Saturday, August 2, 2008

Rent-seeking Consultants?

Ashraf Ghani, the Alexander Hamilton of Afghanistan, blames World Bank for neglecting higher education in Afghanistan (emphasis added);
In Afghanistan in 2002, World Bank and UN officials insisted that the government should not invest in higher education and moreover should invest very little in secondary and vocational education despite the fact that Afghanistan had seen its professional class decimated by war, disease, and flight. Citing the focus of the millennium development goals (MDGs) on primary education, they considered higher education and vocational training a luxury that Afghanistan could ill afford. But without trained doctors, teachers, engineers, and managers, it was not clear at the time whether Afghanistan could get back on its feet. Five years later, the fact that the country’s operating budget is overshadowed by the cost for technical assistance (TA) to make up for the “poor capacity” of the government testifies to the debilitating expense of failures to invest in the training of professional staff, future leaders and administrators.

In many parts of the world, the neglect of higher education has to led to poor-quality administration and spiraling TA bills. The price for TA amounts to roughly $ 20 billion per annum, with consultants often paid around $ 200, 000 a year. Nor is this technical assistance provided by Westers donors of high quality in many cases.

- "Fixing Failed States", Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart, p. 142

For Discussion: Should we try to rate the output quality of consultants? Who should rate it and how should we do it?

A Challenge to Chris Blattman: Create a consulting agency that delivers quality consulting services in the development field to low-income countries for FREE.

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