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African least developed countries have made progress over last decade, says ECA’s Abdalla Hamdok

Stating that the least developed countries (LDCs) in Africa had embraced democratic and economic governance as pre-requisites for development over the last decade, the Director of Governance and Public Administration Division at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Abdalla Hamdok, said today in Istanbul that important progress had been made by the countries and that “the cup remains half full” for the continent.

Mr Hamdok joined Maxwell Mkwezalamba, African Union’s Commissioner for Economic Affairs as panelists at a side event on “Good governance at all levels” held at the margins of the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries, according to ECA’s Information and Communication Service (ICS) at the conference.

Hamdok said while efforts and outcomes had been uneven across the countries, African LDCs made meaningful progress in adopting democratic constitutions, ratifying international conventions, pursuing institutional reforms, drafting new legislation, increasing women’s representation in government, setting up legal frameworks against corruption, and embarking upon decentralization processes and public sector reforms.

For instance, in about 17 LDCs, women occupy more than 20 per cent of seats in the parliament, he said, stressing that Rwanda is the only country in the world where more than half of the representatives are women.

He said while a few years ago, governance was perceived as a donor-driven agenda, African countries have largely embraced good governance as an integral and central component of their development agenda, demonstrated in the adoption of the African Peer-Review Mechanism (APRM) as a major instrument to address governance deficit and challenges in Africa.

Hamdok said APRM had made considerable progress in terms of the number of countries acceding, the operationalization of the review process, and the level of active participation and engagement of stakeholders, both nationally and continentally.

Nineteen out of the 29 countries that have joined the APRM are LDCs, while some countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Lesotho, and Rwanda have completed all the stages of the mechanism, and are implementing national programmes of action aimed at addressing the weaknesses identified during their national self-assessment.

The economic governance performance of LDCs has also been commendable, said Hamdok, stating that the countries demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of the last global financial crisis.

“During the period 2002–2007, the real gross domestic product (GDP) of the LDCs as a group grew by more than 7 per cent per annum, the strongest and longest growth acceleration achieved by this group of countries since 1970, and a much better overall macroeconomic performance than in the 1990s,” he said.

But Hamdok said there were still enormous governance challenges facing the continent, including the of building democratic institutions at all levels, the need to address soft issues in democracy building, the need to embrace pluralistic environment, respect for differences and diversity and peaceful mediation of conflicts and acceptance of elections results.

The Director said ECA was engaged in APRM and the Africa Governance Report (AGR), which, he said, represents a major intervention on governance that is intended to gauge citizens’ perceptions of the state of governance, showcase best practices across countries, identify capacity gaps in governance institutions, and propose policy recommendations and strategic interventions aimed at improving governance on the continent.

He described AGR as a landmark report and probably the most comprehensive report on African governance that provides credible assessment on all areas of governance, including political, economic, administrative and institutional.

Issued by : ECA Information and Communication Service

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