SPEECHES: Keynote Address by Honourable Ayanda Dlodlo MP, Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration, on the occasion of the 2013 All Africa Public Sector Innovation Awards (AAPSIA) ceremony – 26 July 2013 During the 8th Conference of African Ministers for Public/ Civil Service - Brazzaville, Republic of Congo: 22-27 July 2013

Date: 29 Jul 2013

Your Excellencies

Distinguished delegates

Fellow Africans

I would like to start by thanking, on behalf of the President and people of South Africa, the great masses of our continent and the world for putting our ailing elderly Statesman, Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela, in their prayers as he responds well to treatment in hospital in Pretoria.

Just last week, on 18 July, we were joined by your good selves in celebrating Madiba’s 95th birthday. This was most befitting for this gallant revolutionary; a symbol of absolute selflessness and a true servant of the people.

South Africa is today in the midst of the peoples of Africa and the world, as a sovereign state; thanks in large measure to the leadership collective of the people’s movement, the African National Congress (ANC), of which Mandela was part. The success of the ANC in dismantling apartheid and building a national democratic society would not have been possible without the support of the peoples of Africa and other progressive forces around the globe.

We remain deeply humbled by Africa’s unwavering support to our people. We sincerely thank you for the well wishes that you have extended to Mandela, his family and the people of South Africa at large. I wish to invite you to join us as we continue to wish him a speedy recovery. Let me take this opportunity to express South Africa’s gratitude to you for having honoured the invitation to be part of us this evening; on the occasion of the All Africa Public Sector Innovation Awards (AAPSIA) ceremony. AAPSIA is a very important thematic area of the Conference of African Ministers for Public/ Civil Service (CAMPS). It reflects the main objectives of CAMPS which include: the promotion of good governance, knowledge sharing, and cultivation of innovation. All these are important elements of a repertoire of solutions to the many challenges that African governments are confronted with.

Africa’s public services continue to be confronted with challenges for which traditional government action is inadequate. These public services are experiencing increasing demands, like how to manage the complex issues of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment. At the same time our public services are operating within the context of tight fiscal constraints.

This challenge has been made even more acute by the recent global economic and financial meltdown from which many countries are as yet to fully recover. In the face of fiscal constraints, the public sector is challenged to find effective, cheap and politically acceptable strategies to achieve its goals; such as delivering public health, welfare, and safety, while promoting economic growth and creating jobs. It is within this narrative that we understand the value of innovation in public service. Innovation is seen as a means to address growing budgetary pressures, through more efficient administration or service delivery, and new societal demands, through different and more effective service design. Innovation in the public service should stretch beyond the touch and feel tangibles but should also translate into innovation in business processes with a view to eradicating corruption and making sure the sector is efficient and effective. Distinguished delegatesIn 2003 the African ministers for public service, at their meeting in Stellenbosch, South Africa, conceptualised AAPSIA, and launched it at their meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2005. Today member states of the African Union are proud of this powerful Africa-wide initiative as a pertinent answer to the many challenges we face. This attests to the authenticity of AAPSIA as a genuine African initiative by Africans for Africans themselves. AAPSIA unifies all our nations and peoples around a common vision for a better Africa. Over the years, AAPSIA has served as a breeding ground for numerous high-level entries of projects and solutions to service delivery challenges from across the continent. Through AAPSIA, we have seen solutions that change people’s lives in practical ways. AAPSIA has given recognition and rewarded major achievements by public servants and business, whose partnership has yielded innovative solutions to service delivery and governance challenges. AAPSIA also provides opportunities for information sharing, lesson learning, partnerships and the possible replication of successful initiatives across the African continent.Therefore AAPSIA cultivates an enabling environment for innovative ideas and initiatives that hold the key to Africa’s shining future. It is our way of acknowledging the value of innovation; to move away from dysfunctional or tardy and often costly ways of doing things - to do more with less - SMARTERInnovation is about growth, development and sustainability; it is essential to Africa’s future economic prosperity and quality of life. Your Excellencies,

Distinguished delegates,As African governments we need to galvanise our efforts to promote innovation as a way of increasing productivity and performance in our public services for progressive realisation of the millennium goals. Part of this endeavour should be the forging effective partnerships with citizens, the private sector and other strategic sectors, as there are many instructive lessons that governments can learn as they seek to improve systems, processes and performance of their public services. But most importantly, governments should be the champions of creating enabling environment for innovation to flourish. It is in this context that the decision to have AAPSIA as a thematic area in the programme of Ministers should be seen as part of a bigger endeavour to cultivate an enabling environment within the African public sector for the development and nurturing of innovative ideas and initiatives.Distinguished delegatesAs we talk about innovation, there are three important things that we must take into consideration. Firstly, given the tight fiscal constrains we must think hard about cost-effectiveness. Governments are under immense pressure to do more with less. Within the context of the financial crisis, public confidence in the effectiveness of the traditional levers of regulation and enforcement is declining. These levers are showing their limitations in addressing some of the most pressing challenges we face.Secondly, more and more evidence shows that investment in research and development is critical, as this has the potential to accelerate economic growth and place our countries on a path of sustainable development. There are many examples of instances where investment in research and development has yielded massive dividends. Thirdly and lastly, within the complex structures, systems and processes of government, encouraging innovative thinking requires visionary leaders that can recognize emerging opportunities.

Distinguished delegatesAs I conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the finalists to this year’s awards. I am particularly humbled by the high quality projects that have entered in this year’s competition. The quality of your work, in terms of its innovative nature as well as its replicability and sustainability is impeccably unparalleled. But above all else, I salute the finalists for initiating projects that have the potential of touching people’s lives. I also thank those whose projects did not make it to the finals round of this year’s awards. We thank them for participating in the AAPSIA process and our hope is that they will continue exploring ways of improving the lives of Africa’s people. I also wish, on behalf our President and our people, to use this opportunity to reaffirm South Africa’s commitment and unwavering support to CAMPS and AAPSIA in particular as a strategic initiative that needs to be sustained for the sake of our continent’s development. We also wish to thank the African Union Commission and the outgoing leadership of CAMPS for their support in programme implementation. Above all, we wish to thank the Government and the people of Congo for hosting the 8th Conference, which is undoubtedly a major success. We wish to pay particular tribute to His Excellency President Denis Sassou Nguesso for making this beautiful country a home to the African continent for this week. Our congratulations are also in order for the election of Congo-Brazzaville as the Chair of the 8th Conference of Ministers. We wish Congo-Brazzaville well as they assume this important and challenging responsibility. We are certain that the collective of African countries, both those who are present here and those who could not attend, stands ready to support Congo in discharging her responsibilities to the Conference of Ministers. Congo’s success is our success. Should Congo fail, we all fail and the dreams of Africa’s liberation heroes, like Congo’s first President His Excellency Abbé Fulbert Youlou, will come to a naught. Congo will take comfort in knowing that we are all fully behind them; that we will support the implementation of the programme of Ministers; that we will make a contribution - however small. That must be the spirit of African solidarity and commitment to the common cause!

I thank you

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