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(Right) Zimbabwean minister Priscilla Misihairabwi- Mushonga; (far right) ACBF’s executive secretary, Frannie Lautier; (bottom right) a group of participants taking a break from the discussions


to manage their affairs successfully; and capacity development is the process by which people, organisations, and society as a whole unleash, strengthen, create, adapt, and maintain capacity over time.” In sum, the “ACBF’s notion of capac-


ity development focuses on the abilities embedded at the individual, organisation- al, and institutional levels for particular mandates to be delivered through six core competencies: implementing economic policy analysis, enhancing public admin- istration, strengthening national statistics and statistical systems, strengthening the voices of non-state actors, improving fi- nancial management and accountability, and strengthening governance through enhanced parliamentary institutions.” With such a lofty mandate, the Foun-


dation’s keynote speaker in Kigali, the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame (the host of the celebrations), could do no other than ask the searching question, in his welcom- ing speech: “What type of capacity and for what end?” He answered it himself. “At its simplest,” he said, “capacity is the ability to get things done and build institutions and processes that deliver results.” He continued: “And here, I am talking


about more than just acquiring formal qualification or technical skills, but the capacity to drive change on the ground in a way that transforms how we do things for the advancement of our development goals and the needs of our people. Tis requires an attitude shift – because even if we had all the skills and organisations required, without a results-driven mindset, we will achieve little for ourselves or our continent. Building institutions and capacities is not an end in itself but the means to political stability, economic growth and social in- clusiveness and progress.” Praising the ACBF for 20 years of


positive responses to Africa’s acute ca- pacity needs and development ambitions by developing indigenous human capital and institutions, President Kagame said the experience of the past 20 years had


58 | March 2011 New African


end in itself but the means to political stability, economic growth and progress” – Paul Kagame


shown that “when leaders and citizens act on [a results-driven] mindset, we can achieve change even against seemingly insurmountable odds. Tis has been the experience of a number of African coun- tries, including Rwanda. But now is the time to build on these efforts and take it to the next level because, as I think you all agree, Africa still has a long way to go for it to harness the full potential of our people.” Ten the Rwandan president added


pointedly: “We have spent far too much time, energy and resources on building the capacity, but we continue to lack the commensurate results we ought to expect from this investment.” He should know. As the leader of a


country that went through a horrendous genocide in 1994, and having lived down that experience and done very well in the last 17 years, thanks to massive donor sup- port, President Kagame knows a thing or two about capacity building and the lack of it. Today, his capital, Kigali (or large parts of the city) looks like a bride on her wedding day. For first-time visitors, Kigali is a pleasant surprise. Te greenery, the smart roads, the environmental awareness (plastic bags are banned totally, shops are only allowed paper bags for customers),


the discipline of the people, the cleanli- ness of the city (Kigali is now one of the cleanest cities in the whole wide world), the undulating hills (Rwanda is known as the country of a thousand hills) – all these combine to make Kigali a lovely sight to behold. Tis is where the ACBF comes into its


own. During the first few months after the genocide when no “foreign” organisation was prepared to go in and help (because of security reasons), the ACBF was the first to arrive with help in hand. Te Foundation’s capacity building


projects in Rwanda have been so successful that the country’s finance minister at the time, now president of the African De- velopment Bank, Donald Kaberuka, who worked with the ACBF on those projects, has become a big fan, and favourite, of the Foundation. And why not? Rwanda’s success so far gives the ACBF great joy. Its executive secretary, Frannie Lautier, is so proud of what they have done in Rwanda, but gives the credit to the ACBF member countries and institutions that have, over the years, stood by the Foundation and given it all the necessary support to carry on its mandate. She told the celebrants that last year, despite the hardship engendered


“ Building institutions and capacities is not an


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