Africa has an opportunity to transform itself with appropriate planning frameworks and implementation mechanisms, according to a statement by the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr. Carlos Lopes. Speaking at the recent 50th anniversary celebrations of the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP), in Dakar, Mr. Lopes told development experts and planners that Africa must “plan for development,” in order to grow its economies over the coming years.
Created in 1962 to strengthen the planning capacities of African countries, IDEP’s January meeting of its Governing Council was themed: ’50 years of development planning in Africa”. Among other issues, the discussions addressed the future of IDEP, underscoring its intended ambition – to be the premier pan-African training centre in economic development and planning. This ambition, according the organizers, is in line with the ongoing realignment of the ECA’s work programme to better serve Africa’s transformation agenda.
Speaking in his capacity as the incoming Chair of the Governing Council, Mr. Lopes highlighted key moments in Africa’s development planning history, outlining what he termed as a “long and chequered history” whose trajectory was influenced by various approaches.
“Our past and current experiences tell as that Africa does have several challenges in the area of development planning,” stated Lopes, calling for strengthening of design, implementation and monitoring of national development strategies.
According to the Statement, since the early stages of independence, past approaches, including state-centric enterprises, structural adjustment programmes and poverty reduction strategies were found wanting. Lacking in credibility, they were also plagued by many bureaucratic limitations and weaknesses, as well as other external factors. He thus emphasized the need to increase policy space and make prudent decisions about the appropriate strategies needed to achieve economic growth and structural transformation.
“It is indeed commonly said that failing to plan means planning to fail,” he added.
The Executive Secretary stressed the need for planners to understand the changing nature of planning in a changing global context that he said requires, “not only context-specific approaches, but also plans that are dynamic and sometimes targeted to specific outcomes.”
“Planning works if it is strategic and carefully put together with good data and, more importantly, assiduously implemented,” he stressed, and underscored that plans must meet the “soundness test of coherence, consistency and effectiveness and be founded on “robust and credible evidence base, with clear mechanisms for implementation and monitoring and be reasonably flexible to deal with changing circumstances.”
Touching on the future of IDEP, Mr. Lopes told the meeting that its capacity building efforts will be informed by rigorous analytical and policy-oriented research, aimed at identifying and applying relevant cutting-edge planning techniques and experiences to the design, implementation and monitoring of planning frameworks on the continent.
To this end, he revealed that a section called “Renewal of Planning” which will comprise a team of planning experts dedicated to conducting planning-related research has been created at the ECA in support of the needs of member States.
In this regard, ECA has also reinforced IDEP to be able to address more adequately, the capacity constraints faced by many planning commissions, ministries and departments through an array of capacity building programmes.
The African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP) is a Pan-African Institution created in 1962 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Newly independent African countries felt the urgent need to build-up domestic human capital as a necessity for sustaining independence and promoting socio-economic development. IDEP was then given the mandate to train policy makers and development professionals, to provide advisory services for African governments and regional organisations, to promote original thinking and research on Africa’s policy issues, to become a centre of excellence with full intellectual freedom that will lead the debate on African development issues and uphold the economic independence of African countries.
Located in Dakar, Senegal, IDEP is a subsidiary body of the ECA and, over the years, has maintained a close working relationship with its parent organization.
Source: Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) – Press Release – 6 February 2013