Effective leadership, smart policies, proper institutional foundations and international partnerships have a crucial role to play in African development, and calls have been made for a new development outlook.

In fact, “progress in African development happens best when it is lead by African states and citizens” is the message from a new global research project released by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). The Mapping Progress report highlights star performers, surprise performers and potential performers across the continent for their progress in various areas including growth, agriculture, healthcare, education and sanitation.
Alison Evans, director of the ODI, says: “Looking across all of these tremendous examples we can see that the most transformative and sustainable developments have occurred when the commitment to change has come from African countries and communities.
“This has happened in a number of ways – from the quality of political and technical leadership, to the quality and quantity of financing to specific innovations in delivery.
“The world’s perception of Africa needs to change and we hope that this report will show a continent making great strides towards a brighter future.”
The drivers of development, according to the report, are:
* Smart leadership – For instance, transformation in Ghana, Rwanda and Brazil would not have happened without Presidents Rawlings, Kagame and Lula.
* Smart policies – Progress has involved a changing role for government away from controlling (markets and prices) to facilitating and enabling (investment and production), and, in the best cases empowering citizens. Policies have been built on clear vision or national strategy and have been evidence-based.
* Smart institutions – In many countries, progress has been achieved through governance reforms that have decentralised and strengthened local institutions. Reforms have not only led to improved service delivery but also enabled more effective revenue collection and management of public finances.
* Smart friends – Effective international partnerships can be important catalysts for progress. These partnerships can take various forms beyond aid, including the transfer of knowledge and technology, international trading relations and diplomatic interventions.
In the study, Ghana emerged as the star performer, Ethiopia as a surprise performer and Malawi as a potential performer.