13 January 2006 - 15 January 2006

The G8 Initiative on African Development: How should Africa Respond?

Chair: The Rt Hon Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

Ditchley launched its 2006 programme with a conference aimed at preserving the momentum on African development.  After all the work of 2005, with the G8 programme, the report of the Africa Commission and the work of the 2005 UN Global Summit, we were concerned that the focus might start to shift elsewhere. 

We put the emphasis on how Africa should respond to the initiatives of 2005.  Participants certainly supported this approach, though they were keen to include detailed discussion of the assistance donors and institutions in the developed world should continue to provide.  The debate thus covered an enormous amount of ground, with two main underlying themes:  an optimism that 2005 had raised a new consciousness that things can be done for and in Africa;  and concern that African governments themselves were not yet showing the political determination to put economic and social progress first.

We agreed that the main legacy from 2005 was excellent analysis.  Both Africans and outside providers had made many of the necessary commitments.  The problem now was implementation, on which a huge amount of work remained to be done.  In many respects the right mechanisms were in place.  African security was gradually beginning to improve, even if there were many residual problems.  The African Union, through NEPAD and the African Peer Review Mechanism, was moving forward, slowly, on the quality of governance.  Aid programmes, with a growing focus on capacity-building, health and education, were starting to hit the right spots.  There was general agreement, nevertheless, that too many African leaders were primarily concerned with the preservation of power.  Social and economic programmes were too often failing, discouraging renewed investment by Africans and outsiders alike.  Aid levels remained too low.  And geography, climate change and disease too frequently threatened catastrophe.  What were the priorities for action?

We were clear that Africa, governments and peoples, had to take accountable ownership of development policy and, on that basis, create partnerships with outside providers.  The roots of the solution had to lie in African hands and there was very little outsiders could do except to persevere with the provision of well-targeted assistance.  We recognised that Africa and African societies were not a homogenous block and that there was an increasingly differentiated picture of Africa’s own fortunes, advantages and problems, not least because different countries were in quite starkly contrasted stages of development or, in the worst cases, collapse.  Improvements in the standard of governance were central, but they were unlikely to be sufficient in themselves to make Africa turn the corner.  Conversely, development could in some cases proceed in the absence of good governance.  We skirted round the edge of the uncomfortable thought that a small number of countries might just have to be left to fail.  The crucial next stage for the continent as a whole was to create a number of success stories, analyse the reasons and then try to spread the lessons and the practice to a larger group.  The African Union should coordinate the process, summoning outside help for its capacity to do so.

No-one wished to abandon the Millennium Development Goals, but much clearer milestones were needed.  We called for action plans for the development of each country or sub-region.  The African Union should move beyond the debate about governance, however necessary that was, to clarify what the partnership between African societies and outside providers actually meant in practice.  The two roles, deepening political understanding of what was required and instituting the pragmatic steps to deliver it, were equally essential.  

Amongst the many requirements in a whole range of sectors – capacity-building, governance, health, education, infrastructure, agriculture, human rights and many others – we identified a few of particular importance for the next stage.  Most participants agreed that trade – both trade access and the capacity of African economies to trade – was more important than quantity of aid.  The omens for the Doha Round were depressingly poor.  Next we placed a strong emphasis on the grass roots of African society, particularly through strengthened civil society organisations, as the best medium for making African governments more acutely conscious of their political responsibilities.  NGOs and especially Parliamentarians from the developed world could help in this.  So could the African diaspora.  Third, there was a strong call for better measurement of what was actually happening on the ground in African countries.  The conference was delighted to hear of the initiative being taken by the Archbishop of Cape Town, who was with us, in establishing African Monitor to fill this particular gap.  With both Africa and the donor community still unclear as to why all the development assistance of the past few decades had produced so little progress on the continent, it was time to establish much more clearly the facts about what was working and what was not.

It was brought home how fragile the culture of human rights was in Africa.  With so many advances in human rights elsewhere in the world, it remained extraordinary that the promotion of absolute values in Africa remained so patchy.  Some felt that this might this be connected with the failure of Africa’s intelligentsia to make an impact on political thinking since the 1960s and 1970s.  Did such intellectual surrender stem from disappointment that African independence had not produced more progressive political leadership, or from a double standard in which development aid had ‘rewarded’ unpleasant regimes in the past?  Participants hoped that the African Peer Review Mechanism, once rooted and operating successfully, might provide some of the corrective.  In time, the promotion of a culture of individual human rights and universal values, while not sufficient in itself, could do something to restore morale and confidence that Africa’s potential could be realised.

There was an interesting exchange about the effects of globalisation on Africa.  Some contended that Africa’s recovery would move faster if African elites embraced globalisation unambiguously.  The potential flows of skills, capital, trade and technology were too valuable to be missed – India was mentioned as a comparative example.  Yet Africa’s leaders were at best ambivalent about globalisation.  Other participants were not so sure:  globalisation tended to make things difficult for the more backward regions of the world and Africa did not have the strength on its own to capitalise on its advantages.  This difference was not resolved, except perhaps in the observation that there were parts of Africa, and sectors within particular countries, which could benefit from globalisation when others could not.  In practice, the important next step was to maximise the potential for investment in African economic activity, not just in the extractive industries, and build business partnerships involving the private sector going well beyond the areas of focus for aid projects.

Finally, we asked the question whether Africa and those who supported African development should not look beyond the era of aid provision.  The capacity to create sound fiscal regimes, with growing tax income, was identified as critical to an Africa beyond development assistance.  If an image could be created of a self-sufficient Africa and what it would entail, perhaps the partnership between African societies and aid providers would establish a clearer idea of the real objectives.  This is where action plans, milestones and measurements might be particularly useful.

Amongst the myriad things that still needed to be done, the conference came back to two principal priorities:  the need for African political leaders to connect with the needs of their own people in accountable ways;  and the obligation on the developed world, on the basis of partnership and mutual accountability with Africa, to persevere through all the disappointments with the best possible level of support they could muster for, above all, capacity-building.  We were reminded in the concluding session how much the real Africa, vibrant and adaptable, contrasted with the gloomy picture of reports and manuals.  The potential was there to be unlocked.

The sense of commitment and continuing momentum which came out of this meeting, with the clearest example set by our wise and experienced Chair, generated a sense of hope that things could really begin to go right for Africa if the analysis of 2005 could be turned into action.  Africa, it’s your move.

This Note reflects the Director’s personal impressions of the conference.  No participant is in any way committed to its content or expression


Chairman:  The Rt Hon Baroness Chalker of Wallasey                                     

Life Peer, Conservative (1992-);  Chairman, Africa Matters Ltd (1998-);  Independent Adviser on Africa and development to British business concerns and the World Bank (1997-).  Formerly:  Member of Parliament, Conservative, Wallasey (1974-92);  Minister for Overseas Development (1989-97).  A Governor, The Ditchley Foundation.


Professor J Clark Leith
Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Western Ontario (2003-);  Economic Consultant, Botswana Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (2003-).

Mr Don McCutchan
International Policy Advisor, Placer Dome Inc.  Formerly:  Officer, Canadian Department of Finance;  Executive Director, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.


Mr Jérôme Pasquier
Deputy Director General, International Cooperation & Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2004-).


Mme Marie-Roger Biloa

CEO, Africa International Media Group;  Chair, ‘Club Millenium’, Paris-based Think Tank on African Development.

Dr Joyce Nyairo

Senior Lecturer, Department of Literature, Theatre and Film Studies, Moi University, Nairobi;  Research Group Member, Popular Literature and its Publics in Africa (2002-).


Dr Adekeye Adebajo
Executive Director, Centre for Conflict Resolution, Cape Town, South Africa (2003-).  Formerly:  Director, Africa Programme, International Peace Academy, New York (2001-03).

Dr Greg Mills

Director, The Brenthurst Foundation (2005-).  Formerly:  National Director (1996-2005), Director of Studies (1994-96), South African Institute of International Affairs.

The Most Reverend Archbishop Njongonkulu W N H Ndungane DD FKC

The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town (1996-).  Formerly:  Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman (1991-96);  Executive Officer of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (1987-91).


Mr Tony Baldry MP
Member of Parliament, Conservative, Banbury (1983-);  Member, Parliamentary Select Committee on Standards and Privileges (2001-).  Formerly:  Member, Parliamentary Select Committee on International Development (2001-05).

Mr Malcolm Bruce MP
Member of Parliament, Liberal Democrat, for Gordon (1983-);  President, Scottish Liberal Democrats;  Chair, International Development Select Committee (2005-).

Dr Anne Coles
Research Associate, International Gender Studies Centre, Department of International Development, Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford University;  Vice-Chair of INTRAC.  Formerly:  Senior Social Development Adviser, Department for International Development (1992-97).

Sir John Coles GCMG
Chairman, Sight Savers International (2001-);  Director BG Group plc (1998-).  Formerly:  HM Diplomatic Service (1960-97);  Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1994-1997).  A Governor, The Ditchley Foundation.

Mrs Juliet Colman
President, UK National Committee, United Nations Development Fund for Women.

Mr Tony Colman 

Associate Director, Africa Practice & Africa Investment Advisory (2005-).  Formerly:  Member of Parliament, Labour, for Putney (1997-2005);  Member, International Development Select Committee (2000-05).

Mr Richard Dowden

Director, Royal Africa Society (2004-).  Formerly:  Africa Editor, The Economist (1995-2004), The Independent (1986-95).

Mr Richard Gozney CMG
British High Commissioner, Niger (2004-);  HM Diplomatic Service (1974-).  Formerly:  HM Ambassador, Indonesia (2000-04);  Chief of the Assessments Staff, Cabinet Office (1998-2000).

Professor Sir Andy Haines
Professor and Director of Health and Primary Care, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2001-).  Formerly:  Professor of Primary Care, University College London (1987-2000).

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart KCMG
Chairman, Anglo American plc (2002-);  Chairman, Global Business Coalition for HIV/AIDS (2004-).

Mr Richard Morgan 

Corporate Relations Adviser, Africa, Middle East and Turkey Group, Unilever plc (2005-).

Ms Joan Ruddock MP
Member of Parliament, Labour, Lewisham Deptford (1987);  Member, International Development Select Committee.

Mr Graham Stegmann
Director 2005 Unit and Strategic Adviser, Department for International Development.

Sir Nicholas Stern FBA
Second Permanent Secretary & Head of Government Economic Service, HM Treasury (2003-).  Formerly:  Director of Policy & Research Commission for Africa (2004-).

Dr Camilla Toulmin
Director, International Institute for Environment & Development, IIED (2004-).  Formerly:  Director, African Drylands Programme, IIED (1987-2004).

Lord Triesman of Tottenham
Life Peer, Labour (2004-);  Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2005-).

Mr Alex Vines
Head, Africa Programme, Royal Institute of International Affairs (2002-);  Senior Researcher, Business and Human Rights, Human Rights Watch (2002-).

Professor Myles Wickstead
Senior Associate, Global Economic Governance, University College, Oxford.  Formerly:  HM Diplomatic Service and Ministry of Overseas Development (1976-2004);  Head of Secretariat, Commission for Africa (2004-05);  Ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti (2000-04).

Sir Robert Wilson KCMG
Chairman, BG Group plc (2004-);  Chairman, The Economist Group (2003-).  Formerly:  Executive Chairman, Rio Tinto plc and Rio Tinto Ltd (1997-2003);  Chief Executive Rio Tinto (1995-97);  Chief Executive, RTZ (1991-95).


Dr Koawole Olaniyan

Director, Africa Programme, Amnesty International.

Ms Fields Wicker-Miurin

Co-Founder and Partner, Leaders’ Quest (1997-);  Independent Member, Executive and Strategy Boards, Department of Trade and Industry;  Chairman, Trade and Industry Investment Committee.

Dr Ibrahim Gambari

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, United Nations (2005-).  Formerly:  Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa, United Nations.

Mr Patrick Hayford
Director, Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, The United Nations, New York (2006-).  Formerly:  Director for African Affairs, Executive Office of the Secretary-General, The United Nations, New York (1999-2005).


Ms Carol Bellamy
President, World Learning (2005-).  Formerly:  Executive Director, UNICEF (1995-2004);  Director, United States Peace Corps (1993-95).

Professor Arthur I Cyr

A W and Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professor, Political Economy and World Business, Carthage College (1998-);  Director, Clausen Center for World Business, Carthage College.

Dr Kim Holmes

Vice President, Defense & Foreign Policy Studies;  Director, Kathryn & Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, The Heritage Foundation (2005-).  Formerly:  Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, State department (2002-05).


Mrs Mary Robinson

Chair, Realizing Rights:  The Ethical Globalization Initiative (2002-).  Formerly:  United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002);  President of Ireland (1990-1997);  Senator, The Irish Senate (1969-1989).


Ambassador Olara Otunnu

President, LBL Foundation for Children, New York;  UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.  Formerly:  President, The International Peace academy;  Chairman, UN Commission on Human Rights.

Dr Roger Bate

Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute;  Director, Africa Fighting Malaria (US and South Africa);  Fellow, Institute of Economic Affairs (2000-);  Advisor to the South African Government on Water Policy.