Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management.

Publication Details

AfDB Evaluation Week 2016

Theme: Driving Africa’s Transformation (Good practices and strategies for development practitioners.)

Venue: At the African Development Bank HQ, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

The 2016 AfDB Evaluation Week aimed to foster sharing of evidence-based knowledge related to the five core areas of the AfDB for the next five years, the “High 5s” (light up and power Africa; feed Africa; integrate Africa; industrialize Africa, and improve the quality of life of Africans).


The thought of evaluating the AfDB high 5’s is tempting. It is, in fact, a herculean task and cannot just be achieved using a blanket approach or be dismissed with the common approach “…difficult is done at once; the impossible takes a little longer”. In reality, evaluating these high priority areas will involve much rigour and will involve finding that one area that is lacking but can improve on with a single change of lenses, consequently improving circumstances drastically. The high 5’s garner much attention in headlines, much is said about it, talks, seminars, and — who knows — maybe even an evaluation week. When was the last time a member of the African community, an ordinary citizen -the perceived recipients of these “high 5’s”- tasked with the responsibility of evaluating these five top priority areas? When again have the members of the African populace been actively engaged not only the evaluation but the continued implementation of these focus areas? The task of transforming the African continent, which is the aim of the high 5’s, is not mutually exclusive but rather inclusive, requiring extensive collaboration and participation, with huge benefits for all stakeholders. There is no room for isolation, for either implementers or evaluators. Drawing on the proceedings from the recent Annual Development Effectiveness Review 2016 by the AfDB, it is evident that the review has an undertone of a one-sided analysis by experts. This paper, however, will articulate a different argument. It operates on the premise that no eyeglasses have one lens, they usually have two. The current evaluation method may fit something of the format of a multinational CSR review or progress report, lacking the pluralistic approach that challenges conventional assessment models and provides insights into the truths about society view the activities of the AfDB high 5’s. This paper examines how utilising bifocal evaluation mechanisms will challenge these big ideas: is it worth it allowing citizens participate in the assessment process? Moreover, it suggests that the future of evaluation of the “high five” does not only lie with the AfDB, but perhaps the answer lies in the acknowledgement of the fallibility of unidirectional appraisals. Two heads are better than one.