Governance has been a central issue in the discourse on development since the end of the Cold War. African governments, that were relatively late in joining this discussion, have come on board principally through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). While it preceded the African Union (AU), NEPAD was later declared a programme of the AU, with the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) as its main tool for improving governance in Africa.
The APRM is designed as a self-evaluation mechanism, to be voluntarily acceded to by a country by signing a Memorandum of Understanding regarding how to conduct the assessment of the country’s state of governance. The quality of governance is mutually evaluated in four areas on a largely standardised basis: (i) democratic and political governance; (ii) economic governance and management; (iii) corporate governance; and (iv) socio-economic development. There are guiding objectives, standards, criteria and indicators to assess each of the thematic governance areas, which link back to AU norms.