Aid and Reform in Africa: Lessons from Ten Case Studies

Aid and Reform in Africa: Lessons from Ten Case Studies

Aid and Reform in Africa: Lessons from Ten Case Studies

Aid and Reform in Africa: Lessons from Ten Case Studies


Winner of Choice magazine's Outstanding Academic Title award!Since the early 1980s, virtually every African country has received large amounts of aid to stimulate policy reform. The results have varied enormously. Ghana and Uganda were successful reformers that grew rapidly and reduced poverty. Ethiopia and Cote d'Ivoire have shown significant reform in recent years, but it remains to be seen whether it will be sustainable.'Aid and Reform in Africa' summarizes the findings from case studies that investigate whether, when, and how foreign aid has affected economic policy in Africa. The main findings are: • Policy formation is primarily driven by domestic political economy. • Large amounts of aid to countries with poor policies sustain those policies. • Overall, donors have not discriminated effectively among different countries and different phases of the reform process. The book concludes that donors have three basic instruments that they can use to encourage adoption of good economic policies in developing countries: money, conditionality, and technical assistance/policy dialog. The case studies in this project show examples in which each of these instruments helped countries' improve their policies.


Three years ago, in 1998, we published a study, Assessing Aid, from which two themes emerged. First, effective aid requires the right timing, and second, it requires the right mix of money and ideas. This volume builds upon the lessons learned from that study.

In 1999 I outlined a proposal for a comprehensive development framework, a key element of which—and the one I feel most strongly about— is ownership. I have always argued, and continue to argue, that a development program must be country-owned, not owned by donors or the World Bank. The ten case studies that make up this volume also show that country ownership is the way to make assistance effective.

These studies of aid and reform in Africa confirm that when aid supports a country-owned development strategy, it can lead to sustained growth and poverty alleviation. The case studies also show that when reform is imposed from abroad, even as a quid pro quo for aid, it is not sustainable. In other words, this book provides empirical foundations for the new development partnership, with donors supporting countryowned programs with their knowledge, ideas, and money.

Each recipient country of aid in Africa has demonstrated different results in the reforms it has undertaken. Two have grown rapidly and reduced poverty. Two others, as this volume outlines, have shown significant reform in recent years, but it may be too early to judge sustainability. In yet other countries, matters have changed little, or they have even become worse.

The divergent outcomes have resulted from several factors, all of which are elaborated upon in the case studies. It is significant that the authors of the case studies are all nationals of the countries themselves, writing in collaboration with members of the donor community.

Together, and with outside support, Africans can and will address their challenges—in their own ways—for lasting results. This message was underscored by all the 22 African presidents I met on my last trip to Africa. And this is why the subject of aid and reform is so crucial to Africa.

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