No More Marshall Plans, Africa Needs A New Development Model

Public development assistance has not achieved its objective of reducing entrenched poverty in Africa. Its scarcity requires the use of new forms of co-financing and investment.

Lining up for food in Somalia, where they are experiencing a severe drought .
Lining up for food in Somalia, where they are experiencing a severe drought .
Jacques Hubert-Rodier

PARIS — Why didn't the $1 trillion of aid destined for public development over the past 50 years improve the quality of life for most Africans? This was the question at the heart of Dambisa Moyo's book, published eight years ago, Dead Aid.

The Zambian economist left Oxford and Harvard behind to advocate for a gradual abandonment of the development aid model that accounted for nearly 15% of African GDP. According to Moyo, and a growing number of other economists, this model has had many negative side-effects: a distortion of competition, corruption of the ruling classes, a cumbersome bureaucracy and even the aggravation of ethnic tensions brought on in the divvying up of the "booty."

The aid, distributed in the form of either grants or subsidized loans, has also led to a significant increase in the debts owed by the countries concerned. The conditions attached to the aid, such as greater fiscal discipline and better governance are, in many experts' opinions, a form of paternalism lording over poorer countries. The emergency fund created by U.S. President George W. Bush for the fight against AIDS in Africa was accompanied by programs for the promotion of sexual abstinence and marital fidelity.

Even though it was largely modeled on the Marshall Plan, the massive U.S.-led effort to help Europe recover from World War II, the aid strategy for Africa has been as much of a failure as the Marshall Plan was a success. The continent has not managed to emerge from poverty or build the infrastructure necessary for its development over the past several decades. Meanwhile Asia, in particular China and India, has seen a rapid decline in its rate of "extreme poverty," while that measurement still touches more than 35% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa today, according to the World Bank.

Increasingly, aid donors — both bilateral and multilateral — have changed their very conception of development aid: moving away from direct assistance to national governments, towards forms of co-financing and support for private investment. For we must not deceive ourselves: The change in the White House will have real effects. "You won't be hearing President Donald Trump talking about a Marshall plan to lift countries out of poverty," said Rosa Whitaker, who was the U.S. trade representative for Africa under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Indeed, the 2018 U.S. budget foresees major cuts to international development.

Cameroon's Albert Zeufack, the World Bank's chief economist for Africa, told the magazine Jeune Afrique that "the way we conceive of finance has evolved." The institution has earmarked $57 billion over the next three years, whereas it would require $48 billion each year for Africa's infrastructure alone. The French Development Agency recently launched a 600-million-euro fund to finance infrastructure projects in Africa.

The continent's economic growth has slowed significantly to 1.4% in 2016. And even the IMF's forecast for a rebound to a 2.5% would be largely insufficient to cope with population growth, expected to rise from 1.2 billion to 4.4 billion Africans by the end of this century.

Still, the debate on aid fundamentally shifted as China and India began to invest heavily in Africa. For Whitaker, who set up her own firm, TWG, in 2003 to mobilize investment from multinationals to Africa without relying on public aid, the mentality must change. "We must replace paternalism with the partnership approach."

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"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

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