CABRI’s 3rd Africa Policy Seminar, senior officials from 14 African countries and representatives from various international organisations met to examine regional public goods (RPGs) in the African context, the incentives to enter into such projects and the institutional arrangements that enable their provisioning, as well as the available financing frameworks. Regional public goods (RPGs) are of interest to CABRI because of their impact on the public finances of countries. RPGs are essentially goods or resources that are more or less non-rival and non-excludable, and whose benefits are shared by a group of countries in a region e.g. regional transport networks and communicable disease eradication programmes. RPGs are particularly important for developing countries, because they can help these countries to achieve sufficient economies of scale in market size to compete at the global level. However, they tend to be provided sub-optimally because of the dilemmas they create. For example, a country that wants to produce an RPG may not do so if it cannot exclude other countries from consuming the good except at a very high cost, and producing it in these circumstances would mean losing out on maximum revenues. The aim of the Africa Policy Seminar was to provide an opportunity for senior policymakers to discuss RPGs in Africa, in particular the incentives to enter into RPGs, the institutional arrangements that enable (or hinder) RPG provisioning and the financing framework.
During the workshop, the key lessons for a joint project on RPGs to be a success, were identified as:
- A shared purpose, combined with long-term commitment.
- The right combination of leadership and management support.
- Robust and flexible institutional arrangements.
A CABRI briefing paper on regional public goods summarises the results of the RPG study.