Weekly Update: 24 February

A call with UNDP South Africa and the government counterpart early in the week ended up in agreement on my mission to the country in early March. A 2 day workshop on the ongoing e-skills programme we are supporting will be followed by visits to several of regional hubs the Department of Communications (DOC) has established in support of the project. The e-skills institute within DOC has already secure financial support from the government and it is expected to be a separate entity by the end of the year  -if not before.

As expected, the post-2015 process is starting to required more support. I attended a meeting of Working Group 2 (I was told they are 9 WGs altogether!) which is chaired by UNDESA. This WG is directly dealing with the issues of the MDG agenda and is supposed to make some recommendations to the UN by end of March. At the meeting, more than 20 UN agencies were present. In addition, close to 30 working papers on all series of issues have bee submitted by the UN agencies and organizations  -one being the Governance and Development paper we submitted along with UNDESA. I will be writing more about this on a separate blog.

The second and final phase of the assessment and future of the e-governance programme in Moldova finished this week. On Wednesday I spoke with the consultant who undertook the assessment and was in Chisinau for talks with the government and national organizations. As expected, strong opposition from the e-governance center (EGC), supported by the WB with a loan of 20 million USD (see my BTOR from last September for details), materialized. EGC basically sees no role for UNDP and strongly opposed any suggestions for having any sort of consultation process while doing their work. They actually called such processes “old fashion”, reflecting the “old way” of doing things. They claim to be the “new generation” doing things in new and innovative ways. I was not aware that top-down approaches are innovative. At any rate, UNDP might get  a piece of the action in the M&E area. We will see..

As a follow-up the planned e-gov work in Libya, I contacted the UNDP Iraq country office to engage them in the process. Iraq has moved quite fast on e-gov, in spite of all the security and political instability issues. This just shows that this field of work might be one of the key entry points and catalysts in such environments.  I pointed out to the UNDP Iraq e-gov specialist that it was difficult to get information on the programme as the new CO web site does not display any information. The focal point send me this brief (Iraq-e-Governance-brief). We agree to have a follow-up conversation next week to discuss both Libya and dissemination of the Iraq experience.

Friday, while on official leave, I  had a conference call  with two officials from the US State Department on our potential role in supporting the Open Government Partnership.  OGP is now thinking about the role that bilateral and multi-lateral organization can play in supporting the initiative.  I proposed to them that we could help in:

1. Policy support in developing countries
2. Partnerships and coalition building across sectors within countries
3. National consultations, effective and participatory
4. Network of COs., bring UNDP impartiality, trusted partner in many countries
5. Piggyback on existing UNDP e-gov programmes (over 220 in 100 countries) and UNDP governance programmes (close to 200 in 135 countries)
6. OGP is close to our Democratic governance mandate
7. Governance assessment programmes and Oslo Governance Center research capacity
8. Support actual implementation of OGP action plans
9. Monitor and evaluation of action plans implementation
10. Support for open source and open standard technologies

I also pointed out the critical that exists between doing action plans and actually implementing. OGP does have a multi-stakeholder approach at the global level but it cannot guarantee the same at the local level (same as the IGF for example).  And we know from experience that developing countries are good at designing and approving national plans and agenda but are weak when it comes to actually doing something on the ground. State indicated that they have an interest on implementation and M&E. Follow-up with take place this week.

Cheers, Raúl


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