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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF NEPAD TO AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT AND GOOD GOVERNANCE: CASE STUDY OF THE AFRICAN PEER REVIEW MECHANISM (APRM)
Over the years, the concept of good governance, which guided the study has become the concern for donor partners, the Global West and some NGOs, as an ideal way of addressing the problems facing developing countries. Good governance eventually became a precondition for aid in Africa in an attempt to propel African leaders to respect human rights, implement economic reforms, ensure alternation of power in a free and fair election, among others. Among other things, African leaders adopted the AU and its constitutive Act in 2002, which as part of its aim is to promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance, as well as sustainable development in Africa. Accordingly, the most significant and striking task that came with the creation of the AU and the adoption of its Constitutive Act is the mandate it has been given to promote democracy and good governance in Africa. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the AU’s accompanying development paradigm has become a prerequisite for good governance. The peer review mechanism, the African Peer Review (APR), was incorporated into the dual efforts of NEPAD and the AU to monitor African Heads of State in an effort to ensure sound governance of their colleagues. The APRM’s ultimate objective is to establish good governance in Africa, which is considered by NEPAD to be the sine qua non for development in Africa. Thus, this research aims to explore the APRM’s efficacy in promoting good governance practices and development in Africa. The research employed a qualitative method in apprising the APRM. This project made use of secondary data like textbooks, journal articles, and internet resources. The main finding of this research is that the peer review process through the APRM has ensured the promotion of good governance in Africa, paving the way for ‘open governance’ and inputs from citizens. The peer review mechanism offers a chance for participating nations to become conscious of the strengths and weaknesses of their policy making, governance institutions and procedures, and to share best practices of administrative, political, and financial management. It offers a forum for dialogue, peer learning, and regional and continental cooperation in which the challenges facing African countries, both individually and collectively, can be tackled. Nonetheless, the APRM has encountered some challenges which has impeded its efficiency and effectiveness. These limitations include; the APRM’s voluntary nature, issues with the APRM’s national and continental structures, absence of adequate financing, the lack of political will, and leadership crisis in Africa. It is essential for the APRM to address these barriers in order to achieve its complete potential.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
It has come to light that good governance and democracy in all societies, including third world countries, Africa in particular, are not merely desirable but vital requirements for economic growth. Africa has achieved great economic successes over the years and has African country has more economic resources than any other country in the world system.
Paradoxically, in many countries, the African continent is languishing in poverty, evidenced by severe hunger, disease and ignorance. Africa, sometimes referred to as the ‘forgotten continent’ have been plagued with corruption, unemployment, civil strife and terror because of dictators and citizens who are poor and desperate to earn a living (Awung, 2011). The growth prospects of the new politically independent African States were high in the late 1950s and early 1960’s. African nationalist leaders strived hard to kick out the colonizers. Massive demonstrations, protests, strikes, civil disobedience, petitions, negotiations, and boycotts were resorted to as tactics to gain independence. Now, when independence finally came, these leaders had to contend with a politically and economically underdeveloped continent.
By 1990, many Africans had become unhappy with the corrupt, inefficient, repressive and dictatorial structures of governance that prevailed in the post-colonial era (Appiah, 2015). At the heart of attempts by multilateral and bilateral donors to attenuate corruption in developing countries, the acceptance of the practice of democracy and good governance as an essential condition for financial aid, increasingly emerged chiefly among African countries in the early 1990s (Khorram-Manesh, 2013). With the adoption of democracy, political inclusiveness in Africa became more pronounced. In Africa, this period seemed to mark a new dawn of hope (Appiah, 2015). Thus, majority of African countries went from authoritarian rule to multi-party democracy (Adejumobi, 2000).
Currently, democracy stands as the most dominantly practiced political ideology in Africa and in the world at large. Samuel Huntington argues that, contemporary democracy definitions could be divided into three separate categories: source of authority to the government or government, served purposes, or government constituent procedures (Huntington 1991:6). Democracy in simple terms, is a system of governance where a leader is held accountable for his or her actions and inactions through periodic elections. Therefore, power is vested in the people who rule either directly or through freely elected representatives. Good governance on the other hand, according to Allen (2000) has been described by the late UN General Secretary Kofi Annan as:
“Good governance comprises the rule of law, effective state institutions, transparency and accountability in the management of public affairs, respect for human rights, and the participation of all citizens in the decisions that affect their lives”
Coined together, ‘democracy and good governance’ can basically be described as a political regime centered on a liberal-democratic polity model that guarantees human rights and equal opportunity, coupled with a reliable, incorruptible and responsible government. Todaro and Smith (2009) stress that democracy as well as economic growth will go hand in hand in the long run, while Oslon (1993) adds that steady democracy offers room for economic growth. Knutsen (2010) argues that in Africa the inclination of dictatorial regimes to choose poor policies is compounded by the generally weak institutional structures of the state. Hence, with empirical studies indicating that democracy, globally induces economic development, Africa must embrace democracy (Knutsen, 2010).
Over the years, a couple of new initiatives were adopted and implemented by Africa’s political leadership to address apparently perennial problems of poverty, underdevelopment, poor governance, corruption, instability, and political deterioration, with the overall goal of accelerating development in the continent (Mbadlanyana, 2014). The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) adopted in 2001 and ratified in 2002 by African Heads of State, is one of the most important initiatives in this regard. This initiative is a combination of the African Recovery Millennium Action Plan, the Omega Plan and the New Compact with Africa. In adopting NEPAD, African Heads of State and Government agreed, “on the basis of a common vision and shared conviction, that they have a pressing duty to eradicate poverty and to place their countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development, and at the same time to participate actively in the world economy and body politic” (NEPAD, 2015). NEPAD is a ‘large concept’ as well as a framework for best practice. Also, NEPAD is an avenue for significant capital flows, both in terms of assistance and trade, and an effort to establish a growth alliance based on good governance (Waal, 2002).
NEPAD features sector specific programmes such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP), Programme for Infrastructural Development in Africa (PIDA), and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) (Vickers, 2017). Among the sector specific programmes incorporated in NEPAD, arguably, the APRM is the most touted policy adopted by Africa’s Heads of States. As rightly put by Herbert and Gruzd (2008), the APRM is arguably the most forward-looking and audacious element in the NEPAD. Accordingly, APRM is a distinctive, mutually accepted tool directed at promoting the implementation of measures, norms and procedures leading to political stability, strong economic growth, sustainable development and enhanced sub-regional and fiscal consolidation through the exchange of knowledge and strengthening of effective and good practices, including identifying deficiencies and assessing of requirements for capacity building (NEPAD, 2015). Thus, to achieve the objectives and outcomes of NEPAD, among other reasons, Africa’s member states have decided to subject their nations to peer review, using a distinctive and creative APRM initiative (hope, 2005). The APRM was intended to show, on a country-by-country basis, the public structures, legislation and capabilities that need to be altered, reformed and developed.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The APRM, a ground-breaking program of NEPAD, has been recognised by the Global North and many in Africa as a remedy for the woes facing the continent. As at 2014, 34 countries had signed the APRM MOU, thereby acceding to be reviewed by their colleagues (NEPAD, 2015). These countries included: Ghana; Algeria; Angola; Benin; Burkina Faso; South Africa; Cameroon; Chad; Republic of Congo; Djibouti; Egypt; Ethiopia; Equatorial Guinea; Sierra Leone; Gabon; Gambia; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Mauritius; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Lesotho; Nigeria; Rwanda; Sao Tome and Principe; Senegal; Sudan; Tanzania; Togo; Tunisia; Uganda; and Zambia. Herbert (2004) postulates that none of NEPAD’s concepts, ranging from gigantic infrastructure initiatives to healthcare reforms or stronger trade deals, has as much capacity as the APRM to bring about the positive change Africa has longed for. The peer review method was structured to monitor all phases of government, legislature, the judicial system, as well as the private sector.
Historically, African states had regarded each other’s sovereignty as sacrosanct as enshrined in the charter of the Organization of African Union (OAU), now the African Union (AU), a stance that permitted oppressive governments to thrive at the cost of the well-being of their people (Appiah, 2015). The OAU’s solemn concern at birth in 1963 was to free Africa from the bondage of colonialism. Although its goals included promoting global collaboration, having due regard to the United Nations (UN) Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR its main goals were the rapid decolonization of Africa, uniting Africa and protecting the territorial boundaries of African states (Akokpari, 2004). Therefore, the OAU was not mainly an organization of good governance. The OAU could not intervene or meddle in the affairs of member states due to its charter provisions. However, the adoption of the AU’s Constitutive Act presented an invigorating point for the continent, as the Act’s Article 30 gives the AU the legitimate right to debar unconstitutional regimes from democracy and good governance (AU, 2000). Hence, the Constitutive Act entreat African countries to pursue good governance principles.
The ushering in of the APRM, notwithstanding some constraints, presented a bracing counterpoint to the ideals of the Constitutive Act. Again, just like any other policy adopted by the OAU/AU, NEPAD and its APRM were met with some level of skepticism as to whether the APRM and NEPAD would bring about some changes due to the fact that the very rulers who independently and on the whole, are accountable for wrecking their nations’ economy as well as promoting corruption, are the same individuals who are supposed to willingly avail their governance structures to be peer reviewed. Nonetheless, 18 years have elapsed since the APRM was instituted.
What this research seeks to do is, to assess the contribution of NEPAD to African development good governance and development with much emphasis on the APRM.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The study addressed the following key research questions:
What are the objectives of NEPAD and APRM?
What is the relevance of the APRM in the promotion and enhancement of good governance and development in Africa?
What are the challenges the APRM has faced in promoting good governance and development in Africa?