Distinguished Former Ethiopian Finance Minister Joins Advisory Board

Sufian Ahmed Beker, former Ethiopian Minister of Finance has been appointed to the Advisory Board of the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program. Mr. Ahmed served as Finance Minister from 1995 to 2016 making him the longest serving finance minister in history. He is widely acclaimed as the architect of Ethiopia’s impressive economic progress over the past 20 years. Sufian Ahmed is currently Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Macro-Economic Development. Continue reading

To Achieve Ambitious Goals in Government: Fix the Basics First

There is no “school for government Ministers” and most are put in positions for which they have no training or experience. Ministers are appointed at the behest of the head of government and their longevity in office is largely determined by the Ministers’ ability “to read the mind” and do things that “will endear them to the President.”

This was the theme echoed by two of Africa’s most experienced and longest serving high-level government leaders talking recently with participants in the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program. Continue reading

Education and Health Ministers at Harvard Map Transformative Legacies

Writing after his return to Lusaka, Zambian Health Ministers, Chitalu Chilufya said he felt “rejuvenated”. “I had my first meeting (two hours after landing) with my coalition team, got their buy in for the legacy goals I set. We are now reviewing our five-year national health strategic plan to include clear goals. This is the most important and efficacious meeting l have had as a minister.” Dr. Chilufya and 15 other education and health ministers participated last June in the sixth annual Harvard Ministerial Leadership Forum. Continue reading

Health and Education Ministers Focus on Leadership at Annual Harvard Forum

For four intensive days in June, 16 education and health ministers from developing countries in Africa gathered at Harvard to focus on leadership effectiveness, priority setting, financing, and policy implementation.

They came for the sixth annual Harvard Ministerial Leadership Forum, a collaboration of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The program is led by faculty from the three schools and by a group of former and long-serving ministers from around the world. Continue reading …

Photo Credit: Hannah McGrath

Prioritizing Health and Education for Economic Growth

Presented with overwhelming historical evidence that countries characterized by more inclusive (aka democratic) and responsive governance institutions are more economically successful, ministers participating in the fifth Harvard Ministerial Leadership Forum for Finance Ministers in April, were challenged by Chicago University Professor, James Robinson to reflect on the state of their own societies. Professor Robinson’s compelling arguments resonated with many participating ministers who are experiencing the sharp end of increasing political restiveness on the part of their predominantly youthful populations desirous of more inclusive and equitable institutional systems better geared to provide opportunities for meaningful economic advancement. Continue reading

Putting Policy Priorities into Practice: The Bureaucratic Challenge

Translating policy goals into programs is perhaps the most challenging part of government. Many a government minister has big ideas, not many of them see those ideas implemented during their often limited time in office. One reason is the gap between the political leadership in most government ministries and the professional civil service. Technically the minister is both political leader and chief operating officer, but in reality, the civil service generally see ministers as sojourners with bright ideas who come and go, while they keep the government running. Bridging the gap between political leadership and ministry officials is one of the objectives of the In-Country Follow-up Component of the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program. Continue reading

Finance Ministers from Africa, Latin America Convene for Annual Forum at Harvard

Countries with inclusive and responsive governing institutions—essentially, those that are more democratic—are also more economically successful. That was one of the messages that 15 finance ministers from Africa and Latin America heard at the fifth annual Harvard Ministerial Leadership Forum for Finance Ministers, which took place April 23-26, 2017. Keynote speaker James Robinson, a political scientist and economist from the University of Chicago, presented overwhelming historical evidence suggesting that inclusive governance can help boost countries’ economies. Read the full article.

Uganda Takes Delivery Approach National

Evaluations show that ministers participating in the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program report that the delivery approach to implementing transformative government policies and service improvements has the greatest impact. In Uganda, the former health minister and now Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda is working to adopt the delivery approach across government sectors with the goal of drastically improving efficiency and effectiveness across government. Continue reading

New Cohort of “Follow-Up Countries” Starts Work

A key component of the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program is the so-called In-country Follow-up Phase. Each year a small number of the health and finance ministers participating in the Harvard-based part of the Ministerial Program is invited to mandate a delivery team of top health and finance ministry officials to develop and lead implementation of a comprehensive health sector strengthening initiative. Michael Sinclair, Executive Director of the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program says the follow-up phase helps institutionalize the ideas and approaches ministers are exposed to during their time at Harvard. Specifically, Sinclair says, the fundamental driver of budget effectiveness and efficiency in realizing better value from government investment in health and for achieving improvements in health service delivery and outcomes. Continue reading

Distinguished Leaders in Education and Health Join Advisory Board

As the Ministerial Program works to integrate education ministers into the Program beginning in 2017, two distinguished former education ministers will lend their public leadership experience and education expertise to helping reshape the Program. Dr. Dzingai Mtumbuka was the first post-independence education minister in Zimbabwe quickly establishing a transformative education system regarded around the world as a model and still today, despite Zimbabwe’s current difficulties, producing better education results than most African countries. Cecilia Maria Velez White, a continent and a decade apart, during her eight- year tenure as education minister, played a similarly transformative role in establishing Columbia as a top performer in education in Latin America. Continue reading