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Submitted by John Paton on
I have lived and worked in SS Africa for more than 20 years - much of that time running development projects and managing assignments for the major cooperating partners (CPs), so have seen the various policies of these CPs and governments through several cycles. My conclusion is that the CPs should let African governments get on with managing their respective countries without any aid programmes or even budget support and reduce their offices to mere skeletons - leaving a small staff to handle the political engagements. This would leave the elected governments able to make their own decisions - right or wrong - and be more accountable to their people for their actions. The second result would be that these CPs could then release thousands of redundant staff on to the market to make their own way in the real world and apply their undoubted skills to making a difference in whatever they choose to do in an unsheltered market without the enormous salaries and benefits they now enjoy. These two actions would release billions of dollars to be put to more effective use, such as eliminating all forms of protectionism and production and export subsidies and letting trade be truly fair. In my view, the only way African economies will be able to achieve sustained growth, irrespective of any mineral wealth they may have, is by investing heavily in education over the next fifty years: people who are well educated will be brighter, more innovative. less tolerant of corruption and political rent seeking, healthier and more productive. They can leave their compounds and unsanitary living conditions behind - that for so many have not changed in generations - and start to enjoy a better quality of life.