New AFD strategy retains focus on Africa, doubles budget for NGOs

Women collect millet in North Darfur, Sudan. The Agence Française de Développement will focus on agriculture and food security, among other priorities, in sub-Saharan Africa. Photo by: Africa Renewal / CC BY-NC-SA

France has put sustainable development at the heart of its development program, which in the next four years will focus on sub-Saharan African and the Mediterranean regions.

This is in line with the new strategic orientation adopted Oct. 9 by the board of directors of the Agence Française de Développement. The four-year plan confirms AFD’s role as the main agency in charge of the French development program. It also outlines geographic and sector priorities for French aid.

In sub-Saharan Africa, France will focus on agriculture, food security, sustainable urban development and infrastructure, particularly for transport and renewable energy. AFD said it will spend more than 60 percent of its aid budget on projects in the region.

Meanwhile, AFD plans to allocate 20 percent of its aid budget to countries in the Mediterranean region. This will be disbursed as loans and technical assistance in coordination with the European Union’s financing instruments for the region. Priority sectors include jobs creation, institutional development, and the reduction of territorial and social inequalities.

In emerging countries, AFD is set to focus on knowledge transfer and experience sharing through a combination of financing and technical assistance for climate change and sustainable urban development, among other similar sectors.

AFD’s new strategy also lays out the agency’s plan for conflict, post-conflict, transitioning and fragile states: Focus on projects that can deliver rapid results and build local capacity. In French overseas communities, meanwhile, AFD will support housing and urban development initiatives.

In addition to these priorities, the new strategy calls for a strong partnership between AFD and French civil society, particularly those involved in decentralization projects in developing countries. The agency will double its funding for such groups from €45 million ($58.24 million) in the previous four-year plan to €90 million for 2013-2017.

In line with the new strategy, AFD is also expected to invest in the development of new financial products and financial tools, set up a fund for “demand for expertise” requests from partner countries, and continue consolidating lessons from its projects.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.