“There is a sense of possibility in Africa today, but there is still a huge amount to do.”
Speaking at Georgetown University, Mr. Blair said that the “quality of governance is as big as any other single factor in determining if developing countries succeed or fail.”
As founder and patron of the Africa Governance Initiative, Mr. Blair works with African leaders to help build the capacity of their governments to implement reforms. The foundation is currently working in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia, helping “governments do the business of implementation.”
Reflecting on his experience as Prime Minister, he identified three things governments must do to implement things: prioritise; build the right policy framework; and ensure there is strong performance management. He said that in the countries where AGI has worked, they have “helped them deliver change” from working on “a maternal mortality programme in Sierra Leone to finding a better way to attract business investment into Rwanda through to Nigeria where we help the finance Minister deliver a reform programme. It’s all about getting things done.”
Mr. Blair said that “what works today is not hard to see,” for developing countries. They “need proper infrastructure,” as well as to develop resources “in a way that builds strength and wealth for the future.” But added that “rule of law is becoming more and more important for a countries development,” and that if countries “don’t have a predictable system of justice there are whole dimensions of development that are closed.”
He said that “the best poverty reduction is economic development,” but this depends on a functioning government. He said that as well as focusing on this issue of government, how the West can best help is “by bringing good investment not bad, by the technical expertise we have, by mobilising international capital,” and “by partnering governments that want to change the conditions of their people for the better.”
The foundation has also been working in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone on the Ebola response. Commenting on this, Mr. Blair said that “we need to be in a situation where the international community moves with a greater degree of coordination and in sync with the different parts of it fast and get empowered people in charge.” He added that governments “need to put in place robust systems but very early on – and as Nigeria did – take the necessary actions, even if it seems drastic,” warning that “the decisions these three countries take in the next 6 months will be dramatically important to their future.”
The work described here was carried out by the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, it is now being continued by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.