Monday, August 06, 2007

African Economics 101: George Ayittey and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala address the freshman class of 2007

Some of you may remember the excitement expressed by many of Africa’s bloggers and friends over the TED Global conference held at Arusha, Tanzania in June 2007. I included several references to some great blog posts and other online resources about this conference Africa: The Next Chapter here at Jewels. Well the TED Talks video crew has completed the post-production work for the presentations delivered by some of Africa’s and the world’s leading thinkers and videos are now available at the TED Talks website for everyone to enjoy. TED has provided file types for viewing the videos online and offline including high resolution downloads for people with high bandwidth Internet connections (Note: the high-resolution MP4 files > 200MB).

I highly recommend that you have a look at Dr. George Ayittey’s talk titled “
Cheetahs vs. Hippos for Africa’s future” and Euvin Naidoo’s opening address “Africa as an investment”. If you haven’t already done so please view Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s March 2007 talk in Monterey, California “How to help Africa? Do business there” and her June speech at the Arusha, Tanzania conference titled “Let’s have a deeper discussion on aid”. As a matter of fact have a look at all of the TED Talks featured on the Africa: The Next Chapter site. This is African Economics explained like you’ve never heard it done before, with passion and frankness and no holds barred, in a way that (almost) everyone can understand___ unless you are a Hippo and don’t want to know. This is Economics in Africa 101!

In case you are not aware of exactly who these people are I have provided brief bios below along with additional online resources about the speakers and the TED Global conference in Arusha. I don’t know about you, but as I work hard to learn more about economic challenges for African countries and examine the many investment and business opportunities that exist in Africa, I find myself wishing that I had paid much more attention in my Economics 101 classes back at university. A good basic education in economic theory and practices has become a must for business and political leaders in the 21st Century, and some outspoken economists have become the equivalent of media stars on the Net and in the blogosphere. Economics today has become downright sexy.

Euvin Naidoo: Africa as an investment (TEDTalks)
BIO for Euvin Naidoo

Euvin Naidoo is a VP of South Africa's Standard Bank. He's also president of the South African Chamber of Commerce America; in this capacity, he works with leading corporations and governments to strengthen trans-Atlantic economic ties.Euvin Naidoo wants to change your mind about Africa. Much of the investment banker's work centers around reversing false or misleading impressions of the continent, which are widespread through the western world. Armed with facts, figures and a philosophical outlook, Naidoo helps his clients -- and the wider public -- see a more nuanced picture of the Africa he knows: one that's large, diverse and full of potential. He offers persuasive reasons why the continent's challenges should be reframed as opportunities, and why investing in Africa can make great business sense.Based in Manhattan, Naidoo focuses on acquisition finance and private-equity transactions for emerging markets in Latin America and Africa. A third-generation South African, he spent four years as a consultant with McKinsey & Co., and holds an MBA from Harvard.

George Ayittey: Cheetahs vs. Hippos for Africa's future (TEDTalks)
BIO for Dr. George Ayittey

Ghanaian economist George Ayittey was a voice in the wilderness for many years, crying out against the corruption and complacency that -- more than any other factor, he believes -- are the bedrock problems of many troubled Africa states. "We call our governments vampire states, which suck the economic vitality out of the people," he says.

His influential book Africa Unchained has helped unleash a new wave of activism and optimism -- especially in the African blogosphere, where his notion of cheetahs-versus-hippos has become a standard shorthand. The "Cheetah Generation," he says, is a "new breed of Africans," taking their futures into their own hands, instead of waiting for politicians to empower them. (He compares them to the previous "Hippo Generation," who are lazily stuck complaining about colonialism, yet doing nothing to change the status quo.)

Ayittey is a Distinguished Economist in Residence at American University in Washington, DC.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Let's have a deeper discussion on trade (TEDTalks)
BIO for Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Brookings Institution press release)

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, was Nigeria's Finance Minister and then briefly Foreign Affairs Minister from 2003 to 2006, the first woman to hold either position.

During her tenure, she worked to combat corruption, make Nigeria's finances more transparent, and institute reforms to make the nation's economy more hospitable to foreign investment. The government unlinked its budget from the price of oil, its main export, to lessen perennial cashflow crises, and got oil companies to publish how much they pay the government. Since 2003 -- when watchdog group Transparency International rated Nigeria "the most corrupt place on Earth" -- the nation has made headway recovering stolen assets and jailing hundreds of people engaged in international Internet 419 scams. Okonjo-Iweala is a former World Bank vice president who graduated from Harvard and earned a Ph.D. in regional economics and development at MIT. Her son Uzodinma Iweala is the celebrated young author of Beasts of No Nation.

"Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a heroine not just of Nigeria, but of the entire continent. Her crusade against corruption has put her life at risk."
The Independent (UK)

Related blog posts, articles, and online resources

TED Global 2007 Conference in Arusha, Tanzania – TED Blog
TED Global bloggers look back at worldchanging days, 06/07/07
TED Global in Africa: Day 4, reports from the bloggers, 06/07/07
TED Global 2007 aggreagated articles from bloggers-in-residence
George Ayittey’s critique of Coconut Republics vs. Banana Republics, 06/04/07

Ethan Zuckerman (co-founder Global Voices Online)
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala with the last word on aid, 06/07/07
Bono vs. Mwenda, 06/04/07
Getting Rowdy with Andrew Mweda, 06/04/07

White African
Dropping the Bombshell on Aid Development in Africa, 06/04/07
We can take Africa back one village at a time, 06/05/07
Bono and George Ayittey at TED Global, 06/05/07
Meeting the Inventors, 06/06/07

The Center for Global Development
2nd Annual Richard H. Sabot Memorial Lecture (June 2007)
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's keynote lecture "Corruption: Myths and Realities in a Developing Country Context"

Foreign Policy Passport blog
An astonishing fact about Africa, 08/01/07

iPenso by Pablo Halkyard (New York University)
China could buy every public traded firm in Africa, 07/29/07

The Economist
Into Africa: investors eye globalisation’s final frontier, 07/29/07
The aid evasion: raising the ‘bottom billion’ by Professor Paul Collier

Paul Collier, Professor of Economics, Oxford University Dept. of Economics

Director of the Center for the Study of African Economies

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