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‘Minilateral’ development banks: what the rise of Africa's trade and development bank says about multilateral governance


Humphrey, Christopher (2019). ‘Minilateral’ development banks: what the rise of Africa's trade and development bank says about multilateral governance. Development and Change, 50(1):164-190.

Abstract

Multilateral development banks (MDBs) are one of the most popular forms of international organization, with at least 27 operating in the world today. Although most academics and policy makers focus on the World Bank and major regional MDBs, the majority of MDBs are in fact relatively small, and controlled by developing as opposed to industrialized countries. How do the differing governance arrangements of these ‘minilateral’ development banks (MnDBs) impact their operations? This article takes the Trade and Development Bank (TDB), an MDB in Africa with 22 regional member countries, as a case study to consider this question. Based on an analysis of TDB's track record since 2005 and interviews with management and shareholders, the author finds that borrower‐led governance leads to substantial disadvantages in terms of access to finance. Borrower‐led governance permits TDB and other MnDBs greater operational flexibility, which partially compensates for this financial disadvantage, but these operational strategies come with trade‐offs in terms of developmental effectiveness. The findings suggest that MnDBs have substantial latent potential and, in an increasingly multipolar world, they are likely to grow in coming years. However, MnDBs need to ensure that their developmental value added is strengthened in step with their financial power.

Abstract

Multilateral development banks (MDBs) are one of the most popular forms of international organization, with at least 27 operating in the world today. Although most academics and policy makers focus on the World Bank and major regional MDBs, the majority of MDBs are in fact relatively small, and controlled by developing as opposed to industrialized countries. How do the differing governance arrangements of these ‘minilateral’ development banks (MnDBs) impact their operations? This article takes the Trade and Development Bank (TDB), an MDB in Africa with 22 regional member countries, as a case study to consider this question. Based on an analysis of TDB's track record since 2005 and interviews with management and shareholders, the author finds that borrower‐led governance leads to substantial disadvantages in terms of access to finance. Borrower‐led governance permits TDB and other MnDBs greater operational flexibility, which partially compensates for this financial disadvantage, but these operational strategies come with trade‐offs in terms of developmental effectiveness. The findings suggest that MnDBs have substantial latent potential and, in an increasingly multipolar world, they are likely to grow in coming years. However, MnDBs need to ensure that their developmental value added is strengthened in step with their financial power.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Development
Uncontrolled Keywords:development
Language:English
Date:January 2019
Deposited On:14 Jan 2021 08:15
Last Modified:24 Apr 2024 01:51
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0012-155X
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/dech.12467
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Language: English