These are honestly the best series of posts from Doug yet, and that is setting a rather high bar. All they lack are representative photographs.
Here Doug visits Katanga. The post details the province's problems, covers some colonial history, and shows why visits to Africa often produce wistfulness and confusion regarding the European empires even among people who hold no emotional attachment to them. In Doug's case, quite the reverse.
This post explores a practical question: how do central banks manage to get currency into the hands of people who need it? Money as a unit of exchange is worthless if people with wealth can't convert their stores of wealth into units of exchange. But that turns out to be much more complicated than it might seem. Latin American countries have at times encountered problems of small change --- Argentina recently went through one such episode, and I lived through another in Mexico in the early and mid 1990s --- but I know of nothing on the scale of the problems Doug describes. He also describes a minor miracle in which millions of dollars in cash sits undisturbed and barely protected in a place where one would not expect it to last.
Doug also investigates past and present plans to dam or make navigable (these are different) the lower reaches of the Congo River. Mobutu, it turns out, built a massive long-distance power line to move electricity from one of the dams on the Congo (the last of which was built in 1958) to Katanga, in order to make the province dependent on the central government. It didn't work out too well. The whole mess makes me wonder. Did decolonization in Congo have to be such a mess? Was a better outcome at all possible? I know not. But Mozambique suggests that it might have been better.
And in the latest, he asks the question: how bad is Congo's government? You won't like the answer, nor the paradoxically Pollyannish (but almost certainly correct) explanation.
Also, in recognition of my co-blogger, we now have a Finland tag! Enjoy.