African Heads of State to Discuss Building Capacity in Post-Conflict Countries

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Tunis, 18 March 2010 – President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, together with other African Heads of States, finance and planning ministers, and other high-level partners, will gather in Tunis on 23-24 March to discuss ways to build capacity in post-conflict countries. The meeting is a joint collaboration between the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) and will also be attended by heads of multilateral institutions; diplomats and development partners present in Tunisia, and AfDB and ACBF representatives.

“Weak capacity in public and private sectors in Africa is acknowledged as a major impediment to the attainment of poverty reduction goals in Africa,” says AfDB President Donald Kaberuka, adding: “It is therefore evident that no matter the amount of financial resources mobilized for Africa’s development, such funds would yield limited or modest results in post-conflict countries if a particular emphasis is not put into rebuilding the state and restoring its capacity to deliver its core functions”. According to Mr Kaberuka, post-conflict countries “have made efforts at enhancing their capacities by establishing solid institutions and AfDB is poised to assist them through instruments such as budget support, the Fragile State Facility and the African Development Institute. Through the rebuilding of capacity, AfDB will contribute in building their institutions so that some of the countries can transform their natural resources from a curse into a blessing.”

According to ACBF Executive Secretary Frannie Léautier, “Building capacity in post conflict countries starts with ensuring that the State can provide an enabling environment and space for re-establishing critical functions and infrastructure, the re-generation of skills and the maintenance of peace for the achievement of sustainable development.  Experiences in engaging in fragile and post-conflict States highlight the importance of good contextual knowledge of the political economy of fragility, the need for analysis of the root causes and dynamics of conflict, and the pattern of collapse of institutions for political and economic governance.  ACBF's experience in supporting capacity development in fragile and post-conflict environments has shown that it is possible to effectively combine the strategy of strengthening the regulatory functions of the state and developing the organizations needed for service delivery at the same time."

Mrs Léautier adds that “ACBF interventions in post conflict countries have uncovered key challenges that must be tackled when developing capacity. These include severe gaps in leadership, particularly leaders who can inspire and create a shared vision of the future and stitch the preferences of diverse groups. Post-conflict countries also have a shortage of skilled individuals to implement projects and programmes. Critical actions are needed at an early stage to augment the capacity of the state to transform from emergency planning, through the transitory medium planning phase, to long term planning and priority setting. Focusing on the interface between the private sector, civil society and government is critical in this regard, as is the need to build the capacities needed to move from a humanitarian phase to a development phase. Partnerships for the development of capacities and policies that lead to lasting peace and sustainable development are of great importance.  This is why we need to seek smoother coordination amongst development partners involved in capacity development in post-conflict countries.”

The occasion celebrates the 20th anniversary of ACBF, which was established through the collaborative efforts of the AfDB, the World Bank and UNDP in 1991. The Heads of State high-level panel discussion will draw the attention of African leaders and development partners to the importance of innovative solutions to the challenges of capacity building in post-conflict countries. The panel discussion will foster peer learning and sharing of experiences. Drawing on their experiences, the discussants will share views on building effective and accountable institutions, including restoring the State as the legitimate provider of key functions.

For its part, AfDB approved a total of more than US$ 1 billion in 2009 to post-conflict country and fragile states facilities, and dedicates an average of US$ 20 million every year to capacity building.

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