African countries agree greater aid transparency is needed

The NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency and The African Development Bank (AfDB) have put greater aid transparency as a key element of their priorities for the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Korea. In November 2010 representatives from across Africa met in Tunis to identify common African positions to take into the international policy arena at Busan later this year. The Tunis Consensus: Targetting Effective Development, is a summary of the general themes and points of agreement to take forward from the meeting.

The Co-Chairs of the Tunis discussions call for “a dramatic increase in the transparency of the use of development funds… (and) no less than full public disclosure of development expenditure and its results.” (The Tunis Consensus: Targetting Effective Development, p.4) They add that greater aid transparency will “encourage the emergence of a competitive market in aid that harnesses each player’s comparative advantage.” (The Tunis Consensus: Targetting Effective Development, p.5)

The participants agreed that better information flows were essential to improving accountability: Ensuring that more aid flows appear in national budgets, and creating up-to-date, user-friendly online databases of projects is crucial. (The Tunis Consensus: Targetting Effective Development, p.10)

If recipient countries have access to timely, comparable, and comprehensive information on aid, they are able to make informed decisions about where best to spend their own money. In addition, if aid information is made available for free and online, citizens are able to hold their government to account for delivering the services they are intended to receive. It is important that aid recipient countries deliver a strong message this autumn about the difference that aid transparency would make to their ability to effectively allocate resources and engage in longer-term development.

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