Wednesday, November 30, 2011

U.S., U.K. Cheer Africa Growth, Call for Good Governance

Economic growth, job creation and better livelihoods are improving the quality of life in many African nations, and U.S. and U.K. officials say good governance and leadership must be in place for the pattern to continue. 

 Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a joint statement November 28 expressing their optimism about the economic growth and opportunity they see in Africa. 

"Over the past decade, eight economies from sub-Saharan Africa have more than doubled in size," the Shah-Blair statement said. "Foreign direct investment increased fivefold from 2000 to 2010, domestic revenues have grown, and aid dependence fallen." 

Shah and Blair, the founder of the Africa Governance Initiative, issued the statement from Busan, South Korea, where they are participating in the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. The two also cite "remarkable" political progress, with the number of democracies in sub-Saharan Africa increasing from three in 1989 to 23 in 2008. 

A new generation of optimistic and determined leaders can be credited with that progress, the statement said. 

The joint statement also suggests that the progress of recent years can be sustained only "if we get both governance and growth right." 

Governments everywhere must act to improve the lives of citizens, they said, and markets must be effective and enlightened as they help to boost living standards for all. In keeping with the theme of the Busan meeting, the Shah-Blair statement suggests policies both aid recipients and donors should follow to maintain sustainable growth and progress: 
 . Leaders must define clear priorities and lead their implementation. 
. Donor nations and leaders must focus on their capacity to support those priorities. 
. Leadership must commit to openness and transparency. 
. Leaders must ensure that markets work in the best interest of citizens. 
. A new partnership for development must evolve, based on "triangular relations among the rich, emerging, and low-income countries." 

The conference in Busan has a history reaching back to a 2005 Paris meeting where about 100 government and development-aid representatives pledged to follow a set of principles and actions to make aid more effective. 

 (published by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)