Tony Blair

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Why it’s so difficult to measure progress and well-being in Africa | 

Money
Flickr, epSos.de

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the magical term often used to described the economic growth of a country.

Governments, experts and news reports point to it as a measure of progress. In development, a field often dominated by economists, GDP is all but an obligatory part of the discussion when it comes to country level progress.

The problem is many other experts say GDP is actually not very good at measuring either progress or development. Continue reading

Howard Buffett Foundation attacks UN to shift blame from Rwanda | 

UntitledHoward G. Buffett is pushing the international community to fully restore aid to Rwanda.

When a UN Group of Experts (GoE) report found that Rwanda was supporting rebels fighting a deadly conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a number of countries including the U.S. and Britain cut or suspended foreign aid in protest.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame steadfastly denied supporting the Congo militias that have been wreaking havoc along the Rwanda-Congo border, but the evidence was strong enough to convince even some of Kagame’s biggest supporters that Western powers needed to send a message of disapproval.

That didn’t include Howard Buffett, Warren Buffett’s son, and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Buffett and Blair argued against the move, contending that reducing aid to Rwanda would just cause more harm than good to the unstable Great Lakes region of central Africa.

“Cutting aid does nothing to address the underlying issues driving conflict in the region, it only ensures that the Rwandan people will suffer — and risks further destabilizing an already troubled region,” Blair and Buffett wrote in a recent Foreign Policy article.

This was followed by a report from the Howard G Buffett Foundation making the same points. The report went further by questioning the reliability of the GoE – the group that originally reported evidence the the Rwandan government was supporting rebels in the eastern DRC.

It’s worth noting that the Buffett Foundation report was written by unknown authors and using unnamed sources. Continue reading

Mixed Reactions to the DR Congo Peace Deal | 

Credit: Oxfam
Families on the move to escape the current fighting, eastern DRC; Credit

There is a new peace deal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, the outlook is mixed.

11 countries (DRC, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) signed onto the deal at the EU headquarters in Ethiopia.

The Central African coalition agreed to provide support, including 2,500 troops, to stabilize a country that has been beset by conflict for decades.

It’s not stable yet, and many are uncertain if this negotiated deal will accomplish much. Continue reading

Tony Blair’s odd poster child for advancing good African governance | 

Tony Blair and Paul Kagame
Tony Blair and Paul Kagame

Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair wants to end aid dependence by fostering better governance, especially in Africa.

Since moving off the geopolitical center stage, Blair has inserted himself into several new supporting roles that could generally be lumped together as world betterment consultant.

For one such role, there is Blair’s African Governance Initiative. One of his shining examples of good African governance is Rwandan President Paul Kagame — a leader widely credited with reviving Rwanda’s economy over the past 15-plus years and building up strong domestic institutions. Unfortunately, Kagame is also increasingly becoming widely ‘celebrated’ for fueling warfare in neighboring DR Congo, acting like a dictator at home and committing various human rights violations.

“At the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), we believe that the developed world has been quick to act against bad leaders, but slow to support good ones,” writes AGI head Kate Gross in the Stanford Social Innovation Review recently. She then proceeds to talk about the work that the AGI has done with Kagame, describing how it has “fundamentally shaped our model.”

Continue reading

And the next president of the World Bank will be … | 

Probably an American and possibly, some say, Bill Clinton or Andy Summers.

The World Bank is an institution created in the closing days of World War II to provide loans to poor and/or struggling countries based on the concept that a healthy global economy is good for all of us.

See, this ‘globalization’ stuff really isn’t that new. The World Bank’s approach to helping poor countries hasn’t always worked out too well or been seen as very healthy (see ‘structural adjustment‘ or economic ‘shock therapy‘ programs) but alleviating global poverty is the stated goal of the institution.

World Bank

The news this week is that World Bank president Robert Zoellick, who before taking the post in 2007 was a Goldman Sachs executive (yes, they’re everywhere), is stepping down. So now the buzz is all about who will replace him. By tradition, the head of the WB is always an American.

Nancy Birdsall, at the Center for Global Development, asks Does it matter who runs the world bank? Yes it does. Continue reading