A Renewed Global Partnership for a Post-2015 Era

Between 2000 and 2009, eleven African countries grew at an annual rate of 7 percent or more, which is considered sufficient to double their economies in ten years. Africa’s collective GDP at over US$2 trillion today is roughly equal to Brazil’s or Russia’s, and larger than India’s. On the economic front, Africa is now seen as a vibrant frontier market and an emerging pole of growth.

Social and political indicators have also improved with significant achievements in primary school enrolment and gender parity. Declines in HIV/AIDS prevalence rates and maternal deaths have been recorded. However, unemployment remains high particularly among the youth, the gains in HIV/AIDS and malaria have been driven by access to vertical funds, nearly half the population is considered poor and Africa MDG progress is below par.

There is no doubt that global partnerships can provide the impetus for tackling the key socio-economic development challenges facing Africa. India went from being one of the world’s largest recipient of foreign aid in mid-1980s to become a net donor with foreign aid constituting less than 0.3% of its national GDP and is now a member of the G20 and the BRICS. India’s development performance is one of the most spectacular of the past 50 years.  The country led an agricultural revolution transforming it into a net exporter of food, doubling its life expectancy, and halving its poverty rate.

Global partnerships, therefore, can work for Africa if they are aligned with the strategic vision of the continent and buttressed by a unified continental voice. The mixed results recorded with MDG8 on the one hand, and Africa’s ambition of fostering sustainable transformative growth on the other hand, warrants that we think global partnership anew. The imminent end of the MDG era thus provides an opportunity to revisit global partnerships, in a way that is mutually beneficial and sustainable.

Global trade patterns are currently not in Africa’s interest. At the dawn of the adoption of the next set of global development goals, Africa’s contribution to global trade remains marginal, around 3 per cent, still dominated by primary commodities and largely unchanged since 2000.

Efforts to increase the continent’s share of global trade through Aid for Trade and preferential market access initiatives have yielded mixed results. Though Aid for Trade commitments has increased in recent years, disbursements have fallen short of commitments. Furthermore, the proportion of developed country imports from Africa (admitted duty-free) has stagnated. These trends are unfortunate since trade represents an important mechanism for promoting enduring economic growth and employment in developing countries.

That being said, we need to remain mindful of the heterogeneity of African countries such as the least developed countries (LDCs), the landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and the small island developing states (SIDS).  The special needs of these countries as acknowledged by the Millennium Declaration must be reflected in the next global partnership framework which should do even better in terms of financing options for the most vulnerable countries.

What could be some desirable features for a new global partnership framework?

Global partnerships remain fundamental for addressing global concerns such as climate change, conflict and insecurity, financial instability, illicit capital flow, or health threats.

A new Global partnership must be mutually beneficial, promote autonomy of African states including through support for skills, technological development and industrialization as well as address Africa’s developmental priorities. And while these priorities are country-specific, structural transformation and the development of the requisite capacities to sustain the transformation agenda are two areas that are common to most African countries. This new partnership must avoid the donor-recipient logic underpinning the Millennium Development Goal 8, relating to global partnerships and promote fair trade, foreign direct investment and forge cooperation with the indigenous private sector.

In parallel, Africa must assume greater ownership of its development agenda. This will require that countries undertake a critical assessment of their domestic resource potential and develop resource mobilization strategies aimed at maximizing that potential. Domestic resource mobilization is not only about fund-raising, it is also about restoring the accountability of the State to its people and correcting the inverted accountability of the State to development partners.  Such accountability will require sound Monitoring and Evaluation frameworks, and a good base-line data starting in 2015. Hence, official statistical systems and additional information systems need special attention and support.

The new framework must also take into consideration the initial conditions of each country. This is important since performance should be appreciated in light of the road traveled, relative to the point of departure. We cannot repeat the methodological mistake of increasing every country’s progress towards a universal goal as if they were all in the same departing line. In this light, mutual accountability, mechanisms of enforcement, mechanisms that foster compliance of multinational firms to international norms and standards should be indispensable features for this framework.

And finally, the future global partnership will have to include new sets of actors such as the private sector, parliamentarians, civil society, private foundations, women and the youth. In particular, the voices of the youth must be heard in the youngest continent.

As we transition to the successor development agenda we must be united in our commitment to negotiate a global partnership and financing architecture that is respectful of the development priorities of Africa, promotes the mutual interests of developed and developing countries and credibly holds all sides accountable for their actions.  Failure to do so will constitute a dereliction of our duty as leaders of our institutions, communities and countries.

This article was originally published in  www.thebrokeronline.eu

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First published by UNECA