The Ado about Development Results (3) – Governance, Public Sector Management and the Results Based Approach – It is not new to hear about political and public service reforms. Recent reform moves in the United Nations system testify to a scenario of climax in the necessity laid by complex challenges which need alternative responses to which conventional, business-as-usual systems could not provide any. Africa has had an ample of reform attempts, both in joint consensus or country level dimension, which carries some elements of development management injunctions in outlook and process re-shaping, such as, decentralization, downsizing, modernization, accountability and emphasis on goals rather than process as inherent in traditional administrative procedures.
Although results of such attempts are visible in some cases while many still leave doubts on whether reforms are better tools to upgrading development procedures, one cannot but pinpoint on the tendency of a movement from administration to management in a development or international development environment. Investigations into the depth of public sector management has generated a work area and an applied discipline with component actions and tools such as Managing for Development Results, Results-Based Management, development effectiveness, as alternatives for efficient administration and good governance, both at the international level and the African political economy and development survival. The examination of the evolution of approaches and issues that made its infusion into international development a necessity as well as the various ways by which its meaningful adoption can provide answers to some of Africa’s development deadlock has remained an important research subject.
As of today, Africa, despite its promising economic growth, lacks the adequate institutional ingredients for promoting equitable economic, environmental and social development for its people.
I personally agree there has been enormous progress, between year 2000 and now. However, it still have a long way to go in covering up the lost years of development backwardness in the African continent.
Eventually, I did not write a thesis on sustainable development in Africa, but rather, I chose to research on the management of public institutions in relations to achieving international policies on development in Africa, which I titled: “Development Management and the Political Economy of Africa’s Renewal – towards Assessable local Impacts of Evolving International Development Norms and Policy-Drive”. In the thesis, I retraced the history of international development and what brought about the all-encompassing desires for development results. It was clear that in the landscape, conditions and situations are not static, whereas institutions, especially in developing countries had relied on precedents and were not moving with the alterations in real local development situations. Process overrides impacts and managers don’t pay attention to the results of their actions as it concerns the set of people we refer to as clients in development – the populace.
Some NGOs and development agencies learnt these lessons earlier enough, the OECD countries also. While the UN family as at that time are already in the process of in-depth reforms for decentralization and results orientation, Africa was just beginning to embrace the idea and so I concluded that there should be a synergy between the international actions and regional, national and local processes. I discovered Results-Based Management, or the concept of Managing for Development Results as already popular as part of the institutional reform strategies in the UN System. My work afterwards in international development further revealed the loads and loads of efforts the international community is putting to streamline global policy with national and local realities in the results perspectives. I also found out there is need for national leadership, political and administrative apparatus to consolidate on the international action while introducing customized reforms and case-by-case review of the governance structures.
We are in 2014, the deadline year for achieving the MDGs, and on-going consultations points to the fact that the Post-2015 has adequate provision for Africa to consolidate on its development progress. Pointers are already on the integration of the fundamental need to reinforce Africa’s institutions to achieve this goal, by increasing the strength to deliver results and not buried in process where there are motions and no movements.
To conclude, It is predictable that making much ado about achieving this results objective will help further the development effectiveness in Africa. As for me, posing as an agent of change, I believe in this vast little exploited alternative, and am convinced that innovations that integrate the results framework at country-level will contribute significantly to change by 2030, the deadline for the now brewing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Click to read Part 2