ARUSHA, TANZANIA: May 30, 2012. The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and the African Development bank today held a high level consultative dialogue on the African Governance Outlook (AGO). The AGO is a collaborative initiative between the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), aimed at providing an effective African-based diagnostic tool on financial governance, with a regional reach. This joint effort between ACBF and the AfDB, which provides a framework for analysing contextual factors that shape financial governance in a particular country, forms part of a deepening partnership between the two institutions.
ACBF has a continental mandate to develop capacity in Africa across a spectrum of areas, including financial management and accountability through good governance. As such, the AGO working principles are anchored in forging a common continental agenda, pooling resources, establishing synergies, and leveraging each partner’s strengths.
Speaking at a side event, organised as part of the AfDB’s Annual Meeting, ACBF Executive Secretary, Dr Frannie Léautier shared that the AGO flagship report is aimed at providing a robust knowledge base to assess and help improve the quality of financial governance in Africa. The AGO provides a broad overview of financial governance at the continent level and a deeper understanding of the underlying reasons for the state and trend of public financial management at the country level, as well as a framework for analysing the contextual factors that shape financial governance in a particular country.
Contributing to the discussions at the Side Event, Dr Léautier noted that ACBF’s involvement in the AGO bears strategic linkage with the work of the Foundation. She recalled that that as a Foundation, ACBF has over the years shied away from engaging in upstream political governance, but rather supported activities at the lower end of governance, such as accountability, transparency and inclusiveness issues. “We support capacity development activities in these downstream areas,” she said, “knowing very well that the real essence of governance entails active participation of the citizenry in decision making processes, as well as effective use of the state’s resources for the benefit of all. In order to be able to respond effectively to the strategic outlines of our new strategy, ACBF has adopted and rolled out a number of tools and instruments in our operations. Among these are the Foundation’s seminal cross-cutting capacity needs assessment study – the Africa Capacity Indicators Reports (ACIR) as well as Country Generic Profiles produced internally to gauge and identify entry points for capacity interventions. In addition to various studies and publications commissioned by the Foundation on the all-embracing topic of good governance, we have also been involved in knowledge products which foster and shed light on leadership issues. These include the Development Memoir and the Brown Bag series”.
She concluded: “Our involvement in the AGO resonates deeply with the Foundation’s continuing commitment to contributing to the discourse on governance in Africa and we recognise the need to work in close collaboration with institutions that are already at the forefront of governance assessments. This is why we are particularly excited about the Declaration on Good Financial Governance in Africa, which was launched in Arusha yesterday by AfDB President, Dr Donald Kaberuka and the Finance Ministers of South Africa and Uganda.
It is clear that African countries have achieved significant progress in improving governance practices, however considerable challenges remain to anchor good governance and tackle corruption. The AGO report aims to promote evidence-based policy dialogue on the trajectory of change by identifying constraints and recommending reform options.
Through this meeting, it is hoped that greater awareness will be established and a consensus developed on the strategy, focus and direction of the AGO initiative and implementation plan, taking into consideration the capacity building dimensions of the project and agreeing a strategic partnership to provide a collective voice for financial governance in Africa.
The AGO is being implemented in a two-step approach, involving a test run in 10 pilot countries with the aim of testing and fine-tuning the implementation framework, while the second step has involved an implementation phase, building on the experience of the pilot exercise. Countries covered include Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ethiopia, Senegal and Uganda. In Nigeria, a test run is being undertaken at State level.
In addition to a presentation on the general findings of the pilot studies from selected countries, the consultative meeting also discusses AGO’s strategic framework, its institutional architecture, collaborative arrangements and implementation roadmap, and capacity building dimensions. The dialogue was attended by a large number of regional and international stakeholders involved in governance work in Africa. These included development agencies involved in compiling and disseminating governance assessment tools and diagnostic instruments; institutions using governance data in research and policy dialogue; and those providing financial and technical assistance to build capacity in regional member countries.