Nigeria joins African pact on economic implementation
Amidst growing concerns on outcomes of the forthcoming elections, Nigeria has signed a major pact to support the focused delivery of its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) at the 3rd International Conference on the Emergence of Africa (ICEA) in Dakar, Senegal on Saturday January 19. Convened by a network of African countries together with the United Nations Development Program collaborating with the African Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Government of Senegal, the ICEA also marked the formal launching of the African Network of Presidential Delivery Units, a high-powered intra-African body to focus on sustained and continued delivery and implementation of economic transformation programs. Leaning on the emergence of an increasing number of African economies into the fastest growing economies’ league, the African Network of Presidential Delivery Units is mandated to rapidly implement the sharing of successful practices on accelerating high-impact programs towards industrialisation, socio-economic transformation, and poverty alleviation. The ICEA which was attended by Presidents of several countries including the President of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohammed, His Excellency Macky Sall of Senegal, His Excellency Kenyatta of Kenya and, His Excellency, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, the President of Mali was anchored by a former Malaysian cabinet minister in charge of performance and delivery, Dr. Idris Jala, who is internationally recognized as an economic transformation and performance expert. The 3rd Conference Internationale sur l’Emergence de l’Afrique, known in French as the CIEA (III) held at the Abdou Douof International Conference Centre in Diamniasio, Dakar, Senegal.
The CIEA is an intra-African platform of development exchange established with the primary aim of supporting the structural transformation of African economies and exchanging best practices. Over 12 countries including Nigeria, Madagascar, Kenya, Togo, Senegal and Benin, Ghana have joined the African Delivery Units Network that would leverage on global leading practices with support by leading development partners including the World Bank, United Nations and the African Development Bank. The Nigerian Economic Delivery Unit in The Presidency was formally set up in 2017 to focus on implementation of the government’s economic recovery and growth plan, performance monitoring to the President, and resolving critical issues. The Coordinator of the Nigeria Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Implementation Unit, who is also a Senior Special Assistant to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr. Folarin Alayande, represented the Nigerian government during the Forum. Most Delivery Units in Africa, in custom with earlier practices in European and Asian like the United Kingdom and Malaysia, are headed by top-level government functionaries with reporting access to the President, Vice-President or Prime Minister. In Kanya the COS is the Head of Delivery Unit, Straightforward.
The Delivery Unit in modern governments is usually charged with the design, and monitoring of key transformational and development initiatives, with the power to intervene and escalate on key delivery risks to the President. As a founding member of the African Delivery Units, Nigeria is expected to benefit from a non-partisan network of international delivery expertise within and outside the African network, that is expected to translate to improved outcomes of program implementation of key developmental initiatives across political regimes. Oftentimes, the Delivery Unit approach is used to move countries that are “stuck” in their development journey, to move them rapidly to implement transformational projects using a rapid implementation approach.
While a number of African countries are using the approach popularised by Malaysia, a country that reduced its oil revenue dependency from 40 to 14 percent in a decade, with parallel initiatives to achieve rapid improvements in standard of living, literacy and ease of doing business; a few countries use variants closer to the erstwhile United Kingdom model or a hybrid. In most instances, the key thrust of the Delivery Unit is to focus on the most impactful, prioritized initiatives, and utilise co-ordinated performance management techniques to improve on developmental, citizen-focused outcomes through relentless monitoring strategic high-priority initiatives. Working with strong influence in The Presidency and cabinet ministers to deliver high-impact results usually with the authority of His Excellency the President. Like most African countries, Nigeria has a largely young population below 25 years while the public service is typically staffed with middle-aged citizens of approximately 40 years or over, often leading to a shifting gap in expectations. According to the Chief of Staff to the Kenyan President and Head of the Kenyan Delivery Unit, Mr. Nzioka Waita, the Delivery Unit often bridges the gap between the capacity of the institutional bureaucracy on one hand, and realising the urgent priorities of the government to meet the requirements of the business sector and the citizens. Most African delivery units are now learning to customise the global typology of delivery units to their local, peculiarities of limited data and weaker performance management systems in the public service.
According to Mr. Folarin Alayande, “Since the inception of Nigeria’s delivery unit, the ERGP Implementation Unit has worked with several ministries and cabinet ministers to accelerate delivery of several sectoral initiatives including the national gold development policy that has led to the issuance of the first gold refinery place and an initial framework for a gold marketplace. Other initiatives include various interventions increasing local content utilisation in processed foods and in the production of domestic gas cylinders, amongst others.”Other key resolutions agreed at the ICEA include the establishment of regional innovation labs that connect technology, policy and development.
•Alayande is Co-ordinator, ERGP Implementation Unit/Senior Special Assistant to the President (SSAP)- Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP)