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Saudi Arabia and the Development of Africa

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a leading role in advancing development in developing countries in general, and African countries in particular. It is a role derived not from political or financial interests, but rather from a sense of responsibility toward countries that need help – even if those countries aren’t politically aligned with Riyadh. The kingdom’s pioneering role isn’t limited merely to financial aid; Saudi Arabia also engaged in diplomatic and political efforts aimed at solving systemic issues that hinder stability, development, and public health. Following the Summit on the Financing of African Economies held in Paris last week, the kingdom affirmed its leadership role in advancing the development of African nations, and its keenness to support international efforts directed at fostering security and stability in the African continent. In his address at the Summit, His Highness the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman emphasized his support for international and regional efforts that would lay the foundations of security and stability in Africa, resolve local conflicts, and fight terrorist groups and extremism in the region. The crown prince articulated his vision for economic development in Africa. He spoke out against one-off donations that fail to eradicate poverty or create local jobs. Traditional aid, in his view, often undermines sustainable development goals. Similarly, debt restructuring often helps developing countries in the short term but hurts them in the long run. The crown prince emphasized the need to search for creative solutions that will push these African nations toward economic empowerment and sustainability, allowing them to rely on their own capabilities rather than those of donors. I am certain that this is what African countries desperately need, and what donor countries must be keen to achieve in order to narrow the development gap between developing and developed countries. The kingdom’s vision for development is bold but crucial. The only way to get these nations out of their debt spiral is to encourage creditors to forgive the loans they’ve given developing nations and help the latter implement the necessary reforms that would boost their local economies and attract foreign investments. –Fadhel Bin Saad Al-Buainain, member of the board of directors of the Saudi Financial Association (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)