The New Times – Rwanda
By: Fred K. Nkusi
There’s a wrong presupposition that something being pursued by many people is less likely to be successful compared to something being pursued a few people. At times, this may be true, or not.
There’re no convincing factors to determine that the likely outcome would depend on a big or small number of members. Naturally, success depends on a number of factors.
Today, there’s a seemingly perennial problem of financial constraints at EAC resulting from non-compliance with regular contributions to the EAC budget by the Partner States. This issue is potentially paralyzing the activities of EAC.
It has been raised over and over again and is now causing a daunting prospect about the future of the EAC. If Partner States fail to commit to their obligations regarding regular contributions to the EAC budget, its future hangs in a balance.
The East African Community (EAC) is a Regional Economic Community (REC) of six Partner States; inter alia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, Burundi and the United Republic of Tanzania, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
Under Article 132, paragraph 4, of the EAC Treaty provides that “the budget of the Community shall be funded by equal contributions by the Partner States…”
Reneging on this obligation is increasingly paralyzing the implementation of EAC programmes and activities. Resources of the EAC principally come from regular contributions of the Partner States and have to be given equitably, regardless of a Partner State’s GDP or its economic outlook.
These financial resources are utilised to run activities of the organization. Inasmuch as the Community may have other sources of funding, the Partner States bear primary duty to finance the Communities’ activities.
As days roll on, things are far from improving. This time it is widely reported that EAC is failing to pay salaries of its staff and some have returned to their country of origin and some activities have been suspended perhaps indefinitely.
So, this raises a question if this is not the beginning of the end of the EAC. This is an intergovernmental organization that was created and reinvigorated for the economic integration of member states. And the organization cannot operate without a serious commitment of Partner States, nor can it operate while facing up to financial constraints.
It can never be underestimated, however, that there’re inter-state political rows among the EAC Partner States, but all in all Member States have obligations incumbent on them. There’s a need for common understanding attuned to the attainment of EAC objectives whatsoever.
In my view, pursuing the attainment of EAC principal objectives should transcend inter-States feuds. Frankly, six EAC Partner States is a small number compared to 15 ECOWAS Member States, which are, relatively speaking, effective. Moreover, EAC countries have cultural, linguistic and geopolitical ties, and in the event of any arising issue can be easily worked out peacefully.
Taking a closer look at the Economic Community of West African States, better known as ECOWAS, is a regional political and economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa. ECOWAS is meant to foster interstate economic and political cooperation.
ECOWAS countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. These countries have both cultural and geopolitical ties and shared a common economic interest.
In line with its specific aims, ECOWAS set out the following principal priorities: ‘the promotion of partnership between African countries, the elimination of import and export taxes, and the integration of member states policies’.
In working towards these priorities, it [ECOWAS] has made a couple of tremendous achievements. First, road construction between big cities—that the highways from Lagos-Abidjan, Nouakchott-Lagos, which made much easier than it was before. Second, the relations between the Anglophone and Francophone have been stabilized.
Third, issuance of the ECOWAS passport. It has significantly eased the movement of people within those areas. Fourth, telephone network for the member states, that’s to say, nowadays, interconnection is available across ECOWAS countries.
Fifth, no strict borders for nations and trades. In other words, ECOWAS has enabled West Africans to easily move among the member countries. Additionally, the trade barrier has been removed. People, goods and services travel around the countries with ease.
Apart from the threat of Boko Haram in Nigeria, security is generally guaranteed in the sub-region. The state of peace is kept by ECOWAS Monitoring Groups. The zones of conflicts are not so troublesome compared to what it used to be.
More interestingly, as part of its plans to make Africa a more integrated continent, leaders of the ECOWAS have adopted the name ‘ECO’ for a planned Single Currency to be used in the region in 2020.
The decision to create a single monetary zone was reached by the Heads of State of all 15 member countries at a summit of the ECOWAS, held in Lome, Togo in 1999. Though it requires the region to align with its monetary and fiscal policies, there’s commitment and hope to implement the planned Single Currency.
Drawing a lesson from ECOWAS, EAC Partner States need to show a recommitment to their obligations and stave off the organization from the financial predicament.
The Herald – Zimbabwe
Vision 2030 achievable, 100 days at a time
By: Lawson Mabhena
The President Mnangagwa-led administration is now in the third 100-Day Cycle of the Second Republic buoyed by tremendous gains registered in the first two cycles.
The neo-liberal path chosen by President Mnangagwa in making Zimbabwe a modern-day democracy is dependent on representation and accountability. Citizens must know what is going on and they must be able to hold Government accountable.
In line with this new trajectory, Government has implemented a raft of political and economic reforms to promote democracy and restore economic stability.
The 100-Day Cycle is, therefore, an essential management tool in implementing and achieving strategic priority projects. It is part of good governance and a “must have” in neo-liberal democracies.
Good governance is a major tenet of economic development. The maintenance of peace and stability, eradication of corruption and optimum use of natural resources for economic development can only be achieved through good governance. According to the Asian Development Bank, economic governance is at the core of sustainable development.
Lack of sustained development in a number of Third World countries can be directly linked to poor governance.
Previously, under the First Republic, poor governance made it difficult for any solution to work in Zimbabwe. Externalisation, corruption and continuous printing of hard notes undermined any recovery efforts.
In the Second Republic, Government has become more accountable, transparent and has applied more thought into creating a suitable economic environment before re-introducing the Zimbabwe dollar.
The first 100-Day Cycle of the Second Republic began on November 19, 2018 and ended on February 27, 2019.
Under this cycle, projects identified for implementation were grouped under relevant pillars of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP): governance, macro-economic stability and financial re-engagement, inclusive growth, infrastructure development and social development.
Ministries, their departments, agencies and parastatals implemented an average of five projects with “high impact on the livelihoods of the general citizenry” in 100-day timelines.
Utilisation of the Electronic Executive Dashboard and introduction of monitoring and evaluation focal persons and project team leaders allowed for better oversight.
“The need to embark on a journey towards transforming Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income economy by 2030, with increased investment, decent broad-based empowerment, free from poverty and corruption, prompted the Government of Zimbabwe to adopt the 100-Day Cycle Programming as a new way of doing business in Government,” wrote President Mnangagwa in his foreword to the first 100-Day Cycle report.
The second 100-Day Cycle of the Second Republic began on February 28, 2019 and ended on June 7.
A total of 91 projects were implemented during the cycle across 19 ministries, departments and parastatals.
The cycle was, however, hit by a myriad of challenges, chief among them inflation and price distortions.
“The economic reform process, meticulously articulated in the two-year Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) is now well advanced. International buy-in for that home-grown austerity-for-economic-recovery blueprint led to the signature of a Staff Monitored Programme with the IMF — itself another key step towards arrears clearance and a return to ‘good standing’ with major financial institutions.
“We are approaching the first anniversary of the launch of the TSP. Progress has been impressive. Fiscal targets have been met. Government expenditure has been brought under strict control. Basic fundamentals are healthier than at any time in the past two decades and have permitted the monetary policy and currency reform process leading to the re-introduction of our own Zimdollar sometime later this year or early in 2020,” Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo wrote in an article to mark the end of the second cycle.
The only way Zimbabwe can remain relevant or ahead is by picking up the pace in reform. The 100-Day Cycle Programme has been useful in this regard as the country which is recovering from decades of political isolation now seeks to be a formidable global competitor.
For example, the reforms leading to enhanced ease of doing business were an urgent necessity as regional competition in implementation of such reforms reached fever pitch.
Doing Business, a project which monitors 190 economies and selected cities, notes that a number of gains have been made in ease of doing business not only in Zimbabwe but the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Sub-Saharan Africa has been the region with the highest number of reforms each year since 2012. This year, Doing Business captured a record 107 reforms across 40 economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the region’s private sector is feeling the impact of these improvements,” the report reads.
It is without a doubt that the country is on the right track and the economy is on the mend. This is a result of deliberate and sustained planning, monitoring, evaluation and implementation.
The second 100-Day Cycle which recorded 64 percent of projects as either on track or meeting targets, albeit compelling fiscal challenges bears living testimony to what good governance can achieve.
No country can develop when economic and social resources are being mismanaged. The fight against corruption has seen the unearthing of criminal activities during the First Republic which contributed to economic demise.
Instead of Government ministers managing the planning and implementation of projects, they were lining their pockets. Fortunately, President Mnangagwa has declared zero tolerance to corruption and the implementation of the 100-Day Cycle Project will also allow him to evaluate the utility of his individual ministers.
Progress made so far during the first two cycles is reading good signals all the way. This noble initiative is already bearing fruit and must be enhanced. Information dissemination must cascade all the way to the rural areas, so that all citizens are well aware of what is being done by their Govern0ment.
Government’s neoliberal agenda and target for an upper middle-income economy by 2030 is achievable, 100 days at a time.
The Herald – Zimbabwe
Member states to fund SADC project facility
By: Kumbirai Nhongo
The SADC Project Preparation and Development Facility (PPDF) is set to be funded from member state contributions, following recommendations to this effect by the SADC Committee of Ministers of Finance and Investment.
This was revealed by Mapolao Mokoena, the director of the SADC Infrastructure Directorate, in her briefing to journalists ahead of the 39th SADC Summit which took place between August 17 and 18 in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania.
The SADC PPDF was operationalised in 2008 to support member states in the preparation of bankable proposals for regional infrastructure projects, following the adoption and signing of the Protocol on Finance and Investment.
The PPDF is managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), which acts as the PPDF Secretariat and is responsible for the development of the project pipeline, administering the facility and the disbursement of funds.
Since its inception, the SADC PPDF has received €11,75 million from the European Union and €10,8 million from the German Development Cooperation through German development bank KfW, under the first and second phases of funding.
SADC member states are yet to contribute funds to the PPDF, a situation which regional stakeholders now acknowledge to be untenable.
A 2019 study by KfW, assessing the SADC PPDF observes that project preparation facilities that are fully funded by donors, may be perceived to prioritise donor interests, as opposed to the needs of member states.
In addition, an independent assessment of the first phase of the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan, conducted by Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), on behalf of the SADC Secretariat, emphasised the importance of exploring the use of innovative models of cost recovery for the PPDF in order to improve sustainability and avoid constantly drawing down on donor financing.
Evidently, the absence of funding from member states reduces the level of perceived ownership of the PPDF and points to a lack of financial commitment on their part.
At their meeting held in July 2019, the SADC Committee of Ministers of Finance and Investment affirmed the need for member states to contribute to the SADC PPDF, given the unsustainability of relying solely on financing from international cooperating partners.
Mapolao noted that two stages are being pursued in this regard, the first and most immediate of which involves accessing member state contributions indirectly, through the Reserve Fund.
The Reserve Fund is made up of member state contributions that that are surplus to the SADC Secretariat’s budget in any given financial year.
“They made a very bold decision that we want to put our own money, so they said from member state contributions, the resources in the Reserve Fund, they are going to take some of those resources to capitalise the facility,” Mapolao said.
The second and more substantive phase involves funding the PPDF through the SADC Regional Development Fund (RDF) as recommended by the meeting of the SADC Committee of Ministers in March 2016.
Member states agreed to establish the RDF in order to mobilise financial resources to support the region’s infrastructure, social development and regional integration requirements.
However, this process has taken longer than planned, as it requires the signature and ratification of two-thirds of the member states for the amended Article 26A of the SADC Treaty to enter into force and bring the RDF into formation.
Mapolao advised the media that to date, nine of the 16 SADC member states have ratified the amendment, with two additional member states required to bring the number to the targeted two-thirds majority.
“Nine member states have signed the agreement, but we need 11 not only to sign but also to ratify, so that we can have our own Regional Development Fund, where member states are going to become shareholders,” she said.
Once this process is complete, member states can begin making contributions to the RDF, the fund under which the SADC PPDF will eventually be accommodated.
To date, the SADC PPDF supports nine projects, two of which are in the transport sector and seven in the energy sector.
This level of support is inadequate considering that the first phase of RIDMP alone has a total of 98 regional infrastructure projects, the majority of which are facing stagnation due to funding among other challenges.
It is envisaged therefore that steps within the region to unlock member state contributions will result in a better-resourced project preparation and development facility that will support the implementation of regional infrastructure projects within southern Africa.