At a recent videoconference with journalists, I was asked the question in the title of this post several times. Does the fact that private banks in the United States are going bankrupt mean that the free market system is a failure? Does the fact that the United States government is bailing out these banks and in some cases “nationalizing” them mean that state intervention is back?
Private Sector Development
Pour ceux qui ont raté le débat entre Sarah Palin et Joseph Biden, les deux candidats à la vice-présidence des Etats-Unis, je vous offre une alternative—un débat entre le professeur Kako Nubukpo de l’Université de Lomé et moi-même. Contrairement aux candidats américains, nous avons traité des sujets diff&eac
When asked about the East Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi reportedly said, “I wish we had their problems.” I was reminded of this quip when thinking about the current financial crisis in the U.S. and its possible impact on Africa. In the U.S., there is a constant fear that turmoil in financial markets will spill over to the real sector—in terms of slow growth and unemployment.
My colleagues and I are trying to think through the implications for Africa of the recent turmoil in global financial markets. Here are four propositions.
Among the 36 jurors for the DM2008 grant competition was Thomas Pomeroy, a former USDA bilateral trade director in key regions of the world who now consults in Sub-Saharan Africa. We did this mini-interview with Pomeroy:
Q. As part of Team 10, you looked at 12 agribusiness proposals. What was your major criterion in scoring them?
Oscar Chemerinski, Director of the Agribusiness Department at the International Finance Corp. -- the commercial development arm of the World Bank Group -- gave this mini-interview at DM2008:
Q. What's your reaction to what you see on the floor among the booths of the hundred finalists?
Your first reaction to the title of this post may be: “Just when, for the first time in thirty years, Africa’s per capita GDP is growing (see Graph below) at the same rate as all developing countries, why are you asking whether Africa is growing too fast?” The reason is that we would like to know whether this growth is sustainable. Two colleagues at a recent conference on this topic offered some sobering thoughts.
In the past, policy advice on promoting trade in Africa may have overstressed the need for African countries to bring down their own trade barriers, such as import tariffs, and insufficiently emphasized the need to improve trade logistics, infrastructure, business competition, and regulation.
Thirty African officials visited China for 12 days in May on a pilot South-South knowledge exchange organized by the Chinese government with assistance from the World Bank. My colleague, Phil Karp, has written about the program, including the study tour around China that he accompanied. I met the officials in Beiji
A few weeks ago I wrote that “many perceive NT2 to be a World Bank hydropower project. From my perspective, that’s inaccurate in every respect. More on that in a future posting.” Following intense pressure from my reading public (thanks, Nanda), it’s time to explain what I meant.