South South Cooperation is a phrase used by policy makers and development experts to refer to the exchange of ideas, knowledge, technology and resources among the countries of the southern hemisphere.
It is generally known that aid has traditionally been flowing from the north to the south. The South South cooperation is being seen as an alternative to the status quo.
Within the South South cooperation, trade and other forms of collaboration is seen as a key component. The South South cooperation has been in existence since 1979 when the United Nations established this unit within its agencies where it is housed within the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The question is how can a country like Rwanda that is now undertaking a highly ambitious post conflict reconstruction programme add some value to this sort of cooperation?
South-South Cooperation has been successful in fostering the move from aid dependency and to exert pressure on the current aid programs of developed countries to bring forth what is called ‘good’ aid to the south.
Undertaking this paradigm shift, though a tall order, has created realignment within the international balance of power.
A perfect example is that the South South Cooperation’s programmes in the coming years will be looked at afresh after the southern countries have withered the effects of the global financial crisis. It is noteworthy to talk about some of the programmes that the South South Cooperation has been undertaking.
China is now recognized as Africa’s mighty trading and economic development partner. India on the other hand has developed various programmes to boost trade and investments with Africa.
South Africa as the continental power house has walked the talk of this cooperation by fanning out numerous programmes to boost investments within the South.
In these examples I will mentioned various mind boggling projects that will have the North talking out loud. The Grand Inga Project to be carried out within DR Congo in which South Africa is taking the project lead to produce almost 40,000 megawatts of power is an example.
The Chinese minerals for infrastructure deal with the DR Congo that locks out western players is another case in point. Various other small but unique initiatives have come to characterize the spirit of this sort of cooperation.
It is within these unique initiatives that Rwanda ought to place itself strategically. Rwanda can offer lessons while learning immensely from the South South Cooperation.
Rwanda’s transition justice system as well as its unity and reconciliation programmes constitute an area it can readily share with the countries of the South emerging from Conflict.
Another area is within its development of a unique aid policy. Most of the countries within the southern hemisphere have not yet figured out how they can coherently deal with aid.
Another area of sharing that Rwanda can offer is the use of ICT to bring governance to the people while bridging the digital divide within the general population. What can Rwanda learn from this cooperation?
A lot I must say. Various countries within the south have unique ideas and knowledge assets as well that Rwanda can tap into to foster its growth prospects.
The author is a journalist with The New Times