NEPADís APRM: A Progress Report, Practical Limitations and Challenges
South African Institute of International Affairs
SA Yearbook of International Affairs, 2003/04
Posted with permission of the author. For purposes of citation, the following should be used: Kajee, Ayesha. 2004. Nepadís APRM: A Progress Report, Practical Limitations and Challenges. In SA Yearbook of International Affairs, 2003/04. SAIIA: Johannesburg.
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Africaís political and business leaders face a litmus test of their
willingness and commitment to implement fair and socially equitable
governance and business practices. Hailed by the North and many in
Africa as a panacea for the continentís governance woes, the African Peer
Review Mechanism (APRM), a groundbreaking initiative of the New
Partnership for Africaís Development (Nepad), is finally getting
The APRM is unique in its scope and breadth. While the concept of peer
review has precedents in the academic world, its use by states has been
limited to financial audits such as those instituted by the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), and the sector-specific peer reviews of the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The
APRM process is designed as a mechanism whereby countries voluntarily
Ďopen their booksí to be examined within a formal structure according to
Nepad guidelines. Teams of African experts in various spheres will assess
and critique the countriesí governance performance based on a number of
key indicators viz. political governance, economic governance, corporate
governance and socio-economic development.
Currently, 23 countries2 have signed the APRM Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU), thereby acceding to being reviewed by their peers.
The peer review process aims to scrutinise all levels of government,
parliament and the judiciary as well as the private sector. In the past,
large private corporations have exploited the greed of political leaders to
advance their business interests.
Africaís stagnation, and indeed retrogression, in the socio-economic
development sphere can be attributed largely to the levels of chronic poor
governance experienced by many African states. Historically, African
states have regarded each otherís sovereignty as sacrosanct, a position
that has allowed corrupt regimes to flourish at the expense of their
citizensí well-being. The introduction of the APRM, despite its many
limitations, presents a refreshing counterpoint to this. If followed through
with sincerity, peer review could help translate Nepad rhetoric into
concrete and measurable results at national level.
AYESHA KAJEE is the seminar manager of the Nepad and Governance project at SAIIA,
based at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She has organised a
number of workshops on the peer review mechanism and civil society in countries which
have acceded to peer review.
These countries include: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Republic of
Congo (Brazzaville), Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Malawi,
Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania