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Sub-Saharan Africa reveals lessons for governance

Sub-Saharan Africa reveals lessons for governance

(Photo: IMF/Rose Kouwenhoven)

Sub-Saharan Africa reveals lessons for governance

23 June 2022

Countries in the region have made significant progress in tackling corruption, with some of the better-performing emerging market and even advanced economies.

a new book by IMF, Good Governance in Sub-Saharan Africa It includes three countries – Botswana, Rwanda and Seychelles – leading the effort to improve governance. A panel discussion moderated by Deputy Managing Director Antoinette Saih was organized as part of the virtual launch.

In an interview with Country Focus, Ms. Saih, who was in Botswana last week for a high-level conference on promoting good governance, and the book’s editors, Monique Newyak, Alex Segura-Ubiergo and Abdul Aziz Wain, spoke. about their findings and the importance of transparency and public integrity for the development of the sector.

What are the main elements of good governance?

Antoinette Saih: The most successful countries usually have five key elements. First, a high level of political commitment to good governance and transparency. You can look at this in several ways: how a country’s budget is prepared and presented; by the degree of independence of the central bank; And whether key public officials have a commitment to declare assets and publish audits.

Second, respect for the rule of law and property rights. When foreign investors invest in a country, they do so knowing that the government will honor contracts, and property rights will apply.

The third element is to ensure efficiency, transparency and public oversight of investments. This is especially important given the need to increase public investment in infrastructure in Africa. book Points to studies that show that when there is not enough government oversight of public procurement processes, project costs are high.

Fourth, access to information, which I’ll let Alex talk about in a bit more.

And finally, innovation and technology, which we believe can play a big role in helping governments meet these priorities.

Why is good governance important to the IMF?

Antoinette Saih: Poor governance and corruption have a negative impact on economic development. They distort public spending and undermine domestic revenue raising – an estimated tax revenue loss of US$1 trillion globally. That is why the Fund has been working with countries on this issue for more than 20 years.

And now, at a time when the world is facing multiple crises—the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the ongoing challenges of climate change—the need for good governance becomes all the more urgent. It’s more than just wasting money; Good governance enables development.

Our efforts focus on reducing the vulnerabilities of corruption by strengthening governance in six core state functions: central bank governance, financial sector governance, financial governance, market regulation, rule of law, and anti-money laundering.

In addition to policy advice, we work closely with countries and development partners to develop and implement comprehensive governance reform strategies. Much of this effort is coordinated by the IMF’s network of 17 capacity development centers around the world, six of which are in Africa.

How can countries in this region benefit?

Alex Segura-Ubiergo: to get to the point By making more information available to the public, Antoinette was the first to pick up. Access to information facilitates accountability – a key precondition for good governance. When governments produce, store, and disseminate information, decisions are more transparent, citizens are better informed, and institutions and civil society organizations can hold governments accountable.

Second, by ensuring that the tax burden is distributed equitably, and public spending is focused on achieving rapid progress toward meeting the Sustainable Development Goals: reducing poverty, increasing access to health and education, and protecting the environment. When citizens feel that governments are using public resources well, they are more likely to recognize their tax obligations as legitimate.

Third, having political leaders who set an example with their actions: publishing and promoting their wealth to fight corruption with the help of an anti-corruption agency and court system. Together, these create a governance dividend: higher and more inclusive growth through stronger and more transparent institutions that increase accountability.

Are any countries in the region using digitization to improve the quality of public institutions?

abdul aziz wane, e-government services– a proxy for digitization and the use of big data – are expanding in sub-Saharan Africa, although the region still lags behind others. This trend accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, as digital services played a key role in policy responses to save lives and livelihoods. Examples include: (i) South Africa’s Western Cape Online platform for distance learning; (ii) online applications launched in Sierra Leone to improve the government’s ability to track quarantine periods and other services such as food delivery; (iii) robots and drones deployed in Rwanda to reduce health workers’ exposure to potentially positive COVID-19 patients, and (iv) chatbots in South Africa to reduce the spread of misinformation about the virus.

More generally, digitization can have a significant impact on institutions. This book explains how strongly institutional quality and e-government are intertwined and how digitization can reduce the perception of corruption. Digital reforms can make a difference to enhance institutional quality but it is important to index them, prioritizing education to ensure people benefit.

The pandemic highlighted the need for greater transparency and monitoring of how emergency funds are spent. What practices were introduced in sub-Saharan Africa that other countries can learn from?

Monique Newyk: generally, we have seen that Additional controls are needed to ensure that money is well spent in times of crisis. More specifically:

  • Public financial management (PFM) procedures need to be clearly defined: In countries where such funds are not guided by the regular PFM process, it is necessary to develop and publish standard operating procedures for the entire process from proposal submission to reporting requirements as well as well-defined roles and responsibilities. Is. Ghana is a good example of a country that has incorporated elements of sound PFM into the operations of its COVID-19 fund.
  • Check and balance agility is important: Recognizing when problems do arise quickly can help correct problems when an emergency response develops. Apex Audit Institute (SAI) have to play an important role in this regard as they can conduct “real-time” audits. Reports published by SAI in Kenya, Sierra Leone and South Africa at the beginning of the crisis were good examples.

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