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Conflict

Wax, gold and accountability in Ethiopia

Shanta Devarajan's picture

The exchange between Helen Epstein and my colleague Ken Ohashi about the role of aid donors in “subsidizing” what Epstein calls a politically repressive regime highlights the difficulty in linking politics at the top with poverty alleviation on the ground. 

Even politically open regimes, such as India, have difficulty delivering basic services to poor people—the absence rate for teachers in Indian public primary schools is 25 percent; the rate for doctors in public primary clinics is 40 percent.   Conversely, as Epstein points out in her reply to Ken’s letter, “poverty and disease have fallen sharply in some repressive societies, from Cuba to China…”

Varieties of African successes

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Tolstoy notwithstanding, the 20 African success stories described in the booklet “Yes, Africa Can” show that success comes in many different forms.  Broadly speaking, the cases fall into three categories:

- Success from removing an existing, major distortion.  The best example is Ghana’s cocoa sector, which was destroyed by the hyperinflation and overvalued exchange rate in the early 1980s.  When the exchange rate regime was liberalized and the economy stabilized, cocoa exports boomed (and continue to grow).  Similar examples include Rwanda’s coffee sector and Kenya’s fertilizer use.  Africa’s mobile phone revolution, too, is an example of the government’s stepping out of the way—in this case by deregulating the telecommunications sector—and letting the private sector jump in. 

Crime and Punishment in Abidjan

Shanta Devarajan's picture

The first-prize winner of the African Public Policy Awards was a paper by Jose Carlos Assi Kimou on the determinants of crime in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. 

Using rigorous statistical methods, the paper shows that crime in Abidjan (i) goes down as enforcement (measured by the number of policemen) goes up; (ii) goes up with negative external shocks, such as the 1994 devaluation of the CFA Franc and the 1999 coup d’état,

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