Nancy Birdsall


Power Africa: moving from humanitarian aid to investments | 

For too long, the international response to poverty, war, famine and dictatorial leaders in Africa has consisted largely of humanitarian aid. Today, there are still many problems, but they are increasingly offset by positive trends; six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa.

That is the New York Times editorial board discussing Power Africa, President Obama’s $7 billion initiative to increase access to electricity in sub-Saharn Africa, in an OpEd yesterday. The team is enthusiastic about the promise of the program and investment in Africa. They include a bit of caution, but stress the importance of the Obama Administration investing in the continent and play catch up to his predecessors and other investing countries like China. Continue reading

“True True map” of Africa | 

The Economist

Here’s an interesting article and map from the Economist on the “True True Size of Africa.”

Africa is huge.

Nancy Birdsall at the Center for Global Development commented on the different ways of “mapping” Africa noting that an economic map helps put the geographic one in stark perspective.

Economically, as compared to its geographic size, Africa is still pretty small cassavas. Says Birdsall:

Five years ago sub-Saharan Africa’s economy was no bigger than that of the city of Chicago. (Imagine Chicago with 46 different ministers of education, transportation, finance etc., and 46 customs border inspection systems. And visas needed to go from downtown to uptown or whatever they call it in Chicago.)

Birdsall’s colleague Todd Moss reports that due to oil sub-Saharan Africa is a bit bigger today economically: Add South Africa and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa and you get Chicago plus Atlanta: an economy approaching $1 trillion.

Here’s a map of Africa’s economy compared to the rest of the world from Worldmapper:


Map of economic size