Ideas to Action:

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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Fighting Corruption is Dangerous, but Necessary

CGD and Brookings recently co-hosted Former Finance Minister of Nigeria and Distinguished Fellow Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to discuss her new bookFighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines. The book is part memoir, part how-to, as she draws on her years of experience as Nigeria’s Finance Minister to describe the dangers of fighting corruption and how best to do it. I drew four main takeaways from our conversation.

Seven Ways the International Community Can Help Zimbabwe through Tough Times

Events are in tremendous flux in Zimbabwe after the non-coup committed by the military last week and the resignation of President Robert Mugabe on November 21. It’s not too early for the international community to start considering constructive steps to help the country get through the inevitable transition and back on a path to democracy and prosperity.

Why Do People Think Nigeria Might Be Losing $1 Trillion to Corporate Tax Evasion?

Misunderstandings about the scale of multinational tax avoidance are common. The origin story for an erroneous $1 trillion figure is a case of bad lip reading, but its proliferation reflects the belief that there are absolutely huge sums of money for development at stake from cracking down on multinational tax avoidance. The figure itself may be ridiculous but these myths are serious—they undermine both trust in revenue authorities and businesses, overheat disputes, and make it harder to judge practical progress on improving tax systems and compliance.

Liberians’ Eagerness for Debate Can Bode Well for Accountable Leadership

At the Liberia Development Conference, I laid out four interlinked themes vital to Liberia’s future development progress and to pose questions for conference participants, including what Liberia’s development partners can do to leverage their support with stronger Liberian ownership and concrete enduring results. Here, I summarize my speech’s four themes and attempt to give my thoughts in answer to the question I posed to others.

How the US and UK Can Help Ordinary Zimbabweans without Helping their Government

How can countries with a strong history and connection to that beleaguered country help its people while not entrenching its kleptocratic leadership? Between the “lend and hope” strategy and the “isolate and wait” approach, what could the international community do to prevent unnecessary suffering without aiding the oppressors? Here’s an agenda.

"The Worst Aid Project in the World:" EU Support for Detention Camps in Sudan

More than a million migrants and refugees arrived in Europe in 2015, with thousands dying in the attempt to cross by sea. EU development policy has swung into action, in an attempt to address the “root causes” of the movement of people. But this rapid reaction has led to some poor decisions, with the potential to waste a lot of money, and potentially cause serious harm.

Latest AGOA Delay Comes from a Surprising Source

This is a joint post with Jenny Ottenhoff.

Last month, one of us wrote that Congress seemed to have compromised and reached a bipartisan deal to extend the rule (known technically but awkwardly as the third-country fabric rule) that allows poor African countries to export clothing to the United States duty-free under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. We should have known better. This week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was finally ready to bring a package of trade items, including the rule extension, to the floor for passage by unanimous consent when two senators put holds (subscription required) on it over completely unrelated issues – despite the fact that they actually support the extension.

Africa on K Street: Lobbying Is Not Restricted to the Developed World

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

The aid community is well-accustomed to pushing for transparency in foreign aid transactions. But are we missing another key flow of money?

A recent article by Geoffrey York, African bureau chief for the Globe and Mail, described a contract signed a few years ago by the Government of Rwanda with Racepoint Group, which was tasked with doing an image make-over for the Rwandan government for a monthly fee of over $50,000. The rationale was that public perceptions of Rwanda were dominated by the horrific genocide that occured in the 1990s, along with accounts of human rights abuses and media censorship. The contract with Racepoint reportedly aimed to increase the number of stories of Rwanda’s successes and block criticism of the government and its alleged human rights abuses. The effort landed more than 100 positive articles per month in newspapers from the New York Times to BBC, increased discussions of travel to Rwanda by 183%, and decreased discussion of the genocide by 11%, according to Racepoint.

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