While there’s certainly a lot of focus this week on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there seems to be a lack of focus among those who are charged to advance them. Perhaps bringing focus into the development world means relying less on international donors with overlapping, interlocking goals and relying more on each economy generating local income and taxes to prioritize and mobilize at their own democratic discretion.
In the video above, Ezekiel Gomos, co-founder and executive director of the Jos Business School in Nigeria, tells the story of strengthening local capacity for development in Nigeria’s Nasarawa state. The central challenge is governance; local public officials often feel more accountable to political bosses or donor agencies than to those they actually govern, including local businesses. Setting aside all the other possible reasons behind that conundrum, weak or ineffective chambers of commerce, business associations, and business coalitions hinders local businesses from holding local governments accountable for their needs.
It just so happens that meeting the needs of local businesses also generates jobs, income, and tax revenues–in short, the local economic base that ties together and brings focus to the MDGs. Nasarawa’s example above is just one of many that are playing out across Africa today, where increasingly local businesses are coming together to hold leaders accountable to local economic needs.
With improved governance, local economies can generate much of the resources needed to achieve the MDGs, and local businesses can play a major role in improving local governance. Which do you think is more pie-in-the-sky: that international donors will lead the way in achieving the eight herculean tasks of the MDGs, or that local businesses can come together with local public officials to build a productive, adaptive, and democratic economy to lead the way?