Accra Daily Mail
September 29, 2005
Dr. Joe Abbey, Finance and Economic Management Consultant, on Thursday asked African governments to establish or strengthen institutional agencies against the misuse of foreign aid. He said it appeared aid had been insufficiently allocated and in some cases simply looted by irresponsible governments with a consequent legacy of unsustainable odious debt.
Delivering a lecture on: “Debt Forgiveness for Africa and the Prospects for Development: Growth With Poverty Reduction,” at the University of Ghana (UG), Legon, Dr. Abbey put up a strong case against debt relief for Africa, and added that aid had often had other purposes than to promote African development and prosperity.
The lecture was part of the activities of the first anniversary and inauguration of the New York University (NYU) in Ghana. Dr. Abbey, who is also the executive director of the Centre for Economic Policy Analysis, a private think-thank organisation, identified four ways of relieving debt: Technical assistance, project aid, programme aid and debt relief.
He said the inefficient allocation of aid within Africa reflected several sins of commission, chief of which was the provision of large resources in contexts in which governments were clearly unlikely to use resources effectively.
The executive director said Africa’s neediness could not be contested, but pro-investment bias in favour of aid and debt relief bloated budgets and created opportunities for bribes and kickbacks. High-level debts might remain a persistent problem because it reflected irresponsible governments, Dr. Abbey said, and called rather for debt forgiveness, which he said, could be used to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
“The lesson is clear: Credible domestic agencies of restraint and accountability, checks and balances against embezzlement and corruption must be instituted, strengthened and made functionally effective. “Africa and African governments must in particular, accept the challenge to make New Partnership for Africa’s Development peer review mechanism – African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) – a truly effective instrument of good governance on the Continent,” Dr. Abbey said. He called for the closure of the technological and knowledge gap between the advanced nations and Africa to make Africa competitive in her development endeavours.
Prof. William Easterly of the NYU speaking on: “Is foreign aid the saviour of Africa?” stated that aid had failed to generate the required growth responses in Africa.
He said aid agencies had spent $568 billion on aid to Africa but the continent lacked $4 bed nets to prevent malaria, identifying the key problem as lack of monitoring for accountability of aid agencies and rich countries for their aids efforts. “Aid did not finance investment, it financed consumption,” Easterly said, and reiterated the private sector as the pivot for economic development in Africa.
Ms Elizabeth Ohene, Minister of State in Charge of Tertiary Education, debunked widely held views that Ghanaian university and tertiary education was sinking, and argued that the collaboration of the NYU and the UG was proof that the UG was not churning out mediocre graduates. “The partnership is a proof that the quality can be a match for any world class university,” Ms Ohene said.
She pledged government support for such partnerships but called for more emphasis on the sciences.
Dr. Abbey was given a citation in recognition of his role in promoting the NYU in Ghana.