28 December 2009

Never mind the Tebbit test...

I met a friend of a friend a few days ago in Leeds. He's from Zimbabwe, and came to the UK to study just before the shit hit the fan around 1999/2000. As the shit had thoroughly hit the fan, he decided to stay in the UK, and is currently seeking asylum.

I wouldn't have known he's from Zimbabwe. He has a stronger Leeds accent than I do.

How about this for a new rule for immigrants: if you've got a stronger local accent than a local, you're allowed stay.

22 December 2009

Val T'odmorden, Yorkshire, UK

Yorkshire's Premier Ski Resort. In, er, my mum's backyard. And I had been resigned to not snowboarding this year! Now I'm going to make a seven foot snow dinka and some snow cows.

Merry Christmas!

21 December 2009

Cracker Jokes from the Guardian

Made me smile...
What's worse than finding a worm in your apple? 
Jon Holmes

What's pink and wrinkly and hangs out your pyjamas? 
Your mum 
Jeremy Dyson, The League of Gentlemen

Why has Noddy got a hat with a bell on it? 
Because he's a twat. 
Ricky Gervais

16 December 2009

Copenhagen Quote of the Day

Well, it was actually yesterday, and I heard it in the car on the radio, so it might not be word for word, but Ban Ki-Moon at Copenhagen did actually use words very very similar to:
"negotiations are difficult and there are lots of competing interests. So we can't always get exactly what we want, but if we all try, we might just get what we need"
Otherwise, I am paying approximately zero attention to Copenhagen. Aid and development are complicated enough for my little head. There is no space for the environment. Hopefully the Rolling Stones have this one covered (hey, Bono has aid...).

Wednesday Links

1. Dear White House, All I want for christmas is a global development strategy (UK too please!)

2. The Twelve Days of Christmas (Aid Edition)™

3. The Secret Diary of a Kampala Call Girl

4. Assorted on Samuelson (but missing Dixit via Rodrik:
"If there is a heaven and if I am fortunate enough to make it there one day, I hope to take classes from him again. I am sure that, with his brilliant and precocious mind, he will have developed a beautiful heavenly model of it all, and will be able to say "God has it almost right, but..."")
5. The entire Eritrean national football team disappear whilst at a tournament abroad so they don't have to go home to Eritrea. FOR THE THIRD TIME!

12 December 2009

Should Developing Country Governments Contract Out Service Provision?

....that depends on whether they can design a decent contract, is the message of a recent case study on Southern Sudan (which is also a fascinating recent history of the establishment of a new government).

"Fragile states" are stuck in a catch-22, where it might be nice in theory to compensate for weak government structures by contracting out for key services, but capacity doesn't exist within government to design an effective contract without getting ripped off.
Government has supported the process of contracting out key services, but has had limited capacity to design and manage contracts without external support. Even with World Bank administered contracts, Government has had limited capacity to ensure that the contract design and performance meet its own needs.
I'm not even so sure this is a problem of fragile states. I'm reminded of Private Eye, a British magazine usually full of stories about private sector contractors running rings around government.

04 December 2009

Friday Links

1. The Ibiza of East Africa.

2. Hundreds of free sample chapters from Princeton University Press (via Marginal Revolution). This could keep me busy for a while.

3. Lesotho 2010: Bringing the World Cup to Lesotho.

4. "I was wrong." You don't hear academics say that every day. Kudos to Alex de Waal.

5. Fuck!  Iranian immigration officials are stopping returning Iranians at the airport, making them log into their Facebook accounts, and confiscating their passport if there is anything critical.

6. Microfinance in Southern Sudan

7. Easterly knows how to write. Keep it simple, stupid.

8. Julian Gough on the Best Albums of the Noughties (there aren't any)

01 December 2009

And to add insult to injury...

Monday 30 Nov: UK commits 500 new troops to Afghanistan

Tuesday 1 Dec: US commits 30,000 new troops to Afghanistan

Why do we even bother?

Markets not in everything

Not content with blocking MSN messenger, facebook gifts, oh, and my linkedin account...

The U.S. Government has in place export control and economic sanctions laws and regulations, which prohibit U.S. companies, like LinkedIn, from engaging in certain transactions with persons from several designated countries, including <<INSERT COUNTRY HERE>>.

it seems US sanctions have now blocked Ethiopian Airlines from accepting online credit card payments from Southern Sudan (I managed to do this in March). So I can't book my flight home to the UK for christmas.

Thanks America. Happy Christmas to you too. I hope those sanctions are working.

America, with a population of 300 million, is one of the fattest countries of the world, with a frighteningly awful perception of poor countries, aggravated by a befuddled, profit-driven media.

26 November 2009

Juba's First Ever European Film Festival!

The BBC reported on Juba's new cinema in February. I've been a couple of times, only to be told that they weren't showing anything.

And then out of nowhere we get an actual film festival! I no longer have to be jealous of colleagues in Kampala and Addis! International culture comes to Juba!

Oxfam, Political Economy, and Migration

Matt at AidThoughts asked a few weeks ago why charities such as Oxfam don't push for increased immigration as a policy issue, given the obvious benefits, and the desire of many people to move (over a third of Sub-Saharan Africans would prefer to live elsewhere, permanently).
"Why should we continue to condemn people to shoddy governments, bad climate, meager opportunities and endless experimentation at the hands of (us), the aid community? There's been a lot of talk recently about allowing the poor to have a greater say in the development agenda. Why not let them do the voting with their feet?"
Duncan Green, head of research at Oxfam indirectly sheds some light on the question of Oxfam campaign choices in one of his introductory development lectures (kudos for sharing).

Duncan is well aware of the importance of migration for development - he has blogged about it here and here.

But when Oxfam comes to design a new campaign, it thinks strategically. It does some "Power Analysis" (political economy) and thinks about what is feasible and who needs to be targeted to effect change, and how. Seems to me that Oxfam just doesn't fancy taking on the 2 in 3 British voters who think that immigration is bad for Britain, and risking squandering some popularity and political capital.

Migration is a lost cause. Why bother. Just like British voting rights for women was a lost cause. And the African-American civil rights movement. And apartheid in South Africa. Lost causes, all of them. Why bother. Stick to something easy like sponsoring children.

Am I right Duncan? Where is your vision! Where is your ambition! Let's take on Global Apartheid and do something serious about poverty!

Charity Christmas Card Edition

Perhaps a little early, I just received, an invitation to buy christmas cards from Jacari.
"Jacari is a student-run charity providing home teaching for children living in Oxford. These children, who are between 4 and 16 years old, do not speak English as their first language and often come from refugee families and those seeking asylum. University students volunteer to help improve their allotted child's English and performance in other subjects as required."
I spent an hour a week for about 3 months reading with a kid and helping him with his maths homework. The improvement in his ability and enthusiasm for reading was noticeable every week.

Fantastic organisation. I am amazed that it hasn't been scaled up. The government should mandate this for all university students who want any kind of government subsidy.

New Links

1. Does the new UK immigration bill offer hope for potential migrant workers?

2. A new South Sudan aidworker blog (via bechamilton)

3. New cross-country-panel data evidence on the effectiveness of fiscal and monetary policy during the great depression (bottom-line - they were effective).

4. The (new) Official Website of the Government of Southern Sudan

African Proverb of the Day

"When you go and consult with the fortune-teller, you should always consult with yourself later."
Have a word with yourself!

25 November 2009

Today's African Proverb...

Comes from Central Equatoria, Southern Sudan!
"Listen to the first word and the last word to get the meaning."
From BBC Network Africa (Nod to TH)

22 November 2009

Immigration Quote of the Day

"immigrants are not just mouths to feed: they have brains and hands as well. They take less from the state than natives do – being 60 per cent less likely to be on benefits or in social housing – and contribute tens of billions to the economy"
From the Director of the UK's Adam Smith Institute, writing in the FT

"The number of bleeding hearts has soared exponentially over the last decade"

says Nicholas Kristof in the NY Times (HT: Ruth Levine)

19 November 2009

Thursday Links

1. The Average Flag (weighted by population) (via Chart Porn)

2. Interesting article on SSRC about the proposed News Agency of Southern Sudan

3. Mobile phones in Somalia
"insurgents say they receive orders for attacks by text message ... One telecoms firm is also expanding its network to coastal ports used by pirates, who make thousands of dollars from ransom payments from ship-owners but have to rely on expensive satellite phones at the moment." (HT: Global Guerillas)
4. Giovanni Peri, The effect of immigration on productivity: evidence from us states
"We find no evidence that immigrants crowded-out employment and hours worked by natives. At the same time we find robust evidence that they increased total factor productivity" (HT: trade diversion)
5. An oldie but a goodie - Kafka for kids - "Why doesn't mommy answer me when I cry?"


1. Awesome Pictures from Afghanistan HT: Texas in Africa

2. Sam Bowles on the similarity between hunter-gatherer economies and the modern knowledge economy. Sam Bowles is very cool. He does Marxist economics with neo-classical tools.

3. A challenge to the economics of happiness from Feministx: The paradox of enslaved female happiness (via Marginal Revolution)

4. Phelps on economics, innovation and morality

5. Owen invites aidwatchers to, "as a development community, heap scorn and opprobrium on anyone caught advocating for more resources in their sector. We need stronger social norms in development that frown upon this kind of anti-social behaviour."

18 November 2009

Office quote of the day

"Yeah, those iPhones are very expensive. One thousand dollars. That is four cows!"

Football by Numbers

1 Game

1 World Cup place

66 flights

35,000 fans

32 fans hurt (at the last game)

15,000 police

That is Egypt vs Algeria, today, in Khartoum, Sudan. Not likely to be any trouble there then.

17 November 2009

Proverb of the Day

"The flies and worms do not respect the province of the dead kings."
From Uganda, via the BBC World Service Network Africa

15 November 2009

Sunday Links

1. World Bank data now in Google search results (but what about all the google-owned-gapminder data?!)

2. If microsavings are more needed, why does microcredit get more attention?

3. Dropping Joy

4. Tony Blair on China (HT: Ingrid Jones)

5. Tim Besley and James Robinson:
"This paper has posed a central question in state formation: how can a civilian government exert control over the army? We have treated this as an incentive problem where the government optimizes relative to a coup constraint. Two potential strategies emerge which seem relevant in looking at the data. The government can maintain a very weak army which is not a threat. Or it can treat the army well, paying it an efficiency wage."

12 November 2009

It's Mango Season!

Suddenly the market price tumbles to the lowest denomination note available (SDG1 or $0.40), for a pile which grows as the season progresses.

Many of the government buildings also have a mango tree in their central courtyard.

Today I saw a man with a big stick poking the tree and a woman running around with a bucket catching the mangoes.

10 November 2009

Tuesday Links

1. Rachel Strohm (the best Africa blog... ever) tweets:
RachelStrohm: RT @ourmaninafrica A paper on the economic impact of UN peace-keeping missions - a boost to hospitality & sex industries http://bit.ly/hFt8T
2. The East African Community moves towards a common educational curriculum (something for S Sudan to keep an eye on?)

3. Tourism [in Kenya] cruises to full recovery after poll chaos

4. Kindle for PC. Awesome.

05 November 2009

Thursday Links

1. A poem on Gay Rights in Kenya. It's Queer.

2. Nairobi also has powerpoint. "Kenya is hitting the 21st century. Hard."

3. When economists fall in love: "One year, for Valentine's Day, Reinhart gave his wife a complete set of the League of Nations's annual economic reports from the 1920s" (the Carmen Reinhart Story, from Economic Principals)

4. New forces in anti-terrorism

5. Temporary deprivation is a cure for the hedonic treadmill and makes you happier. I wonder if Juba makes its temporary residents happier?

6. The best Superfreakonomics review so far, by Ezra Klein (HT:TH)

7. 16% of the world's adults would like to move to another country permanently (via Trade Diversion)

8. A Kenyan government pilot programme will deliver Ksh 1,500 per month (approx $20?) to 100,000 slum-residents - VIA TEXT MESSAGE. Awesome. Coolest thing I've heard all week. (HT: Rachel Strohm)

01 November 2009

Sunday Links

1. Chris Dillow on Democracy:

"The function of representatives in representative democracy, it seems, is take all the idiocies of public opinion, and when these are insufficient, to then add some of their own."

2. The Nobel Peace Prize committee clearly forgot about Mark Zuckerburg.

3. Nigerian lawmakers are "appealing to the patriotism of bandits" to call a "ceasefire."

4. The consolations of economics and other podcasts.

5. Some great photos of "Dickensian China" (via Bayesian Heresy), which remind me of Alex Tabarrok's TED Talk. Dystopian industrial nightmare = the world's greatest anti-poverty programme.

6. Zimbabwe only managed second highest hyper-inflation ever. Can you guess who holds the record?

7. Halloween Costume Ideas for Development Geeks

8. Something about Canadians taking the piss out of Tories warms my heart

9. "The Mo Ibrahim foundation needs to jazz it up and be more disruptive ... How about a fund for young Africans who are running for office ... Or a travel fund/scholarship for young Africans to travel within Africa ... Or an Africa corps ..."

FDI to emerging economies overtakes FDI to advanced economies

28 October 2009

The Challenge of Reforming Budgetary Institutions in Developing Countries

By Richard Allen (via the IMF PFM blog)
  • Would-be reformers greatly underestimate the time taken to implement PFM reforms in LICs. 
  • The experience of now-developed countries suggests that the process of establishing credible and robust budgetary institutions can take many decades, or longer. There is no reason to expect LICs to be different. 
  • Many developing countries -- and their advisors -- are turning their backs on basic systems which are needed before moving on to more advanced reforms. 
  • Because the necessary basics are not in place, many reforms are likely to fail. 
  • While a few countries have made progress, in general, the evidence suggests that weak budgetary institutions tend to be the norm in many LICs. Some countries that were "shining stars" in the 1990s have stagnated or fallen back. 
  • Donors and the international consultants they hire are often part of the problem rather than part of the solution. 
  • Reform action plans tend to be much too complex (e.g., the "platform approach"), and the time periods for completion much too short. Donors compete for a share of the TA pie. Such plans are unlikely to be successful. 
  • Much more attention needs to be given to the political economy constraints to reform since changing budgetary institutions is not at root a technocratic issue. 
  • Not enough attention is given to monitoring and evaluating the results of reform programs, creating the right incentives for reform, and holding officials to account for success and failure. 
  • The presentation gives examples of PFM reforms that should be given priority, and others that should not generally be attempted before basic systems are in place.
    Update: Great discussion by Ranil at AidThoughts on this issue

    Rare praise for the UN

    I think this is brilliant:
    UN to deliver food aid by text message 
    In a test project targeting 1,000 Iraqi refugee families, the United Nations agency will send a 22-dollar (15-euro) voucher every two months by SMS to each family, who will be provided with a special SIM card. 
    The beneficiary can then exchange the electronic voucher for rice, wheat flour, lentils, chickpeas, oil, canned fish, cheese and eggs at selected shops. 
    Addressing concerns about mobile phone ownership among the refugee population, WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella said all the 130,000 Iraqi refugees currently receiving food aid from the agency in Syria have mobile phones.


    I told my housemate yesterday that he couldn't borrow my beard-trimmer because we need to grow "budget beards" as an austerity measure. There will barely be time for sleeping, so no shaving until the 2010 Budget is passed.

    But later I had a better idea. It's almost Movember!

    So readers what do you think - Budget Beards or Movember Moustaches?

    Also - in the event of Movember Moustaches, we need a charity to donate some money to.

    Current suggestions include:

    1. Tyler Cowen's idea - give money to random individuals who look like they are working hard rather than asking for money.

    2. Start an advocacy campaign and spend lots of money on flyers. I'm not particularly convinced by this one, especially as we don't know what we would be advocating for.

    25 October 2009

    Sunday Links

    1. John Ashworth on Making Sense of Darfur - Not Peace, Not Comprehensive, Not an Agreement?

    2. Flash Me - MTC in Sudan says that there 130 million missed calls every day, and 355 million actual calls

    3. NERICA Comes to Northern Uganda. If it works there it should also work in Equatoria, Southern Sudan. Sounds interesting.

    4. Migration-Watch-Watch: Another article by Sir Andrew Green, titled "The real threat of immigration", in which he mentions not one reason for why immigration is actually bad, besides it creating a larger population (which is not a reason!!!!! Why is bigger inherently bad?! Does this guy hate British people and want there to be fewer of us??).

    Development Wishlist

    Rachel Strohm asks for "Development Wishlists".

    Here is mine. Take migration for development seriously.

    Imagine what this chart would look like with liberalised migration policies for unskilled workers from poor countries to move to rich countries.

    23 October 2009

    Is UK Aid failing?

    Via David Roodman -

    The 2009 Commitment to Development Index from the Center for Global Development (CGD) is out.

    It doesn't make pretty reading from a UK perspective, falling from a rank of 6th (out of 22 rich countries) last year to 12th this year. Overtaken by Spain, Austria, Finland and Canada. Are you listening Gordon Brown? The Africa Commission and "Make Poverty History" were great and everything, but Austria now has better development policies than the UK.

    The Index can be disaggregated into 7 components: aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security and technology.

    The reason for the UK's drop in the rankings is a big decrease in the aid score. Perhaps some punishment for that horrible new logo?

    More substantively, the UK is roughly around average for most of the scores, except for one. Can you guess which it is? Migration. Only Japan and South Korea have less development-friendly migration-policies than the UK.


    In other Migration News (seems to be the only thing I'm talking about at the moment), Michael Clemens, also of CGD, has a great FP "think again" article rebutting migration-skeptics who worry about "brain drain."

    - Migration is not "stealing" human capital. It is an individual choice.

    - Poor countries don't waste money training eventual migrants. They normally train themselves.

    - Many skilled migrants eventually go back home with more skills and capital.

    - Doctors in Africa don't live in the rural areas where they are most needed anyway, but concentrate in urban areas where they can get a better life.

    22 October 2009

    Gary Becker in controversial "extend markets to unfamiliar areas" shocker

    Gary Becker thinks the US should charge immigrants $50,000 for entry (HT: Trade Diversion).

    Makes sense to me. Poor people want to move to rich countries. Rich people don't want them to (except maybe the liberal elites).

    And that is because the price of immigration is set artificially at zero. Presumably there is a positive price at which there is positive (i.e. larger than at present) immigration and in which there is a clear pareto improvement for everyone.

    Most of the HUGE gains from immigration go to the poor, so why not allow them to choose to pay a bit of those potential gains in order to gain passage? So long as this is enough to compensate any labour-market losses of natives.

    This of course assumes some kind of functioning credit market. And some way of allocating those entry fees to those most disadvantaged by the increased immigration (i.e. those with a similar skills profile to the immigrants).

    Simple no?


    HT: White African for the link (which I've lost) to the info-graphic

    Thursday Links

    1. Great post by Duncan Green: the new HDR is all about the development impacts of migration, but it ignores the politics. For that, you need to read Fanjul and Pritchett.

    2. The Marginal Manifesto?

    3. Great news as M-pesa comes to the UK. Competition in the remittances sector can only be good for poor people.

    4. I can't watch this but it sounds good.

    21 October 2009

    Wednesday Links

    1. When I say pub, you say ... AK-47! (HT:TH)

    2. A bit of inspirational liberal rhetoric from Owen Barder

    3. I see some familiarity in this discussion of MTEFs in Ghana. Is it time developing countries just gave up on them?

    4. The BBCs Africa Analyst thinks that 2 data points are enough to say "recent evidence of the [Mo Ibrahim] prize's effectiveness across Africa is not encouraging"

    err... TWO DATA POINTS?!

    5. Air tickets, Nairobi-style

    18 October 2009

    Very talented young multi-lingual Human Rights expert available for hire in Juba

    I read somewhere that blogging is good for your career. Hopefully it will also be good for my girlfriend's career.

    Drop me an email if you have any ideas or are interested:


    16 October 2009

    Warming increases risk of civil war in Africa


    Ed Miguel is red-hot. Climate change and civil war in ONE PAPER?! Can anything stop this man!!

    10 October 2009

    Blogging and Academia

    I've just been reading the latest draft of a paper by Miguel, Saiegh and Satyanath which measures the correlation between violence on the football (soccer) field in European leagues (yellow/red cards) and violence in a player's home country (civil war). Blattman blogged about an earlier draft a while ago.

    Great paper, but what caught my eye were the acknowledgements:
    "We are grateful to Dan Altman, Ray Fisman, Matias Iaryczower, Abdul Nouri, Dani Rodrik, seminar participants at Stanford, UCSD, UCLA, IPES, and at the 4th Annual HiCN Workshop at Yale, and a host of anonymous bloggers for useful comments, and Dan Hartley, Teferi Mergo, Melanie Wasserman and Tom Zeitzoff for excellent research assistance. All errors remain our own."
    Proper academic acknowledgement of bloggers! Is this a first?

    09 October 2009

    What does corruption have to do with development?

    A commentator suggests that a "tolerable administration of justice" needs to incorporate "zero-tolerance of corruption." I agree about the importance of predictability, but corruption is a pretty broad concept, and is it always the most binding constraint?

    Mushtaq Khan at SOAS has some great work skewering the cross-country approach to corruption and growth which dominates the literature. This chart in particular articulates that old favourite: Correlation does not necessarily mean causation.


    Update: Mushtaq Khan and Daniel Kaufmann are on the next Development Drums, send your questions to Owen Barder

    Test Drive Google SMS Services (Uganda)

    This is cool. Health and agriculture tips, and a "marketplace" all via SMS. I hope it takes off.

    08 October 2009

    The Challenges of Budgeting in Oil-dependent Economies

    Does the Guardian care about Development?

    I generally applaud the Guardian's Katine project for the attention it brings to development. But I am exasperated by the lack of clarity on issues this important.
    Does the Tory party care about aid
    In a recent green paper on international development, the Conservative party sought to establish its commitment to aid.
    Aid is not the same thing as development. They cannot be used interchangeably. They are not synonyms.

    Development happens when governments have strong leadership pointing in the right direction. External assistance can help, and it can take many forms, of which aid is one.

    Treating aid and development as if they are interchangeable narrows our thought and blocks off discussion of all the other ways that rich countries can help poor people enjoy better lives.

    On a different note, I want to meet the 7% of Guardian readers who vote conservative. And the 14% of Torygraph readers who vote labour. Who are these people?

    06 October 2009

    Monday Links (On Tuesday)

    My job is getting in the way of blogging. That and whoever forgot to pay the internet bill (again).

    1. I'd like to second Matt's call for 'economic crimes against humanity'

    2. Duncan Green explains the importance of economic growth. Redistribution within poor countries can't get rid poverty. (Obviously. But I'm still glad that someone has run the numbers).

    3. The best productivity blog ever (HT: Marginal Revolution)

    30 September 2009

    Why Migration Matters for Development

    Damn you Matt, you scooped my "Migration and Development" post, and even got some climate change in. I love it though. Compensate poor countries for Western carbon emissions by letting their citizens move there.

    Anyway, my post was going to be that Lant Pritchett is (was) in Juba today (yesterday) to give a talk about Growth Strategies. Which was good and will probably help shape the Growth Strategy for Southern Sudan. But it was also a grim reminder of the limits of growth. Ten years of insane Chinese-style growth will probably take Southern Sudan to Kenya's level of income. Ten years of ridiculously optimistic growth.

    How about a development intervention which can take a Sudanese citizen's income to US levels overnight?

    The potential gains to poor people of being allowed the opportunity to work in a rich country for even a few weeks blow every other conceivable anti-poverty measure completely out of the water.


    The picture up top comes from this presentation.

    28 September 2009

    Development Poll - Update

    The results are in and it's a dead heat, 7 in favour, 7 against and 2 "what the fuck"? The difference definitely isn't statistically significant at any rate.
    "little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things"
    I'm sticking to a "yes". Firstly, he does say "little else", so it isn't entirely these three things but primarily them.

    Secondly, he is talking about the "highest degree of opulence" speaking from 18th(?) Century England, which translates to barely middle income by today's standards. I reckon this lot of absolute basics can get a country easily to middle-income, and only then do you really need some fancy growth-diagnostics-jiggery-pokery.

    The conclusions of the World Bank Growth Diagnostics on Southern Sudan? Your top priorities are security and roads. Oh er... thanks for that...

    Monday Links

    1. Possibly the finest all-purpose political t-shirt slogan ever conceived - From Ben Goldacre (via Rob Crilly):

    2. Pure Genius from Harry Rud. I'm not looking forward to becoming an ex-expat (HT: TH)

    3. Top 10 things that the Save Darfur Coalition spent more on than direct aid to Darfuris in 2008 (also TH)

    27 September 2009

    UN Golf Association of Southern Sudan

    I've never played golf in my life but now could be the time to start. This is in the UNMIS compound where the leopard was supposedly sighted. You can also see Ban-Ki Moo, allegedly a gift from Salva Kiir to the UN Secretary General (who presumably thought his cow would be safe with the Indian peacekeepers).

    23 September 2009

    Juba Business Plan of the Day: Fruit and Veg Delivery

    So my girlfriend was nagging me last night about not getting my 5 fruit'n'veg-a-day. Admittedly my dinner of cake (thank you new Syrian bakery, I love you), Indian potato snacks and a tin of pineapple (that's fruit!) last night was a particular low.

    My excuse is that it's difficult to stock up when you have no fridge or TESCO express. And all the shops near my house are shut by the time I get home. And even when they're open they only have tomatoes and onions from Uganda (does anyone know of any good tomato and onion-only cookbooks?). All the good markets are on the other side of town.

    Short of TESCO opening a new branch in Hai Tarawa (my preferred solution), someone should set up a fruit'n'veg delivery service. Loads of expat khawajas and probably a few wealthy Sudanese are too busy/lazy to get to the market. This even works in the UK for organic veg.

    You probably just need a couple of people and a van. A local to get some decent bulk prices from the market, and someone savvy enough to advertise this properly to the people with money.

    Come on Juba entrepreneurs!

    22 September 2009


    Sorry Danny, but I got a bit carried away calling the tweet of the week on a Monday. It actually comes from the US ambassador to Kenya.

    USAMB4REFORM: Despite warnings by some, I will still speak out supporting reforms in Kenya. President Obama and the Kenyan people demand nothing less!


    A humble suggestion to any ambassadors in Sudan - fancy twittering about CPA implementation?

    21 September 2009

    Development Poll

    AS asked me the other day if I agree with this Adam Smith quote: 
    "little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things"
    A few years ago I would probably have dismissed this neoliberal nonsense, but now I'm not so sure. I think I actually might agree.

    Let me know what you think in the box on the right, or sound off in the comments if you have a better answer!

    Monday Links

    1. Eid Mubarak. "The World Food Programme (WFP) is closing 12 feeding centres for mothers and children in Somalia....it has simply run out of money." Good job world

    2. Fun & Games - Third World Farmer via (IPA Blog)

    3. Visualising large numbers from Information is Beautiful.net

    4. Matt suggests that we have a debate-styled variant of Development Drums called Development Deathmatch.

    5. Tweet of the week:

    DannyQuah: After hanging out with only martial artists this summer, I'm struck again by the testosterone levels in academic economics discussion #fb

    18 September 2009

    This rocks my world

    From Ryan Briggs: here and here

    If you think that population density is important for political and economic outcomes (I do), this development could be pretty revolutionary. I'd be interested though to know how much of this density is due to Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, and the East African Community, and how the other 40 or so countries fare.

    15 September 2009


    Either I have starry-eyed leaving-Juba syndrome again, or Kenya is amazing.

    First the coast. Lamu is like stepping back in time to a medieval town. There are no cars on the island, only donkeys, so the narrow arab streets are covered in donkey-poo and arabs wandering round in robes. Donkey rides are available but I wouldn't recommend them. My backside suffered.

    Then you step through to the seafront and it is stunning, like a fantastic mediterranean get-away, except with pirate ships! (ok, fine, "dhows", but they look like pirate ships to me).

    North of Lamu is not recommended because there might be real pirates, but the coastline South of Lamu is full of amazing deserted picturesque beaches, and beautiful reefs for diving around.

    Ramadan might not be the best time to visit if you're a non-muslim, wondering why everyone is looking at you a bit funny whilst walking down the street munching on some snacks. Then again the iftar is great. There's a kind of battered mashed potato thing which is delicious.

    Nairobi just feels completely European. I haven't spent much time here before, but its great just strolling around a proper city with cafes and shops and no baking heat. And doing some supermarket shopping for all those small luxuries.

    Anyway back to Juba tomorrow. I've managed to sneakily keep tabs on email on my phone, but I've just opened my feed reader to find 1000 unread items. Jesus Christ.

    14 September 2009

    Monsieur health secretary

    For all its pros and cons, you can always rely on The Economist to be consistent. You always know what their opinion on any issue is before you start reading, so you can screen it out easily if need be.

    The unrelenting classical liberalism can sometimes grate.

    But sometimes there are moments of pure genius.
    "three of the English cricketers who defeated [the Australians] in the deciding match of this summer's Test series were born in South Africa. English fans however, weren't too troubled by the moans. Their lot had won... 
    These days, when the English football team is playing and the camera pans to the coaches' bench, it has a distinctly Mediterranean hue...Under the current boss, Fabio Capello, it is romping towards next year's World Cup. 
    It isn't only in sport. The boards of Britain's big companies routinely look beyond the country's shores, and the firms' own payrolls, for the best people to run them. Bagehot is wondering: if England's football team can be trained by an Italian, why shouldn't the health service be managed by a Frenchman? Or, to put it less facetiously, why does politics, the business of running the country, draw on so much shallower a recruitment pool than most other important enterprises in Britain?"

    Access for Africa

    Chris Blattman thinks that publishers should "allow textbooks and academic volumes more than a few years old to be printed copyright-free in Africa".

    No need Chris.

    I just bought a second-hand book on a Mombasa street corner which was DHL'ed from Europe, which obviously makes far more sense.

    2009 Mercury Music Prize Winner

    is Speech Debelle.

    I called it (kind of).

    10 September 2009

    Dotty Data......5 Reasons why measuring GDP from Outer Space is a bad idea!

    Everyone seems to be blogging about using night-lights to measure GDP (Marginal Revolution, Brad De Long’s blog, the Economist and WSJ blogs, and even here). It does sound uber-cool: Measuring GDP from Outer Space and has pretty pictures to go with it. But really, before we get too excited, here’s why it’s a dubious idea:

    1. The major motivation of the underlying paper is that African countries have bad GDP data. But here’s a thought: a lot of Sub-Saharan countries get a LOT of their GDP from minerals and oil. The minefields don’t really create much light (at least not as much as the oil’s worth!) and often most of this wealth does not trickle into local consumption. Think here of all the usual stuff on political economy of resource curse etc. etc. emember President Obiang from Tropical Gangsters still rules Equatorial Guinea…… So basically underestimation seems built-in

    2. It’s true we don’t have city-level GDP data. Yeah but first what you’re measuring is not production but expenditure (which is fine since that’s a perfectly valid way to get at GDP). But if you really want expenditure why don’t you just do a usual LSMS-type budget survey in the cities…? Far cheaper than usual African fieldwork (no rural logistics involved!) and guess what, we already know a lot about how to do them properly!

    3. But the biggest problem is do we really know what it’s measuring? Does a low GDP estimate from night-lights, especially in Africa, just show a break-down or inadequacy of public provision, the usual way we get electricity???. Just look at Juba, would you? No city power to speak of (most areas of the town don’t even have connections) and generators are way more expensive, both as a fixed cost and to run, than a usual light connection. Of course, you’d see fewer lights…. And its not just the difference caused by the value of electricity !

    4. How are lights and GDP related? Even the paper’s evidence shows there just isn’t a one-to-one relationship between growth in GDP and growth in night lights… Read this: In Hungary, Poland and Romania, where incomes rose by 41%, 56%, and 23%, the respective rises in lights were 46%, 80%, and 112%. The relationship doesn’t even seem STABLE!

    5. And for the parting argument: Aren’t two error-prone measures better than one? Well, not if the measurement error in the second measure is just far worse than the first one (even if we did know what we were measuring with lights!).Keep everyone guessing which is the ‘right’ number! If you really want more measures, there are other options to choose from: smaller sample surveys possibly? You want local level estimates - how about some small area estimation stuff? Seriously there is enough to complain on the Penn World Tables and GDP estimates: Don’t make it worse!

    P.S. This is not your usual correspondent. I’m his usual skeptical audience over beer most days…. Just decided to make the most of his absence from Juba

    P.P.S. Lee, before you get to it, measuring population by huts where a Census exists is ALSO a bad idea! And this has nothing to with my love for my day job!!!

    05 September 2009

    Rest and Recuperation

    I'm going to lie on a Kenyan beach, so this might be quiet for a week.

    But not before I sneak in a quick aid-worker-moan, who generally get "R&R" every 6 weeks or something ridiculous because Juba is such a hardship post. The poor things. My last holiday was 5 months ago. Yes I'm jealous.

    03 September 2009

    Ronald Coase, the theory of the firm, and principal agent problems

    Coase's Nobel Prize-winning theory essentially states "outsource as much as you can until the transactions costs become excessive. Then stop."

    Looks like nobody told the US embassy in Kabul who are paying guards to guard the guards.
    The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has banned alcohol and assigned American personnel to watch over the embassy's security guards following allegations of lewd behavior and sexual misconduct at their living quarters.
    This is nearly as funny as the US needing to build a wall around their fence.
    (AP) –

    TIJUANA, Mexico — Police in the Mexican border city of Tijuana say they have arrested six men for stealing pieces of the U.S. border fence to sell as scrap metal.

    01 September 2009

    Why are Arabic streets so narrow?

    ...asks Tyler Cowen. He isn't convinced by Chris Wickham's answer: 
    "the Arab states did not use processions as a major part of their political legitimization; the assembly in the mosque courtyard was sufficient for that. The need for wide boulevards ended" 
    Ryszard Kapuscinski in "The Shadow of the Sun" inadvertently offers an alternative hypothesis: 
    "...one enters the narrow streets typical of old Arab towns. I cannot say why these people built in such a cramped and crowded fashion, why they pressed together this way, practically one atop another. Was it so that they would never have far to walk? Or to be better able to defend the town? I don't know. But one thing is certain: this mass of piled stone, this accretion of walls, this layering of balconies, recesses, eaves, and rooftops, somehow secured, as though in an icy treasury, a corner of shade, a tiny breeze, and a bit of coolness during the most terrifying noontime heat." 
    Maybe Arab streets are designed for this bit of coolness?

    Update: Philip Blue also weighs in.

    31 August 2009

    Dambiso Moyo is right. Stop Aid to Africa. But not why you think.

    This argument is going to be a little bit half-baked, but then as Simon says, "One of the wonderful things about a blog, is that you can write down thoughts which may or may not be interesting but without claiming to have done in-depth research or have in-depth knowledge – you are just 'putting it out there'."

    I should also credit Abhijeet for most of these ideas.

    Aid to Africa should stop.

    Not because it is detrimental to growth, as Dambiso Moyo argues. But because it is SO DAMN EXPENSIVE. Southern Sudan is an extreme case. It is more expensive than most places in Africa. But it is not qualitatively different to the rest of Africa. The reasons it is expensive to operate in are essentially the same across the continent; low population densities, people dispersed across large distances, along with insecurity and political barriers to trade and migration, all making transactions costs huge.

    Operating in Asia is cheaper because people are closer together.

    What this means is that your money goes much further in Asia, as any backpacker can tell you. This also includes your aid money.

    India's national school-feeding programme, which now reaches over 150 million kids, costs 2 cents per day per child. For their school-meal programme (operating in over 80 countries, including in both Africa, Asia and Latin America) WFP want $25 cents per day per child.

    Some more back-of-an-envelope calculations (based on figures from BSF South Sudan and India's national primary school programme) reveals similar cost ratios for school construction in India and Southern Sudan, basically at least 10:1.

    Now if what we care about is poor PEOPLE and not COUNTRIES, then how can we justify spending money on poor Africans, if it means choosing 1 poor African ahead of 10 poor Asians. On what ethical grounds is that fair?

    This is not to say forget about Africa, just that Aid as our means of assistance is ridiculously cost-ineffective. So let's look at some other ways we can help, such as:

    Trade - As Paul Collier has called for - lets have EU-US wide preferential market access for Africa, guaranteed for 15 years. (And maybe lose the subsidies? Please? No? Ok fine just the market access then.)

    Migration - Come on, let's ease up just a little huh? It's good for us too I promise. Make it temporary or something.

    Technology - Lets get serious about funding technology for Africa. That includes IT and tropical disease research.

    Security - Yeah OK this one is a bit more controversial, but I'm broadly with Collier.

    And then there's investment and the environment, which I know next to nothing about, but I'm sure there's plenty we can do.

    Bottom-line - there is LOTS we can do to help in Africa without giving a penny of aid for service delivery.

    And I'm not even saying stop aid, just send it where you get bang-for-your-buck.

    Thoughts anyone?


    The Cheek!

    Apparently being an immigrant in Britain does not disqualify you from complaining about immigrants (that's right Amanda Platell, you were born in Australia if you hadn't remembered which would make YOU an immigrant). I suppose complaining about immigrants is kind of the national sport though. Maybe we should put it into the Citizenship test.

    Q. The communist Labour government is still letting loads of dirty foreigners in. What do you think should be done about it?

    a) Build a big wall around the coast so noone can get in. And close all the airports. Right after I've got in that is.
    b) Have a warship stationed in the channel to sink anything with brown people on it.
    c) Take away all their benefits. Because immigrants are all child-molesting criminal single-mothers sitting around getting paid £50,000 a week in benefits.

    Rod Liddle has a marginally better attempt. At least he tries to explain why a large population is a bad thing. Sadly, his efforts are a bit pathetic.
    "the pressure to pave over more and more countryside greatly increases flood risk."

    Monday Links

    1. Frank Field says to stabilise UK pop then immigration must balance with emigration. Do you think I could get in the Guardian by arguing that to stabilise the queue at the post office we need to balance the people being served and the people walking in?

    2. USAID is still missing an administrator in part because of the vetting process, in which "candidates for the USAID post have to detail everywhere they've lived in their adult lives, and every foreign citizen they know."

    3. A novel strategy to ease arrests?

    4. Moisés Naím (Editor of Foreign Policy) is pessimistic on Dutch Disease.
    "It is not that their leaders fail to realise the need to diversify; in fact, all oil countries have invested massively in other sectors. Unfortunately, few of these investments succeed largely because the exchange rate stunts the growth of agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and other sectors ... Unlocking the secret of [Chile and Botswana's] escape from the resource curse could spare millions from the devil's excrement. But nobody has done it yet."

    29 August 2009

    Winehouse Drug-athon to raise money for Ugandan School

    From The Daily Mash:

    SINGER Amy Winehouse is launching an attempt on the world drug-bender record to raise money for a Ugandan primary school.

    The children begin each day with a hearty rendition of 'Rehab' 
    During the mammoth session the 'Back to Black' star will be consuming crack, heroin, cheap speedy pills and a two gallon jug of paint stripper. 
    A spokesman said: "She's been in training with some of the country's top junkies, including the legendary 'Norwegian Dale'. 
    "The plan is that when she starts to glaze over from the brown, the Es and crack will perk her up again and give her the energy to stay on it. She really is an inspiration to everyone who wants to take drugs for charity." 
    Winehouse's record attempt will raise money for a school in the Ugandan village of Katosi, which desperately needs a new roof. 
    Head teacher Akiki Balunda said: "We are very grateful to Amy for this and have faith in her bison-like constitution. 
    "We wanted to help her out by sending some drugs, but all we could find was a few out-of-date malaria tablets." 
    The existing world drug-bender record is held by a 44-year-old from Manchester known simply as 'Cheb', who consumed nine times his own body weight in poor quality street opiates during a two month ming-up which ended when he jumped naked into a local zoo's Komodo dragon enclosure. 
    He wished Winehouse well in her record attempt, adding: "Mint. Bangin'. Mint. Mint. Totally fuckin' mint" 
    Cheb said he given up endurance drug taking so that he can focus on trying to kill an owl with a crossbow in the belief that if he eats it he will become Dolph Lundgren.

    28 August 2009

    Possibly the most complicated elections in the world?

    In a country where there haven't been any elections in some time, (a good electoral history is at the Rift Valley Institute), the Southern Sudanese are being asked to complete TWELVE ballots next year.

    1. President of Sudan
    2. President of Southern Sudan
    3. State Governor
    4. National Assembly - Constituency MP
    5. National Assembly - Women's List (Proportional representation)
    6. National Assembly - Party List (Proportional representation)
    7. Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly - Constituency MP
    8. Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly - Women's List (Proportional representation)
    9. Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly - Party List (Proportional representation)
    10. State Assembly - Constituency MP
    11. State Assembly - Women's List (Proportional representation)
    12. State Assembly - Party List (Proportional representation)

    More ranting about aid

    This is going to sound a bit schizophrenic after my rubbishing of the sideshow the other week, but seriously, if we're going to do aid at all, then lets do it properly ey? Talking about sustainability in general terms, and training in specific terms, is one thing, but exit strategies and handovers? In a country 4 years out of war? Probably one of the poorest countries in the world?

    Who are these people?

    I'm with Owen Barder on this one, the cult of sustainability hides the fact that the poorest countries are going to be needing support for a long long time. And that is fine. But lets be realistic about it, acknowledge that capacity building takes longer than a 3-year project, and that as a matter of social justice rather than charity THE POOREST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD probably deserve some support for at least the next 50 years.

    Secondly, on community participation. Fine, ask around, make sure that your intervention isn't completely stupid. But expecting voluntary contributions for public services????!!!!?!!!!


    Because community contributions is how we finance local public services in Britain isn't it? Why bother with coercive taxation to solve the collective-action problem inherent in public good provision when we can just spout some patronising nonsense about communities. Reminds me of a C4 TV show which took a bunch of hard-nosed capitalist self-made millionaires to work on a project in an African village. The millionaires were then surprised that the lazy villagers weren't willing to donate their free-time to build some kind of community centre. Did the millionaires get rich through community participation? Or through relentlessly pursuing their own self-interest?

    WHO. ARE. THESE. PEOPLE!!??!!!

    27 August 2009

    'Ave it

    Right so CHRIS frickin' BLATTMAN is reading. I'd better think of something clever to say.



    Come on!....

    You can do it!....

    .....Nope. Nothing. Too much pressure.

    Instead I'm just going to post this AWESOME photo from The Citizen of H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of Southern Sudan, looking very cool as he opens the first ever international football tournament in Juba last week.

    If you're interested Your Excellency, we normally play on Tuesdays at the UNMIS pitch. You are more than welcome.

    24 August 2009

    Monday Links

    1. Forget the conspiracy theories, when Britain does neo-colonialism, it does it properly. What are the alternatives when faced with "clear signs of political amorality and immaturity and of a general administrative incompetence"?!!

    2. Hasn't been updated in a while, but when MTEF does links, MTEF does links

    3. The first issue of "Unknown Soldier", the comic about the LRA set in Northern Uganda is available for download from DC Comics

    4. Things I have done on the back of a boda-boda (HT: Uganda Talks)

    5. This is what happens when political scientists play "Risk"

    21 August 2009

    All of Political Economy in one picture

    North and South Korea at night. OK not quite all of political economy, but a pretty compelling case for the importance of politics for economic growth. From Paul Romer's TED talk about Charter Cities.

    20 August 2009

    More jigy-jigy

    According to Google Analytics THIS is my most visited post. You filthy people.

    Anyway I've been meaning to post a follow-up since I was sent this story by a friend about a new Steve Levitt paper based on
    "detailed and real-time transaction data for over 2,200 tricks performed by about 160 prostitutes in three Chicago neighborhoods that the authors collected with the help of pimps and prostitutes."
    She suggests that Juba's "unmarried businesswomen" could learn from it how to reach a more realistic price per ejaculation / night. Well economics works in Juba too, according to the Khartoum Monitor. It's only $2 if you want to have "jigi jigi" with the ugly girls, but of you want a moderate girl it'll cost you $4, and for the beautiful ones it's a whole $8.

    Analogue Blogger goes Digital

    Sadly here comes more evidence of the usefulness of twitter. White African notes that the Blackboard blogger of Monrovia, a guy who writes the news on a big blackboard for people who can't afford newspapers, now has an actual online blog. Awesome! Here's the link.

    In other cool media news, I've just discovered that The Citizen, probably the best (offline) English-language Southern Sudanese newspaper, seems to be building a new office directly opposite the Ministry of Finance. Now I'm just waiting for the website. How about a link-up with the online-only Sudan Tribune?

    There was also a great discussion on the World Service about Tolo TV the other day, Afghanistan's most popular private-owned TV station. Although they are downplaying it for obvious reasons, the station was created with seed capital from USAID, and is now hosting Presidential candidate debates and making social progress through Afghan Idol.

    19 August 2009

    In which Scott Gration visits the Ministry of Finance in Southern Sudan

    Me leaving the (deserted) office at 6pm

    "hmm, I wonder what those 2 khawajas in sharp suits are doing hanging around. hmm, I wonder why there are 6 big fancy cars in the carpark. hmm, I wonder why there are police in riot gear all around the Ministry."

    18 August 2009

    The Torit Mutiny

    Today is a public holiday in Southern Sudan in commemoration of the 1955 Torit mutiny which led to the start of the first war.

    16 August 2009

    Yeah nice one Enough

    Really? Who on earth came up with the idea of gambling for Darfur? Darfurians are mainly Muslim right? And gambling is haram......?


    "The UNFG developed the Program for Capacity-Building in the Field of Language Transparency Impact. The program assists in dispensing with harmful idiomatic practices, and promotes the use of a standardized international framework for document authoring. Designed as a Public-Private-Sector Partnership within the Framework of the Global Compact, and supported through supplemental grants from individual donors, the program has made a significant contribution in this field."
    That would be the United Nations Fund for Gobbledygook, supported by the Plain English Campaign.

    HT: Good Intentions

    Oboe'n'bass Hip-hop Jazz

    I'm addicted to this new Speech Debelle Single (is it even new? At some point, I'm not quite sure when, I went from being a music-collector-geek to an economics-collector-geek, and I haven't quite gotten over it yet).

    She's nominated for this year's Mercury Music Prize (a nice way of keeping a bit up to date with new music for people who don't have time to follow new music properly because they spend all their time reading economics), and there's a Guardian interview here.

    15 August 2009


    Marginal Revolution picked up on a clever idea by some economists to measure economic growth in places where statistics are unreliable by looking at satellite images of light at night. If any donors are listening, this could be a great way of looking at the economy in Southern Sudan, where we have very few statistics.

    It also got me thinking, couldn't we also measure population by satellite? The Census results have been heavily disputed here for political reasons. Surely an alternative estimate could be gained by just counting the number of buildings on Google Maps and multiplying by an estimate of average household size? Has anyone tried this anywhere before?

    14 August 2009

    Thundercats Ho?!

    According to UNDP's latest security alert there is a leopard out and about in Juba. I of course work for an organisation with slightly lower overheads than UNDP, so the only security alerts I get are when friends think they are funny enough to be forwarded on, or posted on their blogs. Kelsey even went to the trouble of googling 'what to do if being chased by a leopard,' after deeming the official UN advice of "be extra vigilant and careful" to be insufficient.

    I'm going to listen to my girlfriend Karuna who is normally right about these kind of things:
    "OH MY FUCKING GOD!! don't ever leave your car!! i TOLD you you need to get a gun then you could just go and shoot it. what the hell is it doing in a town???! it must be up to something..."

    Cross-town Traffic

    In the UK or US it's normally a pretty big deal when a politician switches party. Not in Southern Sudan.

    Southern Sudan is divided into ten states, and one of these states, Warrap, just had the whole National Congress Party defect to the SPLM. That is 120 people.
    "The NCP office is closed down because we have gone away with all members of the National Congress Party in the State. No one is left. All our youth and women have come with us," said Abur.
    My SPLM colleague in Juba just shrugs and says "there weren't that many of them anyway".

    13 August 2009

    Shleifer on Bauer on Aid

    Interesting article by Andrei Shleifer on Peter Bauer, the original Dambisa Moyo (if she had been a white man writing in the 1970s). Shleifer's conclusion is that it doesn't really matter that foreign aid is a bit rubbish, because "foreign aid is a sideshow" to the worldwide embrace of markets, trade, and better policies which are stimulating economic growth - the only sustainable way of raising incomes and eradicating poverty.

    The trouble is, if this is true, where does it leave concerned Western citizens and developmentistas?

    Specifically where does a young development careerist who wants to make a difference go work if all the jobs are in the sideshow?

    Answers on a postcard please.

    12 August 2009


    I took a matatu from the Ministry to Central Pub Lebanese restaurant yesterday after work. Twice on the way there I noticed a policeman get on and then off 5 minutes later without paying. "It's alright for some" I thought. Is this common practice by all drivers? Is it to avoid being hauled off the road for some minor offence?

    Anyway, upon reaching my destination the conductor says "three" to me. Ha! I'm no sucker, I know the price is only one pound ($0.50), so I offer him a one pound note. He waves me away - no "you go - it is free." Huh? Presumably there is something deeply suspicious about a khawaja getting into a matatu, to the extent you don't make him pay just in case... what exactly?

    (I still gave him the pound)

    11 August 2009

    Fun & Games

    via Ugandan Insomniac - A new story by DC Comics set in Northern Uganda. More images here

    10 August 2009

    Sudanese People's Liberation Dancers

    Living in Juba, you start to get used to seeing the police and soliders carrying AK47s everywhere, you just stop noticing them. It's only when you see a guy with say an Uzi casually wandering down the street, or a huge machine gun on the back of a truck that you actually look up.

    On Saturday we went to Juba's premier (only?) nightclub, and there on the stage in front of the dance-floor, overlooking the crowd, were 2 serious-looking SPLA military police. Sadly not showing us their moves.

    Quote of the Day

    Comes from Matt at Aidthoughts.
    All articles/comments about America must now be appended with the following background description for those who can't find America on a map: 
    "America, with a population of 300 million, is one of the fattest countries of the world, with a frighteningly awful perception of poor countries, aggregated by a befuddled, profit-driven media."

    Monday Links

    1. New African Literature

    2. If there's one thing you can always buy in Africa no matter how remote you are, it's Coca-Cola. So why not leverage their distribution network?

    3. I might start having Morning Meetings for Roving Bandit

    08 August 2009

    99 Problems but the metrics ain't one

    The genius Berkeley phd students behind "Stronger" and "I can't get no dissertation" have a new video up. I'm tempted to apply to go study at Berkeley purely so I can try get in the next one.