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Volksaufstand, Putsch und Verwirrung in Burkina Faso

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Die Spannungen und die Unzufriedenheit, die sich in den letzten zwei Jahren in Burkina Faso immer mehr aufgestaut hatten, haben sich diese Woche entladen: Am Donnerstag gingen Hunderttausende von Burkinabé auf die Straße, brannten das Parlament und andere Regierungsgebäude nieder, besetzten das Gebäude des Staatsfernsehens und forderten  Lautstark den Rücktritt von Präsident Blaise  Compaoré.

Anlass der Proteste war, wie schon bei der Vielzahl an Protesten im letzten Jahr, der Versuch Compaorés, auch über 2015 hinaus das Land zu regieren und seine 27-jährige Amtszeit nochmals zu verlängern. Konkret sollte das Parlament am Donnerstag über ein Referendum abstimmen, das es Compaoré erlauben sollte die Verfassung zu ändern und 2015 nochmals als Präsidentschaftskandidat antreten zu dürfen.

Doch zu dieser Abstimmung kam es nie: eine nie da gewesene Menge an Demonstranten versammelten sich im Stadtzentrum der Hauptstadt Ouagadougou und setzten das Parlament in Brand. Dann marschierten sie auf den Präsidentenpalast Kosyam.

Am Abend verkündete Compaoré den Ausnahmezustand und verlas ein Statement, in dem er verkündete die Regierung aufgelöst zu haben und nun eine 12-monatige Übergangszeit bis zu den nächsten Wahlen einzuleiten. Damit versuchte Compaoré wohl, seine altbekannte Taktik anzuwenden: Aussitzen. Schon während der Meuterei 2011 und den Massenprotesten nach dem Tod des Journalisten Norbert Zongo 1998 hatte sich diese Taktik für ihn gut bewährt. Doch nicht dieses Mal. Am Freitag Morgen gingen die Proteste weiter, und gegen Mittag erklärte das Militär, der Posten des Staatschefs sei nun vakant. Wenig später erklärte Compaoré selbst seinen Rücktritt. Inzwischen scheint er nach Yamassoukrou in der benachbarten Côte d’Ivoire geflohen zu sein.

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Nun scheint das Militär, das Donnerstags zuerst auf die Seite der Demonstranten übergelaufen schien, Abends dann wieder die Linie Compaorés stützte um sich Freitag Mittag dann wieder gegen ihn zu wenden, die Macht im Land an sich gerissen haben. Doch auch die Armee scheint nicht geschlossen zu agieren.

Freitag Abend verkündete Armeechef Nabéré Honoré Traoré, ein guter Freund Compaorés, dass das Militär nun an der Macht sei und in einer 90-tägigen Übergangszeit Wahlen zu organisieren. Doch am Samstag morgen erklärte ein anderer Militärangehöriger, der stellvertretende Führer der Präsidialgarde Colonel Isaac Zida, die Behauptung Traorés sei überholt und er selbst stünde nun an der Staatspitze und würde eine Übergangszeit anführen, deren Dauer erst noch zu bestimmen sei.

Die Opposition und Zivilgesellschaft riefen in den letzten Tagen gleichzeitig laut nach Kouame Lougué, einen bereits pensionierten ehemaligen Verteidigungsminister und guten Freund von Thomas Sankara, der von Compaoré 1987 weggeputscht wurde. Derzeit scheinen Vertreter der Bewegung “Balaie Citoyen” sich jedoch in Gesprächen mit Zida zu befinden. Die Stadt ist derweil schon wieder am aufräumen.

AufraeumenOuaga

Die Lage in Burkina Faso ist derzeit unübersichtlich und die Machtverhältnisse sind noch keinesfalls geklärt. Die Vertreibung von Compaoré aus seinem Amt ist eine große Leistung der burkinischen Bevölkerung, die nach 27 Jahren endlich genug zu haben scheint und einen Wandel im Land einleiten will. Wichtig ist nun, dass sich die Zivilgesellschaft diese bisher friedliche Revolution nicht von den Militärs aus der Hand nehmen lässt. Die Situation bleibt spannend und die nächsten Tage werden entscheidend für die Zukunft des Landes sein.

UPDATE 16:30 Uhr: Die Armee steht nun anscheinend geschlossen hinter Isaak Zida. Dieser soll während der Übergangszeit an der Spitze des Staates stehen.

Die aktuellen Ereignisse in Burkina Faso können auf Twitter unter dem Hashtag #Iwili mitverfolgt werden – und natürlich auch hier auf diesem Blog.

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Is aid a waste of money?

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This post first appeared on Views from the Center

At a recent book launch, I was on a panel on which we were asked whether we can show that aid is a good use of public money, if the problems it aims to tackle are complex. I replied with a half-remembered statistic, which (now that I have had a chance to look at the numbers) turns out to have been right. It was this:

If you add up all the aid that all OECD countries have given since they started counting it in 1960, and then assume that the only thing that this aid has achieved was the eradication of smallpox, then the whole thing would still be a bargain, costing less than half what the UK National Health Service spends on average to save a life.

(This comparison was suggested by Toby Ord at the University of Oxford. To find out more about Toby listen to this edition of Development Drums.)

Here are the numbers. According to the OECD, total aid since 1960 has been about $2.6 trillion in cash terms, which works out at about $4.7 trillion in 2013 prices (that is, taking account of inflation).

The story of the eradication of smallpox is told in one of the chapters of the CGD book, Millions Saved. As is documented there, though the eradication of smallpox was mainly financed by the affected countries, the effort succeeded because of the contribution of foreign aid (though I acknowledge that no one can say for certain what would have happened in the absence of aid).

Boy with smallpoxThese days most of us do not remember how terrible smallpox was: it has killed more people in history than all wars put together. Since the last death from smallpox in 1978, somewhere between 60 million and 120 million premature deaths have been averted by its eradication.

If you divide the total amount of money we have spent on all aid from all donors to all developing countries put together by the minimum number of deaths averted only by the eradication of smallpox you get:

$4,700,000 million in aid / 60 million deaths averted = $78,300 per death from smallpox averted

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) uses a cost-effectiveness threshold of roughly £100,000 per death averted. A treatment which costs less than £100K (or $160K in USD) to avert a death is regarded as good value for money. Some British newspapers – including papers which are hostile to foreign aid – argue that these cost-effectiveness thresholds are too low. The Daily Mail, which calls NICE a “rationing body”, says that we should be willing to spend more that this to prolong life or improve its quality. Perhaps we should: the threshold used in America is far higher, and in other public policy contexts we use much higher figures than this for the value of a human life.

So even if we make the absurdly conservative assumption that the only thing achieved by the totality of all foreign aid has been the eradication of smallpox, and that this saved only 60 million lives (which is the lower end of the range), thenthe cost per death averted has been less than half the cost which we say is good value for money to avert a death in the UK National Health Service, a threshold that is often regarded as too low. Unless you want to argue that we should value a British life at more than twice the life of an African, then we can conclude that foreign aid has been, on average, good value for money.

(The smallpox programme itself – which cost about $1.5 billion – was ridiculously good value for money, at just $25 per death averted.)

Of course, the eradication of smallpox is not in reality the only success to which foreign aid has contributed. As well as ending deaths by smallpox, aid has contributed to reductions in deaths caused by malaria, diarrhoea, and diseases, together averting about 10 million deaths a year (roughly equivalent in deaths averted to eradicating smallpox six times over). The Green Revolution in agriculture may have averted a billion deaths from hunger. Millions of children have gone school, and families been given access to clean drinking water and electricity. Farmers have been given access to irrigation, seeds and fertilizers, and entrepreneurs have been given small loans. Governments have been helped to collect tax and organise elections. Millions more women have access to family planning. And there is evidence – including this award-winning paper – that aid has, on average, helped to increase economic growth and rising incomes. But it turns out we don’t need to include any of those benefits in our calculation to know that aid has been good value for money.

This is not a call for complacency. Some aid programmes fail, and some of those failures are avoidable. We can continue to improve the value for money of aid, and we have an obligation both to taxpayers and to the people we are trying to help to do so. We should be conscious of the opportunity costs of using aid in the way we do, rather than in some other way which might help people more. I am proud to work for an organisation which devotes quite a bit of time and effort to finding positive ways to help to make aid better, as well as arguing for other policy changes to accelerate development. The conversation about how to improve aid is important: but please let’s start with the recognition that aid is already fantastically good value for money.

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dalgoso
1309 days ago
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NYC and elsewhere
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Is aid a roadblock to development? Some thoughts on Angus Deaton’s new book

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I was talking with a prominent development economist a couple of weeks ago. He expressed surprise that Angus Deaton’s new book on development wasn’t getting more attention. Deaton is one of the three or four intellectual giants of the field, and so when he sums up a lifetime of work in one volume, it’s worth reading by definition.

You have to be careful what you wish for. The NY Times wrote a positive but skeptical review this weekend, and my Twitter feed has been full since then with some support but a great deal more skepticism for the book. I hesitated to write a blog post, in part because my two little monsters kept me from reading the book (any book) as closely as I would like. And, frankly, it’s a little dangerous as junior faculty to say what you like and don’t like about a senior colleague’s book. But it brings up important questions that I can’t answer in 140 characters. So here goes.

The bulk of Deaton’s book is an overview of half of humanity’s climb from abject poverty to health and wealth. It sums up Deaton’s bread and butter research. He and others of his generation defined and rewrote the field. It is a marvelous overview for the newcomer and the oldcomer.

Where he’s enflamed passions, though, is his last chapter: “How to help those left behind”. It’s a tirade against aid, especially naive aid. Overall one message comes through: Aid is a roadblock to development.

I’m half with Deaton and half not. He derides dollar aid targets, blind targeting of money to poor countries, and the fact that good money chases the bad. He throws his hands up in frustration at the philosophers of the world who argue that not giving aid to save a life is (ethically speaking) like ignoring a drowning child. It’s hard to imagine these writers have either run a development project or saved a drowning person in their lives. If so, I think they might have written more nuanced books. (Especially if you start from the assumption that you don’t know how to swim.)

I’m completely with Deaton here. He gives a bunch of good ideas how to make aid better. They might or might not work, but they are clever and they ought to be tried. He also reminds us that trade and migration and other things could be more impactful.

You can buy all this but still balk at his stronger point–aid is a roadblock. To see why, it helps to make a simple point: The answer to “Does aid work?” is the same answer to every question in social science: “It depends”.

For instance, it depends we mean by “aid” and it depends what we mean by “work”. (No one roll yours eyes–if I was truly academic, I’d also say it depends on what “does” means.)

Aid isn’t a uniform mass. Deaton knows this, and my guess is he’s talking about a particular kind of aid. I don’t think he means emergency relief for disaster and conflicts. I don’t think he means the money behind peacekeeping forces and post-war assistance. He might exclude child sponsorship. I’m guessing he’s not talking about money spent on vaccine research in the West. He might even exclude support for elections and party-building and other democratization.

I think Deaton has his sights aimed at dollars sent by the West to local governments to supposedly reduce poverty, improve health, and ignite growth. This is a lot (if not the bulk) of money sent to poor countries, and so it’s a fair target.

This makes it easier to see what he means by aid not working. It probably hasn’t produced growth, even if most of Africa has been growing steadily for ten years. And it might not be what’s responsible for falling poverty levels. Frankly we don’t know, but I think we can say that if aid did ignite this growth, it certainly has been coy about it.

But I wouldn’t diminish these other kinds of aid. I’d say that emergency aid has been pretty good at saving lives for fifty years. I’d say that child sponsorship has done impressive things. You cannot work in northern Uganda or Liberia without seeing the importance of peacekeeping and post-war assistance and administration. I’m thrilled to see promising new malaria vaccines, and I’m glad I live in a world where millions are now getting treatment for the world’s greatest ever pandemic, HIV/AIDS.

And, frankly, I personally find it hard to believe that levels of democracy in Africa would be as high as they are without aid. I think the most important forces driving democracy are probably internal to Africa, and the example and economic success of advanced democracies comes second. But aid and foreign meddling comes a close third. I simply find it hard to believe that aid–both the direct democratization kind, and maybe aid more generally–hasn’t played a big role.

Of course, I haven’t seen much evidence to support my gut feel, which (as we’ll see in a minute), is part of my larger point.

Deaton actually highlights aid and politics a good deal, which is heartwarming to us development economists who took jobs in political science departments.

One of his major arguments: Aid is a roadblock to development because it distorts incentives and corrupt politicians, and undermines fundamental functions of the state like tax collection and representation.

This is an important point. It’s one that aid boosters like to ignore.

At the same time, I’m not sure it’s true that aid corrupts politics and the state. This is the best summary I know of the evidence. It’s short, because we don’t know much. And the basic conclusion is “maybe”.

I don’t doubt that aid has corrupted a good many politicians. And having that much money get pumped blindly into a poor economy can’t help but distort incentives. But I have to square that in my brain with the fact that I think aid and foreign meddling also has a big part to do with better politics: more accountable Presidents, greater citizen voice, or fewer wars and genocides.

I can honestly say I don’t know how it balances out.

We are all influenced by the countries we know best. In my case it’s Uganda. And Uganda makes me overall supportive of aid, even if I’m frustrated with its deficiencies. Here was a country in 1986 demolished by decades of dictatorship and war. Fundamentally, I believe luck and a strong society with a strong party with a strong leader helped turn things around. That strong leader is now more or less elected in more or less competitive elections. Average growth is about 6 or 7% for more than twenty years. It is far from perfect, and aid has enriched a good many thugs (and kept the current thug in office longer than he should). But it’s almost impossible for me to imagine Uganda maintaining its stability through the 1990s, and reaching its current literacy, trade and health, without a leading role for outside money. And that outside money was recently turned off, rightly so, because of corruption and thuggery. This is exactly the right thing I would like aid to do.

It comes down to: What’s your counterfactual world without aid? Mine is not a Uganda with less corrupt politicians and a stronger fiscal base. My best guess is a continued cycle of war and a more dictatorial strongman at the helm.

Without a doubt, big chunks of the aid are broken. I’d prefer to fix them and not throw them away. In large part, this is what Deaton recommends. He also reminds us there are things that are harder to do than give money, like opening our borders, that could help more.

The polemic will sell more books and get people talking about the world’s problems. That’s exactly what polemic is supposed to do. But I would recommend paying the most attention to the concrete suggestions and solutions in the book. I think we are all closer to sharing the same opinions than we think.

The post Is aid a roadblock to development? Some thoughts on Angus Deaton’s new book appeared first on Chris Blattman.

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Converting resource wealth to economic development: what role for ‘local content’? – By Peter Dörrie

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Mining

‘Local content’ is the holy grail for African governments seeking to turn abundant resources into equitable growth.

Few topics were debated as intensively at the recent International Economic Forum on Africa in Paris as the question of local content in the oil and mining industry. Local content is commonly understood as the share of materials, parts, etc. for the production of a given product that has been produced locally (instead of imported.)

For many African governments, it is the holy grail of economic policy: by finding ways to make investors procure more services, labour and materials from local businesses, the reasoning goes, their countries will benefit from resource endowments multiple times. The investors in turn seem to have accepted the concept of local content as important, but are mainly interested in limiting its potentially negative effects on their line of business.

Mozambican vice-minister of mineral resources Abdul Razak Noormahomed set the tone for the debate when he declared: “We want to increase the local content, because we want as much as possible small and medium level companies to be part of the business, providing goods and services to the big companies. And we are asking the support not only of the international organisations, but also from the companies in order to support our small and medium level enterprises.” Noormahomed went on to underline the need for technical and financial capacity building as areas where international investors are expected to support Mozambican businesses.

It is easy to understand why the government of Mozambique and many of its African peers are putting such emphasis on local content. It is one possible answer to the perennial question of how to convert resource wealth into an actually wealthy population, something most African countries have so far struggled with. It is also a policy compatible with the neo-liberal consensus of international economic regulations: While the World Bank and IMF would probably balk at attempts at outright protectionism for local industries, and investors generally react badly to attempts to increase government’s direct share of profits, local content currently remains a largely accepted practice.

Investors seem to have accepted the demand for higher local content in general, but are intent on limiting its financial consequences on their bottom lines. Carlos Costa Pina of the Portuguese oil and gas corporation Galp underlined the need to deliver projects “on time and on budget”, even in the context of local content. Arturo Gonzalo Aizpiri of Repsol went a bit further in displaying his scepticism towards local content, arguing that while “we have to do all we can to make sure that the local society is benefitting from our activities, that can not be mistaken with trying to protect inefficient sectors or companies.”

This is actually a point most people at the conference could agree on in principle, but conflicts of interests are guaranteed on the question of how to interpret this statement. After all, if local companies were already competitive, there wouldn’t be a need for a local content policy at all. To be meaningful as a policy to secure a greater transfer of wealth to entrepreneurs and workers in developing countries, it will have to include some form of short-term subsidy to make these businesses more competitive.

It should be pointed out that local content policies are by no means a recent invention. According to a study published by the World Bank, local content has made it on the policy agenda in the early 1970s in the context of oil exploitation in the North Sea. Interestingly, the paper goes on to attest the various policies enacted since have achieved only “mixed results”.

One African country studied in-depth by the World Bank is Angola, which had local content policies in place for at least three decades. These have been at least partially effective in their stated goals, namely the diversification of the local oil industry, which has taken over some specialist services, like drilling, from foreign companies. But these successes on paper have not translated in any meaningful redistribution of wealth in the wider Angolan society, as a look at the country’s development indicators makes clear. On the contrary, in Angola one could argue that, local content policies may have contributed to the enrichment of a small elite and the consolidation of its power.

Quite a few African countries, including Mozambique, Ghana, Uganda and Kenya are currently at the beginning of their journey as oil and gas exporting countries. All of them are actively exploring local content as one of the main policies to ensure that their local economies benefit from the exploitation of natural resources. All of them should be realistic about what local content policies can actually be expected to deliver and the difficulties of getting them right.

Peter Dörrie is a freelance journalist reporting on security, politics and development in Africa. He tweets as @PeterDoerrie.

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My Fridge Versus Power Africa

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A friend who works inside government was making fun of me over the weekend for getting a tad too excited about the administration’s Power Africa initiative. It’s true that I’ve been pushing for energy poverty to get more attention and was pretty heartened by the White House effort which aims to increase electricity generation by 10,000 MW in six target countries.

I was thinking about her jibes when buying a new refrigerator, especially when I noticed the yellow energy guide tag that shows how much electricity the unit will use in a typical year. I know I live an energy-intensive lifestyle. Americans on average use 13,395 kWh/year (IEA data for 2010), which is nearly three times what the typical South African uses and 100 times the average Nigerian.  But I was still pretty shocked to see how my new single-family fridge compares with an average citizen in the six Power Africa countries:

Figure 1

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dalgoso
1408 days ago
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South Sudan: China Pledges U.S $43 Million Grant for South Sudan Mining

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[VOA]Juba -China has pledged a grant of $43 million to finance improvements to South Sudan's mining industry, with the funds expected to arrive by the end of the month, South Sudanese Petroleum and Mining Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said Monday.
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