African Countries, Donors, Civil Society Seek Ways to Maximize Development Outcomes
Tanzanian President Benjamin M’Kapa today opened the second Africa Workshop on Harmonization, Alignment and Managing for Results, urging participants to intensify the coordination and harmonization of their activities in order to accelerate development and poverty reduction, and facilitate the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Welcoming representatives of some 20 African countries and experts from the African Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank, other donor agencies, and international civil society organizations, the Tanzanian leader said "the ultimate aim of coordination, harmonization and alignment of development assistance should be to expedite poverty reduction, through tenacious implementation of home-grown strategies and programs that seek, among other things, to bolster effectiveness in the use of available resources on the one hand, and reduce, progressively, dependency on such assistance on the other."
Development cannot be imposed, the President went on, "it can only be facilitated; it requires ownership, participation and empowerment, not harangues and dictates."
In a much applauded speech, President M’Kapa pointed out that it is not enough to give aid; it is also necessary to help Africa build the capacity to competitively produce exportable goods and make it easier for the region to sell value-added products as a dignified route out of poverty.
He urged Africa’s development partners to make an effort to create room for countries in the region to author their development frameworks, in keeping with problems and circumstances facing them, the wishes of their people, and the formidable challenges they have to face in order to participate more effectively in the emerging global market.
There should be no slack in the war on poverty, the Tanzanian leader insisted, calling on donors to implement the 8th Millennium Development Goal: Developing a Global Partnership for Development. Aid coordination and harmonization, he concluded, play a key role in strengthening support of well-conceived and homegrown programs.
Speaking earlier, World Bank Vice President James Adams asked participants to consider whether the development community has done all it could to maximize development outcomes in Africa and whether there was room for more efficiency, effectiveness and improvement in the way governments and donors do business?
He said that after the formal commitment, declarations, memoranda, papers on good practice, and agreed plans of action in cities around the world, the real purpose of the 3-day workshop in Dar es Salaam is to hear first-hand from countries on issues of development effectiveness. By the end of this workshop, he added, "I hope that each and every one of us can identify at least one action or one message that we will take back to our capitals or to our country offices to improve the way we do business."
In his opening remarks, African Development Bank representative Philibert Afrika said that harmonization is aimed at supporting country-owned poverty reduction strategies and at reducing transaction costs towards enhanced development effectiveness and achieving the MDGs.
He said the ADB will intensify its support for country efforts on capacity building which it considered a pre-requisite for successful harmonization, alignment and managing for results.
Conference participants will share experiences and lessons learned by countries in Africa in managing their development programs and achieving results in different contexts. In particular, some will explain how they have leveraged the partnership with donors to meet their poverty reduction objectives.
Participants will prepare a set of messages that will be presented to a high-level forum on harmonization and alignment scheduled to take place in Paris next March.
What we have learned in Tanzania
- That it is not enough to invest heavily in social services delivery and economic infrastructure without also investing in economic growth to sustain that infrastructure;
- That effectiveness of aid should not only be measured in terms of "hard" results but also in terms of "soft" results such as technology and skills transfer and building capacity to reduce dependence;
- That project aid tends to be gulped too much by administrative overheads… mainly to keep expatriates well paid and comfortable;
- That multitudes of aid projects and programs financed by different development partners, each with their own procedures and standards for accessing resources, accounting, reporting and evaluation created an impossible overload situation for weak administrative systems;
- That too many resources that could have contributed to development were spent on procurement of goods and services from high cost sources [and] that tied aid is, in many, though not all cases, not effective aid;
- That we do not pay enough attention to the role of trade and investment, and the private sector, in development. Today we know that the current global trade regime is not conducive to success in the war on poverty.