DESA News Vol. 12, No. 06 June 2008

Technical cooperation

Knowledge networking for African legislatures

Parliamentary officials gather in Cairo from 4-5 June for Pan-African networking event

Government representatives from across Africa will gather in Cairo on 4 and 5 June to work out modalities for establishing a regional knowledge network among elected officials and staff of the continent’s parliamentary organs. With a focus on legislative processes, research, and information technology, the proposed network is intended to promote collaboration, knowledge-sharing and mutual support on an ongoing basis. Conference participants will be invited to finalize a charter for the regional initiative, and iron out an action plan for its operation.

A number of technical sessions will be held in parallel to provide training for interested individuals in the network’s three priority areas. About 150 people are expected to attend the Cairo event, including speakers and presidents of parliament, legislative officials and staff, representatives from the United Nations system, parliaments outside the African region and other development partners.

Entitled “Building open and learning Parliaments in Africa,” the conference has been organized by the People’s Assembly of Egypt together with DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management and the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament, and is being held under the auspices of the Pan African Parliament – the legislative arm of the African Union based in South Africa.

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Stronger local government in Africa, as in Italy

Italian study tour for African officials, from 11-21 June, stresses decentralization for enhanced accountability

Four representatives of African authorities will take part in a study tour from 11 to 21 June in Florence and Rome to see first hand how local governments in Italy handle decentralization and promote networking. Elected women leaders from Mali, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania will participate. The exchange is ultimately intended to strengthen the capacity of selected local governments in Africa to engage in decentralization efforts. It is being organized by the Rome Office of DESA’s Division for Public and Development Management, along with the Regional Assembly of Tuscany, and the Conference of European Legislative Regional Assemblies.

Among other activities, participants will be invited to attend the Stakeholder Forum on Development Cooperation on 12 and 13 June, meet with representatives of local government networks and authorities, visit public service delivery facilities, and take part in ad hoc roundtables organized by national-level counterparts. A highlight of the ten-day programme is a seminar on the role of local cooperation in the process of decentralization in Africa, scheduled for 19 June. The seminar has the specific aim of stimulating discussion on concrete aspects of African realities and enriching debate between different national and international actors.

According to a recent report prepared for the Committee of Experts on Public Administration, decentralization can have a strong impact on how effectively government resources are collected and used. Research and practice have shown that politically decentralized regimes tend to tax less overall and administrative decentralization tends to encourage social policy-making. Administrative decentralization may allow competition, information and innovation to lead to efficient and effective public policies, and redistributive public action, the report asserts. In addition, well-planned and prepared decentralization, coupled with strong monitoring, can improve human resource management by fostering more effective staffing, the utilization of more locally grown skills and experience where needed, and more appropriate inputs to organizational performance — important for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

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Parliamentary cooperation in South East Europe

DESA workshop on regional approaches to e-Parliament will be held in Sofia on 9 and 10 June

The Global Centre for ICT in Parliament is co-organizing a workshop on regional approaches to e-Parliament, from 9 to 10 June, in cooperation with the Regional Secretariat for South East European Parliamentary Cooperation. The workshop will be hosted by the National Assembly of Bulgaria in Sofia.

The session is intended to provide a platform for the exchange of information among parliamentary officials. Participants will be invited to identify opportunities for collaboration within and outside the region, and discuss the formulation of a regional programme on e-parliament in support of democratization in South East Europe. The Global Centre for ICT in Parliament, based in Rome, is itself a joint activity of DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

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Census experts head to Tanzania

Innovations in statistical data collection will be highlighted at Dar es Salaam workshop starting 9 June

The DESA Statistics Division will hold a regional workshop on census data processing in cooperation with the National Bureau of Statistics of Tanzania, from 9 to 13 June in Dar es Salaam. Those attending will hear about international standards for conducting population and housing censuses and explore the significant capabilities of contemporary technology for data capture and editing. Optical character recognition, internet data collection, and the use of handheld devices will be featured.

Population and housing censuses are one of the main sources of data for effective development planning and objective decision- making. Recognizing the value of reliable demographic data, the Economic and Social Council is encouraging every country to conduct a census at least once between 2005 and 2014.

The Statistics Division is supporting the Council’s initiative, formally known as the 2010 World Population and Housing Census Programme, by developing census methodological guidelines, facilitating exchange of experience, and assisting countries in improving their statistical capacity in census-taking. Two related training sessions were held earlier this year, the first in Noumea in February and the second in Doha in May.

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Distributive trade statistics

African statisticians will gather in Bamako from 17 to 20 June to discuss the latest standards

To enhance the knowledge and use of good practices in the collection and compilation of basic economic statistics, the Statistics Division of DESA will host a workshop for Francophone African countries in Bamako from 17 to 20 June in collaboration with the Economic and Statistical Observatory of Sub-Saharan Africa. Participants will have a chance to reflect in particular on the needs of policy-makers and the business community for distributive trade statistics, and on implementation of the 1993 System of National Accounts.

Specifically, the workshop will cover the 2008 International Recommendations for Distributive Trade Statistics, the state of distributive trade statistics compilation in African countries, and the challenges and good practices in data collection, compilation and dissemination. The workshop follows a similar event held in Addis Ababa for Anglophone Africans in May.

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