Acton Institute Powerblog

Monitoring African Aid and Development

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Ecumenical News International (ENI) relates the launch last month of a new initiative in Africa, designed to “to mobilise a strong African voice in development.” The effort is called African Monitor and is led by the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, Njongonkulu Ndungane.

Anyone who spends much time at all looking at the economic development situation in Africa quickly realizes the lack of independent, nongovernmental, native voices. As African Monitor states, “This African civil society voice can thus be seen as the too often missing ‘fourth piece of the jigsaw’ alongside existing stakeholders of donor governments and institutions; their African counterparts; and donor-based NGOs and civil society.”

African Monitor’s mission is to begin to fill this need: “African Monitor is an independent body, acting as a catalyst within Africa’s civil society, to bring a strong African voice to the development debate, and to raise key questions from an African perspective.” The initiative represents a truly unique and much needed enterprise, since before the creation of African Monitor “there was no existing pan-African network that can provide such a catalyst across the sub-Saharan region, and taking a perspective across aid, trade, development and financial flows.”

In his address before the opening of the group, titled, “Let African Voices speak out for effective action on Africa’s development,” Archbishop Ndungane emphasized the need for accountability and true follow-through on the part of donors and developed nations: “We saw that Africa’s grassroots voices, currently marginalised and fragmented, could be harnessed to pursue these ends, and that faith communities, the most extensive civil society bodies on the continent, could provide the backbone of networks to bring these voices into the public arena.”

The Acton Institute has long supported the claim that African civil society needs to take a leading role in the development of the African continent. See, for example, the conversation with Rev. Bernard Njoroge, bishop of the diocese of Nairobi in the Episcopal Church of Africa, and Chanshi Chanda, chairman of the Institute of Freedom for the Study of Human Dignity in Kitwe, Zambia, about the issues of debt cancellation the moral nature of business (video clips, .wmv format, available for Rev. Njoroge and Mr. Chanda).

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • Clare Krishan

    What’s happening in Geneva also impacts the moral fiber on the African continent. To wean the elites off relying on lucrative deals will fellow family members at the IMF and old school chumps at the UN, ‘transparency’ must be seen to pay for the common man born without the proverbial ‘silver-spoon-in-mouth’, see Victor Keegan’s Economic dispatch
    in this morning’s Guardian.,,1807875,00.html
    I quote:
    “Wealth of difficulties – the aggressive self-interest of rich countries is sending the international trade talks towards the buffers…[and further in] the scope for obfuscation is infinite [and in closing]…In recent years, there has been a big switch in world opinion on aid. The new buzz words are “trade, not aid” to sum up the idea that, in the long term, it is better to stimulate agriculture rather than only give food to rescue continents such as Africa from endemic decline.

    “The way the rich countries are behaving at the moment, it looks as though they are approaching the talks like a poker game in which they could win large sums of money if the play their cards aggressively.”

    What’s Acton’s position on agricultural subsidies on peanuts, cotton, and ‘freedom’ fries?

  • Acton is generally against government subsidies across all industries.

    Regarding agriculture subsidies in particular, I recommend this article by Kevin Schmiesing: [url=]”Free Economy Farming.”[/url]

  • Clare Krishan

    Thanks – very good points,notwishstanding the intervening years (perhaps a more up-to-date analysis is in order)? Allow me to qualify our government bureaucrat’s term of reference ‘farmer’ as in: “Keith Collins, head economist at the Agriculture Department, compares subsidies unfavorably with other forms of welfare: “In our food stamp program we means-test the working poor with strict requirements, but we ask nothing of farmers.”
    I would prefer a more candid characterization of the culture of graft at the highest levels of power:
    “but we ask nothing of ‘agribusiness’ special interests” We do well to be truthful if we expect Africans to follow our good example!