The Southern countries’ approach to development has changed
The problems of economic development are shaped around a critical view of the theories and practices of official development assistance that the complexification of the Third World, the rise of emerging countries and the crises in the developed world have caused to rethink.
The models of multilateral, regional and bilateral institutions have been sharply criticized at the same time as new players have made themselves heard (South-South cooperation, civil society, private sector).
In interaction with development assistance, for which the objectives and details must be rethought in terms of efficacy and consistency, new priorities have been established, such as support for productive capacities, the development of the private sector and the establishment of infrastructures, with everything in line with a territorial approach that makes it possible to intervene at different scales.
Accordingly, the challenge of growth was at the heart of the reflections of the most recent comité interministériel pour la coopération internationale et le développement (CICID, Interministerial Committee on International Cooperation and Development) in June 2009, which looked into the production sector, which creates jobs, and infrastructures, which are essential to any development strategy. Sub-Saharan Africa, awaiting its economic take-off, and the fate of the least developed countries (LDC) which are predominantly African, are at the centre of the concerns of those involved in assistance.
The French President’s speech in Cape Town in February 2008 recognized new models, affirming France’s support for Africa’s economic growth, through a targeted intervention promoting the creation of African companies that generate jobs.
New fields of growth supported by innovative tools
New tracks have opened for areas of growth that take into consideration the objectives of sustainable development and the modest scales of the activities of poor populations:
fair trade, supported by NGOs, is, at the microeconomic level, an example of organization of trade in networks aiming to improve the conditions of the producers and craftsmen of the South;
tourism, through its major contribution to growth, the creation of many activities and jobs in the countries of the South, is also encouraged from a sustainable development angle;
the role of associations, partnerships and compagnonnage (work shadowing and mentoring) is also at the heart of support for the agrifood sector, which is all too often neglected. Yet it represents a significant source of jobs for poor populations and will determine the city-country balance during the demographic explosion of African cities.
In any case, the public-private partnership, the call for associations and civil society in the North and the South alike result in listening closer to demands and needs. Support for the private sector calls on relatively recent instruments based at the outset on the notion of solidarity. Accordingly, micro-credit, set up by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, in poor rural areas in Bangladesh and that has expanded remarkably through the spread of solidarity funding has developed in 85 countries.
The switch to meso-finance shows the limits of the first approach for developing genuine sustainable entrepreneurship for poor people. Business support services (information, training, consulting), intended to improve their management and productivity, and to understand their environment better, are an additional component that is essential to the financial approach.
The wealth of the subsoil should be used for development
The connection between mining mineral resources and development policies remains to be clarified through its numerous components. Left to private initiative and in the hands of States that do not have the capacities required for sound management of the non-renewable wealth of their subsoil, these resources are at the centre of geopolitical conflicts, of which craftsmen and the local populations alike are victims.
The initiatives of the international community are slowly growing in terms of transparency, traceability, training and consulting. Governance is at the centre of the interventions, but it is inadequate in the eyes of the players in this sector, in which major investments require long-term business plans, which demands qualifications that are not found much in Africa and regional approaches.
But for all that, the countries with this wealth could, in cooperation with multinational corporations, multilateral institutions and developed countries, launch industrialization processes, which Africa needs badly in order to develop.
No growth without infrastructures
None of the economic activities to promote in Africa can develop and prosper without infrastructures. This acknowledgement and the need for a territorial approach have finally been understood by the different lenders. However, the investment needs and regional cooperation initiatives, while not at the continental scale, to set up are so many obstacles to carrying out projects in the different sectors. This is urgent, long-term work.
Updated on 16.11.10