Thursday,25 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1438, (11 - 17 April 2019)
Thursday,25 April, 2019
Issue 1438, (11 - 17 April 2019)

Ahram Weekly

For better governance

An African forum helped develop best practices of good governance on the continent, reports Ahmed Morsy

 

For better governance
For better governance

The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) community, African government representatives and African experts were in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh attending the APRM’s third annual methodology forum on 4-5 April, reviewing frameworks, methods and tools used in the work of the mechanism.

Ambassador Ashraf Rashad, head of Egypt’s National Governance Council (NGC), emphasised in his opening speech Egypt’s commitment to the objectives of the APRM. “The forum Egypt is hosting for the first time reflects the readiness of Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and the government to work together with the APRM community. The forum we are attending today is a big step in achieving what we aim for in supporting and developing the APRM as a pure African tool for monitoring and self-evaluation in the area of governance,” Rashad said.

The APRM, initiated in 2002 and established in 2003, is an autonomous entity of the African Union (AU) whose aim is to encourage the adoption of policies, standards and best practices that lead to good governance. It is also a tool for sharing experiences, reinforcing best practices and identifying deficiencies. Member countries in the APRM, currently 38 out of 55 AU members, undertake self-monitoring in all aspects of their governance and socio-economic development.

The APRM looks at the governance process of the country under review across four axes: democracy and political governance, economic governance, corporate and investment governance, and broad-based sustainable socio-economic development.

Ambassador Khaled Emara, assistant minister of foreign affairs and personal representative of Al-Sisi to the APRM Committee of Focal Points, said that since the establishment of the APRM Egypt has been keen to become one of the founding members of the institution “as we realised its important role in encouraging African countries to apply governance standards in all its aspects. The methodology forum is an annual forum of the APRM in which member states exchange proposals and brainstorm in order to make recommendations for the development of the work of the mechanism,” Emara told Al-Ahram Weekly.

Last year’s second APRM methodology forum, held in Kigali in Rwanda, offered a number of recommendations. Among them was to broaden participation; ensure gender balance; standardise National Programmes of Action (NPA); enhance data integrity; undertake regular evaluation of member states in transformative leadership; and retain voluntary accession.

The current methodology forum is held during Egypt’s presidency of the AU after being elected at the AU summit in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa in January 2018.

“Egypt stands ready to do its part in securing the universal membership of the mechanism for all AU members by 2023,” Emara said.

Regarding the stages and the process of peer review, Emara said the APRM has a continental secretariat located in South Africa. “This assists in the preparation of the reports — including the four axes of governance — of self-revision of member states. The report is carried out by specialised research centres in addition to integrated community work within each country and through a national governance council established mainly to help assist in the work of the report.”

After the completion of the report, which takes a year and sometimes several years depending on the size of the country and the tasks to be accomplished, it is first reviewed by the Continental Secretariat of the APRM and its Panel of Eminent Persons. The report is then submitted again to the country under review to discuss recommendations. Finally, Emara said, the report is presented again at the APRM summit in which presidents of the member states discuss it publically.

Egypt is currently working on its self-assessment report, which is to be submitted in September 2019. The report is being prepared as part of a joint effort by the NGC and local and regional research centres, including the Public Administration Research Centre, Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, the Social Contract Centre and the National Planning Institute.

In an interview with the Weekly, professor Eddy Maloka, CEO of the APRM Continental Secretariat, said, “Egypt is a big country and having it as one of the members of APRM is already a big step forward.”

“We are going for Egypt’s review in September and we will see what the review comes up with. Meanwhile, Egypt has to engage and help produce such an important report which talks about the state of governance in the country. You [Egyptian people and media] must also engage with it and make sure that this report reflects the state of governance in your own country,” Maloka said.

“We [the Continental Secretariat] will come to assist in making the report and once it is out and ready for recommendations… you [Egyptians] have to work together to abide to the recommendations,” Maloka, the former special advisor to the South African minister of international relations and cooperation, told the Weekly.

On how the APRM is beneficial to African countries, Maloka said: “Once we get governance right in Africa, we will be able to improve. That is because the problems of peace and security as well as the problems of poverty in Africa are all linked to governance, state capacity, institutions and the character of leadership.”

Every review exercise carried out under the authority of the mechanism must be technically competent, credible and free of political manipulation. These stipulations together constitute the guiding core principles of the mechanism. The mandate of the APRM is to ensure that policies and practices of participating member states conform to the agreed political, economic and corporate governance values, codes and standards contained in the African Union Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance.

“The APRM has to be very beneficial in the future,” Maloka said. “Over the last three years, we see that leaders became more serious. More countries are joining the APRM. Leaders have taken their responsibilities, and they have been frank among each other and have been open to the challenges. Hence, from the big change witnessed through the three previous years, we will have a cumulative effect over time and I am very confident about that.”

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