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The number of armed conflicts on the continent has reduced vis-à-vis the number of conflicts in the last decade. That is one of the conclusions authors of the African Development Report that was released on May 10, 2009, in Dakar, Senegal, reached.
The theme of the publication born out of a partnership among various Bank Group departments is: “Conflict Resolution, Peace and Reconstruction in Africa.”
“The report place emphasis on armed conflicts which imply one or several rebel groups,” the AfDB Chief Economist, Louis Kasekende, explained. The AfDB Development Research Director, Léonce Ndikumana, for his part, said rebel movements are generally made up of young people who do not have other means of finding work. He added that the causes of conflicts are many and varied. They however have a common feature: the numerous loss of human life. And Africa is one of the regions that has paid such a heavy price.
“For a conflict to break out, there need to be a trigger,” Mr. Kasekende stressed. The Sierra Leonean Finance and Development Minister, Samura Kamara, said the new AfDB report would facilitate the understanding of armed conflicts on the continent. Former AfDB President, Babacar Ndiaye, for his part, commended the publication of such a document. “In the statutes of our institutions, political aspects were [until recently] excluded,” he recalled, acknowledging AfDB’s evolution in that regard. “I hail this progress,” he said.
Conflicts have huge economic consequences. The most important, according to Mr. Ndikumana, is that it leads to a contraction of economic activity. For investors, all hopes are usually dashed once an armed conflict breaks out. Another consequence of armed conflict is a spike in corruption.
After a conflict, reconstruction begins. The report’s authors underscore the fragility of post-conflict countries. These countries usually depend on bilateral and multilateral aid and always need technical assistance.
“The AfDB is committed to increasing resources for post-conflict countries,” Mr. Kasekende said. It has already established a Fragile States Facility. The Burundian Finance Minister, Clotilde Nizigama, underscored that her country was seeking funds to finance reintegration and demobilization operations for former rebels. “If a country commits to resolving a conflict, it is necessary for development partners to help the country,” she said.
Respondng to the request from the Burundian minister, the AfDB Fragile States Unit Head, Margaret Kilo said that “The AfDB does not intervene directly in demobilization and reintegration operations.” This response resulted in a call by the Sierra Leonean Finance Minster, Samura Kamara, for the AfDB to exercise some flexibility in its interventions. “There should also be a disarmament and demobilization component,” he urged.
We have made a lot of progress. Today, although it is said that the number of conflicts on the continent have reduced, I am however scared that Darfur alone is more than ten other conflicts on the continent. There are therefore conflicts that completely wipe out all development efforts (…). We know how to finance projects, programmes, budgets and this is the plan we have provided. But when we make this type of contributions, we come to realize that it is not a panacea given that the causes of conflict are different. I would like to submit that the AfDB which takes care of economic and financial governance and makes contributions in this domain should ensure that the financing is accompanied by discussions either at the level of ECOWAS or other institutions, (…). The AfDB can know which type of meeting to hold on your programme in order to calm down things. I am also seeing historians, sociologists and religious officials playing a role in the process. It is also important that at the time we intervene, we should invite all key players in the society to discuss and figure out how everyone will be able to play their role.