Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Philip J. Rutledge Seminar: Leadership and Governance in Africa

The National Academy for Public Administration (NAPA) created the African Working Group (AWG), whose mission is to “enhance public administration in Africa through strategic collaboration with African partners.” In order to achieve this mission, the AWG holds meetings and symposia to foster an environment of collaboration and learning. This event was focused on Leadership and Governance in Africa: Developing High Performing Public Administrators to Manage Economic Growth and Social Prosperity.

The keynote speaker, Dr. John-Mary Kauzya focused on governance, economic growth and prosperity in post-conflict countries. He explained that the post-conflict environment is a unique atmosphere because it has different challenges and opportunities than other political situations. He further elucidated that post-conflict issues are of special importance in Africa due to the high number of African nations in a post-conflict state. Dr. Kauzya first clarified that for the purpose of his speech, governance meant accountability. Governance is crucial in post-conflict situations because even pouring money into a problem will not fix things without a disciplined public administration.

Dr. Kauzya then moved on to talk about the issues confronting post-conflict governments. The first challenge of the government is to restore trust in the government, or establish trust in a new government. Post-conflict political leadership must reconstruct capacities in public administration, as it is the public administrators who carry out the daily tasks of governing the country. The second challenge is to assess the reality of the situation, and ensure a shared understanding of challenges facing the country. Through this challenge there is an opening for the third critical function of government: design and create a national vision and strategy.

The fourth critical function of the government is to sustain development oriented leadership and nurture future leaders for the country. The fifth critical function is to provide a framework for managing diversity and inclusivity in public administration. It is essential that all sectors of society are represented and have a voice in the public administration sector so that the new situation is free of the tensions that came before. Finally, the government must maintain and promote self-reliance. This is tied to promoting a message of hope: “we have been through so much and made it through, we have been poor for a long time, if no one will help us in the way that we want, on our terms, we will not be forced to submit, we will endure.”

Because post-conflict situations are highly tenuous, there are four political capacities required in a post-conflict world. The first is integrative leadership: one cannot govern a society that is fragmented and must work to integrate all facets of society. The second is entrepreneurial leadership: the leader must look at the country and establish a goal for how the country should be and map a path to get there. The third capacity required is administrative leadership: post-conflict everyone is used to an environment where the law is suspended, the leader needs to establish administerial procedure that is known to everyone. The fourth is operative leadership: the government needs to take action. In order for a post-conflict government to be successful these capacities must be integrated into one system.

Dr. Kauzya closed by defining two post-conflict faults that need to be corrected in order to create an effective government. In the process of public service reform and modernization issues related to the undeveloped professional status of human resource managers in the public sector is often neglected and there is often inadequate attention given to the strengthening of institutions responsible for building and sustaining public administration capacities.

Following Dr. Kauzya, a panel spoke about their lessons learned and experiences working in public administration in Africa. The first was Dr. Bernham Mengistu, who has worked in Addis Abba, Ethiopia. In order to promote public administration and managerial standards while in Ethiopia, he held book drives, provided technical support to universities and NGO’s, provided technical training to government, trained in comprehensive post-conflict parliamentary analysis, trained government officials for national and regional level offices, and graduated 35 people in public administration from the University in Addis Abba.

The second panelist was Dr. Jeanne-Marie Col who worked in Uganda. She explained that she has learned three important lessons while working in public administration. The first is that training in teams and organizations is more important than training individuals. The second is that sensitivity to cultures and neighborhoods is more important than theories and skills. The third is that data driven results that are tracked over time is more important than management fads. She concluded by explaining that with an increase in public administration there is more possibility for success.

Sponsor: National Academy of Public Administration
Date: September 23, 2008
Time: 1:00pm – 5:30pm
Representative Attending: Emily Riff

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