AfDB Hosts Multi-Stakeholder Roundtable on Governance-Ensuring Harmonization, delivering Value
Tunis, 25 September 2008 – The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group on Thursday in Tunis organized a multi-stakeholder Roundtable on "Governance Assessment: Ensuring Harmonization, Delivering Value". The meeting brought together experts from the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), the OECD, UNDP, UNECA, World Bank, GTZ, the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, the South African National Treasury, DFID, Global Integrity and Afrobarometer.
The two-day meeting will enable experts identify the best approach to meet their differentiated and nuanced need for knowledge and promote their shared interest in the firm establishment of good governance in Africa. It will also seek ways and means to better harmonize various approaches, while at the same time embracing the diversity necessary to cover the complexity of the issue.
Opening the conference, Bank Group Director for Governance, Economic and financial Management Department, Gabriel Negatu, underscored the fact that the past decade had seen governance issues take center stage in development discourse. He said there was an emerging consensus that governance is a key and binding constraint to sustainable development.
"Our collective goal over the next two days should be to examine and offer a harmonized and rationalized approach to governance mapping or assessment in Africa that governments, CSOs and donor partners could build on or connect to. We also strongly believe that discussions about a rationalized approach should, among others, examine options for a division of labor among institutions, based on comparative advantages; consider options for outsourcing and/or delegating assessments to partner institutions; and the need for greater African ownership of the whole mapping process", Mr. Negatu emphasized.
There are at least half a dozen official definitions and assumptions related to governance. Mr. Negatu explained that the flurry of activities around governance assessment persist despite the absence of a consensus on a working definition of good governance. The plethora of definitions, understandings and assumptions about governance has resulted in our varied and differentiated approach to measuring governance in Africa.
The Bank Group, he said, had been preparing Country Strategy Papers (CSPs) for quite some time and had so far prepared 21 country profiles. Currently, the institution is revising its approach, both in terms of scope and methodology. "Key lessons from our brief experience with CSPs are that the multiplicity of assessments, uncoordinated and repetitive, significantly increases the transaction cost to Regional member Countries (RMCs). It also strains limited local capacity to generate and analyze data; without necessarily improving the body of knowledge", he explained, adding that the challenge today is "to examine together how we can assess governance more efficiently, effectively, credibly, meaningfully and consistently.
Mr. Negatu said the Bank Group was prepared to delegate to other partners, the general governance assessments in the CGPs while focusing more closely on economic and financial governance matters.
"We would need to understand the instrument we each play and how we sound as a group, so that we do create music, not simply noise. We also must find local conductors to carry the music forward", he concluded.