On 29 and 30 June 2005, in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), the Fondation pour l’innovation politique held a conference entitled “The Unknown Actors of Development” in cooperation with Institut Afrique moderne, the United Nations Development Programme, the French Development Agency (AFD), and the French Minister of Foreign Affairs. These recently published proceedings summarize this event, which led to a new direction in dealing with development issues. The initiative for this meeting arose from the observation that the private or public organistions and institutions involved in the development and financing of Sub-Saharan Africa will be able to give the region the resources it needs to reduce poverty and meet the 2015 objectives of the region.
On the other hand, the non-institutional “unknown actors of development” are already playing a key role in improving the living conditions of numerous African communities. These players are developing three economies that are relatively unrecognized, yet which augur well for the future: the economies of solidarity, volunteership and tradition. The first is based upon the effects of emigration and its financing of collective investments such as schools, healthcare and safe drinking water. The second relying on local volunteers has given rise to a range of initiatives — some aided, and some not, by NGOs — which are contributing to local development. The third and last, which economists find difficult to acknowledge, is inspired by traditional practices and strives to develop sectors such as agriculture and healthcare.
The conference participants formulated a number of recommendations aimed at improving the performance of these three economies. It is also another way of stressing the importance of individual action and of its role in ensuring sustainable endogenous development.