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High-performing public service required for Africa’s development

ECA Press Release No. 21/2011

A major challenge in the post-structural adjustment era in Africa is to rebuild the African public service, retool and raise its professionalism and make it a viable vehicle of national development, said Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) at the opening session of a 14-18 March capacity development workshop targeting human resource managers in the public service in Africa.

Mr. Janneh lauded the timely workshop for promoting efficient public service performance and delivery as it is a key priority of African countries, which “underpins all other objectives relating to socioeconomic, political, cultural, judicial, administrative ; and governance programmes.”
“We need to pay particular attention to the needs of human resource practitioners in order to upscale their knowledge and retool them to meet the challenges of the information age and to improve productivity and efficient delivery of services,” urged Janneh.

He pointed out that there is a lot to learn from the experience of the emerging economies of South East Asia, where a strong and efficient public service with a developmental orientation has contributed to sustained socioeconomic growth and development. He noted that Africa needs "a high performing public service that can envision development, design and implement comprehensive national plans and contribute to building national development coalitions.”

Julia Dolly Joiner, Commissioner for Political Affairs at the African Union Commission, highlighted the Charter on the Values and Principles of the Public Service and Administration in Africa, adopted by the African Union Summit in January 2011. Its principles and goals include efficient human resource management, motivation, efficient service delivery and client orientation.

“To appreciate the value and efficacy of the Charter, we need look no further than the recent events that have unfolded in parts of our Continent and in the wider Middle East, she said and added : “The realities and recent experiences are forcing us to recognize that institutions and public servants are not only important for democratic transition, but are and should be at the centre of activities directed at sustaining democracies and hence should not be merely perceived in an instrumental manner.”
For his part, Ethiopia’s Minister of State for Public Service, Juneydi Sado, said that African public sector has a special responsibility in development, but it must do so in a predictable, transparent and accountable manner. He also proposed an annual Ministerial platform for debate human resources and wider public service issues.

Among other objectives, the workshop will examine strategies to get the Charter ratified, domesticated and implemented by African countries. ECA intends to work closely with the AUC to achieve this objective by building on the partnership to institutionalize the African Governance architecture and development agenda.

The co-organizers of the workshop are : UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) ; the Governance and Public Administration Division (GPAD) of ECA ; the Government of Ethiopia ; and the Africa Public Sector Human Resource Managers’ Network.

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