To promote an alternative development paradigm shift from the dominant neo liberal ideology
The Washington consensus, which advocates for liberalization, privatization and deregulation introduced the neoliberal ideology and it has been pushed through the Bretton Woods Institutions i.e. the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Since early 1980s, this ideology has informed development thinking permeating all the policies and policy actions in Africa and the global South.
However, the result of this has been a diminished role of the State, extensive liberalization of economies and the ascendance of the private sector in the development discourse.
In Africa, this has resulted into deindustrialization as a result of the extensive opening of the economies which has led to importation of cheap products to the local market, and the withdrawal of the State from the market which has further led to widening income inequalities amidst the ever shrinking Agricultural production and productivity.
Generally, the neoliberal ideology has been disastrous and has led to increased poverty levels in Africa. However, despite the evidence of the glaring negative consequences of the neoliberal paradigm and its failure to deliver on all fronts, the rethink of this model/paradigm is yet to be actively taken up at national level and in the EAC region. Whereas there are efforts to review key development polies for example investment, industry, rural transformation, these reviews have largely ignored the underlying ideology that should ideally have informed these processes.
The Equator School of Development policy will enhance stakeholder capacity to appreciate the need for an alternative paradigm, shape strategic thinking about trade policies, provide a space and a forum for development thinking, provide space for incubating new development ideas and also assist in creating a pool of progressive trade policy analysts.