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Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa

Progress, Prospects, and Policy Implications


June 2002

Global Poverty Report 2002

This report was prepared by an African Development Bank team led by Henock Kifle and including Mohammed Hussain and Hailu Mekonnen, with contributions from J. Litse, Z. El Bakri, and N. Makonnen. World Bank staff collaborating on the report’s preparation were Amar Bhattacharya, Alan Gelb, Makiko Harrison, Robert Liebenthal, Eric Swanson, and Xiao Ye. Bruce Ross-Larson was the principal editor, with Meta de Coquereaumont, Wendy Guyette, and Stephanie Rostron.
[Download complete report - 301Kb ~ 2 min (36 pages)]     [ Share with a friend  ]

Executive summary

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have elicited great interest and attracted broad support from the international community. At the recent Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, world leaders reaffirmed their clear and unequivocal support for the goals. The experience of the last decade has shown that achieving them will be difficult but not impossible. The countries of Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean are on course to fulfill many of the MDGs. But few African countries are likely to meet most of them.

There are, however, considerable variations in the prospects of individual African countries. Those that have implemented sound economic policies and improved their systems of governance have seen an acceleration in growth and poverty reduction and are likely to make significant headway in the future. There are, by contrast, other countries where policy improvements have yet to be secured, largely due to conflicts and poor governance, and where little progress on the MDGs is likely.

Accelerated progress toward meeting the MDGs will require action by African countries and intensified support from the international community. African countries need to act in three main areas:
  • Deepening macroeconomic reforms, and enhancing domestic competitiveness and efficiency, as foundations for a favorable investment climate and pro-poor growth.
  • Strengthening democratic institutions and systems of public budget and financial management to ensure that governments are accountable to their people, especially for the effective use of public resources.
  • Investing adequate resources in human development.
In the reforming countries, a more effective framework for channeling increased assistance is being put in place, consisting of country-owned Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) at the national level and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) at the regional level. These countries will need the support of the international community if their progress is to be sustained and accelerated—and if they are to improve their economic and social performance and move toward the MDGs.

The Monterrey conference resulted in new commitments by the international community to increase official development assistance. The challenge ahead is to ensure that these commitments actually become available, and are deployed more effectively than in the past, to reinforce good performance by African countries.

Toward this end, the following measures could be considered:
  • First, allocate at least half of new aid to Africa. For the 30 or so African countries judged to be in a position to use external assistance effectively, it is estimated that an increase of $20–$25 billion in official development assistance—from the current $13 billion to $33–$38 billion—would be required to enable them to reach the MDGs. For the remaining countries—those in conflict or facing serious governance problems—assistance for post-conflict rehabilitation and institution building is needed to begin laying the essential groundwork for development.
  • Second, future assistance should be more predictable. Despite the growing use of medium-term expenditure frameworks in African countries, most donor funding is still committed annually, with the amount and timing rarely communicated in advance.
  • Third, development partners should harmonize their procedures and instruments for the shared objective of poverty reduction and thereby improve the efficiency of aid.
  • Fourth, the quality of assistance in support of the PRSP process needs to be improved.
  • Fifth, given the important contribution that trade can make to growth and poverty reduction, industrialized countries need to reduce agricultural subsidies and remove remaining trade barriers, especially for the poorest countries.
  • Sixth, because many heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) faced serious terms-oftrade losses in the last year with the slowdown in the world economy, it is essential to ensure that if the debt relief provided and the terms of the new financing indeed result in sustainable debt.
  • Seventh, developed countries should continue to support the production and supply of essential global and regional public goods. Actions at the country level need to be complemented by global and regional efforts to address problems of communicable diseases, low levels of agricultural technology, and environmental degradation.
The NEPAD presents a major opportunity to deepen past reform efforts and establish a new relationship for development with the international community. The commitment of African leaders to peace, democracy, and sound economic management bodes well for the continent.

The NEPAD should therefore be fully supported by the international community to re-energize Africa’s development efforts and to help African countries accelerate their progress toward attaining the MDGs.

 


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