From policy to actual implementation – Africa must move from one to the other

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      The Africa’s Change Dynamics Programme facilitates dialogue between African and European actors on governance and development agendas. We work to improve the understanding of interests and challenges on both sides. The new African Perspectives Series is a platform that casts light on African development perspectives. Our second blog comes from the Human Sciences Research Council in Pretoria, South Africa….

      Since June 2013 when the representatives of the African Development Bank, the African Union Commission (AUC), the Economic Commission for Africa, and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Secretariat tabled the idea of the African Union’s ‘Agenda 2063’, the drums of a long-term development policy framework have been beating across the continent - and beyond. Africa, again lead by the AU and its organs, is set to develop another long-term policy framework - but this time with a vision.

      The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and its successor the African Union (AU) had treated the continent to a myriad of development policies and protocols – including the ‘Pan-African’ initiatives, during the 1980s and 1990s. Except for the relentless advocacy for freedom and independence from colonial domination in many African countries, not much was achieved.

      NEPAD, with some focus on governance through its Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), adopted by the AU in 2001 and conceptualised as a paradigm shift to address Africa's development challenges and ultimately put the continent on a more sustainable development path. But poor planning, ineffective coordination and inadequate funding limited the perfomance of programmes.

      Good Governance & Human Rights

      The introduction of NEPAD marked the beginning of comprehensive programming for policy implementation at the AU Secretariat. To its credit, it would seem that NEPAD got its first priority right in establishing the conditions for sustainable development by ensuring peace and security, democracy, good governance etc.

      But after 10 years of operation it has clearly shown that even the first priority was largely paper work, and that the NEPAD programme achieved little. Some democratic institutions have taken hold here and there, but good governance and the upholding of human rights principles has been elusive to most member states in reality. The Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) designed under NEPAD to encourage good governance practices is a non-binding protocol and has been signed by only a handful of member states. Bad governance has been cited in relation to most of the violent disruptions and civil conflicts in many African countries over the past three decades, eroding most of the development gains. Governance (or lack therof) contributed to the mass migration of mostly young people with varying skills witnessed from Africa to mainly Europe and North America. Without good governance, the future of Africa is bleak.

      Initially, the European Union (EU) gave cautious support to NEPAD at its inception. However, following the adoption of its APRM, NEPAD has remained high on the EU’s external relations agenda. Since 2007, EU policies towards Africa have been guided by the Africa–EU Strategic Partnership, which was re-affirmed at the Fourth EU-Africa Summit on 2nd – 3rd April 2014 in Brussels and which emphasises good governance and human rights. The summit declaration identifies the areas of mutual interest to include: Peace and Security; Democracy, Good Governance and Human Rights; Human Development; Sustainable and inclusive development and growth and Continental Integration; and Global and emerging issues (see para. 60) - in line with the AUC Strategic Plan.

      Strategic Programming

      Africa is a vast territory and is not a country of peoples bound together by a common constitution and laws. Therefore, planning for Africa at the AU Secretariat must be strategic and the AU should operate as a ‘champion’ of ideas rather than an implementer of government programmes. With severely limited human and financial resources, the NEPAD Secretariat developed an ambitious continental programme with 14 ‘strategic’ areas of intervention from 2001-2012. Covering so many areas is not strategic.

      The AU’s Agenda 2063 must give thought to the identification of two or three really strategic areas for the AU to ‘champion’ - promoting good governance and adherence to ‘human rights’ principles, mobilising political will and capacity development for policy implementation in member States or implementing monitoring and evaluation frameworks for progress reporting and accountability.  There are too many development policies in African countries still waiting for implementation; the AU could use this agenda to empower policy implementation in member states rather than dissipate its limited resources on continental interventions.

      Another major challenge in strategic planning relates to process. Inclusive participation is a major thrust of Human Rights based programming. All major stakeholders must be involved in identifying the challenges of development:  

      - Policy and programme formulation

      - Assumptions in Theories of Change for programme management

      - Resource mobilisation strategies for programme implementation

      - Determination of roles and responsibilities in programme coordination and partnerships

      Integration of Population Issues

      Africa is still one of the fastest growing populations among the major regions in the world, a trend that has been projected to continue well beyond 2063. The population of Africa will reach 2.8 billion by 2063. Inherent in the dynamics of population are issues of reproductive health, disease control and mortality; gender; youth and the challenge of the ‘Demographic Dividend’; growing urbanisation of the population and intra and inter-continental migration

      Looking through the draft Agenda 2063, the impression is that population is not placed at the centre of the development framework. The sustainable development of a country or a continent can hardly be achieved unless population issues are integrated into the strategic framework. This is the major message of the UN International Conference on Population and Development (1994) and its Programme of Action to which all countries in the world subscribed. Although the draft Agenda 2063 makes reference to a few population issues, a comprehensive integration of population and environmental issues into the Agenda and its subsequent programme must be done.

      Local Resource Mobilisation

      The challenge of local resource mobilisation has been picked up by the newly created NEPAD Agency in its evaluation report on the performance of NEPAD over 10 years. One of the major flaws in planning for development in the continent has been the unjustifiable dependence on foreign aid. With the Agenda 2063, Africa must develop and aggressively implement a local resource mobilisation strategy for its development, and encourage all member States to do the same by tapping into both public and private sector resources for sustainable economic growth and development.

      Prof. Oladele Arowolo is African Research Fellow and Research Specialist in Research Use & Impact Assessment at the Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa

      The Views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of ECDPM

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