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Rwandan Implementation of NEPAD and Progress on the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)

Date
Time (GMT +01) 12:00 13:15

Speaker:

H.E. Claver Gatete, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United Kingdom

Discussant:

Paolo de Renzio, Research Fellow, ODI

Chair:

Simon Maxwell, Director, ODI

H.E. Mr Claver Gatete divided his speech into two parts: a description of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and the analysis of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) with specific reference to Rwanda's experience.

NEPAD was born out of the need to tackle an unsustainable situation in Africa, characterised by high dependence on aid flows, low levels of GDP, FDI and trade, lack of infrastructure, unsustainable debt burden, high incidence of HIV/AIDS, poor market access to high income countries and bad governance.

NEPAD arose in 2001 out of the merger between two separate initiatives: the Millennium Partnership for African Recovery Programme (MAP) and OMEGA, a development programme by Senegal.

The major principles and objective of NEPAD are:

  1. Ensuring Africa ownership, leadership and partnership

  2. Poverty Reduction

  3. Making Africa attractive to investors

  4. Achieving and sustaining a high GDP growth

  5. Achievement of MDGs

  6. Promoting sub-regional and continental integration

  7. Promoting partnership in the implementation of NEPAD

  8. Promoting partnership with industrialized countries & multilateral organizations.

NEPAD's priority areas include:

  1. Political governance (headed by South Africa and assisted by the African Union)

  2. Economic Governance (Nigeria/ECA/AfDB)

  3. Market Access and Agriculture (Egypt/FAO/Secretariat)

  4. Human Development (Algeria) - Heath, Education

  5. Infrastructure (Senegal/AfDB)

  6. Capital Flows (Nigeria/ECA).

Its structure is led by the General Assembly of the AU, and it operates through an International Secretariat in South Africa, which co-ordinates a series of national and regional secretariats. A number of stakeholders are involved in NEPAD's activities, including the Government, national Parliaments, civil society, media and development partners.

In Rwanda NEPAD has been implementing a series of programmes in different areas, including agriculture, environment, ICT and infrastructure. In particular, the ICT programme has already reached an advanced stage, being implemented in various areas, including education, tourism, public sector and infrastructure.

NEPAD introduced APRM as a self-assessment self-monitoring mechanism, to which Member States of the African Union voluntarily accede. The APRM was created (with a Secretariat in South Africa) in recognition that governance is the fundamental cause of problems in Africa. Four specific areas of focus have been identified: Democracy & Political Governance, Economic Governance, Corporate Governance and socio-economic Development

The APRM comprises five stages: the analysis of the governance and development environment in the country to be reviewed based on existing self-assessment; the country review visit with consultation of various national stakeholders, the preparation of APR Team's Report; the submission of the report to the APR Forum; and public release of review report.

So far 25 countries (members of the AU) have decided to accede to the APRM. Rwanda was one of the first four countries to accede to the process in March 2003. The country completed the first self-assessment exercise (initiated in February 2004) in December 2004. This was followed up by a series of activities, including a quality control by AIPA, an APR Country review and a final APR report. The adoption of Rwanda APR Report is expected in July 2006.

The implementation of APRM in Rwanda has faced a number of challenges, including the identification of the linkages between the APR and existing national and international initiatives (e.g. Vision 2020, PRSP, MDGs), the need for creating awareness about the initiative among the general public, time constraint, logistical problems of meeting stakeholders in various parts of the country, the consultation fatigue by people exposed to several consultations (e.g. HIV/AIDS, Gacaca, Sector Strategies, Corruption, PRSPs). These challenges were met through a variety of solutions, such as the creation of four APR working sub-commissions, the enlargement of the national APR technical review teams, the use of foreign expertise (from Kenya and South Africa), the regular update to the donor community on APR process, the use of media to promote NEPAD and APRM, the establishment of a NEPAD trust fund and a high level political commitment

Mr. Gatete added finally that one of the main insights from this experience in Rwanda is that the common people were very surprised about being actively involved in the decision making process rather than only informed by the government on the decisions.

Paolo de Renzio commented on Mr. Gatete's presentation by putting the APRM into the wider context of accountability. He referred to a popular example of another voluntary peer review mechanism, the DAC peer-review system, to outline some potential pros and cons of such mechanisms. On the one hand, these mechanisms may be useful in creating a common language to evaluate individual countries' operations. On the other hand, the effectiveness of the mechanism may be undermined by the desire of not hurting any country. Therefore there is a risk of producing bland documents, by avoiding touching upon sensitive issues.

African countries started the APRM driven by different needs to those of OECD countries (in particular the desire of increasing transparency). A major difficulty may be that drawbacks surrounding effectiveness jeopardise the APRM. The expectations created by the APRM may be too high relative to the final content of the report.

De Renzio concluded with three questions to be addressed in the future: 1) are the significant delays experienced by the APRM process going to undermine the high level of expectations on the implementation side of the mechanism? 2) Is there the risk that APRM generates another form of conditionality (other than that imposed by donors and IFIs through aid) on the African governments? 3) Could the AU inaction in Zimbabwe have repercussions on the credibility of the APRM led by the AU?

Arguments and questions raised in the discussion included:

  1. Questions on the technical aspects of funding of the APRM in Rwanda and the involvement of civil society in the process.

  2. There is a danger that APRM may be jeopardised by the failure to keep up with the expectations that it should serve to denounce publicly issues which are sensitive for individual countries. This would be a pity, as peer review mechanisms are potentially very useful.

  3. If APRM is to work, it needs a pressure from the internal electorate. Is the APRM process transparent enough to involve the electorate?

  4. Consistent doubts are still present that NEPAD would turn into yet another incentive for countries to "beg" resources. NEPAD may in fact be a "KneePAD".

Mr Gatete started his replies, by highlighting that the APRM had no legal instruments to hold any African country (including Zimbabwe) accountable. If anything, African countries should deal with the issue of poor governance by other African countries within the AU framework. They should be accountable to developed countries only with respect to the way they spend the funds provided by the latter. Therefore the funds channelled by developed countries into the APRM should not generate conditions attached to it on the way APRM works. Moreover, not all the members of the AU (and thus of NEPAD) are also part of the APRM (Zimbabwe is not for example.)

The crucial issue in the APRM is to do it in the right way from the beginning, so then confidence in the process may grow. There is no hurry, so eventual delays are not a major problem, as long as the process is effective and transparent. On the basis of past experience, next processes would then take less time to be completed.

Donors' involvement is a delicate issue. They should not pay the panel of experts to lead the APRM. Rwanda for example created a trust fund which donors could contribute to, and this was complemented by funds raised by the Rwandese private sector. Therefore donors' contribution was less than it was expected.

Simon Maxwell concluded by highlighting that the APRM was a process still in evolution and one question remained open: why was the most comprehensive and complex model of peer review the one chosen by NEPAD to start with? Possibly the development community (including ODI) may help to review other models of peer review to be looked at.

Description

This ODI meeting discussed the implementation of NEPAD in Rwanda and progress on the African Peer Review Mechanism.

NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, is both a vision & a strategic framework for African renewal, spearheaded by African leaders, with the aim of addressing the current challenges facing the continent: escalating poverty levels, underdevelopment & continued marginalisation.

Included in NEPAD is the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a mutually agreed self-monitoring mechanism voluntarily acceded to by the member states of the African Union. The mandate of the APRM is to encourage conformity amongst African countries with regard to political, economic & corporate governance values, codes & standards, as well as the socio-economic development objectives contained within NEPAD.