NO MORE BUSINESS AS USUAL

Tanzania 2015 | ECONOMY | FOCUS: BIG RESULTS NOW

The Tanzanian government is using the Big Results Now plan to assure it meets its Vision 2025 development goals and positions itself as a middle-income economy.

The Big Results Now (BRN) program is a key element in Tanzania's effort to transform the country from developing to middle-income economy and society. It is a planning model adopted from a similar Malaysian program, and its implementation in Tanzania started in 2013, working across six main areas of economic concern. These areas are energy, agriculture, water, education, the business environment, and transport. The primary aim of the plan is to set out specific goals for assuring public goods and services to be delivered under a specified time frame and in an open and accountable fashion.

The $416 million program is being supported by the Tanzanian government's own finances and from funding provided by the governments of the UK and Sweden, and the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's fund for developing countries most in need of support. The BRN model has been taken up in Rwanda and Nigeria as well. The initiative moves away from the traditional approach to sector planning and budgeting, and replaces it with a more rigorous process of identifying key challenges, setting specific goals, prioritizing central activities, developing specific interventions with detailed implementation plans, and enacting a strong monitoring process at all levels in the decision-making process. The ultimate goal is economic development and social transformation, but the immediate goal is to enable Tanzania to reform its institutions for more productive investments in its people and institutions.

For the government, the initiative seeks to transform the culture of “business as usual" and to replace the non-transparent means of decision-making found in many government departments. The BRN initiative is recognition by the government that it was not achieving its economic results quickly enough, and that the productivity of public expenditures and international aid was lower than it needed to be. Tanzania seeks to become a middle-income economy by 2025, as outlined in the National Vision 2025 plan, and it has deemed it essential that development planning involves a public actively engaged to learn about development plans and provide input and feedback. Transparency and efficiency are guiding concepts, and the reduction of corruption is of paramount importance. To assure transparency and compliance, a $25 million a year monitoring system is being paid for by the World Bank, in collaboration with the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), which has committed more than $70 million over four years, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The program is also an excellent example of Tanzania's eagerness to work with her international partners to assure developmental success in meeting its Vision 2025 goals.

Although Vision 2025 was originally conceived in 1999, its implementation was originally uneven, as annual budgetary submissions from the different ministries were often randomly presented with little or no coherence. Under the BRN initiative, each ministry will be expected to align its budget to the national initiatives of the government, which in turn are targeted at moving the country toward achieving the Vision 2025 goals.

Education is one of key priority areas for development under Tanzania's BRN initiative, and provides a good case study for how the program is implemented on the ground. Tanzania's education sector has received a major boost after the World Bank approved a loan worth $122 million in July 2014. The funds, to be dispersed over the coming four years, aim mainly to improve the quality of education in the country's primary and secondary schools. The BRN approach involves the establishment of delivery laboratories in selected priority areas with each generating specific results frameworks. The overall approach hinges on prioritization, monitoring, and accountability in terms of performance. The BRN in Education program includes financial rewards for school performance, early grade student assessments, targeted support to weaker students, recognition incentives for teachers, and an assurance that funds reach schools in a timely manner. It is yielding results, and Tanzania has been widely complimented for work in essential education and training. The BRN program offers a number of serious and sustained initiatives for both government departments and the people of Tanzania, and its transparent implementation will be a huge test of national resolve.