NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 24 – A conference on Africa Governments Delivery of Election Pledges has kicked off in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
The two-day virtual event under the Africa Deliveries Exchange network brought together delivery units from 22 countries in the continent and experts in the performance and implementation of development projects from 28 countries across the world.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the President of the African Development Bank Dr. Akinwumi Adesina were among the key speakers of the conference that is being hosted by Kenya under the President’s Delivery Unit in partnership with the Tony Blair Foundation for Global Change and the AfDB.
Addressing the conference, President Kenyatta said better access to information on government projects and a predominantly young, educated and politically assertive electorate was putting elected leaders across the continent under increased pressure to deliver on electoral pledges.
“Our people know and understand what development ought to look like and what benefits it should bring to their social-economic wellbeing. Therefore, any failure to quickly address the ‘missing middle’ within the development paradigm could create a deficit of trust between the electorate and those in positions of leadership,” the President said.
The President hailed the PDU that he established in 2015 saying it has been effective in ensuring that development priorities were well understood within the Government administrative structure and that state agencies and other stakeholders were aligned to the agenda.
He said the reorganisation of his Government under Executive Order Number One, 2019 that created the Cabinet development implementation committee chaired by Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and three other devolved committees had greatly improved the rate of completion of projects and the accountability of ongoing ones.
On his part, Blair said the Big Four agenda championed by President Kenyatta was a good example of how African leaders could narrow the gap between electoral promises and their delivery.
“When political leaders are in the driving seat and they apply the principles of delivery towards a focused transformation agenda, then real change happens.”
The former long-serving Prime Minister who is credited with popularising delivery units said changes in approach to governance that prioritised speed and efficiency in delivery was inevitable for governments that were increasingly required to provide services beyond traditional responsibilities.
The AfDB President challenged African governments to initiate development projects that genuinely transformed their citizens’ lives.
Said Adesina: “Growth must translate into a meaningful impact on the lives of the people. What we should be measuring is not a quantum of economic growth but the quantum of growth and the quality of life.”
The AfDB is a major financier of development projects in Africa. In Kenya the bank has funded the Lake Turkana Wind Project which is the largest wind project in the continent. It has also funded the Last Mile Connectivity that has installed electricity to around 1.2 million low-income households.
The bank is also funding the inter-region road corridor that connects the Kenya coastline to South Sudan and Ethiopia under the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) project.
Besides exchanging experiences on expediting the delivery of projects, the ADX2020 network will also discuss the challenges posed to governments by the Covid-19 pandemic and how they are being mitigated.