Browsing Times Online today, one article caught my eye, for two reasons:
Firstly, it was about Africa – and anything involving Africa interests me these days, as the date for my departure from the UK and entry to this fascinating continent looms ever nearer.
Secondly, it mentioned Paul Collier – the author of The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It. The Bottom Billion is an excellent book I read last year and one I would highly recommend to anyone with an interest in the causes and consequences of the many factors afflicting African nations; the effects of civil war and aid and the problems of democracy in low-income and resource-rich societies. He not only identifies these as the four primary factors impeding development for the world’s poorest, the bottom billion who live on less than a dollar a day, but proposes solutions which if realised could greatly change the lives of so many.
The article in Times Online is about Collier’s latest book: Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places. I don’t doubt this will be another excellent analysis, dissecting the violence and poverty found in developing countries (which is not specific to Africa, it’s just that many African countries fit the criteria) and using this to offer long-term solutions for peace and stability, of which the benefits would extend far beyond the borders of the countries affected.
Until I get a chance to read this book myself, I’d like to hear what others think of Collier’s latest or even his preceding book.
Paul Collier is Professor of Economics at Oxford University Economics Department