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