Aid and beyond: Listening to African priorities

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This is the first blog post from Alan Hudson, ONE’s new senior policy manager for governance. Please give him a warm welcome, and be sure to read more of his work on his blog, Accountability Matters.

“Aid is only ever a means to an end. Aid that is truly effective will eventually do itself out of a job.” — the Tunis Consensus

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The Tunis Consensus is the fruit of the second regional (African) meeting on Aid Effectiveness, held in November 2010. Organized by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the African Development Bank, the meeting was intended to set out an African agenda to take to the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, to be held in Busan, South Korea, in November/December 2011.

The Tunis Consensus sets out a clear vision of Africa’s development priorities, organized around six key elements:

1. Building capable states that can deliver development results
2. Developing democratic accountability on the basis of enhanced transparency and greater involvement of parliaments and citizens in decision-making
3. Promoting south-south cooperation and learning
4. Thinking and acting regionally in terms of infrastructure and investment
5. Embracing new development partners such as Brazil, China and India
6. Outgrowing aid dependence through greater trade and investment and building fair and efficient tax systems

The key point made by the Tunis Consensus -– subtitled “from aid effectiveness to development effectiveness” is that “Aid is only one part of the solution to Africa’s development challenges.” As the Center for Global Development emphasized in a recent blog post, it is important that that message is heard and that African priorities are taken on board.

Nevertheless, aid remains an important part of the development landscape and making aid more effective remains essential. The key is to ensure that the wider picture of development effectiveness is not neglected. By focusing on transparency, accountability, country ownership and results -– issues that provide a potential common ground for donors and recipients of aid -– Busan can help to ensure that smart and effective aid supports African priorities and acts as a catalyst for development.

Follow Alan on Twitter at @AlanHudson1.

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