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close this bookThe Courier N 156 - March - April 1996 - Dossier: Trade in Services - Country Report : Madagascar (EC Courier, 1996, 96 p.)
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View the documentA test for centralisation
View the documentA new look at ACP training opportunities

A test for centralisation

The Coastal Communes programme in Cd'lvoire

Planned long before the LomV review process got under way, the Coastal Communes programme in Cd'lvoire may well serve as a test case for the concept of decentralisation as incorporated into the revised Convention.

Decentralisation is a policy of the Ivorian government, which is supported by the European Union and is reflected in the national indicative programme. It aims not only at ensuring a better economic balance between the capital, Abidjan, and provincial towns - thereby reducing migration pressures on the former - but also at maximizing the latter's contribution to national development. Indeed, decentralisation in this West African country is believed to have already reached a level that would enable the people of the communes to take effective control over their own economic destiny, provided they are given the necessary infrastructures and inputs.

258 projects in all

The Coastal Communes programme was conceived in 1991. It concentrates on the 16 coastal districts of the country which, taken together have a population of nearly half a million. In the past, these areas benefited least from public expenditure and they are the hardest hit in the current economic crisis. The programme aims to redress the situation somewhat through a variety of physical and non-physical projects - 258 in all - encompassing rehabilitation of existing infrastructures and the construction of new ones in a number of fields including sanitation, drinking water supply, health, roads and markets. It also includes the provision of equipment, studies, training and technical assistance. The total cost is put at ECU 30m of which ECU 28m is being provided by the European Development.

The programme has three broad objectives. The first is to improve living conditions in the urban areas; reducing the economic costs of sickness and ignorance, and ensuring that the urban economy functions more efficiently. The second is to increase the planning, administrative and investment capabilities of the communes. This involves strengthening their treasuries by teaching them how to collect state revenues allocated to them as well as their own municipal taxes, balance their budgets and reduce bureaucracy. The third is to boost economic activity in the communes through funds being disbursed under the programme.

Given the multifarious nature of the physical projects, a two-pronged approach has been adopted for their realisation. High costs schemes, those involving technology beyond the capacity of the communes, and those not within the latter's area of responsibility - such as hospitals, tarred roads and sanitary systems - are being implemented by a central authority. These have been denominated 'Projects of Central Initiative', and 107 have been identified, the majority at the request of the beneficiaries. Those schemes initiated by the communes and within their ability are being left to them to implement. These are called 'Projects of Local Initiative' and total 151 altogether. Particular importance has been, and is still being, attached to the participation of the benefiting municipal authorities at the various stages in the process covering identification, planning and execution of projects.

The general management of the programme is under the Direction Grale des CommunautLocales (DGCL), one of two local institutions identified by a working group during the preparatory period. The implementation of non-physical projects such as studies, production of technical documents, installation of computers, and supply of materials for environmental projects relating to domestic waste disposal, has been allocated to the Direction et Contrdes Grands Travaux (DCGTx). The coordination of partnership activities between the Ivorian communes and local authorities in the European Union has been given to a specialised non-governmental organisation - CitUnies de Dloppement (CUD).

Late start but implementation accelerating

Originally scheduled to be carried out over a four-year period, the programme did not start until the beginning of 1994, two and a half years after it was mooted. This is not unusual for a programme of this magnitude and, as a follow-up mission reported in 1994, the delay enabled adequate preparations to be made. The positive impact of these preparations are now beginning to be seen in the implementation phase.

By June 1995, a number of the physical projects, particularly those stemming from local initiatives, had been completed. Among these were the reconstruction of Abiosso motor park, the extension of Adiake's indoor market (including the building of a number of shops and the paving of the surroundings) and the construction of an abattoir at Anyama. Projects with an emphasis on school infrastructures included a school canteen and shelter at Alepe, a new six-room school in Bonoua and the establishment of a municipal living quarter for students at Sassandra, while extensive classroom renovation has also been carried out at Dabou (42 classrooms), Bonoua (18) and Tabou (14). Among the completed health sector projects are a maternity unit at Sassandra and a dental care unit at Tabou Hospital. Finally, work on San Pedro's Bardo market and cultural centre was far advanced.

Due to delays in the completion of studies entrusted to DCGTx, prolonged negotiations with the Health and Social Affairs Ministry, and difficulties in drawing up a convention with the Ministry of Equipment, Transport and Telecommunications, no major 'projects of central initiative' had been completed by June 1995. Since then, however, things have picked up with progress being made on several of the schemes under this heading.

As regards the 'non-physical' projects, two major developments are worth mentioning. In January 1995, the CitUnies de Dloppement organised a seminar in Cd'lvoire which brought together representatives of Ivorian communes and their European counterparts. This was the first gathering of its kind and it is expected to lead to more frequent and direct contacts, and to specific activities in the area of 'decentralised cooperation'. A convention was also signed with the Fonds Ivoirien de Dloppement et d'lnvestissement (FIDI) to provide small and medium-sized enterprises with access to financial and technical assistance in evaluating, setting up and managing projects. By June, 261 loan requests had been submitted to FIDI.

A training seminar on 'the methodology of feasibility studies' was also organised for the heads of technical services and mayors of the 16 communes, while two pilot computerisation projects for the communes of Anyama and San Pedro, which have relatively large budgets, are being implemented.

The programme as a whole is now being implemented over two phases. The first, which began in January 1994, is expected to end in January 1996. An external evaluation mission will report on progress made under the first phase and the conclusions drawn will help to determine the course of the second phase. A.O.

A new look at ACP training opportunities

by Amin Kassam

'I tried for about a year to get information on institutions in Africa where I could study but I couldn't get any. That's why I came to Europe,' says Alex Kyabowampi, a Ugandan student at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. Alex, who works with a Churchbased rural NGO, says no programme focusing on rural development is available in Uganda.

This is a common complaint among ACP students who go to Europe for further studies. In some cases, however, courses of equivalent quality are available in other ACP states but students do not have access to, sufficient information about them. Had the information been available, Alex would have chosen to study in a nearby country, to be nearer his wife and children - if, of course, he had obtained a scholarship. To meet this need for information, the EU is financing a project to produce a 'Directory of Advanced Training Opportunities in the ACP Countries' (DTOACP). Initially, the Directory will list post-secondary courses in three sectors: Rural Development, Communications and Transport, and Human Resource Development (General Management and Trainer Development only). The first edition will be published before the end of 1996 in English, French and Portuguese. In addition, an expanded DTOACP database will be available on CD-Rom. Later editions of the Directory will update the information and widen the coverage.

Not all institutions offering post-secondary courses in the focal areas will appear in the Directory. To qualify for inclusion, both institutions and courses will have to meet a set of objective quality standards on aspects ranging from course organisation to student facilities and services. Thus, Directory users will get an overview of the courses available, but also the studying and living environment at the institutions. The Directory will thus add to the information on ACP training institutions available from existing sources. There will also be briefing packs on individual ACP countries featured in the Directory, giving students some general information about the country where they will be studying and practical tips on matters such as health and visa requirements.

In 1994, 550 ACP students received EDF scholarships. Of these, 139 were for studies in the applicant's home country, 156 for courses in other ACP states, and 255 for study in Europe. The students in Europe mostly took courses in Finance, Economics and Statistics, Applied Technology, Management, Agriculture, and Health Care. It is this group that is expected to benefit particularly from the DTOACP.

Because of higher living and education costs, training in Europe is more costly than equivalent training in the ACPs. Thus, by using the Directory's information effectively, bodies that give scholarships should be able to help more students despite shrinking budgets. The database should also be useful to ACP governments by adding to sources of information already available to them for planning purposes. Institutions that provide courses of the right quality, and are thus able to attract foreign students (ACP and non-ACP), should benefit financially as a result of inclusion in the Directory.

The project is being implemented by a consortium of three Dutch institutions, which were awarded the contract, after an international bidding process. These are:

- The Institute of Social Studies Advisory Service (ISSAS) in The Hague, part of one of Europe's foremost centres for development research and training. The Institute of Social Studies runs some 15 teaching programmes, ranging from short diploma courses to PhD programmes. ISSAS has wide experience of advisory and consultancy work in more than 60 developing countries.

- The Netherlands Organisation for Cooperation in Higher Education (NUFFIC) in The Hague, which has a history of providing assistance for higher and professional training in the developing world. It has run more than 180 educational projects in 35 countries and also has experience in compiling training directories.

- The Development Research Institute (IVO) in Tilburg (affiliated to Tilburg University). It does development research and training, and is the European focal point for the International Development Information Network, set up by the OECD in 1976 to facilitate information exchanges on social science research and training as well as to foster regional and international cooperation.

The core project team comprises ACP and EU professionals. The project will also employ ACP nationals in their own countries and work at the regional level through suitable partner institutions.

Of course, some students may choose Europe because of a perception that the qualification gained will give them an edge in certain jobs. Bilateral programmes between individual EU and ACP governments will inevitably continue to cater partly to such students. Others may prefer a European course because their chosen institution is the best in a particular field. Obviously, DTOACP is not aimed at either of these categories. However, with the cooperation of ACP governments and institutions, it could make a difference to the others - those who seek quality education to enable them to help in their country's development and do not have a predisposition as to where they receive it. A.K.