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Views from the Center

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How Can Countries Escape the Natural Resource Curse? Answer: Democracy

How can countries escape the natural resource curse? And to what extent do cohesive and democratic institutions facilitate this process? In a new CGD working paper, we look at Nigeria—often seen as the prime example of a country cursed by its wealth. We show that when political institutions are cohesive and power is shared among the diverse groups in a multi-ethnic society, political contests over resource revenues are less likely to be violent. What produces cohesive institutions? Democratic elections.

Emmerson D. Mnangagwa, then the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of Zimbabwe at the High Level Segment of the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council. Photo by UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

Don’t Be Fooled by Zimbabwe’s Big Election Day Charade

On July 30, Zimbabweans will vote for the first time ever without Robert Mugabe on the ballot. Even before election day, there are very serious concerns about the validity of the vote. Vanguard Africa’s Jeffrey Smith and I wrote in the Mail & Guardian about eight reasons to worry, including poll manipulation, voter intimidation, interference by the military, and more. In totality, these problems already skew the outcome so greatly that they likely have already invalidated the vote.

Institution-Building Innovations in Resource-Constrained Civil Services: Liberia’s President’s Young Professionals Program and Emerging Public Leaders Program

As Liberia begins its transition to a post-Sirleaf government, the President's Young Professionals Program will no doubt come to be appreciated as one of her noteworthy achievements. Yet I can’t resist this opportunity to spell out the four reasons why PYPP and Emerging Public Leaders-type programs could be especially suited to the evolving capacity needs of ministries of finance in constrained resource environments.

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.

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.

Can Poll Results Sway Elite Opinion on Tanzania's Resource Boom?

Even the most ardent defenders of democracy sometimes worry that populist pressure may lead to short-sighted (or populist) economic policy choices. So after polling 2,000 ordinary Tanzanians in 2015 about their views on the use of expected natural gas revenue, we decided to follow up with an experiment polling Tanzanian “elites,” to see whether they are aligned with citizens, or could be swayed by citizens’ views.

Welcome, President Joyce Banda!

Last week CGD hosted an event on advancing women’s political leadership, featuring Malawi’s first female president and Africa’s second, President Joyce Banda. President Banda discussed her own experiences as a woman in African politics and her current work to encourage other women to become political leaders, arguing forcefully for leveling the playing field

Two Lessons from Tunisia

Recent events in Tunisia suggest two lessons.  First, the west is wrong to think of old dictators as useful allies.  Like other longstanding authoritarian despots before him, President Ben Ali managed to convince the United States (and also western allies like France and the UK), that the repressive nature of his regime was essential for regional stability.  In this case, his bloated police state was viewed as a necessary inconvenience by western diplomats, given the alleged threat of radical Islam, even if it meant that the West was maintaining close diplomatic relations with a corrupt and

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