Late last month, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced a series of changes in the management of the nearly 19 billion dollar US foreign assistance program. How might these changes affect Africa? John Sewell is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and an expert on globalization, global governance, development, and aid policies and programs. He spoke with Voice of America Reporter James Butty about what is emphasized in the Rice proposal changes.
“My strong feeling is they gave second priority to development, as contrasted with promoting democracy and dealing with states coming out of conflict and do not focus specifically on poverty.”
Sewell says some African leaders are genuinely committed to democracy, economic reform and social justice, while some are not. He cautions all African governments to pay close attention to the changes in the management of US foreign assistance.
“In either case, it would be a close signal to any leader that the administration’s concerns with spreading democracy and economic efficiency is very great. That would be the major emphasis of American aid program. And for those countries that are willing to do that, it would be a benefit to them. If I were a ruler who rules autocratically and who maintains a very inefficient economy, ridden with corruption, I would be worried because if the US is to follow the logic of its rhetoric ... there will be much less attention paid to countries that are badly governed and are corrupt and are repressive.”
President Bush’s main foreign assistance program affecting development is the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Sewell says it's not clear under the new foreign assistance program who leads many of the programs.