Letter: Credit due to the World Bank

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The Independent Online
I AM sure Africans will be astounded if not insulted by Richard Dowden's article, 'Inside this building the officials are deciding what's best for Africa' (28 March). Has he spoken to the Nigerians and suggested that they behaved like timid children when dealing with the World Bank? Has he spoken to the architect of Ghana's economic recovery programme, Dr Kwesi Botchwey, and suggested the programmes adopted in the last 10 years were designed by the World Bank and that he and his colleagues have simply been Bank puppets?

Dowden should distinguish between real problems and the demonising of the Bank. All politicians need scapegoats so it is not difficult to find many Africans castigating the World Bank. Moreover the beneficiaries of previously distorted policies are typically the most vocal but not the most vulnerable. The beneficiaries of reform programmes are, on the contrary, typically the most vulnerable but not the most vocal.

Of course these programmes are taking longer to be effective than everybody had hoped and certainly much more debt relief is required. Yet I for one am more optimistic over the prospects for Africa than I was in the 1970s.

This optimism is based on the arrival of a new generation of young Africans - and some not so young - who are questioning the shibboleths of the post-independence period and seeking more effective programmes for stimulating growth and alleviating the poverty of their people.

Stanley Please

Old Marston, Oxfordshire