Donor interests shaping East African regional integration?
" [...] the aid effectiveness paradigm notwithstanding, donors have been and continue to be motivated by their own strategic [...] interests and aspirations" (Ravi Kanbur)
Since its re-establishment in 2000, the East African Community (EAC) has experienced a surge in Official Development Assistance (ODA). Between 2005 and 2013, the volume of ODA disbursed to support the EAC budget increased by 800% from US$8.5 million to US$76.1 million and the portfolio of donors expanded to constitute over 25 development partners. In the 2013/14 financial year budget estimates, ODA constitutes 65.0% of total EAC income.
There are concerns that the prominence of ODA in EAC revenue streams might be negatively influencing the trajectory of the integration process. Article 132 of the EAC treaty requires that the EAC budget be funded by equal contributions from Partner States. The Secretariat has, however, not succeeded in sufficiently consolidating such funding. Though contributions from member states more than doubled between 2005 and 2013, its proportion of the total EAC budget declined by 21.7% while the share of ODA increased by 21.7% over the same period. Both the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and the Secretary General of the EAC have cautioned that the continued dependence on donors may deflect the EAC from its primary objectives and urged Partner States to raise the bulk of funding for the EAC budget in order to remain adequately in charge of the integration agenda.
" [...] the result maybe and experience shows that it infrequently is, a concentration of operational work on particular themes that correspond more to donor preferences than to overall programme priorities defined at national or international levels ..." (UN Publications)
Studies on resource flows for multilateral institutions in the past have indicated that whereas ODA significantly expands and diversifies revenue streams for recipients, it can be exploited to exert influence over policy, legislative and operational conduct of recipient multilateral organisations. Donors may capitalise on their patronage to skew operational work to their political and strategic aspirations thereby failing to align their resources to the priorities of the recipient. This might frustrate effective execution of an institution’s mandate and undermine the achievement of its core objectives.
The question is:
- What has motivated the surge in donor interest in the East Africa Community?
- How much have donors influenced the conduct of the EAC integration process thus far?
- To what extent has the over reliance on donor support to finance the EAC budget impinged on the ability of the institution to objectively drive through its agenda?
- To what level have donor interests and preferences occupied and and shaped the EAC integration agenda?
- Are there any accountability mechanisms within the EAC framework to manage donor interests?
“ [...] developmental or humanitarian concerns including poverty receive relatively low or zero weight” when donor motivations for aid delivery are considered" (Mark McGillivray)