Manpower minister back from Commonwealth meeting on public service


More than 50 delegates from all 19 Commonwealth African countries attended the Commonwealth Secretariat's Consultative Meeting on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) and the role of the public service in Africa which was held in London.

The meeting was convened by the Governance and Institutional Development Division to review the role of the public service in Africa and to identify directions in which that role may be augmented to effectively support the implementation of Nepad, according to the ministry.

Opening the meeting, Commonwealth secretary general Don McKinnon highlighted the importance of this partnership, stating that it represented the boldest vision yet by Africans to tackle the challenges facing the continent.

He noted that African civil servants play a pivotal role in improving transparency and good governance on the continent and emphasised that "with such a major role to play, African public services must improve efficiency, deliver better programming and more effective implementation."

Delegates re-affirmed Nepad as the framework for growth and development on the continent at the end of the meeting. They underscored the importance of tracking and evaluating current public service reforms in Africa to date in order to assess whether those reforms are adequate to achieve Nepad's objectives.

It was recognised that public servants worked under difficult conditions and effective leadership development programmes and the establishment of innovative awards and equal opportunity systems would help to reward their continued steadfastness in service to the state and the people, the ministry said.

There was consensus amongst the delegates at the meeting that the African public services must be reconstituted in order to meet contemporary African social, political and economic needs. With each country bearing its own historical, socio-cultural and economic needs, homogenised and standardised approaches cannot be applied to all.

Minister Alexander described the meeting as fruitful and interesting. Seychelles is expected to host workshops in the year ahead in order to exchange ideas and views with its African counterparts.

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