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First Edition of the Oxford Companion to the Economics of Africa Features Essays by CGD Staff and Board

This is a joint post with Julie Walz

Since the mid-nineties, many African nations have ushered in dramatic economic and political changes. But growth in other countries is stalled due conflict, repressive regimes, and lack of infrastructure. A new publication captures the diversity across Africa, using an economic lens to evaluate the key issues affecting Africa’s ability to grow and develop. The Oxford Companion to the Economics of Africa is a compilation of 100 essays on key issues and topics across the continent. It includes contributions from young African researchers, longtime researchers on Africa and four Nobel Laureates. Authors were given the freedom to write their own perspectives, thus the result is not a literature review but an engaging snapshot of concerns and possibilities across the continent. With 48 country perspectives (from Algeria to Zimbabwe) and 53 thematic essays, the book rejects a one-size-fits-all approach yet recognizes that there are continent-wide opportunities and challenges. As the first work of its kind, it is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the field, from graduate students to policymakers.

Next World Bank President: Two Non-U.S. Candidates for the Short List

This post is joint with Arvind Subramanian

The next World Bank president will need the legitimacy and wide support that only an open and merit-based selection process can ensure. This is now commonly agreed. The best way to ensure legitimacy is to have more than one serious candidate. The Obama administration is sure to nominate a strong candidate. Obama cannot be seen to be relinquishing the right of the United States to name an American, especially in this election year. But the U.S. has signaled its willingness to participate in an open and competitive and process. And the Bank’s board has called for nominations from all member states, which the board says it will then narrow to a short list of three.

Don't Be Evil (World Bank & Google Edition)

This post first appeared on Owen Abroad, along with a list of suggested further readings. Please post any comments on the original version.

I am a generally a fan of both the World Bank and of Google, but we should all be worried about their recent deal.

The intention is good: it is to promote crowd-sourcing of maps, to improve planning in disasters and to improve the planning, management and monitoring of public services. This is an important goal, which is now being made possible by new technologies and the spread of the internet. The deal is sufficiently important for World Bank Managing Director Caroline Anstey to write about it in the opinion pages of the New York Times:

Tough Love: Bill Gates Calls on the Donor Community to Do Better on Food Security

This is a joint post with Peter Timmer and Julie Walz.

“If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture,” declared Bill Gates in a high-profile speech in Rome yesterday, at a meeting of the Global Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. IFAD is one of the three Rome-based UN food agencies; the other two are FAO, and WFP. The speech came after the announcement of an expanded partnership between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and IFAD, which will focus on improving food security and rural livelihoods in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Do We Still Need Development Goals?

As we look ahead to 2015 and the potential for a new round of MDGs, there’s a growing chorus of people arguing that, given how much the world has changed since 2000, the new set should look completely different from the last lot.  The 2000 vintage was about rich and poor countries, focused on where donors would help recipients, based on the DAC Development Targets (which drew in turn from a range of UN Conferences).   In a world with large emerging donor-recipients like China and India, where poverty levels are declining and

Does It Matter Who Runs the World Bank?

With Robert Zoellick’s announcement that he will step down from the World Bank presidency at the end of June, now comes the question of who his successor will be, particularly whether it will be an American.  Just a few days ago I commented on the awkwardness of the situation for the White House.

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.

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