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Here I go again…

…well kind off. I’m back at the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights working on monitoring the referendum campaign and on post-referendum scenarios (more on this later) and already can’t find my desk because of so much work, so this won’t be a full-blown rant…besides these days I prefer to focus on action rather than noise, however, sometimes I just can’t help myself.

First, I just read an AP story on FabLabs (a project I’m a huge fan of and would love to see in Kenya).

While reading the article this struck me, “…Gershenfeld is emphasizing the project’s practical potential in his search for long-term funding. The five-year NSF grant is entering its final year, and funding from other potential sources as the World Bank has so far eluded him.” I fail to see why this would be a hard sell for the World Bank (each lab costs only $25,000…couple of business class tickets for World Bank “development experts”). Perhaps, because it actually uumm encourages innovation in developing countries? As Neil puts it, “If you give people access to means to solve their own problems, it touches something very, very deep.” Or is it the risk that the FabLabs will be used primarily for (God-forbid) just whimsical inventions? I just don’t get it.

Then this largely superficial Christian Science Monitor piece that asks whether “donor darlings are stifling democracy” (and refers to Moi as a ” African revolutionary” WTH?). The article notes that according to a local observer, “after touting these leaders as paragons, and investing billions in them, “The west doesn’t want to say, ‘We failed.'” As Ethiopundit in his typical hard-hitting commentary points out, no surprises there (hat-tip Bankelele!).

An aside: For more than the superficial coverage of events in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe that we’ve come to expect from mainstream media, check out the Global Voices Ethiopia and Zimbabwe pages.

And finally, one of my favorite rant targets Jeffrey Sachs. OK, maybe he is an easy target because, ultimately incompetent African leaders are largely behind the problems that bedevil Africa, but I keep piling on him because of how much (bad) influence he carries among people in the West who could otherwise be part of the group that helps shift attitudes towards development in Africa and because of his coddling of leaders who play along with his superstar status. Case and point, his kowtowing to Zenawi even after the riots and killings in June. And a recent interview where he downplays the role that corruption has on inhibiting development in Africa. An excerpt:

“What I am saying is that this idea that you can diagnose a whole set of complex problems of hunger, disease, impoverishment, lack of infrastructure and chalk it up to corruption is a preposterous stereotype perpetrated by a lot of people that don’t know any better because they sit in their offices in Washington or wherever and they make up theories.

Eh…where exactly does Sachs make up his theories? New York, if I am not wrong.

1 comment to Here I go again…

  • Victoria Schlesinger

    Hi Ory,

    I’m really interested in your thoughts about Sachs and the Millennium Village Projects. I’m a journalist at Columbia writing an in depth story about the MVP, Earth Institute, and their approach to addressing poverty, particularly in Africa. Please get in touch. Best, Victoria

    Will do.