Access to, and the affordability of, medicines is now attracting increased global attention. There are several issues at stake – the actual costs of the research and development process, production costs, pricing policies and the bargaining power of individual countries to negotiate good deals. The rising cost of medicines is the primary complaint of most…

Over the past 10 days, I have been traveling across India giving a set of public lectures on sustainable development. During this visit I have had the privilege of interacting with a wide range of individuals— politicians, civil servants, fellow academics and the common man on the street. We have discussed and debated the numerous…

 If you have not heard about it already, here is some good news. Africa will soon be officially declared to be free of polio – a highly infectious viral disease. At the global level, there was an estimated 350,000 annual cases of polio in 125 countries in 1998. Since then, and following a major worldwide…

Over the past 10 days, I have been traveling across India giving a set of public lectures on sustainable development. During this visit I have had the privilege of interacting with a wide range of individuals— politicians, civil servants, fellow academics and the common man on the street. We have discussed and debated the numerous…

In order to function well, societies rely on trust between citizens and the state as well as among citizens themselves. We must be able to trust the government with our taxes as well as feel confident that our elected leaders will act in the best interest of the nation. This entails having faith in public…

While the phenomenal growth and influence of the internet enables individuals and groups to easily access information on any topic, the credibility of such information has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years with the growth of so-called “fake news” – information that may be biased and is often factually incorrect. One of the many…

T here are numerous organisational models that have been adopted by individuals and businesses to address social problems. There are non-profit social enterprises (that address market or government failures but may be dependent on outside philanthropic funding). For-profit social enterprises (where profits arise by solving social problems, which in turn attracts more investors) and hybrid…

This summer, I spent several weeks in the United States —travelling between New York, Washington DC and Princeton University. During many visits to the country, including the years I lived in California, I have constantly marvelled at America’s impressive road network. According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 4.1 million miles of roads and…

A few days ago, I attended the launch of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019 (SOFI) report in New York. The report does not make for pleasant reading. More than 820 million people in our world suffer from daily hunger and this number has been slowly increasing in the past…

The world has achieved numerous developmental successes in the past few decades. Poverty has been eradicated in some parts of the world and drastically reduced in others (e.g. China and India). Impressive results have also been achieved in global health and disease prevention as well as in many other areas of development. However, in a…

Large parts of the African continent continue to face an acute shortage of energy. Hundreds of millions of people do not have any access to electricity. And the few that do enjoy access to the grid, are often not guaranteed continued power supply throughout the day. As governments struggle to boost power generation, they are…

 Food security features high on the international development agenda. Two global initiatives in the past decade have reiterated the policies and programmatic actions required to spur urgent action to prevent malnutrition. First, member States of the World Health Organisation (WHO) unanimously endorsed in 2012 six ambitious and global targets to be achieved by 2025 aimed…

I recently had the pleasure of riding the Madaraka Express—a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project that connects Nairobi to the port city of Mombasa. It gave me a first-hand experience of how a Chinese “mega project” works, and how it is being financed, maintained and expanded to other parts of Kenya. The Nairobi terminus, where…

When government agencies struggle to provide efficient and reliable services, an important group often steps in to provide some form of relief to affected citizens. These are the middle-men, variously known as “brokers”, “fixers”, “touts” and “dobadobas”. For a fee, they help facilitate various tasks—application for a driver’s licence, authorisation for building construction, settlement of…

  As I write this column in Oslo on Tuesday evening, millions of Malawians have participated in a much-anticipated election process, the outcome of which promises to be exciting in the days and weeks ahead. What is clear is that whoever wins must work closely with the bureaucracy that was not up for election. The…

  I have, in recent columns, discussed the intrinsic value of freedom and democracy and potential reforms of the electoral system. Of late, I have also been thinking about what a newly-elected executive and legislature ought to prioritise in Malawi’s pursuit of development. Here are two very broad suggestions: Strengthen state legitimacy: Upon assuming office,…

A new round of elections inevitably promises an opportunity to further strengthen civil and political freedoms, ensure greater accountability of powerholders based on performance and promises, and increased responsiveness of the State in delivering public services. There is growing interest among scholars, policymakers and citizens on understanding how, when and why elections are “successful”. The academic…

Recent reports by Freedom House indicate that there has been a decline in global freedom for the 13th consecutive year. When confronted by corruption, populist movements, discrimination of minorities and breakdowns in the rule of law, many democracies –including some in the West—have regressed. So, how is Malawi doing? Despite many challenges, democracy has survived.…

Recent reports by Freedom House indicate that there has been a decline in global freedom for the 13th consecutive year. When confronted by corruption, populist movements,discrimination of minorities and breakdowns in the rule of law, many democracies –including some in the West – have regressed. So, how is Malawi doing? Despite many challenges, democracy has survived. Indeed, Malawi is widely considered to be a successful…

Most people believe that there is an intimate relationship between ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’. Indeed, it is largely assumed that democracy possesses the capacity to promote, protect and further strengthen basic human freedoms. Thus, the freedoms of assembly, speech, expression and opposition are essential in order for elections to be meaningful. The argument is that checks…