South-South Champions: Mr. James Maina, Director, Macroeconomic Planning and International Partnerships Directorate, State Department for Planning, The National Treasury and Planning, Kenya
“Kenya is a beneficiary and provider of cooperation in various areas such as medical research, agriculture and food security, and education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). There are also a number of good and best practices that can be offered from Kenya’s development experience to other countries/regions as a way of experience and knowledge exchange.” (James Maina, 2021)
How is South-South cooperation important to your work? Are there any South-South cooperation projects that you are particularly proud of?
Kenya has been involved in South-South cooperation (SSC) since independence in 1963. It remained at the forefront of promoting collaboration among developing countries initially within the framework of the Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) which later evolved to become South-South cooperation. We have evolved with the changing dynamics in the developing world which has increased demand for an enlarged scope of collaboration beyond technical cooperation to all aspects of sustainable development. My Directorate is charged with day-to-day management of South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) activities in Kenya. This is achieved through the Technical Standing Committee on South-South Cooperation which was established in 2007 and expanded in 2009 when Kenya successfully hosted the UN High Level Conference on South-South Cooperation in Nairobi (1-3 December 2009).
Kenya is proud of convening or spearheading various SSC initiatives such as: hosting the UN High Level Conference on South-South Cooperation in 2009, whose outcome guided SSC initiatives for close to a decade; hosting capacity building workshops for the African region to share best practices in managing SSC; participating and sharing experiences in the capacity development forums hosted by the UNOSSC in collaboration with JICA and Brazil; and hosting one of the sessions of South-South Development EXPO. In addition, Kenya is a beneficiary and provider of cooperation in various areas such as medical research, agriculture and food security, and education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). There are also a number of good and best practices that can be offered from Kenya’s development experience to other countries/regions as a way of experience and knowledge exchange.
What do you believe is its value in achieving Agenda 2030?
Recent developments in SSC have taken the form of rapid expansion in volume of South-South trade, South-South flows of foreign direct investment, movements towards regional integration, technology transfer, sharing of solutions and experts, and other forms of exchanges. The global South has continued to exhibit transformation in growth and development performance and prospects as evidenced by a remarkable increase in economic output and major improvements in key human development indicators. In addition, the global development cooperation landscape is changing rapidly with emerging economies and other developing countries becoming key actors in the new development architecture through their contribution to overcoming pressing developmental challenges. Countries in the global south continue to exhibit diversity and richness of shared practices and experiences and offer key lessons for building common agendas at global and regional levels. They also promote leadership, particularly at the local level and play a major part in the sustainable development.
SSC has emerged as an important vehicle to accelerate human development and is expected to assume greater importance in the future. It has increasingly demonstrated its contribution to development results through a variety of flexible cooperation modalities, including knowledge exchanges, technology transfers, financing, peer support, and neighbourhood initiatives, as well as countries forming common development agendas and seeking collective solutions. Further, the Southern partners continue to expand scope to create new and innovative responses to their socio-economic and environmental challenges, ranging from poverty, unemployment, health, investment, education to climate change among others. These are critical elements in the quest to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
However, SSC is often under-reported and sometimes unquantified.
What do you see as challenges and opportunities in moving the South-South and Triangular Cooperation modality forward?
In order to unlock the development potential inherent in SSC, all partners in development should work together in supporting SSC to surmount the myriad challenges related to institutional and technical capacities of Southern countries. Some of the specific challenges/opportunities include: i). Improving the quality of information (data, processes, cases, change agents) that would enable transparency and better quality and results; ii). Measurement/reporting of Cooperation; iii). Reinforcing results orientation; and iv). Alignment of SSC to national systems and development frameworks.
How can UNOSSC facilitate your Office’s work to help scale up South-South cooperation?
Kenya needs technical and financial support to develop Policy and legal Frameworks and establish an Institution to manage South-South Cooperation. Support is also required in undertaking capacity building on management of SSTC
Any future plans you would like to share? What do you see as the role of SSC in supporting these plans or realizing this vision?
Kenya has embarked on preparation of the Fourth Medium Term Plan (MTP IV, 2023–2027) of the Kenya Vision 2030. The Plan will summarize Government priority programmes and projects for implementation over the next five years. SSC is pivotal in achievement of these priorities, support from the global north notwithstanding. We also see great space for partnerships and collaborations around capacity enhancement for effective management of SSC.
Mr. James Maina is the Director of Planning, Macroeconomic Planning and International Economic Partnerships Directorate in the State Department for Planning, The National Treasury and Planning. He is a career civil servant with over 20 years working experience in National Development Planning and International development. He holds Masters and Bachelor’s degrees in Economics from University of Nairobi.
He has a wide experience in National Development Planning; Economic Policy Formulation and Implementation; Tracking Implementation of Development programmes/projects, Budgeting and Budget Execution; Strategic Planning; Performance Contracting and Management; Negotiations for Multilateral and Bilateral Cooperation Frameworks; Management of South-South and Triangular Cooperation as well as Conference/Convention Coordination, Management and Logistics.