Globalisation and Africa

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Background Paper

GLOBALISATION AND AFRICA:
PERSPECTIVES FOR DEVELOPMENT CO-OPERATION

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INTRODUCTION

The two Africa Divisions of the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC) are organising a workshop on ‘Globalisation and Africa. What Perspectives for Development Co-operation?’ in Basel (Switzerland), September 5 – 6, 2002. SDC and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (seco) are actively engaged in development co-operation and policy making at bilateral and multilateral levels. The overarching goal of all Swiss development oriented efforts is poverty reduction. Some 35% (SDC – 40%) of regionally classified Swiss bilateral development assistance was allocated to African countries in 2000. The African partners – governments as well as NGOs – are confronted with the adverse effects of globalisation, which is in turn a challenge for development co-operation. Against this background, SDC has decided to organise a two-day workshop to rethink globalisation from an African perspective.

The objectives of the workshop are threefold:
a) African experts will question Swiss perspectives on globalisation, challenge Swiss policies, including bilateral activities in Africa and positions taken in multilateral institutions, and propose alternative policy options. b) Participants involved in development co-operation with African partners will increase their competence to link effectively their strategic objectives and daily work on local issues to the global economic environment.

c) Key areas of consensus as well as of controversy will be identified from a development co-operation perspective, with regard to the emerging SDC/Swiss position on Globalisation. In this context, this background paper aims to

provide an overall framework for the SDC workshop;
offer an orientation for the three working groups in all three sessions; stimulate debate and learning.
The background paper has been a joint effort by a preparatory group1 of SDC staff, supported by an external consultant.

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Peter Beez, Giorgio Bianchi, François Binder, Jean-Maurice Délèze, Martin Fässler, Richard Gerster (consultant)
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OVERVIEW

In past decades, structural adjustment policies and other economic reform programs in Africa have been intended to:
strengthen the state’s management of monetary and fiscal policy; decrease state intervention in private markets through liberalisation, particularly of the exchange rate and agricultural producer prices;

reduce the size of the state by promoting privatisation of state enterprises. However, this radical redefinition of the state has left Sub-Saharan African countries with a disturbing model of a fragile state. The administrative capacities of many institutions of the state, including the legal system, have become seriously impaired. Even countries that are performing well economically, find their fiscal position remain highly vulnerable to changes in foreign aid. This process has led to a drastic decline in the quality and coverage of social services and infrastructure provision. Private-sector provision of many services, traditionally in the government’s domain, is supposed to accelerate, assuming a capable private sector exists. Simultaneously, the demand for government accountability is putting severe pressure upon statecentred patronage networks. Globalisation and its discontents

Today, globalisation is perhaps one of the most fashionable and emotive terms in international relations discourse. It has been the source of tremendous selfcongratulation by those who believe it to be the way to a better, brighter future and the cause of riots world-wide by those who do not. The term is a historical outcome of the capitalist project of an integrated world market. Globalisation may be considered as an accelerated process by which, in particular Western technologies, production methods, institutions, consumption patterns and worldviews are spreading across the planet. More than...
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