Rwandan minister speaks on African governance

2018-03-19 14:00


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Kigali – African ways of governance should be considered when the work of governments on the continent is evaluated, Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo has said.

Mushikiwabo was speaking last week at an event to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the African Peer Review Mechanism.

The APRM was the brainchild of the likes of president Thabo Mbeki and former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo as a way to find African solutions to African problems.

Praising the recent drive started by Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta to revitalise the APRM, which had been flagging until about two years ago, Mushikiwabo said: "Apart from the traditional indicators of governance, the APRM should also design particular methodologies to examine the role of African governance initiatives embedded in our own culture and way of thinking, and their role in our governance and knowledge, which should also be shared with other countries."

One of the intentions of the APRM is to enable African governments to share their experiences about good governance, as well as to help each other find solutions to challenges.

Mushikiwabo said it could also look at ways to innovate governance.

She stood in for Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who returned from India the day before and who was preoccupied with preparing for the special African Union summit on the continental free trade area this week.

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The APRM is also set to be used to measure progress on the continent in reaching the AU’s Agenda 2063 goals, as well as the sustainable development goals of the United Nations, according to a recent decision by the AU in this regard. “It should be a continental measurement of the goals we have fixed for ourselves, and the goals that we share with the rest of the world,” she said.

Senior advisor to the APRM secretariat CEO, Melaku Desta, said African governance principles could be incorporated into the APRM’s work. He said when the instrument was applied to help prevent conflicts, something which is currently in the pipeline, traditional justice systems could be useful. “We have to consider ways of settling disputes,” he said. “This is the low-hanging fruit that we should harvest. There is some evidence on the ground that says, ‘yes, there are traditional ways of addressing grievances’,” he said.

Courts themselves are often far away from communities, and other ways to find justice could be used, he added.

The APRM secretariat, the APR Panel of Eminent persons as well as a number of diplomats and members of civil society involved in the APRM’s work met for two days this week to discuss improving the methods used by the APRM to do its work.

Currently 37 out of the 54 AU member states are signed up to the voluntary mechanism, and there were discussions on how to get all the African countries to join.

Egypt has become the most recent country to open its doors to have governance in its country reviewed, with the vice-chairperson of the Panel, Ibrahim Gambari, saying it was a significant step. “Egypt is a very strategic country in the region. Being the host of the League of Arab States and submitting itself for review sends out a clear message of its commitment to good governance and improving the lives of Egyptians,” he said.
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