Session 9: Conversation on Effective Governance

The session on ‘A Conversation on Effective Governance’ was chaired by Prof Paul Collier. Prof Collier highlighted the need for governments to build effective organisations to enable a productive environment for the public. Considering the scope for accountability is slightly limited in the region, the task is to identify mechanisms to ensure enough internalisation to motivate people and to build norms.

This was followed by comments from the first speaker Dr. Felicien Usengumukiza, Deputy CEO of the Rwanda Governance Board who shared the Rwandan experience of transformation in leadership as a pillar for economic transformation. Through a combination of home grown solutions like the use of performance contracts (‘imihigo’) and assessment of governance matters at all levels of the civil service, Rwanda has achieved effective governance. He emphasised that strong leadership and transparency are key elements for eradicating corruption. The second speaker, Mr. George Bamugemereirwe, Deputy Inspector General of Government of Uganda stressed the importance of practical engagement of the public and private sector to achieve accountability. This requires them to ask the right questions on a regular basis that can trigger achievement of outcomes. He provided the example of Northern Uganda Social Action Fund 2 which has actively involved the public and has used community policing agencies. The fund was discussed as a good model for project design, implementation and quick action suggesting that it might be possible to involve the public to police management to avoid budgetary repercussions.

Mr. Thomas Doe Nah, the Executive Director of the Centre for Transparency and Accountability, Liberia agreed that there is not enough pressure from below to drive implementation at the top. Building on the experience of Liberia over the years, he underlined the importance of proactive participation, trust and consensus to avoid conflict. Convergence between the government and the public is crucial to build trust and to facilitate progress. He commented that it is vital that citizens share the winnings and losses of the government. This can be achieved through proactive engagement, inclusive and responsive government and an adequate compensation and merit system.

The session concluded with two practical solutions from Prof Collier. Firstly, in order to build trust, the government can try to ‘signal’ their competency by adopting a policy that an incompetent government is unable to afford. Secondly, there is need to shift budget support to well performing institutions to scale these up.