Tuesday, March 15, 2011

RESOURCE: Using Regional Institutions to Improve the Quality of Public Services

from: http://wdr2011.worldbank.org/Outsourcing%20to%20Regional%20Institutions


Edgardo Favaro

Lead Economist, Economic Policy and Debt Department, The World Bank

The rationale underlying a government's decision to subcontract the delivery of some public services to a regional organization is to access higher quality (and possibly lower cost) services than could be produced domestically. In that respect, contracting out a public service is not radically different from importing private goods and services. But in many other respects contracting out public goods and services is very different than importing most other private goods: first, there is no market where a country can purchase security or justice provision; second, there is risk that an arm's length relationship between the service provider and the client government may result in supplier actions that may not represent the interest of client governments; third, switching from one to another service provider is orders of magnitude more complex than it is in the case of most private goods and services.

A deeper understanding of subcontracting of public services to regional institutions is especially relevant in the context of the development of fragile states. If outsourcing some public service provision is feasible, bridging the gap between current poor quality public services and the type of services necessary to encourage development of a market economy is also possible within relevant development horizons.

The strategy followed in this paper is to study the conditions that facilitate the outsourcing of some public service provision, the governance structure ruling the relationship between the source and the client government and the actual performance of these agreements through the experience of several regional institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the Eastern Caribbean. The second section of the paper describes the characteristics of fragile states and provides indicators of the quality of institutions. The third section describes eight experiences of outsourcing in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the Eastern Caribbean. The fourth section analyzes historical, cultural, technical and economic reasons that have contributed to the development of this type of regional institution in some parts of the world and the rationale underlying the outsourcing of some functions but not others.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Towards an Emerging Regional Governance?

Who would have thought it: no less than the US, through Hillary Clinton, urging the world to wait out a UN-backed no-fly-zone on Libya.
This contrasts sharply with when her husband was President in 1999, when Nato was allowed to run rough-shod over the UN Security Council
by dropping bombs on Kosovo, without the backing of the Security Council.

Perhaps even more interesting is listening to this same Hilary Clinton talk about partners, including the Arab League, the African Union; the European Union;Nato; and the Gulf Cooperation Council!

I would have loved to hear in that list the AU-mandated Arab Maghreb Union, but that is okay.

Though I am impressed with Nato Secretary-General Rasmussen's claim that Nato will not act without the backing of the UN Security Council as well, I still have little regard for Nato, an alliance I believe has lost its raison d'etre. Still, hearing that list has given me hope that however and whatever people might feel about the utility--or lack thereof--of these groupings, they DO still exist and they are unlikely to break away anytime soon.

I just hope this Libyan crisis is a wake-up call for them to crank up what may just be the framework for the emergence of some kind of regional governance, where regional organisations are recognised as partners in the resolution of conflict -- everywhere!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Too Many Afro-Pessimists in the Hood

**The AU lacks the mechanism to be proactive and has failed. Its existence is not warranted.

**The AU is nothing but a forum for idling by questionable characters who meet and compare notes on their mismanagement of affairs. The AU itself is a problem that Africans have to solve first.

**Once again, the AU has led Africans to come across as people incapable of solving their own problems. How will we ever be respected if we continue to portray ourselves as "the white man's burden"?

from: http://www.citifmonline.com/index.php?id=1.290993.1.310328

I have just read a fascinating piece by one Dr.Michael J.K. Bokor on Ghana's citifmonline website that reeks of Afro-pessimism. I thought it was important to highlight three quotes that have resonance with a lot of what many African are talking about, namely: the failure of the AU to act in Libya.

While I agree to a large extent that the AU was slow in responding to the crisis in Libya, I never expected it to react so quickly. After all, Libya has been a rather formidable purveyor of African unity in many more ways than we can imagine. While that may have been self-serving for Libya in many respects, the bottom line is that Libya alone has paid the dues of smaller countries unable or unwilling to pay AU dues; plus the country contributes no less than 15% of the AU budget.

Perhaps if AU member states got their act together and paid more of their dues, rather than leaving it for South Africa; Libya; Nigeria; Algeria; and Egypt, we would all have a more functioning AU!

I don't know about you, but last time I looked no organisation can exist without finances--and Libya has offered a lot of that in the service of African Unity. Even if in theory, let's give the devil his due!

On issues of peace and security, it is acknowledged worldwide that outside Europe, the AU outshines Asia and Latin America in conflict prevention, conflict management and conflict resolution initiatives.

As a West African learning every day about my sub-region of ECOWAS, I know that ECOWAS, out of all the regional economic communities, has a significant comparative advantage over the seven other ones on peace and security, having had sound experiences in Liberia and other hot-spots in the sub-region.

Simply put: enough of this Afro-Pessimism by the learned doctor. The AU needs to get its house in order, but it won't do that when the Afro-Pessimists who see nothing good from the AU decide to castigate it, without offering sufficient solutions on how to make it better.