Making Aid Work for Africa High Level Meeting on Development Finance Opens in Abuja
Abuja, 22 May 2006 - A high-level meeting on African development led by the African Development Bank, the Government of Nigeria and the Economic Commission for Africa opened in Abuja on Sunday to discuss the implementation of mutual commitments made by African countries and their development partners on aid delivery and effectiveness with a view to reducing poverty and attaining the millennium development Goals on target.
In a keynote address, the Nigerian finance minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, urged donor countries to support the efforts of African countries by honouring their commitments on aid disbursements.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said at the opening of the two-day conference on the theme "Financing For Development Conference; From Commitment to Action in Africa" that without follow-up on their promises, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets were not likely to be achieved in many several African countries.
She assured participants that African governments had agreed to improve governance, improve transparency and reduce corruption in line with NEPAD’s objectives.
"This is our part of the deal, and we take it seriously," she said
Putting the meeting in perspective, the President of the African Development Bank (ADB) Group, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, underscored that the meeting was taking place at a unique moment of opportunity marked by the highest level of commitments ever made to African countries, many of which were already deriving immense benefits from implementing economic, political and social reforms.
"We are mutually accountable for delivering on the commitments that each of our countries and institutions have made and for results on the ground," he said, stressing: "It is therefore imperative that we chart the roadmap to move from commitment to action because urgent action is required for Africa to achieve the MDGs"
He urged participants at the meeting to reflect on how the countries and development partners could use second generation Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) as a framework for scaling up efforts and providing predictable long-term funding to reach the MDGs.
The conferees need to address the macroeconomic impacts of scaling up aid, including important issues like the use fiscal space created by debt relief, improvements in productivity and policies necessary for the macro-economic objectives underlying increase in aid.
The AfDB President called for concerted action on developing best practices on the channels of effective and predictable aid delivery to provide a solid basis for planning.
Dr. Kaberuka emphasized the need to reflect on current aid architecture and the importance of identifying strategic partnerships and donors’ comparative advantages.
"We cannot be doing the same things in the same countries at the same time. We cannot be excellent in every thing, everywhere and all he time," he noted.
In all these, the ultimate responsibility of development in Africa lies with Africans. Long- term sustainability would come from the mobilization of domestic resources for development and raising the level of domestic savings.
On aid effectiveness and the Paris agenda, Dr. Kaberuka called for greater division of labor among the various donor agencies and international financial institutions. He noted that the expected doubling of aid to Africa will put pressure on everyone in terms of developing a common view on where the additional resources should go, the channels and the purpose, adding that dialogue must start now.
In his speech, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, underscored the need for African countries to intensify domestic resource mobilization.
"It is impossible for African countries to get the policy and fiscal spaces they are asking for if they continue to depend so perilously on external assistance," Mr. Janneh said, noting that an intensified domestic resources mobilization effort would send a positive signal of the seriousness of African governments to scale up their own efforts in order to attain the MDGs target.
Other participants at the meeting include Planning Ministers, donor government representatives, the IMF, World Bank, UN system representatives, the African Partnership Forum Secretariat and the African Union.
The conference is seeking ways to effectively implement G8 and World Summit commitments by aligning the programs of international financial institutions and bilateral donors to support the implementation of national development strategies aimed at achieving the MDGs in Africa.
At the G8 summit in Gleneagles, leaders of rich countries promised to increase aid to developing countries by around $50 billion a year by 2010. Of this, at least $25 billion will go to Africa, doubling the total aid package to Africa.
The first challenge is to ensure additional development assistance is disbursed and directed towards investments and service delivery in order to provide basic infrastructure needed to increase productivity across sectors, build schools, provide life-saving medicines and equipment, as well as train doctors, nurses, community health workers, engineers and teachers.
The second is to ensure that international financial institutions (IFIs) and bilateral donor programs are aligned with supporting the implementation of these MDG-based national development strategies.