The African continent needs a program to fast track its plan to stop the effects of poor governance, says Public Service and Administration Minister, Senzo Mchunu.
Minister Mchunu was speaking at the African Regional Workshop on Effective Governance for Sustainable Development: Putting Principles into Practice, held recently in Pretoria, co-organized by UNDESA and AU/APRM in collaboration with UNDP.
The workshop was attended by the former Minister for the Pubic Service and Administration and Chancellor of Nelson Mandela University, Dr Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, H.E. Mr. Khayar Oumar Defallah, APRM Minister of Chad and Chairperson of APRM Focal Points, Ms. Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs .
Also in attendance was the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Ms. Lindiwe Khumalo, Advisor on Strategic Relations with AU Policy Organs and Agencies, Bureau of the Chairperson, African Union Commission and Mr. Khabele Matlosa, Director of Political Affairs, African Governance Architecture Secretariat and Participants.
The workshop was also attended by about 80 participants from all parts of the continent in addition to representatives from the European Union, Ecuador, Committee of Experts on Public Administration, civil society and academia.
The 40 speakers and moderators covered ten related topics of understanding and operationalizing the principles and their integration into sustainable development programming at all levels of administration and in different developmental and governance contexts.
The first session of the workshop address aligning institution-building efforts related to the 2030 Agenda with Agenda 2063, session two address applying UN CEPA Principles of effective governance for sustainable development to the challenges of building strong institutions, session three addressed from principles to practice in building strong institutions for the SDGs and session four looked at SDG16 monitoring and evaluation: an African perspective.
Session five addressed Data and statistics, session six looked at linking the UN CEPA principles to governance indicators, session seven addressed the sound policymaking: Institutional arrangements and tools for promoting policy coherence, session eight was on collaboration and whole-of-society approaches to the SDGs, session nine dealt with SDG awareness raising and training and session 10 dealt with connecting research agendas to country needs.
The AU instructed that by 2023 each of the continents’ countries should have achieved annual GDP growth rates of at least 7%, increased the 2013 per capita income by at least 30%, reduced the 2013 unemployment rate by at least 25% and reduce the 2013 levels of poverty by at least 30%.
The AU has further instructed the reduction of the 2013 levels of income inequality by at least 20%, increased access and use of electricity and the internet by at least 50% of the 2013 levels, increase the 2013 levels of access to basic quality health care and services by at least 40%, ensured that at least 70% of the people believe that they are empowered and are holding their leaders accountable, and ensure that at least 70% of the public acknowledge the public service to be professional, efficient, responsive, accountable, impartial and corruption free.
Dr Fraser Moleketi said, “I would like to believes that all countries will agree that, these are indeed ambitious targets. Nevertheless, I also believe that we should understand the thinking behind them because necessarily our continental organisation, the African Union, has every reason to be impatient for the achievement of the required changes to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment on our Continent”.
She said it is pertinent for the African regional workshop organized by the United Nations and APRM with the objective of supporting countries in their gap assessment towards the application of the Principles of effective governance for sustainable development.
“The Principles were endorsed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in July 2018 and they aim to facilitate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in harmony with the Agenda 2063.
“Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 are important and in that context the Principles – African countries and regional institutions have policies, systems, processes in place through which countries absorb SDGs and Agenda 2063, “ the Former Minister said.
Resolutions made at the workshop include that the APRM, working together with the AGA platform members and with CEPA will be requested to produce a baseline study focusing on the status quo of the CEPA principles across the African continent, best practices to be highlighted and promoted and to close the gaps and challenges plus recommendations to complete this report in 2020.
Innovations and adaptability will require being open to different ways of doing things, measuring progress and collaborative arrangements are at the core of both 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. Clinging to old systems is as damaging as ineffective initiatives of reinventing the wheel.
Communications and collaboration will require Inter-institutional communication to be based on carefully crafted incentive mechanisms as well as normative values based on leaving no one behind.
Multisectoral partnerships, whole of society approaches, horizontal and vertical integration in sound policymaking are at the driver seat of realization of our collective goals and the achievement of our shared responsibilities.
For research and training for data-driven development models including use of tools that deliver value faster, the formal and quantitative approaches based on statistical analysis should be complemented with informal and qualitative approaches to measuring, monitoring and evaluating progress towards the achievement of development objectives.
Responsible leadership for inclusive finance and sustainable development, linking and harmonizing normative and logical templates of decision-making is about commitment to making the world a better place. New leadership modalities are emerging to guide the innovative applications of development agendas.
Peace and security are at the core of effective governance and vice-versa. Developmental and democratic states are not mutually exclusive, they are the two complementary sides of the same coin. They both depend on people-centered and human-rights based frameworks to effective governance and development.
On Guiding Principles for harmonious implementation of agendas of development, it was resolved that principles are not a recipe but guidelines for effective, accountable and inclusive institution-building for achieving development agendas. They must be operationalized to move to measurable outcomes and impactful practices.
A striking fact is that many of the countries not only reflect the principles for effective governance of sustainable development, they are also applying many of the strategies that have been cited as good practices.
By many indices, the level of impact and quality of outcomes in addressing development challenges are not what they should be. Simply, impacts and inspirations that are desirable to achieve are not met.
Dr Fraser Moleketi commented in her closing remarks, “This begs the question: what is going wrong? And how can the continent accelerate? And more to the point, how can the continent better use the CEPA platform to become more effective and contribute to creating greater impacts?
“If the continent move from the premise that most of the challenges reside in how public institutions are organized and behave, then CEPA is very well placed to make meaningful impacts.
She said the facts sheets which will be launched and facilitating knowledge engagements, on-line and otherwise, to look at what’s working and what’s not, will contribute to building knowledge in practical ways. “At the heart of this, could be engagements by senior policy makers on what’s working and what’s not.
“But the critical focus must be on how best does the continent ensure that it retains focus on enabling countries to effectively use regional governance instruments (like the APRM). In other words, countries should be supported to respond to the obstacles that disable public institutions to fully apply the principles of effective governance.
“The right convergences are required, for example, the Kigali meeting last week and the links that could be made between it and this African Regional Workshop”.
She said the continent should continue to directly engage with regional governance processes and said the partnership of this workshop is a good example. “Let’s make the required convergence a reality”.
In his closing remarks, Minister Mchunu said Africa needs to transform to a continent that frowns upon poor governance.
He said “We need to ensure that our institutions of governance are effective by attracting high level skills and develop policies that will put the interests of the people first and ensure implementation.”
The Minister said much work has been done towards transforming the continent and rid it off its stigma of poor governance and political instability. To this effect, he said, the days of strongmen in Africa are now over.
He cited the elevation of women to positions of power in the continent, even to the level of heads of states as testimony to this.
“As the continent, we must really unleash our potential in various fields and ensure that we innovate, build capacity and lay a solid foundation for our future.
“Indeed, we do have the capacity for a new path as Africans and our forefathers demonstrated that a long time ago before we succumbed to colonisation and the destruction and plundering of African resources,” he said.