June 24th, 2016

My first response was numbness and utter shock. I literally felt nothing. I wasn’t sure whether I’d woken up properly. Being in an airless hotel room in Abuja exacerbated the sense of disconnect and unrealness (is that even a word?).
My first real emotion was fear – fear for my family, our economic security. As a UK citizen living in France, what will this mean? We were planning to sell our flat in London and buy in France, but that dream is now on hold. My savings are now slashed, what little pension I had is now diving in value.
Then guilt – it’s with a healthy sense of self-awareness that I note how privileged I am to have these worries. What about those who aren’t so lucky?

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Electoral terrorism

June 23rd, 2016

I’ve hesitated writing something until now – partly because I don’t want to join the raucous shouting and opining, partly because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say, partly because I am still deeply traumatised by the fact that we’ve allowed the tragic murder of a fine young woman because of what she believed in. But on the day of this momentous referendum, I felt I needed to get some things out of my head – so this is coming at you like brain vomit.

This referendum is the single most selfish political act that I’ve seen. It’s the product of a dripping arrogance and a sense of mastery over the common people. It is the result of a stupid in-Party spat spilling over and off-loading a major, strategic and technical decision to the Great British public, who are not qualified to make such a huge decision. It is a shining example of how narrow self-interest has driven a destructive force that divides people, stokes violence and creates fear. And it is nothing short of an irresponsible act of terrorism in this country.
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How true is “Yes, Minister”?

July 8th, 2014

Alan Budd recently blogged an elaboration of a comment he made on Martin Donnelly’s speech on the civil service. It triggered a Twitter exchange between myself, Alex Evans and Jill Rutter…
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From thinking to practice

June 16th, 2014

I’ve just returned from two days at a conference on “The Water-Food-Energy Nexus in Global Drylands”, organised by the OCP Policy Center, Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB), Texas A&M and King’s College London. OCP (Office Chérifien des Phosphates) is Morocco’s national phosphate company and the world’s biggest exporter of phosphates and derivatives. OCP Policy Center is a new think-tank, funded by the OCP Foundation, and I have to say, so far, seems to be doing a good job of identifying key issues in the region.

The subtitle of the conference was “Bridging science and policy”, based on the logic that there has been lots of ‘Nexus’ thinking and analysis, but little implementation. So I focussed my session on the practical implementation of all this clever ‘Nexus’ thinking.

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Why Expats?

January 22nd, 2014

Magritte - Son of Man

Was reading: Why Expats? | AidSpeak, about the false dichotomy between local and expat. It sparked me to posting about something that’s been in the back of my mind for a while – public policy delivery, specifically in developing countries. The development world is largely focussed on developing and delivery public policy – so, education, health, security, energy, etc. Yet development professionals by and large have a ‘development’ background – it’s relatively rare to find development agency staff with real world public policy experience. People who have worked on education policy in their country, or who have worked in the NHS, or for an energy regulator. Granted, there are contextual issues in a developing country, like low salaries, staff retention issues – but these are issues we face around the world (albeit at different scales). Surely a career in developing and delivering health policy in South Korea is of more value than a Masters degree in Development Studies?

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New year, new look

January 22nd, 2014

In case you haven’t noticed, I decided that it was time to refresh the look of the site. I designed the previous version 5 years ago and web design has come a long way since then.
The logic was to create a cleaner, flatter and more content-focussed look, with more relevant content showing up at the bottom of each post (other posts from the same category now follow each post). Still have some work to do on it, but this is good enough to start with – imperfect something is better than a perfect nothing 🙂

Enkuan adderesachu

January 7th, 2014

Melkam Genna! Happy Ethiopian Christmas (Genna). Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on 7th January (Tahesas 28/29 by the Ethiopian calendar) – typically by slaughtering an animal and feasting with family and friends. We were privileged this year to be invited to two Genna feasts – one at a friend’s and another at a local guesthouse where other friends were staying. I learnt that we greet each other at this time of year by saying ‘Enkuan adderesachu’, which roughly translates as ‘give thanks for bringing us here ‘ and to which the response is ‘enkuan abro adderesachen’ – ‘give thanks for us arriving together’.

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Sharing the Search

January 1st, 2014

My new year’s resolution is ‘Screw connectivity, post more’, so hold me to it!

I joined GGGI because I believe that the dominant economic models of our time are broken and that our future lies in evolving new models. That’s easy to say, but is it a utopian ideal where we have our cake and eat it? More seasoned professionals who have worked on economic development will tell me it’s not possible, that it’s all been tried before and what we have is the only choice.

But what if it’s not? I am a dreamer, but also as an engineer, I’m grounded in practicality. The only way we’ll find out if it’s possible is to act as if it were and see what happens. That’s what excites me about Ethiopia – there is a genuine desire to do it, to find a new way of growing, that is sustainable without compromising. I don’t have the answers, but no one does – that is the very nature of a paradigm shift. You can’t comprehend it until you’ve been through it.

So, in the spirit of my new year’s resolution, I will attempt to share the journey, to open up the search – a thousand mile journey begins with a single step, this is mine.

Means and ends

July 16th, 2012

Moroccan mint tea being poured into a small glassAs some of you may know I’ve been throwing around an idea about opening a teashop for a while. To me, tea is the quintessentially social drink. Almost everywhere around the world has some sort of culture around tea. From builders tea to chai to attaya to moroccan mint tea or yerba mate. I think it crosses boundaries and lowers barriers, lubricating the social fabric.

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Water Worlds – Scarcity and Access

August 27th, 2011

Originally posted on Reuters AlertNet


The world is in the midst of a water crisis. The typical story is that fresh water supplies are running out and that we are bleeding the earth dry.

Water, one of the fundamentals for all life, is getting scarcer so we need to value it more and manage the fresh water resources to ensure that they don’t run out. But the real story goes deeper than that.

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