A July 11 New York Times op-ed, co-authored by Colgate President Jeffrey Herbst and Greg Mills, director of the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation, examines the World Bank’s diminishing role in Africa while encouraging the institution to steer away from investing in poorly run governments.
Herbst and Mills last co-authored an op-ed in the Times on July 29, 2012, and have collaborated on a number of publications, including Africa’s Third Liberation— The New Search for Prosperity and Jobs.
“In Africa, considered the investment laggard among developing countries and the most in need of aid, World Bank spending was just $5.6 billion in 2011, versus over $46 billion in foreign direct investment,” they wrote.
As returns on investment in African nations increase, the continent is becoming more appealing to private firms and foreign governments, even as such investment continues to carry risks associated with developing countries. Such increases in private funding diminish World Bank influence on African governments.
“The World Bank must be free to walk away from poorly governed areas, even though its own internal dynamics point to continuing to try to lend money,” they wrote.
Having served as an adviser to the World Bank, the United Nations, and the U.S. State Department, Herbst is a preeminent scholar of the politics of sub-Saharan Africa. His published work also includes States and Power in Africa, and he has regularly traveled to Zimbabwe, Ghana, and South Africa for his research.