Digital Tools Key to Efficient Development Planning- Prof Bartholomew Armah

The complex alignment and reporting processes involved in linking national plans to multiple global commitments have necessitated digital solutions to provide much-needed simplification
To facilitate this, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) designed the
Integrated Planning and Reporting Tool (IPRT) which enables seamless linkage, tracks priority, and aligns budgets to also aligns the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2063 with national development plans, and concurrent monitoring of the two agendas' progress towards implementation.
The Chief of Development Planning at UNECA made this known at the opening ceremony of a 3-day training workshop for about 21 participants from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies hosted by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) on leveraging digital tools for streamlined planning from 24th – 26th October, 2023 in Accra.
He elaborated that countries need to align their plans with multiple international commitments like the UN's 2030 Agenda and Africa's Agenda 2063 which are known to require streamlined reporting and alignment.
"So ECA designed the Integrated Planning and Reporting Tool (IPRT) to aid this process. It helps countries align plans with global and continental goals. It also enables tracking priority performance and linking budgets digitally," Prof. Armah noted.
Prof. Armah revealed that over 30 African countries have benefited from the IPRT so far. He said employing digital technology boosts planning efficiency when resources are scarce.
However, he cautioned that alongside digital alignment, substantial investment in data accessibility and availability is imperative. 
"Proper systems to make data easily accessible for reporting purposes are crucial. Without this, monitoring results and allocation transparency suffer," he noted.
Professor Armah also shared the outcomes of a previous assessment of Ghana's alignment with both international agendas. 
Reflecting on last year's assessment, he revealed that Ghana's national plan displayed a slightly higher alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at 74%, compared to 70% alignment with Agenda 2063. 
He stated the importance of data accessibility and availability, emphasizing that without proper systems for reporting, it becomes challenging to identify areas where challenges persist. 
“The IPRT provides governments with the capabilities to assess their progress and make improvements,” he said.
Professor Armah revealed that the support provided by the UNEECA to countries is based on requests from the countries themselves. 
"When a country comes to the UN for support, it means that there's some additional that the UN can provide to what exists out there. So we are working with NDPC to see what tools are out there, what the gaps are, and where we can complement and add value,” he added.
The IPRT was developed to assist member countries in aligning continental and global development agendas with National Development Plans, as well as assessing Member States' progress towards achieving SDGs and Agenda 2063 goals. 
The United Nations established a global development framework known as the 2030 Framework for Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, as well as a continental strategy known as Strategy 2063 to spearhead the continent's transformation. 
Many nations, including African members, have already begun to implement the SDGs and Agenda 2063. Countries made attempts to include both the SDGs and Agenda 2063 in their development strategies because they already had both in place However, there are still concerns about the synchronisation of national development objectives with continental and global development agendas. 
The 3-day workshop aided participants in aligning sector Medium-Term Development Plans (MTDPs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and AU Agenda 2063, more especially in relation to interventions in energy and climate change; agriculture, food, and nutrition; manufacturing and trade; technology and digitalization, gender and social protection; economic policy management, etc. 

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