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African Nations Establish Council to Improve Policy Implementation

Shoppers and market vendors fill Sani Abacha Street in central Freetown, Sierra Leone, Jan. 4, 2013.
Shoppers and market vendors fill Sani Abacha Street in central Freetown, Sierra Leone, Jan. 4, 2013.
Cabinet secretaries from a dozen African countries have established a council to improve government decision making and increase the successful implementation of new policy on the continent.

African Cabinet Government Network Director Mark Johnston says the group will focus on practical issues to improve implementation processes across Africa.

“It is about how do you get more technical advice to the cabinet ministers, how do you get evidence on really what the problem is, not just the symptoms?" Johnston said. "How do you actually address the problem by understanding the causes, how do you get information on what has worked elsewhere in Africa?”

Momo Rogers, a cabinet secretary from Liberia, says funding is a key reason implementation levels are low on the African continent.

”Sometimes we have good ideas but then we do not take into consideration the costs," Rogers said. "And if you start before that checklist of where your gaps are in funding, you are going to end up starting a project but you can not finish it. And therefore the implementation will not be complete.”

Another reason proposals often fail to be properly implemented is because policy discussions are not supported by enough valid evidence, leading to decisions that are difficult to implement and monitor.

Sierra Leone Cabinet secretary Ernest Surrur, the newly elected Cabinet Government Network president, says policies on all levels face implementation challenges, but the network is especially concerned with those on the domestic level.

“We are concerned more about the domestic ones, because if you do your homework on a domestic level then you will be able to follow up on the regional and the other cases,” he said.

The network consist mostly of Cabinet Secretaries from Eastern and Western Africa, but the hope is that colleagues from other African countries will soon join.