Broken Promises Foreshadow Problematic Future
Donors are not making good on their promises of aid commitments to Africa, contends African Monitor, a Cape Town- based NGO that monitors development aid and debt in Africa. This statement was made by Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane at a conference hosted in Johannesburg from 28-29 May 2007.
In the year since its launch, African Monitor has conducted a baseline study to index all aid commitments made to Africa by donors and African governments since 2005 - in addition to monitoring progress on converting pledges to transfers. Their findings reveal that aid to Africa has remained static since 2005 and has actually decreased overall if debt to Nigeria and Iraq is excluded. Ndungane cautioned that aid to Africa is projected to decrease in 2007 and 2008 if current donor trends continue, i.e., donors who promised to double aid to the continent at the 2005 Gleneagles G8 Summit, are largely not fulfilling their promises.
One of the firm commitments made at this G8 summit is that official development assistance (ODA) would increase to 0.7% of GNI by 2015, the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). However, Namhla Mniki of the African Monitor argues that a significant 70% of the aid currently coming to Africa is not even directly linked to MDGs.
One of the reasons behind the lacklustre performance of donors is a lack of political will to deal with poverty eradication as a priority argued Moreblessings Chidause of Afrodad, one of the participating NGOs in the conference. Moreover, donors tended to favour certain countries. Making reference to donor darlings, Ndungane contends that a small group of 10 African countries received 50% of all ODA targeted at the continent.
Most concerning to Ndungane was the fact that donor support to agriculture and rural development has decreased - a major concern given that Africa has a large rural population that is dependent on agricultural activities for its survival. The situation is particularly discouraging in light of the detrimental relationship between aid and trade, where donor countries have been criticised for attaching trade conditions to aid. Acknowledging the significance of trade as a key solution to Africa’s problems, the collapse of the Doha Development Round of the World Trade Organisation was quoted as a major challenge facing African governments.
The African Monitor, which promotes the principle of sustainable livelihoods, argues that aid will not guarantee sustainable livelihoods for the poor, but trade will. Accordingly, the organisation intends lobbying key donors such as the G8 and European Union with strong advocacy messages to ensure that they adhere to their delivery promises and make increased investments into sectors such as agriculture, education, employment, rural development and rural infrastructure.
At the same time the organisation will be lobbying African governments to ensure that funds raised through income and aid are effectively channelled to development on the ground. According to the African Monitor, it is extremely important for African governments to develop exit strategies which while decreasing donor dependency also increases the trading capacity of African people, strengthening south-south exchanges.
- Fazila Farouk, Editor, SANGONeT.
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