Does inequality matter? What are the effects of wealth being concentrated in the hands of a few individuals?
Well, if you believe some of the world’s most respected economists – people like Thomas Piketty, Joseph Stiglitz, Branco Milanovic, Wilkinson and Pickett – it matters. And they say it is getting worse. The World Bank and the IMF made “shared prosperity” the theme of their annual meeting this year, and the IMF head, Christine Lagarde, described the rise in global inequality as “staggering”. Just in the past week, Bill Gates, the Financial Times and the (UK) Guardian have all made the case that inequality matters.
President Kikwete spoke in Washington earlier this week, as part of the US-Africa Leadership Summit. The clip below comes from the Civil Society Forum Global Town Hall event, where he shared a platform with US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and Vice President, Joe Biden, and the Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama, among others.
The questioner asks first what Tanzania is doing to avoid the resource curse, and second what message the President has for SADC leaders about Robert Mugabe and the situation in Zimbabwe. President Kikwete neatly avoids the second, but gives a lengthy response to the first. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) gets a mention, though there is nothing on transparency in extractives’ contracts.
I did note, however, an interesting remark on transparency in company ownership registers:
“We are now working on transparency with regard top who owns what – who is who in terms of ownership of the companies that are operating in the country.”
The full session is also available on YouTube, as is another session at the same event, featuring my boss, Rakesh Rajani of Twaweza, in a discussion about the Open Government Partnership in Africa.
“You’ve got to be as hungry as a fucking Hutu in the fucking jungle with a big machete. You’ve got to go hacking through the fucking opposition, with a big fucking belt full of hands and a necklace made of ears. Can you do that? Can you wear a necklace made of ears?”
“I can be a Hutu. I can wear fucking finger-nail bracelets.”