28 February 2011

Looking Back on ACBF's 20 Years Outline some Major Lessons and Achievements for Capacity Development in Africa

press release

The current ACBF Portfolio comprises 111 active projects in 44 African countries. Projects are managed under two operations Departments, which are geographically spilt into East & Southern Africa and West & Central Africa. The types of interventions that are ventured into and the entry points which are used by the Foundation are largely dependent on the capacity needs of the country/region.

The Foundation's total funding commitment currently stands at USD 201,595,549.

The scope of interventions spans across 6 core competency areas, namely;

• Economic Policy Analysis & Development Management

• Public Administration Management

• Financial Management & Accountability

• Professionalization of the Voices of the Private Sector and Civil Society

• Strengthening of Policy Analysis Capacity of National Parliaments

• Strengthening & Monitoring of National Statistics

Economic Policy Analysis & Development Management Constituting 45 percent of the portfolio, EPAM projects have made positive impact in several countries through;

• Enhancing the capacity of governments and non-state actors in the country to engage in research and policy analysis targeted at benefiting the public, private and civil society sectors. This has contributed to the overall goal of improving public policy for growth, equity and poverty reduction through macroeconomic policy analysis and research, capacity building and networking.

• Enhancing the capacity of Government officers to formulate and implement policy and to absorb policy advice for development.

There are a number of examples of interventions that are good illustrations that the Foundation can make significant contributions in addressing the critical problems of shortage of skilled manpower in a post conflict environment. Consider the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo where support to CASPOF aims at strengthening economic and social governance through better interface between the public sector and the private sector. Other examples include the multi-sector support to capacity building in Rwanda under the MBSCBP project which tackled many sectors capacity needs at once, both in terms of skills building, policy and analysis support and organizational strengthening. The success of this program in the banking and finance sectors is particularly noteworthy. In Central African Republic support has been given for long-term development of national statistics to build the capacity for tracking poverty reduction programs.

Support to embedding a culture of evidence policy making in development management is also illustrated by ACBF support to policy units and think tanks.

Strengthening Policy Units and Think Tanks

There are 28 ACBF-supported policy units and think tanks that have been set up since the early 1990s across the continent and many now are in the fourth phase of ACBF financing. ACBF has supported two broad types of policy units and think tanks: a) those that could be described as semi-autonomous in that these instituti0ns were set up in partnership with and embedded in the public sector/government; and b) those that were autonomous of government even when their research outputs were of a public goods nature. Examples of semi-autonomous policy units and think tanks are: the Economic Policy Research Institute (EPRC), established in 1993, in Uganda; the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA); and the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), established in 1998 as a semi-autonomous public institute, in Kenya amongst others. Examples of the autonomous ones are: Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR) in Kenya; the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) in Tanzania, and the Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA), incorporated on the 4th of January 1993, in Ghana.

The major areas of success for the policy units have been:

1. Bringing discipline in economic policy management resulting into limited policy reversal on the continent – an historical scan of the operations of the policy units and think tanks show that they been very involved in shaping the course of economic management on the continent. Many of them took a lead in the design and implementation of national strategies – especially the Poverty Reduction Strategies. Examples of such policy units and think tanks include the EPRC in Uganda, KIPPRA in Kenya and CEPA in Ghana. Both EPRC and KIPPRA have been mandated to provide annual economic reports to parliaments in their respective home countries. BIDPA was crucial in the development of Botswana's vision 2020 and the strategy on economic diversification. Of note is the story of KIPPRA. The Government of Kenya has instituted KIPPRA through an Act of parliament, and has tasked the Institute with the responsibility for the preparation of an annual economic report to be tabled before the National Assembly by the Minister for Planning and National Development by March of every financial year. This continues to provide an opportunity for the Institute to make greater contribution to public policy in the country. In Burkina Faso, the Government established the Centre d'Analyse des Politiques Economiques et Sociales (CAPES) in 2002 as a specialized policy advisory unit in the President Office. Perhaps because of its institutional anchorage, an independent evaluation of CAPES has established that the center's work has become highly relevant to the Government as most policy findings and recommendations have found their way into the policy-making stream, especially in the area of poverty reduction and regional integration. CAPES has improved availability of information on economic development of Burkina Faso and a result of its achievements, CAPES has gained high visibility and credibility among senior government officials, donors and other stakeholders, including the OECD. In the area of Capacity Development, CAPES successfully championed the process of formulation of the National Capacity Development Strategy adopted by the Government of Burkina Faso in February 2010.

2. Equipping government with the relevant yet limited skills for effective economic policy analysis and management by training middle-level managers in the public sector – in this process many of the policy units and think tanks have been active in providing back up to government in national policy and evaluation processes. EPRC and CEPA for example were crucial in facilitating the African Peer Review Mechanism processes in Uganda and Ghana respectively; and

3. Enhancing policy planning as well as monitoring and evaluation by putting emphasis on evidence-based decision making – again many of the policy units are being used in the monitoring and evaluation of PRSPs and the MDGs amongst other development frameworks. Examples of such policy units active in this area are: CEPA, the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI), and the EPRC.

The recent positive growth posting of about 5% for last five years and the relatively limited effect of the recent global recession on Africa could be due to enhance economic policy management environment. There are also regional success stories in this area such as the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI) that has emerged as a premier training institution providing hands-on training in key macroeconomic and financial management functions as well as technical advisory services in debt management and central bank operations in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Indeed, policy units and think tanks have served as useful capacity building entry points. ACBF has been most successful in building capacity in Economic Policy Analysis and Management, particularly with its policy units where sustained capacity building was obtained at a lower cost. As a result, the Foundation succeeded to enhance individual skills and organizational capacity for macroeconomic policy analysis and development management in many countries. Therefore, policy units might be considered as strategic individual and organizational nodes of entry since they are instrumental for policies leading to good development outcomes. Other donors such as IDRC through the Think Tank Initiative have acknowledged this reality.

It was in the area of policy-units intervention that the ACBF started to operationalize its current approach to capacity building focusing on removing capacity constraints, filling gaps and supporting the development of new capacity not just in economic policy analysis and management but also in the other core competence areas. It was organisationally understood then by ACBF that government's ability to provide quality goods and services is closely linked to its ability to effectively develop good economic policies and operationalize them. Efforts need to be pursued and deepened in this area.

These cases tell the story that the Foundation-supported projects have been successful in stable socio-economic environments. There have also been successes in fragile and post-conflict states, such as the case of LIMPAC in Liberia and IPAR-Rwanda, both good stories of success in support to policy units, with increased visibility of the institutions that have benefited from ACBF support from their creation to maturity.

Financial Management & Accountability

FMA constitutes 14% of the Foundation's portfolio. Projects such as MEFMI, a regional project based in Harare, Zimbabwe, which fall under FMA have made great strides in enhancing the macroeconomic and financial management of public resources in several countries by providing hands-on training in key macroeconomic and financial management functions as well as technical advisory services in debt management and central bank operations in Eastern and Southern Africa. On the other hand projects such as CCDB (Djibouti) have played a significant role as a deterrent of mismanagement of public resources, by generating awareness in their countries of the importance of improved governance in general, and of management of public resources in particular. FMA projects, such as Pole Dette, have also contributed to financial management of public resources by assisting governments to Reform the legal and institutional framework for public debt management, thereby strengthening the coordination between management of public debt and budgetary and monetary policies; Strategically manage their of public debt and monitor and evaluate public debt management, along with improvement of debt governance.

Building Capacity in Public Financial Management and Better Regulation of the Finance Sector

MEFMI is a success story in terms of ownership and commitments by member states with tangibles results in improving capacity in macro and debt management, and financial sector management. It is also a success in terms of innovation in developing high-level expertise in financial sector supervision and debt management by drawing on a cadre of experts from central banks and senior treasury officials from member states. This has contributed to creating a community of practice in the East and Southern Africa region which is recognized by the International Community including the IMF.

In the area of public expenditure management and accountability, the projects in Djibouti are good example of projects that can generate high impact when key actors in the governance system show commitment to change. Parliament and the Supreme Audit and the Office of the President were very supportive on this accountability program.

Support to the Voice of Non-State Actors

The Foundation coordinates 21 interventions in the area of Professionalization of the Voices of the Private Sector and the Civil Society. This is in recognition that non-State actors, such as the private sector and civil society have an important role to play in the overall development agenda of any country. Once such stakeholders understand the policy process, they become meaningful participants in the policy process through effective lobbying and advocacy in the formulation and implementation of policies. Capacity building of such entities is therefore crucial. Programs such as EDRI, EPRC and CEPA have assisted in building the capacity of non-state actors to become meaningful participants in development.

In Ghana for instance, support to IDEG has generated results beyond expectation of the project. The quality of the leadership of the project has been critical in strengthening the voice of civil society in Ghana on issues of governance and empowerment of non-state actors and participation in such important development issues such as Aid Effectiveness Management. The legitimacy of IDEG and other voices from civil society have been influential in supporting a peaceful climate for leadership transition following the recent general elections in Ghana. IDEG and other similar organizations in other countries are making a major contribution to embedding good governance and accountability in their countries.

Projects such as IDEG have been instrumental in addressing the interface challenges in a systematic and integrative manner. PVP projects have played a role in the building of capacities of non-state actors in order to enable them play more effective roles in the public policy and national development arena through interface with state institutions and actors. In this way non-state actors in civil society and the private sector have been empowered to contribute effectively towards the attainment of the objectives of the concurrent processes of economic, political and social change in their respective countries.

Such actors have also brought to the fore some of the issues that might be neglected by state actors. The Foundations support to issues addressing women's low participation has been channeled through the non-state actors. For instance, IDEG introduced a 'gender equality' component through targeted programming, capacity development and gender sensitive research and in the design of its training course modules. This has resulted in the number of female participants in the GIF public deliberation training workshops increasing from below 20% to 38-40% of the total number of participants in 2007.

Strengthening of Policy Analysis Capacity of National Parliaments

About 9% of the Foundation's portfolio has been dedicated to the coordination of projects aimed at strengthening the policy analysis capacity of oversight institutions such as national parliaments. There are indications that such interventions have played a role in improving the performance of national parliaments. Projects such as RESPEC and PARP have mounted intensive training of national parliaments which has built and strengthened the institutional and human capacities of national parliaments.

Under ACBF's guidance, PARP has emerged as one of the most successful Parliamentary Initiatives in the history of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The success of PARP in the field of legislative development is evidenced by various international invitations extended to PARP to share its success story and to act as a resource for other parliamentary training programs. PARP training programs have empowered both Legislators and Parliamentary staff to discharge their responsibilities more effectively and efficiently, including the ability to analyze national policies and budgets.

Strengthening & Monitoring of National Statistics

The Foundation supports 5 projects under the SNS theme. The establishment of these projects has brought about a significant improvement in the quality of data collection and processing leading to the production of various statistical publications in the different countries. The statistics produced have also assisted in improving planning capacity at national level. One of such projects is the PRCS-RCA project in the Central African Republic which aims to address the lack of statistical capacity. Such lack of capacity had resulted in weak databases including national accounts, social indicators, prices, balance of payments, and government finance statistics. There is

Since the launching of the project, more than 560 junior and senior officers in public service including the Bureau of Statistics have benefited from short-term training mainly in the areas of survey methods, national accounts and statistics. Long-term training activities involve more than twenty candidates in Bachelor and Masters programs in Statistics and Demography.

The key outcome was the restoration of the leadership role of the Bureau of statistics in building the national statistic system. The Government was able to release and disseminate publications such as statistical yearbooks, prices statistics, and bulletins on the economic state. Statistical data and economic information have contributed to feed the policymaking process through the implementation and the monitoring of the PRSP. In conclusion, as the first ACBF targeted intervention in the CAR, the PRCS-RCA project is an example of the successful partnership between ACBF and the Government of the CAR.

Regional Integration

In the area of Regional Integration, ACBF has supported a number of programs specifically aimed at supporting the regional bodies to follow through key decisions taken at the regional and sub-regional level. This includes support to the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities, such as ECCAS, ECOWAS, COMESA and SADC. Some of the initiatives carried high knowledge content but they were catalytic in guiding discussions and strategies of supporting regional integration through Regional Economic Communities and how regional integration gains could be translated to national level gains. The Study on the Regional Economic Communities is such an example.

Successes in Skills Development and Training

The positive relationship between development and skills is no longer an issue of debate or controversy. As a result, the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) has been supporting several national and regional training projects and programs in Africa, in order to strengthen institutions of higher learning and enhance skills development. Since 1992, ACBF has, through its partnerships, committed over US$91,350,000 as financial support to 73 higher education institutions and another US$ 44,275,661 to non-degree training programs – making a figure ofwell over US$135,625,661. The projects and programs are largely focused on increasing the pool of skilled professionals in the fields of economics, public policy, public sector management, and financial management and accountability. However, there is support to agencies such as the Association of African Universities and CODESRIA that cut across competencies.

ACBF has also provided institutional support aimed at reviving infrastructures and strengthening human resources at the participating higher education institutions. The substantial numbers of beneficiaries trained remain in Africa, where they are making contributions at policy level, in research institutions, universities, private sector, civil society, development organizations and governments (ACBF, 2008).

The training programs have recorded significant achievements. Apart from beneficiaries of these training programs, working in key organizations both at government and international levels, ACBF intervention in Higher Education Institutions has contributed immensely in strengthening teaching and research capacities in universities as well as research institutes. Many of the graduates working as policy analysts, economists, and planners in government policy units are making important contributions, in areas of policy formulation and implementation. Some of the project/program successes here are: the Economic Policy Management (EPM) and the Joint Facility for Elective courses (JFE) programs (Hanson and Léautier, 2010).

A tracer survey of some of the programs shows that graduate of the training and skills development programs now occupy key positions, such as University and Research Institute Professors, heads of government institutions, senior policy advisors as well as technocrats working in reputable international organizations. Some of the ACBF funded Policy institutes also engage a number of these graduates as staff members thereby achieving one of the Foundation's objectives of establishing and strengthening institutions, so they can utilize African expertise and home grown skills.

At the institutional level, ACBF has provided several African organizations and training institutes with programs in staff exchange, curriculum review, fellowships and staff improvement courses. It has also provided infrastructure such as well-stocked libraries, furniture, teaching materials, computer supplies, Internet connectivity and renovation of classroom blocks. Such support has helped the Institutions improve their facilities, and revive the aging ones (ACBF, op. cit).

It also has to be mentioned that ACBF continues to take an innovative approach by selecting a model of regional centers of excellences in the delivery of training programs. Almost all the programs are regional in scope/reach with a variety of collaborative frameworks of participating training institutions such as the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) and Programme de Troisième Cycle Inter universitaire (PTCI) or nationally executed programs with a regional focus (the Economic Policy Management (EPM) /Public Sector Management Training (PSMT) programs). Indeed, many of the programs have shown resilience to national crisis in conditions of fragility like EPM based in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire and Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

ACBF has also contributed to skills development for the benefit of the banking sector and capital market regulation. The Master's Degree in Banking and Finance at the Centre Africain d'Études Supéreures en Gestion (CESAG) - Sénégal is a well established program with institutional and pedagogical innovations. The program is built on partnership between the two central banks of CFA monetary zone, Banque de France, INSEAD, New York University Stern School of Business and the Université Libre de Bruxelles. By end of 2006, the program has produced 167 graduates in banking and finance and about 400 graduates will be trained during the second phase of ACBF support. A tracer study was conducted for the first phase and it showed that the program was a major success as 98% of graduates found employment in key national and regional financial institutions. CESAG program was ranked no. 1 among leading programs in banking and finance in Africa by Jeune Afrique for the year 2008 and 2009.

ACBF has learnt invaluable lessons in the course of supporting training and skills development on the continent, notably: a) the crucial role of African ownership and leadership in the institutional development process; b) the centrality of capacity development, and therefore the need for greater effectiveness of academic institutions to enable them to nurture pools of qualified expertise; c) the critical role of partnerships in addressing institutional capacity challenges; and d) the long-term nature of capacity development interventions in African institutions of higher learning (Hanson and Léautier, op. cit).

ACBF plans to play a future role towards improving higher education in Africa by increasing its interventions, in revitalizing higher education institutions. This objective meets with the crucial role higher education is expected to play in the development of structures needed to enhance good governance, at state and institutional levels. It also meets with the criteria of strengthening African states as democratic entities and the development of appropriate local solutions to Africa problems. Securing the involvement of Africa in the global knowledge economy is also paramount in ACBF objectives (ACBF, op. cit). The Foundation is currently considering adopting an e-learning strategy/application of ICT-based methods to decentralize the JFE program under the African Economic Research Consortium's Collaborative Masters Program in Economics (AERC-CMAP) and the Programme de Troisième Cycle Inter-Universitaire (PTCI). The Foundation's strategy is guided by the need to cut down costs while expanding the access of training programs without compromising the quality of the programs (Hanson and Léautier, op. cit).

What are the plans for celebrating 20 years in the business of capacity development and how can ACBF partners including the media be part of the celebrations?

In preparation toward the 20th Anniversary which falls on February 9, 2011, ACBF has planned a number of events, central to which will be the high-level debates on capacity development in Africa; thematic and country-specific lecture series on capacity development; ACBF participation in a number of global and continental forums; as well as a systematic 'capturing' and dissemination of beneficiary, stakeholder and partner 'voices.' Additionally, the build-up should witness a number of media events aimed at building constituencies and raising awareness about ACBF's interventions and successes over the past two decades. The Foundation has developed a strategic time-line of planned activities/events, commencing from mid-January 2010 onwards where the 20th Anniversary messages will be reinforced.

What is the key output expected for the 20th anniversary?


The ACI will be the flagship publication of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) designed to bring to the fore the capacity development agenda in sub-Saharan Africa. Enhanced capacity of states and society to operationalise their mandates plays an important role in promoting rapid economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa and makes growth more inclusive by sharing the benefits of development with poorer groups and communities, particularly in rural areas, small and landlocked countries. Adequate capacity can also facilitate the access of poor women and men to basic services and help to increase their income generating capability. The rapid economic growth in several major developing countries, especially those in East Asia, has placed enormous pressure on African countries to effectively compete and reap any positive benefits of globalisation. However a lack of adequate capacity is hindering potential growth, weakening international competitiveness and adversely affecting poverty reduction efforts.

Why produce the African Capacity indicators?

• To examine the key issues and challenges facing countries and cross-border capacity building and cooperation in Africa

• To obtain better theoretical underpinnings to the various capacity building interventions being undertaken on the continen

• To serve as a definitive knowledge product targeting policymakers, public-sector officials, private sector people, civil societ

• To document 'experiential learning' to "uncover the critical factors in the political economy of change

What other events are planned for the 2oth anniversary year?

In preparation for the 20th Anniversary, the Secretariat has planned a number of events, central to which will be the high-level fora on capacity development in Africa; thematic and country-specific lecture series on capacity development; ACBF's participation in key global and continental for a, as well as a systematic 'capturing' and dissemination of beneficiary, stakeholder and partner 'voices.' Additionally, the build-up will involve a number of media events and other activities, aimed at building constituencies and raising awareness of ACBF's interventions and successes over the past 20 years.

At the core of the strategy for the 20th Anniversary celebrations will be the following:

• Publication of a brochure on the last 20 years of ACBF and its "new" strategy;

• Video messages capturing the 'voices' and/or endorsements of 'champions', alumni, project personnel, etc;

• The production of an ACBF information pack

• The re-launch of the ACBF internal newsletter

• A collection, collation and dissemination of ACBF success stories;

• Participation at a series of high level events

• A special 20th Anniversary page on the ACBF internet site, with a link to all project/program websites;

• The launch of a totally new ACBF website in 2010

• A series of learning events involving projects, alumni, African governments and other stakeholders;

• A multi-country launch of the ACBF flagship publication supported by dynamic media and dissemination activities; and

• A series of events in 2010 as a lead up to the actual 20th Anniversary celebrations in 2011.

More About the ACBF

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