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Showing posts for "Sub-Saharan Africa"

The Role of Government in Agriculture

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
A farmer harvests tobacco in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo). A farmer harvests tobacco in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo).

Emerging Voices features contributions from scholars and practitioners highlighting new research, thinking, and approaches to development challenges. This article is by Evan Axelrad, a recent graduate of the Master of Public Policy program at University of California Berkeley and former program specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service. He has also consulted with organizations including the International Fund for Agricultural Development and Kiva Microfunds.

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Segovia: A New Player in Cash Transfers

by Isobel Coleman
Customers are seen at mobile money transfers kiosks, known as M-Pesa agents, near Ngong township in the outskirts of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 15, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya). Customers are seen at mobile money transfers kiosks, known as M-Pesa agents, near Ngong township in the outskirts of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 15, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya).

For several years now I’ve been following the progress of an innovative new philanthropy: GiveDirectly. Its cofounders, Michael Faye and Paul Niehaus, started the organization in 2008 while doing their PhD’s in economics at Harvard. Their idea was simple. Given mounting evidence that cash transfers are among the most efficient and effective ways to address poverty (and that the poor know very well what to do with money), why not start a charity that skips the rigmarole of providing services to poor people in poor countries and just gives them cash?

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World Bank Report on Women’s Empowerment Breaks New Ground

by Isobel Coleman
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, and Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman participate in an event on empowering woman and girls at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., May 14, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst). Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, and Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman participate in an event on empowering woman and girls at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., May 14, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Over the past several decades, the World Bank has been an important thought leader on the value of investing in women and girls. In 2001, the Bank released a seminal report, “Engendering Development – Through Gender Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice,” which made the incontrovertible case that investing in girls’ education and other aspects of female empowerment is critical for poverty alleviation. More recently, in 2012, the Bank devoted its annual World Development Report to women and girls, highlighting that, despite gains, gender gaps persist and greater gender equality is critical to growth.

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Empowering Female Entrepreneurs in Rwanda

by Guest Blogger for Terra Lawson-Remer
Artisan entrepreneurs receive business training from Indego Africa at their cooperative, Covanya, in Nyamata, Rwanda, 2011 (Courtesy Benjamin D. Stone, copyright Indego Africa). Artisan entrepreneurs receive business training from Indego Africa at their cooperative, Covanya, in Nyamata, Rwanda, 2011 (Courtesy Benjamin D. Stone, copyright Indego Africa).

Emerging Voices features contributions from scholars and practitioners highlighting new research, thinking, and approaches to development challenges. This article is from Benjamin D. Stone, director of strategy and general counsel at MicroCredit Enterprises, CFR term member, and vice chairman of Indego Africa; and Karen Yelick, CEO of Indego Africa. Here they discuss how Indego Africa’s Leadership Academy for female artisan entrepreneurs in Rwanda aligns with the country’s twenty-year history of empowering women leaders.

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International Development in 2014

by Isobel Coleman
Relatives mourn as they show pictures of garment workers lost in the Rana Plaza building collapse, Savar, Bangladesh, April 28, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Andrew Biraj). Relatives mourn as they show pictures of garment workers lost in the Rana Plaza building collapse, Savar, Bangladesh, April 28, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Andrew Biraj).

Looking back at 2013, several developments stand out for their significant potential to better the lives of the world’s poorest. Here are three that will likely reverberate for years to come:

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Mo Ibrahim on Africa’s Growth

by Isobel Coleman
Children listen to their teacher during a lesson at a camp for internally displaced people in Naivasha, Kenya, June 2008 (Courtesy Reuters/Antony Njuguna). Children listen to their teacher during a lesson at a camp for internally displaced people in Naivasha, Kenya, June 2008 (Courtesy Reuters/Antony Njuguna).

Earlier this week, we hosted Mo Ibrahim, the global telecom magnate and founder and chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, at the Council on Foreign Relations. Ibrahim spoke intelligently about Africa’s development and governance challenges. His insights are relevant to some of my earlier posts regarding inequality and the youth bulge in Africa.

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Africa’s Arrested Development

by Isobel Coleman
A student writes on a blackboard in a classroom outside of Lome, Togo, April 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi). A student writes on a blackboard in a classroom outside of Lome, Togo, April 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi).

Last month, I wrote about the economic and social reforms that have boosted Africa’s growth, and the challenges the region still faces going forward. This week, David Smith of The Guardian wrote on a similar theme, questioning the popular narrative of “Africa rising.” Based on survey data, Smith argues that recent optimism about the continent is misguided: although there has been economic growth, it has not helped average Africans. Indeed, in some countries – including in South Africa, the continent’s largest economy – poverty rates are increasing.

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New From CFR: John Campell on “Scoring Africa”

by Development Channel Staff
A boy takes a rest after digging for gold in Napotpot, South Sudan October 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Adriane Ohanesian). A boy takes a rest after digging for gold in Napotpot, South Sudan October 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Adriane Ohanesian).

In a recent blog post, John Campbell calls attention to a new infographic that compares African countries and serves as, “a great introductory tool to a host of African issues. It also provides a fascinating overview of the differences among the various African countries—and the differences within a single country.”

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What Africa Needs to Succeed

by Isobel Coleman
Students at a public school in Gudele, South Sudan, April 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Andreea Campeanu). Students at a public school in Gudele, South Sudan, April 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Andreea Campeanu).

In the early 2000s, Africa’s future seemed grim. The Economist’s May 13, 2000 cover declared “Africa: The Hopeless Continent.” But over a decade later, when The Economist again devoted a feature story to the continent, the message had changed entirely to “Africa Rising.” A new book by Jonathan Berman, Success in Africa: CEO Insights from a Continent on the Rise, aims to explain how this transformation happened and what the world can expect from a now-hopeful continent.

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