How Numbers Rule the World: The Use and Abuse of Statistics in Global Politics

(Zed Books, 2014)

Author: Lorenzo Fioramonti

Numbers dominate global politics and, as a result, our everyday lives. Credit ratings steer financial markets and can make or break the future of entire nations. GDP drives our economies. Stock market indices flood our media and national debates. Statistical calculations define how we deal with climate change, poverty and sustainability. But what is behind these numbers?

In How Numbers Rule the World, Lorenzo Fioramonti reveals the hidden agendas underpinning the use of statistics and those who control them. Most worryingly, he shows how numbers have been used as a means to reinforce the grip of markets on our social and political life, curtailing public participation and rational debate.

An innovative and timely exposé of the politics, power and contestation of numbers. For more info see:

Land matrix in action: “Among the Senegalese Mother-Earths

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera features result from our LandMatrix  land monitoring project to describe the struggle of Senegalese women against land-grabbing multinationals. Read the full article here [Italian]

Are cooperatives better suited to deal with crises: perspectives from Europe and South America

Claudia Bajo Policy Brief 8

Are cooperatives better suited to deal with crises: perspectives from Europe and South America

(GovInn, June 2014)

Author: Claudia Sanchez Bajo

There has been little research on cooperatives within regionalism and in particular, how regionalism works in an effort to compare policy making between two regional integration processes. This work will first analyse the role of cooperatives in regionalism in terms of policy, including standards, enterprise statutes and statistics, with particular Cooperativesregard to the role of the networks in the initiatives and their participation in regional integration policy making. The building of networks is one of the expected spillovers from regionalism. However, in the concept of ‘new regionalism’, the role of business actors is enhanced through networks promoting both entrepreneurial action as well as strategic influence on the development path of the countries involved.

For more info see:

Private sector must address challenges of the 21st century

THE Corporate Governance Index 2014, which GovInn released last week in partnership with the Institute of Internal Auditors of SA, provides a worrying snapshot of the state of business performance in SA.

The index finds that the leadership skills, accountability and overall conduct of public and private corporations have worsened over the past year. GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti comments on the perilous relationship between economic and political powers on Business Day, South Africa’s leading business newspaper.

If public officials take bribes to favour a few at the expense of the public good, then it is worth asking: where does the money come from? And the answer usually is: from business.

The simplistic juxtaposition between corrupt government and virtuous business does not pass the reality check.

Read the full article here

GovInn, in partnership with the Institute of Internal Auditors of South Africa, has just released the results of the Corporate Governance Index 2014. To download the report please click here:

Does it really matter to snub Mugabe? by Christopher Nshimbi

GovInn research Fellow Christopher Changwe Nshimbi comments on the absence of Zimbabwe at the recent US-Africa summit. What are the responsibility of the Africa Union and of SADC towards the citizens of Zimbabwe? 

AU and SADC should have ensured free and fair elections in Zimbabwe 2013. However, the AU has inherent weaknesses regarding intervening in domestic stalemates as in Zimbabwe and Cote d’Ivoire. SADC should strengthen rules regarding elections, citizens’ rights in electoral processes and SADC’s enforcement role. Moreover, SADC and the AU should revise their approaches to state sovereignty.

Do you agree? Read it all on the Nordic Africa Institute Forum website NAIForumLogo_TEST

“Time to liberate ourselves from a misleading statistic” by Lorenzo Fioramonti


South Africa is on an economic roller coaster. After the five-month strike in the platinum mines and turmoil in the metal sector, our country is still grappling with a credit downgrade and gloomy forecasts for economic growth.


Pundits warn that if the gross domestic product (GDP) does not pick up in the coming months, a recession will be inevitable, with disastrous consequences for all of us. Our eyes are all on this magic number. But what is GDP? Is GDP really helping us measure the state of our economy? Or is it a misleading indicator that contributes to wrong policy decisions, especially at a time of growing unrest and dissatisfaction with the transformation of the economy?

Read the full article on South African economy and the inadequacies of GDP, on Business Day, South Africa’s leading business newspaper.

Mining, regional integration and environmental imperatives: perspectives from West Africa

Mining, regional integration and environmental imperatives: perspectives from West Africa
(GovInn, June 2014)

Author: Frank Nyame

Prior to European colonization of the African continent, mining of gold by indigenous people was an important activity for many tribal states and kingdoms that used gold as a medium of exchange to trade in various goods and services. It served as a symbol of power, wealth and influence especially in mineral-rich regions. Well established pre-colonial kingdoms such as the Ashanti in Ghana flourished for centuries partly through conquest and the incorporation of mineral-rich but militarily weaker states or tribes. Pre-colonial mining was thus probably a source of conflict and “integration” in what is now West Africa.

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