Hard Times: The World Economic Crisis and Emerging Capacity Challenges for Africa

The world economy has changed significantly in recent times. With greater financial globalisation, there emerged a mistaken perception that 'fathomless' capital was a pattern of this 'new world'. It soon became apparent that the recent financial crisis was a result of fragility in the financial system – in turn a product of limited/lack of transparency in the system. There has been limited understanding as to how the financial markets work – not only in the developing world where skills are in short supply – but more importantly by officials in the United States of America (US), European Union (EU) and Japan despite the fact that these blocks form 80% of global gross domestic product (GDP).Many EU countries have arguably remained highly uncompetitive and not ready to deal with the consequences of the global economic downturn. For policy relevance to exist, countries need to take reforms however painful they may be socio-economically. The paper sheds light on the implications for capacity building/development in Africa given the realities of the New Economic World order – especially new finance regulation issues, new international competition, crisis exit strategies and future technologies. The paper also draws possible roles that can be played by capacity building institutions such as the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) by highlighting four major areas: (a) how the Foundation sources new ideas for capacity development; (b) what approaches to use for resource mobilization and partnerships; (c)howbest to organize the work of the Foundation in knowledge sharing; and (d) what aspects need to shift in the operational programs of the Foundation to handle emerging issues. The paper concludes that Africa needs to develop capacity to respond to shocks effectively.