By Josephine Akaerr, Special Correspondent
The African Union (AU) has welcomed the Democratic Republic of Congo as the newest member of its African Peer Review Mechanism. This took place during the AU’s 30th Forum of Heads of State and Government on Thursday.
The meeting included presentations on ongoing or imminent reviews of governance and other spheres in a number of countries, including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zambia and Kenya. The African Peer Review Mechanism is a voluntary mechanism that enables AU members to provide and submit to evaluation at local, national and continental levels.
In his opening remarks, South African President and African Peer Review Mechanism Chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa thanked the assembled heads of state for their political leadership. “I am certain that the mechanism will be a vital instrument for the achievement of Africa’s social and economic goals as enshrined in the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’s Agenda 2030,” he said.
Improving governance, tackling corruption and upholding human rights are central to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s governance programme, said DRC President Felix Tshisekedi, adding that his government welcomed external review and support of its policies. “By joining the African Peer Review Mechanism, we hope to get the support of our peers in the review of our practices regarding good governance, which is a prerequisite for development.”
The summit covered an upcoming peer review of Liberia; the discussion of a gap analysis of Sudan; two reviews of tourism and mineral resources governance in Zambia; a targeted review of Sierra Leone’s national response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and peer reviews of progress reports for Kenya and Mozambique.
African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina joined heads of state at the virtual meeting. “Africa will recover, but that recovery will require much strengthened governance at all levels, including decisive actions to end illicit capital flows and ensure more transparent governance over the management of Africa’s vast natural resources,” he said.
Adesina congratulated Felix Tshisekedi on his country’s decision to join the African Peer Review Mechanism and emphasized the Bank’s commitment to the mechanism. The African Development Bank recently approved a new economic governance strategy that will guide its engagements in the sustainable economic development of African countries.
“Through our African Peer Review Mechanism institutional support project, the African Development Bank will continue to very strongly back efforts to enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and relevance of the African Peer Review Mechanism,” Adesina said.
Adesina also addressed the current challenges heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly vaccine inequality and Africa’s rising debt levels. He called for the establishment of an African Financial Stabilization Mechanism to ward off future exogenous shocks.
The African Peer Review Mechanism, a specialized agency of the African Union, was established in 2003. It has five governing bodies: The African Peer Review Forum, made up of participating heads of state; the Africa Peer Review Panel, which is made up of academics and other high-level persons, and which oversees reviews; a committee of focal points; a national governance council; and a secretariat.
Currently, 41 AU members have joined the African Peer Review Mechanism.
AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat urged African countries that had not yet acceded to the mechanism to speedily join. “Achieving universality will strengthen the cause of governance for the continent, in its full manifestations of political governance, economic governance, corporate governance, and inclusive and general socioeconomic development,” he said.