Paul Collier: 4 ways to improve the lives of the “bottom billion”

Here is Paul Collier, the author of the “The Bottom Billion” talking about 4 ways to improve the lives of the “bottom billion” on TEDtalk. Amazing talk. By the way he is a fantastic Economist who is also an expert in African Economy.

He says, the bottom billion people are stuck in poverty and live under the poverty line. So the question we need to ask should not be “‘Can we be optimistic?’, but to ask ourselves ‘How can we give credible hope to those billion people'”.
‘Around the world right now, one billion people are trapped in poor or failing countries. How can we help them? Economist Paul Collier lays out a bold, compassionate plan for closing the gap between rich and poor.’ (youtube).
Let me put some comments from contributors on Paul’s talk on TEDtalk: some of them not all of them – I have to leave lots of terrific opinions of contributors that seem to be very knowledgable.
Enjoy – Merid Desta

Erwan Cloarec +1Reply
Mar 20 2010: What a great talk ! I read the book and Paul Collier really is compelling to me.
I recommend it to all of you, he tried hard to summarize some key points of his book, and give the main feeling which are that we have to get serious and want to inform ourselves about what is going on in africa.
I’ve been there myself, and ive studied the topic for a couple of years, but until Collier I had never found anyone that understood better the Bottom Billion’s situation and actually had such solutions to propose.

Jeffrey Gold 20+ +3Reply
Sep 1 2010: One of the best, most important, talks I’ve ever heard. Paul Collier is my newest hero, and I’d love to serve as an ambassador in his world. Despite his cited blog comment, he is charismatic: He’s the Michael Caine of empathy for the downtrodden. Prosperity, not politics, is the agent of change. Politics is those in power holding onto power, and those swirling around it trying to get in. In the meantime, real people are not propelled by this political cavitation. When there is enough to go around for everyone, one fosters an environment in which violence and self-preservation can move toward empathy and enlightened self-interest. I anticipate a Nobel Peace prize in his future.

Luis Murrell 0Reply
Jul 25 2010: Comparison to Europe after WW2 is misleading: Europe had a history of industrialization and democratic institutions going back a century; the “bottom billion” nations (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa) were often “undeveloped” economically by being used for solely for commodity extraction (cotton, metals, etc) and poltically by pro-colonialist laws that had little to do with checks & balances (a legacy still seen today in political conflicts that fall along tribal lines). I’m all in favor of an informed citizenry, but how does he expect these standards of governance he talks about to be enforced- short of massive military intervention? The US couldn’t handle Somalia- who’s going to take on Nigeria? Or Sudan?
Now I’m thinking about what the Chinese are doing in Africa, & how their approach would compare with Collier’s; maybe the bottom billion just need to get wealthy enough before they can start worrying about democracy?

Nene Odonkor 10+ +2Reply
Aug 4 2010: He mentioned four areas that can help the bottom billion. Governance, aid, security, and trade are the four areas that we need to look at to help the bottom billion. He decided to focus on only governance for this talk. He also mentioned that the details of the policies will be different because the challenges are not the same.

Yes Europe had a history of industrialization and democratic institutions prior to WW2 but I think the issue is how do you help raise people out of poverty. Because after the war many countries in Europe such as Germany had weak economies.

I think Paul’s argument is that if it worked for Europe it can work for the bottom billion all we have to do is to change or tweak the policies to face the current challenges.

Areesha Zubair +1Reply
Dec 12 2010: I agree Luis. Post-WW2, U.S and Great Britain were the wealthiest colonial/imperial powers, with companies (extractive and others) already settled in their former colonies around the world. GATTs and free-trade could only help U.S and Europe; developing countries protested and continue to protest low tariffs/ subsidies, but they’re ignored. As a result, least developing countries (LDC) have had to prematurely open their markets to the West and rely on the international financial institutions. US and Europe became financially and socially stable afterward and benefited from the international systems where state sovereignty is weak. However the former colonies could not jump right in the game, given their colonial history.

Still, international standards like human rights/environmental standards on trade, can help developing countries, who usually don’t stand up to developed countries/MNCs.

Sultan Mehmood 0Reply
Feb 4 2011: It is true that post WW2 Europe has an industrial base and the bottom billion lacks that but it can be and should be taken as an opportunity not a setback for bottom billion to grow faster. As relatively more developed nations of Europe (Britain vs Italy) experienced lesser growth than more wrecked. Collier rightly pointed about institutional needs. For example in Europe where neo-corporatist institutions were strongest is where the growth was the fastest and sustained.

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About Merid Desta

I am a very passionate and mature African-Ethiopian researcher/ peacebuilder/ manager/ leader/ who have been doing a research on peace and conflict in the horn of Africa. I have learned that both my under- and post-graduate studies need to be topped up with formal studies of theories and praxis of peace, conflict, justice, identity, nationalism, ethnicity, religion and other related theories. All the trusts, institutes, faith-based and other secular organisations in which I was involved in leadership, mobilising and training capacities, were committed to addressing all aspects of individuals and communities’ life. Being an advocate for all human beings to be released from their spiritual, physical, social, mental and economic poverty, with a view to enabling them to become fulfilled and responsible human beings who live up to the standard of their best capacity, was at the core of all my work and the people and teams whose ministry I led. I have been involved in interfaith; interethnic; intercultural and interdenominational peacebuilding, conflict resolution and management work in the capital. My family’s life has always been sacrificial. We have committed our lives and are preparing for more commitments to work initially among a few communities and regions in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan/ South Sudan and the surrounding regions. These nations of Eastern Africa have often been under enormous threats and incidents of civil wars, ethno-religious conflicts, genocide etc.

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