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On My Wish List for the Next Administration: A US Africa Policy Worthy of Africa

Precisely as Africa is rising on the radar screens of investors and security types, it seems to be falling off the US foreign policy map. With the exception of Governor Romney’s mention of Mali (twice!) in the third debate, Africa hardly featured at all. That’s a shame, since Africa is both a growing opportunity and will become a greater threat if neglected. I’ve been deeply disappointed to see the United States reduce its engagement with the continent under the current administration, losing ground on the progress made under Presidents Clinton and Bush. Regardless of who wins on November 6, the scope for doing better—and more without more money—is obvious.

The following originally appeared on October 1 as “Missing in Africa” on

Beam Me Back, Scotty: How Young Liberians Are Coming Home

This is a joint post with Stephanie Majerowicz

Scott Fellow Idella Cooper 2nd from right

When in Liberia last February, we kept running into dynamic young Liberians with American accents in high-powered jobs. They also seemed to have something else in common. Idella Cooper, the newly-appointed Deputy Justice Minister, had returned to her home country first as a Scott Fellow. Gyude Moore, President Sirleaf’s deputy chief of staff and head of the President’s special Program Delivery Unit, is a Georgetown grad and former Scott Fellow. The Scott Fellows, literally, seemed to be everywhere.

Battle for the Presidency: Game Change Abuja

The political classes are abuzz with details from the latest tell-all memoir revealing what was really going on behind-the-scenes in a nation absorbed with political intrigue and obsessed with the future of the Presidency.  I’m not talking about why John McCain picked Sarah Palin, but rather what in the world was going on in Aso Rock  when President Umaru Yar’Adua was losing control of the Nigerian government.

You’ve Heard of Herman Cain’s 9-9-9. Here’s Nigeria’s 20-20-20 (And This One Might Fly)

Lately I’ve been thinking Nigeria should be a little bit more like, of all places, Iran. Yes, Iran. And maybe Alaska.  Here’s how.

Africa’s most populous nation has been a massive underperformer since independence. It’s earned hundreds of billions of dollars from petroleum exports, but the average Nigerian has little to show for it. At least three decades were lost; average incomes in the mid-2000s were the same as in the mid-1970s. More recently, the economic data has been brighter. And there is always hope that the country has finally turned a corner.

How to Turn Citizens into Owners of National Wealth

This post, co-authored with Alan Gelb, was originally published in Financial Times: This is Africa

On November 28 Anadarko Petroleum doubled the estimate of its massive Mozambique gas discovery. If this proves correct, Mozambique will become a major gas exporter and can expect a hefty windfall.

Mozambique is not alone. Per square mile, proven sub-soil assets in poor countries — notably in Africa — are only about one quarter of those in better-explored, rich countries. Not surprisingly, high prices and new technologies are driving new oil, gas, and mineral discoveries across the developing world. Billions of dollars will be pumped into countries like Uganda, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia and Bolivia. While this should be good news, it also raises concerns.