Kigali, 15th September 2017- The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Continental Secretariat successfully concluded a two-day expert meeting it organised jointly with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to validate a baseline study on the Major Bottlenecks Facing Africa, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda, from 14 to 15 September 2017. The APRM Secretariat conducted the study at the request of the APR Forum of Heads of State and Government who, at their 25th Summit held on 26 August 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya, adopted a proposal by H. E. Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, that the major bottlenecks he identified in his speech be subjected to further examination and their findings inform the ongoing APRM revitalisation process.
The study covers 13 major bottlenecks: (i) Ideological disorientation; (ii) Interference with the private sector; (iii) Weak states, especially weak institutions such as the Army, Police, etc.; (iv) Fragmented markets, market access and expansion; (v) Lack of industrialization and low value addition; (vi) Under-developed infrastructure; (vii) Under-development of human resources; (viii) Under-development of agriculture; (ix) Under-development of the services sector; (x) A Non-responsive civil service; (xi) Attacks on democracy and governance; (xii) Lack of Domestic Resource Mobilization, with a focus on the Fiscal Revenue generated from the Continent’s Natural Resources; and (xiii) Structural inequalities in access to opportunities.
The meeting was attended by over 30 leading experts from around the Continent, including two members of the APRM Panel, representatives of the APRM Committee of Focal Points and National Governing Councils, academics and researchers, civil servants, the CEO and staff of the APRM Secretariat, and staff from the UNECA and the AU Commission in Addis Ababa.
The meeting considered the draft study objectively and rigorously, proposed ways of improving it further and agreed on ways forward to ensure the findings of the study benefit the work of the APRM in the immediate future. At the conclusion of the meeting, participants were unanimous in their praise of the APRM Secretariat for the high quality of the draft study, the level of the presentation and the quality of the debate that took place over the two days.
The participants also agreed that the draft report be revised and finalised taking into account the many useful ideas that emerged from the meeting, which include:
1. to consider using more positive language in discussing the bottlenecks considered in the report;
2. to make an effort to better align the names or headings of some of the bottlenecks and the content of the discussion contained under each;
3. to highlight the objectives, scope, etc. of the study early on;
4. in situations where a survey had been conducted for the study, to provide more specific information on the survey participants in as disaggregated a manner as possible by such characteristics as gender, age, profession, etc.;
5. to further highlight the inter-linkages among the different bottlenecks with a view to further rationalisation so as to allow better targeting and prioritisation amongst them;
6. to stay focused on reviewing, monitoring, and reporting of the performance of member states in respect of the promises and binding commitments they have undertaken at the international, continental and sub-regional levels;
7. to consider making the recommendations contained at the end of each bottleneck more specific and precise;
8. to conduct an audit of the standards that might be relevant to the bottlenecks project so as to ensure that all such standards and codes are added to the current list of APRM-recognised standards and codes; and
9. to bring out more of the best practices identified by APRM country reviews on each of the bottlenecks.
The meeting also endorsed the proposed way forward with its two strands:
1. to develop bottleneck-specific indicators along the lines of APRM tools, and then pilot them in selected countries on a voluntary basis. In doing this, it was emphasised that the APRM Secretariat should work closely with other specialised institutions on the continent and beyond that are engaged in similar exercise – e.g. with the NEPAD Agency and AUC on indicators being developed for agriculture and the CAADP 2014; with the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC) on extractive resource governance, etc.; and
2. to integrate the lessons learnt under each of the bottlenecks into the ongoing renewal and revision of the APRM tools and processes, including the country self-assessment questionnaire and the review process itself.
Finally, the meeting congratulated the APRM Secretariat and urged its CEO to publish the baseline study without undue delay. The meeting also expressed its appreciation to the UNECA for its most valuable partnership in the project and encouraged the two institutions to continue their exemplary partnership.