This special edition of the African Journal of Public Administration and Management (AJPAM) is developed out of a collaboration between the African Association for Public Administration and Management (AAPAM) and the Centre of Specialisation in Public Administration and Management (CESPAM). It is composed of some of the papers presented in CESPAM/YORK University Conference held on 9th to 10th June 2015 at the University of Botswana in Gaborone, Botswana under the theme, ‘New public sector reforms in Africa: connecting the dots’. The papers herein therefore discuss various topics under the overarching theme of public management for the attainment of sustainable development as highlighted in the author’s caption below.
Mpabanga explores New Public Management (NPM) paradigm as a tool to reform public service in Botswana. The researcher argues that NPM would be effective through an incremental approach rather than a top-down approach. The article affirms that there are positive strides on public private collaboration though challenges of effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery are visible.
Ocholi examines security reforms in Kenya by observing that though several attempts have been made to improve the civil service, a number of concerns still plague the security sector. Some of the challenges discussed include; inadequate training of security personnel, corruption, and lack of political good will among others. Moving forward, the paper recommends the need for an approachable police service personnel premised on open communication. It posits that any reforms in the security sector need to guarantee dignity of both citizens and the security staff and by extension the country at large.
Dzimbiri analyzes the failure of reform initiatives at implementation level using Information Financial management Integrated System (IFMIS). The central argument in his paper is that while Africa has been successful in importing systems, legal structures, rules, procedures and technical systems such as IFMIS, has failed to transform the cultural aspects critical for the success of reform initiatives. Consequently, failure in the implementation of IFMIS in Malawi.
Mandiyanike and Musekiwa review challenges of implementing public reforms through capacity building in Zimbabwe rural local authorities during an era of crisis. The central question emanating from the experience is can capacity building be sustained during a crisis? The authors give evidence that capacity building is not sustainable during crisis as local authorities strive on survival rather than reforming local government.
Mookodi and Kaboyakgosi address the issue on experiences of the Integrated Results Based Management System (IRBM) in Botswana using a ‘Whole of Government’ (WOG) approach. They explain that this is a three-tier perspective based on structural, cultural and myth. Their assessment of the IRBM indicates that WOG does not exist in Botswana. The paper observes that ‘Whole of Government’ approach can only exist under a strong leadership championing for change, well co-ordinated institutions and a supportive culture and skill development.
Rajah and Mpabanga assess the extent to which countries in the African continent are advancing in development and investment in Information Communication Technology (ICT) to enhance online public services for their citizens. The results indicate that the eight countries in sub- Saharan Africa are not ranked amongst the best performing in the world, however, there are achievements in terms of innovativeness, flexibility and spending on research and development.
Malalu’s paper focuses on the participatory Geographic Information Systems (GIS), knowledge objects and community emancipation in support of public sector reform. Noting that knowledge is a tool to emancipate and empower the public to interact with the public sector in provision of social services, the paper deploys concepts that were derived from a PhD research program carried out in Tshane village, Botswana to contends that civil servants can also use GIS and concept modeling software to create models of their varied office places and activities. An approach that he argues changes the role of the public, civil extension agents and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) from deliverers of evidences of completed transactions and information on policies to compilers of community development activities and information.
Phirinyange discusses the relationship between technology and the nature of active citizen participation in developing countries using Botswana as a case example. The article argues that the nexus between technology and active citizen participation is e- government. Although the use of ICT in politics and the policy making process in Botswana is low, the country has registered improvement in technological readiness to adoption of ICT in its governance. The research recommends that countries should take responsibility to create a conducive environment for the ICT industry for citizen participation.