Africa creating the future it wants through APRM

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Lusaka, 21 November 2013 (ECA) - The narrative on Africa's development did not change by coincidence, but through hard work, commitment and institutional re-engineering particularly on governance says Economic Commission for Africa, Southern Africa Regional Office Director, Said Adejumobi.

Speaking during the opening of an Expert Meeting on Promoting African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Codes and Standards on Corporate Governance in Southern Africa, Adejumobi cited the African Peer Review Mechanism as Africa's innovative attempt at promoting good governance on the continent.

“The APRM is a non-adversary,  self-assessment  and peer- support process of governance change. It  has existed for over ten years and has made very useful contributions to Africa's governance reforms.” he said.  

At the political level, Adejumobi said that Africa had embraced liberal democracy with all its imperfections; multi-party democracy, liberalization of the media, flourishing of civil society and increasing checks and balances amongst African democratic institutions.

He further argued that good governance had also extended to economic governance at national level with better economic governance and management through improved macro-economic policies, control of inflation, reduction in corruption, increasing tax revenue and increased export of primary products.

“It is now public knowledge that no less than six African countries are some of the fastest growing in the World, and that Africa is perhaps the only continent that was insulated from the global economic crisis with an average GDP growth rate 5% for about a decade and a half” he said.

Adejumobi  said governance reforms at the national level as having had a big push from regional standards and frameworks.  However he said that there was need for APRM to critically interrogate on economic and corporate governance in Africa.

While Africa has made remarkable progress on the economic front, several challenges abound which requires deeper reforms. For instance, the cost of doing business is still very high in Africa compared to other regions of the World.  Corruption both of public and private nature remains a hindrance to corporate development and sustained economic growth in Africa. Huge Infrastructure deficits especially of energy, roads and transportation increases costs and volume of production for private enterprises and government capacity to regulate the private sector remains low in many countries. 

The technical meeting which brought together regional experts on governance was a follow up to two earlier initiatives, including a workshop on Economic and Corporate Governance and Accountability in Southern Africa; and an Ad-hoc Expert Group Meeting on the Status of Governance in Southern Africa, held in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

The focus of the above three day meeting held from 20-22 November in South Africa sought to assess the status and application of the APRM codes and standards in the sub-region mainly, those of other complementary codes and standards in the OECD guidelines, the King Reports, and the Commonwealth Association for Corporate Governance guidelines.

The meeting also looked at a study report which examined issues and challenges, both structural and institutional that impedes the adoption and adaptation of the key APRM codes and standards in the eleven Southern African countries covered by the ECA-SA office.

ECA pledged to provide support to member States at every stage of the review process up to the integration and harmonisation of the reviewed recommendations into their National Programme of Action (NPoA) and other development frameworks and processes.