Participants Share Perspectives on Improving Results Communication

24/03/2010
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A roundtable on multilateral aid and improving results communication, organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and the development communication network (DevCom Network), went underway on 22 March 2010, in Tunis with participants sharing perspectives on a wide range of issues communicators face when communicating on development and multilateral aid results.  Speaking at the event, which brought together key players in the world of bilateral and multilateral aid, the AfDB Communication Unit Head, Antoinette Batumubwira, urged participants to share their experiences which will go a long way in helping multilateral agencies in their efforts to find a better way to communicate about the results of their projects.

In a keynote address, the AfDB Research Director, Leonce Ndikumana, pointed out that Africa had recorded strong a pre-crisis growth, adding that the growth was impressively higher than that posted in other regions. He stressed that the growth was largely driven by favorable external conditions such as high demand for commodities and high prices, prudent macro-economic policies, increased capital flows, and debt relief. He also said that the continent’s post-crisis prospects were positive, with the continent showing signs of strong growth recovery. He added that estimates show that official development assistance (ODA) had actually not declined, stressing that even private flows were showing signs of recovery in some countries. As proof of these positive signs, he advised that a €70-million French sugar investment deal in favor of Algeria had been signed last week, while Bahrain was expected to invest US$54 million in Libyan banks. Japan, for its part, will invest US$8.5 billion in Nigeria’s natural gas sector.

He however pointed out that there were still huge challenges on the way, stressing that the continent’s weaknesses included its dependence on commodities and its undiversified economies. He added that Africa was heading for a lagged income recovery, underscoring that the human and social cost of the crisis could be devastating. He supported his thesis with an ILO report that states that the continent witnessed a 10% rise in unemployment in 2009, with the number of working poor expected to reach unprecedented levels.

He underscored that multilateral aid to the continent was fraught with myths and realities, highlighting that there were aid financing gaps. He advised that aid dependence as a percentage of the budget may be misleading. He called for an increase in aid to the continent, stressing that there was hard evidence of large financing gaps with the infrastructure gap estimated at US$31 billion per year and an MDG financing gap standing at US$50 billion per year.

He said aid delivered to the continent had generated unsatisfactory results due to missing accompanying and enabling measures such as technical assistance and structural reforms; lack of strategic focus marked by often shifting targets; inadequate coordination and polices that do not adequately integration into national development strategies.

He pointed out that the AfDB was more than just a lending bank, recalling that the continent’s leading development finance institution was using knowledge as tool to enhance aid and external financing results.

The two-day event aims at providing an up-to-date overview on existing tools to communicate on multilateral aid by exploring experiences and sharing best practices among practitioners from various institutions, as well as seeking ways of helping multilateral and bilateral institutions work more closely in terms of development communication, in general, and results-based communication, in particular. Communicators from bilateral ministries and agencies perceive communicating on multilateral aid as a controversial issue and define it as one of the most difficult tasks in their daily work. The two-day roundtable is being held on the theme: “Challenges in Communicating on Results of Multilateral Aid”,