217. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1


  • The Korry Report on Development Policies and Programs in Africa

Attached is Ed Korry’s Report, approved and transmitted to you by George Ball (cover memorandum at Tab A).2 George thinks the report is first-rate—as do Secretary Rusk, Bill Gaud, and I—and should be required reading for everyone in the Government connected with African affairs. He recommends that you approve it in general, and direct us to staff out the particulars. (My thoughts on how to do that are below.)

Substance of the Report

You will wish to read the “Summary of Strategy and Tactics” (green tab—pages 24–27). If your time permits, the opening policy statement (yellow tab—pages 1–23) is also very much worth your attention. The recommendations (white tabs—pages 28–141) are covered by summary sheets for easy skimming. You could get a good sense of them quickly by leafing through the tabs. The last few pages (142–150) contain the impressive list of people Korry consulted.

Essentially, Korry argues that, except for the 4–5 countries in which rapid economic growth is feasible and we are prepared to support it on a large scale, our present aid program does not fit the facts of life in Africa. He maintains that Africa is simply not ready for the approach we use in Latin America and South Asia, one which painstakingly identifies obstacles to economic growth in each country and tries to supply whatever kind of resource is needed to eliminate them. The obstacles in Africa are too huge, and our resources are too limited. Korry suggests that we now (1) scatter our money and manpower in a way which Congress and the people will never understand; (2) put an impossible administrative burden on AID; (3) yield too often to the temptation to use aid for narrow political purposes; and (4) mislead the Africans and ourselves as to what can be accomplished with the limited resources we are willing to provide.

Moving from our bilateral problems to the broad picture of Free World aid to Africa, Korry finds the situation confused. Donors don’t accept each other’s technical findings, and are often played off against [Page 353] each other. Recipients have little capacity for developing projects, are often bewildered and misled by donor requirements, and find it politically difficult to agree to self-help conditions on bilateral loans. Regional organizations exist, and make an attempt at coordination, but are very weak.

In this context, Korry proposes a new thrust with the following major themes:

A much broader and more central role for the World Bank in Africa. By request of both donors and recipients, the Bank would be responsible for rationalizing donor operations, identifying recipient needs and abilities, and applying leverage in both directions. Specifically, it should (a) set up a Standing Group for Africa to deal with major infrastructure projects—transportation, communications and power; (b) set up a Rural Development Center to deal with the problems of agriculture; and (c) ear-mark some IDA funds for African projects.
Realignment of our bilateral programs to (a) concentrate efforts—outside the few major countries—on health, education, and agricultural programs covering sub-regions, and administered without AID missions in each country; (b) use the promise of a few large capital outlays outside the major countries to stimulate and finance multi-national projects approved by the proposed World Bank Standing Group; (c) sponsor a special bilateral initiative on communications; and (d) strongly support the growth of African regional organizations.

Next Steps

If you approve the Report in principle, we need to work out (1) a negotiating scenario which will get the other donors to request the Bank to take on the jobs listed above—hopefully in time for the Bank’s annual meetings starting September 26; (2) the country-by-country specifics of the bilateral changes; and (3) a publicity strategy which makes political points and maintains the momentum created by the OAU speech without destroying the impression that we are responding to African initiative. My thoughts on each are as follows:

Negotiating scenario. Woods has agreed that the Bank will take on these new assignments if we can get support for the request from our fellow donors. (Essentially, this means the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and Japan.) Subject to your approval, our people agreed to try. We propose to send Livingston Merchant to Europe as your Special Representative for this purpose in the first week of September. (Europe virtually closes up shop during August.) We would use the time between now and then to pave the way. If things go well, we could have a package ready to discuss with the Africans by the September Bank meetings.
Bilateral program changes: As Ball suggests, we need to set up a State/AID/White House committee to work out the detailed tailoring of [Page 354] our bilateral program and the communication initiative. It would work best if it were done upon your instruction—with a tight deadline—preferably through a NSAM. If you agree, I will get a NSAM ready for your signature immediately.
Publicity. As Ball points out, the Report should not be released. Moreover, it would be self-defeating to announce the details of our proposals while we are working on the Europeans and the Africans. Thus, we will probably not have a full-blown story to tell until October or November. However, if you wish we could prepare a short statement to the effect that the Report is finished and has been submitted to you, and that it will provide the basis for new US attention to the needs and problems of Africa, though much more work needs to be done to give it effect. We might then outline the major themes (promotion of regionalism, new stress on health, education and agriculture, etc. ) which wouldn’t get us into trouble. This could be a standard release, an item in one of Bill Moyers’ briefings, or a voluntary at a press conference.

Approve Report in principle3

Speak to me

OK for Merchant to go to Europe as my Representative


Speak to me

Draft NSAM for my signature setting up group on bilateral program changes

Rostow sign NSAM

Speak to me

Prepare short press statement for early release

Prepare no statement now

Speak to me

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Africa, General, Vol. V, 6/66–1/69. Confidential.
  2. Documents 215 and 216.
  3. The President checked the first option in each of the four groups.