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MDGs cannot be achieved on aid - Professor
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General News of Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Source: GNA

MDGs cannot be achieved on aid - Professor

From Emily Nyarko, a GNA correspondent, Grahamstown, South Africa

Grahamstown, South Africa, Sept. 12, GNA - A Professor of Sociology at the Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, on Monday said the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) must not be dependent on aid.

Speaking at a pre-conference workshop dialogue of the 10th edition of the Highway Africa Conference, Professor Jimi Adesina, said aid assistance in development goals always gave false account of efforts made by countries.

"No country can develop on the basis of aid," he said, and urged African countries to develop their own agenda with their own resources for programmes at their own pace.

Highway Africa is the largest annual gathering of African journalists to interact and discuss the uses, access and application of ICT tools for development, good governance and democracy. About 500 journalists are attending this year's conference on the theme: "Celebrations, Reflections and Future Directions." Prof. Adesina, who was speaking on: "Setting the Context: MDGs and Implications for Journalism and Media in Africa", said the original objectives of the MDGs by the United Nations General Assembly contained over 28 paragraphs, which, among other things, sought to cancel debts of developing countries and to help maintain peace in war-torn countries. However, the state of global power relations, especially between the UN and the Breton Wood institutions, had resulted in reducing the goals to only eight points.

Prof. Adesina observed that the UN made the effort to intervene because it realised that after more than 20 years of specific macroeconomic policies, such as the structural adjustment programme, poverty had rather deepened.

The only things it achieved, he said, were some aspects of stabilisation in some economies, establishment of shopping malls and financing of the middle class, who at the time had little education but strived to be considered petty bourgeois class with proletarian aspirations across the Continent.

"What happened in the 1980s as a result of the implementation of these policies can therefore be described as a fundamental change of aspirations of the middle class."

But at the same time, over 126 million people fell below the poverty line in the over 20 years of structural adjustment with education and public health care plunging into a mess while macroeconomic imbalance became endemic.

Prof. Adesina said resorting to aid flows for the financing of government budgets also had its implications of recording continued deficits in countries such as Ghana and Uganda.

The Professor said the latest attempts at halving poverty by 2015 was, therefore, nowhere near being achieved because earning a dollar a day was nothing to write home about. "Instead, we can say that the target should be for the destitute." He said for countries, which opted for the highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative; "by the time they go through the whole process to reach the exit point, they may have sold their countries out to foreigners". This, he said, was because such countries were pushed into opening up their economies to private capital. Prof. Adesina said there had been some improvements but at the time when Africa should be moving ahead, the Continent's new priority was focused on primary and basic education, which was not enough qualification for development.

The Professor cited Ghana as an example of such countries, which after almost 50 years of independence had to focus attention on basic education instead of building capacities.

He also said that the Continent had become "consumers of what we do not produce and producers of what we do not consume.

"We should ask ourselves why we could not achieve health for all, water for all and education for all by the year 2000."

Prof. Adesina said going by current assessments, Africa should have achieved about 40 per cent of the MDGs targets by now. Instead, available figures indicated achievements of between six per cent to 20 per cent in various indices including child mortality; education; maternal health; environment and improvements in HIV/AIDS and malaria. He cited Tanzania as an example of an African country that had achieved a lot with all sections of the public feeling a sense of belonging despite the multiplicity of ethnic grouping.

He said to move in the right direction countries must have strategic objectives to follow.

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