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Accountability and Partnership for Development Results in Africa:  The Benefit, Challenges, and Options

Moderated by Donald Houessou

Governments are challenged to respond to the urgency of their citizens’ needs and to be more accountable to them. All over the world, tight budgets and new scarcities are casting their shadows within a changing international environment. This, combined with an increasingly demanding public, is putting governments under growing pressure to show that they are providing good value for money. More and more, they are challenged to be transparent and to demonstrate results (World Bank 2009). The focus on results makes “management for development results” (MfDR) central to the entire aid effectiveness agenda. It means that stakeholders push partner country governments and donor agencies to demonstrate results – in other words, the effectiveness of aid. It means that donors and recipients oblige each other to demonstrate that they are meeting their commitments and promises. The accountability of partner country governments and donor agencies to their respective publics is complemented by mutual accountability between donors and recipients (World Bank 2009). The Paris Declaration in 2005 and the Accra Agenda in 2008 put emphasis on mutual accountability and encouraged partners countries and donors to enhance mutual accountability and transparency in the use of development resources.

Africa Community of Practices (AfCoP)

In Africa, various visions on development have been propounded and implemented during the last fifty years by Africans leaders (Buira, 2004). However, there was intensive debate over the way these leaders were accountable of the results achieved to their citizens. For instance, Africa is usually described as a continent where the problem of accountability remains stark. In recent years, African countries have been implementing Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals for which there is a consensus that accountability should be led by local and national mechanisms.

This online discussion aims to gather information from the MfDR community on how African countries are dealing with accountability and partnership especially, with the African emerging development realities.  Your views and comments on these discussions are critical in enhancing accountability mechanisms so that the development agenda respond to the needs of African people.  Please join us by responding to the following key questions:

  1. How is Accountability and Partnership understood in the context of African development?
  2. Comment whether the existing formal mechanisms of accountability are sufficient to ensure government and development partners are accountable to each other?
  3. What are alternative options that could better address the challenges facing accountability and partnership in African development?

 

7 thoughts on “Accountability and Partnership for Development Results in Africa:  The Benefit, Challenges, and Options

  1. A: How is Accountability and Partnership understood in the context of African development?
    In Africa, we have a challenge on the championship for the development agenda. Citizens are divided according to political affiliations to an extent that their relation to leaders is blinded. We need to institute accountability to development and well being to individual, family and fairly minimum institutions and then least to Government.
    We need to find a mechanism that enables the accountability of the Donor community to be limited to Individuals and local institutions.

    B: Comment whether the existing formal mechanisms of accountability are sufficient to ensure government and development partners are accountable to each other?
    I would think the existing formal mechanism of accountability is insufficient and has not proved to help the grassroots people. It is too cosmetic to reflect the aspiration of the majority leave alone impact on wellbeing. For instance, DANIDA has invested a lot in clean and safe water supply, but five to ten years later, rural community have no water at all in most villages. What happened and why?? Government machinery is in place/? Yes; Ruling party so proud for having ruled for 50+ years…. We need to think outside the box if we are aspiring for sustainable development in Africa beyond results.

    C: What are alternative options that could better address the challenges facing accountability and partnership in African development?

    Options: Let us promote liberating education to individuals in Africa and that changes start with self-realization, family values and local institutions.

    1. Many thanks Dear Samson for sharing this nice story on the nexus accountability-political constraints-development. We also appreciated your recommendation: better promotion of education in Africa.
      Could you also, please, share with us your perspectives in terms of:
      – Alternative options that could better improve accountability mechanisms currently in place in African countries to avoid situations such as the rural community story ?

    2. Many thanks Dear Samson for sharing this nice story on the nexus accountability-political constraints-development. We also appreciated your recommendation: better promotion of education in Africa.
      Could you also, please, share with us your perspectives in terms of:
      – Alternative options that could better improve accountability mechanisms currently in place in African countries to avoid situations such as the rural community story ?

  2. 1. How Accountability and Partnership is understood in the context of African development

    In Africa, we have a fairly comprehensive understanding of accountability and partnerships. Accountability is understood by both citizens and governments as a responsibility by those in positions of public trust towards the citizens, who are the tax payers. Leaders are expected to properly account for both locally generated revenue and foreign funds such as loans and grants from international development partners. Accountability, properly understood, would be the driving force behind ethical leadership and non-corrupt practices in both public and private spheres of national and continental development. To further the principle and practice of accountability, countries such as Kenya have dedicated a whole chapter in its constitution dealing with matters leadership and integrity, which have a lot to do with accountability. Kenya and Nigeria, among many other African countries, also have Ethics and Anti-Curruption Institutions mandated to engrain and entrench not just the concept but also the practice of accountability. Unfortunately, these efforts are yet to bear any tangible results since there are still wanton corruption within the public service across most African countries.

    The understanding partnerships in Africa is pretty clear. Various partnerships efforts have been witnessed in Africa, taking the cases of Public Private Partnerships across the continent, inter-governmental partnerships and partnerships between governments and international development agencies. Regional Economic Communities (RECs) such as the East Africa Community, ECOWAS, SADDC and IGAD are great examples of economic and political partnerships within the continent. So the understanding is clear, in my view. However, implementation if the ideals for which the various partnerships were instituted, is another story altogether.

    2. Comment whether the existing formal mechanisms of accountability are sufficient to ensure government and development partners are accountable to each other

    Definitely, the existing formal accountability mechanism in Africa are insufficient. This is partly because not all African countries have these mechanisms and partly because in cases where they exist, there is gross lack of political goodwill to assist these institutions deliver their mandate. Anti-corruption and accountability-promoting institutions can not work in isolation. In Kenya, for instance, the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) works in collaboration with the Kenya Police Service, The Directorate of Criminal Investigations, The Judiciary and the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions. These institutions play different roles, as their names suggest, at different stages of ensuring accountability of public resources. It is therefore imperative that their all cooperate with the EACC if accountability is to be realised. This much needed cooperation has been lacking. hence frustrating the efforts on accountability.

    3. What are alternative options that could better address the challenges facing accountability and partnership in African development?

    i) African Citizens should learn to elect more serious, competent and committed leaders who will show and demonstrate political goodwill to enhance accountability and partnerships
    ii) Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to hold their members countries accountable in cases of poor accountability of public funds. This they can do by offering independent oversight and technical backstopping to member governments/countries
    iii) Donors and international development partners to put in place more stringent regulations and oversight mechanisms that ensure water-tight accountability.
    iv) The African union (AU) should be serious about fostering accountability within its members states.

    1. Dear Maurice,
      Thanks for your valuable comments. We liked the example of Kenya about how institutions could improve accountability through collaborations. In that sense, what could be done to improve collaborations?
      Do you think that the parliament could improve the mechanism? if yes, how?
      From your perspective, what capacity imperatives (to whom?) are needed to improve the process?
      Your reply is valuable. Thanks

  3. Hi Donald,
    Thanks for launching this discussion. I think accountability is one of the key aspects of development that is needed to support Africa’s transformation. As we all know, African countries have made remarkable progress in planning development at continental, regional and national levels. But implementation remains an issue. One of the reasons why African countries are still struggling to translate plans into actions for results is that most of the time they are not held accountable by their citizens. This is a clear signal that existing systems and mechanisms are not functioning well. To improve the situation, one can think of the following three solutions.
    – Ensure populations understand their duty to hold decision makers and leaders accountable. For this to happen, it is crucial to improve the level of education and communication so that every citizen clearly understands what the development vision is and what results are expected. From that point they will be able to ask for more results and accountability.
    – Improve the level of leadership among civil servants so that they understand that as their name spells out correctly, they are “serving” the population and should therefore be held accountable. In many countries, civil servants and decision makers do not understand this very well and it is important to redress it.
    – Develop innovative mechanisms through which populations can express their voice beyond parliament systems. One solution is to use crowdsourcing technologies to get citizens express their appreciation of the work that is being done by their leaders. This would help leaders to know if the results they are producing are appreciated by the citizens or not.
    Of course this will not solve all the facets of the accountability challenges but it would be a good start for improving the delivery of results in Africa.

  4. Dear Frejus,
    Many thanks for sharing these nice insights. We also liked your solutions to improve accountability systems and mechanisms. In that sense, what can also be improved in current mechanisms to face emerging priorities on the continent?
    In addition, what capacity imperatives (to whom?) are needed to improve the process?

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