AfCoP – Pan-African peer learning on managing for results
The African Community of Practice on Managing for Development Results (AfCoP-MfDR)
37 African countries are part of the AfCoP. Members from all of them are taking part in the knowledge sharing process and are therefore both providers and recipients of development cooperation. The countries are: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo- Kinshasa, Congo- Brazzaville, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea,Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
The African Community of Practice on MfDR is a bilingual community established in 2007 and made up of over 1,000 members from 37 African countries. Its members aim at building African capacity to manage for development results through sharing experiences, networking, and building strong learning relationships between practitioners in Africa and around the world. Its web-platform is a key component of the community to ask questions, exchange experiences, and to ensure sustained dialogue throughout Africa. Members strive to make their organizations more results oriented, effective and accountable to ensure that the lives of their fellow citizens are improved.
At the Second and Third High Level Forums on Aid Effectiveness (Paris, 2005 and Accra, 2008 respectively), African countries and donors alike called for stronger country ownership and leadership as well as capacity development initiatives to strengthen country institutions and to support national efforts to implement the Paris Declaration, with a focus on achieving development results. The AfCoP is a response to this call and to the strong demand for continued peer-to-peer exchange in the African region. It responds to concerns that knowledge sharing activities on MfDR need to be sustained beyond international meetings and considered in a more long term and systematic framework. The AfCoP provides an innovative method to strengthen capacities required to achieve and account for development results.
The Community enables members to gain valuable experience in specific MfDR themes, learn lessons on how to overcome particular obstacles, develop solutions that work. It delivers positive results by increasing the value-added of African public administration in implementing policies and development projects, through better individual and institutional capacities necessary to manage for development results.Following a series of OECD/DAC supported Mutual Learning Initiatives (MLIs) held in Uganda and Burkina Faso in 2006, representatives of African countries spontaneously demanded to build on the knowledge exchanged through these meetings and continue MfDR experience exchanges. It began from African participants’ willingness to shift the traditional and event-focused knowledge sharing approach to exist on a sustained basis for greater impact.
Donors involved in the MLIs and additional ones from the OECD/DAC Cluster E on MfDR decided to help support the creation of the AfCoP. The World Bank agreed to host the AfCoP Secretariat, in partnership with AfDB, and to manage the multi-donor trust fund made up of contributions from the AfDB, CIDA, IFAD, the Netherlands, the Wolrd bank and USAID.
The already existing Asian CoP was helpful to define the structure of the African CoP, which was officially launched during the Third International Roundtable on Managing for Development Results (Hanoi, Vietnam) in 2007.
Then, after the first AfCoP meeting held in Uganda, in 2007, a Core Management Team made of volunteer members from governments and a range of sectors and expertise across Africa was appointed to guide the Community. The AfCoP’s Core Management Team defined the following goals at the beginning:
• establish a community to build support across Africa for MfDR;
• provide an interactive online platform for African MfDR practitioners, policymakers and researchers;
• exchange and disseminate MfDR knowledge and good practices in Africa and beyond;
• enhance individual MfDR capacities.
The AfCoP advocates for a commitment to results and supports capacity development through the sharing of experiences. The community has grown exponentially with an average of 40 new members per month over the past year.
Member-driven management. The AfCoP is managed by a volunteer Core Management Team of 24 members from 16 countries divided into 4 teams: Networking, Membership & Communication, Capacity Building and Knowledge Management, and Monitoring & Evaluation. The AfCoP has a comprehensive, community established yearly work plan. The Core Management Team also produces mid-term and yearly evaluations and annual member surveys, both led by the Monitoring & Evaluation Team. A Secretariat housed within the World Bank supports their activities and ensures the online platform maintenance, in close collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Face-to-face and phone meetings to move the community forward.
• Annual Meetings. Since its creation, the AfCoP holds its Annual General Meeting every year. The third edition will take place in Dakar, Senegal, in March 2010. This key pillar of the AfCoP’s work program provides active members with the opportunity to meet face-to-face, assess progress made over the past year, and set targets and deliverables for the upcoming year. In addition, it gives the Core Management Team the chance to renew and better define its role and contribution to MfDR as well as to nominate members to management positions. It is also an exciting time to share knowledge, update members on new and emerging MfDR trends, and strengthen the community.
• Implementation of the work plan. The AfCoP’s Core Management Team meets monthly via telephone conference call to report on progress made on their yearly work plan and make decisions about next steps. In an effort to better represent AfCoP members and increase participation, the Core Management Team now opens its meetings to all AfCoP members.
A knowledge sharing network. The AfCoP’s online platform allows members to share their successes and challenges in creating a results culture in their own institutions. Members from every corner of Africa learn from each other, they offer solutions to similar challenges in applying the MfDR concepts and methods in their development planning and implementation processes, and they share best practices. If many of them are onlookers interested in learning more about MfDR, but not necessarily bringing new content and sharing their experiences, the process is member-driven and more and more members are actively participating actively in AfCoP activities. They regularly choose topics to be discussed, start discussions, and react to the postings. To date, more than 60 subjects such as the following have been discussed online and during face-to-face meetings:
• Basics of Managing for Development Results (MfDR);
• Managing for Results within the South African Social Security Agency;
• Results at the Global Environmental Facility;
• Linking National Policy with the Budget;
• Challenges & Solutions to Creating an MfDR Culture in Africa.
For example, in a recent online discussion on the CAP-Scan process in Niger – a self-assessment of public administration capacities – members from seven African countries joined the conversation, also with comments from the former Vice-President of the International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS). This online discussion proved to be extremely useful for Senegal which was implementing CAP-Scan at the very same moment. They learned from the challenges faced by Niger in mobilizing the entire administration and asked questions on the results obtained.
Keeping the community vibrant is an ongoing challenge. Its growth in membership doesn’t necessarily translate in an equal growth of its online activities and the AfCoP is always looking for ways to engage members more actively in activities and discussions. The emphasis on online activities proves to be sometimes daunting in African countries with slow internet connection.
With regard to these challenges, AfCoP members demonstrate day after day that the community is successful in discovering new ways to build capacities through mutual learning. Members clearly acknowledge that capacity development is primarily the responsibility of African countries and that mutual learning from one country to another is probably the best approach to define how to bring change with respect to each contextual situation. The AfCoP goes beyond short-view training event aimed at only building technical capacities to ensure that long-term capabilities required to make decisions and bring about change are well acquired. Achieving this goal calls for a long-term perspective that a CoP offers. Members benefit from other countries’ experience and adapt concepts more easily to their own contexts. Therefore the emphasis is on continuous learning for more sustainable capacity impact.
Open and sustained dialogue. The AfCoP has improved dialogue across Africa on Managing for Development Results and built individual capacities. In the 2008 annual survey, 83 percent of AfCoP members expressed that the community was a useful and relevant tool in planning and managing for development results. AfCoP members have exchanged knowledge, experiences and best practices for now three years. Through the use of social networks they know each other better. This open and member-driven dialogue is now sustained on a long term basis, as members frequently launch online discussions.
A record of achievements. Though the level and amount of knowledge sharing and results management capacity built is difficult to quantify, the AfCoP has delivered products which are a key indicator of the commitment and interest of the membership. These include:
• Resource Center with wide range of MfDR documents
• Information sharing through blogs, member-initiated discussions, social media (twitter, Facebook, Linked-In)
• At least 2 weekly email blasts to all members on new content and developments
• Bi-monthly newsletter Online sent to over 2,000 recipients (13 published to date)
• AfCoP Sourcebook (cases developed both online with all members and in print-only versions)
• MfDR training offered at annual meetings
• AfCoP represented in more than 10 international MfDR-related events per year
• Strong partnerships with Asian and Latin American MfDR CoPs (including the development of joint CoP work and products).
• Institutional database (profiles of MfDR-related institutions) available soon.
• MfDR Resource person database (full profiles of MfDR experts) available soon.
Spontaneous national leadership. A few national chapters have already been established and more are to come. The Niger and Senegal have, for example, already mobilized resources and now include over 100 members each. AfDB plans to support 5 other National Chapters in Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Ghana and Rwanda.
AfCoP national chapters already plan to organize sub-regional meetings and work more closely together. Successful national chapters are autonomous bodies, launched at the initiative of senior-level government officials and linked to national processes. The current AfCoP co-Chair and Senegalese minister for Government Reform, Mr. Abdou Karim Lo, recently participated in the Niger CoP first National Learning Week on Good Practices in MfDR, organized in Niamey in January 2010. He facilitated a session on Leadership, gave examples from his country and stressed the relationship between the AfCoP and its national chapters. Niger mobilized 300 civil servants, representatives of civil society, the private sector, and development agencies, whom at the end of the week had become eager to implement MfDR concepts in their organization.
In terms of sustainability, national chapters are supported by their national government. Donors contribute to their activities on a case by case basis. The regional AfCoP platform ensures that knowledge and information is continuously shared in both directions between the regional community and the national groups.
The Comparative advantage for South-South knowledge exchange. Trust is built through constant peer-to-peer activities. AfCoP members are more confident to talk to colleagues from other countries who face similar challenges in spearheading MfDR processes. This sense of trust is also instrumental to bring about ownership in the development policies implemented by African governments.
A three layered contribution to aid effectiveness
• International commitments
- Participation in fora. AfCoP members are well represented in international events and efforts on aid effectiveness, along with its sister communities the Latin American one and the Asia-Pacific one. The AfCoP is part of the Global Partnership on MfDR, an arm of the OECD-DAC’s Working Party on Aid Effectiveness. AfCoP Members participate in every meeting of the Global Partnership and bring forward views from their countries. The AfCoP also participates in inter-continental events, such as other CoPs’ annual meetings and recently a joint CoP meeting held in Bogota. Joint online and face-to-face knowledge sharing activities are planned.
- Connection with selected aid effectiveness principles. The AfCoP’s goal is synergetic with the Results pillar of aid effectiveness. It goes hand-in-hand with the development countries’ commitment reached in the 2005 Paris Declaration to manage funds for development results and use information to improve decision-making. Besides that, the key role of members is instrumental into building Ownership among them.
• Regional main focus
- A Pan-African Community. Most of the activities are accomplished by African members and for Africa. The AfCoP is made of over 1,000 members coming from 37 African countries. More than two fifths of them (43%) are working for African governments. This percentage shows that the public sector is well represented in the AfCoP membership. Members also come from civil society and private sector (23% of total membership). Finally, 22% of AfCoP members are from donor agencies, mostly from field offices.
- A global discussion on results in Africa. Everyone can register to the AfCoP. As a result, many members are from non-African countries. About 22% of them are from Nothern countries while, while 6% of them are from Southern countries. Therefore, participants from every continent bring their views to the dialogue on MfDR in Africa.
• Linkages to national processes
- National Chapters. Unprompted, members in several countries were specifically highly active in the AfCoP and created their own national chapter. For example, the Niger CoP organized a Learning Week on MfDR in January 2010 to which more than 300 people participated in. This kind of national leadership is on the increase.
- Linkages with national priorities. The AfCoP experience is aligned in many respects with national poverty strategies that aim at managing for development results to increase the efficiency of their public administration.
- Greater contribution in the second AfCoP phase. During the March 2010 AfCoP Annual Meeting in Dakar, Senegal, successful national CoPs will share their experiences with countries in the process of launching their own. The meeting will also discuss the second phase of the AfCoP, its sustainability and best ways to build institutional capacities to better manage for development results.
From building individual capacities. The AfCoP builds capacities to manage for results, through its online knowledge sharing activities and face-to-face meetings and trainings. Stephane Side, Planning Specialist at the Ministry of Planning & Development, Cote d’Ivoire, recently explained how “The AfCoP helped [him] better understand [his] responsibilities as an agent of change in [his] country and was able to benefit from new tools which helped lobby [his] country’s lead official responsible for Result Based Management.” He is currently coordinating the launch of a national chapter in his country.
Towards building institutional and national capacities. There is consensus that building individual capacity in results management is an important first step. However, in order for countries to experience real change, it is clear that the AfCoP should build institutional capacity and advance the MfDR agenda at the national level by formally engaging with public sector institutions. The AfCoP’s second phase will precisely be focused on creating National Chapters and ensuring links among them. The Niger and Senegal chapters have already established close links between them. Countries launch their chapters ona demand-driven basis. The regional AfCoP brings the knowledge at the country level and ensures constant interactions with the regional level.
AfCoP members are more eager to adapt and implement MfDR tools that neighboring countries are already spearheading. This fosters motivation among members to develop better systems. They understand the challenges faced by their colleagues from other countries with similar political-economy issues more easily and are therefore more ready to adopt analogous MfDR approaches.
Duration: Start date: February 2009.
Budget (Optional): Regional focus. The three first years of the AfCoP-MfDR trust fund were supported by contributions both in cash and in kind from the African Development Bank, CIDA, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IFAD, USAID, and the World Bank. The average annual budget of the AfCoP has been $550,000. The AfCoP will reach the end of its initial Trust Fund in June 2010. The AfCoP is actively fund-raising with donors throughout the development community to ensure ongoing activity and expansion beyond the depletion of its initial funding. National focus. The few AfCoP’s national chapters that have already been established are supported to a large extent by local government and agencies. This involvement from government is expected to grow as more national communities are created.
Name of Primary Contact Person: Mr. Abdou Karim Lo; Mr. Devandra Parsad Ruhee
Title of Primary Contact Person: Co-Chairs of the AfCoP-MfDR, respectively from Senegal and Mauritius.
City: Respectively Dakar and Port Louis
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