European Report on Development 2009: Policy Recommendations to Overcome Fragility in Africa

The findings of the first European Development Report were presented here in Prague in a parallel session of the GDN 2010 Annual Conference. The report deals with the issue of fragility, its causes and possible solutions, with a special focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, where most countries are experiencing it.

But what does fragility means? And why focusing on fragility?

Giorgia Giovannetti from the European University Institute addressed these issues, and provided a set of policy recommendations for the EU, and donors in general.

In a broad sense, fragility can be defined as “the incapacity of the state to perform its core tasks of ensuring security, upholding the rule of law and providing services to its citizens.”

The importance to research this issue lays in the fact that fragility is a cost in itself, for the citizens of the fragile states as well as for the neighbours and the international community as a whole.

Fragile states are very different and heterogeneous in terms of historical legacies, growth rate, life expectancy, attraction of FDI and partners. Still, they share some common structural weaknesses, such as inability to mobilize domestic resources, low level of human development, dependency on national resources, bad governance and weak soft infrastructures. All these elements represent a huge disincentive to regional integration.

Taking this into account, for donors the cost of disengagement or inaction is simply too high. According to Ms. Giovannetti, the EU in particular has clear comparative advantages to deal efficiently with these issues: First of all, it has a large array of policies that can be used towards development (fisheries, trade etc). It also has a large experience to deal with fragility, learned from the enlargement process. Lastly, it has a clear comparative advantage in developing human and social capital and institutions.

So what are the policy recommendations for the EU that emerge form this European Development Report?

First of all, EU should avoid shifting policy objectives it should support bottom up approach of state building. Moreover, it should enhance human and social capital, promoting investment in higher education, and should also support better regional integration and regional security. It should understand that state building and social cohesion are long process, and most of all, it should speak with one voice on the international arena.

After the session, we caught up with Alfred Nhema from PADEC, who commented on the EU role in the international arena (found at the top of the post).


In his view, while it is has been clearly underlined the fact that the EU has to speak with one voice, much is still left to say about coordination among different donors. According to him, it would be more effective if different countries and regions could really coordinate their policies and come up with effective, binding policies.

See more stories from the GDN 2010 Conference, watch participants’ videos interviews, download conference presentations and papers


About Pier Andrea Pirani
Information, knowledge sharing and communications in international development - Social media and collaboration tools.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: