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Eastern Europe and Central Asia

2007 Index of Economic Freedom - few surprises

The Heritage Foundation/WSJ 2007 Index of Economic Freedom is out. You'll see familiar faces on the rankings - both at the top (Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia) and at the bottom (North Korea, Cuba, Libya). You might notice the new methodology, which they've helpfully applied to prior year data as well.

Enterprise formalization in Africa: what did we learn?

I'm just back from our enterprise formalization conference in Ghana. We had a broad mix of policy-makers and private sector representatives from 15 African countries and a very stimulating discussion. I will be putting up some more considered reflections on the conference website later this week, once I've recovered from the jetlag. Meanwhile let me try to sum up what was said and the lessons we (think we) learned.

The next inconvenient truth?

A friend of mine participated in Al Gore's Climate Project last week and one of her strongest impressions was of Al Gore's zeal. It goes a long way to explaining his success at positioning the climate change debate over the past year. And there are many over inconvenient truths crying out for that sort of touch - including biodiversity.

Vaccines don't sell themselves

Why do we need advanced market commitments for vaccines?

Consider that malaria affects more than 500 million people worldwide, and yet this past summer the Financial Times reported that French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis faced half the demand it had expected for its anti-malaria compound artesunate. As a result, the company was contemplating destroying up to 10 million tablets of the drug.

Feel-good T-shirts for college students

Enthusiasm for social entrepreneurship has trickled from business schools down to the undergraduate level. BusinessWeek tells the story of T-shirt company Edun and Miami University of Ohio.

The idea: create sustainable employment in sub-Saharan Africa, get college students interested in social entrepreneurship, and keep making lots of fraternity and sorority T-shirts. Oh, and there's a Bono connection, of course.

Kremlin Inc.?

There is a strong lobby within the [Russian] government to subject all foreign investors seeking minority stakes in certain industries to an approval process controlled by the FSB, the domestic successor of the KGB.

A little scary. From a WashPost story on renationalization, Russian-style.

Romania's workforce exodus

IFC leadership is increasingly emphasizing job creation as a goal for our work. An excellent article in yesterday's FT should light a fire at our feet, as it demonstrates the time pressures in creating these jobs. The article - about migration from a Romanian village to western Europe - is touching in that the mayor's optimism seems no more than a happy face on a sad situation.