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Africa financiers discuss challenges in public sector

By By Jackson Okoth | July 1st 2012


By Jackson Okoth

Africa must address challenge of poor communication links between individual countries, in language and physical infrastructure, for the continent take control of its economic growth path.

“At present, we have both English and French speaking African countries, a situation that is inhibiting open discussions on how the continent should address issues affecting it,” said Dalmas Otieno, Minister for Public Service.

He spoke Saturday while addressing the 21st annual meeting of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) at Windsor Golf and Country Club, Nairobi.

The meetings bring together the highest governing body of the Foundation, including Africa ministers of Finance and Economic Planning, Directors-General and Permanent Secretaries of core Economic Ministries or Agencies.

In a discussion whose theme was Public Sector Capacity Development in Africa, the forum also heard that while focus has been on lack of human resource capacity in public services, the continent’s political leadership has meanwhile been neglected.

This state of affairs has rendered civil servants to be afraid and not being able to monitor, track and evaluate public policy.

The ability to test new ideas is still lacking within the civil service in most African countries.

The three-day meeting, which begun yesterday and ends on July 2, is being held by the Board of Governors of ACBF in Nairobi and hosted by the Kenyan government.

Speaking during one of the panel discussions, ACBF Executive Secretary, Frannie Léautier said that while Africa’s public sector has been good in identifying priorities and fixing problems, it has fallen short in dealing with emerging issues, such as green energy and climate change.

“In some cases, the public sector is good at thinking about and designing public projects but poor in implementation,” said Léautier.

Apart from lack of human resource capacity, Africa also lacks investment capital.

“Exploitation of natural resources will require a huge capital and perhaps regional blocks should think about pooling resources required by individual countries,” said Otieno.

Kenya’s new constitution has created the office of Salaries and Remuneration Commission, whose job will among others look at salaries for public officers and reasons for exodus by officers from Government to the private sector.

“We are developing a remuneration hierarchy that will enable us compare with what is being offered in the private sector.

The new constitution, modelled on the presidential system will ensure that cabinet secretaries are not elected, minimising the incentive to engage in corruption by those elected and eager to recover their campaign funds”, said Otieno.

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