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11.09.2015 Feature Article

Development Cooperation Should Be Sensitive To Peoples' Aspirations

Development Cooperation Should Be Sensitive To Peoples' Aspirations
LISTEN SEP 11, 2015

The World is not flat; it is full of valleys and mountains! The ruggedness of the World is what spurred humanity to evolve tools, navigation skills that increased connectivity through culture, commerce and technology. Development cooperation is one of the tools we use in the not so flat world.

African agency in global affairs is on the rise. The old order where development cooperation entailed one side seeking to submerge and impose its values on another is under scrutiny. The Walter-Scheel-Prize should give us courage to create platforms that can enable individuals and countries to engage positively for each other’s mutual benefit.

History reminds us that nations and organizations have in the past masked their commercial interests in soft terminologies such as missionary work to “civilize” others. Western countries used Foreign Aid to retain a foothold in distant former colonial outposts. The current global AID industry sustains a skewed global market system that disenfranchises regions rich in human capital and natural resources such as the case of Sub Saharan Africa. The increasing influence of multiple global actors popularly referred as emerging economies is currently challenging the 500 year old Western dominance in global affairs. This signals a need to review traditional models of development cooperation.

The Walter-Scheel-Prize award should spur discussions to bring an end to the ‘developed’ versus ‘developing’ country mindset. In Africa, for example, we compellingly question why we should allow one part of the world to monopolize the power to name and describe the other as “hopeless,” “emerging” and “rising.” The quest for mutual learning and joint solution discovery must be allowed to challenge the prevailing unilateralism in designing global order. The award should give us the courage to end the framing of Africa as a powerless victim whose only salvation is offered by experts from other nations. The award should catalyze discussions towards a speedy review of existing international systems to make them accountable to individual citizens and the family of nations.

The Walter-Scheel-Prize 2015 award is not presented to me as James Shikwati; one who has argued that the challenges facing Africa are not primarily due to lack of money; one who argues that we should not simply write cheques to the poor in a one-size-fits-all approach; and one who argues that submerging nations’ and people’s creativity and their ability to be effective actors at the market place is not aid. Rather, this Award is an urgent call to all of us, international agencies, nations, organizations and individuals, to rededicate our energies to review development cooperation in order to uplift human dignity and not to diminish. We need to stop hiding in vagueness in international relations and employ precision, deliberations and progressive targeting.

Development cooperation should promote autonomous but interoperable in-country policy frameworks sensitive to peoples’ aspirations for the future; encourage establishment of regional knowledge centers and allow participation of people from Africa and other less endowed regions to explore and nurture their own dreams. Development cooperation should assist us to address human induced challenges of insecurity, migration and underdevelopment. It should enable us evolve new approaches to manage the ever receding nation-state sovereignty in so far as climate change and public health challenges are concerned.

I believe development cooperation should be measured not by the success of how much Africa consumes products from other parts of the globe, but by how much Africa contributes to knowledge, peace processes and value added products to the global market place. Development cooperation should offer us tools to navigate and manage multiple players and actors in the global game.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I accept the Walter-Scheel-Prize-2015 for Commitment to Development Cooperation

Vielen, Vielen DANK!

By James Shikwati

Director, Inter Region Economic Network

Acceptance Speech during the The Walter-Scheel-Prize 2015 for Commitment to Development Cooperation on September 8, 2015.

James Shikwati
James Shikwati, © 2015

The author has 102 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: JamesShikwati

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