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Month: February 2012

The Link Between Poverty and Terrorism

The Link Between Poverty and Terrorism

The link between poverty and terrorism is well-known.  In theory, one of the purposes of organizations like USAID is to complement the other “D’s” of the foreign policy apparatus – diplomacy and defense – to improve conditions for people most likely to be driven to desperation: the poor.  It is not surprising that the hotbeds of terrorism today – Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Indonesia – happen to be some of the poorest countries in the world.  Nor is it surprising…

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Pushing Back on the Millenium Villages

Pushing Back on the Millenium Villages

When you want to know how someone in international development views the world, there is no surer way than asking them whether they identify with Jeffrey Sachs and Bill Easterly.  On this blog, your correspondent has made his proclivities known on multiple occasions – even once being persecuted from doing so by a former employer and being recognized by Mr. Easterly himself for his martyrdom. Jeffrey Sachs, the pre-eminent economist, is generally associated with the top-down school of development economics,…

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Design for Social Innovation at the iHub

Design for Social Innovation at the iHub

When I moved to Nairobi, I did not really know what to expect.  I’d been here once before and moved on a whim.  Fortunately, in the first week, I discovered the iHub.  The iHub was started a few years ago by Eric Hersmann, the founder of Ushahidi, a crisis mapping organization whose roots can be traced to the post-election violence that rocked Kenya in 2008, and a TED Global fellow.  It is a co-working space for software developers, entrepreneurs, researchers,…

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Brain Gain: The Upside of Losing Talent Abroad

Brain Gain: The Upside of Losing Talent Abroad

Human capital flight – otherwise known as “brain drain” – presents a challenge for developing countries.  In countries with a lower per-capita GDP, wages are also typically lower.  So highly-skilled labor immigrate to richer nations where their specialized talents yield a salary several times what they could earn in their home countries.  Frequently, these professionals – doctors, lawyers, computer scientists – have been educated at the expense of the government, and losing them is a big hit to the country. …

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Mitigating Political Risk for Investors in Africa

Mitigating Political Risk for Investors in Africa

According to the global thought leaders in finance, Africa is primed for growth.  McKinsey, the global management consultancy, released a report a few months ago titled “Lions on the Move” highlighting the collective buying power of the continent – $1.6 billion, or roughly equivalent to the GDP of Brazil or Russia – and its uniform growth, with 27 out of the 30 largest economies growing quickly.  The Economist is quick to point out that, in its projections, seven out of…

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