Africa Public Service Day (APSD) is an event entrenched in the African Union calendar. Its origin is traced from the Conference of African Ministers for Public or Civil Service held in Tangier, Morocco in 1994.
It was agreed at this Conference that June 23, should be celebrated annually as Africa Public Service Day to “recognise the value and virtue of service to the community”. It is also a platform to reflect and share practical recommendations on women empowerment in public service nationally and across the African continent.
At the global stage, the UN General Assembly designated June 23, as Public Service Day by adopting resolution 57/277 on December 20, 2002.
Consequently, the African Ministers for Public or Civil Service reaffirmed their commitment for the APSD in the Stellenbosch Declaration adopted at the fourth Pan-African Ministers’ Conference held in Stellenbosch, South Africa (SA) in 2004.
The UN/AU Public Service Day therefore, is designated to celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community; highlight the contribution of public service in the development process; recognise the work of public servants, and encourage young persons to pursue careers in the public sector.
To bolster recognition of the Day and the value of public service, the United Nations established the UN Public Service Awards (UNPSA) programme in 2003, which was reviewed in 2016 to align with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The UNPSA aims to promote and reward innovation and excellence in public services by recognizing the creative achievements and contributions of public institutions that lead to a more effective and responsive public administration in countries worldwide in support of sustainable development.
Since the inception of the APSD in 1994, its annual celebration has grown from strength to strength, both in numbers of participants and the sophistication in the event’s organisation. Thus, from 2004, the AU member states have celebrated the UN/AU Public Service Day (ASPD).
The UN/APSD now enjoys the support of the majority of the African Union Member States that are collectively responsible for the welfare of an approximate one (1) billion of the Continent’s residents.
The commemoration of the APSD takes place at national and continental levels. The continental celebration is a biennial event while the AU Member States are mandated to celebrate the National Day, every year.
The continental APSD has been celebrated eight times so far: in Namibia (2007); in Tanzania (2009 & 2011), in Ghana (2013) in Congo (2015), in Rwanda (2017) in Kenya (2019); and in Zimbabwe (2021). This year, 2022, AU Member States are mandated to celebrate the APSD at national level, on June 23.
National commemoration, APSD
The 2022 National APSD commemoration is celebrated in a dispensation where African countries are slowly emerging from the effects of COVID-19 and are directing efforts at the resumption of full-service delivery and generally instituting counter-measures to avoid the resurgence of the COVID-19 waves among the population.
The 2022 National APSD Celebration will be informed by the overarching AU theme, but more fundamentally, a COVID-19 dispensation that has challenged the public service to work better, smarter and more innovatively to ensure continuity, improvement and recovery in service delivery in the face of a festering pandemic.
The pandemic has exposed the benefits of a stronger, flexible, and more responsive civil/public service which can incorporate risk management and has access to contingencies in an emergency. It has also stressed the need for sound procurement policies, systems and processes. Helping countries to procure lifesaving goods and services on an emergency basis is critical to blunt the impact of COVID-19.
Emerging lessons from the immediate response to the pandemic point to the need to adapt models of government operations, service delivery and interactions with citizens – which includes Information Communication Technologies (ICT) options for modernisation of services to citizens and businesses.
As part of the long-term vision set out in Agenda 2063, the Assembly of Heads of States and Government of the African Union has adopted common African aspirations, drawing on the potential of its populations, in particular, a human capital well-nourished and in good health with a particular emphasis on women, adolescents and children.
The AU appreciates that human capital is key for development as it leads to improved lives for individuals, higher earnings, and improved incomes for countries.
So, therefore, and from the AU, efforts must be focused on the fight against malnutrition in Africa and this demands multiple programmatic efforts such as; political and result-oriented commitments enhanced at continental and national levels where public servants play a central role to make it possible to build resilience in nutrition across the African continent.
As a result, the commitments will sustain a strong political momentum, sustained by African administrative resilience, which is imperative, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Guided by the AU 2022 theme and drawing lessons from the 8th Continental Celebrations where the resilience of public administration was advised, the theme for the 2022 National APSD Celebration is “Enhancing the Resilience of the African Public Administration to Support and Facilitate the Realization of Africa’s Nutritional Needs during and post COVID-19 Pandemic”.
The theme for the 2022 National APSD Celebration will be supported and enhanced by the following sub-themes:
a. Ensuring state continuity during and post coronavirus pandemic towards food security and nutritional resilience.
b. Driving the COVID-19 Response from the Center: Institutional Mechanisms to ensure Whole-of-Government Coordination.
c. The Role of the 4th Industrial Revolution in reimaging service delivery, provision and recovery during and post-pandemic.
d. Assessing state capability in achieving the Africa We Want in the backdrop of instability caused by pandemics and war.
The key objective of the 2022 National APSD celebrations is to afford AU Member States the opportunity to reflect on and assess the efficiency of service delivery tools at its disposal during and after a pandemic and more specifically how the journey on Africa has been progressed on disciplines such as achieving food security, resilience in nutrition and other commitments under the SDGs and Agenda 2063.
The specific objectives are to provide the opportunity for the member states to:
a. Reflect on the function of the civil/public service, its mission and objectives, programmes and projects, successes and challenges;
b. Give recognition to and make known the importance of the civil/public service, its positive contribution and benefits to public servants, population, civil society, private sector and government;
c. Motivate and encourage public servants to continue the good work done, more especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and to come up with new initiatives and innovations;
d. Obtain feedback from the citizenry on services rendered; and
e. Prepare the public service and administration for a better future by proposing change for the social wellbeing of the population;
f. Leverage on pathways presented by the 4th Industrial Revolution as a powerful tool and enabler to innovative service delivery during the challenging times of pandemics and wars.
The Ghana National Celebration of APSD
Ghana as a member of the UN and AU shall celebrate the UNAPSD. The Public Services Commission (PSC) of Ghana continue to play the lead and coordinating roles for the celebration by all public service institutions and organisations in Ghana.
Public Services Commission
The Public Services Commission, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Office of the Head of Civil Service, Office of the Head of Local Government Service and Public Sector Reform Secretariat shall host a Colloquium on the Theme:
“Enhancing The Resilience of the African Public Administration to support and Facilitate the Realisation of Africa’s Nutritional Needs During and Post COVID-19 Pandemic” to mark the Celebration.
The colloquium shall be held at the Ministry of Information’s Conference Room, Accra at 9:00 am today.
The writer is the acting Deputy Secretary in charge of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Division, PSC. Credits: African Union Commission- Department for Political Affairs, Peace and Security.