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How Moving Beyond GDP may Help Fight Poverty in Africa

In this policy brief for CROP (Comparative Research Programme on Poverty) GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti explains how alternative indicators are likely to highlight the important contribution of social cohesion and natural welfare to economic development, thus helping to eradicate poverty in the continent.

Click here to read the CROP Poverty Briefs in full

Monitoring and evaluation of a participative planning process for the integrated management of natural resources in the uThukela District Municipality (South Africa)

Monitoring and evaluation of a participative planning process for the integrated management of natural resources in the uThukela District Municipality (South Africa)
By Mélanie POMMERIEUX, Magalie BOURBLANC, Raphaële DUCROT

Working paper No. 2014/1 May 2014

Rethinking development series: Working Paper 1 Abstract
This paper intends to monitor the changes in perceptions and behaviour of stakeholders induced by the Afromaison participatory process, which is aimed particularly at helping to integrate natural resource management in the uThukela District Municipality, South Africa.
To do so, an evaluation protocol has been designed, combining social sciences as well as evaluation techniques. This protocol has been applied to both the initial assessment and the monitoring of the first workshop involving various local stakeholders held under the Afromaison project. The initial assessment showed that it was possible to regroup stakeholders’ perceptions into categories according to the functions those actors occupy. Most of those interviewees lacked a holistic understanding of the state of natural resources in the area, and had issues collaborating well with other stakeholders. By monitoring the first workshop, we found that almost half of the participants did not contribute their opinion because they expected getting information rather than actively participating in order to reach a common vision. This monitoring revealed however changes in the normative and cognitive functions of participants. Two interviews conducted few weeks after this workshop tend to indicate that those changes might be long-term. A final evaluation conducted at the end of Afromaison should help us verifying this finding.

Read and download the working paper here: RETHINKING DEVELOPMENT WP 2014-1 – Bourblanc et al.

The Rethinking Development working paper series has been designed to push conventional boundaries in development research and public discourse. This series engages academics, policy makers and development practitioners to critically reflect on old and new development alternatives and how they impact the society we all live in.

Business by numbers can dull creativity of workforce -BusinessDay-

Fioramonti’s article this week focuses on the dangers on relying on simplified figures such as GDP to assess the development and the wealth of a country and make business decisions.

“When businesses base investment decisions on indicators such as the gross domestic product (GDP) they miss the forest for the trees. GDP is a very myopic measure of economic performance, which counts profits but excludes costs. Moreover, it flattens society and the market, thus giving the impression that growth affects all businesses (and people) in the same manner. In fact, there can be good and bad, equal and unequal, sustainable and unsustainable GDP growth.

“The “Africa rising” debate animating the investment community these days is a case in point, insofar as it does not pay attention to issues of sustainability and distribution, which are likely to hamper the performance of these “rising” economies. “

“Even good numbers can be misleading: indeed, numbers, by design, (over)simplify reality. In a numbers-driven world, only what can be measured counts. A metric-dependent business is more likely to forfeit long-term goals, which are harder to quantify, for short-term returns.”

Read it all on BusinessDay

Private sector must address challenges of the 21st century

THE Corporate Governance Index 2014, which GovInn released last week in partnership with the Institute of Internal Auditors of SA, provides a worrying snapshot of the state of business performance in SA.

The index finds that the leadership skills, accountability and overall conduct of public and private corporations have worsened over the past year. GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti comments on the perilous relationship between economic and political powers on Business Day, South Africa’s leading business newspaper.

If public officials take bribes to favour a few at the expense of the public good, then it is worth asking: where does the money come from? And the answer usually is: from business.

The simplistic juxtaposition between corrupt government and virtuous business does not pass the reality check.

Read the full article here

2012-2013 – Regional international migration and its impact on the South African labour market: data, policies and livelihoods 

2012-2013 – Regional international migration and its impact on the South African labour market: data, policies and livelihoods 

While both Europe and South Africa have had long experience of the impact of migrant labour on their respective economies and societies for some time, the inclusion of migration as a specific area of interest in the European Union (EU) – South Africa (SA) Dialogue Facility is only a fairly recent development. The past twenty years have seen a move from a highly regulated system of regional labour migration to largely unregulated flows, in the context of a restructuring of the South African economy resulting in millions of job losses and of chronic political instability in the rest of the region. Relying on a partnership between European, international, and South Africa-based state and nonstate organisations, the project will allow for the collection of original data, the design of new research instruments, and a range of policy-oriented and scholarly outputs.

Partners: African Centre for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), United Nations University Institute for Comparative Regional Integration Studies (Belgium). 

Funding: EU-SA Dialogue Facility.

“Time to liberate ourselves from a misleading statistic” by Lorenzo Fioramonti

 

South Africa is on an economic roller coaster. After the five-month strike in the platinum mines and turmoil in the metal sector, our country is still grappling with a credit downgrade and gloomy forecasts for economic growth.

 

Pundits warn that if the gross domestic product (GDP) does not pick up in the coming months, a recession will be inevitable, with disastrous consequences for all of us. Our eyes are all on this magic number. But what is GDP? Is GDP really helping us measure the state of our economy? Or is it a misleading indicator that contributes to wrong policy decisions, especially at a time of growing unrest and dissatisfaction with the transformation of the economy?

Read the full article on South African economy and the inadequacies of GDP, on Business Day, South Africa’s leading business newspaper.

The Fall of the ANC: What Next?

The fall of the ANC

Picador Africa (August 28, 2013)
Author: Prince Mashele and Mzukisi Qobo

Political governance in South Africa has collapsed. Scandals of corruption, evidence of nepotism, rampant maladministration in provinces, incompetence in public offices and a general decline in the quality of leadership are there for all to see.
In the authors’ view, this state of affairs has its origins in the messiness and collapse of the African National Congress. As helplessness deepens in our society, concerned citizens ask: What will happen to South Africa?
The Fall of the ANC: What Next? seeks to answer this question of the fate that awaits the country.

VIDEO: The Dark Side of GDP and Why It Matters for Africa’s Future

Lorenzo Fioramonti gave the inaugural address for the Expert Lecture Series 2013 at the University of Pretoria on 14 March. The title of the talk is “The Dark Side of GDP and Why It Matters for Africa’s Future”. For more info, visit NEW ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE, one of the pillars of GovInn work on Governance Innovation.