Office of the Regional Chief Economist, Africa, The World Bank
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Fields of Specialization
Economics of Education, Public Economics, Energy Economics, Electricity Access, Human Capital
Office of the Regional Chief Economist, Africa, The World Bank
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Last updated March 13, 2023
Moussa P. Blimpo is a Senior Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist for the Africa Region (AFRCE) of the World Bank. Prior to this, he was an assistant professor of economics and international studies at the University of Oklahoma. His research interests cover a range of policy-relevant questions concerning African economies. His recent research and publications address issues of electricity access in Sub-Saharan Africa, the role of disruptive technologies on the prospects of African economies to leapfrog and address key development challenges, and human capital acquisition in African countries. He holds a PhD in economics from New York University and spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University’s Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR). He founded, and led between 2011 and 2015, the Center for Research and Opinion Polls (CROP), a think tank based in Togo.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 10
Improving Access and Quality in Early Childhood Development Programs: Experimental Evidence from The Gambia(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-02) Blimpo, Moussa P. ; Carneiro, Pedro ; Jervis, Pamela ; Pugatch, ToddEarly childhood experiences lay the foundation for outcomes later in life. Policy makers in developing countries face a dual challenge of promoting access to and quality of early childhood development services, but evidence on how to manage this trade-off is scarce. This paper studies two experiments of early childhood development programs in The Gambia: one increasing access to services, and another improving service quality. In the first experiment, new community-based early childhood development centers were introduced to randomly chosen villages that had no preexisting, structured early childhood development services. In the second experiment, a randomly assigned subset of existing early childhood development centers received intensive provider training. The analysis finds no evidence that either intervention improved average levels of child development. Exploratory analysis suggests that the first experiment, which increased access to relatively low-quality early childhood development services, led to declines in child development among children from less disadvantaged households. The evidence supports that these households may have been steered away from better quality early childhood settings in their homes. Comparisons of observationally similar children across experiments reveal that existing early childhood development centers increased language skills by 0.4 standard deviation relative to the community-based alternative, reflecting differences in program quality.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-10) Blimpo, Moussa P. ; Postepska, AgnieszkaAccess to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa is the lowest in the world, although a larger proportion of the population lives under the grid. This demand-side challenge is likely to be exacerbated with the grid expansion as the areas currently o_-grid are disproportionately more rural and poorer. This paper uses the most recent individual and household level data to examine the determinants of, and barriers to, electricity uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa. It supplements the analysis with qualitative fieldwork in three countries. Regarding the areas under the electricity grid, the paper follows Wodon et al. (2009) to show that demand-side constraints to a large extent explain the low level of electricity access and then proceed to identify the factors that drive uptake both at an individual and community level. Findings suggest that while the level of income remains a primary and consistent driver of uptake, regularity and predictability of income is a key constraint. Additionally, housing quality, independently of the variation in their socio-economic status is a significant determinant of uptake. To extrapolate on the determinant of uptake in areas currently off-grid, shall the grid be extended to those areas, we use Heckman (1976) two stages estimation procedure and several control variables to address selection bias. The analysis reveals that targeting communities that already enjoy higher economic livelihood or communities in which the provision of electrification is likely to induce economic activities is key to achieving high take-up rates and contribute toward the financial viability of the utilities and the sector. Policies such as pre-paid meters, energy-efficient appliance, credit access will address some of the specific constraints. However, the desire for productive use emerging from the qualitative work suggests that electrification efforts may be more successful if bundled with facilities for household to acquire appliances for productive use which has the potential to increase uptake and enhance livelihoods simultaneously.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-04) Blimpo, Moussa ; McRae, Shaun ; Steinbuks, JevgenijsThis study develops and structurally estimates a model of household and electric utility behavior to describe how the low access rates and high connection charges that are common in the Sub-Saharan Africa region arise from regulated electricity tariffs being set too low. As a result, the utilities lose money on each connected customer and low electricity consumption by households makes it difficult to recover the cost of providing a connection. For each possible choice of the regulated tariff, the optimal upfront connection charge is computed that will maximize profits for the utility in its service territory. Higher tariffs are associated with lower optimal connection charges and higher electrification rates. Nonetheless, due to households' low willingness to pay for electricity services, the equilibrium electrification rates in the model are much lower than 100 percent. Future advances in electrification will require higher incomes, increased coverage of the distribution network, and lower connection costs.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-03-13) Begazo, Tania ; Dutz, Mark Andrew ; Blimpo, MoussaAll African countries need better and more jobs for their growing populations. "Digital Africa: Technological Transformation for Jobs" shows that broader use of productivity-enhancing, digital technologies by enterprises and households is imperative to generate such jobs, including for lower-skilled people. At the same time, it can support not only countries’ short-term objective of postpandemic economic recovery but also their vision of economic transformation with more inclusive growth. These outcomes are not automatic, however. Mobile internet availability has increased throughout the continent in recent years, but Africa’s uptake gap is the highest in the world. Areas with at least 3G mobile internet service now cover 84 percent of Africa’s population, but only 22 percent uses such services. And the average African business lags in the use of smartphones and computers as well as more sophisticated digital technologies that catalyze further productivity gains. Two issues explain the usage gap: affordability of these new technologies and willingness to use them. For the 40 percent of Africans below the extreme poverty line, mobile data plans alone would cost one-third of their incomes—in addition to the price of access devices, apps, and electricity. Data plans for small- and medium-size businesses are also more expensive than in other regions. Moreover, shortcomings in the quality of internet services—and in the supply of attractive, skills-appropriate apps that promote entrepreneurship and raise earnings—dampen people’s willingness to use them. For those countries already using these technologies, the development payoffs are significant. New empirical studies for this report add to the rapidly growing evidence that mobile internet availability directly raises enterprise productivity, increases jobs, and reduces poverty throughout Africa. To realize these and other benefits more widely, Africa’s countries must implement complementary and mutually reinforcing policies to strengthen both consumers’ ability to pay and willingness to use digital technologies. These interventions must prioritize productive use to generate large numbers of inclusive jobs in a region poised to benefit from a massive, youthful workforce—one projected to become the world’s largest by the end of this century.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-04) Blimpo, Moussa P. ; Evans, David ; Lahire, NathalieEducation systems in developing countries are often centrally managed in a top-down structure. In environments where schools have different needs and where localized information plays an important role, empowerment of the local community may be attractive, but low levels of human capital at the local level may offset gains from local information. This paper reports the results of a four-year, large-scale experiment that provided a grant and comprehensive school management training to principals, teachers, and community representatives in a set of schools. To separate the effect of the training from the grant, a second set of schools received the grant only with no training. A third set of schools served as a control group and received neither intervention. Each of 273 Gambian primary schools were randomized to one of the three groups. The program was implemented through the government education system. Three to four years into the program, the full intervention led to a 21 percent reduction in student absenteeism and a 23 percent reduction in teacher absenteeism, but produced no impact on student test scores. The effect of the full program on learning outcomes is strongly mediated by baseline local capacity, as measured by adult literacy. This result suggests that, in villages with high literacy, the program may yield gains on students learning outcomes. Receiving the grant alone had no impact on either test scores or student participation.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-05) Adelman, Melissa ; Baron, Juan D. ; Blimpo, Moussa ; Evans, David K. ; Simbou, Atabanam ; Yarrow, Noah ; Yarrow, NoahThe Haitian education system made substantial improvements in access over the last decade, such that today the majority of Haiti’s children are in school. Despite improvements, the primary education system is highly inefficient: children start primary school 2 years late on average, and fewer than 60 percent will reach the last grade of the cycle. At each school, classroom observations were conducted using the Stallings Classroom Snapshot instrument, and questions about the school calendar and daily schedule asked. The results provide a representative picture of class time and teacher classroom practice in the Nord and Nord Est departments, and while not representative of Haiti as a whole, do provide a starting point for better understanding the major constraint to achieving a high-quality education for all children: the quality of teacher instruction. Section two describes the sample of schools and the stallings instrument; sections three and four present the main results of the classroom observations on teacher time use and pedagogical practices; section five provides estimates of overall class time that students receive; and section six concludes.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-04) Blimpo, Moussa ; Mensah, Justice Tei ; Opalo, K. Ochieng’ ; Shi, RuifanThis paper provides evidence on how the provision of social infrastructure, such as reliable electricity, can be leveraged to increase taxation in developing countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. First, using comprehensive data from the latest round of the Afrobarometer survey, the paper uses the instrumental variable approach to estimate the effect of access to and reliability of electricity on the tax compliance attitudes of citizens in 36 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The evidence shows a significant positive effect of electrification on tax compliance attitudes, with potentially strong externalities. The analysis also finds that the reliability of supply is crucial in explaining the impact of electricity access on attitudes toward taxes. Second, the paper provides suggestive evidence on national identity as one channel driving this impact. Access to social amenities such as electricity induces a sense of national identity among citizens, thereby incentivizing them to contribute, through taxes, toward the functioning of the state. Third, using data from the most recent World Bank Enterprise Surveys and under conservative assumptions, the paper estimates that countries in the region could in total generate additional tax revenues of more than $9.5 billion (4.3 percent of total tax revenue) per year solely by resolving issues related to electricity shortages. Put together, the paper concludes that the financial returns associated with public investments toward improving access to and reliability of electricity are substantial and could be harnessed to augment the financing gap in the sector.
Financial Constraints and Girls' Secondary Education: Evidence from School Fee Elimination in The Gambia(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-12) Blimpo, Moussa P. ; Gajigo, Ousman ; Pugatch, ToddThis study analyzes the impact of large-scale fee elimination for secondary school girls in The Gambia on the quantity, composition, and achievement of students. The gradual rollout of the program across geographic regions provides identifying variation in the policy. The program increased the number of girls taking the high school exit exam by 55 percent. The share of older test takers increased in poorer districts, expanding access for students who began school late, repeated grades, or whose studies had been interrupted. Despite these changes in the quantity and composition of students, there are robustly positive point estimates of the program on test scores, with suggestive evidence of gains for several subgroups of both girls and boys. Absence of learning declines is notable in a setting where expanded access could strain limited resources and reduce school quality. The findings suggest that financial constraints remain serious barriers to post-primary education, and that efforts to expand access to secondary education need not come at the expense of learning in low-income countries like The Gambia.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-06) Blimpo, Moussa P. ; Gajigo, Ousman ; Owusu, Solomon ; Tomita, Ryoko ; Xu, YanbinThis paper studies the impact of a computer-assisted learning program on learning outcomes among high school students in The Gambia. The program uses innovative technologies and teaching approach to facilitate the teaching of mathematics and science. Since the pilot schools were not randomly chosen, the study first used administrative and survey data, including a written test, to build a credible counterfactual of comparable groups of control students. It used these data to conduct a pre-analysis plan prior to students taking the high-stakes certification exam. The study later used the certification exam data on the same students to replicate the results. The findings show that the program led to a 0.59 standard deviation gains in mathematics scores and an increase of 15 percentage points (a threefold increase) in the share of students who obtained credit in mathematics and English, a criterion for college admission in The Gambia. The impact is concentrated among high-achieving students at the baseline, irrespective of their gender or socioeconomic background.
Electricity Access in Sub-Saharan Africa: Uptake, Reliability, and Complementary Factors for Economic Impact(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019-03-08) Blimpo, Moussa P. ; Cosgrove-Davies, MalcolmAccess to reliable electricity is a prerequisite for the economic transformation of economies in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), especially in a digital age. Yet the electricity access rate in the region is often substantially low, households and businesses with access often face unreliable service, and the cost of the service is often among the highest in the world. This situation imposes substantial constraints on economic activities, provision of public services, adoption of new technologies, and quality of life. Much of the focus on how to best provide reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity service to all has been on mitigating supply-side constraints. However, demand-side constraints may be as important, if not more important. On the supply side, inadequate investments in maintenance result in high technical losses; most state-owned utilities operate at a loss; and power trade, which could significantly lower the cost of electricity, is underdeveloped. On the demand side, the uptake and willingness to pay are often low in many communities, and the consumption levels of those who are connected are limited. Increased uptake and consumption of electricity will encourage investment to improve service reliability and close the access gap. Electricity Access in Sub-Saharan Africa shows that the fundamental problem is poverty and lack of economic opportunities rather than power. The solution lies in understanding that the overarching reasons for the unrealized potential involve tightly intertwined technical, financial, political, and geographic factors. The ultimate goal is to enable households and businesses to gain access to electricity and afford its use, and utilities to recover their cost and make profits. The report makes the case that policy makers need to adopt a more comprehensive and long-term approach to electrification in the region—one centered on the productive use of electricity at affordable rates. Such an approach includes increased public and private investment in infrastructure, expanded access to credit for new businesses, improved access to markets, and additional skills development to translate the potential of expanded and reliable electricity access into substantial economic impact. Enhancing the economic capabilities of communities is the best way to achieve faster and more sustainable development progress while addressing the broad challenges of affordability, low consumption, and financial viability of utilities, as well as ensuring equitable provision between urban and rural areas.