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Six Months, Three Elections, The Future of Africa

Long-delayed elections finally happened last Sunday in Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea (even the New Yorker noticed). Good for those countries and for West Africa. But it strikes me that there are three absolutely huge elections coming up in the next six months that—at the risk of being over-dramatic—will determine nothing less than the future of Africa.

The True True Size of Africa

The Economist has a nice piece here on the True Size of Africa. It’s about geographic size (Africa is bigger than you think – which is true for all countries and regions near the equator that don’t benefit from the Mercator distortion in our two-dimensional map world).

Sustaining Dutch Commitment to Development

This is a joint post with Julie Walz and originally appeared on The Broker Website.

The new Dutch government plans to cut spending on foreign aid from 0.8% to 0.7% of gross national income. Of course, by international standards, the Netherlands will remain one of the most generous nations when it comes to foreign aid: only a handful of countries even come close to 0.7%. Still, the prospective cut raises questions: Is the Netherlands shirking its responsibilities to the developing world?

We would answer: It need not, even if aid is cut.

Deforestation Is Already Declining in Indonesia – Someone Tell President Obama!

This is a joint post with Robin Kraft and Dan Hammer.

President Obama is in Indonesia today, and according to Reuters he will make forest conservation a focus of his first official visit to the country. The president is expected to pledge more than $100 million for programs aiming at a 50% reduction of deforestation and forest degradation (e.g. selective logging) by 2014. But we wonder what the benchmark will be for a 50% reduction.

President Obama’s India Visit: A Book and Movie List

This post originally appeared on PIIE.com.

President Obama is heading to India today on a state visit that is fraught with expectations and hopes on both sides. His two predecessors, each in his own way, made a lasting impression on India. President Clinton’s reaching out to the Indian people nearly ten years ago erupted in a spontaneous dance with a group of illiterate rural women in Rajasthan, and the president etched himself in the Indian psyche as the modern day Lord Krishna—the legendary lover-god of Indian mythology. President Bush endeared himself to Indians by pushing through the civil nuclear deal, whose real import was the signal that: “You, India, are one of us.” Lacking the natural press-fleshing charms of Clinton, and the goodies that Bush had to offer, President Obama will have to find his own, cerebral, route to winning the hearts and minds of Indians. Here’s a book and movie list for President Obama that might help understand four dimensions of India: society and culture, history, religion, and cricket.

Trade at the Seoul Summit: Will the G-20 Finally Move Forward on Improving Access for Poor Countries?

There actually seems to be hope that next week’s G20 summit will move beyond the tired mantra to finish the Doha Round and give a push to the Millennium Declaration commitment to provide duty-free, quota-free market access for the world’s poorest countries. This is an opportunity to contribute to job creation and growth when the global economy is still fragile. Furthermore, it would have minimal impact on importing countries since the least-developed countries account for around 1 percent of global trade.

What Comes after the Tea Party?

The Tea Party movement in the United States had a big impact on this year’s mid-term election. The energy it channeled can be seen as a pendulum shift from the progressive winds that were blowing in 2008. So what comes next?

World Food Program Finance Innovation Could Cut Hunger

This is a joint post with Owen McCarthy.

At the next meeting of its Executive Board in Rome on November 8, the management of the World Food Programme (WFP) will propose an expanded financing facility to the tune of $557 million to fund advance purchases of food. This is a welcome news that has the potential to cut hunger, by stretching WFP dollars and speeding deliveries.

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