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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.

 

Inflated Expectations about Mineral Export Misinvoicing are Having Real Consequences in Tanzania

In May, President Magufuli of Tanzania appointed two special committees to investigate the contents of 277 containers stuck at Dar-es-Salaam. The committees' belief that they have uncovered a case of massive misinvoicing (i.e., misrepresentation of the value or quantity of exports) does not seem plausible for five reasons. For starters, the scale of mineral smuggling required for it to be true is implausible.

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.

Do African Countries Consume Less (or More) Electricity than Their Income Levels Suggest?

 Are some countries too poor to consume a lot more energy? Or is income growth being held back by a lack of reliable and affordable electricity? While there is a strong relationship between energy consumption and income, the direction of causality is often far less clear. One way to estimate unmet demand may be to try to compare pairs of countries—e.g., how much additional energy does Kenya need to reach the level of Tunisia?

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 to Support Post-Dictator Recovery in the Gambia

In the Gambia, the newly elected Barrow administration has to rebuild the country which has been suffering autocratic repression and staggering corruption for 22 years. The Gambia is the only country in the region to have grown poorer over the past two decades. I lay out ways outsiders can help the Gambia recover.

The Warlord and the Ambassador: A Review of Dante Paradiso’s "The Embassy"

The Embassy: A Story of War and Diplomacy by Dante Paradiso tells the inside story of how US Ambassador John Blaney and his team kept the Liberian embassy open, risked their lives to cross the front lines to meet with General Cobra, and played a crucial role in negotiating a complicated sequence that included Taylor being forced into exile, the rebels allowing ECOWAS peacekeepers to reopen the port, and getting peace negotiators back to the table. Paradiso, a foreign service officer who served in that embassy, skillfully tells the story through the eyes of several unsung heroes.

Will an RCT Change Anyone’s Mind? Should It?

We respond to critics of our evaluation of Liberia’s “partnership” school program, distinguishing legitimate concerns about the charter-style program itself—which can be turned into testable hypotheses—from methodological limitations to what an impact evaluation can show.

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