I read with keen interest Charles Aburge's article on debt, aid and trade which appeared in Pambazuka News 240.
I enjoyed his strategic counselling and "scolding" of civil society in Africa for mindful engagement with African regional bodies in areas of debt and trade with Africa. I especially enjoyed reading his recognition that sometimes we in civil society unconsciously contribute to the erosion of sovereignty and the loss of self-worth in Africa. We are sometimes quick to demand or endorse "governance conditionality" where aid and debt relief is made conditional to progress in these areas.
This reminded me of the on-going row between the Government of Chad and The World Bank regarding the "Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline", where Chadian civil society activists are encouraging The World Bank to withold financial support from Chad.
Surely, who suffers? Should the role of civil society be to support global institutions at the expense of national programs? I am mindful of the governing record of the government of President Derby. However, to seemingly support a project which from its inception was de-cried for its erosion of the supremacy of Chadian Constitution in the interests of corporate law is worrisome.
The key element of contestation by the Chadian government is the off-shore account where oil revenues are kept for future generations. Wouldn't it be in the interests of Chadian civil society that in fact these funds are made available to the current generations from whom oil is extracted? Wouldn't a better role of Chadian civil society then be to monitor proper government use of these funds for education, health, environmental management and security of the nation? Surely, sometimes civil society in Africa must work for national and/or even regional prosperity, not against it.
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