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If you are looking for a microcosm of the U.S. struggle to fight extremism with a development face, look no further than Mali. Karin Brulliard's excellent piece in today's Washington Post (Africa on the front page!) explains the context just right: a poor country, long a crossroads of different cultures welcomed by tolerant Islam, is facing new pressures from foreign influences, including spillover from internal Algerian strife. The U.S.
Kudos to our friends at the African Development Bank for their recent launching of a new blog, Building Africa Today. So far it is providing regular updates of African currencies, stock markets, commodities, and other data relevant to those following economic trends on the continent. Any quick scan of the blog also shows that this is not your father’s AfDB of the 1980s: the blog and the Bank are both heavily focused on private sector activity.
In the UK, the Conservative Party is leading soundly in the polls and appears likely headed to win elections sometime next spring. What would a David Cameron-led government mean for British development policy--and especially the future of DFID?
This is a joint post with Benjamin Leo.
A special new lending facility was announced in July 2009 with the objective of providing up to $17 billion in new loans through 2014 and, to entice cash-strapped borrowers, the lender is waiving interest payments for the first two years. This may sound like dangerous new short-term teaser offers for sub-prime borrowers. But this isn’t coming from Countrywide Financial. It actually is a new IMF facility for low-income countries, including some of heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) who are just barely coming out of the last debt crisis.
The stated objectives of the new IMF facility are laudable: to offset the effects of the global economic crisis by boosting international reserves and supporting adjustment policies. And yes, the overall terms are more concessional than past IMF loans. Nonetheless, the net impact on national debt levels may be significant. And it was just four years ago that the IMF committed to cancel roughly $6 billion in bad loans to many of these very same countries.
This blog also appeared on the Huffington Post
Secretary Clinton will be leaving August 5 for a seven-country tour of Africa. She will hit Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde. (Whew!) The itinerary suggests that the theme of the trip will be more real politik than President Obama’s recent visit to Ghana which stressed good governance and was a celebration of Ghana’s recent electoral and economic successes. The Secretary, in choosing the largest economies and the continent’s most influential capitals, is likely to highlight more traditional U.S. economic and security interests. A few thoughts on what to expect -- and what Africa can hope for: