Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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The State of Governance in Africa: What Indices Tell Us (2016)

Governance is notoriously difficult to measure – yet numerous global indices attempt to do so. This paper tracks the governance progress of 52 African countries through various indices. A total of 17 of these states have undergone a holistic governance review by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). Another 17 have joined the APRM, but have not yet been reviewed. The remaining 18 are not members and thus are used as independent variables to determine whether the APRM makes a difference. Since the APRM does not provide ratings or rankings in its reports, this paper uses data from the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance to track progress (or lack thereof) between 2003 (when the APRM was established) and 2015 (the most recent set of data available at the time of writing). Supporting data from Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Index, The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index and the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index is used where necessary. Arguably, by voluntarily acceding to and undergoing the review, APRM member states have demonstrated the necessary political will to reform. How have they fared since the year of inception of the APRM? The paper concludes that overall, APRM members have performed better than non-members. But whether a state has actually undergone the APRM review or merely joined the mechanism does not seem to make much of a difference. Progress has also often been mixed, and economic achievements have sometimes come at the expense of political freedoms. (by Yarik Turianskyi)

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What Ails The Young? Insights into Africa’s Youth from the African Peer Review Mechanism (2016)

Africa is a young continent, with a median age of some 19.3 years and 75% of its population aged 35 or younger. As the continent has long recognised – and as the so-called Arab Spring has confirmed – this large youth population presents many complex and important strategic challenges that must be met. For this reason, African’s continental bodies have on several occasions committed themselves to fostering the wellbeing and development of the youth, most notably through the African Youth Charter, adopted in 2006. Examining the state of Africa’s youth primarily through the lens of the reports compiled through the African Peer Review Mechanism – Africa’s innovative governance assessment system – this paper discusses two primary sets of challenges. The first of these is the state of education and training. The standard of education offered to Africa’s youth, as well as the choice of subjects they follow, is not adequately preparing them for entry into the workforce. Students need to be better prepared, and more opportunities should be created for them to study scientific and technological fields.The second is poverty and unemployment – the socio-economic exclusion of Africa’s youth. An issue intimately bound to concerns about education and skills, many young people are unable to secure opportunities that make social mobility possible and provide an outlet for their energies. This underemployment creates fertile ground for drug abuse, gangsterism and participation in political conflict. This paper concludes with recommendations for policy proposals that recognise the limitations of Africa’s states and seek partnerships with non-governmental bodies. Dealing with youth challenges is simply too large for African states to handle alone. Youth activism should be welcomed, but not uncritically. Above all, steering youthful energies into entrepreneurship and economic activities must be a priority. (by Terence Corrigan)

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Can The APRM be an Effective Tool to Monitor Agenda 2063 and The SDGs? (2017)

Monitoring and evaluation has emerged as a central concern in development thinking. Both the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the AU’s Agenda 2063 represent responses to Africa’s developmental deficits, with much overlap between them. They will need a robust mechanism to trace the progress that is being made, and this study explores whether – rather than attempting to construct a new system – Africa’s home-grown governance evaluation system, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), might be able to fulfil this role. A number of factors make the APRM a natural monitoring tool for the other two initiatives. Each is substantively about governance, and deals with similar subjects. The APRM is a recognised brand and is institutionalised as part of the African Governance Architecture. To take on the monitoring of Agenda 2063 and the SDGs it would need to resolve its administrative weaknesses, secure adequate funding and conduct reviews on an ongoing basis. There is also a need to design a continental system of data gathering and analysis to enable precise measurements of progress in meeting the various developmental goals. These are significant challenges, but they describe the necessary rejuvenation of the APRM required for it to become the monitoring tool for the continent’s developmental endeavours. (by Steven Gruzd and Terence Corrigan)

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Rethinking Infrastructure in Africa: A Governance Approach (2017)

Infrastructure deficits have long been recognised as being central to Africa’s developmental malaise. This paper looks at the state of the continent’s infrastructure, with a focus on the actions that governments can take to spur its development. Studies demonstrate that gains are to be had through better project preparation, greater efficiencies and so on. Adequate maintenance is particularly important. These actions would help secure better infrastructure without significantly greater outlays. Achieving them would, however, require sometimes tough and politically unpopular decisions – making appropriate governance choices are therefore critical. Managing infrastructure construction and maintenance across borders is central to Africa’s infrastructure needs. With so many countries landlocked, cross-border links are imperative for their economic fortunes. This is a complex issue, and resolving it demands that governments and regional institutions cooperate with one another, imposing another set of governance choices. The paper concludes by noting the need to shift debate around Africa’s infrastructure to the governance obstacles it needs to confront. It suggests that governance action could be taken in seven areas to help achieve this: finance; policy, planning and project preparation; efficiency; the regulatory environment; private sector involvement; engagement of Africa’s people; and a focus on regional integration. (by Terence Corrigan)

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Lessons From Rwanda: Female Political Representation and Women’s Rights (2017)

Gender equality is a basic human right that entails equal opportunities for men and women in all facets of life: socially, economically, developmentally and politically. According to the Beijing Platform for Action, without the active participation of women in and the incorporation of their perspectives at all levels of decision-making, the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be achieved. This paper sets out to examine the increased female representation in Rwanda’s Parliament to determine whether it has affected women in other spheres of life. It also provides an overview of the current status of women in African politics, as well as of the current governance situation in Rwanda. It is clear that Rwanda has made significant efforts to elevate the status of women in its post-genocide society. However, it is also important to recognise Parliament’s limitations in an increasingly authoritarian system of governance. While women members of Parliament have passed legislation to empower women in society, a lack of information and education prevents many from taking advantage of new opportunities. Yet Rwanda is clearly on the right path towards improving its gender parity and must uphold its efforts to do so, while prioritising formal education for girls and women at all levels. (By Yarik Turianskyi and Matebe Chisiza)

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Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance Through the APRM (2017)

Pan-Africanism has historically played a crucial role in shaping the foundations of African institutions, and continues to do so today. Divergent opinions on the structure of African institutions raise the question of how these ideologies should be approached in the 21st century. Drawing on interviews with various stakeholders in the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), this policy briefing examines the extent to which pan-Africanism can be institutionalised. It concludes that pan-Africanism has evolved as a philosophy without a stipulated African model; hence, it should be based on ensuring total ownership through learning and localisation. (by Lynda Iroulo)

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The International Criminal Court and Africa: Transcending Cleavages to Achieve Common Goals (2017)

The African continent is developing plans for its own transnational criminal courts. In January 2017, at its Annual Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the AU decided by consensus on a strategy for mass withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the continent is developing plans for its own transnational criminal courts. Although they share common goals, the AU and the ICC have developed competing approaches to achieving peace, security and justice on the African continent, which remains fraught with violence and conflict affecting civilians in several countries. Yet new forms of criminal justice mechanisms have developed in Africa and offer promising opportunities for renewed cooperation. It remains for the ICC to engage and collaborate with them in order to bring justice closer to the people, and ease the tensions between national sovereignty and the international criminal justice system. This could reunite both the political and legal dimensions needed to tackle the continent’s most egregious crimes. (by Mélanie Rondreux)

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The African Peer Review Mechanism at 15: achievements and aspirations (2018)

As the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) turns 15 on 9 March 2018, this milestone provides an ideal opportunity to acknowledge recent progress. The APRM Secretariat’s new ‘Three Rs strategy’ has begun to restore, reinvigorate and renew the mechanism. Reviews have been re-started, there is greater innovation and energy around the APRM, and confidence is being rebuilt. Yet challenges remain: increasing political commitment, fostering civil society involvement, garnering sustainable funding, implementing action plans, and demonstrating value addition. (By Steven Gruzd and Yarik Turianskyi)

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The African Democracy Charter At 11: Averting Democratic Deconsolidation (2018)

Inconsistencies between the objectives of the African Democracy Charter and political practices in African states strain the democratic agenda. This policy briefing analyses the normative strengthening of democracy in Africa since the inception of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. Africa’s stated goal of optimising its democratic processes remains a work in progress, as democracy has not been implemented as a mode of governance at a multi-institutional level. African states’ democratic processes have stagnated in a transitional phase with only a handful of democracies consolidating. The briefing argues that inconsistencies between the stated objectives of the charter and political practices in African states strain the democratic consolidation agenda. Despite the vulnerability of the liberal-democratic model, recent increases in the number of signatories to the charter and the rejuvenation of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) indicate normative commitments to democratic consolidation. (by Tjiurimo Alfredo Hengari)

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Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives and the Media (2018)

Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives (MSIs) are voluntary partnerships between governments, civil society, and the private sector which seek to promote good governance by holding governments and corporations accountable to citizens. Although MSIs conduct a great deal of research on transparency and good governance and have produced volumes of reports – some of which are critical of governments – they tend to be known mainly to a few stakeholders and devotees. The public is largely unfamiliar with them. Consequently, the public does not believe that MSIs have achieved much real-world impact. This report recommends that MSIs cultivate relationships with interested and concerned journalists, explaining to the public the real-world application of what they are attempting to achieve. MSIs’ media strategies should take into account the limited capacity the media has for analyzing and processing large volumes of data. Short, targeted pieces (press releases, blog posts, etc.) will likely get more attention. The use of widely spoken languages (rather than official languages, in many countries) can help to get messages to the general population. Radio should be used to reach rural areas and less-educated citizens. A social media presence is increasingly important. MSIs should focus attention on branding and show concrete results. MSIs should counter efforts by countries and corporations to “open-wash,” disqualifying members who do not implement reforms or which close down space for civil society organizations (CSOs). MSIs and the media should shift attention away from merely informing the public about the state of transparency and governance in member countries towards mobilizing citizens to use MSIs as levers for improving transparency and governance. (by Peter Fabricius and Terence Corrigan)

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Peer Pressure and Peer Learning in Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives (2018)

This report examines three prominent Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives (MSIs) – the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and Open Government Partnership (OGP) through the dual lenses of peer learning and peer pressure. The term “peers” implies a degree of equality between the participating parties. Peer review is defined as examinations that are systematic in their nature, of a state by another state(s), specifically designated institutions or a combination of the two. In MSIs, peer reviews are premised on mutual trust, non-confrontation, and the principle of non-coercive persuasion. The ultimate goal is to help member states improve their policy-making, adopt best practices, and comply with established standards and principles. Based on this analysis, the OGP and EITI have been successful in promoting peer learning and have exercised peer pressure when necessary. The APRM, however, lags significantly behind its counterparts. (by Yarik Turianskyi and Matebe Chisiza)

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Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives in Africa – Case Studies of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Tanzania (2018)

This report examines four African states (Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania), and their membership in three multi-stakeholder initiatives: the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), and the Open Government Partnership (OGP).1 These four case studies offer valuable lessons. High-level political commitment is vital to sustained implementation of MSIs. International pressure can also increase (or diminish) political will. Some states lack the financial and human resources necessary to implement change, which adversely affects success of MSIs. Other trends among these cases are the lack of legitimacy in MSI reports due to unsubstantiated claims and poor drafting, the reporting burden of member states to multiple MSIs, and the weak implementation of supporting domestic legislation. As the case countries are party to multiple MSIs, there is a tendency towards overlapping and duplicating efforts, therefore emphasizing a need for better harmonization and synergy. (by Matebe Chisiza, Steven Gruzd, Ross Harvey, Aditi Lalbahadur, Carmel Rawhani and Yarik Turianskyi)

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Civil Society Participation in the Open Government Partnership (2018)

Active citizen participation is an important component of democracy. Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives (MSIs) attempt to enhance civic participation as a means of improving governance through cooperation by governments, civil society organizations (CSOs), and businesses to engage in commonly defined goals. This report evaluates the experiences of civil society participation one such MSI – the Open Government Partnership (OGP) – in Georgia, South Africa, and Indonesia. A global initiative with 70 countries and 15 subnational governments as current members, the OGP seeks to enhance government transparency, and support civic participation in governance. MSIs seek to involve civil society, but governments have more resources and tend to dominate these initiatives, making the phenomenon of “open-washing” – the tokenistic show by OGP partner governments of enlisting CSOs – a concern. While MSIs present an opportunity for civil society to influence policy, their participation depends on context, including geographic, demographic, and physical infrastructure factors. Civil society can be proactive and agitate for their inclusion in MSIs and should have solid planning, signal interest, form coalitions, and adopt a long-term perspective. Government should accept the principle of partnership and development partners can wield influence by providing CSOs with funding, aligning the support they provide with MSI activities, and helping to defend civic space. (by Terence Corrigan and Steven Gruzd)

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Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives: What Have We Learned? An Overview and Literature Review (2018)

This report reviews literature on three Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives (MSIs) – the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the Open Governance Partnership (OGP) – to provide an overview of how each MSI function and evaluate the extent to which each has impacted policy and governance issues thus far. Two themes arise from this review: the importance of process and impact. MSIs establish partnerships between governments, civil society, and other stakeholders to promote transparency and accountability. By participating in these MSIs, governments often become more transparent and opened political space for civil society. MSIs have contributed to raising important issues and in some instances, the passing of legislation, but they have not always achieved tangible benefits. (by Yarik Turianskyi, Terence Corrigan, Matebe Chisiza and Alex Benkenstein)

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Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives: Lessons Learned (2018)

Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives (MSIs) are voluntary partnerships between governments, civil society, and the private sector that have emerged over the last 15 years to address development challenges collaboratively, entrench democratic practices, and strengthen regulatory frameworks. MSIs operate on the premise that governance outcomes can be improved by increased transparency and enhanced stakeholder participation in policy reforms. The Accelerating Responsive Transparent Extractive Industry Resource Governance (ARTEIG) Project, implemented by Democracy International (DI) and the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) between October 1, 2016 and April 30, 2018, focused on three prominent MSIs: the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), and the Open Government Partnership (OGP). These initiatives share principles of voluntarism, peer learning, and involvement of civil society. Openness and transparency are prioritized through the implementation of and adherence to common standards. The aim of this project was to learn lessons from the three MSIs, explore their evolution and dynamics, and recommend ways of closer collaboration on shared objectives. In doing so, it also sought to inform the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on how it could best engage with MSIs going forward. This paper summarises the lessons learnt during the project. (by Steven Gruzd, Yarik Turianskyi, Neuma Grobbelaar and Yemile Mizrahi)

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African Union’s Year of Youth: carrying forward the momentum (2018)

This paper reflects on the African Union’s 2017 theme, ‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend Through Investments in Youth.’ Although there has been a focus on youth-related issues in 2017 there is a need to critically examine the gains and challenges the AU faced in meeting this objective during 2017. The African Youth Charter plan of action and roadmap are some of the key guiding frameworks that have steered this theme. This paper argues that while youth empowerment frameworks and noticeable initiatives exist, there are shortfalls in the implementation and monitoring and evaluation of meaningful youth participation. There is also a need for the harmonisation of existing regional instruments into state policy to achieve significant change. (by Lennon Monyae and Luanda Mpungose)

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The ‘Kagame Reforms’ of the AU: Will they stick?

The AU is undergoing a reform process, because of its inefficient bureaucracy, lack of implementation of decisions, funding, and overlapping institutional mandates. The ‘The Imperative to Strengthen our Union: Report on the Proposed Recommendations for the Institutional Reform of the African Union’, commonly known as the ‘Kagame Report’, was presented in 2017. The Kagame Report identified 19 recommendations (later expanded to 21) that covered 6 reform areas namely: focusing on fewer priority areas, a clear division of labour between AU structures, making the AU Commission more efficient and effective, strengthening the current sanctions regime, improving decision-making and the implementation of resolutions after AU Summits and equitable regional representation and gender parity in the recruitment process. This paper aims to provide an objective assessment of progress made by the Kagame Reforms, including implementation of the Kigali Financing Decision, ensuring the implementation of decisions as well as the changing mandate of two bodies: The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). (by Yarik Turianskyi and Steven Gruzd)

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African States at the UN Human Rights Council in 2017 (2019)

The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) is the world’s premier international human rights forum. It was formed in 2006, replacing the UN Commission on Human Rights. The HRC has 47 seats, distributed on a proportional, regional basis. African states occupy 13 seats making it, along with the Asian Group, the largest of the UN’s five regional groupings on the 47-member HRC. A recent report, compiled in the Department of Political and International Studies at Rhodes University and published by SAIIA, analyses the commitment of 14 African countries to international human rights. The HRC adopts dozens of resolutions every year; in 2017 it adopted 109 resolutions, covering issues that range from economic rights to extrajudicial execution. This report focuses on two domains of the HRC’s work: country-specific situations and civil and political rights. (by Eduard Jordaan)

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Lessons from multi-stakeholder initiatives

The African Peer Review Mechanism is an example of a multi-stakeholder initiative (MSI). Such frameworks became prominent in the early 21st century, bringing together governments, business and civil society to collectively solve governance challenges. While the APRM is a uniquely African MSI, SAIIA’s research has also looked at other, global initiatives, focusing on the Open Government Partnership and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The purpose of this policy briefing is to provide practical policy recommendations on what the APRM can learn from its counterparts and, in turn, what it can teach them. It is important for MSIs to continually evolve and adopt best practices to maintain their edge in the constantly changing world of international development. (by Steven Gruzd and Yarik Turianskyi)

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Digital dictatorship versus digital democracy in Africa (2019)

Less than a decade ago the Arab Spring was hailed as a game changer for global politics. Enhanced political debate via social media, a wider diversity of opinions and closer access to governments were meant to enhance social  consensus and improve governance. Digital democracy was on the rise, it seemed. Fast forward a few years – in the wake of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump – and against a backdrop of increasing polarisation, Internet  shutdowns and heightened censorship, ‘digital dictatorship’ has become the new buzzword. The full range of effects of this development has yet to be fully understood or digested in Africa, where the concept of digital dictatorship is still in its relative infancy. However, how these issues are traversed is set to have huge implications for African democracy and governance, consequently meriting further analysis and reflection. (by Ronak Gopaldas)

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