Chapter

IV REQUIREMENTS FOR CAPACITY BUILDING IN AFRICA

Editor(s):
Michel Dessart, and Roland Ubogu
Published Date:
October 2001
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Charles Konan Banny

Governor, BCEAO, Dakar, Sénégal

The topic we will be discussing is undoubtedly essential in steering economic progress in Africa. This is an important topic and it is not new. Awareness of the subject itself is not new. My only fear - which I have already expressed in other fora - is that it might end up becoming a slogan, and we might not be able to develop enough concrete actions around it to address the issue with any degree of efficiency.

I had expressed this point of view a few weeks ago to the President of the World Bank. I told him that we all applauded him when he took office and when he said that he would make capacity building a key element in his policy. Also, having had the honour of being among the first to receive him in Dakar, I seized the opportunity to warn him against the danger of transforming such an important theme into a slogan.

Given the quality of the personalities in this hall, I think that by the time we leave here we would have sized up the true dimension of this issue, and that concrete actions would develop from there. All the more so, as I realise that this audience is made up mainly of officials of training or research institutes, people I have met in various places. The Joint Africa Institute, which is the latest addition to the capacity building institutions in Africa, should enable us to make considerable progress by developing synergy with other existing structures.

Allow me to say a few words about the Central Bank of West African States. The presence of Mr. Dessart amongst us as the first Director of the Joint Africa Institute is testimony to history. Indeed, over the past twenty-five years, Mr. Dessart was one of those who trained all the generations of employees that have gone through the Central Bank. This means that training has been an important and constant component in the policy and vision of our issuing institution. We have set up training facilities. Whenever it was necessary, we took active part in seminars and other workshops on this same subject. Reading through the papers that were presented yesterday, I perceived a conviction that we share, which is that, in the area of development, since man is the primary resource, there can be no sustainable development if human capacities are not developed satisfactorily.

Man is the centre of everything and the basis for every human endeavour. Reinforcing man’s capacity of analysis is therefore decisive in achieving economic progress. That is why the Central Bank is still devoting considerable resources and has facilitated training sessions in that area. I hope that the coming of the Joint Africa Institute will enable us to enhance the synergy between itself and other existing structures. In other words, although it is new, the Joint Africa Institute is not on virgin ground, and we can only hope that as it develops its own activities, it would help develop substantial synergies with these other structures, because they share the same goal.

Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu

Minister of State, Office of the Prime Minister of Uganda

Why Reform?

The post-independence period of the 1970s and early 1980s saw most African governments move away from the outward-oriented policies pursued before independence and immediately after. Local industries were granted significant protection, the size of the public sector and its involvement in the economic activity expanded considerably. Excessive control of the economies by the governments was prevalent; nepotism and other forms of corruption increased and civil unrest and wars became a common feature in many African countries. Consequently, efficiency and financial discipline suffered, leading to a halt in economic growth. In cases like Uganda and Ghana, the growth of output turned negative, while real per capital income declined by more than 30% in the case of Ghana, and it was estimated at 40% below the level of 1970 in the case of Uganda. The overall balance of payments deficit of most countries widened, leading to a depletion of foreign exchange reserves and accumulation of external payments deficits (US$520 million in the case of Ghana by the end of 1982). These developments were exacerbated by a steep deterioration of the terms of trade: prices of most primary products such as coffee, cotton, cocoa, gold, tea, and cloves collapsed, while prices of imports, such as industrial machinery and oil products, more than doubled.

By the mid 1980s, the economies of most sub-Saharan African countries had stagnated or declined, as evidenced by the following grim situation:

  • deteriorating and/or collapsed infrastructure such as roads, health centers, schools, and administrative centres;

  • rampant unemployment and grinding poverty;

  • low levels of per capita incomes exacerbated by high population growth rates;

  • unsustainable domestic and external debt perpetuated by unmanageable budget deficits arising from questionable expenditures;

  • increasing reliance on domestic bank financing, which intensified inflationary pressures;

  • acute shortage of foreign exchange; and

  • rising inflation.

The challenge that faced most African countries was two-fold: the search for renewed economic growth, on the one hand, and the translation of the economic growth into increased employment opportunities to ensure that the majority of the people reap the benefits of growth, on the other. With these objectives in view and in response to the crisis situation described above, the Economic Recovery Programmes (ERP) were launched in the mid 1980s to arrest the economic decline and adjust the productive sectors in a manner that would increase growth. Since the launching of the ERPs, substantial structural reforms have taken place in most African countries.

The Focus of Reform

The first phase of the reform program focused on stabilisation. The second phase was that of rehabilitation. The key elements of the strategy for implementing ERPs in most African countries were:

  • realignment of relative prices to encourage productive and exports sectors through strengthening economic incentives;

  • shift away from direct control and intervention towards greater reliance on market forces;

  • restoration of monetary and fiscal discipline;

  • rehabilitation of social and economic infrastructure; and

  • undertaking of structural and institutional reforms to enhance efficiency in the economy and encourage the expansion of private savings and investment.

In countries like Uganda and Ghana, the above measures involved the following specific changes:

  • the Government adopted a policy of a flexible exchange rate, resulting in the devaluation of the national currency;

  • price controls were removed and markets were allowed to play a major role in determining prices;

  • public expenditure was reduced;

  • governments adopted a policy of rationalisation and privatisation of state owned enterprises; and

  • a policy of downsizing the civil service, and the army in the case of Uganda, was adopted.

The Results of the Reform Programmes

It was hoped that the above measures would stabilise the macroeconomic environment and promote incentives for domestic producers and exporters of non-traditional products to produce and export more. The above-mentioned objectives were pursued with the financial and technical assistance of the donor community.

The evidence available shows that progress has been mixed, and that in all African countries, key reforms are still incomplete. According to World Bank reports, there has been some improvement in the overall policy environment in the countries that embarked on adjustment programmes in the mid 1980s, but the improvements have been far from uniform across countries and sectors. According to these reports, the biggest improvements have been in the macro-economic sphere, and the countries that implemented good policies experienced a major turnaround in the overall financial and economic performance. Improvements have also been in agricultural policies and in deregulation and liberalising markets. However, in other areas like public enterprises and the financial sector, reform has been more difficult.

An in-depth analysis of seven countries (Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tanzania) carried out by the World Bank in 1994 revealed that all these countries, except Côte d’Ivoire, had positive per capita growth, with an average growth rate of 4.5% per annum. The index of food production per capita had risen in all countries except Tanzania, where it declined slightly. The volume of cash crop exports grew rapidly in Burundi, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tanzania (but not in Côte d’Ivoire), indicating a positive response of farmers to price incentives. The case studies also revealed that whenever adjustment programmes have been pursued vigorously, results have been clearly positive with respect to both growth and the alleviation of poverty.

A six-year research project at Cornell, which examined the impact of trade policy reforms, exchange rate devaluation, agriculture and food market reforms, and fiscal policy reforms in Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Tanzania and Zaire (DRC), concluded that the poor have benefited in those countries that had fully adopted an adjustment programme. The results, however, show that growth attained thus far was still not enough to substantially reduce poverty. This supports the generally held view that African countries will have to intensify the reforms by focusing more deeply on the areas that are still difficult, such as the weakness of the financial sector, public enterprise monopolies, and absence of competitive and private investment, before attaining greater growth that is necessary for raising the quality of life in Africa. Africa remains in crisis. However, there is enough evidence to support the view that without reform, the economic crisis in Africa and the well being of the people would have been even worse.

Way Forward

Quite clearly, the reforms taking place cannot be sustained unless Africans invest in human capital and effective institutions, and change their behaviours and processes. Investing in human capital calls for interventions to produce a pool of well trained African professionals. This, in turn, involves responding to the needs of the formal education system and encouraging the strengthening of skills of those already embarked on careers. Equally important, however, Africa needs developing institutions capable of making effective use of available skills, improving performance by providing an appropriate work environment and encouraging “learning by doing”.

I will dwell on these three main components of the capacity building agenda in an effort to bring out their critical importance in making workable economic reforms in Africa.

1. Investing in Human Capital

The erosion of institutions of higher education has resulted in the deterioration in the quality of professional training. The need to boost the supply of top-level professionals is evident. From the point of view of public sector management, this will require an increase in the number of well qualified economists, financial managers, accountants, and administrators of educational systems, including professionals in such areas as public health, civil engineering, and law.

In Africa, as in other regions, brain drain among trained professions is inevitable. Moreover, resources are not available to achieve a universal improvement in tertiary education. A significant increase in the supply of top-level professionals will require a selectivity typical of advanced educational institutions. In the African context, this implies a need for appropriate resource allocation among and within countries to avoid unnecessary duplication of high-level training institutions in the continent.

2. Building Institutions

Although enhancing the supply of well-trained professionals is an important, an even more important set of issues relates to the creation of an institutional environment in which human resources are utilised effectively. Current financial schemes in many African countries fail to provide realistic financial incentives. Staff are often frustrated by ambiguous designation and insufficient delegation of responsibilities, inadequate recognition of good performance, lack of sanctions against weak performance, and unclear development opportunities. Furthermore, work environment and incentive systems in the public sector are also influenced by the nature of the aid programmes, as these are a major funding source for public investment.

After more than three decades of technical assistance, it is evident that established modalities of technical support do little to enhance the effectiveness of national institutions, and in certain respects, can distort incentive-based systems and confuse responsibilities. While many countries have been successful in sharpening the focus of government responsibilities and downsizing the public sector, efforts to develop capacity in public sector institutions have met with less success.

Innovative approaches to public sector management are being tried in many African countries. For example, semi-autonomous executive agencies have been created as a potential way to avoid routine bureaucratic constraints. In some countries, the revenue function has been delegated to such authorities. With donor support, a number of experiments with decentralisation of government functions are underway. The recent history of African development, particularly with regard to donor initiatives, is replete with examples of innovation that may have inherent merit but have failed because of the weakness of the environment. Donors have found that the usefulness of creating islands of innovation and effective management is questionable when the broader environment suffers from ineffective management and institutional demoralisation.

This suggests that initiatives focused on the public sector must be complemented by capacity building efforts to address the difficult issue of systematic reform, that is, the renovation of core public administration capacities. Private sector and civil society institutions require similar strengthening.

3. Changing Behaviours and Processes

In embarking on a mission for capacity building, we must come to terms with the following question: How will the proposed strategy make a difference in Africa? Given that the investment in capacity building over a period of many years has apparently produced so little, why should this strategy be successful? There is no certain answer to this question, but we believe that this strategy may ultimately distinguish itself from earlier efforts by proceeding under the premise that prior failures may have resulted from fatally flawed behaviours, processes, and practices that accompanied their preparation and implementation. The new strategy instead emphasises the need to support fundamental change in behaviour, processes, and practices on both the donor and recipient sides of the capacity building equation. The two elements of the suggested plan call upon:

  • African countries, to deepen and broaden their processes of developing national capacity building strategies; and

  • donors, including the World Bank, to fundamentally change the way they “do business” in Africa, to become better partners for capacity building and retention strategies.

Capacity Building and Economic Reforms in Uganda

As you may be aware, when the current government in Uganda took over power in 1986, the country had gone through a history characterised by political upheavals, social unrest, and tremendous economic deterioration. The Government undertook to reverse the situation and more emphatically to put the economy back on to a development track by launching its Economic Recovery Programme in May 1987. At the time the Uganda government launched this recovery programme, per capita GDP was estimated at about 40% below the level of 1970, and the inflation rate on annual basis had risen to 240%. Despite the mounting inflation and acute shortage of foreign exchange, the official exchange rate and agricultural producer prices had been kept fixed; in addition, increasing resort to domestic bank financing intensified inflationary pressures. As a result of these policies, significant damage had been done to competitiveness of the economy, and particularly to that of the export sector. These developments were exacerbated by a steep deterioration in the terms of trade associated with the collapse of the International Coffee Agreement.

Despite this difficult starting point, notable successes have been achieved in reforming and stabilising the economy, and implementing structural reforms. For example, the inflation rate has been brought down and maintained at a single digit rate (the annual headline inflation rate reached a peak of 5.4% in April, 1999). Price control on all commodities has been removed and, consequently, prices are now determined by market forces. Foreign exchange has been liberalised. Foreign reserves have increased, and both agricultural and industrial sectors have enjoyed higher growth (8% and 11%, respectively, in the 1998 financial year). The total revenue, which had shrunk to only about 5% of GDP, with the overall deficit being financed almost entirely from the domestic banking system, has risen to about 12% of GDP. The overall deficit as a percentage of GDP has declined markedly from 17% in 1988 to about 6.6% in 1998. The private investment rate, on the other hand, has increased from an average of 9% of GDP to an annual average of 14% of a much larger GDP during the same period. Since 1994, the economy has continued to perform impressively well, with GDP growth and per capita growth averaging almost 7% and 4% per annum, respectively. These economic achievements, though impressive, have not transformed the living conditions of the majority of the people of Uganda, who still live in abject poverty.

Recognising that the Government’s economic reforms in Uganda had not addressed the increasing poverty among the poor, the Government launched the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) in November 1995. The PEAP has the following five strategies for poverty eradication:

  • maintaining and consolidating the existing macroeconomic policy in order to keep the economy on the growth path, and also provide the requisite macroeconomic incentives to enable the poor to participate in the growth process;

  • making economic growth sufficiently broad-based to encompass the poor by focusing public expenditure on increasing economic opportunities, particularly in agriculture;

  • providing basic social services to the masses;

  • creating a national capacity to facilitate and quicken response to economic problems and disasters; and

  • bounding a secure, democratic, just and tolerant political order that would promote transparency and accountability.

As can be clearly deduced from the five strategies, investing in human capital, building institutions, and changing behaviours and processes are major goals of the government. The provision of basic social services to the masses, such as the Universal Primary Education (UPE), improves human capital. The creation of national capacity to facilitate adequate and quick response to economic problems requires us to build effective institutions and to bound a secure, democratic, just and tolerant political order that promotes transparency and accountability, and helps to change attitudes, behaviour, and processes.

Juliette Bonkoungou

President of the Economic and Social Council, Burkina Faso

Permit me to start my presentation by acknowledging that it is difficult, even when speaking on such a pertinent topic as this, to take the floor after such an eminent group of personalities as the ones that spoke before me. Nevertheless, I would like to lend my voice to theirs in paying tribute to the community of development partners, and in particular to the African Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, for their initiative in organising these two days of reflection on the occasion of the inauguration of the Joint Africa Institute.

I would like to recall that our theme has been broken down into several sub-themes in order to rationalise our discussions. My presentation will centre mainly on the need for capacity building in Africa. We should, however, bear in mind the interdependence of the different sub-themes, which in fact raises the question of good governance in its widest sense, namely the art of governing with utmost efficiency and transparency, with the optimum involvement of the various stakeholders of development, and without national tension.

Everyone agrees today that good governance is one of the major developmental and democratisation challenges in our continent. Therefore, any government that leaves much to be desired will always constitute an impediment to development, in which case the socio-economic reforms initiated, particularly in capacity building, will be doomed to failure. How can governments be encouraged to efficiently manage the developmental process and create an enabling environment for individual creativity and the collective responsibility of the civil society? How do we create the needed capacity to effectively respond to the pressing demand for freedom and multi-party democracy that is currently being strongly expressed by the African society? How do we strengthen our institutions and work out effective and efficient ways of public management to meet the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment? How do we reconcile the need for human resources and new government expertise with the concern to ensure that the wage bill matches available resources? How do we effectively motivate public sector workers while totally freezing the prospects of wage increases, and at the same time avoid social tension? The complexity of most of these questions stems from the logical conflicts that always accompany profound changes. At the core of our discussion on capacity building is the issue of the existence and development of qualified and competent leaders imbued with a prospective vision of the development of our continent.

Consequently, I will treat this topic in two parts: institutional capacity building and policy formulation, and the means by which our development partners can support us in the process of capacity building.

On the issue of institutional capacity building for policy formulation, I would like to refer to the results of the work of another group of United Nations experts in a recent meeting organised to ponder the same subject. At that meeting, we agreed to lay emphasis on the dynamic interaction between politics and policies. Indeed, capacity building relies on policies. However, it will not be truly operational and efficient unless the conduct of politics itself is efficient. In other words, decisional and political reforms share some common areas and are mutually interdependent, especially as policy formulation amounts, in the final analysis, to the choice and allocation of political will and resources. In all political ideologies, only legitimate public authorities have the right to make and implement choices.

Furthermore, it is important to establish a clear distinction between the functions of government and the services that public authorities can delegate to others, particularly the private sector. It remains true, however, that the priority mandate of the state can never be delegated, and it is this mandate that conditions the context within which any given country makes decisive choices, such as the choices of equipment and infrastructure, education-related activities, poverty alleviation, task sharing between the public and the private sector, and the regulation of the latter, etc.

Africa’s numerous efforts to overcome underdevelopment require a considerable amount of capacity building. This effort could take the form of a recommendation that gives absolute priority to the training of highly qualified policy formulation specialists. Therefore, it is essential to include courses on the science of decision making in the curricula of our universities. These programmes could be based on the experiences acquired in the political science institutes, with adjustments to suit each country’s need for excellence in the formulation and implementation of development plans and programmes. It will certainly take some time before experts are fully trained in these programmes. However, an emergency programme can be put in place, in the form of an accelerated training of those who already have some knowledge in that field. Similar training programmes can also be envisaged at regional and international levels.

In fact, since capacity building concerns all the sectors, be it at the level of state agents of development or at the level of other agents, namely the civil society and the private sector, it is vital that the body mandated and charged with the formulation of decisions that will influence the lives and future of other players is effectively piloted by competent, conscientious and adequately motivated officers. Consequently, policy formulation should include a distinct aspect that will demand qualitative public management from the elite, and require a different and sufficiently attractive career. Thus, each country should have at least one research and study organisation made up of a group of first-class national analysts with adequate experience to carry out studies and formulation of choices on broad national issues.

Such organs, while working independently, would contribute to societal and governmental reflections on political issues. That is why developmentoriented institutional and human capacity building has been, since in the 1980s, a source of concern for African governments supported by their partners. In that regard, mention could be made of the UNDP Technical Assistance Programme, which is being implemented in many African countries, and of the initiative the World Bank took in 1995 to sponsor reflections on capacity building. Today, it has become necessary to delve into the heart of the matter and focus on the need to try to generate the internal dynamics that would favour capacity building and development.

Therefore, what are the new prospects for institutional cooperation? For cooperation to be strengthened in Africa, there should be first a change of mentality. In other words, there is a need for reviewing all cooperation measures aimed at building public management capacity in a given country and a need for redefining the intervention modalities of partners. Indeed, since the introduction of structural adjustment programmes into African economies, there has been an upsurge in the number of development organisations and, at the same time, an obvious drop in the capacity of African governments.

When partners fund projects, they do try to make some of them profitable and to establish efficient governance. However, the projects do not usually take into consideration external factors, whether positive or negative. The result is that the projects—even those that were intended for capacity building - end up hampering institutional development. Insofar as the duration, cost and location of projects are pre-determined, donor organisations define their commitments up to a certain point. This form of intervention is suitable for official aid packages whose budgets are managed on the basis of an annual programme. If a recipient fails to make disbursements at an acceptable rate, the budget might not be renewed. At the same time, the recipient is not allowed to overspend his budget. These are the conditionalities that have been the subject of debate in several conferences, and I think our partners are well advanced in their discussions on the review of these conditionalities.

On the other hand, institutional development—and, therefore, capacity building—can only be viewed from a long-term perspective. A short-term approach, that does not involve risk sharing, would stifle rather than enhance the intrinsic capacities of the public institutions concerned. There must be a way of granting the necessary official assistance so that the risks that go with donations and loans are not borne by the beneficiary alone. In order to achieve development, we must make sure that projects do not end up destabilising the recipient institutions or creating two-tiered administrations.

To counter the flaws that may exist in capacity building demand and supply, several authors and organisations have advocated the country approach to programmes. This method deals with both the formulation of the country’s development demands and the appropriation of the offer. It implies broad-based consultations that go beyond the purely traditional framework of memoranda of understanding or recruitment of consultants for a number of projects. The country approach should encourage the use and promotion of national expertise from the onset of the programme, which should be geared towards achieving a productive balance between local and foreign experts.

The major problem has less to do with the acquisition of technological know-how than with the transfer of the process leading to the knowhow itself and the active involvement of national actors in the process of change. Future actions should enable Africans to define the role and missions of legislative and advisory bodies, the judicial system, and the civil society in the implementation of the following: transparent monitoring of the management of the state and public affairs, freedom of information and freedom of speech, independence of the judicial system, and consolidation of the rule of law. Development partners should involve African governments in determining the type of aid to be given to African communities which have to participate in monitoring the running of public affairs, exercising checks and balances, and ensuring peace and stability.

The principles outlined above could serve as a basis for revised aid strategies. They could help determine the main thrusts of action based on a highly constructive exchange of ideas on policies, and satisfy immediate needs without losing sight of long-term considerations. This would create opportunities for governments, the private sector, and the civil society to interact and reach a consensus on policies and programmes. The implementation of programmes and projects should ensure national control, sustainability, strategic capacity building and the coordination of the various development support activities.

In that regard, the expectations of my country, Burkina Faso, were fulfilled in June 1992, when an administration support programme was put in place. This programme, in which several partners contributed a total of 42. 1 million dollars, made it possible to reform the system of granting public contracts and to computerise public expenditure procedures. We were able to embark on the computerisation of the customs and taxation services, the reinforcement and revitalisation of finance control, the gradual computerisation of the consumer price index, and a study on the nation’s poverty profile. Indeed, capacity building requires both training and introducing into our administrations modern management techniques and services that underpin the efficiency of the North countries.

In the public sector, we have been using modern management techniques to organise meetings on the role and mission of the State, and we came up with a number of decisions concerning the number of staff in the public service and the control of the wage bill. In the area of justice, the idea was to recruit more magistrates and enhance their training through seminars and specialisation courses, particularly in matters of business law. At parliamentary level, we had to find ways and means of reinforcing arliament’s action so that it can effectively control the activities of those that govern us.

We could spend a whole day debating the issue of capacity building, and that is precisely the purpose of this seminar. We are here, therefore, to make our modest contribution to the discussion on a subject that is important and vital for Africa, and which, I fully agree, should not be turned into a mere slogan. It is along those lines that we need to reflect on how to reorganise training structures so as to train adequately competent people who are motivated to serve their country.

Jose Sulemane

Ministry of Planning and Finance, Mozambique

After listening to the previous presentations, I will focus my intervention on five aspects, while assuming at the outset that economic reforms are underway in many countries.

The first aspect is the necessary change of mentalities, which has been referred to in earlier presentations. Training is not enough, and something has to be added to it. I know friends and colleagues that have attended different training programs at the IMF Institute and other institutes, but did nothing on return to their country. Apart from designing a vision for a country and slogans like “do what you say”, “live by examples”, etc, we should focus also on issues of self-improvement.

The Joint Africa Institute and other training institutions in Africa should not only train people in the area of macroeconomics, but also on topics relating to self-improvement. We should not only teach people, but also make them practice, set goals, and build confidence into them so that they are not afraid of failure in trying to attain the set goals. Self-improvement is necessary to create confidence in trainees. An institute like the JAI and other training institutions should provide basic rules that would improve our capacity to successfully formulate and implement policies.

The second aspect I would like to stress is poverty alleviation. Capacity building should be used to alleviate poverty. This is possible because there are series of cultural problems in countries of sub-Saharan Africa, which explain partly the poverty issues.

The third aspect to be emphasized is the importance of the informal sector. Operators in this sector do not pay taxes because their activities are unrecorded. But what they are doing is the core of African activities, despite any civil war or external shocks. A thorough understanding of the informal sector could help solve some of our problems, particularly if we use a market-related approach. It is essential that we do our best to solve whatever problems confront operators in this sector because most employment takes place there. Once we have recognized that the informal sector is the core of our productive activity, we can use fiscal and financial policies to set up funds that will make resources available outside competition with commercial banks. By so doing, we may be tackling some problems that are related to poverty alleviation and thereby increase the informal sector operators’ skills. When I was studying in the United States, I saw that most of my American classmates had received loans from the banking system to study, and we don’t have anything like that in a country like Mozambique.

A fourth element of the enhancement of capacity building is the use of the so-called medium-term fiscal framework to enhance capacity building. The big problem is how to sustain capacity building programs. Again, I would like to refer to my experience during my student days. The American universities where I have studied generate income from tuition up to almost 50% of the official exports of Mozambique. This clearly shows that most of our economies are really very small, as a university with 10, 000 students in the United States has almost the same resource base as an African country. We could probably learn from the experience of these non-profit organizations on how to improve capacity building in a country like Mozambique. Furthermore, in another university that I attended, its endowment is almost one-third of the official GDP of Mozambique and is equivalent to one-fifth of the external debt stock of the country. These institutions have consistently invested and maintained their endowment funds over the years. We should probably use the examples of these types of institutions to create ways to maintain sustainability in our capacity building programs.

The only problem I could see here is where the money should come from. Our experience in Mozambique indicates that we receive every year almost around a billion dollars of aid. It would be possible to use part of these resources to create an endowment fund for capacity building. All it requires is to include such a proposal in the country’s Policy Framework Paper (PFP) and discuss it with the donor countries, based on good economic performance and governance. For example, if one invests a million dollars in treasury bills/bonds in the United States, one can earn a return of 5% to 6%, which amounts to USD 60, 000 a year. With such an amount you can hire in Mozambique three graduates with a master’s degree for one year. Using this type of approach, we could probably tackle the problem of capacity building and its sustainability.

A final aspect that I find important, but not peculiar to Mozambique, is that leaders do not evaluate critically the role of expatriates in technical assistance programs. I’ve seen cases where there are persons working for ten years doing the same thing and never transferring any knowledge to the local people. The fault lies with ourselves, and particularly with our leaders, who continue renewing their contracts without really assessing with some detail what their achievement has been in the transfer of knowledge and technical know-how.

In summary, the problem of capacity building is something that we have to look at in an integrated way. Basically, we need to look at how we can change our mentalities, how we can deal with the majority of people—that is poverty alleviation—and how we can sustain whatever programs we put in place, even if we have to use some unorthodox methods to solve the problems associated with them.

Comments from the Floor

  • The case of Uganda in the last decade is a fair representation of economic contradictions existing in many African countries, where commendable macroeconomic performance is accompanied by an increasing level of poverty. This calls for an objective reformulation of the policy foundation of the economies of African countries towards empowering the disadvantaged and setting measures which will directly arrest the growing spread of poverty.

  • Capacity building efforts in Africa should concentrate on how to alleviate poverty and reduce inequality and unemployment. As the informal sector is the major centre of productive activities, it should be accorded greater recognition in policy formulation and management. Consequently, the informal sector should begin to feature more in national and multilateral plans for capacity improvement in Africa.

  • In planning capacity improvement for Africa, only training has been emphasised. Training, though necessary, is insufficient. Cultural issues have to be built into the programme. It is necessary to focus on a change of mentality, confidence creation, self-improvement, women in development, and related subjects.

  • Many aid programs in African countries collapse after the departure of the donors because of the deliberately created management vacuum. Local capacity building is therefore required in aid/grant management. It is necessary to encourage donor agencies to entrust the micro-management of their programmes and projects to nationals of beneficiary countries.

  • For Africa to grow and develop rapidly, economic integration is an urgent imperative, for which there are training needs for the JAI to address. The JAI network with African organisations should include sub-regional integration institutions, and its future programme should feature activities on inter- and intra-regional trade and investments, customs and production integration.

  • In its future programme, the JAI should concentrate on high-level or high-order activities, and down load most of its well established and known training activities to national and regional institutions which have the appropriate expertise. Thus, a system of joint workshops should be developed with African “partner institutions”.

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