The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is a mutually agreed instrument voluntarily acceded to by the Member States of the African Union (AU) as an African self-monitoring mechanism. The APRM is a bold, unique and innovative approach designed and implemented by Africans for Africa.
The APRM aims to put in motion a strategic re-orientation towards the validation of universal as well as African values and accelerate the process of intra-African cooperation and integration.
Without doubt, the APRM therefore will be a key driver of African renaissance and rebirth, and is a centre piece of the NEPAD process for the socio-economic development of Africa.
Its mandate is to ensure that the policies and practices of participating countries conform to the agreed values in the following four focus areas: democracy and political governance; economic governance; corporate governance; and socio-economic development.
The APR process entails periodic reviews of the policies and practices of participating countries to ascertain progress being made towards achieving the mutually agreed goals and compliance in the four focus areas, namely Democracy and Political Governance, Economic Governance and Management, Corporate Governance, and Socio-Economic Development. National ownership and leadership by the participating country are essential factors underpinning the effectiveness of the APRM.
The APRM process is designed to be open and participatory.
The APRM is also guided by the principles of transparency, accountability, technical competence, credibility and it should be free from manipulation.
The APRM is not meant to exclude or punish countries. There is no conditionality attached to the mechanism.
Structures of the APRM
1. The Committee of Participating Heads of State and Government (APR Forum) is the highest decision making authority in the APRM;
2. The Panel of Eminent Persons (APR Panel) oversees the review process to ensure integrity, consider reports and make recommendations to the APR Forum;
3. The APRM Secretariat (APR Secretariat) provides secretarial, technical, coordinating and administrative support for the APRM; and
4. The Country Review Team (APR Team) visits the country to review progress with the Country’s Program of Action and produces the APRM Report on the country.
The APRM process looks at four focus areas referred to as the Thematic Areas as follows:
1. Democracy and Good Political Governance
2. Economic Governance & Management
3. Corporate Governance
4. Socio-economic Development
The APRM is a voluntary mechanism open to any AU country. A country formally joins the APRM upon depositing the signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of March 9, 2003 at the NEPAD Secretariat.
As of February 2008, 29 countries had formally joined the APRM by signing the MOU on the APRM. Algeria, Burkina Faso, Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya signed the MOU in March 2003; Cameroon, Gabon and Mali in April and May 2003; Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Egypt and Benin in March 2004; Malawi, Lesotho, Tanzania, Angola and Sierra Leone in July 2004; Sudan and Zambia in January 2006; Sao Tome and Principe in January 2007; Djibouti in July 2007 and Mauritania in January 2008. This is more than half of the AU’s 53 countries.
This is the Committee of the Heads of State and Government of the countries voluntarily participating in the APRM. It is the highest decision-making body and could be considered like the board of directors which has the final say over the whole process. They appoint the APR Panel, look after the funding, discuss the country reports, apply the peer pressure and transmit the reports to the relevant AU structures.
This can be considered as the management or the executive of the APRM that directs and manages its operations. They are ‘appointed to oversee the review process to ensure the integrity of the process, to consider review reports and to make recommendations to the APR Forum’.
The panel consists of 7 eminent persons of ‘high moral stature and demonstrated commitment to the ideals of Pan Africanism’ who, moreover, have ‘expertise in the areas of political governance, macro-economic management, public financial management and corporate governance’. Its composition should also reflect a regional, gender and cultural balance.
The panel members are nominated by the participating countries, short listed by a Committee of Ministers, appointed by the APR Forum and serve for up to four years (five for the chairman)
The Secretariat provides ‘the secretarial, technical, coordinating and administrative support services for the APRM’. It is ‘supervised directly by the Chairperson of the APR Panel at the policy level and in the day-to-day management and administration by an Executive Officer’. The Secretariat is based in Midrand, South Africa, not far from the NEPAD secretariat.
Egypt and APRM
Egypt acceded to APRM in March 2004. According to the timetable proposed the peer review process for the country was implemented in late 2006 through 2007.
An APRM team visited Egypt in December 2007, for the first time, to carry out consultations with the government, and with officials, political parties, parliamentarians and representatives of civil society organizations (including the media, academia, trade unions, business, professional bodies)’. The purpose: to study the country’s means to achieving good governance and development.
The APRM team expressed their full appreciation of Egypt’s professed commitment to the goals and policies of the African Peer Review Mechanism. Egypt was also hailed for facilitating APR assignments by providing the information needed for APRM team to prepare their report.
In January 2008, Egypt took part in the high level meetings of NEPAD Implementation Committee and the African Peer Review Mechanism on the sidelines of the Azhar University summit, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.