Author Archives: Olumide Abimbola

What is making me happy today – Afropop Podcast

Someone recently introduced me to the Afropop podcast. It is one of those things that, as a sampler (some might even say lover) of music from Africa and music of the African diaspora, I wonder how I just got to know about.

The first one I listened to is a deep dive into the African history of the bass (here’s a link to the mp3 file). The second is a whirlwind tour of current hits on the continent – from Lagos to Nairobi to Cairo to Jo’burg. From then on I’ve been going through the archives.

Really, do your ears a favour and check the podcast out.

And oh, the website itself has a host of other goodies – events, articles, interview, etc.


Chris Rock on race in the US – and a bunch of other stuff

Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.

Right. It’s ridiculous.

So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner.

Every bit of it is golden.

How big ideas are destroying international development

A really good article.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time: A merry-go-round hooked up to a water pump. In rural sub-Saharan Africa, where children are plentiful but clean water is scarce, the PlayPump harnessed one to provide the other. Every time the kids spun around on the big colorful wheel, water filled an elevated tank a few yards away, providing fresh, clean water anyone in the village could use all day.

PlayPump International, the NGO that came up with the idea and developed the technology, seemed to have thought of everything. To pay for maintenance, the elevated water tanks sold advertising, becoming billboards for companies seeking access to rural markets. If the ads didn’t sell, they would feature HIV/AIDS-prevention campaigns. The whole package cost just $7,000 to install in each village and could provide water for up to 2,500 people.

The donations gushed in. In 2006, the U.S. government and two major foundations pledged $16.4 million in a public ceremony emceed by Bill Clinton and Laura Bush. The technology was touted by the World Bank and made a cameo in America’s 2007 Water for the Poor Act. Jay-Z personally pledged $400,000. PlayPump set the goal of installing 4,000 pumps in Africa by 2010. “That would mean clean drinking water for some ten million people,” a “Frontline” reporter announced.

By 2007, less than two years after the grants came in, it was already clear these aspirations weren’t going to be met. A UNICEF report found pumps abandoned, broken, unmaintained. Of the more than 1,500 pumps that had been installed with the initial burst of grant money in Zambia, one-quarter already needed repair. The Guardian said the pumps were “reliant on child labour.

In full here.

A pretty interesting report on central banks in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya

A report done by the DIE for the GIZ (click the links to resolve the alphabet soup). From the Executive Summary:

This report sheds light on some selected cases of recent progress by central banks in Africa in striking a balance between their multiple, and at times conflicting, objectives. Taking the cases of Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda as examples, the report explores the extent to which and the ways in which central banks have made progress over the past decade in striking a balance between the objectives of price stability, financial stability and financial deepening. The report also identifies drivers of progress and challenges to sustaining it, building particularly on data obtained from interviews with policy-makers, donors and researchers in Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.

The full pdf.

A few years ago I mused about doing an ethnographic study of the Nigerian financial sector. Reading this report has rekindled the interest.

The evolving oil & gas landscape in West Africa

This paper considers the bi-regional relations between Europe and West  Africa in the field of energy. As its point of departure, the paper begins by  acknowledging the ferocity with which today’s energy landscape is changing.  As important producers and consumers within this landscape, Europe and West  Africa are subject to change, both intra- and inter-regionally. How will this 60- year old energy relationship adjust to this new landscape? And what obstacles  stand in the way of securing a mutually-beneficial, sustainable relationship for  the next 60 years?

That is the intro to a pretty nice article [pdf] that you should look at. Plus it is not too long. Even tho the focus is mainly on relations between Europe and West Africa, it touches on important developments in West Africa, including US shale gas, China, etc.

Barriers to trade between Ghana and Nigeria

Actually, the full title of the note is: “Removing Barriers to Trade between Ghana and Nigeria: Strengthening Regional Integration by Implementing ECOWAS Commitments”:

This note assesses the challenges that goods exporters within the region face when trying to benefit from the ECOWAS-wide Free Trade Area. It focuses on the experience of 30 exporting companies in Ghana that we interviewed to understand the difficulties of exporting to Nigeria under the scheme. Complaints about the lack of implementation of existing commitments are consistent but often vague.

The study finds that Ghanaian manufacturers believe the key barriers to increasing trade with Nigeria include substantial informal payments and delays — regardless of whether documentation is complete — transit charges, and requirements for product registration. Despite the relatively small sample size, we conclude are confident that these findings, which support recent findings by the West Africa Trade Hub, also apply to a wider range of economic operators in Ghana.

Implementing existing commitments in Ghana and Nigeria, and facilitating trade flows between them, would be a critical move towards achieving freer trade and deeper integration within the region. Getting policies right in these two large and dynamic economies should be a priority within a policy dialogue that focuses on regional integration in West Africa because it will likely become a catalyst for deeper integration across that region.

Recommendations include, well, implementing existing commitments on regional trade, especially within the context of ECOWAS, and making the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) functional – ETLS is the ECOWAS scheme that covers trade between Community countries.

The full note is here.

“Informal Economy and the World Bank”

A new essay reviewing recent literature and World Bank studies on the informal sector. From the abstract:

Many countries have expressed an interest in the size, performance and motivation of the informal sector, especially where the informal sector provides the livelihood and employment for a critical segment of the population. This essay reviews recent literature, methodologies, and relevant Bank studies as a way to share information with country teams interested in expanding their knowledge of the informal sector and related policy debates. Research in a number of regions points to four main areas where development policy can be improved by taking the informal sector into account. 

The full abstract and paper.