Wasting Africa’s Borrowed Money: The World Bank And The Dilemma of Duplication

By Chika Ezeanya

The contributions of the World Bank to sub-Saharan Africa’s advancement - since the 1970s when it commenced active participation in the region - are extremely difficult to identify.   Year after year, the Institution publishes reports extolling its efforts at trying to wrestle development out of the hardness of the African soil.

Often, the Reports explicitly blame Africans and their leaders as the reasons for the inability of World Bank policies to generate noticeable improvements in living standards.  

It is regrettable that African leaders have failed to overhaul the precedents set by their corrupt colonial predecessors who for over sixty years made might right, and stole and siphoned Africa’s resources to the West.  However, the cliché of blaming African leaders has become a smokescreen for covering up the severe policy failures of the World Bank, and the attendant difficulties it has engendered on already longsuffering Africans.

Several texts have been penned critiquing the harsh effects of the World Bank’s policies such as the Structural Adjustment Program,  and the irresponsible lending to established corrupt African leaders such as late Mobutu Sese Seko, Dennis Sassou Nguesso, Gnassingbe Eyadema and several others.  Very little, however,  have been written on the draining effects of the duplication and fragmentation of projects and programs packaged for Africa by the World Bank.

The World Bank is an institution that runs like a closed system. Within the closed system, different departments run as closed systems. The implication of this seemingly uncomplicated statement for the lack of economic growth that persists in sub-Saharan Africa today is enormous. 

In a country like Nigeria with several government ministries, agencies, commissions, establishments, institutions, tiers of governments, International NGOs, United Nations arms, diverse lending agencies, and a multiplicity of other actors, the situation becomes even more complex. The closed system of the World Bank by itself generates projects, hires consultants and executes these projects, without consulting other parties who have interest in or are actively involved that sector, program or project. What this means is that even if The Ministry of Agriculture has already spent Four Million USDollars conducting a study on the effects of the current Land Use Act on smallholder farming across Nigeria, the World Bank goes ahead to commission the same study without inquiring of the Ministry of Agriculture regarding the prior existence of such; it could bill the Nigerian government Eight Million Dollars for the same study. 

The implication is that Nigeria ends up “borrowing”  another Eight Million Dollars from the World Bank to fund an already existing report gathering dust on the shelves of the Ministry of Agriculture.

In a striking example of this ineptitude, in 2008, a particular World Bank funded study on Sustainable Land Management was discovered to have been conducted only about a year earlier by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). This discovery came about only after Nigeria had borrowed money, paid millions of dollars to several expatriate consultants from the World Bank to conduct a fresh study and submit reports to the Ministry of Agriculture.

To forestall this wastage, India has banned several “donors” (donors? This is borrowed money. Why should the term donors be used to refer to institutions who are actively engaged in promoting their businesses?) from operating in their country. In Africa, Rwanda is about the only country known to  insists on coordinating donor funds to avoid duplication. The country had to ask certain donors to leave their shores at some point in their recent history, for failure to cooperate with the government in harmonizing development efforts.

The very high transaction costs due to the lack of coordination of the World Bank and other agencies’ operation in Africa has resulted in several international resolutions. The Paris Declaration on Aid was endorsed in 2005 and the Accra Agenda for Action in 2008. Both agreements adjoin lenders and recipients to own, align, harmonize and be mutually accountable for the giving and receiving of Aid. As the agreement is non-binding, it has been established that the World Bank and other lending agencies are clearly flouting the terms of this agreement, at least in sub-Saharan Africa. African governments on their part have failed to put the necessary structures in place to ensure the implementation of these agreements. 

Moreover, in lending to African countries, the World Bank hardly consults various governments to determine their country’s needs. The World Bank officials decide the projects that the country needs, and lends money for that particular project. At the end of the day, a huge percentage of these borrowed funds go back to the consultants from the lending countries who are paid exorbitant fees and accommodated in the most expensive hotels for months, with no plans for sustainability of the project once the consultants depart. Importation of relevant machinery and products are also sourced from these lending countries and there are often no provisions made for the maintenance of the imported machinery in the event of break down.

In a pretentious effort at presenting a project as a joint effort of the government of (say) Nigeria and the World Bank, the wordings are aptly crafted to convey ownership. Sentences like “Government of Nigeria has requested the World Bank to…” are liberally applied throughout a project document.  In reality, there is no request from Government of Nigeria and it is only the World Bank covering its back, knowing that it is wrong to craft policies in Washington D.C. and impose same on a sovereign country.

A progressive country like Rwanda now insists on telling the donors what to fund and what not to fund. At the 9th National Dialogue that held in December 2011, President Kagame clearly rejects the pressure from the World Bank and other agencies to dictate to his country when he said that, “some people think they have the capacity and knowledge to define what is good for us. I say nonsense.” Indeed, it makes no sense the way the World Bank and other lending agencies tell African countries when to borrow, what to borrow, and how to borrow. It is incomprehensible that the funds being borrowed are to be used in funding projects that are unnecessary, often irrelevant to the immediate development needs of the masses.  It is unintelligible that hugely capital intensive projects are conducted without due diligence, leading to money being borrowed to produce duplicates. 

 

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At this time you can read the

At this time you can read the same topic on AbsoluteWealth Articles. The World Bank tries to make money even from those poor countries with the classic "we want to help you". Most of African countries don't actually have a stable Government, why they would need debts?

Attah, I guess when you say

Attah,
I guess when you say some of your 'dis-regarded geniuses' you are talking about Babangida who calls himself evil genius. Again, your exemplary countries: Rwanda, North Korea, Iran are not doing well by any means. Rwanda is still feeding fat on world donations. France wants to showcase Rwanda as a model of their intervention against genocide. Rwanda does not manufacture anything, when those donations run out Rwanda will run dry. N/Korea & Iran are merely bloating on propaganda. Their only claim to fame is they stood up against George Bush, and went ahead to build nuclear plants. They are not industrializing like Brazil and India. Nuclear tech is no sign of progress. After acquiring nuclear weapons Pakistan has not advanced any further, rather Islamic fanatics have set them backwards.

For our leaders' information

The current thinking of the World Bank is that African countries do not have the intellectual capacity to proffer solutions to their economic challenges. Unfortunately most of our leaders buy this thinking, leading them to go cap in hand in search of WorldBank-grown antidotes to purely African problems. I may not be the best analyst, but i duff my hat for Late Ghaddafi, who attempted to at least put food on the tables of Libyans, not allowing them become destitutes in other countries (or did you ever see or hear about any complaining Libyan in your neighbourhood?)The good news is that countries like Rwanda, India, North Korea, Iran etcc have called the bluff of these imperialists. I have also observed the speed with which World organizations rush after some of our 'dis-regarded genuises' in event that they leave the scenes of government. My appeal is that African governments should look more inwards, for solutions to our problems can be rooted from their sources.Quip Pro Quo!

For our leaders' knowledge

The current thinking of the World Bank is that African countries do not have the intellectual capacity to proffer solutions to their economic challenges. Unfortunately most of our leaders buy this thinking, leading them to go cap in hand in search of WorldBank-grown antidotes to purely African problems. I may not be the best analyst, but i duff my hat for Late Ghaddafi, who attempted to at least put food on the tables of Libyans, not allowing them become destitutes in other countries (or did you ever see or hear about any complaining Libyan in your neighbourhood?)The good news is that countries like Rwanda, India, North Korea, Iran etcc have called the bluff of these imperialists. I have also observed the speed with which World organizations rush after some of our 'dis-regarded genuises' in event that they leave the scenes of government. My appeal is that African governments should look more inwards, for solutions to our problems can be rooted from their sources.Quip Pro Quo!

The current thinking of the

The current thinking of the World Bank is that African countries do not have the intellectual capacity to proffer solutions to their economic challenges. Unfortunately most of our leaders buy this thinking, leading them to go cap in hand in search of WorldBank-grown antidotes to purely African problems. I may not be the best analyst, but i duff my hat for Late Ghaddafi, who attempted to at least put food on the tables of Libyans, not allowing them become destitutes in other countries (or did you ever see or hear about any complaining Libyan in your neighbourhood?)The good news is that countries like Rwanda, India, North Korea, Iran etcc have called the bluff of these imperialists. I have also observed the speed with which World organizations rush after some of our 'dis-regarded genuises' in event that they leave the scenes of government. My appeal is that African governments should look more inwards, for solutions to our problems can be rooted from their sources.Quip Pro Quo!

The current thinking of the

The current thinking of the World Bank is that African countries do not have the intellectual capacity to proffer solutions to their economic challenges. Unfortunately most of our leaders buy this thinking, leading them to go cap in hand in search of WorldBank-grown antidotes to purely African problems. I may not be the best analyst, but i duff my hat for Late Ghaddafi, who attempted to at least put food on the tables of Libyans, not allowing them become destitutes in other countries (or did you ever see or hear about any complaining Libyan in your neighbourhood?)The good news is that countries like Rwanda, India, North Korea, Iran etcc have called the bluff of these imperialists. I have also observed the speed with which World organizations rush after some of our 'dis-regarded genuises' in event that they leave the scenes of government. My appeal is that African governments should look more inwards, for solutions to our problems can be rooted from their sources.Quip Pro Quo!

Check your facts

What you have written is written is not correct. If World Bank or IMF conducts a study in any country it is not borrowed funds. No project is also imposed on any Country. Without a formal letter of request from the Minister of Finance foo any Country the project is not passed by the Booard of the WB and mark up the ambassador of every country sit in the board for the decision. So blame the governments of Africa and not Woorld Bank. For underdevelopment of Africa. If Rwanda just like Libya and South Africa say they do not need the World Bank or IMF heavens will not fall. It is our leaders that are too dull for the egg heads in these institutions. For instance did the World Bank put a noose on the neck of Nigeria government to remove fuel subsidy without resolving the problem of local refinery. Should a crude oil producing country be importing fuel? Face the fact and stop peddling half truth.
P

Pally04, Why not give credit

Pally04,
Why not give credit to Blackstar for his honesty? Do you think the world revolves around Nigeria? The world has become a global village. People know good people when they see them.

Without being said, Igbo are the shinning parts of Nigeria. Because of their goodness others have done everything to clamp them down, including using genocide. Success is like pregnancy. You cannot hide it. Yorubas as you can see are only out to impugn the integrity of the Igbo. Free education or not Igbo are ahead of the Yorubas academically, professionally and other desirable things of life and the Yorubas know it. By the way, P. Adesina is an Hausa man answering Yoruba name. Thank you Blackstar of Ghana. Long live Biafra. Long live Ghana.

You are Blessed

Thank you brother

A "troll" baiting Sahara Readers called Blackstar of Ghana!

May I suggest that readers please stop responding this newly emerging internet "troll" who calls itself "Blackstar of Ghana". This creature is nothing but an attention seeking internet troll. This sort of people are often times paedophiles scouring the internet and in the absence of anything to "get off and wank on" resort to this disruptive nonsense as can been seen by this "Blackstar of Ghana" nonentity. The git has posted same comments which is intended to stir up ethnocentric sentiments. I would advise that the more computer savvy readers amongst you track the source and corrupt his file systems.

Whatever the case please try and ignore and do not respond to the baiting by this internet roll calling itself "Blackstar of Ghana".

Thanks for you cooperation.

ps.

Great write up by the way on World Bank 'practices'. Good job.

I guess tribal background has

I guess tribal background has nothing to do with geniune and progressive contribution being made by Nigerians in diaspora, our problem lies broadly on tribalism which covers up our selfish attitude whereby one person sits on resources or monetary allocation meant to develop and benefit our Country. Lets all vote and back whoever has best interest of the country not along tribal lines free education or not! In Chicago are you seen by majority as Yoruba, Nigerian, African, Blackman or American. It all depends on what is being discussed and how you are seen. So be a patriotic Nigerian not a biased tribalist!!! We need to move on in our thinking to progress Nigeria as a nation

Saharareporters where are Awo, free education students?

Sahara-reporters,I am not a Nigerian but I love to read breaking news from your website. I noticed that 85 percent of contributors or should I say people that are making your website relevant are of the Ibo ethnic group,why are they the only ethnic group dominating your website or does it mean that other ethnic groups are not intellectually competent to make meaningful contribution as the ibos do? What happened to those Nigerians that got free education through Obafemi Awolowo?How come they don't have nothing to show for apart from throwing parties here in Chicago? Does it mean that they care less of what is going on in Nigeria or they have poor writing skills?Although,Pius Adesina,is a great contributor but I would like to read more articles from other ethnic groups.

The late Libyan leader

The late Libyan leader Gaddafi, did not borrow a cent from the IMF and World Bank. We must learn to cut our coat according to our size. Hence the need for the fuel subsidy to go. Dont we have educated Africans who can initiate policies for the good of their countries? But again most are agents of these foreign financial institutions. In Ivory Coast we have Quattara. In Nigeria Ngozi and another in Liberia-I n the case of Nigeria, we requested the president to hire Ngozi. So we have no reason to complain. These are the trans national elites that the west often plants in africa to help them destroy what remains of the continent.