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Aid “for Trade” is pointless amid corruption

By Timothy Cox
January 5th, 2010 at 12:35 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in Economics, International Development

africacorruptionWhile funds continue to be pumped into Africa through Aid for Trade programmes (to the tune of $9.5 billion in 2007), African governments continue to stifle their own businesses by imposing restrictions upon the movement of goods through the region.

A recent article in the Vanguard News (Lagos) details how debilitating delays to traffic are caused by Nigerian government officials extorting money, in the form of taxes and fines, from traders. It’s a common story, has even become a stereotype of much of the continent, yet sadly remains true. This heavy handed government action renders Nigerian businesses uncompetitive–delaying their goods and increasing their costs compared to foreign competitors.

Historically, the response of the government in Nigeria has been to increase import duties to “protect” their domestic industries. This results in higher prices for the average Nigerian as they have to pay more for their goods and services. The sad irony is that the reason many Nigerian businesses aren’t competitive in the first place is because of these detrimental government interventions in their business activities. Thus the vicious cycle continues–businesses crippled by their own governments plead for further protection against competition from abroad.

African governments need to stop looking to aid agencies for hand-outs and start allowing domestic companies to do their good honest business.

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This, Mr President, is how your government will “build a nation”

By Julian Harris
January 5th, 2010 at 8:00 am | 1 Comment | Posted in International Development, International Politics, US Politics

The story, in short:

A consultancy in London provided this nation-building plan to the Pentagon. Wonderfully it ended up online (still available, here).

A quick visual of the plan to build a new nation of Afghanistan…

STEP 1: Look for support! Yes, this is your “Popular Support”


Step 2: Ah, but these strange A-rab folk are a bit different to us, yes? What about their “Conditions, Beliefs & Structures”? Better shove them in.


Step 3: But ugh, the insurgents! And all those poppy fields. Better shove them in ‘n’ all…


Step 4: Right, there might economists in the room. Mention infrastructure and the economy and stuff…


Step 5: Not to mention the ‘public sector workers’. Fit them in somewhere…


Step 6: And the Brits, don’t forget them. You know, the ‘Coalition’, the other governments. Include the ‘Coalition’. Still following?


Step 7: Dammit, there’s still a gap left. Make something up…


Step 8: Add some colour. That’s better. But actually, what happens when all these things link together? Don’t we need to…


Step 9: …ah yes, that’s better. Everyone reading from the same hymn sheet now? Ladies and Gentlemen, the Development of Afghanistan Stability!



This will definitely work.


Hat-tip: Chris Coyne.

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