Côte d'Ivoire citizens pay the highest income tax in the world

what happened last week


Hey, this is Sham, your very own news curator. 

In issue #327, I focus on the money the government of Côte d'Ivoire is making from taxes and what South Korea is willing to do to become better friends with Japan. Also, a chilling New York Times investigation on the horrible living and working conditions of Central American migrant children in the U.S., an accusation that Senegal's president might have given millions of dollars to France's far-right Marine Le Pen, and some good news from Malaysia, India and Chile. I also recommend an anime composer in protest of the movie Tár and an empowering piece by Zimbabwean author Gappah about the state of African writing, and so much more.

If you like this newsletter, yay! If you have any feedback or comments, I'm always happy to connect; just reply to this mail. These lengthy emails take me hours and hours to write, research and make fun-to-read. If you would like to support me on a regular basis, you can do so by becoming a Patreon subscriber or by buying me coffee now and then on PayPal.
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Citizens of Côte d'Ivoire pay the highest income tax in the world

World Population Review published its latest global tax index report last week, and Côte d'Ivoire takes the cake: Its citizens pay 60% income tax.

Why this matters: Income tax can (!) be used to fund public goods and services for citizens. However, on the current United Nations Human Development Index (which looks at life expectancy, education and per capita income), Côte d'Ivoire is ranked 159th out of the 191 countries assessed, and the BTI ranks the country at 77 (out of 137). Some 29 million people live in Côte d'Ivoire. 

Tell me more
The study surveyed over 150 countries. Apart from Côte d'Ivoire, 
Finland (56.95%), Japan (55.97%), Denmark (55.90%), and Austria (55%) together make up the top five countries with the highest income tax. "No other African country makes it to the top ten list of highest-taxed countries in 2023—based on the highest personal income tax rates," writes Faustine Ngila for Quartz

Are all other taxes this high in Côte d'Ivoire?
No, not at all. The country's sales and corporate taxes are considerably lower than those of other countries globally. However, overall, revenues from these taxes are considered to be a key source of income for the Ivorian government.

What other sources of income does the government of the Ivory Coast have?
Many. Côte d'Ivoire is the world's largest cocoa producer (producing 45% of the global production), and its economy has been gradually growing (growth rate of 7% in 2021!). Plus, the country also exports a lot of cashews, coffee, and palm oil. Not to mention the significant offshore oil and natural gas reserves, whose exploration is already boosting its government income. The government even managed to decrease their budget deficit in 2023 (5% of its GDP in 2021, down from 5.6% in 2020). This has a lot to do with all of the above. This is also one of the many reasons why Côte d'Ivoire last year regained its reputation as a "top investment destination in Francophone Africa, and on the continent as a whole." (

Which are the top five highest taxed African countries?
After Côte d'Ivoire, the list mentions
South Africa (45%), Uganda (40%), Senegal (40%), Zimbabwe (40%) and Guinea (40%). 

Libya (10%), Seychelles (15%), Mauritius (15%), Sierra Leone (15%) and Sudan (15%) are the African countries with the lowest tax rates.

Totally off-topic, but did you know that the largest church in the world is in Côte d'Ivoire? Constructed between 1985 and 1989, the
Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix (Basilica of Our Lady of Peace), is a Catholic minor basilica in the city of Yamoussoukro. The Basilica in Vatican City inspired the design, as is evident with its Renaissance and Baroque style.


South Korea compensates its own victims of Japanese colonialism

Refresher: About 150,000 Koreans were forced to work in factories and mines in Japan between 1910 and 1945, due to Japan's colonization of the Korean peninsula in that time period. Many more people have died.

South Korea has agreed to pay compensation to its own citizens who were forced to work in Japanese factories back then. (BBC)

Why this matters: This is a huge controversy. South Korea and Japan have been talking about this part of Japan's colonial history for a very long time now. Officials on both sides are like, 'yay!' Victims say, 'this is not holding Japan accountable. What the?'

Tell me more
Seoul's plan proposes that South Korean companies who benefited from a 1965 post-war treaty will pay donations. The fund of US$3 million will be distributed among the families of 15 original plaintiffs, only three of whom remain alive.

That's a good thing, no?
Not really. All three have said they will refuse to accept the money. Last Monday, protesters in Seoul held demonstrations outside South Korea's foreign ministry to condemn the plan by their government, which will see South Korean companies pay into a public fund for victims. Japan, in the meantime, is like, 'cool that you have stopped demanding two of our firms to pay compensation.' Japan considers the labor issue settled by the 1965 treaty of normalization. South Korea's main opposition Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung called the deal "the biggest humiliation and stain in diplomatic history". A public opinion poll has found that nearly 60% of South Koreans are against the deal as well, and 85% believe that the current Japanese government is not remorseful about its colonial rule or historical issues. (
Japan Times)

Why is this happening now?
It's got to do with South Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol. He was elected last year, and he has since sought to mend relations with Japan, another U.S. ally in the region. Of course, the U.S. is happy about this. U.S. President Joe Biden called the deal "ground-breaking" on Monday. South Korea's Foreign Minister Park Jin believes it was in the national interest to break "the vicious cycle". "If we compare it to a glass of water, I think that the glass is more than half full," he told journalists. Japan is like, 'well, if Japanese companies want to contribute, we won't tell them not to'. Meanwhile the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM) has expressed an intent to donate money to the fund. Perhaps now, Japan will follow suit. (
Korea Times)

More you might have missed 

The bad
Nigeria: At least 25 people were killed when Boko Haram gunmen stormed a fishing village in Dikwa, Borno, Nigeria. (Reuters)
United States: "An investigation by the New York Times exposed the grueling living and working conditions of Central American migrant children living in the U.S. In response, the International Mayan League issued a statement calling for an immediate need to address clear violations of child labor laws and the exploitation of Indigenous migrant children." (Central American News newsletter)
Thailand: A court in Thailand has sentenced a man to three years in jail – commuted to two years without parole, according to reports – after he was found guilty of selling a calendar that featured rubber ducks and which the prosecution claimed had defamed the country’s monarch. (Al Jazeera)
Uganda: The parliament of Uganda began debates on a proposed bill that would criminalize people identifying as part of the LGBTQ community with up to 10 years in prison. (Reuters)
New Zealand: Georgina Beyer, sex worker, survivor, Māori TV star and world’s first transgender MP, died at age 65 last week. (The Guardian)
Burundi: Speaking of anti-LGBTQ+ hate, "17 men and 7 women were on Thursday charged with 'homosexual practices and incitement to homosexual practices' by a Burundian court and face three months to two years in prison, if convicted. The 24 people were arrested on 23 February at a meeting of an NGO that works to combat the spread of HIV in a region where stigma prevents LGBTIQ+ people from seeking health services." (The Continent, issue 119)
The 'We'll See'
China: Xi Jinping is re-elected to an unprecedented third term as the President of the People's Republic of China. (The Guardian) Also, Li Qiang was elected as Premier of the People's Republic of China, succeeding Li Keqiang. (BBC)
Turkey: The Republican People's Party, Turkey's main opposition party, nominated its leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as its candidate in the upcoming election. (The New York Times) Most other parties are lending their support.
Saudi Arabia: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman formally announced the establishment of Riyadh Air, a new flag carrier airline of Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
Senegal: "A former prime minister of Senegal, Cheikh Hadjibou Soumaré, spent Thursday night in jail over an open letter he wrote to the current president, Macky Sall, asking him if he donated $12-million to a French politician whose party is best known for "hatred and rejection of others." Although unnamed in the letter, the French politician was largely understood to be Marie Le Pen, who visited Sall in January and whose far-right French political party rode on anti-immigration sentiments to become a serious power contender in that country." (The Continent, issue 119)
The good
Malaysia: Former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin was charged with corruption and abuse of power by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over a COVID-19 subsidy programme. (CNA)
United States: The United States Department of Justice found "reasonable cause to believe" that the Louisville Metro Police Department violated citizens' civil rights. The investigation was started in response to the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor. (BBC)
Chile: An estimated 400,000 women gathered to mark International Women’s Day in Santiago and other cities last week to demand access to safe, free and legal abortion. (Al Jazeera)
India: The Women's Premier League, a new professional cricket league in India, kicked off last week and is already inspiring young girls across the country. The first-ever Women's Premier League (WPL) was confirmed as one of the most lucrative female leagues in the world before the first ball was even bowled, second only to WNBA basketball. (CBC)


Album: "The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House" by Japanese composer Yoko Kanno

I recently watched Tár at the cinema. Spoiler alert: The ending shows a failed Lydia Tár, once famous composer and hugely respected by the classical world, producing scores for video games in an Asian country, implying that this is her lowest point. I didn't appreciate that ending. 

So, this is why I want to introduce to you (if you don't know her already) Yoko Kanno, a composer from Japan who's made history as one of the greatest anime composers the country has ever had. She has written scores for 
Cowboy BebopTerror in ResonanceGhost in the Shell: Stand Alone ComplexWolf's Rain and Darker than Black.

"Kanno says she discovered her love of music early and began composing when she was just two years old. She found it was easier to express emotions and feelings with music than words. She grew up in a home without a radio, television, or a record player, so she focused her attention on learning the piano," writes Hello Music Theory.

I've put some of my Kanno favourites in this newsletter's very own Spotify playlist, "
Go Global Weekly". If you don't have Spotify, YouTube it.

Article: " 'We are daring to invent the future' – the generation that rewrote Africa's story" by Petina Gappah
For the Financial Times, Zimbabwean novelist Petina Gappah writes about a group of writers who "dared to invent the future" putting a fresh, modern vision of Africa out into the world.
  • Quote: "Zimbabwe was the story of the white farmers who lost land in violent invasions. It was a story refracted through the lens of the writers Alexandra Fuller and Peter Godwin, whose memoirs were driving the narrative of what Zimbabwe meant to the west. I had enjoyed their books, which were vivid and captivating, but I was deeply unsettled that this was the set narrative of my country."
Petina Gappah’s latest novel is Out of Darkness, Shining Light (2019). The goodreads description describes it as a "captivating story of the loyal men and women who carried explorer and missionary Dr. Livingstone's body, his papers and maps, fifteen hundred miles across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England and his work preserved there."
Netflix: "Colin in Black & White" by Colin Kaepernick and Ava DuVernay, an autobiographical series about the teenage years of the famous Black athlete in the United States
I'm only mentioning this because I asked a few of my friends if they had seen it and none of them did, and I just don't want to live in that world.

I assume you know who Colin Kaepernick is. If you were alive in 2016, you probably know Kaepernick is the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, the man who, in 2016, began kneeling during the U.S. national anthem to protest racial injustice, a small act that sparked on the biggest sports controversies in the country's history.

Ciara Wardlow reviewed the series, "It feels deeply unlikely that any of the critics who were up in arms about his kneeling protests will be watching this series, but one imagines that if they did, they might spontaneously combust in a ball of rage." And: "Colin in Black & White" serves as an excellent primer on the personal as political."
  • Quote: "Some people will say the system is broken. I’m here to tell you it was intentionally built this way," says Kaepernick at one point in the series, when discussing systemic racism.
Watch the trailer here.

Music video of the week

Rasta by Valiant, a Jamaican artist who, in his latest song published just last week, as Dancehallmag describes it, "jokes that he is living like a ‘Rasta’ – a contracted reference to Rastafarians, and that he needs "No beef no passa." The double entendre highlights Rastafarians’ reluctance to indulge in certain foods (beef and pasta in this case), while also highlighting that group’s penchant for being conflict-avoidant." Of course, as always, you can listen to this new gem in this newsletter's own Spotify Playlist 'Go Global Weekly'.

On a funny note

We all suspected it, and now there’s (even more) research to prove it: Earning more money does actually make people happier.

That’s according to a new study from Daniel Kahneman and Matthew Killingsworth, researchers at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively, which finds that happiness rises as income does. (

I put this in 'funny' because how 'funny' was the gaslighting all these years? (This is sarcasm, yes.)
That's it from me. 

Have you checked out this newsletter's very own Spotify playlist Go Global Weekly yet?

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