The Carnival of African Entrepreneuring

There seems to be four broad schools of African economic development theory. The first, and rather antiquated theory, revolves around infrastructure. This was the basis of the World Bank's theory for much of its existence and resulted in such unsuccessful ventures as major dam and power plants. The second theory is based on corruption, shared by a broad group from Paul Wolfowitz to George Ayittey, which claims that 'Africa's begging bowl is leaky', therefore there is no reason to give more until the holes are patched.

Third, and most fashionable, a la Bono and Millenium Development Goals (MDG's) is that Africa simply needs more aid. Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, is the theory hosted by the African digerati, the organizers of the TED Global conference, and most of the blogosphere that I am a part of, that Africa is in need of creative entrepreneurs to help make their communities wealthy.

Though any approach to development clearly needs elements of all of the above tactics, it seems to me that the final approach is the position in most need of strengthening. As a contribution to this camp, I I wrote a short piece on the Emerging Cameroonian Film Industry, which made it onto the Carnival of African Enterprising (3rd Edition) hosted by White African. The Carnival is a wonderful initiative to summons the power of bloggers to find fascinating entrepreneurs and untapped ideas for making Africa a better place. Taking an entrepreneurial focus to development is also the most creative and interesting of the development theory strains. In what other discourse do you find a contributor like Tunde Noibi, founder of Afrokicks, a company that makes African-flag themed shoes! I always loved the Cameroonian flag, so I'm waiting to see on a pair of kicks I can wear around.


08.06.07 Wednesday Links

Fascinating ideas that all deserve elaborate posts of their own. But this week I'm hauling to the finish line on my summer research paper for Berkman.

In Cambridge, Ethan Zuckerman goes mainstream media with his 'incrementalism' idea for economic development, presented in yesterday's Boston Globe. EZ presented this idea at Berkman's Summer Doctoral Program a few weeks ago and got great push back from Mike Best on questions of scale. EZ discusses the session here.

In Copenhagen, The Economist covers the Homeless World Cup (HWC). This is great coverage for the annual soccer tournament that brings together kids who have lived tough lives from all over the world. Global Youth Partnership for Africa (GYPA) has been the managing organization for HWC's Uganda Team, comprised of youth displaced from the northern Uganda conflict, for the last two years. You should check out the game-by-game coverage of the Uganda team available on the GYPA blog.

In Kampala, Comrade comes through with an absolutely harrowing post about the things you see when you are stuck in traffic in a Kampala rainstorm. Gave me the shivers.

In Kampala, Global Voices covers the robust discussion around last weeks Iweala article.

In Baltimore: Is Salim the new Talib? Great hip hop.


World Travelers for Obama

I've never actively taken part in a national political campaign before. However, its obvious at this point how important the presidential election is. My first contribution is a bit of writing and the creation of a group called 'World Travelers for Obama', available on Facebook and Here is the group description:


For those who recognize that we need a President who is informed by a "lifetime of living overseas, having family overseas, being able to see the world through the eyes of people outside our borders."

If you know that an international perspective is crucial to solving the complex problems we face in the world, please join us.


Here is the article I wrote as a first blog post on, available here.


A few days ago, the Obama campaign released a small news item from that few other mainstream or online journalists picked up. The overt message was not surprising or particularly interesting. Obama had claimed, in front of a closed door, off the record gathering of media elite at the Time Warner Building in Manhattan, that he had better foreign policy judgment than any other candidate.

However, the way he justified this statement, in a presidential race that featured a First Lady, a Vietnam Prisoner of War and a Senate Foreign Relations Chairman, was fascinating. Obama claimed he had the best foreign policy judgment because of a “lifetime of living overseas, having family overseas, being able to see the world through the eyes of people outside our borders.”

No presidential candidate in history has every taken the ‘I’m just a regular guy’ approach to foreign policy. As someone who is about to start a Master’s degree at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, an institution that trains professional diplomats, I should be skeptical of this kind of statement. But I’m not. It’s apparent to everyone at this point that the disastrous momentum caused by our current administration’s misadventures will take leadership, courage and creativity to turn around. What follows from this thinking is that we need a president who truly understands that culture and history are powerful forces that should not be an afterthought in foreign policy decisions, but primary considerations for the effectiveness of our policies, our own security, and the security of the nations we are acting with or upon.

Traveling, and more specifically, having personal relationships and friendships with people overseas, is crucial to understanding this fact. I became a student of international affairs after I had become a student of travel, learning most prominently from five trips to Africa, where I came to recognize that my friends were part of larger, richer cultures and traditions that were important to understand before we could even begin to discuss America’s role in their nation. Now, as a student of how and why nations wield power in an international setting, I keep in mind what I learned from my friends in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Cameroon and elsewhere.

In this sense, what Obama said to this closed-door gathering was remarkable. He recognized that intimate knowledge of a place and its people is the stepping-stone for decisions about our role in the world.