Last week ONE’s DATA report heavily criticised France for failing to keep its promises on the quantity of aid that is going to support economic development and poverty reduction in Africa. Since then there have been two interesting developments relating to the quality of French aid, which is of course just as important.
The first development was the French government’s decision to launch a new strategy to aid developing countries. The strategy will focus aid on 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. They will receive 60% of France’s total development aid with a focus on health, education, climate change, agriculture and economic growth. If the strategy is properly implemented it should make French aid more effective, more predictable and more transparent. It should also make it easier for French citizens to hold their government accountable to their aid promises, and it should help citizens in African countries hold their governments more accountable for how that aid is spent.
The second development was the death of Omar Bongo Ondimba, Africa’s longest-serving leader and the man at the heart of a big corruption case in France. In many people’s eyes Omar Bongo was synonymous with all the worst aspects of what is known as “francafrique”.
These two developments give President Sarkozy and his team an opportunity to forge a brand new path in terms of France’s relationship with Africa. France can now give up some of the bad old ways and start to focus its African policy on the real needs of African citizens and their efforts to achieve democracy, good governance, economic growth, and poverty reduction. What is now needed is real leadership from the French government to keep its promises by both increasing aid and spending it in a smarter and more accountable way as they have promised.
If you want to read more about this, see these two great articles:
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