Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Business, Economics, and Public Policy

The article excerpted below caught my eye even though it's not specifically about government or politics. It's certainly relevant to comparative politics, since no matter what country you're studying, the economy and economic policy making are vital parts of the state and government (and often a regime).

This article begins an exploration of the connections between government, politics, and economics that could become a comparative study for your students.

If they begin with the current economic conditions and government policies, the comparisons between the countries under consideration should be fairly easy to do.

Economic statistics (like those in the CIA World Factbook) from the various countries about growth, distribution of wealth and income, balance of trade, and economic aid should help students to make some hypotheses about the results of the wide variety of policies formulated in the countries under consideration.

The BBC web site says this is the beginning of a series of articles looking at business in Africa. Be on the lookout for what comes next.

Challenges facing Africa's entrepreneurs

"Africa is often seen as a high-risk place to do business, but the continent is increasingly becoming a hospitable destination for investors.

"Africa's wars, coups and famines are constantly in the news - the image of starving children is what often comes to mind every time the continent is mentioned.

"But what about the men and women who are starting businesses, and risking their own money to build Africa's economies?

"Despite all the obstacles, growth rates across much of Africa are rising and there are successful ventures to be found everywhere from Mogadishu to Dakar.

"It is one of those seldom told stories - the success now being notched up by men and women doing business across Africa.

"The results are not hard to see. Economic growth has been running at a very respectable 4% in at least 15 African countries for the last decade...

"The absence of a strong business class at independence for many countries in the 1960s was a major inhibition to growth...

"It meant that fighting to control the levers of politics became a key way of winning economic advantage.

"And the results are plain to see. Doing business in Africa is still hard work, as a recent World Bank study indicated.

"It showed that out of the 35 least business-friendly countries in the world, 27 were in sub-Saharan Africa...

"As if that isn't bad enough, roads are bad, electricity unreliable and skilled labour in short supply..."

One example of new business in Africa, is the Lagos shopping center, The Palms. The web site has some good pictures of the development and background information on the developers.

According to a Minnesota blogger (The Scoop on The Palms, the First Mega Shopping Mall in Nigeria), President Obasanjo and the King of Lagos attended the opening of The Palms.


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