First Roundtable Workshop For Cabinet Secretaries
Using Evidence to Improve Cabinet Decision-Making
The first roundtable workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was attended by Cabinet Secretaries and other delegates from 10 African nations.
It focused on practical ways to increase the use of evidence to improve Cabinet decision-making. See workshop documents for agenda, presentations, papers and examples of Cabinet manuals and other documents.
The workshop agreed to establish the Africa Cabinet Government Network (ACGN) as a permanent organization to provide formal and informal opportunities for collaboration, mutual support and the sharing of practical experiences across African Cabinet Secretariats. It also agreed on the Charter for the ACGN.
The meeting also agreed to establish the Council of African Cabinet Secretaries, with the following Cabinet Secretaries as foundation members: Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Somaliland, South Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zanzibar.
Other African Cabinet Secretaries are being invited to join.
The Communiqué from the meeting announced the election of Dr Ernest Surrur, the Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service in Sierra Leone, as the first President of the Council. The Cabinet Secretaries from Zambia, Liberia and South Sudan were elected Regional Vice Presidents.
The President and Vice Presidents form the ACGN Executive Committee.
On his return to Sierra Leone, Dr Surrur pointed out that the Network is the first organization in Africa to be focused specifically on the work of Cabinet Secretaries, who are responsible for managing and coordinating government decision-making processes.
“Cabinet Secretaries have a key role in helping their Governments to make policy decisions that are informed by evidence, analysis and consultation” he said. “This is critical so that Cabinet decisions are based on understanding of real problems and are able to be implemented effectively.”
“Many Government decisions in Africa are not implemented, often because they are not based on evidence”, he added.
“The workshop enabled us to share experiences, rather than being lectured to on theory”, he emphasized. “All the Cabinet Secretaries left with lists of practical steps to improve the support they provide their Governments.”
The week-long workshop in Addis Ababa was attended by 22 senior officials who are responsible for managing the highest level of government decision-making. They resolved to strengthen procedures and capacities to enable their governments to make use of relevant evidence when making decisions.
The workshop was opened by Ato Getachew Reda, representating the Ethiopian Prime Minister. Guest speakers included Professor the Honourable Brian Howe, former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, and Mr Ben C. Eghan, immediate past Secretary to the Cabinet of Ghana.
The meeting agreed that the next workshop will be in Accra, Ghana, later this year.
The workshops are being funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), which is investing a total of £13 million on six projects over the next three years to develop capacity to use research evidence in decision-making. This support aims to help to create an environment where research and evidence are used to make more successful policy decisions.
The DFID-financed Africa Cabinet Decision-Making Programme is being implemented by the Africa Cabinet Government Network in partnership with Adam Smith International, a leading international advisory organisation.