The World Bank Versus the Economic Commission for Africa: Is This Really a Conflict as to Development Strategy?
ROBERT S. BROWNE
I have attempted to shape this chapter in a fashion that would bring a slightly different perspective to the topic of African development. The title of the chapter refers basically to two highly publicized documents that were published in 1989 that essentially set forth the current thinking of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa ( UNECA), an African-run organization, and the World Bank on the topic of how best to proceed with Africa's development. These two documents are African Alternative Framework to Structural Adjustment Programmes for Socio-Economic Recovery and Transformation (AAF), 1 published by the ECA in April 1989, and Sub-Saharan Africa from Crisis to Sustainable Growth (SSA), 2 published by the World Bank in November 1989. The publication dates may be misleading, for the World Bank report was essentially complete and circulating privately well before the AAF was released to the public. That it required another eight months before the Bank authorized its publication is an indication of the resistance that it was receiving from influential officials within the Bank, who apparently attempted to block its release and/or to modify its content.
Once both documents became available to the public, there were a number of reasons why it was inevitable that African development specialists would view them in comparative terms, or as a linked pair of documents. In part, this stemmed from the fact that shortly before the appearance of AAF, the public had been witness to an acrimonious public quarrel between the World Bank and the UNECA over the topic of structural adjustment lending. The World Bank had published a report that made rather strong claims as to the success of structural adjustment lending programs in Africa. 3 The UNECA had responded promptly and publicly, 4 challenging the Bank's claims and pointing out both statistical and interpretational flaws in the Bank's analysis. This interchange created a confrontational atmosphere between the two organizations, and when the two