Monday, 27 April 2009

Steady Eddie and the Commonwealth Education Fund

I was Saddened to learn that Edward George former Governor of the Bank of England whom I had the pleasure of briefly knowing had passed away.

Most people will know him as ‘Steady Eddie’ from his time at the Bank of England, but I came to know him better through his work at with the Commonwealth Education Fund (CEF). The Fund was set up by Prime Minister, Gordon Brown during his time as Chancellor to help the lower income countries of the Commonwealth achieve the ambitious education targets set out in 2000 in the Millennium Development Goals.

Eddie George Chaired the fund from its inception till its close in 2008 and was a passionate about ensuring children across the commonwealth had the best possible start in life. The CEF’s approach was innovative, by bringing together many different groups the fund aimed to make education a top political priority and matter of open public debate in each country in which it operated.

The CEF had a significant impact in the countries in which it worked, and Eddie will be missed by many in the UK and across the commonwealth.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Agriculture and Insurance in Africa

I am pleased to see that most African countries are moving agriculture to the top of their agenda. Through my interactions with the Heads of Governments in recent months, I have recognised a renewed interest in making Africa the food basket of the world.

This is the right time to take action on agriculture, if governments, the private sector and NGO’s work together a real impact can be made on the lives of those who merely ‘subsist’ across the whole African continent.

The CBC is contributing to this effort, connecting businesses and governments to form the right partnerships for swift progress to be made. In a recent programme report co-authored by Swiss Re (a CBC member) we highlighted an element of agricultural development that’s importance is too often forgotten; insurance. The programme makes suggestions as to how PPPs can be used to enhance agricultural production, and investment in agriculture, buy reducing against volatility assuring more stable returns. To read the report please visit

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The G20, the IMF and the Doha Round

The G20 meeting last week is being hailed as a success and in many respects I think it was, I hope it will be a helpful step on the road to recovery. The meeting represents the start of a new global process as both the developed and emerging economies come together to form a new Global Forum.

For the developing countries, one of the best outcomes was the larger commitments made to the IMF. According to the Closing statement the Organisations resources have been trebled to $750 Billion, consequently the IMF is going to become a much more important actor on the world stage. The next thing on its agenda must be reform and reorganisation to ensure it can match its new responsibilities in restoring the flows of trade and finance to the developing world.

I was, however, disappointed by how little progress was made on international trade. The requisite statements were made regarding resisting protectionism, but a stronger commitment to the Doha round would have been encouraging in this time of decreasing global growth.