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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

#ReviveAPRM: Where to Next for Civil Society?


On 17-18 May, SAIIA and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) together held a regional civil society conference, ‘#ReviveAPRM: Where to Next for Civil Society?’ in Nairobi, Kenya.

Read Tweets about the event on #ReviveAPRM or visit the Facebook #ReviveAPRM Group. Read a Daily Maverick article about the event here.

Read the pdf Conference Report here (528 KB)

Event review

By Matebe Chisiza, SAIIA Konrad Adenauer Foundation Master’s Scholar, and Luanda Mpungose, Programme Officer for Governance and APRM at SAIIA.

Nairobi, Kenya was chosen as the host city for this regional conference due to President Uhuru Kenyatta's current chairmanship of the APRM Forum, the mechanism’s highest decision-making body. Launched in 2003 by the African Union, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is a voluntary governance assessment and improvement tool. As of May 2016, 35 countries have joined and 17 have undergone their first review. 

In spite of initial enthusiasm about this initiative, between 2012 and 2015 the APRM was increasingly plagued by challenges relating to its internal governance processes, misuse of public funds and failure to progress with its regular operations. Stagnation was most evident at the APRM Forum level, where political decisions, such as the appointment of a new CEO for the APRM Secretariat, poor financial controls, and non-payment of member contributions, were deferred and left unaddressed. The goal of this conference was to develop a coherent civil society approach to consolidate and deepen the recent gains made in reviving the APRM.

Over the course of one-and-a-half days, 80 participants from African civil society, academia, media and governance institutions engaged in discussions about the current state of the APRM and its future. The pdf keynote address (42 KB) was delivered by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Planning and Devolution and APRM Focal Point, Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri.

Minister Kiunjuri apologised for the exclusion of civil society from the Extraordinary Summit which was set to be held in September 2015 but was delayed until January 2016. That Summit was designed to revitalise the mechanism and make it a more effective tool for promoting good governance. The Minister promised that going forward civil society would be more involved in efforts to revitalise the APRM. Peter Kimemia, Nepad Kenya’s Director of APRM and Governance, announced that the country will be the first to undergo its second review, which will most likely take place in January 2017. Ferdinand Katendeko, a thematic coordinator at the APRM Secretariat, made a presentation on the current state of the mechanism and provided updates about plans for the future, which include increased engagement with civil society.

Following interventions by continental and Kenyan APRM officials, civil society representatives from Kenya, Uganda and Côte d’Ivoire had an opportunity to respond.  The general consensus was that governments need to use civil society to help identify problems within the country at all levels and once that is done, both parties should work together to utilise the APRM as a tool to assist in resolving these issues. It was also emphasised that civil society needs to champion revitalisation of the APRM within their respective states as well as continentally.

During the second day of the conference, discussions moved up one level to assess the current state of governance and accountability in Africa. A representative from Afrobarometer, Rorisang Lekalake, said that according to public surveys, seven out of ten Africans prefer democracy to other political regimes. However, historically, African leaders have not had the best democratic record. That is why it is important for governance mechanisms like the APRM to be a tool in promoting good governance, accountability and transparency. 

SAIIA also launched its new book, African Accountability: What Works and What Doesn’t.

At the end of the conference, SAIIA and EISA undertook to write and distribute a communiqué to all participants. The conference also generated much online debate and the hashtag #ReviveAPRM trended on Twitter in Kenya. For more information about this event and to access presentations, see below.

For more information about the APRM, visit SAIIA’s APRM Toolkit.

20160517 reviveaprm small  20160518 reviveaprm small

Left: The #ReviveAPRM conference underway. Right: Nairobi, Kenya, where the conference took place

Event details

While civil society applauds the recent actions taken on and the improved trajectory of the APRM – including the appointment of a new CEO, the resumption of Country Review Missions and improved revenue collection – it remains cautiously optimistic about the future prospects of the APRM. Past experience with both the APRM itself and other African institutions suggests that such gains, unless protected, can be short-term in nature.

This conference intends to review and reflect on the recent decisions taken by the APRM structures and the consequences for both the APRM and civil society participation in Africa; assess implementation progress on the Nairobi Communiqué and determine additional issues and demands that need to be added to strengthen the APRM; and explore ways to deepen and strengthen civil society ownership of the African governance agenda through the APRM.

The organising partners hope to develop a coherent civil society approach to consolidate and deepen the recent gains made in reviving the APRM.

Event Materials

View the pdf Concept note (590 KB) and pdf programme (662 KB) for the event.

Download all of the material from day one: 
pdf Opening speech by SAIIA's Yarik Turianskyi (116 KB)
pdf Does the APRM matter for African Citizens? (220 KB) by Richard Ssewakiryanga
pdf Reviving the African Peer Review Mechanism, a Youth Perspective (1.08 MB) by Nixon Murabwa
pdf Role of Civil Society in the APRM Revitalization Agenda (42 KB) by Hon Mwangi Kiunjuri
pdf The State of Governance and Accountability in Africa (1.05 MB) by David Omozuafoh

Download all of the presentations from day two: 
pdf Group One - Promoting, Demanding and Encouraging from Our Leaders Governments by Civil Society in relation to APRM (54 KB)
pdf Group Two - Fostering greater CSO collaboration at the regional and sub regional level (75 KB)  
pdf Group Three - How Do We Bring Other Civil Society Into The APRM (52 KB)
pdf Group Four - Using Communication, Media and social media to get the APRM message out there (47 KB)

‘#ReviveAPRM: Where to Next for Civil Society?’ builds on the success of two previous civil society conferences.

The first was 'APRM +10: Civil Society Colloquium 2013' (held on 17-18 May 2013 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

APRMconference 2013
The second was 'The African Peer Review Mechanism in Southern Africa: Exploring Synergies with the Southern African Development Community' (held on 20-21 May 2015 in Gaborone, Botswana)

APRMconference 2015


Launched in 2003 by the African Union (AU), the APRM is a mutually agreed instrument voluntarily acceded to by the Member States of the AU as an African self-monitoring mechanism. The APRM is a bold, unique and innovative approach designed and implemented by Africans for Africa. The mandate of the APRM is to encourage improvement across four thematic areas: democracy and political governance, economic governance and management, corporate governance and socio-economic development.

The objectives of the APRM are primarily to foster the adoption of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration through experience sharing and reinforcement of successful and best practices, including identifying deficiencies and assessment of requirements for capacity building.

As of April 2016, 35 countries have signed up. These are (in alphabetical order): Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. To date, 17 countries have completed their first reviews. These are (in order of review):  Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Algeria, Benin, Uganda, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mozambique, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Zambia and Tanzania.  


SAIIA, the South African Institute of International Affairs, has a long and proud record as South Africa’s premier research institute on international issues. It is an independent, non-government think-tank whose purpose is to encourage wider and more informed awareness of the importance of international affairs.  It is both a centre for research excellence and a home for stimulating public debate. The Institute was founded in Cape Town in 1934 and celebrated its 80th birthday in 2014. For five years in a row, between 2010 and 2014, SAIIA was ranked as the top think tank in sub-Saharan Africa in the University of Pennsylvania’s annual Global Think Tank Survey. The Institute has been working on the APRM since its inception in 2003. Tweet to @SAIIA_info

Please visit SAIIA’s APRM Toolkit to find out more about the mechanism as well as the dedicated webpage of the Institute’s Governance and APRM Programme for the latest research and media articles. Also don’t forget to subscribe to our quarterly Newsletter ‘Governance Perspectives Update’ to find out about the latest developments. You can also find out more about SAIIA’s latest book ‘African Accountability: What Works and What Doesn’t’ and watch a podcast with the editors.

EISA, the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, has since its inception in 1996 established itself as a leading institution and influential player dealing with elections and democracy related issues in the African continent. It envisions an African continent where democratic governance, human rights and citizen participation are upheld in a peaceful environment. The Institute’s vision is executed by striving for excellence in the promotion of credible elections, citizen participation, and the strengthening of political institutions for sustainable democracy in Africa. Having supported and/or observed over 100 electoral processes in Africa, EISA has extensive experience in formulating, structuring and implementing democratic and electoral initiatives. It has built an internationally recognised centre for policy, research and information and provides this service to electoral management bodies, political parties and civil society organisations in a variety of areas, such as voter and civic education and electoral assistance and observation. Besides its expanded geographical scope, the Institute has, for the past several years, been increasingly working in new in-between election areas along the electoral and parliamentary cycle, including constitution and law making processes, legislative strengthening, conflict management and transformation, political party development, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and local governance and decentralisation. Headquarters in Johannesburg (South Africa), the institute currently has offices in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Somalia and Zambia and a regional liaison office at the secretariat of the ECCAS in Libreville, Gabon.

Please visit the EISA APRM Programme dedicated webpage for the latest EISA APRM publications.


For more information, please contact

South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA)
Steven Gruzd
Head: Governance and African Peer Review Mechanism Programme
Tel: +27 11 339 2021 ext 152

Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA)
Grant Masterson
Manager: African Peer Review Mechanism
Tel: +27 11 381 6000

SAIIA and EISA would like to thank the SDC for their generous support of their joint APRM programme.