Update on African development debate

In: Uncategorized

27 Sep 2007

BBC online has published a useful article which gives some insights into the contemporary debate on African development. After discussing how Africa is unlikely to met the Millennium Development Goals it quotes Simon Maxwell, the director of the Overseas Development Institute, saying that they “were always meant to be more of a tool of political mobilisation than an exact guide to aid strategy.” I take this to mean they were primarily for propaganda purposes in the West than promoting African development.

The article then goes on to discuss the latest report on economic development in Africa from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad). The report calls on African countries to follow the least of East Asia and encourage “developmental states” to help them develop. This view is supported by the likes of Matthew Lockwood (see post of 6 April 2007) and non-governmental organisations.

It is often said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) promotes an opposing free market view to that of Unctad. But a speech to an Oxfam event this week by John Lipsky, the IMF’s first deputy managing director, envisioned an extensive role for the state in his conclusion:

“The public sector also helps to create the possibility of faster growth by providing a stable and predictable macroeconomic environment; by reducing the cost of doing business; by infrastructure investments; by providing health and education services; and by other sectoral reforms, including through improving financial and other regulations. And, of course, by working to reduce barriers to increased trade.”