Richard Dowden

A regular blog from RAS Director, Nicholas Westcott.


Thursday, 1 November 2012
Written by Richard Dowden
In 2006 some friends of mine were given $5 million by Lisbet Rausing for education in Uganda. They set up an NGO called Mvule (named after a beautiful Ugandan tree), and asked me to be a Trustee. We decided to spend the money on adolescents, especially girls, who had done well at primary or secondary school but had to drop out because their families were too poor to support them. Identifying them was a labour-intensive and expensive business, but over the next five years some 2500 were... more
Friday, 26 October 2012
Written by Richard Dowden
  After 26 years of the most horrific war, Liberia seems to have settled down despite noisy disenchantment with the rule of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, now in her second term. I recently attended a conference on Liberia for some 300 investors and potential investors. During this, I heard very many positive statements from companies that have already invested in the country and praise for the remarkable recovery it has made since the war finally ended in 2003. The biggest ventures are in mining... more
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Written by Richard Dowden
The Rift Valley in Eastern Africa is our hole in the ground, where we all come from. Not far from here our earliest ancestors stopped hanging out in the trees and started to use their rear limbs to get around on. From here we began to migrate and multiply all over the world. Today a line of worn tarmac runs along the valley floor, fed by earth tracks through fields of stubble lying brown and empty after the harvest. Wriggling lines of green mark streams which lead to the Awash River. The east... more
Monday, 24 September 2012
Written by Richard Dowden
  As the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals approaches what is happening to the UK Government’s aid ministry and its impact on Africa? An overseas aid ministry is an anomaly. How does a government account for taxpayers’ money spent on non voters, non citizens? The mandate is a vague wish among voters that “something must be done” when pictures of hunger and starvation are shown on television. British people are consistently among the most generous in... more
Friday, 29 July 2011
Written by Richard Dowden
By Richard Dowden, Director of the Royal African Society On my first visit to Sudan – more than 25 years ago – I took a bus from Khartoum down the Nile to Renk, a trip from the Islamic, Arabic-speaking north to the culturally African south which is more diverse in its variety of religious faith. Two striking things have stayed with me from the trip. Firstly there was no road between north and south. Somewhere south of Kosti the road disappeared and the driver had a choice of... more