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Invitation to a SARPN/UNDP workshop

The challenges of capacity development in Africa

2 April 2003

10:00 am until 12:00 pm

HSRC Conference Centre, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria

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    "Developing capacity has been a fundamental component of international development assistance since the Marshall Plan. The huge success of that far-sighted programme, however, inadvertently generated an overly simplistic and optimistic view of what worked: simply transfer capital and know-how to other countries, the thinking went, and swift economic growth will follow. As we have learnt over the past few decades, this view ignored - or at least underestimated - the importance of local knowledge, institutions and social capital in the process of economic development"

    (Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator, UNDP)

    "Of all the elements of the development co-operation package, developing national capacity has emerged as the one particularly elusive goal. Thousands of people have been trained and thousands of "experts" fielded. Yet development undertakings have constantly faced a lack of necessary skills and weak institutions. Donors can ship out four-wheel drive vehicles, textbooks or computers, but they have not really appeared to transfer knowledge"

    (From the overview report)

As these extracts from a series of new UNDP reports make clear, concerns over the effectiveness of technical co-operation and assistance provided by donor countries continues to be a source of debate amongst donor agencies and recipient countries. The UNDP, through a series of new publications on the topic, has revisited some of the concerns about the effectiveness of technical capacity.

Taking advantage of the visit to South Africa by key participants in the team, SARPN will host a discussion this Wednesday on key aspects of the findings and their relevance for Africa's economic development challenge.


Dr Carlos Lopez (UNDP) and Minister July Moyo (Zimbabwe)

Dr Carlos Lopez is the acting director of the UNDP's Bureau for Development Policy. Dr Lopez was born in Guinea-Bissau and has taught or conducted research in Brazil, Portugal, Mexico, Sweden and Switzerland. He has also served in the civil service in Guinea-Bissau. He has published widely in the field of development issues. He obtained is PhD from the Sorbonne.

Minister July Moyo is the Minister of the Public Service, Labour & Social Welfare in Zimbabwe. A former civil servant he is one of several regional officials who have interacted with the UNDP team during the course of the review.


Date: Wednesday 2 April 2003
Time: 10.00 am until 12:00 pm
Venue: HSRC Conference Centre, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria

Parking is available in the HSRC's commercial parking facility

Lunch will be served following the debate.


Persons wanting to read the UNDP reports can access them at the following urls:

Capacity for Development - New solutions to old problems: deals with conceptual issues and frameworks for capacity analysis, identified problem areas and indicated future directions.

Developing Capacity through Technical Cooperation: Country Experiences documents country experiences based on the country studies in Bolivia, Uganda, Egypt, Philippines, Kyrgyz Republic and Bangladesh.

Development Policy Journal on Technical Cooperation: this special issue documents much of the focus studies and other research carried out by UNDP.

Complementary information is available at

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