The Role of Law in Development for the African Continent from a Development Agency Perspective
The African Development Bank (AfDB) legal counsel, Kalidou Gadio, was in the U.S. where he participated in the 2010 Harvard African Law and Development Conference from 16-18 April 2010. Speaking during the event, Mr. Gadio focused on "The role of law in development for the African continent from a development agency perspective."
Mr. Gadio said “From the academic and theoretical perspective, a clear linkage between law and development has been established; noting that rule of law is central to any civilization as it provides a modus operandi and infuses predictability into social and individual behaviors.”
Global population, he said, was projected to surpass 9 billion people by 2050 with the majority of the additional 2.3 billion people being from developing countries. Africa in particular, he stressed would double its population within the next forty years from 1 billion to 2 billion, to represent more than 22% of the world’s population.
Given these demographic projections, meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) remains a challenge although MDGs remain an essential step towards a prosperous and sustainable world, he pointed out, stressing that faster growth and sustained macroeconomic stability were key to meeting the MDGs as it also meant less extreme poverty, less child malnutrition, and greater progress on many other MDGs.
He underscored that a world anchored in peace, stability and shared prosperity was one which fostered sustainable development. More significantly, the role played by law in the development process was very crucial. Over the last fifty years, the role of law in development has been progressively highlighted and studied by academics and professionals, he said.
Keynote speakers at the event included the World Bank Africa Region Vice President, Obieageli Ezekwesili, and the Earth Institute Director at Columbia University, Jeffrey Sachs.
Highlights of the Speech:
- The Bank recognizes that at the heart of good governance is an equitable, effective and efficient legal and judicial system that caters to the needs of the people.
- Experience has shown that legal and judicial reform is a gradual, long-term undertaking that requires patience, governmental commitment, and significant outlays of financial resources. Policy support, particularly, economic policy support by governmental authorities is key to any successful legal or judicial reform program.
- Empirical evidence supports the view that the reform strategy succeeds where economic policies move in tandem with legal and judicial reform efforts.
- Attempts to conduct partial reforms which do not address real institutional or organizational constraints, or which lack the support of the relevant state actors, usually fail and thus frustrate expectations for fair and expedient judicial services.
The Bank’s approach therefore is to support judicial systems that are socially sensitive and equipped to efficiently and justly serve local communities; an approach that engenders the confidence required for both domestic and global transactions. Such judicial systems require the involvement of various groups including the judiciary, the law societies, legal aid groups and the academia.