Measures to reform RAPAC have started to yield results in repositioning RAPAC as the institution regionally legitimate and credible to support Central Africa’s protected areas. These reforms continue to hit hard after the call of RAPAC’s 17 administrators forming its governing board, who reiterated the reform scenario who met in Malabo/Equatorial Guinea in February 2016.
The same Bureau of Directors of RAPAC agreed to newly brand RAPAC while clarifying its initial mission of serving as a multi-actor sharing and action platform for protected areas, the mission which in 2014 raised concerns and misconception until making RAPAC near a compete dissolution.
The new reforms endorsed by protected areas leaders in Central Africa made RAPAC a sole “regional leader” meant to legitimately support protected areas of Central Africa.
A Unique Board of Directors
The meeting held in Malabo was important because RAPAC’s 17 Board Members underlined the need to complete the implementation of reforms. The Chairman of RAPAC is H.E. Anatolio NDONG MBA, former FAO Representative in various African countries, Minister and Vice-Prime Minister of his country and currently Permanent Representative of Equatorial Guinea to the United Nations.
He was elected for the presidency of RAPAC in 2013 replacing Mr. Samy MANKOTO.
Omer NTOUGOU NDOUTOUME, the new executive secretary of RAPAC, said that RAPAC’s institutional reforms seeks to effectively open up and widen the involvement of actors involved in the management of protected areas.
The Chairman of RAPAC, H.E. Anatolio NDONG MBA, as the initiator and who still heads this institutional process, expressed his full confidence during the Malabo meeting. “RAPAC is the only sub-regional body that has initiated such far-reaching reforms and which are meant to be evaluated by other international organizations” He Said.
RAPAC’s institutional progress through reforms started attracting attention of actors. The Board of Directors meeting held in Malabo on 9 February 2016 examined Rwanda’s statement to join RAPAC. “Rwanda is bound to join the regional efforts to promote the conservation of the biodiversity of Central Africa’s ecosystems in order to enhance the sustainable development of its population” Explained Télésphore NGOGA, Cross-border Conservation Officer from the Rwanda Development Board -RDB.
A Coherent Strategy Reflected in the Organizational Chart
To strengthen strategic component of this institutional reform, RAPAC has also updated its Action Plan with positive results. According to Jean Pierre AGNANGOYE, RAPAC’s former Executive Secretary and current Technical Adviser to RAPAC. “The ongoing reforms are restoring RAPAC’s technical, legitimate, political, and economic credibility and reputation among the public” Said Jean Pierre who in 2015, proposed to review the institution strategic plan so that it absorbs new expectations of RAPAC’s members and key partners. The same updated plan was validated in Malabo by RAPAC administration council.
Renewed Partners trust
RAPAC’s reorganization has not only established a link between the strategic and operational aspects, but also restored synergy between RAPAC and its partners. In the words of its Chairman, H.E. Anatoli NDONG MBA: “the reform phase we are implementing has enabled RAPAC to renew the confidence of member countries, technical and financial partners but mainly to stabilize our organization’s structure”.
Partners’ confidence and the institution’s efficiency go hand in hand. The historic partner of RAPAC; the European Union, provided a grant later in 2015 to specifically support the implementation of RAPAC’s reform, including its management. This grant is entitled to equip RAPAC with a standardized and certified financial and administrative department as a key enabler of instutitonnal good management.
Visionaries at the Service of Robust Institutions
The decision taken by RAPAC’s Board of Directors to design honorary membership aims at gratifying those who are often hidden behind the institution’s achievements.
They are too many reasons to believe that the RAPAC reforms that were conceived in April, planned in September and financed in November 2015 are already yielding fruits in a timeline of one year. Thanks to the remarkable contribution of the actors of this reform!
While communicating success of RAPAC reform, thanks to people who, at the peak of the 2014 crisis, made commitments to save an emblematic institution that is entrusted with the task of protecting the region’s natural heritage.
It has been a condition that you can’t pretend venturing into protected areas conservation in Central Africa while excluding RAPAC and therefore the need to maintain it and assist it to rise ahead of challenges. The organization’s achievements have been made possible indeed from the dedication of its staff members and technicians.
This is demonstrated by the visionaries who established RAPAC 16 years ago and those supporting it today. The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea meant it while opening officially the February 2016 Malabo meeting: “We should give value to the institutions and organizations that we have set up ourselves such as RAPAC, which supports our countries in managing and developing our protected areas” Said the Minister who reaffirmed his country’s support to RAPAC’s reform efforts and he recalled that RAPAC has supported the development of protected areas in Central Africa and have helped to strengthen Governments’ awareness on the need to protect the biological resources and biodiversity.
He concluded that, “it is therefore an important organization to which we are much attached to and whose work is now recognized worldwide”.