Diplomats and governance experts stressed the positive influence of conducting governance research on development in Africa on Thursday during the annual methodology forum of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
APRM is a specialised agency of the African Union that focuses on good governance in Africa.
More than 150 people are currently attending the forum in the Red Sea city, including representatives of APRM, representatives of the AU Commission and governance experts from institutions that partner APRM in research projects.
The list of attendees also includes Egyptian government officials, parliamentarians, academics, university students and journalists.
In his opening speech, Ashraf Rashed, head of the APRM’s National Governance Council, said the research done on governance in Africa by APRM aims to help the countries in the continent “to achieve reform and development without being enforced to implement any plans by external actors.”
“Today’s forum is an important step to develop APRM, which is a purely African tool for observing governance,” noted Rashed.
Stressing the commitment of the Egyptian government to the objectives of APRM, Rashed praised the efforts and readiness of Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and the government to jointly work with African states, adding that the “events that Egypt is hosting today and tomorrow is the greatest proof for this matter.”
He concluded that Cairo is committed to APRM’s goals not only by virtue of its membership of the AU, but also “due to its keenness to have an effective governance experience and transfer it to other African states.”
The APRM forum comes in light of the unanimous election of Egypt as the chair of the AU in 2019 during the AU summit in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa in January 2018.
Egypt has never before been elected head of the AU.
The AU was created in 2002, following the disbanding of the Organisation of African Unity, counts all 55 African countries as members and holds an annual summit in Ethiopia.
Eddy Maloka, CEO of the APRM continental secretariat, stated that the methodology forum is an “annual project, and last year we had it in Kigali,” explaining the fact that it is based on a questionnaire.
During the 2018 APRM methodology forum in Kigali, one of the final recommendations was to “revise the APRM questionnaire and introduce targeted reviews” due to the need to “review its format, reduce items and refocus the instrument and improve accessibility and user-friendliness for all stakeholders.”
“We will look on how to harness the advances of technology to make our work efficiently and effectively,” said Maloka.
The South African scholar urged the need for APRM to “expand our tools” beyond the country review mission, which is the “flagship tool” of research for the agency as “we want other options that countries can have to be able to test themselves in other areas while preparing themselves for the flagship review.”
He encouraged member states to “conduct reviews on annual basis” in order to develop their governance plans.
Maloka said that, despite APRM being a “multilateral organisation”, the agency should be “autonomous.”
Although admitting that APRM needs the support of states on several issues, including budgeting, Maloka praised the opportunities that governments offer to the agency by allowing its representatives to come to their countries and do their work independently.
Khayar Oumar Defallah, chairperson of the APRM Committee of Focal Points, argued that APRM is a “consultative platform that help Africa in facing its governance challenges and those related to social and economic development, as well as achieve the African goals of sustainable development.”
“The previous forums in Kigali and Johannesburg were successful and met their objectives”, said Defallah.
“We need specific answers for our problems in Africa, especially that in this continent all of them are always urgent. In this room, we have governance experts who can help us in doing so,” asserted Defallah.
Ibrahim Gambari, chairperson of the APR Panel of Eminent Persons, announced that he met with El-Sisi for an hour in Cairo, saying that he is “proud of him” because of his commitment to the APRM process.
Gambari said the “review process is at the heart of the APRM mechanism, and “developing and extending it” is very important.
He called on for revising the country review methodology to increase both its effectiveness and impact.
Gambari believed that the support of the public and private sector in Africa will serve the work of APRM, while praising the “academic network” of universities that are cooperating with the agency, especially those involved in developing the questionnaire process.
“All these contributions will help the continent at a time when leaders of Africa are ready to support the APRM processes and African tools to improve good governance and implement goals of Tracking Agenda 2063 and UN Agenda 2030,” he said.
On 6 April, the Egyptian government and the APRM will jointly commemorate the 16th anniversary of the establishment of the organisation at the 1st Forum on Governance and Development in Africa, which will also be attended by government officials and representatives, and other participants.
In July 2002, the process towards founding APRM started with the Declaration on the Implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, adopted by the inaugural session of the assembly of the African Union in Durban, South Africa.
The declaration "establishes the APRM as a country-self assessment and peer review mechanism, conceived and led by Africans to undertake governance assessments.”
Those assessments involve areas of democracy and political governance, economic governance, corporate governance and sustainable socio-economic development.