Dec 13 2008

Dowden v. Ryle

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 5:08 PM

A new book on African affairs, by the London-based Africanist Richard Dowden, received an insightful review in The Guardian. John Ryle raised the issue of the utility of the term, “Africa,” calling into question efforts to generalize about the peoples and nations of the sub-Saharan and encouraging writers, policymakers and activists to think more deeply about regional and sub-national diversity. Ryle, who edited Granta’s special issue on Africa a few years ago, concludes: “The least we can do for African countries is respect the difference between them, even when the most visible difference is a different style of misgovernment.”

Dec 13 2008

the little (african) island that can

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 5:05 PM

Why some poorer countries perform well economically and others do not is one of the great puzzles of development economics. The Economist recent survey of Mauritius, a resilient island nation off the coast of East Africa, suggests that good governance makes an enormous difference. Mauritius is an economic star in a region of uneven performance. The Economist recently observed: “The country has come a long way from relying exclusively on sugar cane. It has become a popular destination for tourists craving sun, palm trees and good service, with more than 100 hotels, up from a single decent one at independence. Since then it has built a textile industry on the back of preferential market access. Although there were plenty of skeptics when it tried to become an offshore financial centre, the island now hosts 19 banks, including foreign heavyweights such as HSBC; and the introduction of Islamic banking has brought petro-dollars from the Gulf.”
The Economist credit Mauritius with nimbly overcoming a shock to its textile industry in 2005 – and expects the country to do well going forward. “Mauritius has weathered previous storms,” the magazine writes. “Its prime minister, Navinchandra Ramgoolam, says its success has depended on regular changes of government at the ballot box.”
Yet the persuasive neglects one to cite one factor that may be even more important. Set 1,100 miles from the African mainland, Mauritius’s isolation may be a blessing, sparing the country from being engulfed in the problems of its neighbors.

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