Development Strategies in Africa: Current Economic, Socio-Political, and Institutional Trends and Issues

By Aguibou Y. Yansane | Go to book overview

5

The Challenge of a Holistic Vision:
Culture, Empowerment and the
Development Paradigm

ISMAIL SERAGELDIN

This chapter deals with culture, empowerment, and the development paradigm. It is an exploration of the avenues toward which I hope that mainstream developmental thinking will be headed in the years ahead. It does not represent the current thinking of the World Bank nor of other major development agencies. One day, some of these ideas may be adapted and adopted in the work done by the World Bank.


THE WORLD BANK AND THE DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGE

The World Bank is committed to development. It is perhaps useful to understand how the World Bank's view of development is a dynamic and evolving one that has responded with an ever richer array of concepts, instruments, and programs to the ever more complex reality of the development challenge. 1

The Bank is an economic institution, but it does not deal with the abstract notion of economy, detached from the welfare of the human beings concerned. From its origins, the Bank has recognized the need to deal with the welfare of the people of its member states. The truth is embedded in the statutes of the Bank, which defines its purpose to be, among other things, "assisting (member states) in raising productivity, the standard of living and conditions of labor in their territories." (Article 1, para. (iii)).

It is true that in the early years of its operation, the World Bank fulfilled that mandate by relying on identifying sound investments with high rates of return, promoting economic growth, and seeking the welfare of the citizens through the health of the economies. But even then, the Bank added new instruments to its arsenal. The key to understanding the Bank's evolution as

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