What the Commission said about: Governance

In the first in a series of posts on the Commission for Africa’s various themes, this post summarises the original report’s recommendations on governance.

The Commission for Africa argued that “effective states are the foundation of development” and that without effective governance, other reforms were unlikely to have their desired impact.

It described an effective state as both capable and accountable – able to design and deliver policy but also answerable to its people.

As stated in the report, governance is primarily the responsibility of African countries and their people. It therefore recommended that international support be given to the efforts of African regional organisations, particularly the African Union and the African Peer Review Mechanism, to promote good governance on the continent.

It also called upon developed countries to support African governments in strengthening their capacity to design and deliver effective policies, but it also recognised that this capacity relies upon governments’ ability to access the skilled people and solid information. It therefore urged donors to increase their support to African universities and to African governments’ statistical capacity.

A strong parliament and media are vital to accountability in any country, so the Commission recommended increased support to them.

A particular issue for Africa, however, is transparency in the use of the revenues arising from the exploitation of its abundant natural resources – such as oil. As a result, a number of the governance chapter’s recommendations focused on initiatives aimed at promoting greater transparency in the use of those revenues. It recommended that the international community give strong political and financial support to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and for the EITI to be extended beyond the mineral sectors to other key areas, such as forestry and fisheries.

Corruption diverts resources away from development. The Commission for Africa therefore called upon both Africa and the international community to tackle corruption and take steps to repatriate assets stolen from the state.

We will be reporting on what has happened on these and all the other recommendations when we publish our progress report in September.

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