15 - 17 September, NEPAD Lesotho national stakeholder engagement workshop, Maseru, Lesotho.
29 September - 3 October, Africa Forum meeting under the theme “Making agri-business work for rural livelihoods : CAADP implementation at country level”, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
27 - 29 October, RUROFORUM Ministers meeting, Lusaka, Zambia. Source : NEPAD, september 12, 2008
I have been attending a most inappropriately termed meeting in Accra, Ghana : the third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. It would have been more realistic to call it a forum on aid ineffectiveness.
All the official reviews, evaluations and assessments — and there were plenty at the three-day meeting — admit that not enough progress is being made since the adoption of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in 2005. The target is to make aid more effective in both quantity and quality by 2010, only two years away.
The Paris declaration was necessary to speed up the aid component of Goal No 8 in the Millennium Development Goals. The goal itself envisages a three-pronged strategy to reform the international development agenda to benefit the poor — improved quantity and quality of aid ; debt relief ; and reform of global trade.
Aid is the soft touch in the troika. It is visible and brings instant gratification to both the aid pushers and the aid addicts. If there is no faster progress on aid, what chances do the world’s poor have about the other two, especially trade justice ?
There was a lot of talk at the Accra forum about local ownership, harmonisation, mutual accountability, managing with result, etc. But it seems that what these terms mean in practice depends on who is using them, whether you are a donor or a recipient. Even among the NGOs and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) there are differences depending on their donor-recipient status because even among the NGOs there are donor INGOs and their donor-driven local partnerships.
Everyone talks about accountability. But this accountability is to whom ? In spite of many criticisms of NEPAD two important concepts have come out of it : the African Peer Review Mechanism between African leaders, and mutual accountability for commitments between Africa and her development partners.
These were adopted in 2000-2001, yet the same phrases dominate the aid effectiveness debate as though they are new.
African governments, bureaucrats and even our NGOs continue to play reactive policy dialogues and jump from one global forum to another without linkages to issues that the AU, NEPAD and our sub-regional institutions may have already agreed upon.
It raises the fundamental question : must we accept every invitation to dinner ? Is it not possible to cut out the waste of time and resources devoted to these huge meetings where previous commitments are put on the table to be recommitted by the same people ?
In spite of the Paris declaration, accountability is still largely about African and other poorer countries’ governments being accountable to donors and other funders instead of their own democratic bodies and other elective institutions and the citizens in whose names they act.
Even our most vocal NGOs — and even more alarming, growing numbers of our social movements and CSOs — are more accountable to their funders than the people they claim, or are elected, to serve.
Bilateral aid between governments is still dominated by political and geo-strategic considerations instead of need. Conditionalities are for those governments or leaders you do not like while they can be waived or discounted for those who are your current allies regardless of impact on the ground.
Honest people in NGOs and CSOs will also admit that funding is not so much a function of the good work or impact on the ground but dependent on technical “know whom” and less on “know how”.
Knowing the right people in the right place in donor agencies, governments, etc helps in getting access to funds. That is why INGOs may only be part of CSOs in the donor countries but among the poor that they serve or their dependent ’partners’ they are donors with the same conditionalities, arrogance and self-serving agenda as their governments.
Just as particular presidents may be preferred, similarly particular heads of NGOs (in most cases they always go by the instructive title of “Executive Director” !) may be the favourite of one donor or the other.
So these discussions are not always between equals. How can we have discussions about equity when every time we have dinner one diner always picks up the tabs even if such dinner is taking place in your own home ?
There can only be one-way accountability between a cat and a mouse and we know who is accountable to whom. In any case you can be an accountant without being accountable. Aid has reduced our governments and NGOs to being “creative accountants” which is not the same as being accountable to their citizens or constituencies !
Even supposedly democratic institutions like parliaments and elected local governments are excluded from the discussions. If elected persons do not get a look in, what chance has the ordinary citizen ?
In most of our countries the parliament is a mere rubber stamp to the executive and at the local level we have “elected autocrats” whose powers are unchecked by anybody, least of all the people who voted for them.
There is a direct relationship between taxation and accountability. That is why one of the demands of the bourgeois revolutionaries in America, against the British Crown was : no taxation without representation.
Yet in many African countries we are demanding representation and accountability not for taxes we have paid but donor funds or share of rents from foreign corporations who monopolise the exploitation of our minerals. By all means we must demand to know : what they pay or give but also we must know what we pay, collect and deceive.
The debate on aid cannot be democratic because it is essentially one way and has been driven by “the good intentions” of the richer countries. That is why it is taking place outside the framework of the UN conferences. It is a larger version of the EU Plan for Africa, misleadingly called EU-Africa strategy.
The power imbalance was clear at the forum in Accra. While scholars and activists battle it out in exciting exchanges on definitions, concepts, scope etc, in the various roundtables and side events and in media rooms, on the internet and in the pages of newspapers, the real battle is in the restricted rooms where “consensus” is being imposed by those who control the agenda. Source : NEPAD, september 12, 2008
Kenya has adopted the NEPAD Africa-wide capacity development strategic framework (CDSF) which is aimed at addressing national capacity development issues identified through the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) process.
The framework enables participants such as national governments, civil society, universities and media that are involved in the development process to examine the ‘intangible or less-evident’ aspects in capacity development.
The process leading up to the adoption of the CDSF started in September 2007 when the NEPAD Kenya Secretariat held country-wide consultations on the introduction and eventual application of the framework. This included considering how the CDSF could be applied in taking forward capacity issues identified in the Kenya APR report.
These consultations were done with the guidance of the NEPAD Secretariat and supported by Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Since the adoption of the CDSF, Kenya has recorded a number of achievements : it has managed to use the CDSF in the analysis of national capacity issues as identified in the APR report and then gone on to integrate these into the National Programme of Action [NPOA].
The key issue here is that capacity issues are now linked to the NPOA and in turn to the national budget.
Importantly, this means that all sectoral capacity issues will now be analysed and acted upon within the framework of the CDSF. This has also helped to enhance partnerships with civil society organisations through the work of the civil society working groups.
Furthermore, the application of the CDSF has led to enhanced efforts aimed at institutionalising the engagement of Government Ministries and private sector organisations. Plans are underway to re-establish the APRM National Governing Council to oversee this important partnership.
NEPAD Kenya intends to upscale the application of the key principles of the CDSF in addressing national capacity issues. Source : NEPAD, september 12, 2008
The past few weeks at the NEPAD Secretariat have been eventful in many respects with staff literally getting their hands dirty in terms of advocating and highlighting the ways in which NEPAD and its programmes can have a positive effect on the welfare of the people. This article is a welcome opportunity to reflect on some of these engagements.
Parliamentary Forum on Sustainable Development and Aid Effectiveness This forum which was organised by the Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA) in Nairobi, Kenya, on 26-28 August 2008, in cooperation with NEPAD, the Pan-African Parliament, East African Assembly, the Kenyan Parliament, UN Environment Programme and UNHABITAT was aimed at getting African and European parliamentarians to fast-track their action plans on climate change, poverty reduction and food security.
AWEPA is an international non-governmental organisation that supports parliaments in Africa.
At the forum African Members of Parliament – regional and national – agreed that issues of climate change, environmental sustainability and food security were linked to the welfare of their constituents.
Many MPs felt strongly about taking on the responsibility of raising local awareness on the impact of climate change, particularly with food security, energy, access to water, transportation and health.
On food security, representatives from the NEPAD Secretariat (Florence Nazare, coordinator of the Capacity Building Initiative, and Andrew Kanyegirire) called on the MPs to push for increased investments in agriculture through the CAADP framework - for the purpose of improving food security.
The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is an AU-NEPAD framework for agricultural-led development. Through CAADP, African governments are committed to raising agricultural productivity by at least six per cent per year.
To achieve this, governments have agreed to increase public investment in agriculture by a minimum of 10 per cent of their national budgets - substantially more than the four to five per cent average that is often committed by many African countries.
MPs identified one of their key actions as being focused on monitoring the progress of their regions and countries towards the CAADP goals.
Also in attendance at the forum were international experts, NGO representatives and development partners, including the UK Department for International Development, the Japan International Agency and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and members of the “Mobilising Parliamentarians for NEPAD Programme”.
Kenya parliamentary workshop on agriculture and natural resources development Coming hot on the heels of the Nairobi Forum was a workshop which was held with the Kenya National Assembly Agriculture Land and Natural Resources Committee in Mombasa on 1-2 September, 2008.
This workshop with a close-knit group of about nine MPs provided an opportune environment for the NEPAD representatives to address and in-turn to listen and learn about the ways in which parliamentarians can take action to further the CAADP agenda.
A key aspect of the discussions was dedicated to fine-tuning and localising (within the context of Kenya) a draft framework for parliamentary action on CAADP which was initially drafted during an agricultural expert working group in Cape Town, South Africa in March 2007.
Some of the key points in the action plan – which will soon be published in the Dialogue newsletter included :
hosting regular media type activities (through community media and less formal inter-personal forms of communication) that are aimed at raising community awareness about best farming practices monitoring budgetary allocations to agriculture in relation to he AU-NEPAD targets and how these budgets are actually spent. It is pertinent to note that together with AWEPA, Research Into Use (RIU) and other key parliamentary actors that attended this forum, NEPAD will continue to work with the Kenyan MPs on the Agriculture Committee on their action plan for furthering the CAADP agenda.
Engaging with journalists at Highway Africa 2008,8-10 September This annual gathering of over 700 African journalists from across the continent (also including those from the diaspora) is the result of a partnership between Rhodes University School of Journalism and Media Studies in South Africa and the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
This event which is always held in Grahamstown at the southern tip of the continent has been running for the past 12 years. This year’s theme was focused on “Citizen journalism, journalism for citizens”.
Some of the activities at the gathering included workshops, practical training sessions on new media technologies, book launches and exhibitions.
The conference has established itself as the premier forum for discussions on training, research and the practice of African journalism and journalism in Africa.
The African Centre for Food Security (ACFS) at South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal is the lead institution for activities and policy development of Pillar 3 of NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
Pillar 3 of CAADP is focused on increasing food supply and reducing hunger across the region by increasing smallholder productivity and improving responses to food emergencies.
The ACFS collaborates with the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Relief in the Sahel in West Africa on Pillar 3 activities and is expanding established networks of regional institutions to support the CAADP country roundtable processes whereby country priorities for investment and programming are established.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is among the largest contact teaching universities in Southern Africa, with nearly 40,000 students spread across five campuses.
Structured around four academic colleges and more than 50 single - and multi-disciplinary academic schools, degrees are offered in all major fields of study. In the current year 85% of students are black and approximately 59% are women.
The institution is rated among the top 5% of universities worldwide and has over 250 active linkages with other higher education institutions in Africa and globally. It enjoys the confidence of a wide range of prestigious international research-funding agencies and philanthropic organisations.
The mission of the UKZN is to be a truly South African institution of higher learning that is academically excellent, innovative in research, critically engaged with society and demographically representative.
Playing a lead role in contributing to CAADP’s principles of African solutions for African problems enacts the university’s vision to be the premier university of African scholarship and the university is delighted to play a lead role in Pillar 3.
In addition to its prominent role in research, policy formulation and advocacy, the ACFS is the only institution in the world to offer accredited transdisciplinary degree programmes in food security.
A comprehensive range of academic programmes and qualifications is provided, including a postgraduate diploma, and master’s and doctoral degrees.
Short courses are also available for public sector and civil society organisations. These courses and programmes draw on the expertise of more than 30 scholars from 15 disciplines — including agricultural economics, political science, sociology and theology through to biochemistry, crop science, forestry, and nutrition — in collaboration with African and international agencies and experts, complemented by a growing network of institutions in other African countries.
Growth in demand for postgraduate qualifications has been considerable in the few years since their introduction. Student numbers have increased from just five in 2001 to 34 in 2008. Students emanate from the academic, public, private, international and NGO sectors from 16 African countries.
These figures do not include short course participants – a number that is also growing exponentially.
The curriculum of the ACFS is already strongly influenced by the CAADP Pillar 3 Framework for African Food Security priority areas and efforts to align the two more closely are ongoing.
Situated in one of South Africa’s oldest agricultural university programmes where the largest range of agricultural disciplines are located in one faculty and with access to a broad range of social and policy development units and centres in other faculties, the ACFS is strategically located to act as the lead African institution for food security advocacy, analysis and assessment in Africa, as well as a focal point for mobilising networks of experts across the continent.
The centre is headed by Prof. Sheryl Hendriks (PhD Agric Econ, University of Natal) who initiated the internationally unique transdisciplinary programme and who is also head of the School for Agricultural Sciences and Agribusiness at UKZN. Source : NEPAD, september 12, 2008
Speaking at the start of the gathering Prof. Guy Berger, Head of the School of Journalism, said : “African journalists are important people : they need to be heard. Whether it is through the traditional forms of media or through blogs and new media, this festival on African journalism offers African journalists the opportunity to express themselves and to think about the potential of their journalism for the African continent”.
In line with NEPAD’s emphasis on media freedoms, the rights of “citizens” — particularly through the African Peer Review Mechanism — and the value of “re-telling our African stories”, this year the NEPAD Secretariat participated as one of the key exhibitors at HA 2008.
The idea was to engage with the journalists with the aid of a one-stop info point where they could easily and quickly become informed about NEPAD and particularly the latest CAADP developments.
A key aspect of this was to find out the kind of challenges that journalists face in “telling the NEPAD story” and related stories of pertinence to the African “citizenry”.
Some of the main topics of discussion revolved around the rise of social networking sites (You-Tube, MySpace, Facebook) and how citizens as consumers and producers of information can inform themselves – as citizen journalists - about issues that are often ignored by the traditionally (and mainstream) liberal media.
As part of the ongoing efforts to revamp the NEPAD website, the Secretariat with its national chapters is looking to tap into a range of online initiatives such as wikis, subscriptions to e-alerts, e-discussion forums and blogs through which ordinary citizens can freely access, comment on and even reproduce information on NEPAD.
The Timbuktu manuscripts A key side event at this year’s conference included an exhibition of the amazing Timbuktu manuscripts. About 40 manuscripts from the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Islamic Studies in Timbuktu, Mali are currently being shown at the Albany Museum in Grahamstown. The exhibition is an integral part of the South Africa-Mali project which was initiated by President Mbeki in 2002.
As a flagship cultural initiative of NEPAD, the project aims to conserve the important collection of manuscripts held at the Ahmed Baba Institute through the training of conservation staff and the construction of a building to house the collection. Source : NEPAD, september 12, 2008
NEPAD steps up direct engagements with its strategic partners Fast-tracking and consolidating support for implementation
High-level direct consultations have taken place between the NEPAD Secretariat and some of the key strategic partners as a means of fast-tracking and consolidating the support by all stakeholders for NEPAD implementation.
The Secretariat recently met with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
These engagements provided the opportunity for updated briefings on the measures being undertaken in conjunction with the African Union Commission, leading to the completion of the integration of NEPAD into the structures and processes of the AU.
Equally, the Secretariat expressed profound appreciation for the continued support by these institutions in implementing the NEPAD programme.
The NEPAD Secretariat team led by Acting Chief Executive Amb. Olukorede Willoughby met with Abdoulie Janneh, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of UNECA on 30 July 2008, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The consultations focused on assessing the status of partnership in sectoral/programmatic collaboration as well as strategies to strengthen the UN cluster system under the Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM), which UNECA coordinates.
In addition the NEPAD/UNECA meetings also examined progress in implementing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two institutions on 1 September 2006.
UNECA agreed to support the Secretariat’s work on macroeconomic and sectoral policy analysis and to explore a joint work programme with a monitoring and evaluation framework to facilitate the effective operationalisation of the MOU.
On 15 August 2008, the Acting CEO of the NEPAD Secretariat and the Deputy CEO, Dr. Hesphina Rukato, welcomed a six-member team from UNDP to NEPAD headquarters in Midrand, South Africa. Vinetta Robinson of the Regional Bureau for Africa at UNDP headquarters in New York led the UNDP mission.
NEPAD and UNDP reviewed cooperation under Phase I of UNDP support to NEPAD and steps towards Phase II, and ways and means of strengthening the capacity in the NEPAD Secretariat.
The meeting also considered the options available in facilitating Africa-wide development policy processes and promoting regional initiatives through the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in support of NEPAD implementation.
Top management officials of the NEPAD Secretariat and the African Development Bank (AfDB) met in Midrand after the 35th NEPAD Steering Committee meeting on 21-22 August 2008 to determine follow-up actions on their last consultations held in Tunis, Tunisia on 3-4 July 2008.
Ambassador Willoughby received the three-member AfDB delegation while Dr. Rukato and Dr. Philibert Afrika, director of the AfDB’s NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department, led the technical discussions.
The agreed follow-up actions covered primarily the strengthening of NEPAD/AfDB collaboration through better-structured and action-oriented partnership.
Progress on the new integrated continental infrastructure initiative PIDA – the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa — promoting the implementation of the spatial development programme, sharpening joint resource mobilisation strategies and the full roll-out of the NEPAD project management system were also discussed.
On the multi-sectoral level, the two institutions agreed to explore collaboration on other NEPAD priority programmes and projects, dealing with agriculture and food security, capacity development, governance and public administration, and communications and outreach.
The new director of the Regional Office for Africa of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Mounkaila Goumandakoye, accompanied by the Deputy Director, Dr. Peter C. Acquah, had discussions on 1 September 2008 with the Acting CEO of the NEPAD Secretariat, who was supported by Estherine Lisinge-Fotobong, advisor on environment, Gengezi Mgidlana, special advisor to the CEO ,and Bankole Adeoye ,coordinator, external relations and partnerships.
UNEP, a long-standing collaborator in the implementation of the AU/NEPAD Environmental Initiative and the sub-regional environmental action plans, expressed satisfaction at the level of cooperation between the two institutions and noted the mutual resolve to deepen the relations through concluding an institutional instrument of cooperation in the near future.
Ambassador Willoughby welcomed the joint approach towards responding effectively and promptly to Africa’s environmental and climate change challenges and called for an urgent NEPAD/UNEP unified platform in developing the much-needed African common position on these issues. Source : NEPAD, september 12, 2008