a million shirts guy is back

From Texas in Africa

For those of you who “seem to think that everyone in Africa has clothing” and don’t like the idea of sending a million t-shirts (and do they have pants??) to African families, this guy wants to change your minds. The misguided self-righteousness passion in the video is palpable. More on this here.

debating africa’s growth prospects

The Economist has an interesting debate going on about Africa’s growth prospects. The consensus appears to be that structural factors – such as institutions, culture, colonial history and what not – are the main culprits in the tragic tale of African underdevelopment. I agree. Bad governance, the historical accident of colonialism which halted the natural processes of state formation, among other things such as historical low population densities and a culture that mystifies most things are what continue to deter African nations from realizing their full potential.

Gilles Saint-Paul argues that:

most African countries are trapped at a “low-trust” equilibrium where basic property rights are not enforced and corruption is rampant. Essentially if I do not expect others to fulfil their side of the contract, it is rational for me not to fulfill mine, and transactions eventually disappear

One of my favorite economists, Daron Acemoglu, adds that:

The economic problems of African nations are a consequence of their postcolonial institutions, which are themselves the continuation of the precolonial institutions.

But Lant Pritchett is quick to remind us of the folly of lumping all the sub-Saharan African countries together, pointing out the stark differences between places like Botswana and Somalia or Cote d’Ivoire and Mozambique.

More here.

where are the african governments in this debate?

I am a regular reader of Bill Easterly’s Aid Watch blog. I like his skepticism with regard to the efficacy of aid in the developing world. But every time I read something by him I am always left wondering; what do African finance ministers’ think? I would appreciate having some opinions from the people he keeps writing about – because otherwise he is no better than the WB or IMF clowns who conduct their business from a distance without local input. Easterly’s solutions-based approach could do with a little bit of input from third world government officials.