Over 50 years after most African states got independence, a significant number of them continue to experience challenges such as poverty, civil conflict and slow development mostly due to challenges in governance, civil society actors have said.
Speaking at a Pan-African Trade Union conference underway in Kigali, members of the African civil society movements said despite the abundance of human and natural resources, Africa continues to lag behind in socio-economic development due to factors such as undemocratic governance and limited citizen participation in governance.
The three-day conference opened in Kigali yesterday.
Attracting over 300 participants from over 20 African countries, the forum seeks to deliberate on the values and principles of democracy and governance, as well as how the African trade unions can be engaged in Africa’s transformation agenda.
At the opening of the conference, the Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye, said the much sought socio-economic development and transformation by African countries would be possible if countries put democratic governance at the centre of their development agenda.
By doing so, Busingye said, the general public would be at the centre of the development and transformation process and would participate from grassroots level.
Sharing Rwanda’s experience in development and role of good governance, the minister said decentralisation had been a key pillar and policy for empowerment.
“Our 13 year experience in decentralisation has convinced us of the power of democratic solutions in nation building and in empowering citizens for participation,” Busingye, who doubles as Attorney General, said.
Transparency and accountability through ways such as income and asset disclosure systems for public officers, the minister said, had gone a long way to prevent use of public office for public gain.
Busingye further cited the role of inclusive governance that takes into account civil societies such as trade unions as another facilitator for the transformation process.
He challenged African countries to borrow a leaf from countries (mostly from the Asian region) that were at the same level of development with African countries in the 1950s but are now donating to Africa.
The Rwanda Governance Board chief executive officer, Prof Anastase Shyaka, said if the continent was to achieve the targets outlined in the 2063 Agenda endorsed by African leaders, it is imperative to address concerns of governance.
Arezki Mezhoud, the secretary-general of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity, said by evaluating the progress and emerging problems and mobilising Africans to develop their own solutions to challenges, prosperity and development would be achieved.