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How to increase the absorption of development project funds?

Eustache Akpane

Managing Director, Global Challenge Corporation-CI

Doctor DBA, Business Science Institute

(DBA thesis supervised by Pr. Husson)



Côte d'Ivoire calls on international donors to finance its development projects. Paradoxically, the allocated resources are not being used despite the proven needs: how can this be remedied?

Impact of the research

Our doctoral work has enabled us to formulate several managerial proposals, the three main ones being

First, we recommend the clear formalization of the stakeholders' expectations in a document such as the specifications.

In the three projects studied, we noted that only the roles of the key actors involved in the operational implementation were mentioned without any mention of the interests of all the stakeholders, such as the beneficiaries, the steering committee, the project team, the prime contractors, the structures of the Ministry of the Budget,.... We recommend that at the time of project design, a specific document in the form of terms of reference be drafted to list the various stakeholders, their interests and their roles in the project. But be careful! The process of constructing the scope of work is as important as its content. Stakeholders involved in the design of development projects should take time to agree on its content. Furthermore, because the interests of the various stakeholders may change during the course of the project, it is also important to plan to update the SOW at least once during the life of the project.

Second, we recommend harmonizing the procedures for awarding contracts.

Each project has an implementation manual, but must also comply with the directives of the donors and the State. Faced with this multiplicity of procedures, the project team wastes a lot of time deciphering the language of contracting and the complex mechanisms of accountability. We recommend the drafting of a harmonized procedures manual for financial management and procurement in development projects and its validation by the donors and the State of Côte d'Ivoire. But beyond the manuals of procedures, and as Wittgenstein (1921) states, "it is language, and therefore our culture, that creates our reality, our way of seeing and thinking" in Thiétart (2007, p.2), it is a matter of agreeing on key notions.

Thirdly, it is essential to evaluate in order to change the management of development projects

We propose to evaluate the way projects are managed and the results obtained in order to change project management practices. The field data show that external evaluations are conventional and the three projects comply with them. However, these evaluations do not include an assessment of the interventions/contributions of all the stakeholders and say nothing about the performance of the donor's team, the steering committee or financial control. The goal is to increase the accountability of each party to the stakeholders' terms of reference.

Foundations of the research

We used stakeholder theory to map the stakeholders involved in the projects studied and to identify their interests and influence on the performance of development projects. We also used work on project management because of the impact of this mechanism on the performance of development projects.


We used a mixed methodological approach. An interview guide was used to collect primary data from 36 respondents (project coordinators, financial managers, monitoring and evaluation officers) and to analyze it through content analysis by cross-referencing it with information from secondary data (annual reports, project descriptions, periodic monitoring reports). A questionnaire administered to 96 people (including 8 consultants supporting these projects) confirmed the hypotheses derived from the exploratory interviews.

Professors' opinion

The proposed managerial recommendations are very significant and extremely useful for decision-makers and managers of development projects (Pr. Blandine Ageron, rapporteur)

Professor Husson underlines the originality of the thesis subject: the question of the absorption of funds becomes the main criterion for evaluating the performance of development projects (Pr. Husson, thesis director).

To go further

  • Jakob, S., (2006) Absorptive capacity and disbursement constraints, Revue d'économie du développement 2006/2-3 (Vol. 14).

  • Diallo, A., & Thuillier, D. (2005). An analysis of the perception of development project coordinators in Africa. Region and Development, (22), P. 195-218.

  • Elhadj, M.S (2016), Performance des projets de développement international, l'Harmattan.

  • Garel, G., Giard, V., & Midler, C. (2001). Project management and human resource management. Université Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne, Institut d'administration des entreprises.

  • Thiétart, R.A(2007). Methods of research in management. Dunod, Paris.

Article translated from French with


See also...

Eustache Akpane's thesis presentation


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