Highlights of ECDPM activities in support of Economic Governance in 2012

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For an overview of publications and events in 2012, please click here 

The Private sector for development

Given the stated objective of many donors to “engage the private sector for development”, we interacted with a broad range of stakeholders in 2011 that led resulted in our July 2012 publication “Common or conflicting interests? Reflections on the Private Sector (for) Development Agenda”. The discussion paper aimed to reduce the prevailing confusion, particularly with regard to the different types of private sector being targeted by different donors and instruments, and the implications of working with the international private sector in particular. Our analysis received considerable interest from civil society organisations, donors (in particular Finland, USAID, Netherlands) and some non-traditional partners to ECDPM such as “knowledge networks” comprising researchers and the private sector (for example Human Security Finland). 

In December, 75 participants from the private sector, civil society and donor organisations met in Brussels to discuss how to measure the development impact of engaging the private sector for development. The conference was organised by ECDPM in collaboration with BUSINESSEUROPE, the Donor Committee on Enterprise Development (DCED) and TraidCraft. ECDPM also co-organised with several partners a high-level panel at the European Development Days later in the year focusing on the opportunities and risks of blending. As a result of several follow up presentations of our discussion paper to government, private sector and civil society stakeholders in Europe, we embarked on a new joint initiative with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) as well as a number of new partner institutions with the goal of expanding this stream of research and dialogue activities.

Domestic resource mobilisation

During the year ECDPM engaged in a reflection on both the increasing importance of domestic resources mobilisation, notably in Africa, and the challenges of innovative finances for cross-border projects and regional integration initiatives. Our work highlighted the broad-based nature of the domestic resources mobilisation agenda. It not only covers tax policy-related issues and how to balance private sector development with revenue needs in the context of declining aid but also how to use other “innovative” sources of revenue to support development needs. 

Building on two ECDPM studies produced in 2011, namely Discussion Paper 127 on Fiscal challenges, development opportunities? 20 key questions on domestic resource mobilisation and a study for Irish Aid on the fiscal impact of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), we organised a one-day workshop in November for an informal grouping of donors to further explore innovative financing mechanisms, particularly in the context of regional integration projects. We also contributed to a two-day workshop on taxation and development organised by the German Development Institute in Bonn as well as publications on innovative financing produced by the European Report on Development and OECD. 

ECDPM also initiated a study on the role of innovative sources of finance for cross-border infrastructure initiatives, partly funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD), to be completed in 2013. 

Extractive resources

After agriculture, extractive sectors represent the second most important economic sector in Africa after agriculture. In addition, new discoveries of oil and gas in a number of countries in East Africa are likely to give more prominence to the continent as a source of raw materials. Despite the potential rise in revenues few African countries so far have been able to translate the windfalls arising from high commodity prices and increasing demand into real and tangible development outcomes. 

To address this challenge, the African Union, in collaboration with the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank, has developed a continental framework, the Africa Mining Vision, setting out key issues at the national, regional and continental level. ECDPM has been actively involved in this process and published a well-received Discussion Paper: From Curse to Purse: Making Extractive Resources work for Development that was presented at the Eight African Development Forum in Addis Ababa. The paper attracted considerable interest among media organisations covering the event, with a mention in The Guardian and follow up requests for interviews from Jeune Afrique and Chinese Radio International).

Another direct outcome of the Discussion Paper was an invitation for ECDPM to participate at the International Conference on Mining for Sustainable Development in the Great Lakes Region held in Burundi in November. The conference explored how mining could be used as a lever for the structural transformation of African economies, highlighting how to add value to mining revenues by improving linkages within the extractive sector as well as with other key economic sectors such as agriculture. 

In other activities, we continued our engagement with the ACP Group, notably through our contribution to the ACP Panel Discussion on the way forward regarding their road map on their Framework of Action for the Development of the Mineral Sector in ACP Countries. ECDPM’s input on the implementation phase highlighted the need to enhance synergies with existing initiatives on mining, notably from Africa, and financing mechanisms to ensure adequate funding for projects foreseen in the roadmap.

ECDPM also continued to engage with various stakeholders in Europe. For instance, we were requested to facilitate the discussions around a conflict-free gold standard by the World Gold Council (WGC). The purpose was ensure informed dialogue before the WGC finalised the standard.