The Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, has called on the leadership of the African Public Service to encourage reforms that are homegrown and environmentally adaptable as a way of solving Africa's development challenges.
“In doing this, we should not ignore our history, traditions, values and aspirations as well as our inherent strength and weaknesses,” he said.
Alhaji Mahama made the call when he opened the 30th African Association for Public Administration and Management (AAPAM) Roundtable conference in Accra yesterday.
The six-day conference is designed to provide an independent open environment for networking, to share information, identify and test ideas, exchange experience and discuss strategies for raising the performance levels of the African Public Service in order to bring development and prosperity to the continent.
It is on the theme: “Enhancing the Performance of the Public Service in a Developmental State” with participants from Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Swaziland and Lesotho, among others.
He said concerns over current levels of performance in the public service in Africa were largely legitimate because the service played such a critical role in national development that any effort aimed at promoting its efficiency ought to be supported.
He said in terms of resource endowment, Africa was by no means a poor continent, but noted, however, that over the years its vast resources had been exploited by Western countries with the active collusion of local compradors to develop their economies.
Alhaji Mahama said while the continent's citizens wallowed in poverty and disease its leaders looked outside the borders for handouts that eventually kept its people in perpetual debt due to an unfair world economic order.
“The question often posed is how should African countries manage and utilise these resources for the benefit of the vast majority of their people?” he noted.
He said the public service the world over was burdened with excessive control, bureaucracy, political interference or lack of political will to improve the service and its management.
“In our part of the world, these are compounded by ethnicity, patronage and other forms of management style which inhibit performance,” he said.
The Minister of Public Sector Reform, Mr Samuel Owusu-Agyei, said the effective delivery of public service was key to a functional state and economy yet making sure that these functions were carried out effectively was becoming more complex and challenging.
He said the globalisation phenomenon, combined with the technologically driven information and communications revolution, meant that public managers must think and act on a transitional basis.
He said an important component of the ongoing reforms was the recognition of the critical importance of the role of the human resource and the extent of managing its capabilities to secure successful reform outcomes.
The Head of the Civil Service, Mr Joe D. Issachar, said Africa was a continent that faced unprecedented opportunity to engage the developed world in trade and cultural exchange, to build relationships of mutual benefit with other developing nations of the South.
He said the successful implementation of the NEPAD agenda would depend to a significant degree on inputs from the public service.
Story by Charles Benoni Okine & Timothy Gobah