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Partnerships or patronage for development? Business-Civil Society Organisations (CSO) partnerships in the mining sector in Madagascar

Discussion Paper 189

May 2016

Medinilla, A. 2016. Partnerships or patronage for development? Business-Civil Society Organisations (CSO) partnerships in the mining sector in Madagascar. (Discussion Paper 189). Maastricht: ECDPM.

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Business-CSO partnerships offer a range of potential benefits for addressing development challenges. These relate to their potential to link commercially, market-driven investment projects and private sector know-how that can contribute to creating more and better jobs, with socially grounded, networked approaches of CSOs whose primary aim is to promote inclusive development within a given territory.

Given the growing enthusiasm for public policy-makers to support cooperation between businesses and CSOs, there is a clear need for a greater level of transparency and accountability as well as more analysis and an in-depth understanding of the drivers and key constraints to effective strategic CSO-business partnerships for development. This is particularly so in the extractive sector in Africa, the focus of this paper.


Key messages


  • Partnerships with the private sector are the talk of the town in international cooperation. The 2030 Agenda identifies the private sector as a major driver for development. Multi-stakeholder partnerships that link market-driven private sector operations with a socially grounded approach are seen as a new holy grail for development.
  • Multi-stakeholder partnerships around the Rio Tinto’s ilmenite mine in Fort Dauphin in Southeast Madagascar illustrate that a context of minimal local governance and chronically weak and underfunded civil society reinforces the risk of instrumentalisation of CSOs.
  • The international donor community is very active in the area and can potentially counteract the balance of power by investing in a realistic territorial and multi-sector strategy that seeks to strengthen local governance in and around mining operations.
  • Multi-stakeholder partnerships can create value and a strong local dynamic. However they are not just a financing modality. Independent facilitation and brokerage is key to shift the debate from unmet expectations to realistic opportunities for the development of the region.

Read Discussion Paper 189


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Photo: Ehoala Port, Fort Dauphin, Madagascar. Courtesy: Alfonso Medinilla


In addition to structural support by ECDPM’s institutional partners Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland, this publication also benefits from funding from the Department for International Development (DFID), United Kingdom.

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Economic Transformation and TradeBusiness and DevelopmentExtractive SectorsDiscussion Papers (series)Civil societyMiningMadagascar