MULPOCs (Multinational Programming and Operational Centres) Strengthening ECA's Subregional Presence


The Conference of Ministers, in Resolution 810 (XXXI) of 1996 requested the Executive Secretary "... to take necessary steps to strengthen the Multinational Programming and Operational Centres.....". This was only the latest effort at strengthening the MULPOCs:

RECALLING previous resolutions to strengthen MULPOCs in:

This Conference in 1987 defining a new role in accelerating subregional economic integration;

1990 further strengthening in support of regional economic integration;

1991 also on strengthening to accelerate regional economic integration;

1993 on strengthening and rationalization of MULPOCs.

Other Actions On Mulpocs Include:

In-house discussions on the new strategic vision of the Commission confirmed the relevance of MULPOCs. These discussions were initiated during the open space sessions in 1995, the drafting of the new strategic directions, the new ECA programme;

JIU report on UN-NADAF confirmed the need to strengthen MULPOCs.

Member States in various fora expressed need to strengthen MULPOCs: reports of ICE meetings, for example.

Actions Taken By The Secretariat

Deputy Executive Secretary's consultation missions on modalities for strengthening MULPOCs. Missions were to Lusaka, Niamey, Tangier.

In-house Task Force established by Executive Secretary: report presented several options for strengthening MULPOCs: Vis - mandate, geographic coverage, Headquarters location, institutional issues, operational modalities, etc.

Consultative missions to member States and partner institutions on the above proposals results to be reviewed shortly.

Executive Guidelines were developed outlining immediate actions on the above recommendations. Some of these have already effected, notably:

Deployment of 25 per cent staff resources to MULPOCs. A good number have already gone. At full force, average 10 staff member per centre;

Consultative missions to member States and partner institutions on proposed actions to further strengthen the MULPOCs. Result of these consultations formed basis of recommendations formed basis of recommendations for your consideration.

Work Programme of MULPOCs drafted to reflect the orientation of proposed strengthened MULPOCs. These have been reviewed at recent ICE Meetings.

Executive Secretary's consultative missions to Tanzania and Uganda, also included consultations on MULPOC.

What Were Results Of These Consultations?

REGARDING THE Overwhelming support to

MANDATE: revise mandate to reflect the new orientation of the Commission. These include:

Act as operational arms of ECA at the country and subregional levels.

Be instruments for ensuring improved coordination between subregional and regional programme orientation and those defined on the strategic directions.

Provide advisory services to member States, regional economic communities and subregional development operators.

Facilitate subregional economic cooperation, integration and development.

Promote gender issues

Act as centres for policy dialogue and collect and disseminate information.

Act as coordination of UN system activities for regional integration. Obviously this has to be carried out within the framework on the ground, such as the UN system coordinator.

Results Of Consultations

Membership and Headquarters Location

Let's recall the objectives for which these centres were established - to support the process of regional economic cooperation and integration.

Since the regional economic communities have been designated as the building blocks for the African Economic Community, ECA, along with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the African Development Bank (ADB), within the framework of the Joint Secretariat, has undertaken the responsibility for strengthening the regional communities. Among the activities to be carried out in this respect are institutional support to the regional economic communities for capacity building and rationalization of IGOs in the subregions. Consequently, the country coverage of the MULPOCs should correspond, to the extent possible to those of the regional economic communities. This constitutes the principal criterion for grouping countries under each MULPOC region.

However, while the regional economic communities form the anchor for MULPOC activities in the subregions, other factors must be considered as well in determining the most effective configuration of MULPOC membership and location. These factors include:

a) Similarities of problems/priorities among countries in a given subregion;

b) historical and cultural background of the countries and organizations in a particular subregion which may have a bearing on integration activities (e.g., language affinity and organizations);

c) the number of countries to be served by each MULPOC; and

d) Proximity of the MULPOC office to countries and regional economic communities.

These factors constitute the criteria to guide the proposed groupings. Of course, other factors will come into play in considering the implementation of these proposals; these include financial and physical constraints.

Three scenarios considered:

Maintain status quo

- Lusaka for Eastern and Southern region (23)

- Gisenyi for the three Great Lakes countries

- Niamey for 16 West African countries

- Yaounde for 7 Central African countries

- Tangiers for the six North African countries

Separate MULPOCs for Eastern and Southern Africa

Single MULPOC for all SADC and COMESA countries - a total of 25 countries.


Separate MULPOCs for Eastern and Southern Africa favoured some reservations were expressed, regarding COMESA.


Central - Yaounde

West - Niamey

North - Tangier (Rabat?)

Southern - Lusaka

Eastern - To be determined in consultations with the member countries involved.

The proposed Geographic Coverage of the new

ECA Subregional Development Centres

North AfricaWest AfricaCentral AfricaEast African & Indian Ocean IslandsSouthern


Libyan Arab Jamahiriya





Burkina Faso


Cape Verde

Côte d'Ivoire

The Gambia









Sierra Leone



Central African




Equatorial Guinea


Sao Tome and






















South Africa




7 States15 States8 States12 States11 States


Obviously some fine-tuning may be necessary.

Institutional Framework

The issue of the policy organs of these centres was also considered among the alternatives we considered:

Reinstate Ministerial Councils: here, one needs to remember that they were abolished partly as a result of poor attendance by the Ministers.

Maintain ICE which were established in 1987

Joint Policy Organs with RECs

Abolish all policy organs in the subregion.


Lack of unanimity on the two favoured alternatives.

Joint policy organs with RECs cost-effective but difficult

Maintaining ICE necessary for legislative and programming purposes.

Resource Allocations

General support for decision by the Executive Secretary to deploy more resources to the subregions

Operational Modalities

General support for close programming coordination between MULPOCs and the relevant regional organizations.

Recommendation To The Conference

Revise the mandate of MULPOCs as proposed

Change the name MULPOCs to Subregional Development Centres - SRDCs in order to better reflect their role in the new ECA.

Adjust the distribution of countries for effective coverage

Establish separate SRDCs for Eastern and Southern Africa

Decision on location of headquarters of SRDCs to be made in consultation with the countries of the region

Maintain ICE as a policy organ for SRDC in line with the proposed inter-governmental machinery of ECA

Endorse allocation of additional resources to SRDCs in order to strengthen their operational capacities

Endorse proposed operational modalities for cost-effective operations of these centres, by forging partnerships with the RECs, IGOs and cooperating development agencies in the subregion.