Some quick thoughts

Grinding poverty and the lack of innovative thinking among their home governments continue to force most Africans to buy second hand-clothing. The few textile industries on the Continent (with a few exceptions in West Africa) are small operations geared mainly for exports – mostly under AGOA to the US. Special interests (second-hand clothes importers), poor economic policies (many countries killed their own nascent textile sectors) and dumping of textiles from the east are to blame.

The result is the indignity of having to buy used underwear or live in a parallel universe in which the Steelers won Super Bowl XLV.

A post on the related topic of the politics of appropriate aid-giving  is here.

In other news, Blattman makes the observation that younger leaders in Africa, because of their different upbringing, will be different from the independence leaders. I beg to differ. Spatial distribution based on ethnicity and malapportionment against urban centres, mixed with the toxicity of ethnic politics will continue to perpetuate rural, ethnic-based tyranny in most of Africa. The fact that University of Nairobi student council elections invariably go tribal says it all.

The current changes in the Arab world should be a wake-up call for most of Africa. Soon enough the set of examples of poor governance and general mediocrity will shrink from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia to just Africa.

3 thoughts on “Some quick thoughts

  1. Ken,

    What are you thoughts on the Steelers shirts? They are even different than secondhand clothing as they will be given away rather than sold. There have been a lot of ‘western’ voices in the discussion, but not many from those who actually come from the nations which are impacted by these policies.



  2. I am torn about the t-shirts. On the one hand I see the point of giving them out to people who could use a new t-shirt. But on the other hand, the charities that distribute these t-shirts quickly transform them into their core competence and in effect blind themselves from the real issues that need to be tackled so that a decade down the road the same villages do not have to suffer the indignity of wearing t-shirts of super bowl losers.

    In short, my objections to such projects are based on questions of priority and the underlying implications for the dignity of the charity recipients.


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