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World Bank role important

A SENIOR diplomat says he doubts whether the world cares enough about Africa to enable the continent to amass the resources required to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Executive chairman of the African Development Policy Ownership Initiative and former Ghana Finance minister Kwesi Botchwey told participants at a recent World Bank seminar in Washington that the World Bank had a very important role to play, especially in mobilising African countries to increase investment in science and education than in military equipment.

He said the idea of a mutual compact or partnership whereby African countries fulfill their end of the bargain while the developed countries reward them for good performance had become a more or less permanent feature of the political economy of international support to African development reform efforts.

“For Africa there seems to be no end to diagnostic studies and the quest for solutions,” he said, citing United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair’s plan to set up a commission to take a fresh look at spurring African development as the most recent such endeavour.

While expressing hope that Blair’s initiative might galvanise the international community to action, Botchwey voiced doubts about whether the world cared enough about Africa.

He said with official development aid still falling well short of what is needed, trade and knowledge dissemination assume particular significance.

“The onset of the new millennium has focussed the international community’s attention on poverty that continues to afflict much of the developing world – especially in South Asia and Africa – despite two decades of policy reform,” Botchwey said. “The current rethinking of development theory and practice has evolved partly from a vigorous debate among economists, development practitioners and others on the merits and weaknesses of the Washington Consensus – a set of policy reforms that promoted deregulation, liberalisation, privatisation and fiscal discipline.”

He said within the World Bank and among academic economists and practitioners generally, African development was now seen as a “more thorough going process of transformation”.

“This new thinking on development has designated poverty reduction as the overriding goal and made empowerment of poor people and their participation in decisions affecting their lives key elements,” Botchwey said. – Staff Writer.

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