Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Paul Collier: Hope for Africa

In an inspiring TED talk, Paul Collier Professor in Economics at Oxford University, makes the case how to give hope to the world's Bottom Billion.  He points out that compassion is needed to get started and enlightened self-interest to really get serious.  He argues that the way forward is to agree on international standards that will provide checks and balances in decisions to unlock natural resource wealth.

According to Collier's analysis, the resource curse only applies to countries that have fallen below a certain threshold of governance.  One example of good governance would be to govern the allocation of rights to resource extraction through verified auctions, rather then through back-office deals between government departments and selected companies.

Africa is experiencing high economic growth rates, but there are already signs that this growth leads does not spread to all Africans (see earlier post). Poverty and inequality keeps on rising (see earlier post).  According to Collier, some African leaders are already starting to pay attention and one can only hope that this will become a force for change.

Africa needs deeper democracies that includes the necessary checks and balances (esp. in the system of resource extraction) and, also according to Collier, a critical mass of informed society to prevent politicians getting away with mere gestures. 

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