May 2022, Niamey, Niger – The republic of Niger, becomes the third out of the four countries reviewed in 2021, to harmonise and finalise its National Programme of Action (NPoA). The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) undertook four full reviews in 2021. Among these countries include Nigeria and South Africa (being the 2nd generation review), Niger and Namibia. Though Niger was not peer reviewed during the 31st APR Forum of Heads of State and Government, the government, with enthusiasm, reached out to the Continental Secretariat for technical assistance on the finalisation of the NPoA. In light of this, the Continental secretariat in collaboration with the National Secretariat and the National Governing Council organised a five-day workshop on the Finalisation and Harmonisation of Niger APRM National Programme of Action. The opening ceremony was attended by Mr Hamzata Idrissa, permanent secretary of APRM National Secretariat; Dr. Maikolanche Mayaki Maoussa, president of the Niger APRM National Governing Council; and Prof Eddy Maloka, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of APRM Continental Secretariat, represented by Mr Jean Yves Adou, the Ag. Director of Monitoring and Evaluation Coordination.The workshop was also attended by experts across diverse institutions in the country including civil society organisations, private sector and the government ministries, departments and agencies (MDA’s). In the latter, the experts came from the Ministry of Planning, Higher Education and Research; National Defence, Justices, Agricultural, Hydraulic, among others.
Having presented the objectives and the outcome of the workshop, the technical coordinator and facilitator, Mr Sampson Osei, presented the overview of the APRM NPoA as well as the methodology for linking the content, costing and funding of the NPoA and the Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth Strategy (SDDCI) Niger 2035 as well as the Economic and Social Development Plans (PDES) 2022-2026.
The NPoA is meant to guide and mobilize the efforts of APRM participating countries in the implementation of the changes needed to improve their state of governance and accelerate their socio-economic development. Structurally, the NPoA consists of three main components: APRM working Thematic Area, Cross-cutting issues, and Logical framework. The latter is made of eleven sub-components: Issues to be addressed, activities to be undertaken, monitoring indicators, means of verification, ongoing activities, expected results / output, implementing agency, key stakeholders, M&E Agency, time frame and estimated cost. With this understanding, the functional methodology approach for the harmonisation process was presented where the APRM-NPoA is considered as the domain and PDES 2022-2026 as the range.
On the contents, the Niger country Review Report identifies one hundred and sixty-six recommendations across the four working thematic areas: 59 in Democracy and Political Governance (DPG); 41 in Economic Governance and Management (EGM); 42 in Corporate Governance (CG); and 24 in Socio-economic Development (SED). According to the APRM Statute, article 9, paragraph 10, the APR Forum submits its recommendations to the Head of State of the reviewed Member State and follows up on the implementation of the review recommendations. Proper planning, drafting, prioritization and harmonisation of the NPoA, however, is sine qua non for effective monitoring of the review recommendations. On that note, stakeholders prioritised the review recommendations using the FIVE main questions submitted by the Continental secretariate prior to the workshop. These questions centre around the feasibility and realisation of the recommendation within the planning cycle, level of priority, alignment, and sensitivity.
During the working group session, the stakeholders prioritised the recommendations, ironed out the issues; activities to be undertaken; as well as monitoring indicators to track the level of implementation over the defined timeframe. The costing of the activities, however, was left for the financial experts. In the realm of democracy and political governance, several sensitive and structural issues and recommendations were not prioritized. Notable among these was the signing of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
Under EGM, recommendations such as reducing the tax burden on formal businesses; depoliticization of administrative services, among others were considered as structural issues that are not feasible within the NPoA planning cycle. In Corporate Governance, about 4 percent of the recommendations and issues identified in the report were not in alignment with any government activity in the country, thereby rendering the proposed actions difficult to implement in the absence of funding. Almost all (about 99 percent) of the issues and recommendations under Socioeconomic Development were prioritized and incorporated into the final NPoA.
Member states of APRM are inspired by the vision of the mechanism as an African-owned and African-led platform for self-assessment, peer-learning, and experience-sharing in the pursuit of the highest possible standards of good political, economic, corporate and socio-economic development. The Republic of Niger had the opportunity during the workshop to learn from the experience of the Republic of Benin (represented by Prof Emmanuel Pasteur Just Akpo) and the Republic of Chad (represented by Mr Sandjima Dounia).
The APRM Benin NPoA, according to Prof Akpo, was heavily owned by the citizens due to massive sensitisation that was carried out throughout the country. Though the country has registered progress in many sectors, there is no robust monitoring and evaluation mechanism in place to track the predefined monitoring indicators and also to validate the progress reports – a challenge identified by Benin. He concluded by cautioning that “to maintain the relevant of APRM, do not cheat the principles of the mechanism when producing the progress report”.
In his presentation, Mr Sandjima, pointed out that the preparation of the APRM Chad NPoA was heavily influenced by the Ministry Planning and Finance as these ministries play key role in the implementation and reporting phase, not discounting the role of the civil society, the private sector and the other government MDA’s. “NPoA without sufficient funding will not suffice successful implementation”. Its interesting to note that the National Development Plan of Chad was built based on the APRM NPoA. In enumerating the challenges, Chad pointed out that the government was not able to produce progress report due to the impact of covid19 pandemic. Though the NPoA ended in 2021, there is an ongoing process of compiling date and raising funds to assess progress and impact of APRM in the country. In a nutshell, political will, he added, is crucial to the success of the NPoA implementation and reporting. There must be a highest level of commitment from the highest authority throughout the process.
The last session of the workshop was dedicated to the harmonisation of the Monitoring and Evaluation of the implementation of the NPoA. Mr Peter Katwesige presented a concise overview of the APRM M&E Continental System. He emphasised the need to tap into existing M&E frameworks in the country to assess progress on the monitoring indicators and the production of the progress report.
In conclusion, the representative of the APRM Continental Chief Executive Officer, Mr Jean Yves Adou gave his closing remarks and thanks the government of Niger for the hospitality and the zeal of the experts during the five days of brainstorming and developing the NPoA. He further thanked the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) for their unwavering support to the activities of APRM. In his summary, he reiterated the need to build capacity of MER of the implementation of the NPoA; the need to engage the ministry of finance and planning to ensure proper integration of the APRM finance and planning cycle to that of the country’s planning cycle; the need to ensure proper engagement of civil society and other stakeholders for ownership of the NPoA at the grassroot. The workshop was closed by Dr. Maikolanche Mayaki Maoussa, president of the Niger APRM National Governing Council, who thanked the Continental secretariat for their support and guidance.
Republic of Niger is country located in West Africa. Niger joined the APRM in July 2012 after accepting to assess and improve its political and economic governance. This undertaking reflected the country’s willingness to align its visions with those defined by NEPAD. In November 2021, the country had its base review. The APRM CEO, Prof Eddy Maloka expresses his sincere appreciation to the President of the Republic of Niger, H.E. Mohamed Bazoum, for his leadership and openness in conducting the peer review of Niger and taken a step further to draft and harmonise its National Plan of Action.