August 17, 2007


Neo-con prophet unbowed (Greg Sheridan, August 18, 2007, The Australian)

He was forced out of this job for allegedly organising an over-generous promotion out of the bank for his partner. It was an absurd charge and the bank ultimately decided he had behaved ethically. Nonetheless there was a kind of frenzy of hostility to Wolfowitz, really from the day he started at the bank. [...]

Wolfowitz is proud of his achievements in his two years as World Bank president, and this sentiment is focused on Africa.

"I think I got a lot done in two years, to be honest," he says. "I think we certainly did establish Africa as the first priority for the bank, whereas many Africans have told me that they felt it was lip service in the past.

"There was also the emphasis on governance, and more and more Africans see that good governance is a key to economic success. This notion that somehow the emphasis on governance got in the way of us providing money is also nonsense. We did record levels of lending in both years."

Wolfowitz also cites getting the bank back into infrastructure as important. But while the bank must be involved with countries at various levels of development, Wolfowitz is clear that it is the way it responds to the needs of the very poorest countries that is the basis by which it should be judged.

And indeed he has a fascinating story to tell about Africa, about how there is more hope there than you might imagine.

Did you know, for example, that the economies of about 15 African countries have been growing at 4 per cent a year or more for the past 10 years? That Rwanda, which suffered a terrible genocide 13 years ago, has grown at 7per cent for the past 10 years; that Mozambique, which emerged 12 years ago from a gruesome civil war, has been growing at 8per cent for 10 years?

"People say, yeah that's easy off a small base. I wouldn't agree with that. It's never easy." Wolfowitz acknowledges this sort of growth is not yet evident in Africa's big countries: Ethiopia, Nigeria, Congo. But he believes if middle-sized African countries such as Tanzania moved from 4 per cent growth to an Asian style 7 per cent or 8 per cent, it could have a powerful demonstration effect.

"Just like Taiwan and Singapore demonstrated for China, it's possible, you're not constrained by your history or culture or geography from being successful."

Unless we missed something, Saddam is still dead, no?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 17, 2007 7:32 AM
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