A knowledge exchange and peer learning activities were carried out for delegations from Djibouti and Morocco seeking to learn from Mauritius. Despite different national contexts, Djibouti and Morocco are facing similar challenges that Mauritius faced in the mid-1980s, relating a largely informal Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector and improving quality of services. The objectives of the exchange were to better understand how Mauritius has been able to tackle the issues around the adoption of a legal and institutional framework that supports Early Childhood Development.
The dismantling of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s led to the near collapse of the Armenian diamond cutting industry, which after a brief period of growth in the early 2000s has again declined. To rebuild the industry using global best practices and to increase access to raw diamonds, the Armenian government contacted the World Bank. Meanwhile, Lesotho had identified the diamond industry as a potential source for growth and had commissioned three diamond mines. The government also wanted to attract foreign direct investments and train high-skilled local labor to add value downstream.
The governments of Africa want to improve the investment climate and reduce poverty in their countries through modernization and industrialization. Learning from the Asian experience, many governments are developing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to achieve these goals. Chinese knowledge, experience, and investment have been invaluable in developing these zones. However, most African countries still lack the infrastructure to make such SEZs effective and competitive on international markets.
Despite impressive economic gains over 25 years, the government of the African island nation of Cape Verde felt that unnecessary regulation was limiting job creation and private sector growth. Seeing that Mauritius---a similar island nation with a large tourism industry---had achieved successful business environment reforms and developed a strong manufacturing sector, the Government of Cape Verde asked the World Bank to broker a knowledge exchange between the countries as part of an ongoing Growth and Competitiveness project in Cape Verde.
After learning about the success of East Asian countries in developing their economies and attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) through Special Economic Zones (SEZ), many African governments wanted to use the same strategy to improve their economic performance. However, most African countries lack the capacity to design and implement SEZs, including lack of policy framework clarity, difficulties in physical planning and land administration, and insufficient regulatory and administrative knowledge. They have also not being very successful in involving the private sector in SEZs.
The Government of Djibouti recognized the need for a diversified path to economic and social growth that encompassed combatting poverty and enabling a dynamic private sector. Toward this goal it developed its long-term growth strategy, “Djibouti Vision 2035”, and engaged in a knowledge exchange with Cape Verde, Dubai, and Mauritius. The knowledge-providing countries shared how specific strategies in significant yet under-exploited sectors could help contribute to overall economic and social development.