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African bloggers find their voice

Until recently, blogging - the practice of keeping a journal style website with dated entries - has barely registered in sub-Saharan Africa, with switched-on South Africa as the obvious exception. The relative scarcity of affordable internet access and the physical distance from the Western epicentre of the online world made blogging an elite pastime for expatriates living in the continent and Diaspora students outside it. But the situation is starting to change…

How many bribes did you pay this year?

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.

Overhaul of the US foreign aid system?

MSNBC is reporting:

The proposed reorganisation could lead to a takeover by the State Department of the independent US Agency for International Development.

Though it seems there will be no definitive decision for another month or so. This follows USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios’ announcement last week that he was retiring.

Negotiating aid vs. the Goliaths

It is late at night in a bar by the Zambezi river when Dipak Patel, trade minister from the impoverished southern African state of Zambia, finds the perfect way to illustrate how hard his job is. “So how many people does the Financial Times have covering trade?” he says. Well, I say, there’s me (the world trade editor), a reporter in Geneva who spends most of her time on trade, someone in Brussels, someone in Washington, and of course our bureau chiefs and reporters around the world spend a fair amount of their time writing about it.

Aceh Diary: Coordination

Coordination is the biggest buzzword within the donor community in Banda Aceh. Everybody’s heard of it, everybody’s talking about it, everybody thinks it’s a great thing, everybody wants to be a part of it; so is everybody doing it? No, not really.

Better regulation in the UK?

The U.K. Better Regulation Task Force has released its annual report. They find that 30% of the U.K.’s regulations should be trimmed – at an estimated annual savings of 1% of GDP. To the Economist this sounds like an old record; they argue for action beyond annual reports and podium statements. (They of course also cite Doing Business.)