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African Peer Review Mechanism
The Inaugural Summit of the AU of July 2003, in Durban, South Africa, endorsed the NEPAD progress report and initial action plan and encouraged member states to adopt the NEPAD Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic, and Corporate Governance, and accede to the APRM. After years of difficulties and African pessimism, some leaders thought that it was time to act rather than wait for others to come and solve their problems. They realised that there was a need to create an atmosphere conducive to development and to create conditions that would encourage the private sector to invest in African economies.
The first step in the APRM process of self-assessment, agreed to by the Heads of States and Government, was to assist member countries to determine the strengths and weaknesses inherent in some states that would result in a plan of action for each country and support from peers and institutions to assist in overcoming the different challenges facing these states. In contrast with past assessments carried out on African countries, the APRM is voluntary. Countries are not obliged to accede.
The MoU details the process and outlines the obligations that need to be fulfilled. For the peer review a national commission is created, in which the media, parliament, including opposition Members of Parliament, NGOs, human rights groups, the youth, gender groups, and business participate. This commission carries out a self-assessment, evaluates the weaknesses and strengths of the country, and formulates a plan of action. The commission’s report is presented to the APRM Panel of Eminent Persons, appointed to oversee the process and ensure its credibility by acting independently. The panel reviews the report in consultation with experts appointed to verify the information in the report. A mission (comprising at least 10 persons specialising in the different areas of APRM) meets with the different stakeholders to scrutinise the report and to find out if there is consensus on its contents, and if there is the necessary willingness to participate in the APRM. The report of the experts is then presented to the relevant government, which decides on steps to be taken to implement the recommendations. From this stage, the report is presented to the Forum of Participating Countries of the APRM who scrutinises the report with the government concerned and determines the needs of the country, including technical support. If there is resistance from the government to take measures to rectify identified problems, the forum exerts peer pressure, by peaceful dialogue, to persuade the government to take up the issues raised and move forward. The spirit of the whole process is a peaceful and non-violent resolution to take up the challenge of NEPAD.
A review takes between six and nine months and depends on the availability of data and the resources of the particular country to conduct the process of data collection, to be reviewed and assessed by independent experts of the African Development Bank, Economic Commission for Africa, Association of Central Banks and civil society. All these efforts will be merged to get the most current and accurate data. The important aspect of the process is its participatory nature. The citizens are part of it and the country's report will be made public after it has been presented to the forum for citizens to check the process and the progress of implementation. Political maturity of the civil society will help make the process a success. Rwanda has been among the first African countries to pioneer the implementation of the APRM. Apart from revealing shortcomings such as lack of adequate capacity in the APRM/ NEPAD secretariat, inadequate fluency in the coordination structures, constraints of time and resources, the standards of objectivity as the ultimate test of the credibility of the whole APRM process were challenged by the Republic of Rwanda. It was suggested that it is in the interest of everyone that the process meets stringent standards of objectivity. It was suggested that it is possible for a country to carry out an objective self-assessment, and in the case of Rwanda every effort was made to make the process as objective as possible. It is also for this reason that an external review is a key component of the APRM and a counter weight or verification mechanism. Rwanda suggested that some additional measures should be put in place to make the exercise more objective. Given the recent history of Rwanda, it seemed as if some external reviewers did not have adequate knowledge of the country and based their views on preconceived ideas and inaccurate information about the country found in different media. There is a need to base reviews on clear objective criteria or score matrix. This would certainly make the exercise more predictable, empirical and scientific. It was also suggested that a minimum requirement for objectivity should be that the final report has to be subjected to a process of moderation before it is tabled before the Heads of State. In addition to the challenges outlined above, there were other problems e.g. language impediments, especially in the rural areas where the questionnaire had to be translated in order to obtain the views of the population. (Republic of Rwanda 2006).
In November 2006, Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim launched the Ibrahim Index for African Governance, a new ranking of sub-Saharan African nations developed in conjunction with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The rule of law and security will weigh most in the index, ahead of human development, economic development, democracy, transparency and empowerment of civil society. Professor Robert Rotberg, director of the programme on intrastate conflict and conflict resolution at the Kennedy School, under whose direction the index was developed, argues that every indicator is made possible by human and state security. The index will be used to measure and benchmark good governance in Africa on a country-by-country basis. Ibrahim insisted that the index would not duplicate the APRM. He argues that the APRM is subjective, as its outcomes are measured by focus groups, public opinion and sentiment.
Rotberg adds that the APRM is not a 'strong instrument' and that in some places the entire process has been taken over by governments. Rotberg said the index would be measurable and not based on what governments say. He disagreed with the concerns of some analysts that the programme is focused on individuals, pointing out that 'leaders make a difference and big leaders make a big difference'. Rotberg said that the Ibrahim index would have a 'diagnostic effect', prompting states to ask themselves how they can improve where there are shortcomings. He said the index would compare and rank countries. Addressing concerns that the Ibrahim Index could be seen as patronising, Rotberg argued that the index is globally applicable and not drawn up according to Western standards but standards that can be used in Africa. He said the index is meant to be neutral and context free and without political bias. (Zvomuya 2006)
Evaluation of the APRM against the conceptual framework shows that valuable KM practices are embedded in the APRM, which can assist with the performance of post-colonial states in carrying out their continental commitments and any organisation involved in trans-national business. The first aspect is that several role players are afforded the opportunity to gather information and to find synergy in insights, continuously learning from one another. Secondly, African society interacts in various ways as equal partners to add value to the gathered information with minimum pressure from the global environment. Furthermore, the countries involved are given ample opportunity to reject interaction if it is found to be exploitative, demanding or controlling while countries accept a measure of pressure if that pressure is found to be supportive of not only the national interests but in the interest of continental initiatives. The report of the review also serves as a good example of a knowledge product with holistic perspectives suitable for decisions and actions.
However, the researcher has been alerted to the potential of exclusion of normative knowledge claims, especially knowledge situated in the periphery of state structures because of language and capacity limitations. Especially the exclusion of the traditional claims of the IKS because of lack of capacity to access oral data is clearly a challenge. This specific factor distracts value from the APRM report and probably omits important knowledge that could have alerted everybody concerned of potential sources of conflict, especially in remote areas beyond effective state control. Whether alternative instruments such as the Ibrahim Index and several others used by research institutions will overcome these limitations, to enjoy the same legitimacy and acceptability as an APRM, which was created by Africans for Africa, is still subject to evaluation.
Whatever instrument is used to get an objective and holistic view of Africa and its challenges, the control of Africans over the gathering, processing, dissemination, and use of the knowledge is imperative. Moreover, it will have to include measuring of progress about the redressing of imbalances within African society, the quest for emancipation from domination of and convergence with the developed world and more weight on human security than state security, measuring not only the performance of political leaders but also the leadership of traditional and civil society.
This work is (c)opyright to Dr Dries Velthuizen African Wisdom site and is used with permission.
Submitted by DriesVelt on 28 June 2009 - 9:53am. categories [ ]