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Month: December 2010

Cote D’Ivoire and the “Big Man” in African Politics

Cote D’Ivoire and the “Big Man” in African Politics

The big news in West Africa (and the rest of the world) is the election crisis in Cote D’Ivoire, the next-door neighbor of Ghana. I have talked to a lot of people about what’s happening and have tried to learn as much as I can about the issue. Basically, Cote D’Ivoire recently held a presidential election. The incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, is a former history professor who took became president in 2000 in a contested election. Despite losing the most recent…

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A Microfinance Documentary for the Empowerment of Women

A Microfinance Documentary for the Empowerment of Women

About three months ago, I got an email from Rachel Cook, an alumnus from my alma mater, Duke University, who graduated with me in 2006.  A mutual acquaintance had read my blog and suggested she reach out to me to get my thoughts on microfinance.  She was flying to Paraguay to put together a pilot for a documentary.  Now, that pilot is complete and she needs our help. I always thought it strange that a documentary had not been made…

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Money and Politics in the USA

Money and Politics in the USA

There is a great disparity of wealth in the United States right now.   Over the last two decades, the invisible hand of the market has re-oriented the global economy in such a way that labor-intensive industries have moved overseas, along with the middle and lower-middle class jobs from the States.  As the number of manual labor jobs has declined, the demand for skilled labor within the service and financial sectors has increased, and salaries have risen.  The end result: in…

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Crisis in Cote D’Ivoire: How Political Instability Alters Trade Patterns

Crisis in Cote D’Ivoire: How Political Instability Alters Trade Patterns

The big news in this part of the world (West Africa) is the recent democratic election in Cote D’Ivoire, which saw the anointing of not one but two presidents.  The incumbent president, who has led the country for 10 years and is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term in office, is refusing to step down after a decisive 54-46 loss to Alassane Ouattara, an economist and technocrat who also happens to be both a Muslim and a leader of…

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The Dark Realities of Agriculture Economic Development

The Dark Realities of Agriculture Economic Development

The ADVANCE project, which I am currently working on, seeks to “improve Ghana’s agricultural sector by increasing competitiveness in domestic, regional and international markets.”  The way to do this is to give smallholder farmers (defined as those with 1-2 hectares of land, or renters) better access to fertilizer and chemicals, better access financing and seed varieties that the market demands, and more efficient machinery.  This process is called “upgrading,” and it is the key to import-substitution for the rice, and…

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An aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals

An aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals

I am still uncertain on where I stand regarding Wikileaks, but the most interesting releases so far have been the diplomatic cables, which are basically individual case studies in geopolitical dynamics.  The ones regarding Africa policy have been particularly fascinating.  Take this one from the U.S. Assistant Secretary of African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, about China’s role in Kenya: The U.S. is closely monitoring China’s rising influence and engagement in Africa, according to U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, a nonprofit…

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Develop Economies Hits the Big Time: Post on NextBillion

Develop Economies Hits the Big Time: Post on NextBillion

I am proud to let all 7 or 8 of my loyal readers know that they are no longer the only ones who get to bask in the reflected glow of Develop Economies.  The genius behind the site has now moved up from Legion ball to Single A, with my first ever post on NextBillion.  It is a great honor.  Show your love by adding me to your Google reader or whatever.  There is a short bio and a picture…

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The Development Matrix: Wake Up

The Development Matrix: Wake Up

Two World Bank economists scientifically prove that first-world countries pay more than third-world countries: Ask most people to name the most effective means of raising incomes of people in poor countries, and what would they say? Microfinance? Perhaps not after the recent experimental assessments. Deworming? It increased primary school participation and improved health, but in the short-term at least seems unlikely to raise household income. Conditional cash transfers? This might be a popular answer, with evidence from a number of countries that they…

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My Role in Technoserve and ADVANCE in Ghana

My Role in Technoserve and ADVANCE in Ghana

I have explained how the agriculture supply chain works and talked about the state of the agriculture sector in Ghana.  It is time to talk about the specific challenges of agriculture in the West African context and explain a bit more about how my work fits into this picture.  I am working on the USAID-funded ADVANCE project, which seeks to improve the agriculture value chain and increase competitiveness in domestic, regional, and global markets.  There are two specific challenges for…

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