- Good governance in Africa is everyone’s job, not just the compliers of reports or even government officials, a governance expert has said.
“The burden is upon all of us to claim ownership of this report,” said the chief of the Public Administration Section of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Said Adejumobi. “So go ahead, take it! It’s yours!” he said.
Mr Adejumobi made his comments yesterday during a press launch of the second edition of the African Governance Report (AGR II). AGR II is an overview of the state of governance in 35 African countries. It is the most comprehensive report on the subject for Africa, which assess and monitors progress countries are making on issues, identifies capacity gaps and makes policy recommendations on improving governance on the continent.
AGR II’s overall message is that only marginal progress has been made in terms of governance since the last report was compiled almost four years ago. For example, human rights and the rule of law improved slightly overall - by two and three percent respectively. African economies over all are better managed; and the “big man” syndrome of the strong executive is receding in many parts of the continent.
However, major challenges still remain. Corruption “constitutes the single most important challenge in Africa,” Mr Adejumobi said. It was the general perception of most people surveyed for the report that all governance institutions were corrupt - the executive, judiciary, legislative, even civil society organizations weren’t immune from being tarred with the corruption brush, he continued.
Mr Adejumobi explained that the report used three research instruments to gather information in each country: an expert panel (around 100 drawn from different facets of society), household surveys (around 3,000 ordinary people surveyed) and desk research (basically examining the existing information). In answer to a question he explained that the material gathered by these methods was sometimes at odds, and when it is the case, AGR II points out these discrepancies.
For example, the governmental reports showed substantial improvements in the continents economy. However, this wasn’t reflected in the household surveys. On the ground, people were reporting that this improvement had not trickled down to them. Things were still tough, Mr Adejumobi said.
On a more positive note, AGR II underlines the remarkable progress made in the place of women in public life. Globally more women are represented in national parliaments in African countries than anywhere else in the world.
But perhaps one of the most important factors around AGR II is not within it, but the fact that it exists at all, Mr Adejumobi said. When the report was in the planning stage, partner organisations believed international consultants would be necessary to compile it. ECA declined that offer, saying that Africa had the capacity to look into governance in Africa itself. This report is the proof that it does, he said.
“We are telling our stories ourselves,” he said. “We have done these very scientific studies, ourselves. This is an African report, done by Africans,” he concluded.
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