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The Science of Productivity December 21, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in 10 best Youtube videos, 25 killer Websites that make you cleverer, Economics, Opportunity Cost, The Mathematics of Cities, Theory of Development.
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How to get more done—and in less time

http://qz.com/315903/how-to-get-more-done-and-in-less-time/

In today’s busy world, we’ve become a people obsessed with productivity and “work hacks.”

Getting more done in less time allows us to get ahead, and even gives us more availability to do the things we love outside of work.

The problem we run into is that it is easy to get motivated, but hard to stay disciplined.

Most of us look at productivity in the wrong way: task management tools are shiny at first and then go unused. Being chained to your desk is as unhealthy as it is unproductive.

Achievement isn’t about doing everything, it’s about doing the right things–productivity means saying no.

Focus and consistency are the bread-and-butter of being truly productive. Right now, we’ll take a look at the science behind how the brain works in the synthesis state, and what changes you can make for the better.

 The first thing to acknowledge in the pursuit of getting more done is the mountain of evidence that suggests willpower alone will not be enough to stay productive.

According to research by Janet Polivy, our brain fears big projects and often fails to commit to long-term goals because we’re susceptible to “abandoning ship” at the first sign of distress.

Think of the last time you went on a failed diet.

You stocked your fridge with the healthiest foods and planned to exercise every day… until the first day you slipped up. After that, it was back to your old ways.

To make matters worse, research by Kenneth McGraw was able to show that the biggest “wall” to success was often just getting started. Additional research in this area suggests that we’re prone to procrastinating on large projects because we visualize the worst parts; the perfect way to delay getting started.

According to researcher John Bargh, your brain will attempt to “simulate” real productive work by avoiding big projects and focusing on small, mindless tasks to fill your time.

“Big project due tomorrow? Better reorganize my movie collection!”

Perhaps worst of all, numerous studies on the concept of “ego-depletion” have provided some evidence that suggests our willpower is a limited resource that can be used up in it’s entirety. The more you fight it, the more gas you burn. An empty tank leads to empty motivation.

With all of that stacked against us, what can we possibly do to be more productive?

In order to figure this out, one of our best bets is to observe the habits of consistently productive people.

The habits of productive people

If I were to ask to describe the practice regiments of world-class musicians, you’d probably envision a shut-in artist who plays all day long and then tucks in their instrument at night.

Amazingly though, research by Anders Ericsson that examined the practice sessions of elite violinists clearly showed that the best performers were not spending more time on the violin, but rather were being more productive during their practice sessions.

Better yet, the most elite players were getting more sleep on average than everyone else.

How is that possible?

Subsequent research by Anders reveals the answer: the best players were engaging in more “deliberate practice.” You’ve heard the term, but beyond the hype, what is it all about?

It’s nothing more than spending time on the hardest tasks, and being better at managing your energy levels.

Think of it this way: If you were trying to get better at basketball, you’d be much better off practicing specific drills for two hours rather than “shooting hoops” all day long.

Since deliberate practice requires you to spend more brainpower than busy work, how can you implement it without draining your willpower?

The first answer isn’t very sexy, but it’s necessary: the best way to overcome your fear of spending a lot of energy on a big project is to simply get started.

The Zeigarnik Effect (mentioned above) is a construct that psychologists have observed in numerous studies on “suspense.” One such study gave participants brain-buster puzzles to complete, but not enough time to complete them. The surprising thing was, even when participants were asked to stop, over 90% of them went on to complete the puzzles anyway.

According to the lead researcher:

“It seems to be human nature to finish what we start and, if it is not finished, we experience dissonance.”

It’s the same thing that happens when we become engaged in a story in a book, movie or TV show: we want to see how it ends.

You can use this knowledge to your advantage by just getting started on that next big project; in the most basic sense, don’t focus your motivation on doing Activity X. Instead, focus on making Activity X easier to do.

Start the night before. Is your to-do list already written up? Is your place of work ready for you to get started? Break down barriers of friction before relying on willpower.

On working like an expert

A multitude of research has shown us that discipline is best maintained through habits, not through willpower.

According to Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, most people hold their productivity back by not rigidly scheduling work and rest breaks throughout the day.

Since most of us are worried about willpower, we don’t push ourselves to maximum output: instead of “giving our all” for brief sessions, we distribute our effort throughout the day, leading us back to busywork to fill our time.

What should we do instead?

Schwartz often cites a research study conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration that revealed how short breaks between longer working sessions resulted in a 16% improvement in awareness and focus.

Research from Peretz Lavie on ultradian rhythms matches up with these findings: longer productive sessions (of 90 minutes) followed by short breaks (of no more than 15-20 minutes) sync more closely with our natural energy cycles and allow us to maintain a better focus and higher energy level throughout the day.

ultradian rhythm

Both of these studies on energy management match up with the practice schedules of the violinists: the most common regimen for the cream of the crop players was a 90-minute block of intense practice followed by a 15-minute break.

The moral of the story is that it’s hard to be productive while trying to maintain high energy levels through your entire day.

It’s much easier to work intensely when you know that a break is just around the corner, not at the end of the day. Instead of trying to conserve energy for hours, break big projects down into smaller chunks and plan a recovery period right after.

For projects done on your own time, try scheduling blocks of 90-minute work sessions with a planned cool down time of 15 minutes directly afterwards. When you know a break is on the horizon, you won’t try to “pace yourself” with your work, and will be more inclined to dive into the difficult stuff.

While great for tackling the toughest parts of large projects, this technique doesn’t really address many problems related to discipline, an important part of staying productive for more than just a day or two.

The art of staying disciplined

One segment of the population known for struggling with discipline are those who are addicted to hard drugs.

Given their disposition for being unable to commit to many things, you might be surprised to find that during an experiment testing the ability of drug addicts to write & submit a 5 paragraph essay on time, those who wrote down when and where they would complete the essay were far more likely to turn it in.

These findings have some interesting correlation with those related to discipline in other people: in a study examining the ability of average people to stick with a strict dieting plan, researchers found that those participants who rigorously monitored what they were eating were able to maintain far higher levels of self-control when it came to maintaining their diet.

Last but not least, Dan Ariely and colleagues conducted a study involving college students and found that students who imposed strict deadlines on themselves for assignments performed far better (and more consistently) than those who didn’t.

These findings were especially interesting because Ariely noted that students who gave themselves too generous of a deadline often suffered from the same problems as students who set zero deadlines: when you allot yourself too much time to complete a task, you can end up creating a “mountain out of a molehill.”

Since we now know that tracking our progress is a key component of productivity, how can we implement this practice into our daily routine?

One method is to use an accountability chart to track what work you’ve completed during your 90-minute productive sessions, similar to how the dieters tracked their food consumption.

To easily implement one, simply create two-columns on a piece of paper, Google Docs spreadsheet, or even a whiteboard.

  • Column 1 will list the time-span of one of your productivity sessions.
  • Column 2 will list what tasks you’ve accomplished in that limited time-span.

accountability chart

Don’t include any columns for your 15-minute breaks, as those times are for your own sake and means to replenish your willpower.

This works well for 2 specific reasons:

Dr. Kentaro Fujita argues that tracking your progress in this way is helpful because you’ll be exposed to the work you’ve actually accomplished, and not the (inaccurate) assumption of work you might construe in your head.

Forcing yourself to write down the fact that you spent 2 hours on YouTube isn’t about shaming, it’s about awareness; you’ll be less likely to do it again.

Progress tracking is also a known strategy for stopping yourself from engaging in robotic behavior (also known as busywork), a habit that researcher John Bargh describes as the #1 enemy of goal striving.

Productivity and multitasking

With a work schedule, an energy management strategy, and a task-tracking system in place, the last challenge we have to face is that of multitasking.

According to a 1999 study, we have a tendency to view multitasking as effective, even when it isn’t.

However, researcher Zhen Wang was able to show that on average, multitaskers are actually less likely to be productive, yet they feel more “emotionally satisfied” with their work—creating an illusion of productivity.

Worse yet, Stanford researcher Clifford Nass examined the work patterns of multitaskers and analyzed their ability to:

  1. Filter information
  2. Switch between tasks
  3. Maintain a high working memory

He found that they were terrible at all three.

According to Nass:

“We were absolutely shocked. We all lost our bets. It turns out multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking.”

When working on the computer, the best thing you can do is turn on Airplane Mode; no need for temptation when you can’t even access the web. If you’re unable, help yourself with tools like StayFocusd to block distracting sites.

The next best strategy is to create an evening planning ritual where you select a few priority tasks to accomplish the next day.

The reason this method works far better than planning your daily tasks in the morning? Research from the Kellogg School has shown that we miscalculate the amount of focus we’ll be able to maintain in the future. We strongly believe that we’ll be able to quickly plan our day the next morning, but when tomorrow rolls we stumble off track.

You can create an evening planning ritual with a simple pen & paper or use an online tool like TeuxDeux each night. List only priority tasks (the “big 5”) for the day.

TeuxDeux

Instead of listing “Work on research project” as a daily goal, try something like “Finish introduction” or “Find additional sources” as a task you can actually complete.

The instant replay

Let’s play that all back real quick:

Willpower alone is not enough: Your productivity shouldn’t be reliant on your sheer force of will alone. Mental toughness will go a long way, but in order to stay disciplined you’re better off relying on systems.

Give yourself the ability to go “all-in”: Working harder on the stuff that matters is going to drain you mentally & physically. Don’t be afraid of giving yourself multiple breaks throughout the day. It’s better to “chunk” productivity sessions into 90 minute periods (in order to keep yourself sharp and to alleviate the stress of pacing your energy throughout the entire day.

If it’s not worth measuring, it’s not worth doing: Tracking has been proven to be the best way to stay diligent about your progress. Create an accountability chart to list what productive things you’ve gotten done throughout the day. You’ll see how much you’re really accomplishing.

Multitasking is your enemy: Treat it as such. Block out unwanted distractions and as Ron Swanson would say, “Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.” Plan your day the night before so you won’t get consumed with the wonderful distractions of the internet when you start your day.

Read  from its source @ http://qz.com/315903/how-to-get-more-done-and-in-less-time/

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Stop aid to Tyrants: It is time to a new development model April 14, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Africa Rising, Climate Change, Colonizing Structure, Comparative Advantage, Corruption, Development, Dictatorship, Domestic Workers, Economics, Economics: Development Theory and Policy applications, Environment, Ethnic Cleansing, Facebook and Africa, Finfinnee, Food Production, Free development vs authoritarian model, Human Rights, Human Traffickings, Land Grabs in Africa, Opportunity Cost, Oromia, Oromia Support Group, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Identity, Oromo Nation, Poverty, State of Oromia, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, The Tyranny of Ethiopia, Theory of Development, Tweets and Africa, Tyranny, Youth Unemployment.
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“Compare free development in Botswana with authoritarian development in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia in 2010, Human Rights Watch documented how the autocrat Meles Zenawi selectively withheld aid-financed famine relief from everyone except ruling-party members. Meanwhile democratic Botswana, although drought-prone like Ethiopia, has enjoyed decades of success in preventing famine. Government relief directed by local activists goes wherever drought strikes.”-  http://time.com/23075/william-easterly-stop-sending-aid-to-dictators/

Traditional foreign aid often props up tyrants more than it helps the poor. It’s time for a new model.

Too much of America’s foreign aid funds what I call authoritarian development. That’s when the international community–experts from the U.N. and other bodies–swoop into third-world countries and offer purely technical assistance to dictatorships like Uganda or Ethiopia on how to solve poverty.

Unfortunately, dictators’ sole motivation is to stay in power. So the development experts may get some roads built, but they are not maintained. Experts may sink boreholes for clean water, but the wells break down. Individuals do not have the political rights to protest disastrous public services, so they never improve. Meanwhile, dictators are left with cash and services to prop themselves up–while punishing their enemies.

But there is another model: free development, in which poor individuals, asserting their political and economic rights, motivate government and private actors to solve their problems or to give them the means to solve their own problems.

Compare free development in Botswana with authoritarian development in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia in 2010, Human Rights Watch documented how the autocrat Meles Zenawi selectively withheld aid-financed famine relief from everyone except ruling-party members. Meanwhile democratic Botswana, although drought-prone like Ethiopia, has enjoyed decades of success in preventing famine. Government relief directed by local activists goes wherever drought strikes.
In the postwar period, countries such as Chile, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have successfully followed the path of free development–often in spite of international aid, not because of it. While foreign policy concerns have often led America to prop up dictatorial regimes, we need a new rule: no democracy, no aid. If we truly want to help the poor, we can’t accept the dictators’ false bargain: ignore our rights abuses, and meet the material needs of those we oppress. Instead, we must advocate that the poor have the same rights as the rich everywhere, so they can aid themselves.

Easterly is the co-director of New York University’s Development Research Institute and author of The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor.

Read  further at original source@
http://time.com/23075/william-easterly-stop-sending-aid-to-dictators/

 

As protestors from Kiev to Khartoum to Caracas take to the streets against autocracy, a new book from economist William Easterly reminds us that Western aid is too often on the wrong side of the battle for freedom and democracy.  In The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the PoorEasterly slams thedevelopment community for supporting autocrats, not democrats, in the name of helping the world’s poorest. Ignoring human rights abuses and giving aid to oppressive regimes, he maintains, harms those in need and in many ways “un-develops” countries.

The Tyranny of Experts takes on the notion that autocracies deliver stronger economic growth than freer societies.  Easterly argues that when economic growth occurs under autocratic regimes, it is more often achieved at the local level in spite of the regime’s efforts.  In some instances, growth under autocracies can be attributed to relative increases in freedoms.  He points to China as an example of this, attributing the country’s phenomenal growth to its adoption of greater personal and economic freedoms, especially compared to the crippling Maoist policies of the past.

Easterly also rejects the myth that dictators are dependable and that a certain level of oppression should be overlooked for the sake of economic growth and overall prosperity. Most recently, the violence and chaos following the 2011 Arab uprisings has made some nostalgic for the stable, if undemocratic, governments that kept civil unrest in check, allowing for a measure of economic development to take hold. Easterly stresses that instability and tumult in the wake of ousting a dictator is not the fault of an emerging democracy, but instead an understandable result of years of autocratic rule. The answer is not to continue to support autocrats in the name of stability, but rather to start the inevitably messy process of democratization sooner.

Easterly is of course not the first to call attention to the importance of prioritizing rights and freedoms in the development agenda. Scholars from Amartya Sen to more recently, Thomas Carothers and Diane de Gramont, have also advocated for a rights-based approach to development. In Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons From Democratic Transitions, my coauthors and I similarly found that economic growth and political freedom go hand-in-hand.

Still, the hard questions remain: how to help those without economic and political freedoms?  And when should donors walk away from desperately poor people because their government is undemocratic? Easterly argues that the donor community should draw the line with far more scrutiny than it does today – not just at the obvious cases, such as North Korea, but with other undemocratic countries, such as Ethiopia, where human rights abuses are rampant. He debunks the notion that aid can be “apolitical,” arguing that it is inherently political: giving resources to a government allows it to control and allocate (or withhold) resources as it sees fit. The aid community should focus on ways to help oppressed populations without helping their oppressors. For example, scholarship programs, trade, and other people-to-people exchanges can give opportunities to people in need. At the very least, Easterly argues, development actors should not praise oppressive regimes or congratulate them on economic growth they did not create.

Rather than being seduced by “benevolent dictators,” Easterly urges donors to focus their energy on “freedom loving” governments that need help. The Millennium Challenge Corporation is a step in the right direction but, as Easterly pointed out during the CFR meeting, MCC’s approach is undermined by other U.S. aid agencies, such as USAID, that continue to assist countries even when they don’t meet certain good governance and human rights standards.

Easterly also emphasizes the need for aid organizations to be more transparent about where their money is going. Robert Zoellick made strides in this direction during his tenure as World Bank president. But more recent developments suggest that the Bank still has a way to go in becoming more open and accountable.  (Easterly noted that an initial invitation to speak about The Tyranny of Experts at the World Bank was later rescinded for “scheduling reasons.”) http://blogs.cfr.org/development-channel/2014/03/14/helping-the-oppressed-not-the-oppressors/#cid=soc-facebook-at-blogs-helping_the_oppressed_not_the_-031414

No democracy, no aid

 

 

http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201403190105-0023568

 

 

March 26, 2014 (The Seattle Times) — SOMEHOW — probably my own fault — I have wound up on Bill Gates’ list of the world’s most misguided economists. Gates singled me out by name in his annual 2014 letter to his foundation as an “aid critic” spreading harmful myths about ineffective aid programs.

I actually admire Gates for his generosity and advocacy for the fight againstglobal poverty through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle. We just disagree about how to end poverty throughout the world.

Gates believes poverty will end by identifying technical solutions. My research shows that the first step is not identifying technical solutions, but ensuring poor people’s rights.

Gates concentrates his foundation’s efforts on finding the right fixes to the problems of the world’s poor, such as bed nets to prevent malarial mosquito bites or drought-tolerant varieties of corn to prevent famine. Along with official aid donors, such as USAID and the World Bank, the foundation works together with local, generally autocratic, governments on these technical solutions.

Last year, Gates cited Ethiopia in a Wall Street Journal guest column as an example, a country where he described the donors and government as setting “clear goals, choosing an approach, measuring results, and then using those measurements to continually refine our approach.”

This approach, Gates said, “helps us to deliver tools and services to everybody who will benefit.” Gates then gives credit for progress to the rulers. When the tragically high death rates of Ethiopian children fell from 2005 to 2010, Gates said this was “in large part thanks to” such a measurement-driven program by Ethiopia’s autocrat Meles Zenawi, who had ruled since 1991. Gates later said Meles’ death in August 2012 was “a great loss for Ethiopia.”

Do autocratic rulers like Meles really deserve the credit?

Gates’ technocratic approach to poverty, combining expert advice and cooperative local rulers, is a view that has appealed for decades to foundations and aid agencies. But if technical solutions to poverty are so straightforward, why had these rulers not already used them?

The technical solutions have been missing for so long in Ethiopia and other poor countries because autocrats are more motivated to stay in power than to fix the problems of poverty. Autocracy itself perpetuates poverty.

Meles violently suppressed demonstrations after rigged elections in 2005. He even manipulated donor-financed famine relief in 2010 to go only to his own ruling party’s supporters. The donors failed to investigate this abuse after its exposure by Human Rights Watch, continuing a long technocratic tradition of silence on poor people’s rights.

Rulers only reliably become benevolent when citizens can force them to be so — when citizens exert their democratic rights.

Our own history in the U.S. shows how we can protest bad government actions and reward good actions with our rights to protest and to vote. We won’t even let New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie get away with a traffic jam on a bridge.

Such democratic rights make technical fixes happen, and produce a far better long-run record onreducing poverty, disease and hunger than autocracies. We saw this first in the now-rich countries, which are often unfairly excluded from the evidence base.

Some developing countries such as Botswana had high economic growth through big increases in democratic rights after independence. Botswana’s democrats prevented famines during droughts, unlike the regular famines during droughts under Ethiopia’s autocrats.

Worldwide, the impressive number of developing countries that have shifted to democracy includes successes such as Brazil, Chile, Ghana, South Korea and Taiwan, as well as former Soviet Bloc countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia.

If the democratic view of development is correct, the lessons for Gates are clear: Don’t give undeserved credit and praise to autocrats. Don’t campaign for more official aid to autocrats. Redirect aid to democrats. If the democratic view is wrong, I do deserve to be on Gates’ list of the world’s most misguided economists.

http://ayyaantuu.com/africa/guest-the-flaw-in-bill-gates-approach-to-ending-global-poverty/

Related findings:

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/04/09/357842/britain-funds-criminals-in-ethiopia/?fb_action_ids=621424617949652&fb_action_types=og.likes

 

The UK government is providing financial aid to human rights abusers in Ethiopia through funding training paramilitaries, who perpetrate summary killings, rape and torture in the impoverished African country, local media reported.

Through its foreign aid budget, the UK government provides financial support to an Ethiopian government security force known as the “special police” as part of its “peace and development programme”, which would cost up to £15 million in five years, The Guardian reported. 

The Department for International Development warned in a leaked document of the “reputational risks” of working with organizations that are “frequently cited in human rights violationallegations”, according to the report. 

The Ethiopian government’s counter-insurgency campaign in Ogaden, a troubled region largely populated by ethnic Somalis is being enforced by the 14,000-strong special police. 

This is while police forces are repeatedly accused by Human Rights Watch of serious human rights abuses. 

Claire Beston, the Amnesty International’s Ethiopia researcher, said it was highly concerning that Britain was planning to work with the paramilitary force.

 

Africa’s youth and the self-seeking repressive elites March 15, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Africa Rising, African Beat, African Poor, Agriculture, Aid to Africa, Ancient African Direct Democracy, Colonizing Structure, Comparative Advantage, Corruption, Development, Dictatorship, Economics: Development Theory and Policy applications, Environment, Ethnic Cleansing, Facebook and Africa, Finfinnee, Food Production, Human Rights, International Economics, International Trade, Janjaweed Style Liyu Police of Ethiopia, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Nubia, Ogaden, OMN, Omo, Omo Valley, Opportunity Cost, Oromia, Oromia Support Group, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Culture, Oromo Identity, Oromo Media Network, Oromo Nation, Oromo Social System, Oromummaa, Poverty, Saudi Arabia, Self determination, Slavery, South Sudan, Specialization, State of Oromia, The Tyranny of Ethiopia, Tweets and Africa, Tyranny, Uncategorized, Youth Unemployment.
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Africa’s youth will protest to remove self-seeking and repressive elites

 

“Some examples: authoritarian regimes, as in Ethiopia and Rwanda, are consolidating their positions. In Zambia, Angola and Mozambique, the press, civil society organisations and the opposition are under threat for demanding that the proceeds from raw material exports and billion dollar multinational corporate investments should benefit everyone. ….Short-term greed is, once again, depriving the African populations of the right to share in the continent’s immense riches. No-one can predict the future, but what can be said with certainty is that the possibility of a sustainable long-term and fair development that is currently at hand in Africa is being put at risk. The frustration that is fuelled among populations that are hungry and feel ignored by their rulers will bring about increasingly strident and potentially violent protest. In the near future, this will change the political climate, not least in urban areas. Utilising the internet and their mobile phones, Africa’s youth and forgotten people will mobilise and act together to remove self-seeking and repressive elites. But the situation is not hopeless, on the contrary. Civil society is growing stronger in many places in Africa. The internet makes it possible for people to access and disseminate information in an unprecedented way. However, I get really disappointed when I hear all the ingenuous talk about the possibilities to invest and make quick profits in the ‘New Africa’. What is in reality new in the ‘New Africa’? Today, a worker in a Chinese-owned factory in Ethiopia earns one-tenth of the wage of an employee in China. Unless African governments and investors act more responsibly and ensure long-term sustainable construction for people and the environment ‒ which is currently not the case ‒ we must all ask ourselves if we should not use the consumer power we all possess to exert pressure. There are no excuses for letting African populations and their environment once again pay for the global demand for its raw materials and cheap consumer goods.”  – Marika Griehsel, journalist, film-maker and lecturer

“Thousands of people are demonstrating on the streets to protest against low salaries, the highcost of living and an insufficient state safety net. A reaction to austerity measures in Greece? Or a follow-up to the Arab Spring? No, these are protests for greater equality in Sub-Saharan Africa, most recently in Burkina Faso. The widening gap between rich and poor is as troubling in Africa as in the rest of the world. In fact, many Africans believe that inequalities are becoming more marked: A tiny minority is getting richer while the lines of poor people grow out the door. The contrast is all the more striking in Africa since the poverty level has been at a consistently high level for decades, despite the continent’s significant average GDP growth. Some take a plane to get treated for hay fever, while others are pushing up daisies because they can’t afford basic malaria treatment.”

– Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/03/11/reducing-the-gap-between-africas-rich-and-poor/

 

 

It is now evident that the African ‘lion economies’ have hardly even begun the economic and democratic transformation that is absolutely necessary for the future of the continent.

The largest movement ever in Africa of people from rural to urban areas is now taking place. Lagos, Nigeria, and Nairobi, Kenya, are among the world’s fastest growing cities.

The frustration that is fuelled among populations that are hungry and feel ignored by their rulers will bring about increasingly strident and potentially violent protest.

Soon, this will change the political climate, not least in urban areas. Utilising the internet and their phones, Africa’s youth and forgotten people will mobilise to remove self-seeking and repressive elites.

This piece was written in Namibia, where I was leading a tour around one of Africa’s more stable nations. There are several signs confirming the World Bank’s reclassification of Namibia as a middle-income country, which in turn means that many aid donors, including Sweden, have ended their bilateral cooperation.

I see newly constructed, subsidised single-family homes accessible for low-income families. I drive on good roads and meet many tourists, although this is off-season. I hear about a growing mining sector, new discoveries of natural gas and oil deposits. I read about irregularities committed by people in power, in a reasonably free press whose editors are not thrown into jail. There is free primary level schooling and almost free health care.

Most people I talk to are optimistic. A better future for a majority of Namibians is being envisaged. This is in all probability the result of the country having a small population ‒ just above 2 million ‒ and a functioning infrastructure despite its large area.

In Namibia, economic growth can hopefully be matched by implementing policies for long-term, sustainable social and economic development that will benefit more than the élite.

But Namibia is an exception. Because it is now evident that the African ‘lion economies’ have hardly even begun the economic and democratic transformation that is absolutely necessary for the future of the continent.

Some examples: authoritarian regimes, as in Ethiopia and Rwanda, are consolidating their positions. In Zambia, Angola and Mozambique, the press, civil society organisations and the opposition are under threat for demanding that the proceeds from raw material exports and billion dollar multinational corporate investments should benefit everyone.

The International Monetary Fund, IMF, predicts continued high growth rates across Africa with an average of over 6 per cent in 2014. That is of course good news for the continent. Perhaps the best, from a macroeconomic viewpoint, since the 1960s, when many of the former colonies became independent. This growth is mainly driven by the raw material needs of China, India and Brazil.

Meanwhile, the largest movement ever in Africa of people from rural to urban areas is now taking place. Lagos, Nigeria, and Nairobi, Kenya, are among the world’s fastest growing cities. But, in contrast with China, where the migrants from the rural areas get employment in the manufacturing industry, the urban migrants in Africa end up in the growing slums of the big cities.

In a few places, notably in Ethiopia, manufacturing is beginning to take off. But the wages in the Chinese-owned factories are even lower than in China, while the corporations pay minimal taxes to the Ethiopian state.

Short-term greed is, once again, depriving the African populations of the right to share in the continent’s immense riches. No-one can predict the future, but what can be said with certainty is that the possibility of a sustainable long-term and fair development that is currently at hand in Africa is being put at risk.

The frustration that is fuelled among populations that are hungry and feel ignored by their rulers will bring about increasingly strident and potentially violent protest. In the near future, this will change the political climate, not least in urban areas. Utilising the internet and their mobile phones, Africa’s youth and forgotten people will mobilise and act together to remove self-seeking and repressive elites.

But the situation is not hopeless, on the contrary. Civil society is growing stronger in many places in Africa. The internet makes it possible for people to access and disseminate information in an unprecedented way. However, I get really disappointed when I hear all the ingenuous talk about the possibilities to invest and make quick profits in the ‘New Africa’.

What is in reality new in the ‘New Africa’?

Today, a worker in a Chinese-owned factory in Ethiopia earns one-tenth of the wage of an employee in China. Unless African governments and investors act more responsibly and ensure long-term sustainable construction for people and the environment ‒ which is currently not the case ‒ we must all ask ourselves if we should not use the consumer power we all possess to exert pressure.

There are no excuses for letting African populations and their environment once again pay for the global demand for its raw materials and cheap consumer goods.
Some examples: authoritarian regimes, as in Ethiopia and Rwanda, are consolidating their positions. In Zambia, Angola and Mozambique, the press, civil society organisations and the opposition are under threat for demanding that the proceeds from raw material exports and billion dollar multinational corporate investments should benefit everyone.

http://naiforum.org/2014/03/africas-youth-will-protest/

The World Bank paints an optimistic picture of African potential, but warns against persistently high inequalities:

Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) remains strong with growth forecasted to be 4.9% in 2013. Almost a third of countries in the region are growing at 6% and more, and African countries are now routinely among the fastest-growing countries in the world […] [however the report] notes that poverty and inequality remain “unacceptably high and the pace of reduction unacceptably slow.” Almost one out of every two Africans lives in extreme poverty today.

Revenue inequality in African towns via French documentation - Public domainhttp://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/03/11/reducing-the-gap-between-africas-rich-and-poor/

Economics: The Comparative Advantage & Opportunity Cost February 22, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Comparative Advantage, David Ricardo, Economics, Economics: Development Theory and Policy applications, Food Production, International Economics, International Trade, Opportunity Cost, Oromia, Specialization, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, Uncategorized.
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