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National Development Agencies Less About Development and More About International Relations and Trade

National development agencies are being increasingly recognized as an integral part of international relations and a necessary investment for an global player who wants to be taken seriously on the global stage. South Africa following other BRIC countries has begun to open their own.

"South Africa (SA) will create a US-style development aid agency and foreign policy institute before the end of the financial year, International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has said. The Minister made the announcement at a regional heads of mission conference in Nairobi, Kenya, during a three-day foreign policy session. The South African Development Partnership Agency, which has already been approved by Cabinet, will operate along the same lines as USAID, an initiative that provides developing countries with funding for economic and humanitarian projects. The proposed development aid agency forms part of SA’s plan to play a more prominent role on the continent as a major donor country. Concentrating on key economic sectors (Mining, Manufacturing, Tourism, Agriculture and Construction) and ensuring that all sectors were improved if the country was to benefit more from the Common Market East and Southern Africa (COMESA) Customs Union."

According to the report written by Business Day Nkoana-Mashabane also said that, “This agency will not only enhance our contribution in institutional and capacity building on the continent, but also ensure that our post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts are centrally co- ordinated.”

Implications from Institute for the Future:

The creation of South Africa's foreign policy development agency could work to lessen the strength of USAID on the continent which has–perhaps inadvertently–placed very Western ideals onto the continent. How this is being viewed by America with respects to international relations is unknown, but we can assume America would show support to prevent any further alienation from a continent that has grown tired of America's failed development attempts. Additionally, with China's increased investment in Africa it has become more important for the US to maintain strong ties.

The move towards central coordination is interesting in an age of decentralized development. However, if well executed it may be a much useful move in post-conflict reconstruction and continental development issues. Africa has been fighting to have their own voice on the global setting for a long time but have been unable to be heard individually. A more centrally organized effort may help Africa be better prepared to seek African solutions to development and conflict, as long as the bureaucracy is properly managed.

But the bigger story here is that development is no longer being seen as an altruistic move, as a necessary part of modern global politics. According to Jonathan Glennie, a research fellow of the Centre for Aid and Public Expenditure at the UK-based Overseas Development Institute, India, China and Brazil have also set up aid agencies in recent years. And these agencies act to strengthen political and trade ties as well as raise a countries international profile.

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