Canadian Consulting Engineer

Horizon shifts for engineering companies seeking international work

April 26, 2005
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Over the next 10 years the Canadian International Development Agency -- CIDA -- will be streamlining its aid effort...

Over the next 10 years the Canadian International Development Agency — CIDA — will be streamlining its aid effort on 25 countries — most of those in Africa. The narrowing focus could affect consulting engineering firms who have traditionally done work in countries excluded from the list.
The announcement was made by Aileen Carroll, Federal Minister of International Cooperation, on April 19 following the issue of Canada’s International Policy Statement.
The selected 25 “development partner” countries in Africa are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia.
Other countries on the list are Bolivia, Guyana, Honduras and Nicaragua in the Americas, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam in Asia, and Ukraine in Europe.
One of the factors used to select a country as a partner was whether Canada already has a significant presence there relative to other donor countries.
The decision to concentrate our aid efforts reflects the findings of a review conducted in 2002 by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. It noted that Canada’s aid was among the most dispersed of donor countries and that it could be a disadvantage in having an impact. A World Bank report in 1999 “Assessing Aid: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why,” also concluded that aid should be focused in “high impact” countries.
The federal government also seems to have overlooked infrastructure renewal as one of its target areas. It said it would be focusing its aid efforts for those 25 countries in governance, health (with a focus on HIV/Aids), basic education, private sector development and environmental sustainability. The promotion of gender equality will be systematically integrated across all aid programming.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has also launched a new program for giving out aid funding in a dispersed fashion rather than concentrated on traditional large engineering infrastructure projects. Its Equator Ventures initiative announced April 19 will give out “loan investments” of $30,000 to $500,000 to small and medium-sized businesses that conserve biodiversity at the same time as they reduce poverty. The pilot program is going to be conducted over the next 18 months.
Olav Kjorven, director of the UN Development Program Energy and Environment Group, suggested the new Equator Ventures fund will fill a middle ground: “The Equator Ventures partnership fills a critical niche by addressing a major gap in sustainable development finance that goes beyond microfinance on the one hand and project finance on the other.”


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