. Madagascar is one of the countries most at risk of natural disasters in Africa. In 2016, a drought caused food shortages that caused widespread starvation, and this still affects the citizens today.
    4. Problems that plague children in poorer nations are unfortunately just as present in Madagascar. The country has the world’s fourth-highest rate of malnutrition, with 50 percent of children growing up stunted or undergrown. Education is in just as poor a situation. In 2012, approximately 1.4 million children dropped out of school because of political unrest in the region, and the numbers have struggled to rise since. Now, Madagascar has the fifth-lowest education rate in the world.
    5. Eighty percent of the population of Madagascar is employed in the agricultural field. Despite improvements to the economy in some areas, this sector has grown smaller by 0.8 percent every year since 2014. Most farmers are unable to use modern technologies, and weather shocks make farming difficult. However, Madagascar has an excellent climate for growing certain crops like clove and vanilla. Vanilla exports have increased significantly since 2017.
    6. Madagascar is the fifth-largest island in the world. It has a landmass of 587,000 square kilometers and 25.5 million inhabitants. The island is also rich in natural resources, including graphite, coal, quartz and salt.
    7. Madagascar has one of the largest numbers of endemic species on the planet with more than 250,000 on the island. But since the 19th century, the rainforests in Madagascar have been depleted by 80 percent. Eighteen million people in Madagascar depend on natural resources: 80 percent of the population uses the forests from everything from food to medicinal remedies. Conservationism aside, the deforestation in Madagascar represents a threat to the way of life of the people who live there.
    8. In more recent years, Madagascar’s economy has been slowly improving. The economy grew by 5.2 percent in 2018 and has seen similar growth these last five years. Inflation was at 8.3 percent in 2017 but went down to 7.3 percent the next year.
    9. The situation for Madagascar may seem bleak, but aid is currently being provided to multiple of its sectors. Some 12,704 schools have received grants in order to purchase new equipment, and 5.1 million students were also provided with much-needed study materials. Recently, 600 schools helped bring meals to 103,608 children, helping to combat the widespread malnutrition in the country.
    10. Between 2015 and 2017, multiple reforms designed to help the business climate have been implemented, and they have shown results in creating new entrepreneurs. Second Integrated Growth Poles and Corridors Project (PIC2) serves to reduce barriers around investing and business creation. So far, 400,000 businesses and business owners have benefitted from this, and there was an 85 percent increase in the number of new businesses in 2017.

– Owen Zinkweg
Photo: Flickr

development in TajikistanTajikistan is a country located on the frontiers between Europe and Asia. This largely unheard of, mountainous country has a population of more than 8.6 million with an average GDP per capita of around $3,200, placing it near the bottom of the global ranking. However, over the past few years, the GDP of Tajikistan has grown between 6 and 7 percent. This article will address five facts about development in Tajikistan, including the challenging areas and opportunities that the country faces.

Five Facts About Development in Tajikistan

  1. Geography: Tajikistan’s geography is impugning its development since more than 90 percent of the country is mountainous. If fact, much of the land lies above 3,000 meters in altitude. Subsequently, the population is largely rural and widely dispersed, complicating infrastructural developments. However, as a result of this landscape, the majority of Tajikistan’s electricity production comes from hydroelectric power. The system is still largely inefficient though, especially in winter months. Users reporting shortages up to 70 percent of the time in winter months. Recent efforts have sought to address the gaps in provisions. In March 2019, the World Bank agreed to finance the rehabilitation of the Nurek Hydropower Plant, which generates 70 percent of the country’s energy demand. The rehabilitation should increase the plant’s winter generation by 33 million kWh, allowing it to meet winter energy demands and become a net exporter of energy in summer periods.
  2.  Government Policy: According to the U.S. State Department, Tajikistan is a country of ‘high risk’ but ‘high reward’ investment. Despite its consistent low ranking on the Freedom House Index, which measures civil and political rights, continual economic reforms have increased its Economic Freedom and promoted more investment. These reforms helped Tajikistan officially join the WTO at the end of 2013 after the changes made in property and investor rights. The 2019 ‘Doing Business’ World Bank report stated that Tajikistan had increased its rank overall by taking steps to participate more in the regional economy. Through the Simplified Customs Corridor agreement, Tajikistan has improved customs clearance with Uzbekistan. Based on the international classification, the poverty rate is projected to fall to 12.5 percent by 2020.
  3. Labor Migration: Due to the lack of employment opportunities, Tajikistan has a negative net migration rate, meaning that there are more people leaving the country than entering it. Most of the migrants are working-age men going to work in Russia. In 2015, worker’s remittances accounted for around 29 percent of Tajikistan’s GDP. But, this dependency means that Tajikistan’s fiscal health dropped from 95.8 percent to 60.3 percent in the period from 2016 to 2017 as a result of Russia’s economic downturn. To increase the opportunities for the workforce, the International Labour Organization has launched a pilot project aimed at strengthening National Skills Development systems as part of the ‘G20 Training Strategy’. Although it only has 1,460 participants so far, the updated frameworks could help increase Tajikistan’s current low productivity.
  4. Gender Disparities: In Tajikistan, women face a number of barriers to succeed economically, gain access to education, find employment or receive healthcare. They receive fewer years of schooling than their male counterparts and earn approximately 60 percent of what men do. However, with a migrating male workforce, female participation in the economy could be beneficial for economic development in Tajikistan. With help from funding from U.N. Women, the Tajikistan National Business Association for Women runs a number of training programs to improve employment opportunities for women. From 2015 to 2018, 3,200 women received training in business and 2,200 women received training in vocational areas. The organization also runs a bi-annual women-only entrepreneurship competition, which received more than 700 applications in both 2016 and 2018.
  5. Border Problems: Tajikistan shares a 750-mile long border with Afghanistan, one of the world’s largest opium producers. Consequently, illegal drug trafficking in Tajikistan is estimated to be worth around 30 percent of the GDP. However, the Project for Livelihood Improvement in Tajik-Afghan Cross-border Areas (LITACA) is one of a number of projects seeking to enhance cross-border cooperation between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, especially for women entrepreneurs. The Government of Japan finances this initiative, and the UNDP Tajikistan implements it in order to add stability and security to the region and ease border tensions. This program introduced around 25 socio-economic projects between 2014 and 2017, boosting economic growth to 45,000 people on both sides of the border. The project improved direct access to “schools, hospitals, irrigation, drinking water, energy supply, roads and bridges” for more than 388,000 people.

Tajikistan faces a number of barriers to its economic development. However, these five facts about development in Tajikistan show that important work is being done. There are many opportunities for growth. Economic reforms and continued investment could change the lives of the hundreds of thousands affected by poverty.

Holly Barsham
Photo: Unsplash

Ethiopia's Economy
Ethiopia is the second-most populous country in Africa with an estimated population of 112 million people. Ethiopia also has the fastest growing economy on the continent and is located on the east coast. In 2015, the World Bank reported 23.5 percent of Ethiopia’s population to be living under the national poverty line, however. As of 2019, its GDP is expected to grow between seven and eight percent in the next year in large part due to Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali, who proposed large scale economic reforms in June 2018, two months after assuming office. The following facts about Ethiopia’s Economy give a closer look at the country’s development in recent decades.

7 Facts About Ethiopia’s Economy

  1. Prior to 2018, the state primarily controlled the Ethiopian economy, which was in line with the beliefs of its dominant political coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). In 2018, however, Prime Minister Dr. Ali, chairman of the EPRDF, announced that it would allow private investors into some of its monopolies, beginning with select airlines, electricity and telecommunications. Ali and the EPRDF found this shift necessary to spur economic growth according to the government.
  2. Agriculture, textiles, minerals and metal processing are the largest industries in Ethiopia. According to the CIA World Fact Book, the country can trace 40.5 percent of its GDP to the export of coffee, vegetables and sugarcane. Recently, foreign investment in flower, wine and textile industries have become major contributors to the Ethiopian economy as well.
  3. Despite this, Prime Minister Ali has declared his intention to move Ethiopia’s agriculture-based economy into manufacturing, which he announced in a national plan titled Vision 2025. The goal of the plan is to create more than two million jobs and grow the manufacturing industry to 25 percent of Ethiopia’s economy. The idea is for Ethiopia to position itself as a viable contender for low wage jobs to foreign companies in need of labor.
  4. Infrastructural development is also an integral player in the expansion of the Ethiopian economy. Vision 2025 also details the timeline for the creation of 10 new public industrial parks as well as six others to be completed by private developers, bringing at least 60,000 jobs to the area. The sites will receive supplementation in the form of free water, subsidized rent and electricity. To this end, the government has created the Industrial Parks Development Cooperation to oversee the project, and communicate with potential investors. This initiative has been rather controversial to date, however. Strikes erupted at Hawassa Industrial Park, which opened in 2016, due to low wages and unsafe working conditions.
  5. Another significant infrastructural development has been the light rail, the first transportation system of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. Since its completion, the metro has allowed more than 60,000 people easier access to urban centers where they are more likely to find work or able to attend school for $.027 a ride.
  6. Ethiopia’s potential as an energy provider superpower can not only be seen by its light rail, which relies on hydropower, but also by its large stake in the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which once completed, will be largest in the continent. It has been under construction since 2011 but will be able to generate 6000MW of electricity, serving not only Ethiopia’s water and hydropower needs but those of 10 other countries as well.
  7. As a rising global economic powerhouse, Ethiopia also has a great interest in expanding its tourism industry. With multi-billion-dollar investments spread across industrial parks and transportation, Prime Minister Ali announced his intentions to no longer African citizens require visas to enter the country. The plan to expand the Bole International Airport so it can serve 22 million people, more than triple the number it accommodates today, accompanied this.

The economic reforms and rapid, large scale infrastructural development happening in Ethiopia today are a promising start to reducing its poverty levels worldwide. Internationally, others recognize Ethiopia’s efforts too; the World Bank pledged $1.2 billion of support in 2018. These seven facts about the Ethiopian economy highlight the government’s rightfully ambitious initiatives— sure to result in a more advanced country supported by the creation of hundreds and thousands of jobs it requires to continue to thrive.

– Jordan Powell
Photo: Flickr