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THE ROLE OF THE AFRICAN PEER REVIEW MECHANISM
IN THE NEW ECONOMIC PARADIGM FOR AFRICA

Courtesy:

Dr. Chris STALS
Member: Panel of Eminent Persons
NEPAD
28 July 2005

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THE ROLE OF THE AFRICAN PEER REVIEW MECHANISM IN THE NEW ECONOMIC PARADIGM FOR AFRICA

Presentation by Dr Chris Stals, Member of the AU`s Panel of Eminent Persons within NEPAD, at a Conference on Progressive Governance, Johannesburg, 28 July 2005

1. What justifies the reference to a “New Economic Paradigm for Africa” ?
Three important developments in recent years changed the environment in which African countries pursue the objective of enhanced and sustainable economic development:-

(i) The administrative structure of the new African Union (AU) that replaced the old Organisation for African Unity (OAU) at the turn of the century placed more emphasis on the need for development. The new structure has been based on three pillars:-
• There is, firstly, the Commission with a Secretariat to provide administrative services to the various political functions within the AU. The Headquarters of the Commission is in Addis Abeba in Ethiopia.
• There is, secondly, the New Partnership for Africa`s Development (NEPAD) with its Steering Committee and Secretariat operating from Midrand in South Africa and concentrating on broadly defined development issues for the African Continent.
• Thirdly, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) has been created with the primary purpose to “foster the adoption of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration through sharing of experiences and reinforcement of successful and best practice, including identifying deficiencies and assessing the needs for capacity building. “ (APRM Base Document of the AU)

The APRM is guided by a Panel of Eminent Persons with a Secretariat based in South Africa.

(ii) There are also the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) set out at the beginning of this century to halve world poverty by 2015. With one third of the time frame for this vital programme already part of history, there is a growing urgency for the need to accelerate the development process on the African Continent. For most of the African countries the goals of the MDG remain but a dream that seems to remain unachievable.

(iii) The iniatives of the recently released Report of The Commission for Africa (the Blair Commission) provided further stimulus to the current focussed drive for the development of Africa. In its Report the Commission concluded as follows :- “For 2005 is also the year in which it is becoming clear to the outside world that things are changing on the Continent – with African governments showing a new vision, both individually and working together through the African Union and its New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) programme. Africa, at last, looks set to deliver.”


2. The objectives of the APRM
The primary function of the APRM is to assist participating countries to improve the quality of governance in the broad areas of administration. After some extensive research work undertaken during 2003/4, the Panel of Eminent Persons and its Secretariat came to the conclusion that the APRM overviews should cover the following four basic policy disciplines:-
• The democratisation process and good governance at the political level;
• Macroeconomic policies including fiscal, monetary, trade and labour policies;
• Corporate governance including licensing, regulation, competition policy, ownership protection, solvency and liquidation rules and good corporate governance; and,
• Socio-economic development providing in the basic needs of people, such as education, shelter and health care.

The Panel identified internationally acceptable norms and standards for each one of these focus areas, and defined a series of criteria and indicators that can be used to assess whether a particular country is on the right track towards the achievement of the goals of the AU. In the assessment process, weaknesses, shortcomings, deficiencies and the need for expanded or enhanced policies are identified with the objective of assisting countries to improve on their own policies and strategies.


3. The uniqueness of the African Peer Review Mechanism.
The APRM is a unique African iniative, focused on the problems of Africa and designed for the circumstances, the weaknesses and the challenges of Africa. The following few special features make the APRM different from similar operations in the rest of the world:
• Firstly, there is the fundamental principle of a system based on self-assessment. Under the guidance of the APRM Panel, participating countries must through self-administered internal processes, identify their own shortcomings, weaknesses and deficiencies.
• Secondly, there is the principle of broad participation by all the stakeholders within the country in the process of self-assessment. Not only politicians and governments with their officials, but also the total business community and the broad spectrum of civil society become joint owners of the process of peer review.
• Thirdly, the holistic approach of the APRM contributes further to its uniqueness. In one consolidated assessment the quality of governance and the objectives of policies are being surveyed in respect of political administration, macroeconomic management, corporate governance and socio-economic development. The interrelationship and interdependence of the four focus areas of the APRM in the process of sustainable development are recognised and analysed in the assessment process.
• Fourthly, in the APRM process the focus of attention is on where the country is going , and not so much in the first instance on where it finds itself at the the time of the analysis. The APRM is a dynamic and ongoing process concentrating on a country`s plans for the future.


4. The final stages of the APRM country reviews
After a country has completed its own self-assessment, the Panel and its Secretariat cooperate with the country to prepare a Programme of Action (POA) that provides a strategy for addressing the identified shortcomings and deficiencies. A final Report prepared by the APRM together with the POA are then submitted to the FORUM for the final Peer Review discussion between the Heads of State and Government of all the other participating countries with the Head of State of the particular country. At these discussions, decisions will be taken on what assistance could be made available to the assessed country to enable it to proceed with a programme of more effective development.
The Report of the Panel, the country`s own Programme of Action and the recommendations of the Forum will eventually be released and will form an important guideline for all stakeholders, including international contributors, on the the strategy, plans and programmes and need for external assistance of the country for the improvement of the quality of governance at all levels within the country.
Finally, the APRM will continue to monitor progress made by the country with the implementation of its POA. A follow-up assessment will be made not later than three years after the conclusion of the first review.


5. What has been achieved so far
• Approximately 25 countries are now participating in the APRM process.
• The APRM Panel and Secretariat prepared guidelines for countries, set norms, standards and criteria, entered into consulting arrangements with strategic partners and advisors and arranged with the UNDP for the establishment of an APRM Trust Fund to support the financial needs of the APRM process.
• Reports have been completed for Ghana and Rwanda and were presented to the FORUM at a meeting of the Heads of State and Government in Abuja last month. The review process has now almost been completed in Mauritius and Kenya. The APRM is also busy with the national self-assessment processes in four other countries and the Secretariat is preparing other participating countries for the self-assessment process..



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