Magazine article New African

The Politics of Giving-And Receiving: Trumpism and the Anti-Immigration and White Nationalist Populism Convulsing Europe Will Mean Less Attention and Support for Africa in 2017. Self-Reliance Is Firmly on the Agenda Again

Magazine article New African

The Politics of Giving-And Receiving: Trumpism and the Anti-Immigration and White Nationalist Populism Convulsing Europe Will Mean Less Attention and Support for Africa in 2017. Self-Reliance Is Firmly on the Agenda Again

Article excerpt

To be successful, advancing our interests means at the very least getting the most out of the resources we already have --especially the three great engines for internally driven development: government, the private and charity sectors.

Greater government efficiencies are critical (through the improvement of fiscal and monetary interventions; better management and investment in parts of the economy that are government-owned, especially infrastructure and power; and the improvement of service delivery, especially education).

The private sector is perhaps even more important, given its ability to mobilise resources and expertise, as well as its capacity to solve problems, and efficiently allocate resources. Both sectors are extremely formalised, operating in highly regulated frameworks. Much work has been done to understand their weaknesses and improve performance in the African context.

The African charitable sector, though growing in importance, is little understood and largely operates in an informal space. Until a few years ago, to talk of African philanthropy was to talk of a strange animal. This was always a mistake. As Tade Akin Aina and Bhekinkosi Moyo argue in their jointly edited book: Giving to Help, Helping to Give: The Context and Politics of African Philanthropy, this strangeness only makes sense if we directly compare African philanthropy to Western philanthropy, with its powerful funding bodies such as the Ford Foundation, or others, that sustain medical research or cultural institutions.

However, we know that Africans have always given, in their own structured ways. This African giving has been little studied, documented, acknowledged or encouraged. In the absence of a welfare system, it is such philanthropy that sustains many African communities. Despite the perception of low levels of trust on the continent, African social capital is large and extensive, providing a lifeline that has frequently prevented total collapse.

There is now a great push towards formalising the African philanthropic space. Two Africa-wide institutions, the African Philanthropy Forum, and Africa philanthropy Network, are seeking to improve understanding of African giving, bringing together the major philanthropic organisations. …

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