Free the data; the purpose of aid; a geopolitical beauty contest; China in Africa; the Backward Classes Bureau; Colonialists through African Eyes and the ultimate metaphor: links I liked

World Bank’s decision to set its data free (including World Development Indicators – formerly charged for) as part of the International Aid Transparency Initiative. More detail on Aid Watch. Owen also ponders the evidence for, and links between, the two big ubernarratives for aid and development: aid helps transform the institutions and structures of poor countries v aid as a form of solidarity that provides immediate benefits (health, education etc) to people in need. ‘What determines success in industrial policy is not the ability to pick winners, but the capacity to let the losers go’. Dani Rodrik argues that Industrial Policy is not only back, but never went away, and sets out his thinking on what differentiates good policy from bad.public opinion Since 2005, the BBC World Service has commissioned an annual global poll on how 15 key countries are viewed around the world.  Here’s the latest survey.  ‘They rarely “poach” skilled staff from African ministries to work in their own offices. The focus on turnkey infrastructure projects is far simpler and doesn’t overstretch the weak capacity of many African governments faced with multiple meetings, quarterly reports, workshops, and so on. Their experts don’t cost much.’ Deborah Brautigam discusses her new book on China in Africa  with Laura Freschi. On the other hand, ‘The Chinese avoid local embezzlement and corruption by very rarely transferring any cash to African governments. There is almost no budget support, no adjustment or policy loans. Aid is disbursed directly to Chinese companies who do the projects.’ Errrm, isn’t that the tied aid we’ve been criticizing all these years? Foreign Policy magazine picks five government agencies in need of a serious rebrand. My favourite is Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, although India’s Backward Classes Bureau runs it close. When I was at DFID a few years back, no-one could work out why the ‘Poor Performers Team’ was having trouble recruiting…… Colonialists through African eyes, the exhibition [h/t Chris Blattman]   colonialists in Africa   and finally, the ultimate metaphor for everything – Brickies [h/t Richard Cunliffe] ]]>

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