Jonathan Glennie to Africa: Beware of donors, DAC or BRICS

    Map of Africa. Photo by: Emma Line / CC BY-NC-ND

    Africa should “think hard” about their development strategies and realistically assess the intentions “of all entities” arriving at their ports, “bearing gifts.”

    Jonathan Glennie, research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute and author of “The Trouble With Aid: Why Less Could Mean More for Africa,” made the case as to why the new donor scramble in Africa may be hurting the region. He said it would be foolish of African countries to believe donors’ rhetoric — traditional or not.

    All donors, be it Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa or members of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, have mixed motives — and Africa should be wary of both.

    Many African leaders seem to view the BRICS as better donors than the West. For example, at the inauguration of the Chinese-funded African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa in January, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi hailed China’s commitment for a “win-win partnership with Africa.” He said China is “one of the reasons for the beginning of the African renaissance.”

    Donors, old and new, do have good intentions, but Glennie said it is clear this is only part of the aid equation. He said India and China are using aid for political interests and economic advantage as well. And Brazil’s trade with Africa “follows distinctly colonial patterns.”

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    About the author

    • Jenny Lei Ravelo

      Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.