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What Cash Payments Can’t Do: Lessons from #BringBackOurGirls

I have had the privilege of living and working in West Africa for the past 15 years. In 2007, I spent several months in northern Nigeria, interviewing grain traders in cross-border markets. These markets were some of my favorite places in West Africa—bustling, chaotic, open-air markets that brought together hundreds of farmers, traders and consumers, all from different villages and cultures, to exchange, talk and trade. I enjoyed walking through those markets, observing, negotiating and asking questions.

What to Expect from Secretary Kerry’s Visit to Africa

Last Friday (hmmm…), the State Department announced that Secretary Kerry will travel to sub-Saharan Africa April 29-May 5, his first visit to the sub-continent as Secretary of State. First stop is Addis Ababa to meet with the African Union and the Ethiopian government “to discuss efforts to advance peace and democracy in the region”. Next up is Kinshasa to “discuss how the DRC government’s progress in neutralizing some of the dozens of dangerous armed groups that victimize the Congolese people can be consolidated and how to best advance the DRC’s democratization and long-term stability.” Last stop is Luanda to “commend President dos Santos for Angola’s leadership of…the Great Lakes peace process.”

Nigeria’s Upward Revision of GDP Should Sound Alarm on Tax-to-GDP Ratio

The long-anticipated rebasing of Nigeria’s GDP series was finally made public on Sunday April 6, and the general media reaction has been cautiously celebratory. But the reaction has largely missed one big point: the rebasing establishes that the biggest economy in Africa has the lowest tax revenues of almost any country in the world.

African Regional Integration and the Fight Against Illicit Financial Flows

The African Development Bank estimates that illicit financial flows have drained in excess of a trillion dollars from Africa since 1980. These flows undermine the tax base, damage political institutions and exacerbate inequality. With major momentum behind global counter-measures, there are clear opportunities for progress at the regional level – including through stronger information exchange and cooperation, tax base harmonization and innovative uses of trade data.

Seven Graphics that Explain Energy Poverty and How the US Can Do Much More

Energy poverty is an endemic and crippling problem; nearly 600 million people in Africa live without access to any power, which also means no access to safer and healthier electric cooking and heating, powered health centers and refrigerated medicines, light to study at night, or electricity to run a business.  Here’s the situation in the 6 countries chosen to be part of President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative, home to nearly 1/3 of the continent’s population. 

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