IFI governance


Adjusting the SPA

15 April 1998

Donor procedures and aid coordination have improved and resource flows to Sub-Saharan African countries increased under the Special Programme of Assistance for Africa (SPA), according to a recent report. The SPA is a donor forum established to channel adjustment resources to the region.

The review, by the World Bank’s Operations Evaluation Department, focused on the mechanics of the donor forum rather than the impacts of its programmes on the ground. It recommends that:

  1. SPA partners need to reformulate adjustment programmes to increase genuine ownership, eg through reform of Consultative Groups and Round Tables;
  2. assistance should be provided at a level to fill budget gaps not just balance of payments gaps;
  3. SPA donors, with African countries, should develop a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation plan;

At a meeting to discuss the findings, donors reiterated their support for the SPA and agreed it should remain focussed on mobilising quick disbursing resources to promote macroeconomic and structural adjustment policy reforms. Donors also supported providing resources over the longer-term.

Few donors wished to extend the SPA to include automatic African government representation, but most agreed that there should be selective African representation at the SPA plenary meetings and in some working groups.

The donors noted that selectivity (linking aid levels to performance), has proved difficult because political and commercial factors colour donors’ judgements and classifying countries according to performance is highly sensitive. The Economic Management Working Group will consider options for defining and disseminating peformance assessments.

For SPA reports and information contact Bernard Petit, DG VIII, European Commission, Brussels, Belgium, Tel: +32 2 299 32 55,

Fax: + 32 2 299 28 96.