n Journal of Public Administration - Stimulating evaluation demand in Africa

Volume 40, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Africa is only beginning to assess its administrative performance by employing the New Public Management tool, called Monitoring and Evaluation. Monitoring appears to be more widely practised on this Continent than actual evaluation to assess the merit, worth and value of administration, output and outcome of government interventions. This article makes a case for the wider use of well-tested evaluation strategies. Without proper evaluation there is no way of determining whether intended programmes are being implemented effectively or whether side effects have become more dominant. The African Peer Review Mechanism arose out of NEPAD and is a good start, but it does not evaluate the performance of individual government departments and their programmes adequately. Peer review broadly assesses the election process; the absence of corruption; and how well political leaders and their governments are performing in their overall economic, political, social and other spheres. This neighbourly technique is often suspect and has been termed window-dressing in order to effect debt relief or to gain access to more credit facilities from well-meaning developed countries. Of the 21 African countries examined, Zimbabwe appears to be already employing various evaluation activities. Other countries that are following suite, include Morocco, Ghana and South Africa. Most African countries cannot afford not to implement systematic evaluation, as is being carried out by most developed countries. Developing countries appear to fear that exposed failure would strengthen their political opponents. The three waves of evaluation considered, indicate that Africa missed the first wave during the 1960s and 1970s, whilst striving for independence was high on their agenda. During the second wave, from the mid-1970s during the oil crises through to the mid 1980s, the budget process promoted public accountability in countries like Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain, Finland and France. The third wave, from the late 1980s and 1990s, stimulated New Public Management tools like goal setting, implementation and objective evaluation based on private sector practices. The World Bank supports such measures and countries like Ireland, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, Colombia and Korea were quick to follow the example set by the first-wave countries. This wave has spread to some developing countries with expanding economies in Africa, Latin America and Asia. In order to stimulate a demand for evaluation in Africa, governments would be well advised to adopt lessons learnt by those countries that have already undergone first, second and third wave evaluations. Policy instruments generally used, include the carrot, stick and sermon approaches. So-called carrots include incentives; sticks consist of regulatory measures like constraints, inhibitions, prohibitions and deterrents; and sermons on the informative measures are used to build and sustain an objective evaluation culture. These policy instruments are not employed in isolation, but they are said to come in vertical, horizontal or chronological packages. It is concluded that the above policy instruments are most effective, when combined with other techniques. An appeal is made to African leaders to display an open willingness to engage in objective evaluation and a desire to promote a demand for evaluation in the public service. This would be in line with President Mbeki's commitment to lead the way in Africa by having the South African public service evaluated continuously.

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