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Vol 55 No 15

Published 25th July 2014

Writing development into law

The drama of French military operations in Africa eclipses the fact that the continent is the target of almost all its admittedly tiny bilateral aid

Following President François Hollande's brief African tour this month came questions about France's development aid policy. After all, critics say, it is economic development and poverty reduction that offer the best prospect of keeping young people away from the radical activism which ends up being the target of defence budget spending. Paris's answer is to keep Africa as the priority recipient of its bilateral aid. This has now been codified in the country's first development policy law (Politique de développement et de solidarité internationale), which the Senate passed on 7 July. However, the recently approved 2014 budget cuts this year's total aid by 2.5% to 8.3 billion euros (US$11.2 bn.), a hefty chunk of which is allocated to multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and European Development Fund (EDF). That leaves bilateral aid for basic development in poor countries at a mere 200 mn. euros, critics complain.

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