When is it okay to have a coup in a democracy?

Given the number of Mali experts that came out of the woodwork following the coup and French intervention, I am a little surprised by the lack of debate in the Africanist blogosphere about the wisdom of holding presidential elections this July. 

Is Mali’s upcoming presidential election being held too soon? Can a hurried reversion to electoral “democracy” address the structural problems that led to the coup in the first place? Susanna Wing, in her piece on Mali in the latest issue of African Affairs, sounds skeptical:

In the middle of a US-funded military training seminar, a Malian military officer asked: ‘When is it okay to have a coup in a democracy?’ A Malian who assisted in the seminar shared the quote with me as evidence of how far the country still needs to go in terms of democracy. The statement is not surprising given Malian history, where coups d’état have been a method of regime change. It also sheds light on the March 2012 coup – which many Malians who are deeply committed to democracy saw as an essential first step to ending widespread corruption within the state as well as halting state involvement in illicit criminal activities. Ironically, for many Malians the only way to get democracy back on track was a coup d’état, and the current rush towards elections is viewed with suspicion and the fear that hurried elections will only bring Mali right back to the pre-coup status quo.

….There is little question that the current regime lacks legitimacy and perhaps an elected government will enjoy greater popular support. But there is a risk that a rapid transition back to multi-party politics will only serve to reinforce the political challenges that faced the political class prior to the coup d’état. 

But Marinov and Goemans’ paper on coups and democracy quickly comes to mind as a possible case for a return to electoralism in Mali. They essentially make the argument that the norm of quick return to elections structures incentives for coup plotters, making them less likely to leave the barracks if they know that no sooner will they do that than the international community will show up and demand that they return to the barracks: 

whereas the vast majority of successful coups before 1991 installed durable rules, the majority of coups after that have been followed by competitive elections. We argue that after the Cold War international pressure influenced the consequences of coups. In the post-Cold War era those countries that are most dependent on Western aid have been the first to embrace competitive elections after the coup. Our theory also sheds light on the pronounced decline in the number of coups since 1991. While the coup d’état has been and still is the single most important factor leading to the downfall of democratic government, our findings indicate that the new generation of coups has been far less harmful for democracy than their historical predecessors.


Office Politics in Terror Organizations

Anyone who has done consulting work knows how much it sucks to do the paperwork for the accounts people (Oh, and by the way, It’s worse if you are a “resident alien”).

Apparently, terrorists don’t like writing expense reports too as is shown in this very fascinating AP story about the leader of a Sahara terror group Moktar Belmoktar (who may, or may not, be dead). The piece delves into the rivalries and intrigues that we know to be present in normal business establishments. It is a must read. 

The employee, international terrorist Moktar Belmoktar, responded the way talented employees with bruised egos have in corporations the world over: He quit and formed his own competing group. And within months, he carried out two lethal operations that killed 101 people in all: one of the largest hostage-takings in history at a BP-operated gas plant in Algeria in January, and simultaneous bombings at a military base and a French uranium mine in Niger just last week.

In a letter found by AP in Mali, Moktar Belmoktar’s superiors complained that:

He would not take their phone calls. He refused to send administrative and financial reports. He ignored a meeting in Timbuktu, calling it “useless.” He even ordered his men to refuse to meet with al-Qaida emissaries. And he aired the organization’s dirty laundry in online jihadist forums, even while refusing to communicate with the chapter via the Internet, claiming it was insecure.

For more on the management of terror organizations check out this paper (H/T Monkeycage Blog)

Simply Amazing (Kenya High School Athletics Edition)

UPDATE: Tom has brought to my attention the fact that actually, this (below) was the traditional way the high jump was done before Dick “fearless” Fosbury invented the “Fosbury Flop” in 1968.


This is extreme high jumping. I hope the Kenyan Sports Secretary’s office and Athletics Kenya have seen this and are thinking of ways to help these kids go pro, and in the process mint a few Olympic medals for the country.


H/T Brandon Rose

Some thoughts on Kenyan MPs and their salaries

Update: Sarah Serem and the SRC appear to be backtracking and are now “open to dialogue” with MPs over their pay.


“False standards are set with salary scales for MPs, Ministers and top civil servants that the country cannot possibly afford in a time when examples not of extravagance but of austerity and sacrifice should be set. In 1963 MPs earned K£ 620 a year [in present terms about Ksh 89,704.34 a month].

This was increased to K£ 840 then to K£ 1200 a year [about Ksh 173,619.53 a month in present terms], making three increases and a doubling of salary in less than three years (And the K£ 100 a month is augmented by a daily sitting allowance, plus mileage and other allowances). Junior Ministers earn K£ 2260 a year. The President’s salary has been fixed at K£ 15,000 a year tax free and including other emoluments……. In six months an MP receives more money than the average peasant earns in half a life-time.”

That is Oginga Odinga writing in his autobiography Not Yet Uhuru.

As Kenyan MPs prepare to adopt a report this afternoon that will allegedly give the Parliamentary Service Commission legal cover to grant them a 59% pay rise, we should remember that this is not a new phenomenon. Top public officers in Kenya, and in particular MPs, have always been remunerated well relative to the country’s per capita income.

Activists block the entrance to the National Assembly in protest at MPigs' greed

Activists block the entrance Parliament in Nairobi with a sow and piglets in protest at the greed of “MPigs”

I must admit that as a researcher on legislatures in Africa, and Kenya and Zambia in particular, the issue of how to look at MPs’ salaries is not a straightforward one. On the one hand it is absolutely obscene that in a poor country like Kenya MPs make more than their counterparts in far much wealthier countries in Western Europe. But on the other hand I also realize the importance of shielding the House from the influence of money bags from State House. Poorer paid parliamentarians across the Continent (including in “shining star” Ghana) live and work at the mercy of the executive. It is no coincidence that Barkan and colleagues concluded in Legislative Power in Emerging African Democracies that Kenya has the strongest legislature in the region.

The ratio of the president’s pay to MPs’ is instructive. Back in the sixties, the president made 12.5 times what the MPs made. That ratio has since shrunk to less than 2.5.

As Oloo Aringo passionately argued in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the high pay of Kenyan MPs is partly responsible for the rise in legislative power in Kenya (Part of my work in the dissertation, among other things, will be to convince you that this is true – that relative pay of MPs matters. Stay tuned). In the present Kenyan case there is an argument to be made for the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to review the salaries of all State Officers; and to bump MPs higher up the totem pole (by cutting the pay of other state officers) than where they are right now as far as their pay is concerned. Ms Serem’s first stop should be the numerous seminars,workshops & capacity building obsessed talking shops independent constitutional commissions that continue to drain the exchequer with nothing to show for their work (OK, I’ll admit that some of the commissions are useful).

Kenyan MPs should definitely not get a pay hike. But the fight against greed in the august House should not be overdone, lest we end up with a weak parliament at the mercy of State House. This is the balancing act that I hope will inform the SRC commissioners’ actions as they try to tame our MPigs’ Honorable Members’ appetite.

Kenyatta and Odinga argue in public

This is an audio clip of Jomo and Oginga at a public function. President Kenyatta launches into former Vice President Odinga and his party, the Kenya People’s Union (KPU), accusing them of being useless rubble rousers that are unconcerned with development (especially in Luo Nyanza). Odinga answers back, telling Kenyatta that he is the one with the authority to develop Luo-Nyanza and other marginalized parts of the country. 

As someone who grew up in the Moi and Kibaki eras, it is unimaginable that anyone would speak back to the president, at a public function no less. The clip serves to show the special relationship that existed between Kenyatta and Odinga, even after they fell out politically. Odinga was the most vocal campaigner for Kenyatta’s release before independence, with the slogan “Kenyatta na Uhuru.” 


The politics of reforming Nigeria’s oil sector

Nigerian legislators are attempting the impossible – to reform the management of their nation’s biggest cash cow – and failing. Decades of mismanagement and grand corruption have left Nigeria’s oil sector with entrenched and convoluted interests that are almost impossible to untangle and dislodge.

Africa Confidential reports:

Efforts towards comprehensive reform of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry are in tatters some five years after the first version of the Petroleum Industry Bill was presented to Parliament. After several redrafts, the PIB is still on the floor of the National Assembly and at the centre of partisan disputes, as parliamentarians pick over clauses which they claim favour one region of the country over another.Meanwhile, well connected companies and officials continue to benefit from an opaque system of management and operation that has allowed as much as US$100 billion to be siphoned off from state oil and gas revenue over the past decade, according to a report drawn up by the former anti-corruption czar, Nuhu Ribadu (AC Vol 53 No 9).

The failure to pass the reforms mooted in the PIB, which was intended to boost accountability and state revenue from exports, has developmental as well as financial costs. Nigeria has been unable to conduct a licensing round to award new blocks since 2007 because of uncertainties about new regulations and fiscal terms. This has limited new investment, raising the possibility that production capacity, which has been fixed at around 2.5 million barrels per day for a decade, could start to fall in the next few years.

More on this here.

Which way forward for Kenya’s Civil Society?

It is no secret that the candidature of Raila Odinga had the backing of the largely progressive Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Kenya. Odinga’s loss to Uhuru Kenyatta, someone they considered an unelectable ICC suspect, was their loss too. In addition, both during the campaigns and after the election, CSOs in the country found themselves on the defensive against charges of being stooges of Western donors and institutions (including the ICC) out to subvert Kenyas sovereignty. An ill-advised move by Western embassies to show their hand in the contest backfired spectacularly and provided more ammo for the anti-CSO brigade. An even bigger problem for Kenyan CSOs was that at some point in the election cycle they lost the support of a sizable chunk of the middle class. The feeling of betrayal was hard to miss. The very people they had fought for had rejected their cause.

Kenya’s upwardly mobile middle class was desperate to get past the election, peacefully. Many took to heart the Peace Brigade’s PSAs that blanketed the airwaves in the run-up to and after the election. This lay the groundwork for everyone to “accept [the results] and move on,” no uncomfortable questions asked. The media too played ball, glossing over even the most glaring of irregularities in the IEBC’s tallying process. Indeed up to date none of the major media houses has seriously reported on the delayed release of constituency-level vote tallies for the National Assembly races. Reports in a section of the print press suggest the IEBC is “reconciling the presidential results and those of other positions. Over a million votes must be reconciled with others….” The silence from the major media houses on this issue is all part of accepting the official outcome of the election and moving on.

Recent discussions on the opinion pages here suggest that the chasm between the middle class and CSOs might be widening. Kenyan CSOs have been tagged as gratuitous rubble rousers intent on scaring away investors. Mention of their Western “puppet masters” has now become a must in the media when covering CSO activities. Even the recent protest against demands by Kenyan parliamentarians to increase their pay has not escaped the question of whether it is yet another plot by neocolonial schemers. The attacks have now extended to the social sphere as well. Exploiting Kenyas social conservatism, some have accused progressive CSOs of colluding with foreigners to destroy the country’s moral fabric with liberal and anti-African, atheist values. In their minds Civil Society has become “Evil Society.”

The resulting situation raises important questions regarding the future of CSOs in Kenya. Can they remain relevant without the support of the middle class? What tactics must they adopt to survive in the current political landscape? When did the rain start beating Kenyan CSOs and how can they regain the allegiance of a wide section of the middle class?

The Civil Society movement in Kenya was born out of the clamor for political space and greater civil rights during the height of Moi’s single party rule. As such, most Kenyan CSOs have always had an anti-government streak, with an inherent predisposition “to speak truth to power.” This was a strategy that worked well in fighting a widely unpopular government. And then Kenya changed. The Kibaki administration robbed Civil Society of quite a few luminaries that earned their badges of honor in the fight for the Second Liberation. Once in power these individuals faced different incentives. Many felt that it had now become their turn to eat.

The 2007-08 post-election violence weakened CSOs further by bringing to the fore ethnic divisions that existed among them. Come 2012-13 the ethnic chasm became even wider. And the ranks of CSOs thinned even more. The middle class also got alienated by a movement that seemed (fairly or not) more concerned about the past and intangible rights at time when the Kibaki boom years had given the middle class a glimpse of new economic possibilities. The mood had changed. Some suggested that Kenya had “too much democracy” that would stand in the way of development.

In a twist of irony Kenyan CSOs and the political left are a victim of their own success. Much of the Kenyan middle class, for better or worse, have since become convinced that the fight for political rights and space had been won. After all Kenya now has a new constitution; the devolved system of government is being implemented; and we no longer have an imperial presidency. For many middle class Kenyans, it is now time to focus on winning the economic fight and achieving the Kenyan dream. Many Kenyans are persuaded to believe that their own economic success is hinged on general investor confidence, and that the country needs to project an image of peace and stability.

Throughout the election cycle, no one wanted to let the ghosts of 2007 forestall Kenya’s quest to regain its place as the oasis of peace and stability in the region. The allure of 10% annual growth rates and the promise of Vision 2030 have proven very hard to resist. Many cling to the hope that mega infrastructure projects – including LAPSSET, the Thika Super Highway, and new cities and gated communities –  are about to catapult Kenya into middle-income status. Under these conditions, the ideology of peace, stability and public order was an easy sell.

In light of these developments, in order for progressive CSOs to remain relevant to the middle class they must adopt tactics that are in line with middle class aspirations. The confrontational tactics that were successful in the past will probably no longer work. I have no doubt that the government will opportunistically continue to react to public demonstrations in a manner to provoke riots that will then be labeled as anarchic and a threat to public order. Shop owners, small business operators and much of the middle class, all averse to public disorder, will no doubt nod in agreement. Despite the challenges, it should not be lost on those involved that in order to guarantee their continued survival and ability to check the government Kenyan CSOs must reengage their middle class allies. The moderating effect of the middle class will also serve to make CSOs more attractive to the wider public. As a first step CSOs must formulate a strategy that is less confrontational and more in tune with the emergent focus on the economy.

This is not to say that public demonstrations should cease to be a tactic used by CSOs in Kenya. Far from it. Public demonstrations are the best way to get the publics attention. The recent anti-parliamentarians protest, complete with a sow and its litter, was very successful in catching public attention. But such public stunts must be backed by deliberate formal engagement with the relevant authorities. This is because for a section of the public Kenya is now supposedly a nation of laws and institutions in which public protests are not allowed. All aggrieved parties should go to court where decision-making is sanitized, with minimal risk of scaring away the all-important investors. On this score both the government, wary of the unpredictable nature of unchecked public demonstrations, and the development-hungry middle class seem to be reading from the same script.

The imperative to play within the institutional framework will necessarily require CSOs to become even more institutionalized. Many Kenyan CSOs will soon be forced to morph into full fledged professional Think Tanks that can credibly address the middle class desire for economic progress, while at the same time continuing to hold those in power politically accountable. This is a lesson that I hope CSOs got from the last election.

Their skeletal operations and poor strategic judgment – which also extended to Odinga’s party – might have cost them an election that was theirs to lose. They appeared to not have done their homework when confronted with the media savvy and incredibly moneyed Kenyatta campaign. It is now well known that Odinga did not have agents in key polling stations. When the IEBC’s tallies became suspect they did not have their own numbers to report, even as they were disputing the IEBC’s tallies. Such sloppiness betrayed both a party and its CSO allies that lacked organizational competence and took too much for granted. This has to change. In this new game only those that have institutional and organizational depth will effective compete. The era of “capacity building” seminars and workshops is gone.

In addition, those in the middle class that support the incumbent government should be persuaded to form their own CSOs. The idea of CSOs being a preserve of the progressive movement in Kenya should be a thing of the past. Vigorous debate ought to be encouraged among CSOs representing both sides of the political divide. That is the mark of a true democracy. Such an eventuality would make incumbent governments and their supporters less hostile to CSOs in general. It would also force a situation in which “incumbent” CSOs, as part of a wider community of activists, felt the need to provide well argued justifications for government action and policies.

These are interesting times in Kenyan politics. Pocketbook issues are rising faster and faster up the list of Kenyans’ concerns. For now this shift in public mood appears to have been at the expense of concern over political rights. This means that in order to remain relevant, especially in the eyes of the middle class, Kenyan CSOs must change tactics and address Kenyans’ economic needs as much as their political needs. Activism, as we know it, must be backed by more institutionalized Think Tanks that can competently play the new institutional game. There is also a need for greater democracy among CSOs by encouraging the growth organizations that support the incumbent government. This will serve to further institutionalize and professionalize both the development of public policy and the conduct of politics in Kenya. It will also guarantee much-needed cooperation between Civil Society and the middle class. Merely accepting the present estrangement and moving on is not an option.

Petro-Politics in East Africa

Is LAPSSET under threat? May be.

The Economist reports:

The Lamu pipeline makes the most economic sense for all involved. But failure to work together may doom it. National and personal interests trump regional co-operation and commercial logic. In Uganda Mr Museveni is keen to settle his legacy as the champion of a strong nation, building vast refineries and spiting the tiresome Kenyans. South Sudan is fixated on warding off the north at the expense—it seems—of almost everything else. Ethiopia sees a chance to steal Kenya’s thunder, too. “It’s every guy for himself,” says an oil executive wryly. “And I thought the private sector is rough.” Pipeline politics makes a mockery of the East African Community, a bloc dedicated to regional co-operation. All but one of the countries are members or aspire to join.

Of late, a new momentum behind the oil push is being felt. The Ugandan government is in final production talks with three oil companies. Executives from Tullow, Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (better known as CNOOC), as well as local civil servants, conferred with Mr Museveni at his farm near the Rwandan border in late April. In June South Sudan will finish a feasibility study for the Ethiopian pipeline to Djibouti, after which it has said it will make a decision on export routes. “Everything is up in the air,” says a diplomat. Kenyan and Ethiopian officials, as well as oil-company representatives, have been scurrying to Juba to make their case. Pagan Amun, who leads South Sudan’s talks with the north, is said to be keen to ditch the Lamu pipeline.

My guess is that Nairobi, for historical reasons, will prevail in Juba. Plus Juba and Addis are not the best of buddies, despite recent warm relations. Mengistu was a key ally and supplier of SPLM before he was overthrown by Meles and his army. The departure of Meles may have made things a little better. Time will tell. Uganda will most likely construct a mini-refinery as it is not integral to the implementation of LAPSSET.

The Kenya Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission Report

The TJRC was set up following the 2007-08 post-election violence to collect views from Kenyans on various cases of historical injustices going back to the colonial times. The Commission was also mandated to recommend actions to be taken following publication of its findings. Unlike past commissions whose reports were quickly shelved and hidden from the public following their release, you can now download the entire IV volume TJRC report here.

The report offers very little in new information regarding cases of land grabbing, political assassinations, ethnic violence and ethnically biased use of state resources. What is new in the report is the provision for recommendations that are backed by force of law to implement the report. The implementation mechanism is independent and has to report to the relevant commission on its work every six months.

The report recommends reparations, investigations and prosecutions in certain cases. It also asks for public apologies from the Government of Kenya and state agencies that have historically been used to commit atrocities, including the Wagalla massacre, Nyayo torture chambers and extra-judicial killings by the police.

Tribe, Nation or Literacy?

Tanzania’s founding president Julius Nyerere famously described Kenya as a vulgar, capitalist “man eat man society” – to which Kenya’s then Attorney General Charles Njonjo retorted that, in contrast, Tanzania was a “man eat nothing society.” At the time Tanzania had embarked on a program of African Socialism – Ujamaa – backed by a language policy that put a lot of emphasis on Kiswahili as the national language. As Ted Miguel has argued inTribe or Nation?(pdf)this was a great strategy in nation building. But was it economically beneficial in the long run?

For now the answer is probably no.

The legacy of Tanzania’s language policy has been that English language instruction only begins to be done seriously in high school. Obviously, four years are simply not enough to master a language, let alone sit a major national examination in that language. The result has been an astonishingly high failure-rate in the national end of high school exams in Tanzania. Earlier this year 60% of high school (Form Four) students failed, prompting jokes like “I’m a rocket scientist in Tz” on this side of the border. In reality even fewer made the cutoff to get a place in institutions of higher learning. In addition, a recent survey done by Twaweza, an education Think Tank, found that 72% of sampled primary school kids and 66% of high school students could not do second grade maths. English reading and comprehension was equally bad.

It goes without mention that the state of Tanzania’s education system has serious implications for human resource development in the country. The impending commodities boom in many parts of the country will certainly not benefit locals if workers have to be imported. Tanzania cannot effectively transform itself into a 21st century economy without a drastic improvement in its education system. Oddly enough, despite its obvious shortage of human capital, Tanzania is the most restrictive state with regard to labor mobility in the East Africa Community (EAC). Dodoma is especially hostile to Kenyan workers that it sees as a threat to local workers (Kenyans and their alleged aggressiveness rudeness have jokes about Tanzanians’ work ethic….. I should add though that Tanzanians tend to be stereotyped unfairly, both at Mang’u and in New Haven I went to school with some very smart and hardworking Tanzanians).

In the final analysis, although Kenya’s post-independence education and language policy left us with a ‘tribe eat tribe’ legacy, it allowed the country’s education system to focus on English language instruction from early on, and a chance to develop a relatively more globally competitive human resource base. Nation building may have taken a hit in the process but I would argue that internal economic ties – the result of man eat man competition – have now made it such that the Kenyan nation-state will only get stronger. The challenge for Tanzania is to ensure that nation building does not limit the development of a globally competitive human resource capacity.

Since the announcement of the high school exam results earlier this year the country (Tanzania) has been debating possible avenues of reform. Better teacher training, more books and equipment and more teachers have been cited as possible remedies. Strategic review of the country’s language policy should also be put on the table.

In my opinion the EAC should adopt a language policy in which our history, social and religious studies and civics are taught in Swahili while everything else is taught in English. This would not be a selling out to a foreign language (with due respect to Ngugi) but an investment in global competitiveness. Many decades down the road, once we have universal literacy in both English and Kiswahili, we can have a full switch to universal Kiswahili language instruction in all subjects.

On the validity of RDD for estimating electoral effects

Turns out RD designs may not be so hot in studying electoral effects:

Many papers use regression discontinuity (RD) designs that exploit “close” election outcomes in order to identify the eff ects of election results on various political and economic outcomes of interest. Several recent papers critique the use of RD designs based on close elections because of the potential for imbalance near the thresholg that distinguishes winners from losers. In particular, for U.S. House elections during the post-war period, lagged variables such as incumbency status and previous vote share are signifi cantly correlated with victory even in very close elections. This type of sorting naturally raises doubts about the key RD assumption that the assignment of treatment around the threshold is quasi-random. In this paper, we examine whether similar sorting occurs in other electoral settings, including the U.S. House in other time periods, statewide, state legislative, and mayoral races in the U.S., and national and/or local elections in a variety of other countries, including the U.K., Canada, Germany, France, Australia, India, and Brazil. No other case exhibits sorting. Evidently, the U.S. House during the post-war period is an anomaly.

The paper is here (PDF).

H/T Monkey Cage Blog.

The 2013 Resource Governance Index

The 2013 Resource Governance Index (published by the Revenue Watch Institute) is out. The top performing African countries include Ghana, Liberia?, Zambia and South Africa, with partial fulfillment. The bottom performing countries are Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique.

The 58 nations included in the report “produce 85 percent of the world’s petroleum, 90 percent of diamonds and 80 percent of copper.” Ghana, where we are doing some evaluation  work on extractive sector transparency initiatives, is the best performing African country on the list. Image

More here. 

And in related news, The Africa Progress Report was released last week. The report details the massive loss of revenue by African governments through mismanagement – either by commission and/or omission – of extractive resources. For instance:

The report details five deals between 2010 and 2012, which cost the Democratic Republic of the Congo over US$1.3 billion in revenues through the undervaluation of assets and sale to foreign investors. This sum represents twice the annual health and education budgets of a country with one of the worst child mortality rates in the world and seven million pupils out of school.

The DRC alone is estimated to have 24 trillion dollars worth of untapped mineral resources.

The most bizarre case of resource management in Africa is Equatorial Guinea, a coutnry that is ranked 43rd on the global per capital GNI index but ranks 136th on the Human Development Index (2011).

Below is a map showing flows related to Africa’s vast resources:


Why do some people flee civil war and state collapse, while others stay?

Prakash Adhikari has a paper in the AJPS (PDF, gated) that seeks to address this question:

This study investigates circumstances that affect individuals’ decisions of whether or not to flee their homes during civilian conflicts. Building on the “choice-centered” approach to studying forced migration, I test the argument that people make a decision to flee or stay even under highly dangerous circumstances. Using primary data collected through a public opinion survey in Nepal, I test a number of hypotheses regarding the impact of factors such as violence, economic opportunity, physical infrastructure or geographical terrain, and social networks on forced migration, providing an individual-level test of the choice-centered approach to studying forced migration. The empirical results are consistent with the major hypotheses developed in aggregate-level studies and provide better insightsinto the factors that affect individual-level behavior. Beyond conflict, there are a number of significant economic, social, physical, and political factors that affect individuals’ choice to flee.

As expected, the threat of violence and actual experience of violence increases the likelihood that one would flee – by about 8 and 32 percentage points respectively. Economic opportunity, on the other hand, reduces the likelihood of fleeing by 19%. High income individuals are also less likely to flee by about 1-2%. In addition, social ties decrease the likelihood of fleeing, although the effect is not statistically significant in Adhikari’s model.

The paper primarily looks at conflict, but may also apply to cases of overall economic collapse and political turmoil as has plagued Zimbabwe in the last one and a half decades. It is estimated that almost a quarter of Zimbabweans have fled the country. But three quarters remained, through the hyper-inflation and acute restriction of political space and personal freedoms.

In particular, the Zimbabwe case provides a good case for knowing why elites (who presumably can leave if they want) choose to stay in states like Zimbabwe – and thereby continue to provide the means of survival for the regime.

For those who have chosen to stay in Zim it might be that they have a lot to lose by fleeing (they have jobs, own some property, have strong extensive social ties, are too patriotic to leave …..?) or are actually plugged into the patronage system of Robert Mugabe, supported by illicit trade in diamonds, foreign aid, and control of the economy.

H/T Joshua Keating over at War of Ideas

Georgetown MSFS Launches New Africa Scholarship

The application deadline is January 15, 2014. Spread the word.

Starting in fall 2014, the Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) at Georgetown University is offering a full- tuition scholarship for a talented graduate student from sub-Saharan Africa.


MSFS is a two-year, full-time graduate degree program in international affairs. Students will take courses in international relations, international trade, international finance, statistics and analytical tools and history. In addition, students choose an area of concentration such as International Relations and Security, International Development or International Business.

China in Kenya

Increasing Chinese soft power in Africa is real.

China in Kenya

I have been spending a lot of time in government offices and libraries in Nairobi lately. One thing that struck me this morning is that China Daily now publishes an Africa Weekly magazine and that government offices in Nairobi actually subscribe to it. They do not subscribe to the IHT.