This study seeks to investigate the effectiveness of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) in fostering good governance practices in Africa. The APRM was established in 2003 subsequent to the launch of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) in 2001, as an instrument to monitor the adoption and implementation of policies and practices that would lead to political stability, high economic growth and accelerated regional cooperation and integration as set out in the NEPAD document. The ultimate goal of the APRM is to instil good governance in Africa, which NEPAD considers the sine qua non for Africa’s development. The principal finding of this study is that the mechanism of peer review through the APRM has the potential to foster good governance in Africa, and thus, to pave the way to poverty alleviation and development. The peer review process provides an opportunity for participating countries to become aware of the strengths and shortcomings in their policy-making, governance institutions and practices and to share best practices of administrative, political and economic governance. It offers a forum for dialogue, peer learning, and regional and continental cooperation in which the challenges facing African countries, both individually and collectively, can be tackled. The APRM has initiated a process of dialogue between government and other societal actors (mainly civil society and business) about governance and development issues and how these can best be addressed. This is an important step towards the consolidation of democracy and better governance in Africa. It is for these benefits and for the potential for better governance that the APRM needs all the political and financial support it can get. The APRM is, however fraught with many challenges, which are likely to impede the effectiveness of its contribution. These challenges include the voluntary nature of the APRM, its inability to enforce policy, the absence of adequate funding, poor and limited administrative resources for implementation. In addition, the weak civil society in most African states militates against meaningful participation in and contribution to the process of peer review. Addressing these obstacles is imperative for the APRM to deliver its full potential. To this end, the study proffers a number of recommendations, which include the provision of strong political and financial support from African states, capacity building of national institutions that oversee government performance, such as the parliament and civil society, and the consistent financial support of donors and the international community. The study reveals that the road to a successful and effective APRM, and thus to a peaceful and prosperous Africa may lie in the future, but the foundation for Africa’s political and economic renaissance must be laid now.
Thesis (PhD (Public Affairs))--University of Pretoria, 2008.