“The Times They Are A-Changin”

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      Views from African consultations on the post-2015 development agenda

      As the date of 2015 approaches, the international community is analysing the results of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were omnipresent in the development debate since 2000.

      But many are already looking further, beyond the magic date of 2015.

      Multi-stakeholder consultations are taking place in almost 100 countries worldwide with a view to shape the new development agenda beyond 2015. The information that will be generated through this consultative process should influence the proceedings of the UN International High-Level Panel on post-2015.

      This Panel, that is co-chaired by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from Liberia and President Susilo Yudhoyono from Indonesia, is composed of 27 eminent persons from all parts of the world. Over the past months the Panel has met three times and it will meet again at the end of March in exotic Bali before presenting its conclusions to UN Secretary general Ban Ki-Moon in May in New York.

      Traditionally, debates on new development agendas are largely dominated by multilateral agencies and “Northern” OECD member states. As the largest “donor” of development cooperation, the EU plays an active role in these debates.

      Last week the European Commission released a Communication outlining a proposal for an EU position on the post-2015 agenda - click here to read our short analysis and reaction to it. In early April the EU will launch its comprehensive 2013 European Report on Development that exclusively focuses on the post-2015 Global Agenda.

      But where does Africa fit in this process?

      Just a week ago the Pan-African Parliament, in cooperation with UNDP, hosted over several days an African thematic consultation on Governance and the post-2015 Development Agenda in Midrand, South Africa. It was a lively African driven debate, highlighting key African concerns and expectations for a new and more inclusive and sustainable global development framework.

      Some highlights from the discussions include:

      •  While there is progress with the MDGs’ poverty and social development agenda in Africa, the MDGs are “unfinished business” as they do not address the root causes and patterns of poverty and inequality. The time has come for a fundamental political and economic transformation in Africa on its own terms that will bring inclusive and sustainable development for the next generations. To quote one intervention: “Poverty and inequality are not just accidents, but the result of power relationships and injustice. Any post-2015 development agenda should, therefore, tackle the issue of governance which is critical in improving the lives of African people.”
      • Human rights should become a central pillar for the post-2015 development framework.  Participants asked if there “can be development without freedom and respect for human rights”…. “Governments who want to remove human rights from the post-2015 agenda risk to be on the wrong side of history”,  said one speaker. Reference was made in this context to some of the widely applauded African “development models” - Rwanda and Ethiopia for example -  which have high scores on MDGs but rather low track records on human rights and political freedoms.
      • Serious warnings were issued towards an overly strong reliance of African economies on the “booming” extractive sectors. The fast economic growth due to these sectors is largely driven by alliances between foreign companies and African elites while the fruits of this growth do not seem to trickle down to the majority of the African citizens in terms of jobs and a more equal distribution of wealth. Small and medium-sized African businesses and the informal sector hold more potential for inclusive growth. But setting up a business in many African countries is a “high risk gamble” because of costly red tape and, again, the lack of appropriate governance frameworks.
      • Strong intentions were expressed to become less dependent on volatile external donor funding that has created in the past 50 years excessive “addiction and dependency”. Africa should be able to largely finance the transformation agenda post-2015 through the mobilisation and effective allocation of domestic resources. At the end of the day this will contribute to reinforced state-citizen relationships and to more equal development. Even poor African societies with large informal sectors should be able to generate substantial resources. Trust between the government and the people and strong, capable and credible institutions are essential to mobilise the necessary resources for development.
      • The international community could take a much stronger role in controlling large international corporations and in curbing the massive illicit capital flight to the “North”.It is striking to see that Africa exports substantially more capital to the world in comparison to what it receives in terms of international aid and remittances.

      Clearly, the African continent does not any longer want to undergo agendas that are designed elsewhere. Many Africans seem to be committed more than ever to reduce aid dependency and to build alliances for change with all types of new partners on their own terms. Definitively the African post-2015 agenda holds potential for a change of attitudes and a development agenda of structural transformation beyond aid. But getting rid of years-long addiction is always a very painful process  that requires time, lots of courage and … a conducive  national and international governance context.


      Geert Laporte is ECDPM’s Deputy Director.

      This blog post features the author’s personal views and does not represent the view of ECDPM.

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