New report assesses APRM's achievements

April 6, 2010

Partnership Africa Canada has published a new report on governance in Africa. “Reviewing Africa’s Peer Review Mechanism: A Seven Country Survey”, by Ghanaian political economist Adotey BingPappoe, assesses the progress made in some of the major countries that have begun to implement the APRM and address their governance problems.

The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) was launched in 2003 as one of the pillars of NEPAD. More than half of Africa’s countries (with three-quarters of its population) have joined the APRM. Of these, at least half have set about the process of reviewing and reforming their political, economic and corporate governance, and socio-economic development. In this report, author Adotey BingPappoe sets out to assess the achievements of the APRM in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Benin, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. His conclusions are mixed, but there are enough positive indicators to confirm that the initiative is having an impact.

But 2009 was not an easy year for the APRM, as criticisms increased about its management at the continental level. The slow pace of renewal of the membership of the Panel of Eminent Persons and of the staff at the APRM Secretariat led some critics to argue that the  APRM had run aground, and the lack of transparency did not help foster a good understanding of the challenges at hand. The January 2010 APR Forum, held during the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, has fortunately given new impetus to the initiative.

It’s at the country level, however, that the value of the APRM should be measured and this report seeks to do this. The overall picture is generally positive, with dialogue between stakeholders occurring and changes being introduced in the ways countries are being run. There is peer learning, with experiences from a given country being introduced to others. But the pace of learning and the pace of change are slow. The APRM itself has to be changed to make it more straightforward and more efficient. Human and financial resources must be increased at the national level to help countries carry out their evaluations successfully and, more importantly, implement the priority actions that are agreed on.

Civil society is a key player in the APRM, but this is often forgotten by governments, by the continental APRM authorities and by donors. Old habits die hard and the inclusion of civil society representatives in the APRM process is often just an afterthought. Partnership Africa Canada renews its call for governments and donors to recognize and respect the huge contribution civil society can  make to the APRM.

View the report.

Note on Partnership Africa Canada and the APRM

PAC recognizes the great potential of the APRM to promote dialogue and action on governance issues in African countries. For the APRM to succeed, however, it’s imperative that African civil society play a major role in the process. PAC is supporting civil society participation in the APRM by helping African civil society organizations organize training workshops and participate actively in the APRM process in their country. PAC also supports research on the APRM and publishes a newsletter – The APRM Monitor – which seeks to inform civil society about the latest developments in the APRM.

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