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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Good news (for a change) from Nigeria

Say, "Nigeria" and many Episcopalians will respond (most with a shudder), "Akinola."

I am deeply grateful to my dear friend, sister priest and Liberian Theodora ("Teddy") Brooks for pointing us to this film clip of a recent TED presentation in Monterray, California.

Here's a description of what you'll see and hear.

Negative images of Africa dominate the news: famine and disease, conflict and corruption. But Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former Finance Minister of Nigeria, says there's a less-told story unfolding in many African nations: one of reform, economic growth and business opportunity. Cracking down on corruption -- and the perception of corruption -- will be the key to its success She tells how high-ranking Nigerian officials taking money illicitly have been jailed, and how citizens and prospective business partners are getting at least a partial picture now of where money flows.

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.

G'won. Go give a listen. It's twenty minutes of your time well invested:

If the above link doesn't work for you, try cutting and pasting this into your browser:

1 comment:

Muthah+ said...

A few more:

1/20/09 End of an Error

America: One nation, Under Surveillance