Albania

Nedelkoska, L. & Kosmo, M., 2015. Albanian-American Diaspora Survey Report, Growth Lab at Harvard's Center for International Development.Abstract

This survey studies the ways in which active Albanian-Americans would like to engage in the development of their home countries. Its results will help us define the focus of the upcoming events organized under the Albanian Diaspora Program.

Between March 6th and March 22nd 2015, 1,468 Albanian-Americans took part in the online survey, of which 869 completed the survey. The results presented in this report are based on the answers of the latter group. The results of this survey do not represent the opinions of the general Albanian-American community, but rather the opinions of those who are more likely to engage in an Albanian Diaspora Program.

The survey was jointly prepared with the following Albanian-American organizations: Massachusetts Albanian American Society (MAAS/BESA), Albanian American Success Stories, Albanian Professionals in Washington D.C., Albanian Professionals and Entrepreneurs Network (APEN), Albanian-American Academy, Albanian American National Organization, and VATRA Washington D.C. Chapter. The survey was sponsored by the Open Society Foundations, as a part of the grant OR2013-10995 Economic Growth in Albania granted to the Center for International Development at Harvard University.

Paul, B.V., 2015. Assessing the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Albania, Growth Lab at Harvard's Center for International Development.Abstract

Harvard University’s Center for International Development and the Government of Albania has been engaged in a two year growth strategy exercise starting in 2013 till 2015. Discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture yielded that there is a need for conducting value chain studies on a few important product groups with the following objective:

  • Cultivate ‘value chain’ oriented thinking within the Ministry of Agriculture
  • Identify key issues ‘within’ the particular product groups and ‘across’ different product groups that need to be tackled at the public policy level

Here is a value chain study of the Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (MAPs), specifically of sage and lavender. The products have been chosen given its huge importance in the economy as the largest export commodity in agriculture and their contributions to a farmer’s income. A special black-belt team comprising ministry officials will take forward the findings of this study and will iteratively make policy, ensuring better policies and implementation at the same time.

Kumar, R., 2015. Conditions for Re-Opening Exports of Albanian Mussels to to the EU, Growth Lab at Harvard's Center for International Development.Abstract

The Centre for International Development (CID) at Harvard University has been leading a two year project with the Government of Albania to help identify and implement growth strategies by studying the constraints that bind specific sectors. In May this year, the Ministry of Agriculture tasked CID to look at the ban imposed by the European Union (EU) on the export of mussels from Albania. The research was sponsored by the Open Society Foundations, as a part of the grant OR2013-10995 Economic Growth in Albania granted to CID.

During the research project, we studied the value chain of mussel production and certification in Albania, mapped the requirements laid down by EU legislation and identified shortfalls in compliance. This report presents our findings and recommendations.

The Butrint lagoon is the main production center for mussels in Albania. By 1989, production from the lagoon had increased to 5,000 tons per year. It dropped dramatically in the 1990s due to an outbreak of cholera and the subsequent ban on the export of mussels by the EU. The ban has not been lifted since. Albania still cannot export mussels to the EU because these do not meet the required sanitary standards.

Our research finds that lack of reliable and affordable purification facilities is at the root of the problem. Unless this constraint is alleviated, it will continue to frustrate efforts to ensure compliance with standards.

Ajzenman, N., 2014. Fresh Tomatoes: Ideas to Build a Productive Ecosystem in Albania, Growth Lab at Harvard's Center for International Development.Abstract

During the last years production of fresh vegetables in Albania had an important growth due to the increase in the number of Ha using Greenhouses technologies. Many of the new investments came from former expats who spent a few years working abroad and came back -in some cases because of the crisis in Greece - with money and some experience in the field. However, although exports showed an important growth (in tomatoes, for example exports doubled from 2013 to 2011!), the sector has not been able to definitely take off and be a relevant player in the international market. The problem is not only that the share of Albania in the European trade is almost negligible but also that diversification didn't happen, quality has not improved and as a consequence the prices that Albanian producers get is very low - the lowest in Europe for some products like tomatoes. In this context, Albania has been focusing on the regional markets (probably not consciously but as a consequence of not having established a commercial relation with higher-end markets and not having a proper quality produce to offer), has been excluded from the best markets and has not improved the productive methods, practices, etc. Given this situation the building of new capacity was not necessarily a success: local markets started to be oversupplied and production losses are very high as a consequence.

In this report we analyzed the value chain of the fresh vegetables sector, focusing on the production of tomatoes. We detail the problems of the whole value chain (from the production to the marketing), pointing out the "missing links" that are preventing Albania to become a major tomato exporter in the European market. We find that there is a huge potential for the country - in terms of the natural conditions and also in terms of competitiveness -, but it is very difficult to be reached without making a re-organization of the sector to make it more integrated and give the proper incentives to solve simultaneously all the problems.

We found that in order to improve the general productivity of the sector it is not necessary to make huge capital disbursements. Although some of the constraints are clearly money-related, most of them are organization-related.

What the propose in this report is a method to re-organize the sector in a way that makes it easier for the economic agents to vertically and horizontally integrate and transform the sector into a "factory", where every participant has its defined role and work is divided with specific roles. The role of the Government is twofold: first, to facilitate the organization of this model, find the actors that can lead the change and provide them the incentives to coordinate. Second, to provide all the public goods that are now missing or incomplete (not only in terms of infrastructure but also in terms of marketing, negotiations, etc). In the next sections we explain with detail the constraints and missing links we found throughout the value chain of tomatoes and propose a new model to solve them. We show that with little organizational changes, Albania could increase its tomato exports by four times in a few years.

Video: Government Strategies for Diaspora Engagement - A Conversation with Pandeli Majko, Minister of Diaspora of Albania

Pandeli Majko, Albania's Minister of Diaspora, visited Harvard's Kennedy School in early February and shared newly set strategies to engage Albania's diaspora for political and economic development, and transform migration into an added value.... Read more about Video: Government Strategies for Diaspora Engagement - A Conversation with Pandeli Majko, Minister of Diaspora of Albania

Paula Marra

Paula Marra

Former Associate
Grupo Los Grobo

Paula Marra is an agricultural expert and entrepreneur. She holds a degree in Agronomic Engineering from UBA, Buenos Aires, and has studied Organizational...

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John F. Kennedy School of Government
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Klissurski, G. & Zuccolo, B., 2017. Diversification in the Industrial Sector of Albania: Identifying Strategic Areas, Growth Lab at Harvard's Center for International Development.Abstract

In this study, we analyzed Albania’s industrial exports using the frameworks of the Product Space and Economic Complexity in order to determine which products Albania could diversify into in the near future. In particular, we identified groups of products that are technologically close to those which Albania already exports and which at the same time are technologically more sophisticated (more complex) than Albania’s average exports. This analysis does not suggest that products that do not fulfill the criteria of technological proximity and product complexity should not be invested in. However, it suggests that some products may have higher chances of succeeding in Albania because of its existing technological capabilities, while also bringing about diversification towards more complex, higher value-added production.

We find that the top two sectors that satisfy the criteria of being in close proximity to the existing technological capabilities in Albania, while also having relatively highly complex products, are Plastics/Rubbers and Agriculture/Foodstuffs. Within each of these sectors, we list more specific products that make for good candidates for diversification.

CASE STUDY: Delivering Customer Care and Cutting Corruption in Public Services

From 2015 to September 2017, Rudina Mullahi directed the program "Innovation against corruption: Building a citizen-centric service delivery model in Albania" (ISDA) with the Minister of State for Innovation and Public Administration.

A recently published report co-written by Rudina and Cherie Hart, Development writer at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Population...

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The shortcomings to Albania's integration into the EU

By Ermal Frasheri

To countries like Albania, membership in the European Union is presented as the ultimate modernization project that will lift all boats and bring about greater prosperity and democratization.

However, more often than not, transition reproduces hierarchies and inequities that usually underpin relations between a prosperous center and a backward periphery.

Instead of being a cure, a solution to the political primitivism and underdevelopment, the story with...

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INTERVIEW: The Road to Citizen-Centric Public Service Delivery in Albania

An Interview with Dr. Milena Harito, Minister of Innovation and Public Administration of Albania

If you were a citizen of the Republic of Albania in need of a moderately complex public service in 2014, you were almost certain to enter a maze of public bureaucracy: dark and messy offices, long lines, vague instructions and procedures, and little opportunity for citizen feedback or tolerance for criticism. It’s no wonder that the uncertainty around these services forced most citizens to use their social and family connections, and in some cases, bribes, to ensure speedy...

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Frank Muci

Former Research Fellow
Policy Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science

Frank Muci is a Policy Fellow at LSE. He is an international economic development practitioner with experience advising governments in Latin America...

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Mailing Address
John F. Kennedy School of Government
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O'Brien, T., Nedelkoska, L. & Frasheri, E., 2017. What is the Binding Constraint to Growth in Albania?, Growth Lab at Harvard's Center for International Development.Abstract

About four years ago, at the onset of CID’s engagement in Albania, the country faced two issues that were threatening its macro-fiscal stability: a skyrocketing public debt and an insolvent, publicly-owned electricity distribution system that was plagued by theft and technical inefficiency. These two interlinked issues constrained both short-term economic growth and the ability of the country to develop new drivers of long-term growth. Over the subsequent years, the government was able to successfully respond to these constraints through a now-concluded IMF program and through a series of reforms in the electricity sector. With these constraints now relaxed, CID saw the need for a new analysis of the current and emerging constraints to growth in Albania. This analysis will guide future research and inform the government and non-government actors on emerging economic issues for prioritization.

While growth has accelerated over the last several years, to over 3% in 2016, this is not a pace that will allow for a rapid convergence of incomes and well-being in Albania with that of developed countries in Europe and elsewhere. This growth diagnostic attempts to identify the binding constraint to sustainably higher economic growth in Albania.

Recognizing that economic growth requires a number of complementary inputs, from roads to human capital to access to finance and many more, this report compares across eight potentially binding constraints using the growth diagnostic methodology to identify which constraint is most binding. This research was conducted throughout 2016, building on prior research conducted by CID and other organizations in Albania. Each constraint discussed in this report is cited by analysts within or outside the country as the biggest problem for growth in Albania. Through the growth diagnostic framework, we are able to evaluate the evidence and show that some constraints are more binding than others.

Despite serious issues in many other areas, we find that the binding constraint to stronger growth in Albania is a lack of productive knowhow. By “knowhow,” we mean the knowledge and skills needed to produce complex goods and services. Albania faces a unique knowhow constraint that is deeply rooted in its closed-off past, and the limited diversification that has taken place in the private sector can, in nearly all cases, be linked to distinct inflows of knowhow. The strongest sources of knowhow inflows into Albania have been through foreign direct investment and immigration, especially returning members of the diaspora who start new businesses or upgrade the productivity of existing businesses.

The evidence also points to particular failings in rule of law in Albania that play an important role in keeping Albania in a low-knowhow equilibrium. Weaknesses in Albania’s rule of law institutions, including frequent policy reversals and corruption in the bureaucracy and judiciary, increase the risk of investments and transaction costs of business. While it is difficult to separate perceptions from reality in this area, both perceptions of weak rule of law and actual rule of law failings appear to play critical roles in constraining more diversified investment in Albania. We find that while existing firms in Albania successfully navigate the rule of law weaknesses, and in some cases benefit from the system, potential new investors are acutely sensitive to rule of law issues.

 

What is the Binding Constraint to Growth in Albania?

By Tim O'Brien

About four years ago, at the onset of CID’s engagement in Albania, the country faced two issues that were threatening its macro-fiscal stability: a skyrocketing public debt and an insolvent, publicly-owned electricity distribution system that was plagued by theft and technical inefficiency. These two interlinked issues constrained both short-term economic growth and the ability of the country to develop new drivers of long-term growth. Over the subsequent years, the government was able to successfully respond to these constraints through a now-...

Read more about What is the Binding Constraint to Growth in Albania?

New research studies effects of return migration

The recent Greek economic crisis hit the population of Albanian migrants in Greece particularly hard, spurring a wave of return migration which increased the Albanian labor force by 5% only between 2011 and 2014.

We study how this return migration affected the employment chances and earnings of Albanians who never migrated. We find positive effects on the wages of low-skilled non-migrants and overall positive effects on employment.

The gains partially offset the sharp drop in remittances in the observed period. The employment gains are concentrated in the...

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