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Partnerships key to development

Thabo Mbeki 2003

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Partnerships between the government and private sector are required to speed up development in Africa. Partnerships for development are among the most promising and potentially effective options for Africa’s growth. Noting that the private sector was playing an increasingly important role. We have come to the conclusion that all actors, governments, private sector, civil society and international community can do more to facilitate the spread of successful partnerships models across countries and sectors and that doing so is in their own self interest, says the Africa Progress Panel.

Africa has been through a donor era where development centered on donor funding and projects. Thabo Mbeki has been commonly known to say that, “Africa must help itself. This requires Africa to move away from donor mentality to finding lasting permanent solutions for its problems. Only African know the depth of their issues and so it is fitting that Africans work together to find lasting solutions that will translate from government into business through to civil society.

The report adds that private partnerships were experiencing a well deserved renaissance. The UK government for one realizes the need for it to partner with the private sector in order to achieve its development targets. No government can solve its national problems on its own. By not harnessing partnerships many opportunities for development are being missed. The report also adds that African governments bore the main responsibility for the continents development and needed to work harder to create the right conditions and incentives for partnerships. Government alone does not have the capacity and means to achieve the development that is required. Development organizations, ngo’s, the government and business are all pulling in different directions and fail to achieve the desired social change. Social change will benefit all stakeholders is not just an issue on the government agenda.

Zimbabwe has seen a great dependence on donor funds and organisation. Business in sectors where large profits are being realized there is no direct impact on social change. The Chiyadzwa diamond mines have left communities worse off than they were before. Individuals are reaping the rewards while those in the area have been relocated and left to fend for themselves without any substantial compensation or benefit. Mining has however been noted as having a very small impact on nations as minerals are imported raw and processed abroad. The profits are taken off shore and never have an impact on local communities.

The report urges businesses to modify their models so they target the poor or integrate local communities and producers into their value chain. The mining sector in the case of Zimbabwe can do more than just provide jobs to the community but can contribute to society through much needed health and education investments that have been shown to propel people into the middle class.

Each stakeholder has a part to play. Civil society groups play a key role in developing partnerships and ensuring that deals are accountable. They can also play a role in mediating or brokering partnerships. However while pressing the importance of partnerships the report offers emphasis that there are not a magic potion for all of Africa’s problems. Good governance and strong political leadership are the most important ingredients in African success as seen with Botswana.

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Categories: Development

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