The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is an innovative and challenging initiative in the field of African governance. The high profile nature of the APRM has attracted significant interest from civil society organisations (CSOs). Despite this, the APRM remains an area in which insufficient serious and in-depth research or advocacy has been attempted from civil society. As part of its efforts to enhance democratic and accountable governance in Africa, EISA's APRM Support Unit engaged in national APRM processes between 2004 and 2016. The unit partnered with several local CSOs across the continent including: the Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF) in Uganda, the Tanzania Citizens' Information Bureau in Tanzania, the Mauritius Council of Social Services in Mauritius, the Non-State Actors Coalition (NSAC) in Ethiopia, and Common Cause Zambia, as well as engaging with various governance stakeholders in Kenya, South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique and Malawi.
The major focus at present is to capacitate and empower civil society to engage with national governments and the official APRM structures on a continuous and mutually-beneficial basis. The programme has emphasized constructive engagement between the three major stakeholders in national APRM processes: government, private enterprise and civil society.
This is achieved through programme activities such as information dissemination, consultancy work, publications and the development of an APRM Toolkit designed to assist interested stakeholders in understanding and engaging in the APRM process. Research under the Programme has also led to the publication of a book, Peering the Peers: Civil Society and the African Peer Review Mechanism, a volume of essays from leading civil society and governance experts in Africa examines the critical role of civil society in the APRM.
The APRM remains a relatively new initiative on the continent, and whilst significant progress has been made in some states, EISA continues to expand its own understanding and engagement in the APRM process through direct engagement with the APRM structures and as a supporting agency and partner for various regional networks of CSOs seeking to do the same.
Enhancing Civil Society Participation in the African Peer Review Mechanism is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).