To mark the thirtieth anniversary of the French NGO “Aide et Action”, the conference “All education stakeholders. A multi-stakeholder partnership for Education” provided the opportunity to discover the benefits of partnerships involving civil society and the public and private sectors via feedback from the field. The discussions also highlighted possible ways of enhancing the effectiveness of these partnerships.
“Aide et Action” and AFD: a review of ten years of working together for Education for All
In 2001, AFD and the NGO Aide et Action signed a partnership agreement as part of the launch of the “Education for All” program agreed upon during the Dakar Forum in 2000 and aiming at universal primary education by 2015. The objective of the partnership was to pool their resources and provide greater and equitable access to high-quality basic education in the most disadvantaged regions.
During the first phase, the two partners jointly supported several projects in different regions in Guinea, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
Aide et Action’s operations mainly involved mobilizing local authorities and parents and supporting local education services. Aide et Action and AFD subsequently framed their operations within national education programmes.
Classroom in Djourbel (Senegal) / Photo credit: AFD
Enhancing the dialogue between donors and NGOs
AFD is committed to enhancing the dialogue with civil society. Its partnership with Aide et Action (A&A) allows strong synergies to be developed for education. A&A has extensive knowledge of the realities in the field, particularly in areas where access to schooling remains difficult.
Two projects were presented during the conference as examples of this cooperation: The first project, “Education for All in Togo” (EFAT) was, as its title suggests, implemented in Togo where AFD handled the institutional component (capacity building for ministries at the national level), while A&A dealt with the social component by mobilizing families and building the capacities of local stakeholders (support for schools).
This project led to a marked increase in enrolment rates in the Savanes region in Northern Togo, the country’s poorest region with the lowest enrolment rate.
The second project supported decentralization in seven West African countries and, once again, A&A provided its expertise to local stakeholders (elected officials, local authorities, communities, school managers) with the aim of enhancing the implementation of national policies at the local level.
Promoting expertise sharing between the South and North
A&A also presented two new forms of partnership during the conference:
First, partnerships between the public and private sectors and the related benefits in the education sector in terms of financing, expertise and innovation; second, South/North partnerships, illustrated by the cooperation between A&A Africa and the City of Argenteuil for a project to support the educational pathways of children in difficult situations.
These different presentations highlighted the benefits of partnerships established between civil society, the public sector and the private sector. They underlined the need to define the roles, responsibilities and expectations of each stakeholder in order to ensure that the dialogue and cooperation take place in the best possible conditions. During the discussions, it was also emphasized that lessons can be learned from initiatives developed in the South by stakeholders in the North, even in very different contexts.
Building on their discussions and cooperation, Dov Zerah, Chief Executive Officer of AFD, and Claire Calosci, Director of Aide et Action, agreed to enhance the dialogue in the field of training and youth integration, topics which A&A is already working on in India.
Where does Sub-Saharan Africa stand today in terms of education and vocational training? Does it have the capacity to help its future generations move toward employment? What strengths and tools does it have? Four experts from the Education Division provide us with insight.
In Africa, two-thirds of the population is under 24. This youth is the continent’s greatest hope, but also poses a huge challenge for Africa’s development as 20% of young people are unemployed.
Basic education, but also vocational training
To address these challenges, over the past ten years AFD has invested over €1bn in the education/training sector, 2/3 of which in Africa. Over the next three years, its financing for education is expected to exceed €500m, again mainly in Africa. (Summary of the interview with Virginie Bleitracht).
School enrollment has risen by 31% in ten years
Over the past ten years or so, huge strides have been made in terms of access to primary school. Sub-Saharan Africa has had the highest results over the past ten years: school enrollment has risen by 31% (i.e. 58 million additional pupils).Vocational training finally becoming a priority for public policies.
On average, only 5% of the National Education budget is allocated to vocational training, which is by no means enough. Vocational training is a rapidly developing sector in most Sub-Saharan African countries. Most African leaders have made vocational training and youth integration one of their priorities. That being said, we have come a very long way, as many countries have training systems that are undersized, with outdated facilities and trainers who have not benefited from continuous refresher training for a very long time.
Match supply and demand on the labor market
AFD is increasingly helping to build partnerships between training centers and companies (public-private partnerships) in order to better match training to business needs. (Summary of the interview with Christian Fusillier)
NICTs, a solution to improve access to education and training and its quality?
The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) shows the strong link between the use of digital tools and student performance. Generally speaking, the problems identified are the need to improve both access to education and its quality. Digital tools are ideally suited to meet these challenges. Many obstacles have now been removed. The digital market is reaching maturity and mobile phone penetration rates have seen a substantial increase over the past ten years. In the early 2000s, the geographical coverage rate stood at 10% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today, it has reached 80%. This also represents 30% of the population.
(Summary of the interview with Jean-Christophe Maurin)
Video interview: Paris, Ouagadougou, the same combat?
In this interview, which takes us through the streets of Paris, the urban planner Guillaume Josse uses some urban objects from our everyday lives to give us keys to understanding the challenges facing cities in both the “South” and “North” alike.
First and foremost conceive cities as networks
Each city, however modern it is, is like a grid, a layering of networks, most of which are visible in the urban landscape. Be it for electricity, gas, telecoms, wastewater or stormwater drainage networks: all these functions are directed towards the same goal: guarantee the safety and well-being of city dwellers and make their city a better place to live in.
The first feature of a city in the South: weak public management
The most common aspects of a city in the “North”, which we take for granted – as they have been part of the daily lives of its residents for a very long time – either still do not exist or are extremely rare in cities in the “South”. Ordinary urban objects come to mind, for example, street signs, drain covers, street lights, paved roads, which respectively contribute to addressing and identifying places and their residents, preserving hygiene and public health, and the movement of persons and consumer goods. These are all missions for which local authorities are responsible.
Southern cities generally stand out for the lack of such networks, which are developed and operate efficiently. At best, you can see some points in common, such as phone networks, roads, streets, but with no asphalt, no paving stones and they are flood-prone because the pipe systems are not functional or are saturated; neighborhoods and dwellings have no signs, there is a lack of street lighting, etc.
Land registers and signage: prerequisites for urban management
In Paris, we take the street signs for granted. However, they do not exist in most cities and capitals in developing countries. Yet without such signage, it is impossible to send mail or for tax statements to be sent, taxes to be collected properly, for which there is ultimately no system to make people pay. This situation is one of the symptoms of the lack of fully operational land registration systems in these countries, for example, to manage land units and the history of land plots.
In such conditions, it is difficult or even impossible to know exactly who is living in such and such a place, or how many households, children, elderly or disabled people live there. It is equally impossible to determine who is the owner or tenant of the place in question and therefore, for example, to be able to collect sales taxes.
Achieve an effective combination of policy, administration and technical aspects
While addressing is important, it is not enough to paint a number on a door, as we see in many African countries, hoping it will be sufficient to solve the problem. The process to organize the life of the city, its management and its development is much more complex and takes much longer to implement. The entire management in public administration needs to be organized and overhauled, as this is the instrument which allows the State to take stock, know what is happening in real time, and manage the city in the long term. Street signs are a sort of symbol of urban management, which covers most of the services that city dwellers benefit from in their daily lives.
The main challenge for these countries and development aid institutions, including AFD, is to know how to create all these essential urban networks, set them up, finance both the investment in this infrastructure and implement adequate services to maintain them.
For example, without sanitation networks, in Southern cities all the wastewater is discharged into the street, parks and natural waterways. The challenge may not be to achieve a result as close as possible to Paris, which is a very modern city, but at the minimum to have essential services to prevent waste and wastewater from staying in houses or polluting rivers, keep streets passable and allow city dwellers to have access to drinking water.
The Chalon neighborhood: an example of successful urbanization
The transformation of this Parisian neighborhood, which was for a long time left to its poverty, shows how there is no predefined technique or model able to create a modern, pleasant and well-managed city. You have to think simultaneously of the equipment, housing, the networks I mentioned before, the type of activities that you want to develop there (offices, a business center, or a green space for example) and, especially, connect all this up with the transport links. All these projects require comprehensive political thinking in the sense of “city management”, which must lead to public policies that need to be coherent and complementary within a given area. The other aspect is the way in which these operations are conducted, first by taking the duration into account: indeed, we are talking about projects for which the financing and works are spread over 20 or 25 years. In this respect, you need to ensure that you will stay the course thanks to institutions that are politically, technically and financially strong enough to lead major projects.
“The city finances the city”, as the operation is financed gradually by the gains made by the local authority when it sells the land that it bought cheaply in the poor neighborhoods after having developed them. These gains finance the equipment and, at the end of the day, urban operations are self-financed over a period of 20 years or more. This principle of development generally does not exist in the countries where AFD operates. This is a real shortcoming, which goes well beyond the financial constraint proper – because a small cash advance would be sufficient to buy land. What is even more fundamental is the issue of how local authorities operate and their ability to lead these projects and, from a technical perspective, to have sufficient human resources to design and implement a development policy like in the Chalon neighborhood.
How to proceed, following the “City finances the city” principle
What happens in practice? The public authority starts by taking possession of the rundown neighborhoods via expropriations, compulsory purchase or simply by acquisition. Once the public authority has taken ownership of the land, it can demolish, rebuild, develop and redevelop as it sees fit in order to create new neighborhoods, which will continue to develop in a more or less positive way depending on the choices that have been made.
Although cities everywhere are made up of the same things, they do not operate in the same way.
The reason partly relates to financing. The Mayor of Paris has €4,000 per year and per resident to maintain and invest. The Mayor of Ouagadougou (municipality with 1,300,000 residents) has €20 per year and per resident. By way of comparison, the budget of this city, the capital of Burkina Faso, is half the budget of the town of Rodez, which has 25,000 residents. The Mayor of Lomé will have €8 to €10 per year and per resident, the mayor of a small town in Benin will have half a euro per year and per resident…...
The challenge therefore obviously lies in increasing financing and the capacity for a local authority to have sufficient financing available to invest in the area under its jurisdiction and maintain it. There is a colossal gap today between cities in the North and cities in the South and our challenge is to manage to bridge it.
As part of the “Ideas for Development” conference cycle, the AFD is organising three events on perspectives for Africa’s economy: "Macro-economic perspectives for Africa: sustaining growth in a more uncertain global environment", on 29 May in partnership with the IMF; "Macro-economics and politics in Africa”, on 31 May with Politique africaine and Afrique contemporaine magazines, and, on 6 June, "Who does land belong to? The transformation of African agriculture".
From 29 May to 13 June, the AFD will be organising an “Ideas for Development” cycle of five interdisciplinary conferences on a range of topic areas. These events will provide a framework for discussions on development issues with numerous experts with a professional or personal interest in this field. They are intended as a new forum for debates and meetings between researchers, students, professionals from a wide range of fields, and the general public.
The first three conferences, described below, will focus on Africa’s economy and its performance, opportunities, stumbling blocks and prospects.
1st conference: "Macro-economic perspectives for Africa: sustaining growth in a more uncertain global environment"
29 May, in partnership with the IMF
In a context of hesitant economic recovery, the uncertainty that still prevails in the international environment of Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy could jeopardise the high performance levels and growth rates observed in recent years across the African continent.
The round table that will follow a presentation of the IMF report on economic prospects for Sub-Saharan Africa and the AFD study on export structures in the Franc zone will be an opportunity for questions and discussions on the challenges facing the region in the very near future, with a focus on two issues in particular: management of the region’s natural resources and how they can be integrated into world trade.
Conference on 29 May 2011, from 2.30 pm onwards, at the AFD, 5 rue Roland Barthes, Paris 12°.
2nd conference : "Macro-economics and politics in Africa"
31 May, in partnership with Politique africaine and Afrique contemporaine magazines
Although macro-economics is an area usually addressed as a theoretical corpus developed by economists and technical public policy experts, it can also be seen as above all an expression of politics. This meeting aims to offer a different perspective on macro-economics, as the theatre of social struggles and conflicts between groups that offers material to gain a better understanding of the logic of the State and the mechanisms of power. A “bottom-up” analysis of the technical aspects of macro-economics can shed light on the emergence of new players, new instruments and new positions and relationships of power – in other words, provide new ways of approaching the realities of African societies.
Béatrice Hibou, CNRS, Sciences Po / CERI, FASOPO
Boris Samuel, SciencesPo CERI, FASOPO
To be followed by a debate with the audience.
Conference on 31 May 2011, 10 am to 12.30 pm at the AFD, 5 rue Roland Barthes, Paris 12°.
Admission free subject to seating capacity and prior registration
3rd conference: "Who does the land belong to? The transformation of African agriculture"
This conference and debate organised by the AFD, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the technical committee on “Lands and Development” will address the issues of galloping population growth, increasing scarcity and degradation of natural resources and growing commercial pressure on lands. Given these evident underlying trends, how can the many risks that threaten lands and those who depend on them be averted to make lands a driver of development?
Conference on 6 June, 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. at the AFD, 5 rue Roland Barthes, Paris 12°.
Publication of study “Reducing the Cost of Migrant Remittances and Optimizing their Impact on Development”
This study was led by a team of experts, under the supervision of Savings without Borders, in Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal, as well as in the Comoros. It proposes practical solutions to reduce the costs of migrant remittances and increase their impact on development.
The proposals made by the study aim to reduce the average cost of migrant remittances and to optimize their impact on the development of African countries. They specifically focus on improving linked bank accounts (dual bank accounts for migrants in their country of residence and in their home country with activities coordinated between the banks of both countries), the development of innovative financial products, support for electronic payment technologies and the adaptation of regulatory and legislative frameworks.
What are the lessons learned from the study?
Due to their importance for the recipient communities, the flows of money from migrants tend to remain stable and are less sensitive to changes in the economic climate.
How to optimize remittances and their impact on development
- Reducing the cost of migrant remittances will increase their contribution to development.
- An understanding of the local context is the key to reducing the cost of remittances and informal flows.
- It would appear that the cost of remittances in the Maghreb region and franc zone has stabilized at a level that remains too high.
- While the profile of actors is becoming more diverse, there is still a need to develop the range of services in order to be more competitive.
- An overhaul of regulatory frameworks, with the aim of promoting diversification in the range of services and financial products, would help increase competition and reduce the cost of remittances.
- Four types of financial and technological services and products can contribute to reducing the cost of remittances.
- Actors, services, tools, new technologies…: there are ultimately five areas to be explored in order to expand and strengthen the range of banking and non-banking products and encourage both a reduction in the cost of remittances and co-development.