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Aid and Development in Africa

Conclusions of the International Conference of Safe Democracy [1]

By Mbuyi Kabunda, rapporteur

CONCLUSIONS OF THE EXPERTS:

“In Africa, democracy, human rights, and development must be tied together, insisting more on the causes than on the effects of problems on the continent. We must give priority to the resolution of the causes and not the effects of African problems, with Affirmative Action programs, and projects to end historic, structural, and symbolic aggressions that, alongside poor administration and corruption in government, are responsible for the failure of development in Africa.”

“It is time for Africa to develop its own model for development and growth”.

Rapporteur:
Mbuyi Kabunda, professor and expert in African affairs and member of the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Moderator:
Abuy Nfubea, journalist and president of the Pan African Federation of Black Communities in Spain.

Experts:
Marta Arias Robles, director of the Department of Campaigns and Studies for Intermon Oxfam in Spain. She is licensed in Law and has a Master Degree in International Cooperation. She has been part of the Cooperation for Development for ten years. Currently she coordinates the Annual Report on the Reality of Aid. She directs the Campaign for Objectives of the Millennium for Intermon Oxfam and is member of the managing team of the same campaign in Oxfam International.

Silvia Escobar, ambassador for Human Rights of Spain. She is the first female president of Amnesty International in Madrid and is vice president of the CEAR Foundation, Council for Support of Refugees. She was a member of the city assembly of Madrid and director of Social Services for the Red Cross.

Ryan C. Napoli, lawyer specialized in the defence of civil rights. He currently works at MFY Legal Services in New York, representing people and indigent groups in a great variety of cases spanning from housing, civil rights, poverty and immigration. He defends cases of social justice including representing those accused after the September 11th attacks. He has collaborated as well with the Grameen Foundation, implementing microcredits in the Americas and transcribing law proposals in Washington.

Jesús Rivillo Torres, sociologist, founder and director of INATUR, an organization dedicated, since 1991, to the local and social-communitarian development, cooperation, environmental education and implantation of Integrated Systems of Management.

Julio Maíz Sanz, licensed in Law and Geography and History. He has collaborated in diverse magazines for 14 years, as analyst of defence and military themes in general, especially aeronautics. He has done work for magazines such as Avion Revue, Aeronautica and Defensa, Soldier, Air Fan, etc.

Isabelle Mauro, director of Institutional Relations and Public Issues for the GSM Association, located in London. She is responsible for the advocacy campaigns of GSM, in affairs related to the mobile telephone industry on the global level. She has a Master in European Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Gerardo Shulman, architect and traveller, he is integrated in the NGO Architects Without Borders, Barcelona. Ex-patriot of Burkina Fasso and Mozambique, he is responsible for the international cooperation and collaboration with the Catalan Agency for Cooperation and Development. He dedicated a great part of the last few years making extensive trips to Africa, Asia and Latin America in which he has focused his work on the rural world and on vernacular architecture.

(THE FOLLOWING IS A SUMMARY OF THE CONCLUSIONS REACHED BY THE WORKING TABLE)


[2]DONORS tend to be characterized by a stark ignorance about the cultures, realities, and diversity of Africa. Most people consider the continent to be a uniform and monolithic entity, therefore incapacitating their ability to devise working solutions to the complex problems that plague the continent. Africa must be considered in pluralist terms.

AID FOR DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA comes with strings attached, and obeys the commercial and geo-strategic interests of its donors. After having declined during the post-Cold War era (the era of compassion), aid has regained its previous levels, serving for other objectives than the creation of ODMs. Since 9/11, aid has played a new role, being given out to African nations in order to fight against terrorism, deal with immigration issues, finance access to petroleum, and diplomatically isolate rogue states. This aid, however, has achieved insignificant results for a variety of external and internal factors. Poor distribution plans organized by corrupt officials, corruption on the part of the beneficiaries, and the predominance of the commercial, economic and geo-strategic interests of donors have caused the aid to go to waste rather than reduce poverty and improve the quality of life in African society. Rather than working for Africans from a standpoint of ignorance, donors must work with Africans from within Africa, understanding the complexity of the continental need.

In the programs and projects for the reconstruction of Africa, the State and the private sector must learn to coexist, placing emphasis in both on socially responsible action. Integrated economies seem to be the most appropriate step for development in Africa, allowing some state intervention while establishing a fixed judicial framework to ensure social justice within the actions of the private sector.

AGRICULTURE, although an abandoned sector of the African economy, is itself the future of Africa. African agriculture must break from mono-cultivation (cultivation for export), and internalize its domestic consumption through rational agriculture, fighting against northern protectionism and the consequences of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). It is also important to bear in mind the destructive impact of food aid on local production, and on the sovereignty and security of nourishment in Africa. African economies must produce enough food to become self-sufficient, diversifying their economies. In this aspect of development, NEPAD committed a grave error in insisting on the creation of large regional infrastructure at the expense of local agriculture. This entire process must also be careful to avoid the green revolution which can have devastating environmental effects.

THE RESOLUTION OF INTERNAL CONFLICTS is essential to the promotion of stability in Africa. Government forces and warlords, both of whom have been responsible for large-scale violations of human rights in times of conflict, must be forced to respect International Human Rights Law. The same must also be upheld with regards to Western multinational corporations that export massive quantities of weapons to African war zones. The West must be held responsible for stoking the flames of bloodshed and violence in Africa. This culture of impunity must come to an end.

INVESTMENT IN AFRICA: It is shocking that Africa, which represents 13 percent of the world population, only makes up about 2 percent of the world’s economy, despite its comparative advantages in mining, hydrocarbons, and agriculture. It is considered that only under a trustworthy judicial framework and political stability can external investors be attracted to the continent, in particular for the creation of investment banks in African nations. Investments should be directed first and foremost towards human development and the strengthening of institutions, and not exclusively to monetary and mercantilist goals. Basically, money should be invested in local affairs and internal markets.

THE STRENGTHENING OF A BUSINESS SPIRIT: A system of micro financing should be established to give money to the women and youth of Africa who make up the majority of the continent’s population. Women and youth should be able to take their destinies into their own hands, by following the example of Asia where great gains have been made in the empowerment of women using micro-credits, cell phone distribution in order to make contacts and share experiences, and the reduction of the high commission costs of intermediaries and money transfer agencies.

THE AFRICAN UNION AND NEW PARTNERSHIP FOR AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT (NEPAD) are two important African initiatives for Africa’s incorporation into the globalized economy. They offer African solutions to African problems. In both cases, however, there is still a long way to go before truly maximalist Pan-African projects are able to get off the ground. The AU, although its formation signifies an important step away from the failures of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), is an organization of classical interstate cooperation and not a supranational organization. Its economic arm, NEPAD, has inserted itself into the global framework of neo-liberal economic suggestions and the strengthening of a profit-driven economy. Its merit, apart from taking an objective census of African problems and discussing their external and internal causes, consists in supporting regional projects and strengthening regional infrastructure. The AU should take on a stronger role in resolving African conflicts (like those in Darfur, Rwanda, Somalia, and the Ivory Coast