The Centre for Civil Society (CCS) in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies and the African Ombudsman Research Centre (AORC) recently hosted a seminar on Improving Service Delivery in Africa. The seminar was facilitated by AORC Director Advocate Arlene Brock.
Speaking at this seminar was Professor Victor Ayeni, an accomplished scholar and practitioner with over 30 years’ experience at senior positions in African universities, international development agencies and African governments.
Ayeni shared his thoughts on four key service themes, namely: securing quality service; corruption and service provision; promoting client-centered and participatory approaches and enhancing state capacity.
‘The provision of services is at the heart of contemporary governance and public administration. However, and quite understandably, many states continue to face difficult challenges not just in providing good and quality services but in containing various negating factors in the delivery process,’ said Ayeni.
He identified factors that lead to poor service delivery such as non-receipt of service, poor quality of service, perceptions of other’s experiences, perceptions of leader’s behavior, lack of control, lack of information and a feeling of hopelessness. ‘The truth is, these are enduring governance and public administration concerns that are found everywhere and have constituted the focus of scholars and practitioners for as long as we can remember,’ he argued.
Ayeni believes that these issues can be countered if government develops strategic plans which specify their output and service delivery targets against which performance can be monitored and measured. He also advises that civil servants should be motivated towards results-oriented practices and performance through appropriate pay and incentive schemes.
The seminar provoked a discussion around ways African public administrations can further improve their service delivery processes drawing on the lessons of recent international experiences and the civil society movement in South Africa.