Improving Aid to Africa

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Overseas Development Council, 1996 - Africa, Sub-Saharan - 134 pages
As foreign aid flows decline and skepticism toward the effectiveness of aid to Africa grows, a major reassessment of aid is needed. While the ineffectiveness of aid to Africa is a long-standing concern, past studies typically have been driven bydonor priorities and have rarely focused on recipient governments. This neglect of the role of African governments is remarkable, since aid constitutes 10 to 15 percent of GNP in many African countries and often represents over half of all public investment. If the impact of official development assistance (ODA) is to be improved, recipient governments must become more involved in the reform of aid.

This essay presents the policy findings of a collaborative project of field research and analyses of how African countries use aid resources and of donor/African relations.

"The widespread belief of free market economists and nongovernmental organizations that government is the problem and not part of the solution has become a self-fulfilling prophesy in Africa,"writes van de Walle and Johnston, "donors must devote greater attention and resources to help build the capacity of African Governments to effectively manage aid, even as they encourage the central state to retrench from nonessential functions."

The study assesses current donor practices and the impact of economic crisis on aid effectiveness in the region; and it offers recommendations to promote management capacity, focusing on the integration of aid resources in development management, sectoral specialization, and public dialogue on aid.

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Project on Aid Effectiveness

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About the author (1996)

Van De Walle if Professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University.

Nicolas van de Walle is an ODC Visiting Fellow and director of the Project on Aid Effectiveness in Africa. He is also associate professor of political science at Michigan State University and has written extensively on issues of African political economy. Timothy A. Johnston is the project's assistant director.

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