Africa is gaining increasing recognition as a profitable investment destination and is projected to become the world’s highest-growing region over the next decade. It is for this reason that the discussions of the 2012 meeting of the African Union and Economic Council for Africa’s conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance that took place during 26 and 27 March in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on how to unleash Africa’s potential as a pole of global growth and global rebalancing were critical.
So says the President of African Monitor, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, who has noted with disappointment the lack of a comprehensive monitoring framework for decisions made by African Finance Ministers.
For while the Ministers explored the continent’s untapped potential, vast natural resources and its possible ability to increase aggregate demand, revive growth and address global imbalances, the biggest missing element in Africa’s commitment to its own development through the years has been its inability to implement good decisions that have been made. To a large extent, this can be attributed to a lack of accountability systems as the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa have not developed comprehensive monitoring frameworks.
“Quite a few loose frameworks have been developed to monitor continental development in the past, but none has been comprehensive and serious enough to bring results,” said Archbishop Ndungane.
“A good framework is essential as it will provide stakeholders, which includes governments, civil societies, private sector and communities as well management with an early indication of progress, or lack thereof, in the achievement of results. Citizen-led monitoring processes in particular, provide an incentive for African governments to make available the relevant financing for commitments, and to implement programmes on the ground.”
African Monitor, an organisation that monitors development funding commitments, funding delivery as well as the impact on grassroots communities, attended the meeting in Addis Ababa to lobby on behalf of the grassroots communities and to monitor the meeting’s progress.
Led by its Director, Ms Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, a delegation from the organisation put forward a number of proposals to accelerate progress at the grassroots level, which includes a broad-based and widely-owned framework to monitor any strategies and development initiatives that may have been decided on at the meeting in Ethiopia.
Said Ms Mniki-Mangaliso from the meeting in Addis Ababa: “We are frustrated by the fact that although African government Ministers make very good decisions at most of their meetings, there is very little adoption of those decisions at the national level where they should be implemented, this frustration is shared by a number of delegates that attended the meeting.
“Ugandan, Malawian, and Kenyan delegations have strongly expressed dismay that these meetings become talk shops. There is still not sufficient buy-in about a citizen-led monitoring agenda.
“In this meeting alone there were sixteen proposed resolutions, most of which have funding implications.”
Ms Mniki-Mangaliso said that Finance Ministers were to approve the establishment of five new financing mechanisms and structures – including that of African Risk Capacity, African Mineral Development Centre, and African Institute for Remittances.
“We want to know how these will be financed when African governments are struggling with domestic resource mobilisation. And is setting up new institutions every year the best way to make sure that resources reach the African people? We are not convinced. In fact, it seems that while these may be good ideas in principle, structuring them as institutional bureaucracies is another way of making sure that resources provide employment and benefits for the elite, while the African people remain destitute,” she said.
Archbishop Ndungane said that monitoring serves two very important purposes: strengthening accountability and transparency which in the end will provide empirical evidence on the outcomes, and improving management which should ensure a more efficient and effective process and programme.
“It will also assist in providing credible reports and the ability to demonstrate to all stakeholders whether what is agreed on at this meeting is implemented in a participatory way and will improve the lives of the poor people on the continent,” he said.
“The monitoring of the continental framework should therefore include a multi-disciplinary approach including all stakeholders and should not be left to the implementers.”
All sectors usually do not work together to monitor the effectiveness of growth and development. In the past government and private sectors have been left to do their own monitoring and civil society theirs.
A few independent monitoring institutions exist, some led by civil society, eg African Monitor and the State of the Union Coalition. Even though these initiatives exist, their expertise and contribution is not formally sought during AU meetings, as self-reporting is used as the main mechanism for monitoring. The voices and experiences of the grassroots, naturally, are excluded.
“This situation, if allowed to continue, means that there will never be a connection between what African governments are doing at the macro-level, and what citizens want on the ground,” said Archbishop Ndungane.b
Please note that African Monitor is available for interviews telephonically or in person if the interview is to take place in Cape Town.
African Monitor was established in 2006 as an independent continental body to monitor development funding commitments, funding delivery as well as the impact on grassroots communities. It also works towards bringing strong
additional African voices to the development agenda.
In addition to the Grassroots Focus Index (GFI) which seeks to generate an index that assesses and determines the extent of polarization in development, the organisation also researches and publishes The Development Support Monitor (DSM) which looks at various questions in order to promote an inclusive agenda to achieve the African Moment for grassroots communities.
Over a period of time, the DSM will seek to answer the following questions:
. What are the structural economic, social and political fundamentals that will facilitate the inclusion of grassroots communities in Africa’s development path?
. What policies, approaches and practice changes need to be made for sustainable development?
. How should development resources be generated and allocated to meet the imperatives for an inclusive development agenda for grassroots communities?
The GFI seeks to answer the following questions:
. To what extent have African governments and donors been able to prioritise the grassroots in their development policy priorities and strategies?
. To what extent (where such prioritization has occurred) has prioritization led to effective channelling of resources to grassroots development by African governments and donors? and
. To what extent are grassroots able to meaningfully influence government and donor policies and programmes, including resource commitments and flows?
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Source: Quo Vadis Communications – Press Release -4 April 2012