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Forum for the Future of Aid

Southern Voices for Change in the International Aid System Project

The Forum on the Future of Aid is an online community dedicated to research and opinions about how the international aid system currently works and where it should go next

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AERC Research News

Source: African Economic Research Consortium

This edition of Research News was the first for Olu Ajakaiye, the AERC Research Director and the first after the launch of the AERC Strategic Plan for 2005 - 2010, whose theme is continuity and innovation. In Policy Forum, Stephen Gelb addresses the feasibility of attaining the Millennium Development Goals in Africa. After reminding us of the abysmal performance of sub-Saharan Africa between 2000 and 2005, as enunciated in the MDGs progress report, Professor Gelb takes issue with the stance of the Millennium Development Project that the binding constraint to ending poverty in SSA is finance. In his view, at least two problems confront this money is the problem argument: The prevalence of states weakened by 20 years of structural adjustment and economic decline and the preponderance of even weaker or missing institutions. Without effective states and strong institutions, he posits that SSA countries would not be able to use the massive amounts of financial support proposed. Professor Gelb suggests that unless poverty reduction, improved health and education, and gender equity are at the heart of policy goals, any coalition to support policy would exclude the interests of the majority of the population and would stand little chance of succeeding politically.

Considerable attention is given to 'Collaborative Research' in this issue because the substantive aspects of all collaborative research projects embarked on during the late 1990s have been concluded. Some of the projects were massive – they produced numerous individual country case studies and involved as many as 150 researchers – and as a part of the dissemination process, it is important to articulate clearly the key findings and policy lessons that can be drawn from them. Accordingly, the project coordinators have provided summaries of the major findings and policy lessons emanating from the following research projects:

• African Imperatives in the New World Trade Order

• Explaining African Economic Growth Performance

• Poverty, Income Distribution and Labour Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa (phase I)

• Managing the Transition from Aid Dependence in Africa

• Determinants of Foreign Direct Investment in Africa

The collaborative research project on 'Managing the Transition from Aid Dependence in Africa', coordinated by Samuel M. Wangwe and Carol Lancaster, stemmed from concern about ever higher levels of aid dependence in Africa, coupled with equal concern about the efficacy of aid. The output of this project has already been published by AERC in the form of the report of the dissemination conference organized in collaboration with the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), the World Bank, and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). The ODC also published a Policy Essay on Managing a Smooth Transition from Aid Dependence in Africa.

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