Thursday, July 02, 2009

Africa Isn't Poor Because of a Lack of Resources

Africa can feed the world according to the (New Scientist via Instapundit). But as Glenn Reynolds notes - "But it never will, so long as it’s run by inept kleptocrats." Of course this isn't earth shattering. Uganda has one of the most fertile lands in the world because of its volcanic soil. Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket to Africa until Mugabe and his enablers ran it into the ground and where millions now live in hunger.

I had an interesting meeting, albeit a bit too brief, with folks at an international microfinance agency last week. I think I came away with the reminder that it's tough for those in development not to gravitate to places in the world with the greatest suffering. It's a difficult line in the sand to draw but I think the line between aid and development must first be drawn by donors recognizing that without cooperative governments, the choice must be made to abandon or substantially curtail programs with resources focused where a greater difference (measured in several orders of magnitude) can be made.

Update: Foreign Policy has an interesting overview of its Failed States Index and attempts to explore some of the reasons that lead to what they call failed states. Interestingly, China is considered "borderline" with most of the African continent and Asia fluctuating between "borderline" and "critical". It'd be interesting to overlay this with development indices as this almost seems like a guide to regional development where the more developed you are, the less risk that you'll fail.

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