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Workshop Assessment/Comments from Workshop Participants & Speakers -- Joint UNITAR/WAIFEM Sub-Regional Workshop on Legal Aspects of Debt Negotiation and Renegotiation for West Africa
23-27 April 2001 (Banjul, The Gambia)

Direct Impact of UNITAR's Programme in African Institutions
 
By way of illustration, following are the collated responses of beneficiary government departments and officials on the direct impact of UNITAR's Training Programme since 1990. By 'impact' we mean the extent to which the general objectives set for the training programme have translated into general development/better financial management in partner countries. The following responses were collated as part of a joint UNITAR/Donor Evaluation (1997) of the programme for the African region:
   
a. Bank of Ghana (Legal Department)
- views of a team


At the Legal Department of the Bank of Ghana, thanks to UNITAR's workshops, lawyers have improved their skills to such a point that they can now give advice to line ministries relating to loan negotiation and management. Even the Governor has appreciated the impact of UNITAR's Training Programme in the legal aspects of debt and financial management and has commended the Legal Department as most active, efficient, and not delaying matters. UNITAR's training has also led the Bank of Ghana to modify its work manuals. These manuals practically serve the purpose of initiating new comers to the Bank to better understand and upgrade their knowledge of basic issues relating to their day-to-day work. These workshops have had the added advantage of showing the practical relevance of balanced teams in negotiations involving both lawyers and non-lawyers. Furthermore, presence of various delegations at UNITAR workshops had the added advantage that national ministries started talking and discussing issues which were paradoxically not discussed or touched on in the past.
 
b. Electricity Corporation of Ghana
- views of a lawyer


Thanks to UNITAR workshops, the Electricity Corporation of Ghana has on a general level created awareness particularly for engineers of the importance of taking recourse to lawyers and of keeping lawyers involved and abreast of on-going loan negotiations. It is now that lawyers are also represented on our negotiation teams and are sent the respective original versions of agreements which have been negotiated, which did not use to be the case earlier. On a practical level, these workshops have been an eye opener for senior and middle-level officials and now allow us to look 'realistically' at loan agreements. As far as training materials emanating from these workshops are concerned, one of the modules of the training package (on loan agreements) was particularly appreciated by workshop participants who prepared a check list of the important points therein and distributed it to their Directors.
 
c. University of Ghana (Faculty of Law)
- views of law professors


Faculty professors and lecturers have been invited on several occasions to attend UNITAR workshops. More recently, a Training of Trainers workshop offered by UNITAR helped in better understanding the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to training in debt and financial management issues. The comprehensive training package provided by UNITAR has been integrated into the University curriculum for training at the University. This is considered important because no such formal training is offered in Ghana, despite the fact that it addresses important practical considerations in loan negotiation and management for government officials.
 
d. Ministry of Finance (Zimbabwe)
- views of an accountant


The Ministry of Finance is handling loan agreements almost on a daily basis. UNITAR's highly experienced resource persons have helped in understanding the context of multilateral and bilateral lending as well as its challenges and pitfalls. These workshops have also helped young officials at the ministry to attend donor meetings, discuss implications confidently, as well as administer donor funds subsequent to the conclusion of negotiations. A major benefit of the workshop has been the training materials, which have been distributed, photocopied and read by colleagues who did not attend these workshops.
 
e. Ministry of Justice (Zimbabwe)
- views of a lawyer


The subject of legal aspects of debt and financial management has never been offered at the university level in Zimbabwe. It is firstly in this respect that UNITAR' multidisciplinary approach (though the involvement of accountants, economists, and lawyers) to training has helped. Secondly, networks of lawyers created through informal contact at UNITAR workshops has also helped in keeping in touch with them and in better understanding their experiences and learning from their mistakes. Since short-term practically oriented training is very rare in the field of International Loan Agreements, UNITAR courses are highly sought after at the Ministry.
 
f. Ministry of Industry and Commerce (Zimbabwe)
- views of an economist


The negotiation skills training imparted by UNITAR has helped a lot in negotiating deals and arrangements with donors. More practically, we are in the process of drafting a document on Foreign Trade Policy. UNITAR's awareness workshops have helped directly in this by sensitizing us to discuss this document before finalization with the Ministry of Finance, Department of Customs and Excise, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, and the Ministry of Justice. We have even worked as partners on this with the Department of Economics at the University of Zimbabwe. On another note, UNITAR workshops have helped by bringing African experts from other regions with a view to exposing how solutions to specific problems are found by other neighbouring countries.
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