Thomas Piketty, the “rock star economist”, was in Soweto, South Africa recently to deliver the 13th annual Nelson Mandela lecture. He spoke about inequality, drawing on his recent best-selling book, Capital in the Twenty First Century but also from his country, France’s experiences in inclusion and welfare reforms since the French Revolution in the 18th century.
It is a very interesting submission, for many reasons. I particularly liked his historical and comparative approach, and his caution in making reference to often-unreliable data on tax returns, wealth and of course inequality.
The talk is topical, and couldn’t have been delivered at a more appropriate time. South Africa, which has the most developed, diversified economy in Africa, is currently the world’s most unequal country in income distribution according to the World Bank’s Gini Index. Read More »
The unveiling of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was the highlight of the week-long United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The SDGs is the successor framework to the MDGs, with an overarching objective of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030. Its 17 goals, 169 indicators and a global rather than developing-world focus make it more expansive in scope than the MDGs.
Expectedly, a gathering of this scale unveiling such a grand global agenda drew a lot of flak. From accusations of being too ambitious and concerns about how to finance the SDGs, to contradictory accusations of both an excessive and insufficient emphasis on aid financing and the absence of reliable data to measure progress across ‘vague’ indicators, there are many holes to pick. Despite some of these valid criticisms, there are three main reasons why we should be optimistic about the SDGs.Read More »
At a recent African entrepreneurship summit, Ory Okolloh Mwangi, one of Kenya’s top tech innovators (also a former Google Manager for Africa), had this to say about the recent, if excessive, focus on entrepreneurship across the continent (excerpt originally published on Quartz):Read More »
Note: I paraphrased the title of this blog post from this tweet by Professor Calestous Juma.
The question was prompted by a recent statement by Bob Collymore, the CEO of Safaricom, one of Africa’s pioneering mobile money platforms. Collymore suggests that the idea of ‘African Solutions’ (to African Problems) may be hindering the ability of African firms to have global impact.
In this piece for CNN, I assess the performance of Nigeria’s president in his first 100 days in office. Here’s an excerpt:
As I stood on a queue at the immigration desk at the arrivals section of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Nigeria’s capital city Abuja in May 2015, a well-dressed couple who had just arrived skipped the queue and headed straight to the desk. People murmured in exasperation and a woman right in front of me said with indignation: “It’s OK, now that Buhari is president, all these things will stop.”
Her statement reflected the general mood of optimism I witnessed around the country — on the streets and days later, at the Eagle Square, where Muhammadu Buhari took the oath of office — that Nigeria’s new president would solve the country’s numerous problems.
High expectations on Buhari’s leadership credentials swept him to victory with almost 54% of the vote in ahistoric defeat of an incumbent president in Nigerian elections. Buhari’s ascetic demeanour, quite atypical of the venality often associated with Nigeria’s political elite…Read More »
Like many people, I’ve been trying to catch up on some recreational reading before the summer ends.
I’ve been reading a lot on East Asia, especially China recently. I’m almost done with Deborah Brautigam’s (2009) “The Dragon’s Gift: the Real Story of China in Africa”, which I skimmed through in 2011 for school essays. Brautigam’s main thesis is that China’s engagement with Africa, aimed at mutually beneficial partnerships, is inspired by its experience with Western and Japanese donors during its process of development. I recently started Martin Jacques’ (2009) “When China Rules the World: the End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order”, I picked the book after…Read More »
INTERNSHIP: SOCIAL POLICY FOR INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT AT THE UN INSTITUTE FOR RESEARCH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Deadline: 19 July 2015
The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) is an autonomous research institute within the UN system that undertakes multidisciplinary research and policy analysis on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues. Through our work, we aim to ensure that social equity, inclusion and justice are central to development thinking, policy and practice.
UNRISD is now accepting applications for a three-month internship position, starting in August 2015, to assist with the projects “Towards Universal Social Security in Emerging Economies”, “New Directions in Social Policy: Alternatives from and for the Global South”, and Read More »
Democratic governments are likely to face two interrelated problems in implementing difficult economic reforms. First, is the unpopularity of these measures among citizens who are likely to shoulder the most burden. Second, is the difficulty in employing a practical approach to implementation. Reforming Nigeria’s money-guzzling fuel subsidy regime, now an urgent matter in the context of dwindling government revenues since 2014, is both unpopular and the practicalities of its reformation are yet to be fleshed out.
Last week, I was at a conference organised by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), formerly Revenue Watch Institute, on the challenges and opportunities presented by falling commodity prices. It was attended by the best in the academia, in policy and in civil society in the field.
A breakdown of the panels and speakers is available on the NRGI website.
There were a couple of things which stood out that are worth highlighting and documenting.
Our publication (with colleague Dr Olly Owen) in the July edition of the journal, African Affairs is out. We wrote a brief on the Nigerian presidential election in March 2015, assessing why the election was exceptional in many respects, why many previous predictions including ours of a runoff or an outright Jonathan/PDP victory did not come to pass, and why and how Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) lost the elections.
“On the programme for 12 to 18 months, you’ll be guided, moulded and trained – building up the skills and experience you’ll need to become a leader for our future. Every step of the way, our training and support will keep your development on Read More »
I spoke to the BBC on Tuesday 31 March 2015 on Nigeria’s Presidential Elections. This was just before the counting of votes was concluded, although it was fairly evident by then that the opposition candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari had won.
I spoke to Aljazeera English on water and other infrastructure deficits in Nigeria, and how to what extent these feature in the campaigns in the run up to the presidential elections. This was on 22 March 2015.
It is common to hear policy makers, development experts and pundits talk about the need to “build strong institutions” in Africa as the solution to governance challenges without quite understanding what processes building or modifying these “institutions” entail. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson in their 2012 tour de force, Why Nations Fail, provide a compelling explanation of how extractive or inclusive institutions emerge and determine societies’ political stability and economic prosperity. Their retrospective analysis shows how we are often unaware of this institutional change as it occurs. In Nigeria, the cloud of uncertainty around its forthcoming elections on 28 March is indicative of a process whose outcome will fundamentally alter its political system with implications for the rest of the African continent.Read More »