As every gardener knows, plants flourish when they get exactly the amount of water they require. A sudden downpour is wasted: The ground cannot absorb it, and the runoff erodes the soil. The same goes with funding development in Africa and other poor nations. Too little money, whether domestic savings, export revenues, or aid to governments and nongovernmental organizations, hampers progress. But too much is bad as well, national economies can absorb only a certain flow of money usefully.
The Christian Science Monitor profiles the ‘yahoo-yahoo boys’:
In the heart of sub-Saharan Africa's most-crowded metropolis, in a dimly lit Internet café thumping with Nigerian music, clusters of two and three teenage boys hover around aging computer screens. They use their Nike T-shirts and baggy jeans to wipe sweat off their brows and palms as they intently craft deceptive e-mails and scour the Web for foreign e-mail addresses.
The only way to give food security to 200 million sub-Saharan Africans is to give them the tools, not to rely on yet more aid and government mismanagement. World food production has increased with population by 90% in the last 50 years; the real price of food has declined by 75%. Yet Africa has none of the factors that made this possible: greater agricultural productivity, internal economic freedom and international trade.
Transparency International has published their 2005 Global Corruption Barometer. The report shows that the impact of corruption is harshest on the poor, and that citizens of poor countries tend to pay a significantly larger percentage of their income in bribes than those in higher income countries.
Sleepless in Sudan has some suggestions for those of us sitting around at home feeling vaguely guilty about rapes and beatings on the other side of the planet:
Critical to Africa’s economic growth problem is a lack of the managerial skills needed to grow successful firms. By providing firms with a stronger pool of trained managers, African business schools can help foster a healthy private sector.
So say Guy Pfefferman and Brent Chrite in our new online discussion. I respond:
Morgan Stanley Chief Economist Stephen Roach takes aim at Tom Friedman’s catch-phrase theory, arguing that the world economy, far from being flat, is really characterized by disparities and tension.
Globalization may well be win-win in the long run — but in the here and now, it is profoundly asymmetrical…