I’m now at www.jamiepett.com! Please find me there.
Here’s your Saturday Morning Reading…
1. Refugee influx a major opportunity for Germany, leading economist says | Kate Connolly – The Guardian
“The opportunity is for refugees to not only fill the gap, but as we know every person who finds a job and pays taxes makes a contribution to economic productivity and output. We will see that the benefits will outweigh the costs within five to 10 years. This is not me being an optimist, I’m just looking wider than this myopic, short-term perspective, that in the long run, refugees will be a net gain for the economy.”
2. ‘How can I avoid becoming cynical about aid work?’ | Global Development Professionals Network
According to the NGO agony aunts:
– Adopt a lifelong learning philosophy
– Know yourself, find mentors, and play to your strengths
– Remember the progress that has been made over the last 20 years
3. Industrialisation in Africa – More a marathon than a sprint | The Economist
“Factories are not creating nearly enough jobs for the millions of young people moving into cities each year. Most of them end up in part-time employment in low-productivity businesses such as groceries or restaurants, which are limited by the tiny domestic economy; Africa generates only 2% of the world’s demand. To grow fast, African countries need to shift workers into more productive industries. Their governments need to provide the infrastructure and the incentives for manufacturing firms to set up. Without determined action, they risk another lost decade as the commodity bust deepens.”
Here’s your [day-late-due-to-sand-boarding-fun] Saturday Morning Reading…
1. WorkDev #3: Climbing the career ladder | Maia Gedde – WhyDev
Great advice aimed at those who have worked a couple of years in development but need to think about what happens next.
– Adopt a life-long learning philosophy
– Get a mentor.
– Don’t be afraid of challenges. It’s good to change jobs regularly.
– Keep abreast of developments and share your work.
– Maintain a sense of balance and purpose
2. Friday Note: Do Less Research, Get More Impact | Ruth Levine – Hewlett Foundation
Communication of findings in an understandable and useful way is often overlooked in favour of fancy techniques. But then what’s the point of all that work in the first place?
“We also often see researchers reaching to explore ever more nuanced policy questions and applying sophisticated econometric and other abstruse techniques. It’s impressive, and may be just the ticket to get the resulting paper into a prestigious journal (or at least into a years-long cycle of revising-and-resubmitting). But more often than not the analyses that serve policy audiences are those that simply and compellingly bring to light facts about the conditions of people’s lives, the quality of public services, and the potential costs or savings from a particular government program. That is, the studies that present descriptive and basic analytic results in straightforward ways that connect to specific policy domains and decisions—the kind that a technocrat in the Ministry of Health, Education, Planning, or Finance might need to come up with a better program design and stronger budget request.”
3. DfID’s new Energy Africa campaign is right to look to off-grid solar power | Kevin Watkins – Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
In general, it’s a ‘second-best solution’ to a well-run grid system, but to say no to off-grid power is to deny many people electricity for a long time.
“Even the ‘ambitious’ power generation scenarios developed by McKinsey and the International Energy Agency would leave 500-600 million Africans without access to electricity in 2030. My colleague Andrew Scott estimates that around 60% of this population will have to be reached off-grid, through household-level systems or mini-grids serving communities.
That is why Energy Africa is right to look beyond the grid. Asking rural populations in Africa ‘do you want access to the grid’ strikes me as a loaded survey question. In a country like Tanzania, only 7% of the rural population are connected to the grid – and the country’s power utility (Tanesco) is a byword for inefficiency, corruption and disregard for the rural poor.”
4. Why you should never get a job at a charity | Alex Swallow – WhyDev
Don’t do it just to make yourself look like a better person, for an easy option or because you want to do things for people rather than with them.
I left Zanzibar last Friday after two years as an economist in the Zanzibar Planning Commission as part of the ODI Fellowship Scheme. Now everybody is asking me what comes next. The answer, for the next few months at least, is travelling, learning and communicating.
Let me explain…
I’m in the lucky (privileged) position to be able to choose what to do with myself in the next few months. I have freedom from paying bills for rent or a car, am not contracted to any organisation and don’t have kids. Once I realised the extent of my freedom, I began to think about what opportunities are available to me now but wouldn’t be in future once I have other commitments. I thought about what I’ve wanted to do in the last few years but haven’t – those perennial items at the end of my to do lists.
There were many.
Something that many of us fall prey to is to always do the urgent rather than the important. This happens daily as we respond to email after email, to get a step closer to clearing our inboxes so we can have a clean slate before starting on that project that actually matters. In life, this tendency manifests itself in grand plans left undone and ambitions left unfulfilled.
Over the next year, I thus resolve to do the important instead of just the urgent.
The wider perspective is that I want to transform myself into someone who can change the world – to develop a set of skills and expertise that will set me up for personal and professional success in the next few decades.
Thus, I am not going straight into another job, despite the exciting opportunities out there. However, I do not see this as a retreat. Rather, I’m making a point of going out into the world to explore places, meet people, and develop and share my ideas.
There are three basic elements to my plans:
One obvious thing I can do with my freedom is travelling. From now until Christmas I’m travelling around Southern Africa and Eastern Africa. My basic route is Rwanda, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and back across to Zanzibar via the TAZARA railway.
At the beginning of 2016 I expect to visit the Netherlands, Denmark and maybe France. After that, I’ll (probably) be off again to South and South-East Asia (to help my budget last longer!).
I’ll be back in the UK for next July and August for my friends’ wedding and will probably be looking for some short-term consultancy work at this point (early notice klaxon!). I do have something lined up for after that but am open to all sorts of opportunities that may arise in the next year.
I want to concentrate on learning but I don’t want to go on a formal course (and have to pay for it). Therefore I’m creating my own scholarship programme with an adaptive curriculum – it’ll change as I go along.
I’m going to be learning from reading, chatting to people I meet and through practice. I’ll develop my photography skills and learning how to learn languages (starting with French) through a book called Fluent Forever. I’m aiming to develop my meta-skills of self-discipline and planning and so I’m starting out daily habits with an 8-week meditation course, coming up with ten ideas per day and practising some yoga (sources welcome).
However, I don’t want to learn just for the sake of it with no output. With all of those ideas floating around in my head, I feel in a good position to be writing regularly – first of all on this blog but then for other websites and publications later. I will develop my ability to communicate through writing and maybe through other media such as videos or giving talks. I’ll be developing my own website (on its way) plus various social media outlets.
I want to start putting my ideas out there – not because I think I’m right, but because that’s the quickest way of getting feedback and developing my thinking further. And it’s good writing practice.
So there you have it: my plan. I’m very open to comments and suggestions for how to make the most of my time.
Thank you in advance for all the support I’ll get from my friends and family in this next big adventure. When I think of what’s really important (rather than urgent), I think of you.
“What will progress in the fight against inequality look like? It will look like people power.”
2. Dilemmas over the data movement | Duncan Green – From Poverty to Power
3. XKCD Marks the Spot | Bill Gates
4. Nine things we learned about the global goals | Global Development Professionals Network
The M&E guy was supposed to do it, but then he said he had tonsillitis – an obvious lie to get out of working over the holidays. I mean, his doctor note said he needed to recover on Zanzibar. As if!