Today ICAI published a learning review on DFID’s aims to improve economic development and create jobs in Africa.

ICAI found the department has pursued a well-considered approach to building up its knowledge and expertise in the area of inclusive growth, doubling its global investment in economic development – from £934 million in 2011-12 to £1.8 billion in 2015-16.

With some 10 to 12 million young Africans entering the jobs market each year, ICAI’s review said this was a positive commitment.

For example in Ethiopia, DFID is supporting access to finance for poor households and businesses, particularly female-led firms, and is investing in specific areas – textiles, leather, and horticulture – which have the potential to transform parts of the country’s economy in ways which benefit the poorest.

However aspects of the department’s work to bring about inclusive growth are of variable quality.

ICAI found that DFID has taken a structured and considered approach to building up the learning required for a more ambitious economic development portfolio, meriting an overall green-amber score. A number of the concerns raised in past ICAI reports have been addressed, but others remain outstanding.

ICAI has made the following recommendations:

  • DFID’s diagnostic and planning tools should more clearly support and encourage country offices to prioritise their investments into areas with the greatest potential for DFID to contribute to transformative growth.
  • DFID should provide more guidance on how to build a portfolio that balances investments in long-term structural change and job creation with programming.
  • DFID should prioritise learning on how to combine politically smart and technically sound approaches to economic development.
  • DFID should ensure that opportunities for addressing the exclusion of women, young people and marginalised groups are identified and built into programme designs and results frameworks wherever feasible, and that distributional impacts of its programming are monitored and assessed.

Read the report