Counting More on Changing Mindsets Rather than on Financial Resources to Promote Sustainable Development

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Africa’s development challenges can no longer be reduced to financial issues, but rather to a change in development paradigms which call for a voluntary mindset change with regard to money, especially development aid. That’s a view held by experts, representatives of development finance institutions and the civil society who attended the forum on aid effectiveness which took place in Tunis from 4-5 November 2010, under the aegis of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group.

According to participants at the forum, development is, first and foremost, a mentality and behavior issue. A country may have huge financial and material resources without the capacity to bring about harmonious and sustainable social and economic development. There are resource-poor countries that have made significant progress. A case in point is Cape Verde which is earning respect due to its impressive public finance management; good governance and democratic transition even though it is resource-poor, and does not even have enough fresh water. It is bound to desalinate sea water in order to have drinkable water, but it has succeeded in transiting from a heavily indebted poor country to a middle-income country.

African countries are called upon to reflect on changes in development aid that have pushed them into a vicious cycle of dependence that has not resulted in any major progress. Even if aid is indispensable because it is a clear symbol of global solidarity, it is still ill-advised to depend on it. In this regard, counter-balancing the dependence requires mobilizing internal resources. Furthermore, each dollar given as aid must be efficiently used given that it is provided by taxpayers in donor countries. At a time when the global financial crisis has hit so many economies hard, development aid recipients should be more rigorous in the management of resources given to them. It behooves governments and project beneficiaries to ensure transparency in the management of these resources.  A change in mentality regarding sustainable development is therefore urgent.