What the Commission said about resources

The Resources chapter of the Commission for Africa report looked at how the steps recommended in the rest of the report would be financed.

The chapter is best known for its recommendation that international aid to Africa should be doubled. Without this expansion in aid, the report argued, Africa was unlikely to achieve the rapid growth needed to achieve its human development goals.

International aid and whether it helps or hinders development has been the focus of much recent debate. The Commission’s report made the case for how this money has made a positive and significant difference in Africa from supporting economic growth and public institutions, through to reducing conflict and improving health and education levels.

The report also recognises that, to ensure increased aid is spent well, aid-recipient countries should improve their governance and the way in which they manage their finances. It recommended that African nations improve their public financial management, public administration, and public accountability systems. A well-performing public expenditure system, it argued, would not only help to increase the effectiveness of aid, but also enhance accountability to African citizens.

At the same time, international aid had to become more effective through better coordination between donors and more predictable aid that would enable recipients to plan how they would use it. The chapter also recommended a reduction in conditions on aid to enable African governments to be accountable for how the money is spent.

Whilst the report outlines a number of ways that richer nations can find this new money, it argued debt relief had a major role to play in boosting the resources African countries had to invest in development. The report recommended the urgent cancellation of all multilateral and bilateral debt for sub-Saharan African countries that needed it. This would help free up money for governments to spend on growth and poverty reduction.

To finance increases in aid, the report recommended that rich nations commit to allocating 0.7 per cent of their income to development aid. This would help Africa achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving world poverty by 2015. It also called upon donors to consider innovative means of financing increases in development assistance – for example, through the launch of an International Finance Facility, which would leverage money from international capital markets by issuing bonds, or through new international levies, such as voluntary charges on airline tickets.

You can read about what progress has been made on these and other recommendations in a new report to be published later this month.

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