World Congress Against the Death Penalty

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In the inaugural conference of the 5th Congress which took place in Madrid (12-15 July 2013), the Iraqi minister of Justice asserted:

«The death penalty (in Iraq) applies only for serious crimes, as acts of terrorism and violent crimes. »

But for Nasser Abood who tops the Iraq Coalition Against the Death Penalty, these arguments do not stand:

« After China and Iran, Iraq is the third country (in the area) to run the death penalty. The problem is that most people who are sentenced to death are innocent but have confessed under constraint of torture and violence. In addition there is discrimination in implementing the death penalty for religious reasons, while militias’ activities of those who govern the country, go unpunished. The Iraqi government applies capital punishment to adjust political accounts or on behalf of religious faith. It is easy to focus into others responsibility for acts of terrorism (…) who might be convicted at all costs. »

Nasser Abood points out that five people were executed although innocent. He feels very lonely and without political support:

«Unfortunately, the government does not support the abolition of the death penalty. »

At northeast, in the Iraqi Kurdistan, the situation seems different. In Erbil, Mustapha Chouaf, coordinator of the Coalition of Kurdistan against the death penalty, a moratorium on executions is real. The last execution took place three years ago:

«When we speak of Iraq we should actually speak of two distinct geographical entities: Iraqi Kurdistan and Iraq. In Iraqi Kurdistan the death penalty does not apply, not so in the rest of Iraq. For example, in Iraqi Kurdistan, there are people incarcerated over 18 years, but they are not executed. There is awareness that Kurdistan should stop executions permanently. In Iraq, where the number of executions of persons who committed terrorist attacks has multiplied, the number of these attacks has been increasing. Executions did not reduce violence. So the death penalty is useless. »

Mustapha Chouaf has proposed to parliament of Iraqi Kurdistan a project to commute death sentences to 20 years imprisonment penalties. Over time, he would like to apply the abolition to all crimes by law. In the region the reluctance to such proposal is important while politicians hide behind the arguments of public opinion pressure or religious arguments. And it is Jordan who wants to be an example –as explains Mohhammad Altaraune, Judge of the High Criminal Court in Amman, and who also leads the Arab Coalition Against the Death Penalty:

«The last execution took place three years ago, when death penalty was abolished for ten rules, and, in cooperation with Parliament and civil society, we hope to abolish it for verified crimes as well. There is no reluctance from community if people are aware of the importance of resisting to the death penalty. »

Except Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Yemen, with the largest number of death penalty executions in the region –not to talk of Syria at war–, the remaining states in the region spot a moratorium, but they remain very reluctant to take a conclusive step towards the death penalty abolition –including Egypt and Lebanon.

Business and Human Rights, a difficult bridal

After six years in office the UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, Professor John Ruggie, acknowledges that he has made ​​progress in his job since his appointment in 2005, but he has been mainly driven by many NGOs that accused for decades the companies’ manners in some countries, particularly international businesses. Carlos Lopez, a senior legal advisor to the International Commission of Jurists, an NGO based in Geneva, reports that national and international corporations – and the states from which they originate – are opposed to excessively restrictive obligations or texts.

These firms consider that these rules could affect their ability to compete against other companies from China, India or Russia, which have different standards. But precisely a hundred years ago, the International Labour Organisation was created to establish standards that everyone would agree to meet.

It goes now beyond the rights of workers. Some suggest e.g. a set of standards, such as the right to a healthy environment. But businesses and their respective states do not want to hear about it. They say we must leave the markets go without putting rules that may impede business operations. Otherwise, facing too many binding rules (eg. taxes), they are afraid they will make less profit. There’s the rub.

A country where standards should urgently be implemented is the Democratic Republic of Congo. Navanethem Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, has repeatedly criticized the serious violations of human rights in the region, breaches connected to the mining activities and the extraction of natural resources, which are often contracted with transnational industries.

Many armed groups control these areas and they do it for economic reasons. They want to make a lucrative profit because these regions are rich in minerals. It is very well described in the meddling report to the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights. It is precisely in these pockets controlled by armed groups that mining is organized. They manage resource exploitation in situations of terrible abuse that could be defined as international crimes. In addition, international companies and companies located in other countries buy these minerals and are therefore involved in transactions. So there are different levels of involvement of foreign companies. And the international community does little to change that.

Yet the situation in DRC is closely followed by the Security Council. It has established codes of conduct and asks corporations to pay particular attention to the fact that minerals mined in the DRC do not benefit armed groups and do not help fueling the conflict. Companies should have clearer objectives in terms of respect for human rights. It should set more rules to ensure that the entire chain, all activities in any way, do not violate human rights. And that in addition they do not contribute to ensure that others do so.

Last June John Ruggie’s mandate ended. The first Special Representative of the UN for Business and Human Rights has succeeded anyway adopting common principles. However, he did not want that these principles were binding. Thus, only the goodwill shall prevail. That is a bit thin in the competitive world of these often lawlessness areas where victims have often no remedy at law.

Do Reforms Inhibit or Support African Development?


After the analysis of decades  of public sector reform in Africa with special focus on Ghana, one can draw the conclusion that the  external support during the 1980ies has been  vital,  but  to  some  degree  harmful  due  to  a  “faulty  diagnosis  and  prognosis” (1). The African public sector during that time cannot be described as too big, but as expanding. This growth was a direct result from the new-won independence and was therefore a necessary step of taking control.

In order to overcome the economic decline in the 1980ies African states were dependent on foreign investments. While the IMF, the World Bank and individual donors did provide the money, they also set unfitting goals and an unrealistic time schedules. Instead of strengthening the existing system of public administration, Western NPM methods of downsizing, retrenchment and cost cutting were introduced. As has been stated in the above, African states did not have an oversupply of qualified civil servants, but a demand for the latter. Instead of ensuring their loyalty and providing a better education for them, many positions were cut and the crucial increase of salaries was implemented with reluctance (2).

The results of these reforms of the public administration of the 1980ies in Ghana and other countries were modest to say the least. From a different point of view, one could even assert that they were modest from a short-term perspective, but fatal in a long-term perspective, because they focused on technicalities in order to save money – that actually weakened the civil service (1) and ignored the core aspects of successful public sectors. While it might make great sense to concentrate on cost-cutting and downsizing of the public administration in Western countries like the UK or  Germany – where  a  certain ethic belief may  be  attributed  to  the  public officials because of centuries of institutionalized rules and norms – African bureaucracies were nowhere near this point of development. If one observes the economic progress of Asian tiger states whose economies greatly strengthened during the past decades, one is also able to attribute this success to strong systems of public administration (3).

As there is no such history in African public management, it seems obvious that an emphasis has to be laid on the establishment of civil service ethics and accountability. One could conclude, that the reforms of the 1980ies in Africa skipped one step, because they  aimed  at  shrinking  something  that  wasn’t  even  stable  to  begin  with.  Only technicalities were at focus. Therefore, one is drawn to argue that reforms from this time period inhibited the development of committed reformers in Africa.

Of course, this statement must be handled with care, as one does not have the possibility of comparison with an African country that did not follow the NPM reforms at all. However, cutting costs at the wrong places led to the “unfolding challenges” (4) African countries encountered during the 1990ies and even in the new millennium. While techniques for more ethical behavior and accountability are decided on, their implementation must be coordinated among the African states. Instead of relying on external help, the more successful countries have to set an example and support  the weak links.

Dealing with these problems, the UN concludes:

“For poor, resource-constrained countries, the reform challenges are daunting, not because the countries do not know what to do, but because they lack the resources to initiate and sustain a comprehensive program of change.” (4)

Financial aid is thus still vital today. But instead of forcing these different systems to adapt Western ideals of public administration reforms, the support should be engaged on the  education  of  civil  servants,  hence  human  capacity  building  and  training.  In combination with a rise of public official salaries, the two core weaknesses identified in this work would be tackled. While the downsizing of the public sector has already taken place, one could attempt to stabilize this system now. Therefore, the current trend of African civil service reform can no longer in any way be attributed with an inhibition of the countries’ development.

On the whole, it has been clear that the reforms of the NPM-wave during the 1980ies did   little   to   promote   sustainable   development   in   African   public   sectors   and consequently in the countries’ economies (1) (2). Despite these negative experiences and the sentiment of wasted money, external support is a sine qua non in Africa now. The necessary strategies can only be implemented after the application of sophisticated analyses and diagnoses and with the involvement of all stakeholders, especially the civil servants in regard to more ethical behavior (2).

Only by doing so, policies – such as the liberalization of markets, vital for a more successful participation in global trade – can be implemented.

In order to highlight the difficulties encountered by Ghana and other African states in establishing an efficient and sustainable civil service resulting in a stronger economic development, this paper concentrated on the introduced governance crisis (2). However, there are of course great inter-dependencies between the public administration and the central government of a country. The best governance system would only get so far without a stable, organized and constitutional government (4). It would be interesting to analyze these realities for African states, as it seems logical that weak governments are another trigger for underdevelopment.

On the whole, one can conclude that reforms of the 1980ies were not customized for African   developing countries and most probably inhibited a quicker economic development. The second  wave of reforms however, is much more focused on the involvement and training of civil servants, which is – as seen in the cases of Developed Countries and Tiger States – crucial for a stable public  administration and economic growth. If provided with the necessary financial aid, reform-committed African states like Ghana could indeed face an overcome of economic underdevelopment.

Related posts:
· The African Governance Crisis (1/4) · A sift inventory of Africa’s development problems
· The African Governance Crisis (2/4) · The Consequences of Reforms on the African Civil Service
· The African Governance Crisis (3/4) · Rehabilitating the African Civil Service
· Millennium Development Goals: Fragile states claim summit outcome off-target


(1) Olowu, B. (1999). Redesigning African Civil Service Reforms. In: The Journal of Modern African Studies 37, 1 (1999). Cambridge University Press.
(2) Adamolekun, L. (2005). Re-Orienting Public Management in Africa: Selected Issues and Some Country Experiences. In: African Development Bank – Economic Research Paper Series No. 81.
(3) Evans, P. (1995). The State as Problem and Solution: Predation, Embedded Autonomy, and Structural Change. In: Politics and Society.
(4) United Nations. (2005). Public Administration and Development – Report of the Secretary General.

Rehabilitating the African Civil Service


The customary  problems  of  public  sector  ineffectiveness  due  to  erroneous  reform movements – leading to a reduction instead of a reinforcement of the system – and the ongoing  danger  of  corrupt  public  officials,  give  reason  to  speculate  about  more successful policies for the reinvention of the African public administration. In order to do so, public service ministers came together in Stellenbosch, South Africa in 2003 to respond to “unfolding challenges” in African public administration (1).

In accordance with some reform approaches of the late 1990ies, the aim of new reforms is to switch to home-grown and demand driven methods directed at specific problems and challenges instead of the donor-pressured goals of broad downsizing and cost- cutting (1). While the UN observes that contemporary reform methods do still aim to improve business and customer satisfaction techniques –“a  carry-over from the early days  of  New  Public  Management”  (1),  intangible  reform  topics   such   as  the implementation of norms and values as well as public service ethics and accountability play a vital role.

Since African countries like Ghana do not possess the financial assets necessary for a much needed rise of public servant salaries, it seems crucial to at least stabilize the employees feeling of normative obligations. Despite negative experiences citizens have encountered with corrupt public officials so far, the latter must still be expected to have a  special  awareness  for  accountability  since  they  belong  to  the  directly  elected government of the country (2). Von Maravic argues that ethics in public management influence the quality of decisions made in public administration as well as the trust the citizen has in the system. (3). Hence, if one could ensure the ethical comportment of public officials, African (and more precisely Ghanaian public administration) could highly improve.

However, at this point another problem must be faced: the lack of resources. In this way, the UN states:

“In many countries, public administration remains weak largely owing to a shortage of human resources and to deficiencies in staff training and motivation.“ (4).

When speaking about the amelioration of African public services, one must be cautious not to attempt to apply the same public sector reform logic to all African countries. The differentiation of Adamolekun provides a possible classification of African states that has been mentioned before when referring to Ghana as a reform-committed country.

The above  table  or  a  similar  one  could  be  used  in  order  to  ensure  a  sustainable improvement  of  African  public  administration  systems.  In regard to this, the UN highlights the necessity of information sharing among reforming African states (4). Implementing the homegrown, but still NPM influenced methods of public sector reform in combination with the support of ethical and accountable changes in countries of the “virtuous circle” could be a first step (5). While the public service ministers all attempt to work on similar criteria they must accept countries like Botswana, Namibia or South Africa as a ‘primus inter pares’and a focal point of orientation. Moreover, it is obvious that foreign investments are still necessary; however one must not repeat the mistakes of the 1980ies and let donor schedules pressure the implementation of reforms.

Related posts:
· The African Governance Crisis (1/4) · A sift inventory of Africa’s development problems
· The African Governance Crisis (2/4) · The Consequences of Reforms on the African Civil Service
· Millennium Development Goals: Fragile states claim summit outcome off-target


(1) African Press Organization. (2008). 6th Conference of African Ministers of Public Service Opening Remarks.
(2) Solinski, H.M. (1993). Ethic-conscious outlook behavior in public administration in Switzerland. Considerations and suggestions for the introduction of an ethics understanding based on the American experience. Reports and contributions of the Institute for Business Ethics at the University of St. Gallen.
(3) Von Maravic, P. (2009). Ethical challenges in administrative action. 5/4/2009.
(4) United Nations. (2005). Public Administration and Development – Report of the Secretary General.
(5) Adamolekun, L. (2005). Re-Orienting Public Management in Africa: Selected Issues and Some Country Experiences. In: African Development Bank – Economic Research Paper Series No. 81.

The Horn of Africa, a recurring scenario of drought and famine

Refugees from Somalia have to walk for days to reach Dadaab camp

The Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya are grappling with the arrival of thousands of people fleeing drought and fighting in neighboring Somalia. Many, especially children, fail to survive the long journey.

Some 2,000 people have been arriving every day in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camps from Somalia, Ethiopia and drought-stricken areas in Kenya. Many walk for weeks to get there. Young children, in particular, often don’t survive the long journey or succumb to exhaustion and severe malnutrition even after reaching the camps. The Dadaab camps are currently home to some 350,000 people.

Crop failure, droughts and floods are not the only causes of hunger. Corruption, mismanagement and bad governance are mainly to blame for catastrophes such as the current famine in the Horn of Africa.

Every day, between 1,000 and 2,000 refugees from Somalia come to the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya. They are fleeing from hunger – and from a nation which isn’t a country at all. The situation is so chaotic in southern Somalia, that it’s even dangerous for aid workers to go there. Rebel groups are spreading fear and terror among the population, blocking desperately needed food aid and making any possible help from the outside world impossible.

Add to this the extreme drought. The result is that many who are already living at the poverty level and below are robbed of their last chance to survive. The food scarcity is causing prices to soar. Whoever can’t pay them starves. Millet is a very important foodstuff in Somalia and is twice as expensive as it was just a short time ago. The people don’t have any choices anymore.

Democracy can battle hunger

But there’s no government to blame for the catastrophe in Somalia. The country is a classic example of a failed state. There is neither a government nor an administration. In these cases, hunger crises are practically inevitable.

The Indian economist and Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen proved that acute famine hardly occurs anymore in democracies. However, chronic hunger can prevail under democratically elected governments, as well. This means many people remain undernourished, but they don’t die in large numbers as a result.

Over a billion people worldwide are starving. This leads to a high level of childhood mortality, physical and mental handicaps and hopeless poverty.

Ethiopia can’t battle the problem

The catastrophe currently raging in the Horn of Africa is not daily hunger, though, but rather a famine of biblical dimensions. There are people starving to death during their flight, children who often don’t survive the weeks-long march to the Kenyan refugee camps in Dadaab, or who die shortly after arriving because they are already too weakened to survive.

They come from Somalia or Ethiopia, where the government is also in a desperate battle against hunger.

Ethiopia has invested enormously in the agrarian sector in the past 10 years. Every year, the number of starving has sunk by one to one-and-a-half percent, but beginning at a very high level.

However, the measures aren’t enough. Ethiopia belongs to the poorest countries in the world. The rapid growth in population makes it difficult to expand the agricultural sector sufficiently and ensure food security. A devastating drought like the one right now cannot be thwarted by investments in rural development. Those people who have lost their land or animals due to the drought can only resort to fleeing.

Promises need to be fulfilled

In the long-term, consistent investments in agriculture and poverty reduction is the only thing which could prevent hunger catastrophes like this one. And these need to be investments that are transparent and sustainable – without the funds seeping away through corruption and nepotism. All that, without leaving Africa back in the hands of agribusiness or predatory countries that acquire African land for monocultures and speculation on cereals (China, South Korea); by facilitating and promoting the capitalization of small-scale agricultural projects, local and traditional (encouraging microfinance at all possible levels to generate self-sustaining economies that will fuel food self-sufficiency) — instead of capital investments seeking a return on investment in the short-term.

African Union’s so-called Maputo agreement is welcomed for sure. In 2003, African countries pledged to invest 10 percent of their entire budget into agriculture. Unfortunately, Kenya for example, where the drought is threatening hundreds of thousands of people, has not kept this promise. Additional funds or food reserves need to be put aside for acute crises like this one. Or the international donor community has to be asked for help. But this additional aid by the international community has flowed fairly sparsely – despite all the promises. And it is by far not enough to battle a catastrophe of this degree. UN agencies have a mandate by the governments to help these people, but not the necessary funds.

Many aid organizations are already warning of the next famine: in South Sudan, which has just become independent. The UN’s youngest member nation is marked by a shortage of funds, lacking government competence and growing corruption. The downward spiral continues to turn.

Related Posts: The Horn of Africa – An everlasting battleground

The Consequences of Reforms on the African Civil Service


 “Since the late 1980s, many African countries have been reforming their civil services (…) Unfortunately, these reforms have not been very successful because of faulty diagnosis and prognosis. They have failed to tackle the major problems confronting African civil services.” (1)

Before the analysis of African public administration reforms can be undertaken, one must remember that the landscape of Africa’s civil service was not build from scratch. With its independence from British colonial rule, countries like Ghana inherited a system of public management that fulfilled tasks of “assuring the continuity of the state and maintaining law and order” (2). However, the civil service was doomed to re-orientate after independence in order to follow national interests instead of the ones of former colonial rulers. The African Development Bank thus asserts  that  an  enormous  expansion  of  the  civil  service took  place  until  the  grave economic decline at the  end of the 1970ies leading to a full-scale development crisis (2). This is when reforms of the civil services this paper aims to concentrate on were launched. Ghana shall be utilized as a hands-on example in this work, because it may be identified as a reform-committed country (2) that demonstrates strong efforts to rehabilitate its public service despite tremendous economic shortfalls. Therefore, a lack of commitment can be dismissed as a possible inhibiting factor to a successful development of Ghanaian public administration.

The goal of the following chapter is thus to properly understand why policies from the 1980ies aiming at the economic stabilization and development of African states such as Ghana have shown little success (1). One of these policies is the liberalization African markets (3). Taking this as the initial point of  this  work’s  analysis,  one  is  more  likely  to  comprehend  the  nature  of  reforms launched  during  the  1980ies.  The question whether the latter actually inhibited or actually reversed Ghanaian administrative, hence ultimately economic progress shall now be at focus.

NPM-Waves in Africa

Influenced by donor countries providing the necessary financial support for reforms (4), the ideal of New Public Management began gaining ground as a leitmotif for reforms in Ghana and other SSA countries. In general one can follow Bamidele Olowu in asserting that “African civil services [were] originally modeled on their metropolitan precursors.” (1). Although New  Public Management does not  translate  into  the  same  dogmatically  closed  catalogue  of  instruments  in  every country, in this work NPM shall be understood as a business interpretation of administrative action, hence a trend toward micro economic behavior in public management.

According to Peter Evans, this phase of reforms in developing countries may be seen as market-centered (5). After decades of viewing the state as the ultimate instrument of development, reforms in the 1980ies were initiated under the sentiment of negative experiences with the central government, hence a thrive for a reduction of the state.

As mentioned before, Ghana like many other African countries experienced a great expansion of the civil service sector after the 1960ies (1). After the global oil crisis, African economic decline and the ideal of a business-oriented reform wave  of  the  public  administration,   this   growth  of  the  state  was  to  be  ended (2). Donor countries provided African states with the necessary financial aid for the cutback of civil services (4). To make this more accessible, one must look at some exact data, in this case from Ghana.

The shrinking of the Ghanaian public administration was tackled through a myriad of reforms steps. The most important ones for the analysis in this paper are as follows. A grand movement of organizational restructuring led to a reorganization of government ministries eliminating four agencies during the reform efforts. Hence, seemingly unnecessary agencies were cut.  Another method, which was very well received by donor countries, was Ghanaian retrenchment. The core goal of this policy may be seen in the cutback of unneeded civil servants in order to shrink the countries’ public administration system. Therefore, Ghana reduced its civil servants from 131 089 in 1990 to 80 000 in 1995 (1).

Despite the reduction of civil servants, the payment of the latter was to be increased. Therefore Ghana foresaw decompressing wages and providing higher salaries for public managers. While information on the actual increase varies depending on the source, it is safe to say that actual salaries in Ghana did not rise significantly. Although still higher than for many African countries, the increase during the reforms in Ghana was modest (2).

These three aspects of Ghanaian public sector reform are sufficient for the following line of argumentation. However it shall be noted that Ghana was also at the forefront in regard to privatization and decentralization of public services (1). Due to its British past and organizational influence, reforms like the latter were faster implemented than in other African countries (1).

Evaluation of the NPM Reforms in Africa

The crucial part now lies in the evaluation of the New Public Management reforms and their effect on policy-making capabilities of the African civil service.

As mentioned above, the size of the Ghanaian public administration was decreased in regard to the number of agencies as well as the number of employees. Donor countries favored this approach due to  the conviction that a smaller public sector would work more  efficiently  as  for  instance  experienced  in  the  UK  (3). Moreover, the state’s involvement was seen as one of the core problems in developing countries after the 1970ies (5), thus the idea of a roll back of the state was widely popular (6).

However, the African civil service was never abnormally big in comparison to other regions (1).

      Figure 1: Government Employment as a Percentage of Population (various recent years)

Source: Olowu, 1999, p. 9.

As visible in the above chart, the central as well as the local government in sub-Saharan Africa is much smaller than the OECD average. While the observation that there was an enormous growth of the latter may very well be correct, this must be viewed as a post- colonial necessity. It seems rather logical that a growing economy must increase its public administration capacities. In regard to the number of public employees, the UN states that the African public administration “is significantly understaffed in professional and managerial areas, and perhaps overstaffed in semi-skilled and unskilled areas.” (4).

Therefore, one must conclude that a reduction of Ghana’s civil service at all levels was contra-intuitive and defeating the purpose of a more effective public administration.

The retrenchment in the civil service in general has proven to be more costly than expected in the beginning. More precisely, the research on the proper identification of cost saving possibilities mostly exceeded the actual ex-post cost saving (1).

Ghana is once again a perfect example for this miscalculation as the country actually encountered cumulative losses as a result from downsizing in the 1980ies. Although  Ghana  has  been  classified  as  a  committed  reformer,  the  former  head  of Ghanaian civil service, Robert Dodoo asserted his dissatisfaction in regard to the reform movement. According to him, the reason for the lack of improvement of the country’s development lay in the “donor time-tables, agendas and conditionalities” (7). While external support was necessary and vital for an improvement of the African  civil  service  the  provision  of  money  came  with  unreasonably  short-term expectancies.  It  does  not  seem  surprising  that  a country in  danger  of  loosing  all monetary  support  decides  to   hustle  through  a  reform  and  risk  less  successful implementation instead of the loss of crucial financial aid.

There are two core weaknesses to be identified after this ex-post evaluation of the first part of African civil service reforms: (1) the way reform was embarked upon, along with (2) the goal of the reform.

The first point has been made quite clear with the previous statements of Robert Dodoo. The pressure for success coming from donor countries was in no way beneficial for the improvement of the Ghanaian civil service. As one of many, Ghana had agreed to reduce the cost of the public sector and implement questionable structural adjustment programs: “This was an explicit condition for financial support from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.” (2). Although the size of the civil service was reduced, the results in cost saving were modest.

But why reduce the African public administration at all? As demonstrated with the graph, the African civil service was in no way bigger than ones from many other states. While it was indeed expanding after the colonial rulers granted independence, this was a vital step toward a functioning economy and a sustainable development of countries like Ghana. State and market building are mutually dependent; hence a strong state in combination with a functioning market could be seen as the more adequate policy for Africa at this delicate time (3).

The World Bank itself states that

‘An effective  state  is  vital  for the  provision  of the  goods and  services  – and  the  rules  and institutions – that allow markets to flourish and people to lead healthier, happier lives. Without sustainable development, both economic and social is impossible.’ (8)

The problem  of  the  1980ies  believe  that  effectiveness  would  be  achieved  through downsizing is  made clear in the above. However, it now becomes tangible that the effects of the 1980ies reforms may very well have resulted in lacking capabilities to implement crucial policies for the countries’ development, i.e. the liberalization of markets. If there are too few agencies and employees to oversee the realization of liberalization, this process is doomed to fail.

The third reform step that shall be evaluated here is the alteration of salaries in the civil service. While there was indeed some increase in the salaries of civil servants in Ghana, they are still stunningly low (1).  When being confronted with unattractive   employment   opportunities, the reaction of workers is universally comparable. High-qualified human capital either leaves the country in order to find better-paid jobs or the employee opens him – or herself to corruption. A report by the IMF shows a strong correlation between wages in public administration relative to wages in manufacturing: “It is estimated that government wages needed to be 2×8 (…) times higher to make corruption negligible.” (The Economist 1997, Reasons to be venal).

Corruption is another major weakness of African public administration and must be seen as another NPM-influenced repercussion (1). Peter Evans asserts in this regard that methods of personalism and plundering at the top levels of African civil service destroy all possibilities of rule-governed behavior in the lower levels of public administration (5). More precisely, in order to make a living less qualified officials go along the example set at the top.

Another fatal repercussion of corruption for these countries is not only the waste of financial  resources,  but  also  the  cancelation  of  international  aid  programs  as  a punishment (5). Weak public administration with corrupt officials therefore results in a vicious circle for the whole country.

After evaluating the three vital reforms in Ghana, the downsizing of the public sector as well as an insufficient rise of civil servant salaries, in the following, this paper aims at observing some of the latest reform movements. By doing so, the goal is to make a recommendation as to where the development of the Ghanaian and African civil service should be headed in order to guarantee more capable ways of implementing policies for an improvement of the countries’ development.

Related posts:
· The African Governance Crisis (1/4) · A sift inventory of Africa’s development problems
· The African Governance Crisis (3/4) · Rehabilitating the African Civil Service
· Millennium Development Goals: Fragile states claim summit outcome off-target


(1) Olowu, B. (1999). Redesigning African Civil Service Reforms. In: The Journal of Modern African Studies 37, 1 (1999). Cambridge University Press.
(2) Adamolekun, L. (2005). Re-Orienting Public Management in Africa: Selected Issues and Some Country Experiences. In: African Development Bank – Economic Research Paper Series No. 81.
(3) Chaudhry, K. A. (1993). Myths of the Market and the Common History of Late Developers.
(4) United Nations. (2005). Public Administration and Development – Report of the
Secretary General, Sixtieth Session.
(5) Evans, P. (1995). The State as Problem and Solution: Predation, Embedded Autonomy, and Structural Change. In: Politics and Society.
(6) Goldsmith, M. J. & Page, E. C. (1998). Farewell to the British State? In: Public Sector Reform by Jan-Erik Lane. London: SAGE Publications.
(7) Dodoo, R. (1996). The Core Elements of Civil Service Reforms. In: African Journal of Public Administration and Management
(8) World Bank. (1997). World Development Report. New York: Oxford University Press

A sift inventory of Africa’s development problems


Index of African Governance Human Development

Index of African Governance Human Development © European Statistical Laboratory

The underdevelopment of developing countries and the attempted overcome of the latter are at heart of international debates ever since development politics began gaining ground in world politics in the 1960ies. Today, African states receive special attention in regard to possibilities of an amelioration of their economic status quo.

Core problems  of  these  so-called  Least  Developed  Countries  (LDCs)  are  a  highly restricted  access  to  basic  human  needs  such  as  food,  water,  energy  resources  or medicine.  Moreover “social services and infrastructure have largely collapsed  owing  to  a  lack  of  resources  for  their  upkeep.”  (1). Although the Millennium Development Goal aiming at a worldwide reduction of extreme poverty by 50% is expected to be reached until 2015, this data must be considered with caution in regard to Africa. While countries such as India or China, who are also targeted by the UN agenda  do  indeed  face  an  incredible  improvement  of  public  wealth,  sub-Saharan countries are at risk of being left behind permanently. More precisely, the UN today expects goals such as the reduction of extreme poverty to be reached in Africa no sooner than in 150 years (1).  This vicious circle of underdevelopment is well highlighted in the Human Development Index. From the 1980ies until the end of the millennium 13 of 22 countries that suffered large setbacks were African (1). Among a great number of possible explanations for this economic disaster, one of the most plausible ones is the conviction that “governance and public administration  weaknesses,  [and]  the  failure  to  reflect  poverty  concerns  in  budget allocations…” (1) generate economic gaps. This analysis thus aims to demonstrate that so far weak governance institutions are one of the main causes for the above-depicted underdevelopment of some African countries.

But how exactly does the public administration system of sub-Saharan LDCs affect their (economic) development?

Many theories regarding the economic improvement of these poorest countries have been launched and abolished. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has been at the receiving end of a myriad of developmental experiments ranging from modernization concepts to self-help and good governance approaches. The core train of thought driving these, mostly Western models of development, has been the ideal of market liberalization (2) as  a  motor  for development.  But  what  is  often  forgotten  when  dealing  with  the  approach  of  free markets is the vitality of  strong governance institutions. Kiren Chaudhry and Peter Evans acknowledge that market building and state building must go hand in hand (2)(3). More precisely, they hereby avert from the idea of a simple roll back of the state of New Public Management (NPM) reforms launched during the 1980ies (4).  The UN General Assembly corroborates: “With challenges of poverty and growing inequality (…) organized and constitutional Government becomes the only guarantee of personal and collective security.”  (1).

Although development aid or development strategies in general may have fallen into some disgrace during the last decades due to little trickle down effect and images of corrupt African leaders wasting  Western money for their personal pleasure,  increased  financial  aid  might  be a sine qua non at this crucial time of development of African governance institutions. A lack of financial resources leads to dramatic human capital flight in the African public administration (1). Further, NPM-like cuts in administrative resources in order to minimize the size of African public management could have led to a setback and to less development in the target countries.

The reforms of the civil sector in Africa so far have been mainly concerned with technicalities, such as the reduction of the size and the cost of the public sector (5).

However, this approach fails – as I shall argue later in more detail – to comprehend the crucial task of building lasting human and institutional aptitudes.

This contribution therefore aims to concentrate on the civil service sector of underdeveloped sub-Saharan countries. Questions such as: ‘What kind of reforms were implemented?’ must be answered before diving into the complex task of evaluating the latter and discussing a different approach to possible improvement in the civil service, hence in the countries’ development. Thus, in a first step, this paper will focus on some major reforms in reform-committed African countries such as Ghana and underline the weakness of the attempts to change the system of public management (6).

A second step will then be dedicated to suggestions of a new direction for the handling of the African public administration.

In a last step, this paper then aims to draw a conclusion and answer the initial question whether public sector reforms in Africa so far actually inhibit or support development.

Related posts:
· The African Governance Crisis (2/4) · The Consequences of Reforms on the African Civil Service
· The African Governance Crisis (3/4) · Rehabilitating the African Civil Service
· Millennium Development Goals: Fragile states claim summit outcome off-target


(1) United Nations. (2005). Public Administration and Development – Report of the Secretary General. Sixtieth Session.
(2) Chaudhry, K. A. (1993). Myths of the Market and the Common History of Late Developers.
(3) Evans, P. (1995). The State as Problem and Solution: Predation, Embedded Autonomy, and Structural Change. In: Politics and Society.
(4) Goldsmith, M. J. & Page, E. C. (1998). Farewell to the British State? In: Public Sector Reform by Jan-Erik Lane. London: SAGE Publications.
(5) Olowu, B. (1999). Redesigning African Civil Service Reforms. In: The Journal of Modern African Studies 37, 1 (1999). Cambridge University Press.
(6) Adamolekun, L. (2005). Re-Orienting Public Management in Africa: Selected Issues and Some Country Experiences. In: African Development Bank – Economic Research Paper Series No. 81.