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Gyude Moore on the Infrastructural Spine of the Economy
Episode 220th April 2020 • Charter Cities Podcast • Kurtis Lockhart
00:00:00 01:13:14

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For our first full episode of the Charter Cities Podcast, Mark is joined by Gyude Moore to discuss his experiences in and the history of Liberia, and what this story can teach us about charter cities in Africa and emerging markets. Gyude takes a brief look at the defining moments in Liberian history for this discussion, mentioning the population that arrived from America in the 1800s and the civil war he was born into at the end of the 20th century. We hear more from his personal story of moving to the US for college and then returning to a governmental position thanks to the Scott Family Fellows program and how this turned into a role as the Minister of Public Works. Gyude comments on the characteristics of the Liberian government at this time and the systems and attitudes that halted progress and reduced funds. From there, we move into Gyude's main passion and argument, that paved roads make up the backbone of any economy, a technology that has become completely commonplace in most of the Western world and the dearth of which results in much of Africa's economic stagnation. Gyude makes the connection between the US' reliance on the road network for so much of their strong economy and then compares this with Africa's road infrastructure, concluding that Africa can never progress without better, paved access between cities and hubs. The later part of our conversation moves into a discussion on Chinese involvement in Africa, the Belt and Roads Initiative and how Charter Cities might aid the propulsion of African economies in a way that other means might not. Gyude is a passionate and experienced planning mind, with lots to share from his native Liberia and beyond, so tune in to get it all!

Key Points From This Episode:

•   The influence of the end of the American slave trade on Liberian history and culture.

•   Gyude's early years, growing up during the Liberian civil war.

•   Comparing the encroaching civil war in Liberia to the current spread of the coronavirus.

•   The influx of people into Monrovia at that time and the strain it placed on infrastructure.

•   Gyude's move to the US for college and landing in Baltimore to an unexpected reception.

•   Heading home to Liberia and the program that recruited Gyude to work with the state.

•   The period in which Gyude took up a position as Minister of Public Works.

•   Entrepreneurial spirit in government; aspirational work in the public sector in Liberia.

•   Gyude's experiences of corruption in Liberia's emerging market.

•   Cultural and mindset shifts for better long term benefits and installing systems in chaos.

•   The technology of paved roads and what it enables a government and population to achieve.

•   Gyude's idea for the incentivized development of cheaper materials for paved roads.

•   Enforcing accountability for government projects, initiatives and funds. 

•   Gyude's critique of the Belt and Road Initiative and estimates of necessary funds.

•   Assessing the involvement of China in Africa and the debt that is already present.

•   The importance of planned cities in the lives of citizens and economic growth.

•   Looking to the example of Asia and what Africa can and cannot learn from their model.

•   The core of what appeals to Gyude about charter cities and how they can help.

•   Risks that accompany the charter city model and the power of the host country.

•   Skill sharing for the benefit of a local population; the rise in Africans hired by China.

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Gyude Moore on Twitter

Charter Cities Institute

Mark Lutter

Charter Cities Institute on Twitter

Charter Cities Institute on Facebook



Berea College

President Sirleaf

Scott Fellows Program

Ed Scott




Johns Hopkins

Belt and Road Initiative

J.P. Morgan

How Asia Works


Paul Romer

Barrick Gold