AfDB and OECD Organize Conference on "Contracting out Core Government Functions and Services in Fragile and Post-Conflict Situations"

02/06/2009
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Tunis, June 2, 2009 – In collaboration with the OECD Partnership for Democratic Governance (PDG), the Fragile States Unit (OSFU) of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group is organizing an international conference on the theme: "Contracting out Core Government Functions and Services in Fragile and Post-Conflict Situations."

The conference, scheduled to take place from June 8-9, 2009, at Sheraton Hotel in Tunis, Tunisia, will focus on whether outsourcing core policy design functions and services could help state and capacity building in post-conflict and fragile states. The conference is expected to make recommendations for policy design for governments of developing countries and the donor community with a view to finding an equilibrium between service delivery pragmatic urgency and the need to carry out tasks on the one hand, and on the other hand, concerns on long term ownership, sustainable institution building and, in certain cases, sovereignty.   

More precisely, priority issues to be discussed during the conference will include:

  • The political dimension of sub-contracting and technical assistance
  • Maintaining state and capacity building as major objectives
  • Meeting the needs of citizens
  • Concerns about aid effectiveness
  • The choice of modalities and sources of assistance
  • Adopting sub-contracting models to the peculiarities of the countries
  • Making recommendations for the design of policies for interested parties.

Participants comprise a wide range of experts, including 18 PDG members and observers, fragile states that are AfDB member countries, OECD member countries as well as African, Pacific, Euro-Asian and American experts. Participants also include representatives of leading enterprises and business associations, civil society as well as bilateral and multilateral donors.

The last years have been marked by promising improvements in growth indicators in African countries; improvements that have, unfortunately, been affected by the adverse effects of the global financial crisis and the economic recession which is still affecting major global economies. Despite the first analysis suggesting that African economies could be spared by the crisis given their low integration into the global trading system, but due to globalization, the continent has been seriously affected by the crisis.

Many solutions designed not only to mitigate the impact of the crisis on African economies, but also to enhance state and capacity building and guarantee effective essential service delivery by the state have been proposed by experts and discussed during various conferences. However, it is clear that the best solutions can only produce results if only they are implemented through efficient and well-structured mechanisms, especially when in a fragile or post-conflict situation. The outsourcing of essential state functions in fragile and post-conflict situations, considered as the transfer of competencies or state authority to a non-state entity for a defined period of time, is not new. For many decades, bilateral and multilateral donors have used non-state actors to ensure the provision of services that are supposed to be delivered by the state, when it was established that the state was facing challenges or incapable of delivering such services due to financial human resources constraints. These functions and essential services include public finance management, water supply, customs, tax recovery, security, auditing, health and education.

The AfDB fragile state unit’s mission is to implement the Bank’s strategy for enhanced engagement in fragile states. To accomplish this mission, the unit creates, among other things, partnerships with other parties interested in the continent’s development. In collaboration with the World Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union, the unit will organize another international conference in October on the theme: “Peace and State Building in Africa.”

Thanks to its resource mobilization capacity, the unit has been able to obtain a large contribution – US$514, 913 – from the World Bank within the framework of the preparation and organization of the conference. This contribution is all the more important given that it makes it possible to bring together informed global peace and nation building experts to discuss and propose viable solutions to one of the challenges facing the continent. More information on the conference will be provided.