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The African Peer Review Mechanism in collaboration with The United Nation Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA) convened a virtual expert panel discussion on Credit Rating Agencies, Fiscal Space and Fragility in Africa. The meeting was held on the side lines of the Eighth Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development.
On behalf of the APRM CEO, Mr. Ferdinand Katendeko opened the panel discussion. In his remarks he highlighted the fact that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 60% of African sovereigns have suffered credit-rating downgrades that risk exacerbating the immediate crisis. The spill over effect of the recent sovereign credit-rating downgrades across the region by the big three international credit rating agencies could further undermine the longer-term structural transformations and socio-economic development.
In the expert panel, the APRM was represented by Ms. Ejigayhu Tefera, who spoke about the importance of increasing access to international capital markets to finance Africa’s development aspirations as the continent emerge out of the pandemic. Her presentation explained the opportunities and risks presented by international capital markets. She stated that access to the international capital markets will help diversify funding sources and make countries less dependent on aid and multilateral and bilateral loans to finance investment and development expenditures.
However, countries should exercise caution to minimize exchange rate risk since these debts are denominated in foreign currencies as well as the coupon rates.
The panellist made contributions devising ways of enhancing debt sustainability and credit worthiness of African Member States, including the rethinking of existing skewed and flawed modalities restricting African countries access to global financial markets in fair and equitable terms. The panel also recommended the strengthening of dialogue and partnerships among African policymakers and other development stakeholders to help address the shortcomings of the international financial architecture and promote African generated solutions to develop its own financial markets.
The objective of this round-table panel is to facilitate learning and strengthen practice in conducting and following up on voluntary national reviews of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, of the African Union. The Panel discussed the pandemic impact on VNRs process in Africa. It also shed light on best practices, lessons learnt and role of stakeholders and regional and global partners in supporting the process, to assist African countries in preparing VNR and Voluntary Local Review. Minister of Planning and Development of Côte d’Ivoire, Nialé Kaba explained that her country presents VNR for the second time in 2022 after the period of the pandemic. She explained that raising awareness on the VNR process itself is imperative between national bodies. Further, the public-private partnership for financing SDGs and Agenda 2063 programs are quite advanced.
Minister for the Digital Economy and Innovation of Djibouti, Mariam Mahmoud Ali referred to the efforts made by her country to enhance gender equality and reporting on this goal especially in Djibouti’s first VNR which is foreseen to be presented in the HLPF 2022 alongside efforts made to enhance reporting on SDGs 16 and 17. On another note, Deputy Minister for Economic Management of Liberia, Augustus J. Flomo indicated that the Pandemic COVID-19 inhibited the conduct of a more inclusive review process particularly at the subnational level.
He alluded to Poor coordination of the SDGs and national development plans which can be recipe for failure if not properly aligned. Development partners resources and Government resources must be aligned both at policy, program, and activities levels to get better results. Also, Country ownership of the implementation of the SDGs is critical. He also referred to the existing national frameworks and systems that offer opportunities to improve and forge an evidence-based policy culture. E.g., Liberia Project Dashboard, national statistical system, National Expenditure Monitoring System, and citizens- feedback mechanism.
He finally emphasised that Countries must move towards an evidence-based VNR and SDG reporting by embedding evaluation within national development plans and polices.
Namibia as a presenter of VNR for the second time has exerted certain improvement in integrating SDGs in to NDP. Ms. Rosetta Nawases from University of Namibia, referred to the value of APRM governance Assessment Review- which was conducted in September 2021- on improved reporting on some SDGs particularly SDG5 -Gender equality and issues of accountability and public service delivery (SDG 16) alongside issues of Climate Change (SDG14).
On behalf of the CEO, Prof. Maloka, Ms. Sara Hamouda- Agenda 2063 officer in Charge reflected on best practices and lessons learnt from the VNRs processes in Africa. The creation of institutional and coordination mechanisms to prepare the VNR is one of the most common good practices among most African countries. She also referred to efforts taken by countries to integrate SDGs and Agenda 2063 into National Development Planning. However, more efforts shall be considered to integrate the resilience indicators into NDPs in Africa. Further she referred to the promotion of national indicators to enhance monitoring of some goals including SDG 16 which meets Aspiration three- Africa with good governance, Democracy, and rule of law.
Ms. Hamouda referred to the case of Rwanda as the Rwanda Governance Board adopted the Rwanda Governance Scorecard with 8 pillars for good governance assessment including decentralization, quality of service delivery, fighting corruption and accountability. Ms. Hamouda noted that Rwanda governance performance and indicators can be dismantled to other African countries as a best practice that could assist countries in preparing VNR and reporting on certain goals with an adequate data. Finally, she reflected on the role of regional and global partners since APRM has been committed to support African countries through cooperation with Regional Economic Communities alongside UN organs and development partners.
An emphasis was put on the need for AUC, APRM, UNECA and other development Center – i.e., SDGs Centre for Africa- to work closely to enhance the integrated tools available to report on both agendas in tandem. This shall help member states to develop evidence based VNRs and address reporting fatigue issue at national and continental levels.
The APRM-UN DESA side event was organised on the margins of the forum on the UN CEPA principles for effective governance of SDGs with a special focus on the case of Rwanda. This informative session aimed to offer a regional platform for African countries to share experiences on implementing CEPA principles at national level. Further, it aims to identify challenges towards efficient implementation of these principles during COVID-19 time. Further focus is paid to the experience of Rwanda in implementation of CEPA principles through the efforts conducted by Rwanda Governance Board and concerned ministries to enhance reporting on SDG 16 and Aspiration three.
The session was opened by welcoming remarks by UN CEPA Chairperson, Geraldine Fraser- Moleketi who congratulated APRM for exerting rigorous continental efforts to promote awareness on CEPA principles across the continent either via knowledge products i.e., the 2021 APRM Baseline Study alongside continental peer-learning sessions and workshops. Dr. Pali Lehohla, CEPA statistical advisor at APRM and Ms. Sara Hamouda from APRM briefed the audience about CEPA Baseline study and key main findings. Prof. Lehohla highlighted that a clear discrepancy exists amongst public civil servants between the level of understanding and knowledge of CEPA principles. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic imposes various threats on some of these principles including inclusiveness, subsidiarity, and accountability of governments. Yet, it also offers Silverline opportunity to boost some other principles and strategies pertinent to sound policy making, leaving no one behind, transparency and coordination between government bodies.
Rwanda Governance Board, represented by Dr. Felicien Usengumukiza,
Head of Research and Homegrown Solutions, briefed the forum’s participants on the experience of Rwanda in presenting VNR in 2019 and the process taken to domesticate Agenda 2063 and SDGs. He also referred to the APRM continental workshop on VNRs in Kigali as a useful exercise to link Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 issues at domestic level. Dr. Usengumukiza displayed RGB plan of activity as an institutional mechanism dedicated to conduct the assessment of the progress made in the context of implementation SDGs and agenda 2063. He noted that, since 2019, the RGB initiated national governance index (NGI) which is strongly relevant to CEPA Principles through 8 Key pillars as highlighted in the following figure.
The role of partnerships (SDG 17) in fostering impactful results on pursuing CEPA Principles in Africa was emphasized by Amson Sibanda, Chief, National Strategies and Capacity Building Branch, DESA.
Further, Ms. Aude Ntawebasa briefed the audience on behalf of Ms. Urujeni Rosine,
Acting CEO Rwanda Cooperation Initiative on the organization activities and relevance to CEPA Principles. She explained that most of RCI programs seek to share Rwanda’s experience in Public Finance Management, Community Health Systems, Governance & Decentralization, ease of doing business, judicial reforms, digitalization of financial services, and Social Protection Programs.
RCI representative accordingly welcomes cooperation with APRM to enhance the application of CEPA principles within the framework of South-South and Triangular cooperation between Rwanda and other African countries. A pilot program shall be developed within the year to offer peer-learning with RCI for Namibia and Zimbabwe on these principles, in collaboration with UN DESA alongside supporting other peer-learning study visits on the principles in other African countries.
Figure 2 Alignment between Rwanda Governance Scorecard Pillars and CEPA Principles
Source: (Agenda 2063 Unit, APRM)
For further info about the ARFSD and Kigali declaration, please visit https://www.uneca.org/sites/default/files/TCND/ARFSD2022/8th-ARFSD%20Final%20Draft%20Key%20Messages%20and%20Declaration.pdf.