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Africa Progress Report 2013 – Equity in Extractives: Stewarding Africa’s natural resources for all

 “Africa loses twice as much in illicit financial outflows as it receives in international aid. It is unconscionable that some companies, often supported by dishonest officials, are using unethical tax avoidance, transfer pricing and anonymous company ownership to maximize their profits, while millions of Africans go without adequate nutrition, health and education.”                                                                                                                                                                           Kofi A. Annan, Chair of the Africa Progress Panel.

For much of the region’s history, Africa’s resource wealth has been plundered and squandered. It has served the interests of the few, not the many. Revenues that could have been used to improve lives have instead been used to build personal fortunes, finance civil wars, and support corrupt and unaccountable political elites. This report has a simple message: history does not have to repeat itself. Today, Africa’s governments have a unique window of opportunity to convert natural resource wealth into a catalyst for poverty reduction, shared prosperity and accelerated human development.

This year’s Africa Progress Report rejects the view that Africa is blighted by a “resource curse” – an affliction that automatically consigns the citizens of resource-rich nations to a future of economic stagnation, poverty and poor governance. There is no curse. The malaise that has afflicted natural resource management in Africa is caused by the wrong domestic policies, weak investment partnerships and failures in international cooperation. Lifting that affliction will require decisive leadership by African governments, backed by multilateral action and a commitment by foreign investors to adopt best international practices.

Mapping Africa's Natural Resource Wealth: Selected Countries and Commodities

Mapping Africa’s Natural Resource Wealth: Selected Countries and Commodities

There is cause for optimism. Global market conditions point to another decade of high prices for natural resources, creating an environment conducive to economic growth. The policy environment has also improved. Strengthened public finance management has enabled Africa to escape the boom-bust cycle associated with past upswings in commodity markets. There have been moves towards greater transparency and accountability – the twin pillars of good governance in natural resources. New legislation in the United States and the European Union will add further impetus to these moves. Many companies are now looking beyond short-term profits and towards long-term investment partnerships. These companies recognize the economic, as well as the ethical, case for strengthening linkages to local firms, for social and environmental impact assessments, and for engagement with local communities.

None of this is to understate the risks and challenges that come with Africa’s ongoing resource boom. Surges in revenue have to potential to destabilize budget planning. Governments must make tough choices over how much to spend today and what to save for the future. There are risks that the fragile and, in some countries, still limited moves towards more open budget systems and enhanced disclosure in state extractive companies will be reversed. The Africa Progress Panel is concerned at foreign investors extensive use of offshore companies, shell companies and offshore jurisdictions. And much of Africa remains trapped in a pattern of exporting raw materials, with few countries successfully breaking into manufacturing and processing. None of this is inevitable – and our report demonstrates that the alternatives are practical, achievable and affordable.

Published every year, the Africa Progress Report is the Africa Progress Panel’s flagship publication. The report draws on the best research and analysis available on Africa and compiles it in a refreshing and provocative manner. Through the report, the Panel recommends a series of policy choices and actions for African policy makers who have primary responsibility for Africa’s progress, as well as international partners and civil society organizations.

You can download the full report here [120 pages, 4.5MB]

You can also download a summary of the report here [24 pages, 1.4MB]

For more details about the report and the panel visit the official African Progress Panel Website  here

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Africa, Economy, Leadership, Politics

 

College for all

Open online courses are changing higher education. Traditional colleges face dangers—and opportunities.

By André Dua, Director McKinsey&Company, New York

Something big is up in higher education thanks to the advent of “massive open online courses” (MOOCs), which can reach millions around the world. What most people—including university leaders—don’t yet realize is that this new way of teaching and learning, together with employers’ growing frustration with the skills of graduates, is poised to usher in a new credentialing system that may compete with college degrees within a decade. This emerging delivery regime is more than just a distribution mechanism; done right, it promises students faster, more consistent engagement with high-quality content, as well as measurable results. This innovation therefore has the potential to create enormous opportunities for students, employers, and star teachers even as it upends the cost structure and practices of traditional campuses. Capturing the promise of this new world without losing the best of the old will require fresh ways to square radically expanded access to world-class instruction with incentives to create intellectual property and scholarly communities, plus university leaders savvy enough to shape these evolving business models while they still can.

Consider the first of the two converging trends. As is well known, frustration with the performance of traditional institutions is mounting. Only six in ten students at four-year institutions are graduating within six years today. Most employers say graduates lack the skills they need. Tuition has risen far faster than inflation or household earnings for two decades. Continue reading…

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Education, Learning, Technology

 

The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

By Greg McKeown

Why don’t successful people and organizations automatically become very successful? One important explanation is due to what I call “the clarity paradox,” which can be summed up in four predictable phases:

Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success.
Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and opportunities.
Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts.
Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.

Curiously, and overstating the point in order to make it, success is a catalyst for failure.

We can see this in companies that were once darlings of Wall Street, but later collapsed. In his book How the Mighty Fall, Jim Collins explored this phenomenon and found that one of the key reasons for these failures was that companies fell into “the undisciplined pursuit of more.” It is true for companies and it is true for careers.

Here’s a more personal example: For years, Enric Sala was a professor at the prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. But he couldn’t kick the feeling that the career path he was on was just a close counterfeit for the path he should really be on. So, he left academia and went to work for National Geographic. With that success came new and intriguing opportunities in Washington D.C. that again left him feeling he was close to the right career path, but not quite there yet. His success had distracted him. After a couple of years, he changed gears again in order to be what he really wanted: an explorer-in-residence with National Geographic, spending a significant portion of his time diving in the most remote locations, using his strengths in science and communications to influence policy on a global scale. (Watch Enric Sala speak about his important work at TED). The price of his dream job was saying no to the many good, parallel paths he encountered.

What can we do to avoid the clarity paradox and continue our upward momentum? Here are three suggestions: Continue reading…

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Personal Growth

 
Quote

“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is – everything around you that you call life, was made up by people……AND YOU CAN CHANGE IT.”

Bill Gates.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2013 in Quote

 

Eight Brilliant Minds on the Future of Online Education

By Eric Hellweg 

The advent of massively open online classes (MOOCs) is the single most important technological development of the millennium so far. I say this for two main reasons. First, for the enormously transformative impact MOOCs can have on literally billions of people in the world. Second, for the equally disruptive effect MOOCs will inevitably have on the global education industry.

While at Davos, I was fortunate to attend an amazing panel — my favorite of the conference — with a murderer’s row of speakers. Moderated by Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, the list of speakers: Larry Summers, former president of Harvard; Bill Gates; Peter Theil, a partner at Founder’s Fund; Rafael Reif, president of MIT; Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity; Daphne Koller, CEO of Coursera, and a 12-year-old Pakistani girl who has taken a number of Stanford physics classes through Udacity. Below is a collection of some of the highlighted comments from this remarkable panel as well as a couple from audience members who were given an opportunity to comment.

Why this disruption is happening:

Peter Thiel, partner, Founders Fund
“In the United States, students don’t get their money’s worth. There’s a bubble in education as out of control as the housing bubble and the tech bubble in the 1990s. Education costs have gone up 400% since 1980. That’s the highest escalation of costs–higher than health care. There’s now a trillion dollars in student debt. And thanks to the way bankruptcy laws were restructured under George W Bush, you can’t get out of the college loan even if you become bankrupt. This is deeply broken.

“You have to ask yourself, ‘What is the nature of education as a good?’ Ideally you want it to be learning. But it also functions as insurance. Parents will pay a lot of money for insurance against cracks in our society. Education as insurance has something to be said because it connects to the economy. You know computer science, you can get a job. But education also functions as a tournament. You do well if you go to a top school but for everyone else the diploma is a dunce hat in disguise. People need to understand what they’re trying to do? Is it insurance? A tournament? Learning?”

Where we are in the evolution of this change:

Larry Summers, former President of Harvard
“It’s important to remember this really wise quote when thinking about the transition to online education: Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Education, Learning, Teaching, Technology

 

Does South Africa Really Understand Africa?

If South Africa is nothing like the rest of Africa, what claim does it have to be its gateway, let alone its leader? Does South Africa even understand Africa?

By Eliot Pence

South Africa has spent over a decade defining itself as different from the rest of Africa. Now, as its foreign policy pivots back to Africa and seeks to cash in on the continent’s growth, the country has sought to define itself as the leader of, and commercial gateway to, the continent. But the differences between South Africa and the rest of Africa are stark. If South Africa is nothing like the rest of Africa, what claim does it have to be its gateway, let alone its leader? Does South Africa even understand Africa?

There are a number of reasons why South Africa should be a leader in Africa. It’s the continent’s largest economy and home to its most sophisticated financial system. It has a constitution that is inclusive and progressive. But increasingly South Africa is misunderstanding the opportunities and challenges of the continent, even as it professes an interest in them.

As inbound investors steer away from Johannesburg, and the rest of the continent focuses its attention on capturing growth opportunities, South Africa’s lawmakers concentrate more and more on fundamentally different concerns: resuscitating anaemic growth, unlocking paralyzed labour markets, and balancing its obligations to country-club affiliations like BRICS and IBSA.

South Africa’s central claim as a ‘gateway’ to Africa rests on the assumption that it offers investors a secure and sophisticated landing pad filled with local partners able to take foreign investors into a rapidly expanding continental market …continue reading

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Africa, Economy, South Africa

 

One Man, One Computer, 10 Million Students: How Khan Academy is Reinventing Education

Salman Khan the founder of Khan Academy as seen on the cover of Forbes Magazine

By  Michael Noer of Forbes

The headquarters of what has rapidly become the largest school in the world, at 10 million students strong, is stuffed into a few large communal rooms in a decaying 1960s office building hard by the commuter rail tracks in Mountain View, Calif. Despite the cramped, dowdy circumstances, youthful optimism at the Khan Academy abounds. At the weekly organization-wide meeting, discussion about translating their offerings into dozens of languages is sandwiched between a video of staffers doing weird dances with their hands and plans for upcoming camping and ski trips.

Pivoting, Salman Khan, the 36-year-old founder, cracks a sports joke appropriate for someone who holds multiple degrees from MIT and Harvard.

It involves LeBron James (a Khan Academy fan), three-point shots and sophisticated algorithms called Monte Carlo simulations. The company’s 37 employees, mostly software developers with stints at places like Google and Facebook, are the types who know when to laugh. And they do.

It’s a prototypical Silicon Valley ethos, with one exception: The Khan Academy, which features 3,400 short instructional videos along with interactive quizzes and tools for teachers to chart student progress, is a nonprofit, boasting a mission of “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.” There is no employee equity; there will be no IPO; funding comes from philanthropists, not venture capitalists.

“I could have started a for-profit, venture-backed business that has a good spirit, and I think there are many of them–Google for instance,” says Khan, his eyes dancing below his self-described unibrow. “Maybe I could reach a billion people. That is high impact, but what happens in 50 years?”.

It’s a fair question, with an increasingly sure answer: The next half-century of education innovation is being shaped right now. After decades of yammering about “reform,” with more and more money spent on declining results, technology is finally poised to disrupt how people learn. And that creates immense opportunities for both for-profit entrepreneurs and nonprofit agitators like Khan.

How immense? According to a report from the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, global spending on education is $3.9 trillion, or 5.6% of planetary GDP. America spends the most–about $1.3 trillion a year–yet the U.S. ranks 25th out of the 34 OECD countries in mathematics, 17th in science and 14th in reading. And, as in so many other areas of American life, those averages obscure a deeper divide: The U.S. is the only developed country to have high proportions of both top and bottom performers. About a fifth of American 15-year-olds do not have basic competence in science; 23% can’t use math in daily life.

It’s those latter statistics that motivate Khan. The site covers a staggering array of topics–from basic arithmetic and algebra to the electoral college and the French Revolution. The videos are quirky affairs where you never see the instructor (usually SalmanKhan himself, who personally has created nearly 3,000 of them). Instead, students are confronted with a blank digital blackboard, which, over the course of a ten-minute lesson narrated in Khan’s soothing baritone, is gradually filled up with neon-colored scrawls illustrating key concepts. The intended effect is working through homework at the kitchen table with your favorite uncle looking over your shoulder.

Or make that the planet’s favorite uncle. Over the past two years Khan Academy videos have been viewed more than 200 million times. The site is used by 6 million unique students each month (about 45 million total over the last 12 months), who have collectively solved more than 750 million problems (about 2 million a day), and the material, which is provided at no cost, is (formally or informally) part of the curriculum in 20,000 classrooms around the world. Volunteers have translated Khan’s videos into 24 different languages, including Urdu, Swahili and Chinese.

“Sal is the world’s first superstar teacher,” says Yuri Milner, the Russian physicist turned venture capitalist who was an early investor in Facebook, Twitter and Groupon.

Beyond admirers like Milner, Khan’s meteoric success has attracted the financial support of a bevy of high-profile, socially minded backers, including Ann Doerr, the wife of billionaire venture capitalist John Doerr; Bill Gates; Netflix CEO Reed Hastings; NewSchools Venture Fund, whose CEO is the former president of the California State Board of Education; and Google, whose chairman, Eric Schmidt, serves on the academy’s board. In total Khan has raised $16.5 million, with assurances of more to come.

“The numbers get really crazy when you look at the impact per dollar,” says Khan. “We have a $7 million operating budget, and we are reaching, over the course of a year, about 10 million students in a meaningful way. If you put any reasonable value on it, say $10 a year–and keep in mind we serve most students better than tutoring–and you are looking at, what, a 1,000% return?”

Even in Internet terms that’s impressive for an organization that 24 months ago consisted of one man working alone in a walk-in closet and 12 months prior to that was the oddball hobby of an intellectually hyper-active hedge fund analyst. But Salman Khan’s ambitions go much further. “Now that there are these tools, where students can learn at their own pace and master the concepts before moving on, can we rethink this educational model that has been standard practice for hundreds of years?”

****

Internet-based technology long ago figured out how to revolutionize and democratize everything from retail to auctions to maps. So what took so long to disrupt perhaps the largest, most dysfunctional field of all? …Continue reading

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2012 in Economy, Education, Learning, Teaching, Technology

 
 
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We all posses just enough to be our greatest self

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We all posses just enough to be our greatest self