In DepthLettersLetter - The Philanthrocrats: Setting the record straight


Posted on Thursday, 07 March 2013 17:10

Letter - The Philanthrocrats: Setting the record straight

altPaul Skidmore, director of projects at the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, responds to Ruby Edward's article, 'The Philanthrocrats' (TAR47 Feb 2013).



We read your article ('The Philanthrocrats', TAR47 Feb 2013) with great interest. Private foundations are indeed playing an increasing role in international development.

The piece also highlights several on-going issues for the philanthropic community around policy prioritisation and accountability.

There are, however, two important clarifications which need to be made regarding the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative (AGI).

Firstly, your article wrongly groups AGI with grant-giving organisations such as the Gates Foundation and the Open Society Foundations.

AGI is a practitioner not a grant-giving foundation. We implement technical assistance programmes, but we do not give out financial aid in any form.

Secondly, your article questions the role AGI plays in central government and the influence it might have in policy formulation.

AGI strongly believes in the principle of country ownership.

We wholeheartedly agree that one of the problems with the traditional donor-recipient relationship – as pointed out in your article – has been the tendency for priorities to be set by the donor, rather than by the country and its elected government.

That's why AGI works with governments and leaders who have a clear development vision for their country but need support in making it a reality.

Our role is to help them implement their vision – not tell them what it should be.

Paul Skidmore, Director of Projects, Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative

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