The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
The African Association for Public Administration and Management (AAPAM) is an international professional association that promotes best practices, excellence, and professionalism in public administration and management in Africa, through research, publications, training, seminars, consultancy, conferences and awards. AAPAM draws its membership from various sectors including governments, corporate bodies, the private sector, civil society, international organisations, as well as individual members and students.
AAPAM established its Young Professionals Network (YPN) in 2006 with the aim of mentoring young leaders and building their capacity. By forging a link between the senior, experienced public-sector managers and young officials, AAPAM seeks to train a new breed of public servants to ensure continuity in the delivery of quality public services and in the efforts towards achieving continental and sustainable development goals.
This year, AAPAM YPN members had the opportunity to participate in the first Next Generation Forum held in Kigali, Rwanda, focusing on Public Service in Africa. It is noteworthy that the Mo Ibrahim Foundation included the youth perspectives in the governance agenda, acknowledging the strategic importance of African youth in nation building. In the continent, youth below 25 years make up more than 60% of the population, making education and employment two key priorities for any debate on the future of Africa.
At the Next Generation Forum, over 70 young Africans from 32 countries, studying or working in the public or private sector, had the opportunity to escalate the conversation beyond the norm thanks to the combined experience, willpower, skills and abilities represented. By discussing questions related to their perceptions on public service and probing existing practices, the representatives proposed a paradigm shift from that which expects governments to provide all services to citizens, to a more progressive partnership model which places responsibility on the citizens as taxpayers, and involves other state and non-state actors – such as the private sector – in public service delivery. While demanding better service delivery, the participants stated their willingness to pay higher taxes for these services, and to take on a more proactive role to ensure that governments remain accountable and ethical in their practices.
Similarly, since 2016, AAPAM programmes have focussed on Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with emphasis on good governance, ethics and accountability. With the YPN members poised to take up leadership roles, AAPAM endeavours to embed a culture of values among the young professionals – as enshrined in the African Union Charter on Values and Principles of Public Service and Administration. YPN programmes, held in 2014 and 2018 in Nairobi and Kisumu respectively, have reported an increase of young professionals who rose in professional ranks, since developing an appreciation for a public service career and an aversion for corrupt practices.
Other programmes, such as the AAPAM Innovative Management Award (IMA), recognise persons and institutions who have made outstanding contributions towards the transformation of public administration in Africa. By awarding exemplary practitioners and institutions, AAPAM seeks to inspire public servants to work towards innovating approaches to ensure efficient and effective service delivery, while fostering a sense of pride and excellence in public administration and management in Africa.
The 2018 AAPAM annual Roundtable conference, to be held in Gaborone, Botswana on 6-9 November, will host a YPN plenary session which will bring together young professionals from African states to discuss their role in four key areas: innovation, resourcefulness, integration and inclusivity. These are key areas are highly interlinked with the younger generations, given their prowess in technology, inquisitive attitude, energetic spirit and diligence. The transformation of governance and public administration in Africa to achieve Agenda 2063 and the SDGs is highly dependent of the role of youth, and these inclusive practices should be replicated in all fora discussing the future of the continent.