Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire– Understanding Africa’s development imperatives, especially structural transformation (which involves dynamically moving from low-value agrarian economic structures to productive agriculture, manufacturing and quality services), is as primordial for any attempt to review the continent’s governance posture, as it is for making development policy choices. This is the overarching take-home from the Special Conference of the Africa Peer Review Mechanism’s (APRM) Panel of Eminent Persons that interspersed discussions at a two-day workshop aimed at capitalising on the gains of the Mechanism in West Africa. The workshop that has rounded off in the Ivorian capital was characterised by intense debates among APRM focal points and senior officials of ECOWAS member countries as well as other experts.
In the discussions on why structural transformation and the diversification of Africa’s economies was vital for governance and vice-versa, main discussants Dr Mustapha Mekideche, Prof Mahmoud Khayal, Dr Felix Fofana N’Zue and Dr Koffi Adorgloh (all APRM vanguard personalities) pointed out the constraints responsible for the continent’s long struggle with both concepts. These limitations were enumerated as the lack of industrialisation and value addition, the continent’s huge energy deficit, the underdevelopment of agricultural techniques, poor public service and a short supply of democracy and governance. The panellists maintained that these could be redressed primarily through the wide sensitisation of Africans to the their huge resource heritage and on their responsibility collectively guard this common good, the changing of mind-sets, the design of school curricular relevant to Africa’s current needs and an energy revolution.
Having a handle on these dynamics would prove fruitful for both governance and the auditing of governance – which is the raison d’être of the APRM, the meeting’s participants concurred.
Regarding the core issue of revitalising the APRM process in West Africa, participants zeroed-in on the things that are needed to improve the work of Mechanism’s national structures as well as on external and self-review processes. These, they concluded, include the proper constitution and operationalisation of national APRM structures, the political neutrality of such structures, endorsement from the highest state authority in each country, the inclusion of all shades of opinion in national processes and local resource mobilisation. And because APRM is not a prescriptive but rather a participatory Mechanism, its country panellists and focal points were urged to privilege local context in overseeing review processes.
It was in this light that the six countries from West Africa that have already been peer reviewed (Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Sierra Leone) where called upon to delve into the second-generation review, which warrants an extended methodology.
The Abidjan workshop was officially closed by the Chief of Staff of the Minister of Integration and of Ivorians out of Côte d’Ivoire – Mr Alassane Diamouténé, who assured the delegates of his country’s knee-deep involvement with the Mechanism, moving forward.
Plaudits for Cote d’Ivoire’s internalisation of APRM
The gathering also served as platform for the official launch of Cote d’Ivoire’s National Sensitisation Strategy, presented by the country’s APRM National Commission’ Chairperson – Bernard Konan. The strategy puts premium on nation-wide appropriation, leadership and inclusive participation/review of the Mechanism.
Both the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the APRM’s Panel of Eminent Persons – Dr Mekideche and Prof Khayal congratulated the host country on its brilliant play-out of what has been identified as best practice for the national implementation of APRM processes. They reassured the Ivorian National Commission that their action would be judiciously reported upon.
On her part, Ms Hodane Youssouf – representative of the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) praised Côte d’Ivoire for its speedy appropriation of MAEP processes, having only acceded to the instrument in 2015 and already positioning itself for review.
Outcomes of the Workshop
Guinee Conakry intends to become the 37th Member Country to join the APRM during June/July 2017 APRM Forum.
ECOWAS will partner with the APRM in the framework of a MOU to work hand in hand to promote the universal accession of the other three ECOWAS Member Countries not yet Members of the APRM and support the implementation of NPOAs with a view to improve their governance profile.
At the workshop Nigeria and Sierra Leone announced their readiness to undertake the Second Generation Review.