Advantages aplenty in south-south and triangular cooperationBy: NICO SMIT
DESPITE having limited experience with triangular cooperation, there are numerous advantages and benefits to be gained from such cooperation for the southern African sub-region, says a United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) report.
The report, entitled, ‘South-South and Triangular Cooperation: Implications for Southern African Countries’, was the subject of the UNECA Ad-hoc Expert Group Meeting on South-South and Triangular Cooperation, which was held in Windhoek on March 15 and 16.
The aim of the meeting was to review new trends in south and triangular cooperation in southern Africa. The delegates intended to identify best practices on aid effectiveness and the economic development of countries in the sub-region. The meeting also reviewed how countries in the sub-region have benefited from trilateral cooperation.
Regarding the advantages of triangular cooperation, firstly, it is regarded as supportive of and complimentary to North-South development cooperation. Triangulation involves developing countries whose successful experiences, practices and models may be better placed to respond to the needs and problems of beneficiary states.
Secondly, triangular programmes are thought to be a more cost-effective option to north-south alternatives. This is because the experts come from developing countries of the south, the training is localised, and other facilities such as travel and accommodation are often cheaper.
Thirdly, with specific reference to Brazil and other (beneficiary) Portuguese-speaking countries, the use of the same language has meant that triangular development cooperation can become cross-continental. This is due to the fact that training and expertise are conducted in a common language.
Finally, triangular development cooperation is believed to be free of contributing (northern) donor conditionality or agenda. As a result, the report regards triangular development cooperation as more likely to ensure better alignment with beneficiary countries’ own development priorities than north-south development cooperation.
The report did however make a number of recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of south-south and triangular cooperation in southern Africa, firstly, that there should be formal agreements amongst the partners.
Secondly, the report recommended that each beneficiary country formulate a national policy framework that would guide dialogue with “pivotal” countries.
Thirdly, that cooperation be demand driven and owned by beneficiary states.
Fourth, the report made the recommendation that pivotal countries should formulate long-term strategic frameworks for engaging with both the North and the South in triangular cooperation.
The report’s final recommendation called for an implementable framework for promoting effectiveness of aid, with a defined programme of action