“You have heard; now see all this; and will you not declare it? From this time forward I make you hear new things, hidden things that you have not known” – Isaiah 48:6
The Caribbean team of three, Dianne Lalla-Rodrigues (Director of the Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standard), Lennox Lewis (Owner and Chairman, I.T. Ready Ltd. – Trinidad) and myself, were among over 600 delegates who attended the Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management Global 2013 Smart Partnership International Dialogue last weekend in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. This is the 21st International Dialogue, since the inception in 1995, two of which were held in Barbados in 1996 and 1999 with the others held in Malaysia and many African countries. On this occasion, our gracious host was the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, headed by President H.E Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.
I traveled from Trinidad to Dar via Toronto and Amsterdam with journey statistics 28hr 30min (airport to airport) with 23hr 35 min (actual flying time). On the return journey, the statistics were 31hr 30min (longer lay-overs) and 23hr 0min, respectively. My other colleagues had different but equally circuitous routes to Dar.
At the Dialogue, I met a former Tanzanian High Commissioner who was accredited to Barbados and other Caribbean countries over ten years ago. He shared that, during his period of stewardship, there were discussions about the establishment of a direct trans-Atlantic airline route, say, from Barbados or Trinidad to Dakar, Senegal with connections to East and South Africa. The estimated flying time to Dar from Trinidad under that dispensation would be 10 hours, less than half the time taken in my recent experience. He hastened to add that these discussions have not yet resulted in any change.
This line of thought has led me to revisit one of my favourite topics – that of the “Reverse Donor Country” model. Studies have shown that the traditional “Donor Country” model, whereas it may help the recipient country, results in a net benefit to the donor country. This is primarily because the aid is usually tied to the purchase of goods and services from the donor country. Also, representatives and consultants from the donor country are often residents in the recipient countries thus benefiting from the infrastructure in the recipient countries. Imagine the impact on a donor country if its aid programme were to be closed down and the donor country had to provide jobs and facilities for all of its representatives and consultants who were commissioned to all of those recipient countries around the world.
Turkey is a relatively new player in the “Donor Country” model through the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency. It should be noted that Turkey’s per capita income although greater than that of Guyana and Jamaica is certainly less than that of Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados. Turkey’s annual technical and development assistance abroad, sometimes to countries with a greater GDP per capita than itself, is over US$350 million per annum and it has become an effective donor country with a net benefit to Turkey’s economy. Turkey’s vision has paid off.
Surely it is not beyond the capacity of Barbados, for example, to do the same. The financial investment in “Barbados as a Donor Country” can be modest initially, later expanding commensurately with the success of the initiative, the need in the recipient country and identification of innovative sources of finance. The initial recipient countries can be selected small states and emerging nations around the world where Barbados could sell, say, its tourism expertise and experience through Caribbean consultants. There are many countries in Africa with an attractive tourism product but for which tourism is in its infancy.
The benefits are the development of a vibrant Caribbean export consulting and training industry. Remember people are our most important asset. In addition, as the human capital and physical infrastructure is strengthened in emerging nations, a share of the investment opportunities will be there for the taking by the “Barbados as a Donor Country” concept. Also, the presence of Caribbean representatives in recipient countries provides a platform for the development of trade, tourism, investment and cultural linkages.
An agency of the Government of Barbados could lead this initiative. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would establish a relationship with its counterparts in the recipient countries to establish the donor/recipient relationship. Representatives of the social partners would then meet with their counterparts in the recipient country to determine the needs of the recipient country. After a period of time, the initial grant investment could result in increasing foreign exchange earnings, branding Barbados, creating fertile ground for foreign direct investment, developing of a cadre of Caribbean based international consultants, creating jobs, optimally using natural resources and transferring intellectual property. Barbados then becomes the net beneficiary of such an innovative opportunity.
Even without the backing of the “Barbados as a Donor Country” concept my visit to Tanzania was very fruitful. I have been invited to submit immediately proposals for the implementation of the CBET Shepherding Model™ as a catalyst to expedite enterprise development strategies in Botswana, India, Malta, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Let this be the first day of our new adventure.
The CPTM Smart Partnership movement, to which I was introduced since 1995, provided the foundation on which the CBET Shepherding Model™ was built. The Global Smart Partnership International Dialogues are a cyclical source of inspiration for the continued development of the Model. The Global 2014 Smart Partnership International Dialogue is carded for South Africa.