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Thursday, 01 August 2013

African farming group seeks private add-ons to EU aid

As the European Commission’s proposed negotiation positions on a new global anti-poverty framework call for a stronger role for the private sector in addressing energy and food security, an African farming group leads the way on how such partnerships could be put in place.
The partnership platform Grow Africa, sees the private sector’s role as crucial in providing supplemental financing and know-how in agriculture, the top employer and economic mainstay of many sub-Saharan nations : “If we are just going to keep giving aid until infinity, you are not helping anybody,” said Gagan Khurana, head of country operations at Grow Africa, which was launched in 2011 by the African Union and World Economic Forum with the backing of more than 30 African and multinational companies, as well as support from several European governments.
Nine African countries have signed up as partners in Grow Africa. Currently housed at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, the organisation requires participating governments to commit to develop a national strategy for agricultural investment and provide high-level support for transparent investment. The countries include one of Africa’s poorest – Ethiopia – along with resource-rich Ghana and Nigeria.

Public-private cooperation figures squarely in the European Commission’s ‘Decent life for all’ communication – released in February – as well as the emerging framework for an international successor to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight targets agreed in 2000 that expire in 2015.

In the same time, some other advocacy groups and rights campaigners have expressed concern about too much blending of public and private endeavours, saying that no matter how charitable, private companies always expect dividends on their investments.
At a conference held in the European Parliament in March, the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad) and seven other aid groups said funnelling money to private companies through blending resources tends to favour multinational corporations and big banks over poverty eradication, and urged policymakers to rethink EU development policies that promote blending funds to help foster private-sector growth.

Source: Euractiv