The Struggle for Effective Change: An Assessment of the APRM’s Achievements

In July 2002 the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was established. This collective action taken by African Heads of State and Governments demonstrated the willingness to strengthen governance and achieve sustainable economic and political development. The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) was set up to monitor the commitment to the NEPAD and thereby increase responsibility and accountability. It was also designed to enable mutual assistance based on the concept of Peer Review, therefore seen as an effective and self-driven tool for enhancing change and strengthening governance throughout Africa. Over the last decade, 34 countries acceded to the APRM. This number demonstrates the want for self-improvement and transformation but cannot be regarded as a measure of performance for the APRM. Indeed only 17 countries have completed the first cycle of the APRM process. Even though the statistical and qualitative analyses performed in this thesis show marginal improvement in favour of the APRM, they do not show that governance has improved. The negligible progress recorded by the evaluation of governance performance from 2003-2012 as a function of the APRM demonstrate the APRM’s ineffectiveness. The results reveal the issues encountered by the APRM’s member states to profit from the APRM. The structure and process are found to be too complex to be adopted adequately by countries, consequently deferring beneficial outcomes. Member states lack commitment and compliance to the process as they do not encounter immediate benefits. To fully exploit the certainly existing potential of the APRM, the author recommends following actions to be taken. Based on (1) a common understanding of the mechanism and (2) its limitations, the APRM process can be simplified by (3) ensuring an efficient and comprehensible monitoring, and (4) incorporating SMART standards for recommendations. (5) Strengthening the existing capacities of the APR Secretariat, (6) conducting independent evaluations of the APRM and (7) clarifying the role of the African Union (AU) will further improve the capabilities and appeal of the APRM. As an efficient and effective tool the APRM is predestined to become the instrument to facilitate sustainable change in Africa.