Private Sector Development, Privatization, and Industrial Policy

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    Creating Markets in Eswatini : Strengthening the Private Sector to Grow Export Markets and Create Jobs - Country Private Sector Diagnostic
    (Washington, DC, 2022-09) International Finance Corporation
    Eswatini is facing multiple challenges. It was already experiencing weak economic growth before the COVID-19 pandemic, a reflection of longstanding, deeply rooted issues such as fiscal unsustainability, declining private investment, weakening productivity and competitiveness, and falling export diversification and complexity, compounded by the impact of climate shocks. It shifted from a private investment–led higher-growth model to a government spending–led lower-growth model after the end of apartheid in South Africa. With weak investment in productive sectors, Eswatini’s job market failed to keep pace with an expanding, younger labor force, leading to a large informal sector. Eswatini’s public sector–driven growth model is unsustainable under current fiscally constrained conditions, and there is a need to reduce and reprioritize public spending. An assessment of existing sectoral data and consultations with Eswatini’s private sector and policy makers suggest that four sectors can help drive the export-led private sector growth model. To return to an export-led growth model, Eswatini needs to increase export competitiveness by advancing regulatory reforms and improvements in trade logistics that include regional collaboration to address trade facilitation constraints. Finally, given the country’s vulnerability to climate risks, policies to foster economic resilience amid extreme weather events (mainly droughts that affect agriculture) and improve disaster preparedness need to be pursued. The private sector must adapt to this challenge and work with the government to improve climate resilience.
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    Creating Markets In Namibia : Creating Resilient and Inclusive Markets - Country Private Sector Diagnostic
    (Washington, DC, 2022-07) International Finance Corporation
    Since achieving independence in 1990, Namibia’s remarkable growth has been fueled by foreign direct investment and enabled by prudent economic management. Since 2016, however, growth has declined steadily and the economy fell into recession, exposing the vulnerability of Namibia’s economic growth model to external and climate shocks. These challenges were exacerbated by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, an economic slowdown in neighboring South Africa, worsening terms of trade on the back of declining global demand and commodity prices, a decline in Southern African Customs Union (SACU) revenues, and the effects of crippling droughts on agricultural and industrial production. Namibia has very high levels of poverty and inequality, which are largely driven by high levels of unemployment. The primary objective of this Country Private Sector Diagnostic (CPSD) is to identify near and medium-term reform opportunities to revitalize the private sector and help reposition Namibia’s growth on a green, resilient, and inclusive trajectory. This CPSD explores priority reform opportunities to address five cross-cutting bottlenecks: (1) enhancing the role and performance of the state-owned enterprise (SOE) sector through a more effective competition policy environment; (2) strengthening implementation of the public-private partnership (PPP) framework to expand private investments, especially in infrastructure; (3) leveraging the potential for digital transformation of the economy; (4) addressing inefficiencies in logistics and trade facilitation; and (5) tapping opportunities in the water sector for green and resilient growth. The diagnostic then looks in depth at three sectors prioritized by the Namibian government - renewable energy, climate-smart agribusiness, and housing, and provides recommendations for reducing sector-specific bottlenecks to stimulate growth potential.
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    Creating Markets in Malawi: The Road to Recovery : Turning Crisis into Economic Opportunity - Country Private Sector Diagnostic
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-06) International Finance Corporation
    Malawi is at a turning point in its political, social, and economic trajectory. Lazarus Chakwera was sworn in as Malawi’s sixth president in June 2020. This marked a historic moment: the first time in Africa that an opposition candidate won a presidential election following initial results being overturned. After widespread unrest prior to the election, Malawians, especially the youth, have been demanding greater accountability, an end to corruption, and tangible progress on eradicating persistent poverty levels that exceed 70 percent of the population. The average gross national income (GNI) of a Malawian is the third lowest in the world, just US$380 as of 2019. The Chakwera administration will need to find a way to unify the country’s fractured political landscape and deliver on development promises. On top of these challenges, the new administration must also navigate the ongoing and evolving economic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth expectations for 2020 have been lowered from 4.8 percent to 0.8 percent. Recent efforts to build fiscal and institutional resilience have helped but need to be strengthened. The pandemic’s fallout has weakened the country’s macroeconomic foundations, and the overall risk of debt distress is now high. Meanwhile, human capital gains are at risk. Poverty reduction is expected to stagnate, and overall poverty could potentially worsen. The pandemic will likely exacerbate existing inequalities in economic opportunities for women. Women-owned firms, for example, are primarily concentrated in informal agriculture and services, sectors that lack basic social protections to buffer against economic distress. Female farmers, for example, generally have lower access to productive inputs, information, and liquidity than male farmers, so in times of crisis, their farm productivity and food security can be hit harder.