The loss of the United States’ dominion as the World Bank’s leading donor in the banks 47 year history should teach world powers that dominance does not last forever: Kingdoms rise and fall. Washington’s decline is attributed to among other factors, the deteriorating dollar, meddling in international affairs and the American taxpayers’ clamor for accountability.
Britain, which has taken over the lead, has pledged to give the Bank $4.3 billion in the 2008-2011 period compared to the United States’ $3.7 billion. The Bank, as revealed by the European Network on Debt and Development, attaches political strings to seven out of 10 poverty-alleviation loans.
Should Africa rejoice at the record $25.1 billion (largest expansion in donor funding in IDA's history) hailed by Robert Zoellick (World Bank president) as the donor community’s demonstration to help “countries overcome poverty and achieve sustainable growth, especially in Africa”? The continent should brace itself for more conditionalities, loss of sovereignty and a culture of dependency regardless of who takes the status.
Africa ought to learn what causes civilizations to collapse, use the lessons learnt and tap into the increased interest in the continent to rise to the top. A good place to begin will be to press for trade instead of aid and get people working instead of banking on external ‘benevolence.’ Donor funding will amount to naught unless Africans take full charge and responsibility for their own destiny.
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