Over the last few weeks, we’ve looked over the recommendations of the Commission for Africa on governance, peace building, trade, social policy and aid. In the final chapter of their report, the Commission outlines the other, wider changes to the process of international governance, and the attitudes of rich-country governments, that are needed to “make it happen.”

1. Development must be African-led. “History has shown that development does not work if it is driven from outside,” the report argues. “Regardless of how well intentioned outside donors may be, they will never fully understand what Africa requires… Africans must lead, and the rich world must give support.” In practice, this means aid should generally be given straight to African governments to use in line with their own priorities. Project support direct to NGOs should only be a last resort, where there is no coherent development strategy from Government and no transparency to ensure the money is used properly. African regional organisations, like the African Union and NEPAD, should also be supported.

2. Change in the major international institutions. The Commission doesn’t share World Bank decision making. Note lack of Africans.the desire of some activists for these IMF and World Bank to be abolished – indeed, it calls for the World Bank to devote more resources and staff to Africa. But they do seek significant changes in the way they work. The Commission calls for the World Bank to follow the recommendations already laid out for aid: grants, not loans, longer-term assistance, better co-ordination between donors. For the IMF’s part, it needs more flexibility in the enforcement of its budget rules (more on this vexed issue later). Moreover, the Report demands “that Africa is given greater say in decision-making in these multilateral bodies. Africa should be given a stronger voice on the executive boards of the World Bank and IMF” (p47). The question of IMF and World Bank governance is large and complex; suffice to say the Commission takes a moderate approach, calling for a temporary extra two places for African governments on the main governing boards1. Moreover, they call to transfer the main management of the two institutions from the current large, bureaucratic committees to smaller councils. And, they argue, the custom of the EU and US choosing presidents of the IMF and World Bank should end. The Commission also calls for increased African representation on the UN Security Council, and for membership of the World Trade Organization to be made easier for poor countries, in order to help them influence negotiations.
3. A monitoring institution to check on progress. Not just on aid given, but on its effectiveness and the improvements in a range of other areas. The commission suggests an independent body headed by two high-profile figures, an African and a non-African (which is more or less what happened).

The chapter also includes a stirring restatement of the need for continued political commitment to development by both African and rich-country governments, and a recap of the key arguments for taking urgent action. I won’t summarise this, but it’s worth a read – you can find it on page 66 of Part 1 of the report.

And that’s it! We’ve summarised the Report of the Commission for Africa. Next, I’ll prepare a quick bullet-point Summary of the Summary, and we’ll look at some of the criticisms of the report.

The Report of the Commission for Africa has 1 chapter devoted to the changes described above. You could also see pages 61-66 of the report’s Part 1: The Argument. Page numbers are from the published version of Part 1. Confused? You will be..Notes

  1. More radical proposals typically start with abolishing the current system of dividing up votes according to the funds countries put in to the institutions, leaving them effectively run by rich countries. The Commission stops short of calling for this.