Concern Over Press Reports On Peer Review Summit
06 juillet 2005, APRM secretariat
Apparent lack of understanding of APRM process worries Secretariat
The third Summit of the African Peer Review Forum in Abuja, Nigeria, on 19 June at which the Country Review Reports of Ghana and Rwanda were presented was regarded as a landmark achievement and an important milestone for the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) process.
Yet a large number of press articles on the Summit have focused only on the shortcomings identified in the review reports and have failed to recognise any positive contributions of the APRM process to good governance in Africa.
The APRM Secretariat believes this may be due to a lack of proper understanding of the process and is concerned because it regards the role of the press as critical in supporting the APR process and disseminating accurate information to the general public.
The presentation of the two Country Review Reports in Abuja was an important milestone as well as an achievement given the novelty and uniqueness of the APRM process compounded with the well-known financial and capacity constraints faced by African countries.
Through the APRM, African countries wish to demonstrate, once for all, that they strive towards good governance.
The Committee of Participating Heads of State and Government in the APRM - the APR Forum -- reiterated at the Summit that the APRM process is central in addressing past mismanagement of resources, poor economic management, the economic decline of Africa and its diminishing role in world affairs.
The process is designed to be open, participatory and broad-based to embrace all stakeholders, government, civil society organisations [in particular women, youth, trade unions] and the private sector based on the questionnaire for self-assessment and the four thematic areas :
* democracy and political governance;
* economic governance and management;
* corporate governance; and
* socio-economic governance.
The APRM process requires the setting up of new national institutions to fully address the type of in-depth and broad-based consultations from all stakeholders which is a prerequisite of the process.
Importance of preparation process The Summit in Abuja underscored the importance and centrality of the process of preparation of the country self-assessment exercises and development of the Programme of Actions [POAs]. This, in itself, has already enhanced the value-added role of the APRM process in Ghana and Rwanda.
It is important to understand that the countries under review themselves identified the issues and constraints under the four thematic areas. This was documented in the respective Country Self-Assessment Reports [CSARs].
Furthermore, the respective Governments also proposed not only the ways and means to address these constraints but detailed time frames as well. These were encapsulated in the POAs.
The unique and novel fact that two African countries have and still are engaged in the widest possible national consultative processes with all stakeholders with a view to addressing together their shortcomings through the POAs is unprecedented in the history of the two countries.
Ghana and Rwanda are already on a better path which benefited from the highest possible political will, involvement and support in the APRM process.
The Country Review Reports are based on the CSARs, POAs and the outcomes of the Country Review Missions [CRMs].
The CRMs undertook the widest possible consultations with all stakeholders to clarify issues contained in the Issues Papers and build consensus on how to address them. The CRMs also validated the national processes and critically looked that the respective POAs as proposed by the Governments of Ghana and Rwanda.
The broad-based consultations also allowed the CRMs to clarify issues not addressed in the initial POAs and build consensus on addressing these issues.
The Way Forward
The reports will now be studied by all Heads of State participating in the APRM and will be discussed in depth at their next meeting. Ghana and Rwanda will present their plans for the implementation of their respective POAs and their concrete needs and expectations in the political, financial and human resources domains.
Other participating countries also hope to benefit and learn from the current best practices from Ghana and Rwanda as highlighted in the reports and make their recommendations for dealing with the identified shortcomings.
The APR Forum reiterated that the "peer review" will be undertaken through constant dialogue with the countries under review. The Forum will, therefore, play a more prominent role in this respect. The APR Panel and the APR Secretariat will also be following up on the implementation of the Programme of Action in Ghana and Rwanda.
In this connection, the Panel will provide a progress report on this exercise at the next Summit of the APR Forum.
The Reports will be jointly published by the APRM Commissions/Councils of the countries concerned and the APR Panel in accordance with laid down procedures and regulations.
The Role of the Press
It is felt that a large number of press articles have focused only on the shortcomings identified in the review reports presented at the APR Forum Summit and have failed to recognise any positive contributions of the APRM process to good governance in Africa.
The APR Secretariat would like to believe that this may be due the lack of proper understanding of the process.
Since most weaknesses highlighted in the reports are widely known, it might be argued that there was no value-added in the process. Such interpretation, in the view of the APRM Secretariat, is unfair and erroneous.
The fact that the Self-Assessment Reports identify, for example, instances of corruption and actions to address such issues is an important value-added. The Secretariat believes the efforts and resolve of the concerned governments should be at least be recognised.
The goodwill and political commitment to carry out the process in Ghana and Rwanda have not been fully appreciated yet by the press. The determination of African countries in taking ownership and leading this process of change has not been fully comprehended and exposed widely.
The Secretariat is of the opinion that the press has a critical role in supporting the APR process and disseminating accurate information to the general public. The press can and should educate the masses on the positive aspects of the process and highlight the very good and positive developments happening in the African continent.
While the reports also highlight the best practices, very few articles have referred to this aspect of the process. The Secretariat hopes the press will support the APRM by at least trying to showcase such good practices and complement its efforts to improve governance in Africa.
Contact Person: Dr. Bernard Kouassi Executive Director, APRM Secretariat Midrand, South Africa Tel: +27 11 313 3856