VICE President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, has called for the adoption of a new paradigm of development that is people-centred, without yielding to the demands of special interest groups.
He said the new paradigm must have a broad consensus, defence of its own people and autonomous of any influence.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur made the call at a panel discussion on the first Meles Zenawi Symposium on Development, organised by the Meles Zenawi Foundation in collaboration with the African Development Bank in Kigali, Rwanda.
The symposium which was on the theme: “African Democratic Developmental State” was to create a platform for rigorous intellectual deliberation and in depth analysis of issues related to development.
The concept was inspired by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia’s commitment to see the state play a leading role in building robust accountable institutions and facilitating rapid sustainable development.
It is also considered as a viable alternative to the neo-liberal model of the 1980s and 1990s.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur called for the creation of political space for government to pursue the long-term development interest of the people without yielding to donor and special interest groups.
He said the economic policy of any nation was not neutral to the people it affected and as such affected different groups differently.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda said, the forum was a befitting tribute to the late Prime Minister Zenawi’s vision and intellectual legacy.
He said the late Prime Minister Zenawi’s conception of a developmental state, rejected the false choice of the free market over state, arguing that there could not be any developed economy in the world without a strong state and the markets working in tandem.
He said the orthodoxy of shrinking the power of the state to the barest minimum and replacing it with externally funded non-state actors such as NGOs, left Africa with no viable path out of poverty.
President Kagame said the issue of democracy had always been there, and that true democracy was the one which belonged to the citizens and not the false one of institutionalised corruption and division or rent seeking.
Mr Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, said that every developmental state should be obsessive to bring about radical transformation in the lives of people in abject poverty.
He said the idea must also be shared by the majority of the people in the country, otherwise there would not be social capital to help in the implementation of the idea.
He said for the developmental state to succeed, there should be policy space from the donor community and international NGOs, preventing them from imposing their policies on Africa countries to change their policies which had been designed to solve domestic problems.