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The Aid Note is a Wrong Note

A Marshall Plan for Africa? Weighing up the pros and cons.

On June 4, 2007, the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation hosted the conference ‘Marshall Plan, Europe 1947 – Africa 2007’ at Amerika Haus in Vienna. 60 years after George C. Marshall’s historical speech in which he first outlined the European Recovery Program, international experts discussed how to transfer the positive achievementsto other, nowadays troubled parts of the world.

‘Balance the world with a Global Marshall Plan’
Within the last 60 years the Marshall Plan was often used as a reference model to help develop Third World economies – amongst others by the Global Marshall Plan Initiative. Founded in 2003 by the Club of Rome, the Club of Budapest, the Ecosocial Forum Europe and the Global Contract Foundation, the Global Marshall Plan Initiative considers itself an integrative platform for a world in equilibrium and allies a multitude of positive forces, emanating from politics, business, science and the civil society, all of them aiming at a fair globalization.

Franz Fischler, former EU Commissioner and now Chairman of the Ecosocial Forum Europe, Vienna, explained the main goals: rapid implementation of the globally agreed upon UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015, gradual realization of a worldwide Eco-Social Market Economy, overcoming of the market fundamentalism through the establishment of a better regulatory framework for the world economy, and fair collaborative partnership on all levels and an adequate flow of resources. His conclusion: if we act now, we can avoid further problems in the future.

‘Understanding economic growth’
For Thorvaldur Gylfason, University of Iceland, the question of to grow or not to grow is finally a matter of choice. It is also a matter of justice, for the poor, who usually pay the highest price for economic growth, should also profit from it. Gylfason’s research shows that many of the most important determinants of economic growth are clearly within the purview of economic policy. Liberalization, stabilization, privatization, and education are good for growth. The government has an important role to play – and, indeed, responsibility – in all of these areas.

Bryant P. Trick from the U.S. Department of State outlined the Millennium Challenge Account, a bilateral development fund created in January 2004, as a ‘model for development aid based on partnership, in which domestic reforms need to occur’. Klaus Steiner from the Austrian Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs focused on budget support as a modality to deliver aid and to transform the Paris Declaration principles of Ownership, Harmonization, Alignment, Managing for Results and Mutual Accountability into practice.

‘Aid is intoxicating’
A different view of the question of how to support the development of democratic and economic structures in Africa was presented by Josephat Juma, Inter Region Economic Network, Kenya, a Nairobi-based think tank: ‘Germany’s campaign to coerce wealthy nations to fulfill the aid-increase pledge they made to Africa is addressing the continent’s issues on a wrong note. Africans ought to be responsible and fix their own problems. Giving Africa money makes the continent remain where it is. It makes Africa adopt a culture of letting somebody else fix the problem. Aid is intoxicating! Stopping aid will make Africa start thinking, look inward and begin harnessing its immense physical wealth, intellectual wealth and comparative

After these controversial statements the panel of experts chaired by Johannes Kaup, radio network Ö1, discussed the problem of how the Marshall Plan idea can contribute to a prosperous Africa. And the conclusion matched the quotation from George C. Marshall’s speech that Franz Fischler had started his lecture with: ‘I need not tell you that the world situation is very serious. That must be apparent to all intelligent people.‘