African Leaders Urge New Approach to Development

Credit: African Development Bank - Photo: 2011

African Leaders Urge New Approach to Development

By Jerome Mwanda
IDN-InDepth NewsReport

NAIROBI (IDN) – In run-up to an important global forum on aid effectiveness, African leaders from fragile and conflict-affected countries have called for new approaches to development in the region and a reassessment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The call emerged from a regional meeting on peace- and state-building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, September 7-9, 2011. Recognizing that not a single fragile state has achieved any of the eight MDGs, the African Development Bank (AfDB), along with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union Commission (AUC), organized the meeting.

Participants in the meeting were 11 ministers of finance and planning from Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Somalia, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe. They were joined by some 140 senior representatives from international organizations, and civil society.

Their aim was to shape the agenda for the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, from November 29 to December 1, 2011, which is expected to be joined by approximately 2000 delegates from around the world.

According to Development Cooperation Directorate of the Development Assistance Committee (DCD-DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, “they will review global progress in improving the impact and effectiveness of aid, and make commitments that set a new agenda for development”.

The Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness follows meetings in Rome, Paris and Accra that “helped transform aid relationships between donors and partners into true vehicles for development cooperation”, says DCD-DAC

The DAC is an international forum of many of the largest funders of aid, including 24 member states. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and UN Development Programme (UNDP) participate as observers.

At the Busan Forum next November, leaders and experts are scheduled to take stock of progress since the Accra Forum in 2008. They will also propose a new framework to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

In addition, they will seek to situate aid in its broader development context, considering ongoing and new complexities such as trade, security, and climate change. The Africa meeting sought to influence not only that agenda but also other African and international processes.

Mandated by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, the AUC, ECA and the AfDB have jointly produced the annual report on Assessing Progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals 2010. This year, the three pan-African institutions have been joined in this effort by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

This year’s report shows that, prior to the onset of the food and fuel crises and the global recession, African countries were making steady progress toward attainment of the MDGs.

Mixed Progress in MDGs

The commitment, enunciated in the Millennium Declaration of 2000 and encapsulated in the eight MDGs, has been the main impetus to advance international development over the last decade. The international community is currently evaluating progress made by countries toward the targets of the MDGs in order to chart a course forward for accelerated action on the MDGs between now and 2015.

According to the report, at the regional level progress towards MDGs in Africa has been mixed across countries. Though there is unequivocal progress on practically all MDGs, a number of targets will not be met, not because there is no progress but because the rate of progress is slower than required, says the report.

Progress has been further slowed down by the recent triple crises: food; fuel price; and financial and economic, that engulfed the entire globe. But African States and Governments remain committed and determined to achieve MDGs, says the report.

Key areas of progress include a reduction in the proportion of undernourished people on the continent, universal primary education and gender equality and empowerment. On the health front, commendable progress has been made in reducing tuberculosis, while the proportion of children sleeping under insecticide-treated bed-nets is increasing in the drive to combat malaria.

“An important element of this relative success has been the introduction, by many African countries, of specific and institutional innovations that have maintained some of the gains achieved,” states the report.

The MDGs rely on international cooperation and global partnership, which are critical for the achievement of the goals. “The partnership has remained strong, even during the 2008-2009 crisis period. Net Official Development Assistance (ODA) rose in 2008 despite the crisis,” says the report.

“However, the rise was well below the commitment of 0.7% of GNI (Gross National Income) by OECD countries,” says the report and adds: “Africa is likely to be allocated only abut USD 12 billion of the USD 25 billion envisaged for 2010 at the Gleneagles Summit (of the Group of Eight major industrial nations). This is due in large part to the underperformance of some European donors who give large shares of ODA to Africa.”

In 2009, only five developed countries reached or exceeded the UN target of 0.7% of GNI as aid to developing countries – Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark and the Netherlands. Additionally, the OECD projects that overall ODA as a proportion of GNI for the OECD/DAC members in 2010 will be 0.33%, instead of the 0.36% forecast at Gleneagles.

The report notes further that on the creation of open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system, no progress was made in 2010.

Also, for Africa, success in the Doha trade talks will be measured by progress in agriculture, Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA), duty-free and quota-free access for LDCs (least developed countries), Aid-for-Trade and Special and Differentiated Treatment (SDT). The prospects for progress on some of these issues do not appear to be very good.

The report urges African governments to: maintain sound and stable macroeconomic policies, improve national capacity to monitor and report on the MDGs; strengthen national statistical systems; strengthen MDG-based planning at all levels of government by delegating planning to lower tiers of government and building appropriate MDG-related capacity at those levels, and harnessing the potential of regional integration, including South–South cooperation. [IDN-InDepthNews – September 12, 2011]

2011 IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

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