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Carl Manlan

Articles by Carl Manlan

Back to Health: Carl Manlan

July 8, 2021

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Africa’s Human-Capital Imperative

June 28, 2021

Even though African governments were warned by the not-so-distant outbreaks of Ebola, most still have not put health and other human-capital investments at the center of their economic strategies. Until this changes, all of the region’s other aspirations will remain out of reach.

LOME – In 2014, the African Union’s “Cost of Hunger” study alerted African ministers of finance and planning to an underappreciated economic headwind that was gaining strength and threatening to stall their development plans. Yet even as the silent hunger pandemic and the current COVID-19 pandemic erode Africa’s human capital, policymakers and political leaders still have not put health at the center of their recovery plans.Chronic

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An Interview with Carl Manlan

June 15, 2021

PS: At the Back to Health event, you will participate in a panel on the economics of universal health coverage. You have argued that Africa needs to shift from donor- to investor-funded health-care programs. To attract the needed investment, new innovations must reflect a “fundamentally new approach to health care, which integrates it with financial inclusion, social protection, and employment opportunities.” What steps should governments take to spur the market-creating, investment-driven approach you have in mind?Carl Manlan: As the pandemic has made clear, health is a powerful determinant of socioeconomic development. Countries’ ability to push through headwinds – or recover lost ground – depends on their ability to draw a line connecting the health of their

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Kick-Starting FDI in Africa

December 15, 2020

To help catalyze growth and tackle extreme poverty, African leaders must try to attract hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign direct investment. They should emulate China and start by targeting the 165 million members of the continent’s diaspora.

LOMÉ/BOSTON – In the United Nations’ 2020 World Investment Report, Secretary-General António Guterres noted that global foreign direct investment (FDI) this year is “expected to fall sharply from 2019 levels of $1.5 trillion” to below the trough it hit during the global financial crisis. This decline will have a devastating effect on emerging economies, many of which are already in crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who Will Succeed Merkel?

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Africa Needs Market-Creating Innovation

September 15, 2020

Africa’s economic growth over the last 25 years has been accompanied by soaring inequality, which the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to worsen. Developing innovative products for the continent’s poorer "nonconsumers" will provide a more predictable, inclusive, and sustainable path to prosperity for hundreds of millions of people.

LOMÉ/BOSTON – Eradicating poverty and boosting prosperity in Africa starts in the boardroom. And it requires African business leaders to use their positions to foster more inclusive economic growth that benefits all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, and communities – rather than focusing on short-term profits that fail to lift up vulnerable communities.

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Will Global Governance Prove Itself?

April 24, 2020

Although institutions of international and regional integration have chalked up major successes in recent decades, they are hardly immune from internal and external challenges. In fact, both the health emergency and the looming debt crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic will test these structures like never before.

LOMÉ/BASEL – COVID-19 poses the greatest threat yet to the systems of international integration instituted during the twentieth century. As with the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, the lethality and contagiousness of the coronavirus has prompted a return to hard national borders and other barriers.

What the Stock Market Is Really Saying

PS OnPoint

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Recognizing the High Value of Africa’s Migrants

December 16, 2019

In Africa and elsewhere, development processes are stronger when they are built on existing networks and mechanisms. Far from being a handicap, therefore, Africa’s informal economy, and the migrants who help drive it, are one of the continent’s most valuable assets.

LOMÉ – As we mark International Migrants Day on December 18, it’s time to rethink how we value the informal skills and resources of many of Africa’s migrants. In particular, we need to recognize that migration can help boost long-term economic growth in Africa and the rest of the world.
Cronies Everywhere

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Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

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Investing in Africans’ Health

May 17, 2019

African leaders continue to discuss their countries’ health-care systems in terms of funding gaps. In fact, those gaps will close only when Africa is viewed as an investment destination, not a foreign-aid recipient.

LOMÉ – Africa’s health sector represents a massive investment opportunity, estimated by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to be worth $66 billion annually. Yet African leaders and donors continue to discuss Africa’s health-care systems in terms of funding gaps. In fact, those gaps will close only when Africa is viewed as an investment destination, not a foreign-aid recipient.
The Economy We Need

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Africa’s Philanthropic Potential

January 3, 2019

If every African with the means contributed a dollar a month for a year to pool their own resources, the continent could move from charity case to wealth creator. But to achieve this shift, Africa’s philanthropic infrastructure will first need to be strengthened – and in some cases built.

LOMÉ – It has now been more than three years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the money required to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the agenda’s key targets – remains elusive. In fact, less than half of the $6 trillion in annual financing that is needed has even been pledged.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


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Capitalizing on Africa’s Demographic Dividend

November 20, 2018

With as many as 20 million young people poised to join the workforce every year for the next three decades, Africa has an opportunity to shift the balance of local and global growth with a purpose: jobs. But it is far from inevitable that it will do so.

LOMÉ – Africa is home to the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population. With as many as 20 million young people poised to join the workforce every year for the next three decades, the continent has an opportunity to shift the balance of local and global growth with a purpose: jobs. But it is far from inevitable that it will do so.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images


For African

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An Amazonian Trade Strategy for Africa

May 4, 2018

Africa’s leaders are moving ahead with plans for a new free-trade area, which could revolutionize the way African producers and consumers interact. To succeed, countries will need to build new platforms that can support trade across regions – not unlike how e-commerce giants do business.
ACCRA – At a recent summit in Kigali, Rwanda, 44 African heads of state signed a new free-trade agreement aimed at changing the way the region does business. If every African Union country were to join the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the resulting single market would be one of the world’s largest – covering 54 countries that account for roughly $4 trillion in combined spending.

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Improving African Women’s Health Through Financial Inclusion

December 27, 2017

Financial inclusion is a proven pathway to improving people’s health, especially the health of women in developing countries. To capitalize on this synergy, efforts to bring digital banking solutions to Africa’s poorest should be combined with programs that aim to expand e-health care on the continent.
ACCRA – In late October, the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Africa signed an agreement with the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The aim of the unlikely partnership is to encourage the use of digital services “to save lives and improve people’s health.” But perhaps the pact’s most innovative feature is the vow to merge financial inclusion strategies with modern health-care delivery.

The Year Ahead

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Why Africa Should Go Cashless

May 12, 2017

YAMOUSSOUKRO – India has lately been pursuing an ambitious goal: a cashless economy. Despite early missteps and frustrations, it will turn out to be a change for the better for the country’s 1.31 billion people. Africa should set a similar goal – and take the first step by establishing a monetary union.

Of course, achieving a cashless society is not an end in itself. Rather, it is a means to help advance financial inclusion, security, and prosperity.

Today, an estimated 326 million Africans – 80% of the continent’s adult population – use no formal or informal financial services. But stashing banknotes under the mattress is no way to safeguard families’ savings, much less enable households to accumulate enough capital to escape chronic poverty.

Similarly, millions of

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Counting Africa’s Invisible Workers

August 19, 2016

YAMOUSSOUKRO – The billions of dollars in aid delivered to Africa annually may do the continent much good, but it cannot deliver a solution to poverty. Only creating more high-quality jobs can do that. The question is how.

Africa boasts a large and creative labor pool, buttressed by a youth population that is expected to double, to over 830 million, by 2050. That should be a boon for economies across the continent. But African policymakers confront a serious problem: they do not know how many people they are dealing with, where they live, or how they earn a living. Simply put, they don’t have enough data.
In 46 of 54 African countries, official tracking of vital statistics such as birth, marriage, and death is limited. As the Mo Ibrahim Foundation reports, only “a third

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