Mo Ibrahim Forum 2018 – Roundtable on Public Services in Africa

I was delighted to participate to the Mo Ibrahim Forum 2018’s roundtable on Public Services in Africa. Here is the link.

The 2018 Ibrahim Forum focused this year on public services in 21st century Africa: their key relation to good governance and effective leadership, new challenges and current shortcomings, the ways and means to strengthen them and make them appealing to the next generation.

 

Africa needs to reform public sector to ensure effective service delivery

Africa needs to reform its public service for effective service delivery to citizens, officials and experts said at a panel session on Saturday.

“We must address African public sector challenges adequately through reforms to ensure economic growth and accelerate development,” said Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Agency

“The public sector is a key component of the economy, and it plays a major role in economic growth and development of any country. If Africa ignores its public sector, the continent won’t achieve its development agenda,” he said.

Dr Mayaki was speaking at a panel session of the Ibrahim Governance Weekend in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. The Ibrahim Governance Weekend is the flagship event of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, held every year in a different African country.

This three-day event convenes prominent African political and business leaders, representatives from civil society, multilateral and regional institutions as well as Africa’s major international partners to debate issues of critical importance to Africa.

The weekend begins with a Leadership Ceremony, where this year the event welcomed and celebrated the 2017 Laureate, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.

Dr Mayaki, who is also the former prime minister of Niger, emphasised that service delivery in Africa is still slow despite the fact that some governments have put in much effort to ensure that citizens access public goods and services.

“The whole of Africa’s public sector needs an overhaul in order to have that one that is delivering to its promise,” said Jennifer Musisi, executive director of the Kampala City Authority, Uganda.

“The mandate of the public sector is to improve the general welfare of society by delivering efficient and effective services to citizens, but this is lacking among African governments,” remarked Herman Mashaba, mayor of Johannesburg, South Africa.

“Poor management of finances, high levels of nepotism, corruption, incompetent public servants, lack of accountability, poor human resources practices, and a lack of leadership have taken toll in the Africa’s public sector,” he noted.

The three-day event held by Mo Ibrahim Foundation kicked off in Kigali, which convenes prominent African political and business leaders, representatives from civil society, multilateral and regional institutions as well as Africa’s major international partners to debate issues of critical importance to Africa, according to organisers.

Established in 2006, the non-grant making organisation focuses on defining, assessing and enhancing governance and leadership in Africa through its four main initiatives including Ibrahim Index of African Governance, Ibrahim Forum, Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership and Ibrahim Leadership Fellowships.

Source: Adapted from Xinhuanet.com

World Malaria Day

Malaria is still a real threat to global health. Specialists say mortality related to the disease has dropped by 60% since 2000, but there is still much to be done. In 2016, 445,000 people died. 91% of those deaths occurred in Africa. I would like to share with you this series of articles from Le Monde Afrique that highlights the difficult access to treatments and resistance of mosquitoes to insecticides.

Crédit photo : Un volontaire teste le « Faso Soap », un savon anti-paludisme, le 4 novembre 2016 à Ouagadougou au Burkina Faso. CRÉDITS : NABILA EL HADAD / AFP

Official visit of H.E Mr Mbagnick Ndiaye to the NEPAD Agency

The NEPAD Agency received a delegation from the Republic of Senegal, led by H.E Mr Mbagnick Ndiaye, Minister in charge of Regional Integration, NEPAD and Francophonie.

The Minister was accompanied by H.E Mr Baye Moctar Diop, Ambassador of Senegal in Ethiopia, Mrs Gnounka Diouf, Advisor to H.E Mr Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, Mr Mamadou Diallo, the representative of H.E Mrs Safiatou Ndiaye, Ambassador of Senegal in South Africa and Mr Babacar Ba, Director for NEPAD and Global partnerships, Ministry for Regional integration, NEPAD and Francophonie.

As Senegal is currently chairing the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC), the main purpose of the visit was for the Senegalese delegation to be briefed on the activities and achievements of the NEPAD Agency, and make key recommendations to help the Agency deliver its mandate towards the transformation of Africa.

H.E Mr Ndiaye expressed appreciation for the work conducted by the NEPAD Agency under the leadership of the CEO, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki. He assured the organisation of his country’s continued support towards the organisation’s programmes and their delivery.

Chair of the NEPAD Steering Committee, Mrs Gnounka Diouf also conveyed gratitude for the work and results that the NEPAD Agency is undertaking on the African continent, reiterating support for the organisation in its continued delivery.

In his welcoming remarks, the NEPAD Agency CEO, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, acknowledged the continued support of Senegal to the vision of the founding fathers of NEPAD. He also highlighted the importance of making NEPAD and regional integration part and parcel of the daily lives of African citizens. He stressed the necessity for the Agency to work efficiently towards the tangible improvement of livelihoods.

During the visit, the delegation was briefed on NEPAD Agency’s results-based approach, which is aligned to its interventions through the First Ten Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063, African Union’s long-term vision and strategic framework for socio-economic transformation of the continent. The Agency’s new strategic plan (which will be implemented from 2018 to 2023), will see implementation of its programmes through the corridor approach, in order to trigger regional integration and augment economic development.

The Minister and his delegation also received a specific brief on the following NEPAD Agency interventions and programmes: Regional Integration, Infrastructure and Trade; Industrialisation, Science, Technology and Innovation; Natural Resources Governance and Food Security; Skills, Youth and Employment and NEPAD partnerships. The Agency’s current programmes and projects cover up to 95% of the continent.

Source: NEPAD Agency

March 21 – Human Rights Day in South Africa

The commemoration of Human Rights Day in South Africa is a reminder to all of us on the African continent to ensure that no one gets left behind.

As we continue to make strides towards attaining the aspirations enshrined in Agenda 2063, our continent’s vision for ‘The Africa We Want,’ we first and foremost recognise the fact that all human beings are equal. This is echoed in South Africa’s Bill of Rights that protects everyone’s right to life, equality and human dignity.

On this day, South Africans are called upon to reflect on their rights and to protect their rights. South Africans are also asked to reflect on the rights of all people in their country from violation, irrespective of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, whether they are foreign nationals or not, as human rights apply to everyone, and this application should be without prejudice or discrimination.

Africa’s Agenda 2063 defines the vision for a continent, whose development is people-driven, especially relying on the potential offered by its youth and women. It goes without saying then, that even as the African Union calls on everybody to commit to achieving the elimination of harmful cultural and traditional practices, and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes, recognising the role played especially by women and youth, and upholding their rights is key to transforming our continent.

South Africa’s history – and  in particular the happenings of 1960 in Sharpeville when a group of 10 000 people peacefully marched and protested against the pass system – reminds us that human rights at times come at a high cost.  Peace and freedom should now be enjoyed by all in the country as well as in the rest of the continent, and not taken for granted.

Let us then continue to work together in building ‘The Africa We Want’ by first protecting and cherishing the human rights of each and every African citizen!

TIME IS NOW TO SCALE UP WOMEN’S RIGHTS AND NUTRITION ACTIVISM IN AFRICA

Op-ed by Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of IPU, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of NEPAD Agency and Nahas Angula, former Prime Minister of Namibia and Convener of the Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN)

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2018

Johannesburg, 08 March 2018 – On the occasion of International Women’s Day, three African leaders and activists, Martin Chungong, Cameroonian Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, former Prime Minister of Niger and CEO of NEPAD Agency, and Nahas Angula, former Prime Minister of Namibia and Convener of the Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN), come together to celebrate rural and urban crusaders who have transformed women’s lives and call for more activists to speak up for gender equality to fight malnutrition across Africa.

Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, we celebrate not only all women, but especially the activists – rural and urban, men and women – who are transforming women’s lives. Right now, women and men across Africa are part of a movement sweeping across the world for women’s rights, equality and justice.
You do not have to look far to see – or hear – women on the continent slowly breaking the silence, joining the #MeToo campaign on social media, raising their voices in unison alongside many men and against the status quo, organising for better representation in decision-making and demanding land rights and equal pay for work of equal value.
However, with the increase in hunger and food insecurity seen last year across parts of sub-Saharan Africa – for the first time in decades – there are few rights as important to our future survival as the right to adequate food and good nutrition. This will not happen unless each woman and man, girl and boy is equally valued and has the same access to food. This means that, when we move from thinking to acting on nutrition and food security, we must also think and act on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Throughout history, activism in Africa has yielded enormous results. Many women have fought for justice for women before us. Today this is not only a moral duty, it is the smart thing to do. Recently, countries such as Senegal and Tunisia have made strides in ensuring equal rights for both women and men. Rwanda has secured the highest percentage of women in parliament in the world, whilst women in Liberia and South Sudan have been at the forefront of peace and reconciliation efforts. In the words of Nelson Mandela – our ‘own’ Madiba – whose 100th birthday we will celebrate later this year, “freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression”. Sadly, no country has achieved this freedom yet.

Where there is food insecurity, rural women and girls are disproportionally affected and more likely to experience the multiple burdens of malnutrition. They are often tasked with making sure every family and community member reaps the benefits of the best possible food and nutrients available and are involved at each stage of the food value chain – from farm to fork.
Although there are no large differences in the number of malnourished girls versus boys under five years old, the difference in power between males and females really becomes visible as girls reach adolescence. Malnourished mothers, especially those who have not attended secondary school, are more likely to give birth to malnourished girls and boys, perpetuating a vicious intergenerational cycle – with devastating effects for the brain power of the continent.

It is widely accepted that good nutrition is a maker and marker of sustainable development. What we now know is that gender equality is a maker and marker of good nutrition. With this knowledge, the main message we have for policy-makers, leaders and activists all over Africa is to scale up investments in women for better nutrition and food security everywhere. Yet, without empowering lawmakers to unblock resources from national budgets and putting in place the necessary means and policies in support of women and girls, no initiative will succeed.

Yesterday, we gathered together to address a high-level event of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Johannesburg. This Alliance has been tasked with ensuring that food security and nutrition remain at the highest level of both political and legislative agendas. We brought together a regional platform for African Members of Parliament to make sure that women’s and girls’ rights, needs and agency are at the front and centre of all actions.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises to leave no one behind. Recently, the publication Nature estimated that no single African country is set to end childhood malnutrition by 2030, due to large disparities within countries themselves. This is in spite of the fact that most African countries, especially much of sub-Saharan Africa and eastern and southern regions, have shown improvements.

As members of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement – a voluntary push for better nutrition which today counts 60 countries, many of whom are African – we know that successful nutrition approaches are those that have sought to address and eliminate gender inequalities. Much of the reduction in hunger worldwide between 1970 and 1995 is a result of improvements in women’s status and access to decision-making, including in parliaments. We know that if we give a girl access to secondary schooling, more than 25 per cent fewer girls and boys will be stunted, and will be able to develop normally. The evidence is clear. Now is the time to act.

International Women’s Day is not just a celebration but a reminder to us to remain activists in our own right, not only as heads of agencies which promote equality, but also as individuals. Together, let us empower women in all settings, rural and urban, and make improved nutrition a reality.

We commit to scaling up women’s rights and nutrition activism in Africa, and beyond. And hope you will do the same. The #TimeisNow for the #TheAfricaWeWant.

Multilateralism: Opportunities and challenges for Africa

Rome, Italy, February 14, 2018 – Increasing numbers of people around the world are living in contexts, which for different reasons, may be considered to be fragile. Situations associated with relatively low institutional capacities, social and political instability, as well as (in some cases) conflict, are reducing resilience to shocks emanating from climate and weather-related conditions, environmental pressures and adverse economic conditions – with virtually all countries affected to a greater or lesser degree by these challenges.

It is also notable that the incidence of violent conflict is at an all-time high, which is multiplying the numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees. These realities are undermining the prospects for sustainable development and threatening the livelihoods of the rural people.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) 41st Governing Council, held on 13 and 14 February, was on the theme ‘From fragility to long-term resilience: investing in sustainable rural economies.’

Global collective commitment to development is even more essential today and a key success factor for sustainable local solutions. It would not be an exaggeration to state that as frustration grows globally on issues as such as poverty and inequality, unemployment, migration and climate change, the world is at the same time experiencing trends that are important to note – from globalisations (mixed with some radical spikes of protectionism) through to a global society that is increasingly become multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural. This is clear wakeup call on the issue of multilateralism.

At a high-level event on Multilateralism: Opportunities and challenges, the NEPAD Agency’s CEO, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki emphasised that multi-sectoriality is now an imperative.

With regards effective multilateral action for African agriculture, Dr Mayaki highlighted the fact that the framework of CAADP- the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme – currently implemented in 54 African countries, is a good case in point.

“CAADP was a product of multilateralism, aligned to Africa’s priorities, which, as a framework, put agriculture in 2003 back on the table as a key to growth,” Dr Mayaki stated. “Agriculture is a sector that employs more than 70 percent of the people in Africa.” Due to its very nature, agriculture by default cuts across different sectors.

Dr Mayaki also pointed out that currently multilateralism is challenged by bilateralism, for instance, in implementing decisions on the Paris Agreement on climate change.

However, for the African continent, “Most of our solutions are not at national level but at regional level. For us it is a form of multilateralism through regional integration – be it through energy, land restoration, trade or infrastructure – that will lead us to optimal solutions,” Dr Mayaki said.

Without its own data, Africa is doomed to remain in the dark

By stating in an interview to the Wall Street Journal that inaccurate methodologies, or even a political bias, have affected the performance of some states in the “Doing Business” ranking, the former – highly iconoclastic – chief economist of the World Bank Paul Romer triggered a real storm. The interview particularly shakes Chile, a country especially victim of this bias. Former Socialist President Michelle Bachelet said she was very “concerned” and called for a thorough investigation of the institution.

If Africa is not at the heart of this case, the Chilean case is a new opportunity to sound the alarm. In fact, African countries, like many emerging countries, have not yet succeeded in developing tools for collecting data and producing reliable statistics. African governments, researchers and citizens depend on data provided by international institutions such as the UN, the OECD, the IMF and the World Bank.

Far from wanting to discredit the essential work done by these different institutions, it is no less important that Africa fully embraces the challenge of data and statistics in order to develop its own strategic vision. No international institutions is immune from possible manipulations, or simply from structural bias against certain countries or certain types of reforms. But an African analysis of the development of the continent is essential to lay the sound foundations of the future Africa.

Several factors explain Africa’s backwardness in this area. Firstly, the limited resources available to national statistical institutions that rely too heavily on external funding for their operations. Also because these institutes are too often under political tutelage, leaving the suspicion of a possible lack of neutrality. The independence of these institutions is necessary, so that they themselves establish their research programs, regardless of political agendas and the electoral calendar.

Statistics mirror the reality of everyday life. But to make the right political and economic decisions, a distorted reality can be a big source of mistakes. Without reliable information, an efficient development policy is not possible. These statistics are essential for a good allocation of resources and a rigorous evaluation of public policies outcomes. For this reason, governments need to understand that investing in statistics is more than profitable because of the overall improvement in resource allocation.

Above all, beyond the economic imperative, African governments must provide good statistics available to their citizens. They improve transparency and accountability in public management. It is only in these conditions that citizens can judge the policies put in place by their government and thus vote in the most informed way.

More than ever, open data initiatives and data transparency must be a priority for our societies in order to structure the political debate. In the era of fake news, it is all the more imperative to fight rumors and lies by providing relevant and reliable data on the public space. This is how we will promote the development of participatory democracy and more peaceful societies.

Migratory challenge at the heart of Africa’s rural areas

Contrary to what many still believe, it is now Africa that dominates migration flows to Europe and not the Middle East. The 2016 agreement ratified between the European Union and Turkey contributed to reduce the number of migrants from the Middle East. Africa is the first land of global emigration.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Sub-Saharans represented 79% of the migrants that went to Italy between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2017. Meanwhile, Spain has also become an important migration route as the number of migrants that crossed through the “Western Mediterranean route” has already doubled compared to 2016.

If some of our fellow citizens leave the continent to flee wars and political violence, we can not underestimate the weight of economic migrations. The causes are multiple and well-known: mass unemployment, especially among young people, political instability and bad governance, demographic pressure in urban areas, abandonment of rural areas by government, social injustice and a form of fantasy about the promises of Europe.

Among all the possible solutions, numerous econometric studies have demonstrated the relevance of agricultural development in the fight against poverty. In a continent that accounts for 65% of the world’s available arable land, for a population that is still more than 50% rural, this is the best way to provide people with training and employment, a decent income, and hence stabilization.

In a joint study, FAO and CIRAD estimate that nearly 380 million young people, including 220 million in rural areas, will enter the African labor market by 2030. If we do not offer professional opportunities to young people in rural areas, they will have no choice but to migrate to large African cities in precarious conditions or even to Europe. Agriculture and rural development are the pillars on which our response to the migration challenge in Africa must be based.

While 80% of farms in Africa are less than two hectares, linkages between smallholder farmers and agribusiness firms need to be strengthened to create a harmonious ecosystem. By setting up integrated value chains to capture a greater share of added value and by ensuring regional self-sufficiency for certain commodities, these agropoles will provide jobs for people, especially women and young people.

Within the framework of the perspectives defined by the African Union, the NEPAD Agency ensures the establishment of agropoles and infrastructure corridors at the heart of Agenda 2063 for the agricultural transformation of the continent. A better connection to regional markets is key to creating a sufficiently large pool of consumers to justify the necessary investments.

The demographic danger takes a second, more unexpected form: the agricultural labor force is ageing in Sub-Saharan Africa. On average, farmers are sixty years old in many countries while youth is massively affected by unemployment. This is an opportunity to carry out a generational transmission so that experienced farmers can transfer expertise to young people. I often say that a farmer’s life is no different from that of a business owner. Agriculture is particularly transformed by the digital era, which young people will better exploit than the current generation.

It is useless to look towards the Mediterranean when we want to talk about the migratory issue. It’s already too late. It is by acting directly on the causes of migration that the inhuman situations found in Libya and elsewhere will cease. Let’s start by offering a professional future to our fellow citizens and by creating the conditions for inclusive and sustainable growth.