By Nsikan Ikpe
African nations have begun to brace themselves for the resultant changes that will accompany the ongoing review of European aid policies in the continent.
Already, the Netherlands has revealed that countries like Ghana and Kenya will no loger receive financial assistance from it beginning 2020, on account of “significant” economic growth in the past decade that has turned them into middle-income countries.
The decision, which was made public in the country’s parliament, is expected to however have a less than salutary immediate impact on segments of the population and key governance institutions that had over time come to see the support from that European country as given.
The Netherlands assistance to Kenya for example, has been concentrated in supporting food security programmes, governance and human rights, improvement of the business climate, environmental conservation, sanitation as well as culture and sports.
Announcing the shift last week, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation, Lilianne Ploumen, told her country’s Parliament that the relationship between the Netherlands and Kenya – after 2020 – will become purely that of “trade partners” hence the decision to stop aid.
Referring to Kenya as a “middle income country,” Ms Ploumen said that the Kenyan economy had grown significantly over the past decade, forcing the Dutch government to set its sights on helping other more “needy” nations.
“The government wants to focus when choosing new partners in the group of countries that our aid is most needed: the Least Developed Countries. ODA (overseas development aid) is most relevant in these countries and there it can make the biggest difference,” Ms Ploumen said.