I find the objective of “building a capable and effective state” as the most fundamental in AfCoP’s contribution to improving service delivery in Africa through mainstreaming Managing for Development Results (MfDR) practices in the public sector. This is both a mean and an end in the struggle to institutionalize results-oriented ethos in the public sector domain, posing the greatest challenge to the work of AfCoP. Indeed, the five pillars of MfDR—Leadership; Planning and Budgeting; Monitoring and Evaluation; Accountability and Partnerships; and Statistical Capacity—have been a decisive conceptualization of the elements constituting a capable and effective state, and the ultimate road to securing improved and better quality of life and well-being for the masses on the African continent. Owing to what constitute a failed state (see definition below) and the abysmal implication this has for the creation and perpetuation of indigence in societies as seen in many parts of Africa, it is critical that AfCoP become ever more prepared to support the cause of building the continent’s capacity around leadership, planning and budgeting, monitoring and evaluation, accountability and partnerships, and statistical capacity. We have already got the concept of MfDR right. The challenge is how do we implement it more robustly, which I believe forms the epicentre of this 5th AfCoP Annual Meeting that just happened in Tunis.
As this meeting is the first to benefit from the attendance of such top African development experts and administrators as the President of the African Development Bank and Ministers of Finance and Development Planning, critical questions should be posed to the meeting as to how we should pursue the five pillars of MfDR towards building the capable and effective states we envisage to ensure effective results and improved welfare for our people; to ground poverty reduction strategies; and to achieve goals such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The Questions and Objective of the Paper: What is a failed state, and by reflection a capable and effective state? What role can the five MfDR Pillars play in making African States fulfilling, capable and effective? How can we ensure that this is done and know that it has been done? Are there lessons we can draw from other regions? The main objective of this paper is to contribute to providing answers to these questions while hoping that this meeting would also respond to them moving AfCoP’s agenda forward.
What is a failed state and why do states fail? What is a capable and effective state?
In their Fixing Failed State Book Ashraf Ghani & Clare Lockhart see the state as at “the heart of a nation’s advancement in respect of the setting and enforcement of the requisite rules to guide the activities of a polity and an economy, and the sustainable provision of basic socio-economic requirements of its people”. States fail when governments become incapacitated to “provide even the most elementary means of survival, such as clean water, primary education and support of home grown food…let a alone the tools that would really give a path to advancement such as higher education….The people…rendered powerless [in failed states] are victims of what we call the sovereignty gap—the disjunction between the de jure assumption that all states are ‘sovereign’ regardless of their performance in practice and the de facto reality that many are malfunctioning or collapsed states, and where the reciprocal set of rights and obligations are not a reality”. Others have supported these pronouncements in perceiving poverty as an entrenched injustice from above; a precise production function of decay in state apparatus and elite capture of societal resources, as opposed to the Darwinian poverty belief that the poor are to blame for their condition.
States fail because of illegitimate governments, undemocratic and overcentralised administrations, patronage and corruption, all enemies of transparency and accountability systems. No matter the quantum of development aid pumped in these contexts, it only goes to reinforce the status quo. And no matter the stock of natural resource endowment, the appropriability and lootability of resources by diverse actors in the existing political ecology will not give way to effective service delivery. The resultant effect is therefore extreme poverty, violent conflict, perpetuation of war economies benefiting local elites and foreigners at the expense of the teeming masses, and a vicious circle of poverty—this is the resource-curse reality. The untold levels of illiteracy in Africa, Sub-Saharan in particular, dispossess the general citizenry and the electorate their rights and obligation to demand accountability from the trustees of their power, thereby reversing the principal-agent equation at the expense of the should-have-been principal—the people; accountability now made upwards instead of downwards. Thus, as I argue in one of my published papers on Sierra Leone’s MfDR landscape, the conviction remains that “the most critical resource gaps for which external funding is needed [for Africa] is support for building a culture for optimal delivery of public results”. This is equivalent to building a capable and effective state grounded on sound principles of democracy; transparency and accountability; committed, altruistic, austere and capable leadership; enhanced capacity to deliver tangible results; and citizens’ empowerment through education for all.
What can the MfDR Pillars do to make African States fulfilling, capable and effective?
It is praiseworthy that the first step to building capable and effective states through MfDR has been essentially achieved by parties working on the principles of the Paris Declaration—the OECD, regional CoPs and others. This step refers to the decisive identification of the key MfDR building blocks and result areas of Leadership, Planning and Budgeting, Monitoring and Evaluation, Accountability and Partnerships, and Statistical Capacity. Leadership is the most critical in these all as framed in Figure 1 as the nucleus to building capable states and achieving desired results. There are two critical aspects of leadership to note for effective results: its “conception” and “action for results”. So far, the MfDR Capacity Scan (CAP-Scan) Diagnostic Tool has only been focused on the latter, the leadership action for results which cannot be underwritten without a proper conception of the locomotive itself, that is “effective leadership”. This is where citizens’ empowerment through education and knowledge comes in handy, making MfDR broader in terms of the need to support effective country socio-economic policies than we may have thought. Planning and budgeting is very much linked to leadership as the former is nothing but an embodiment of the fiscal wishes of the latter so much that its outcome is only as good as the existing leadership that approves it. This again boils down to conceiving effective leadership for results through an empowered citizenry and electorate. The ripples of effective leadership move on and on to underwriting the effectiveness of monitoring and evaluation systems of a state, ensuring accountability and partnership in public service, and building strong country statistical capacity. The message is clear: it is a play cards game that having the leadership aright is about having the remaining pillars of MfDR right, thereby leading to the capable and effective state and development results we desire. But leadership as an MfDR nucleus can only be engendered through enlightened and literate populace (Figure 1). It suggests, therefore, that there may be need to review the Cap-Scan diagnostic framework, especially under leadership, to capture rating on citizens’ empowerment in determining state MfDR status. State capacity to plan and raising revenue (see tax revenue as a measure of state strength by Houweling and others) is also latent in the CAP-Scan and should come out in the MfDR rating.
Figure 1: MfDR Pillars as Inputs for Capable and Effective State, and Desired Results
How can we ensure that States become capable and effective through MfDR practices?
Good development tools are hardly short in supply in the field than their effective implementation. The CAP-Scan is one such appropriate development tool to assess and monitor MfDR practices. The existing international governance monitoring frameworks, the AfDB’s CPIA in particular, should be reviewed to explicitly reflect an MfDR indicator (s) in rating country institutional and policy performance, drawing from the CAP-Scan diagnostic tool. AfCoP should start thinking about an annual or regular MfDR reporting index. The Community could advocate to AfDB and other multilateral institutions to have MfDR benchmarks included in country performance assessment frameworks (PAFs) as condition for disbursing external assistance. It should forge partnerships with NEPAD’s African Peer Review Mechanism Secretariat on possible joint ventures in furthering MfDR efforts in Africa. Naming and shaming of poor MfDR performers could add a grain of salt to our efforts.
What can we learn from countries in other regions?
Emphasis on building capable and effective states in Africa heralds the secret behind the success of the East-Asian sub-region most of whom are far less endowed in mineral resources than Africa. Through having their political economies right, built on an enlightened, accountable, transparent and capable region and leadership, many East Asian countries have impressively excelled in development far more than the vast majority of countries in Africa. Let’s recall some observations from another paper I wrote earlier: “The fundamentals to the East African miracle lied in the leadership of those economies to first understand their societies at the initial development phase and the peculiarities they presented to the rest of the world. Consequently, they made development choices that reflected domestic realities pursued within a cooperative framework that clearly and strategically delineated the roles of politicians, bureaucrats, and the corporate sector in the process. They optimally stood between the two extreme political and economic orthodoxies of economic liberalism and command economic philosophies. They recognized that the path to success depended on a public-private partnership model guided by state intervention informed by rigidly applied principles of transparency, accountability, and rule of law.” To some of the EA successes, the capable and effective state needed for desired results does not necessarily depend on the type of economic and political system practiced in a country, as acknowledged even by some experts from the Britton Woods Institutions. “Suharto of Indonesia ruled with economic boom from 1966 till 1998 when the people thought that he was no longer performing. Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore ruled since independence until recently, yet Singapore has emerged one of the best economies in the world. Thailand thrived under military dictatorship for long until the early 1990s, yet that nation recorded impressive growth. The same political party has remained in power since 1966 in one of the few globally celebrated African countries for good governance and success—that is Botswana.” What is needed to bail our people out of poverty and despair is “Having determined and visionary leadership with a true sense of altruism and positive nationalism [as] the only panacea—leadership viewed from a “composite word” perspective that comprises an optimal number of political, administrative and economic architects that can steer a country’s cause to success. States such as Singapore, Ireland, and Federal States of Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia in the USA…had failed yet emerged global economic powers. Other emerging reflections include India, China, Qatar and UAE. In Africa, Botswana and Rwanda are among the rising glow. These examples [in the words of Ghani and Lockhart] constitute…an immense repertoire of techniques and technologies that could guide those who are seeking to initiate state reform, create stocks of institutional capacity, and ensure that their countries become an integral part of a globalizing world….these states decided that they would become real (than remaining nominal) sovereign states through imbibing a social justice character that formed the bedrock of their socio-economic and political strategies, hence their legitimacies.” Yes we can in Africa; we can achieve the results we desire if we are willing. The will comes first, and then surely we will secure the capacity and the capable and effective states we desire.
The most outstanding message I have always derived from the development reviews done on results is that Africa needs an enlightened and highly literate society to enforce the effective leadership it needs to achieve desired results. A capable and effective state presupposes an effective leadership that can only be delivered by an educated electorate. Thus, AfCoP may have to drill further down its results level it currently focuses on, which appears too broad, macro and institutional. While the Community’s main tool is networking and partnership, it is important in order to be able to measure its contribution that its partnership with institutions is also focused on critical specific result areas such as directing robust advocacy at the promotion of literacy in Africa. The rural areas should be a top priority.
See my review of the Book by Ashraf Ghani & Clare Lockhart (2008) titled “Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding A Fractured World”, published on AfCoP’s website: http://www.cop-mfdr-africa.org/profiles/blogs/book-review-fixing-fa...; p.1.
 See Ghani, A and Lockhart, C, 2008. Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding A Fractured World. Oxford University Press, pp.19-21.
 See among others, Sobhan, R, 2006. Poverty as injustice. Refocusing the policy agenda. Human Development in the Era of Globalization. Essays in Honor of Keith B. Griffin. Edward Elger. Cheltenham, UK.
 See among others Sachs, J, and Warner, A, 2001. The curse of natural resources". European Economic Review 45 (4–6): 827–838.
 See Bangura, S, 2011. The Performance Tracking Table in Sierra Leone’s Public Sector Management. Managing for Development Results. A Focus on Africa. AfCoP Casebook. World Bank, USA; AfDB Tunis.
 See Houweling TAJ et al, 2005. Determinants of Under-5 Mortality among the Poor and Rich: A Cross-National Analysis of 43 Developing Countries. International Journal of Epidemiology, Oxford University Press.
 Bangura, S, 2012. Prospects and Challenges for Poverty Reduction and Economic Development in Sierra Leone—What Can We Learn from The “East Asian Miracle”? Sierra Leone Conference on Development and Transformation, January 2012. State House, Freetown, Sierra Leone, p.12.
 Ibid, pp. 21-22.
 See my review of the book by Ashraf Ghani & Clare Lockhart (2008) titled “Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding A Fractured World”, published on AfCoP’s website: http://www.cop-mfdr-africa.org/profiles/blogs/book-review-fixing-fa...; pp.2-3.