The African Development Bank (AfDB), in collaboration with the World Health Organization-Africa Region and the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI), organized a capacity-building workshop for senior officials from Ministries of Finance, Health, Education and civil society organizations from February 21-23 in Abuja, Nigeria. The workshop targeted Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo).
To foster and sustain progress in human development, African countries have identified the need to improve the level of results generated for the money spent on social sectors. Evidence shows that social spending is often inefficient and ineffective, and there is consensus on the need to correct this situation. Countries achieve very different levels of results with comparable levels of social spending. This suggests that it is possible to obtain greater results from available resources. The goal of the workshop: to familiarize service chiefs and policy-makers in the social sectors with the concept of Value for Money (VfM) and identify regional best practices for emulation.
The workshop focused on understanding how to achieve improved results with available funds. The stakeholders agreed the main sources of inefficiency in social spending are known and cut across sectors and that inefficiencies affect both public and private spending.
Five critical aspects of VfM, the five “Es” were evaluated – economy: minimize the cost of inputs; efficiency: maximize the outputs delivered from the inputs; effectiveness: achieve the intended results of the service, project or programme; equity: ensure public services reach their intended recipients; and ethics: manage services and programmes with integrity.
Through active participation, in-depth analysis and dialogue, a collective resolve to take positive actions towards improved VfM practices was made. African Development Bank Chief Health Analyst Fabrice Sergent urged participants to keep the conversation going after the workshop and initiate action in their respective countries.
As Africa marches towards implementation of the Bank’s High 5 development priorities, incorporating VfM into the core of policy-making and strategy implementation remains critical. Participants were encouraged to be active change agents to drive the process. In the words of CABRI Executive Secretary Neil Cole, to drive sustainable change, we must “show up, speak up, look up, team up, never give up and build others up.”