The third Africa Capacity Indicators Report (ACIR) has been launched in Accra with a call on African countries to focus on building the capacities of their own peoples to draw maximum benefits from the rich natural resource on the continent, instead of signing away the wealth of the continent to foreigners.
The third ACIR report focused on capacity needs of African countries for Natural Resource Management (NRM), and it comes in the wake of the discovery of huge deposits of precious minerals and oil/gas across the continent of Africa.
The first ACIR focused on capacities to build fragile states, and it helped countries like Rwanda, Liberia and others to rebuild after their respective conflicts. The second one was on capacities to transform agriculture and mechanize it, because the continent depends largely on agriculture but the link between the sector and industry keeps dwindling according to the ACIR Two.
This third one seeks to guide African countries to build capacities along the entire value chain of the natural resource management in order that Africa’s abundant natural resources would be a blessing rather than a curse to the greater majority of the African peoples.
The ACIR’s are produced by the Africa Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), which has for the past 22 years being supports academic institutions such as Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), the University of Ghana and in others across Africa to train a critical mass of skilled civil servants who now constitute over 30% of East and West Africa’s skilled human resource in public administration and policy management.
ACBF also sponsors 39 think tanks across Africa, including Centre for Economic Policy Analysis (CEPA), Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), GhanaNet all in Ghana, and also the African Women’s Development Fund, and the African Association of Universities, which are both regional bodies headquartered in Ghana.
Dr. Frannie Leautier is the Executive Secretary of ACBF, and she noted that it is sad how some African countries sign away tens of billions of dollars worth of mineral deposits for peanuts, because they do not have the needed capacity to mine and process those minerals, and do not also have the expertise to negotiate better deals with foreign extractive industry players.
She said in their study, the ACBF found that there is need for capacity building in government, private sector, environment protection, civil society, community and in the media to ensure absolute transparency and clear understanding of the implications of document signed with extractive industry players.
Dr. Leautier said 50% of African countries, including Ghana, have integrated a holistic capacity building plan for the NRM in their development agenda, while 22.5% have the plan but have not integrated them yet, and 27.5% do not even have any capacity building plan for NRM at all.
She is however confident that the ACIR would guide each country to rise up to the occasion and do what is right by their people.
Dr. Leautier pointed to three main areas of capacity needs in Ghana, and they include capacities for project design and implement, capacities to clearly define the relationship and roles of government and private sector, and capacities of communities and civil society to hold government and industry players accountable.
She said it is not healthy to fine private sector players in the extractive industry, for instance, doing projects such as building roads, hospitals, schools and other facilities, which are meant for governments to do.
“With the right capacities, African government should be able to get better and clear deals that would put them in the position to do these projects on their own instead of leaving them for the private sector to do with the potential danger of covering up damage to the environment,” she said.
Dr. Leautier said ACBF is considering focusing the next ACIR on regionalisation so as to draw African’s towards building the right capacities across the entire value chain of regionalisation so that the continent would move faster towards regional integration and benefit fully from the leverage it provides.
ACBF was set up by 39 (now 45) African countries in 1991 to help African countries transform their economies through effective policy making, analysis, monitoring, evaluation and tracking to ensure that the various economies draw optimum benefits.
It has therefore being training the critical mass of personnel for both government and civil society organisation to ensure the required capacity along the entire value chain on the path to ensuring the policies deliver desired results.