1. At the 2004 World Conference the issue of providing a secretariat
to help the AMCF African VPs was discussed. In the succeeding 2 years
further discussion and work followed, which resulted in the creation of
secretariats for each of the African VP regions. These were all funded
through the generous provision of MSO for a limited period. The advent of
the Seoul council 09 has roughly co-in sided with the end of MSO financial
provision and allows the opportunity for:
a. A timely review of the secretariats and their current situation.
b. The identification of any lessons learned.
c. To consider if such secretariats are appropriate for creation in
other AMCF regions.
2. Before their establishment discussion took place which considered
the issue if the creation of secretariats would conflict with the governance
of AMCF and serve to make AMCF more of an organisation rather than an
association? Chapter 21, paragraph 21 –25 of the AMCF manual sets out the
basic operating principles of AMCF. The last 2 lines of paragraph 21, for
example state, ¡° It (AMCF) is an association with no central organisation,
office, budget or staff ¡°. Whilst the exact functions of a secretariat were
never fully defined it was subsequently agreed that the creation of small
regional secretariats to give administrative help, and to help the VP with
fund raising would not be against the spirit of the AMCF manual. It was
agreed (Botswana meeting 15 July 2005 attended by General Lee, African VPs
and Accts MMI) that they were largely to be a ¡° practical ¡° measure to help
VPs in their respective areas but they were in no way intended to be a
precursor for a centralised AMCF organisation.
3. It was however identified that these Secretariats might develop
overtime into fully blown support organisations and become similar to the
principal AMCF support organisations (ACCTS, Accts MMI and MSO), which
already exist. If they developed in this way then eventually they would
need to become independent of AMCF and the VPs and become organisations in
their own right to ensure the basic operating principles of AMCF were
maintained. It was also recognised that each of the regions were very
different in political, religious and economic make up, and as a result the
secretariats would be most likely to develop at different paces and in
4. In preparation for this paper Accts MMI asked the African VPs to complete
a short questionnaire on the current state of their secretariat and their own
future vision for them. Their detailed answers are contained at the enclosures.
The following paragraphs in this section provide a short summary of how
these secretariats function and of some of the issues they face.
5. It is clear that the ¡° Secretariats¡± have been useful assets for
all the VPs but as anticipated, they have developed differently in each
region. It is also clear that none of them have as yet developed into
independent support organisations, though the East and Horn of Africa region
Secretariat may now be showing some very early tentative signs that may make
this possible in the future. It is also clear, that with the exception of
the East and Horn of Africa region, that none of the other regions in the
short term (between 2 -5 years) can fully support a secretariat and fund
significant VP travel on their own without external assistance.
6. The East and Horn of Africa region has developed on different lines
from the other African regions. The Secretariat provided significant support
to help with the administration of the extremely successful 2008 Pan African
Conference. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, it is the only African Secretariat that
currently has dedicated office space and staff outside the VPs home, which
is used to support AMCF business. The Kenyan MCF and Chaplaincy have
provided extensive moral and material support to the secretariat. It is
envisaged that even when the VP position is not filled by a Kenyan, that the
secretariat will remain in Nairobi to support regional business with a
dedicated staff. The advent of a none Kenyan VP will be an important
development and provide a challenge for the viability of this model but with
the prayers, determination and hard work of all in the East African region
it could work. It is also the only secretariat with the potential to
consider moving to independent support organisation status in the mid term
future (5-10 years), however it is by no means certain that it will take
this direction. The Secretariat, which is heavily supported by the Kenyan
MCF, is currently sustainable without direct financial support from the AMCF
principal support organisations and plans to continue in that vein.
7. In the other regions the situation is very different. In each of
these regions the secretariat is operating out of the VPs home. Each of the
VPs has some communication equipment to enable them to do this, and in at
least 2 of the cases (Southern Africa and Franco Phone Africa), wives
provide some secretarial support. In both Southern and Franco phone regions
it is clear that the VPs would like to have regional self sustaining
secretariats to help with their travel and other expenses, however there is
no realistic prospect of this being the case in the short to medium term
(probably out to 5 years). Owing to the economic, infrastructure and
religious make up of many of the countries in the Franco Phone region there
are particular challenges, which the VP has to face.
8. In West Africa, whilst the secretariat was initially based in its
own office space in Abuja, Nigeria, circumstances now mean it is located in
the VPs home, however a retired Nigerian officer assists the VP with
secretarial duties. The VP has also made a part payment on land in Abuja for
the future building of a permanent West African Secretariat. Whilst there is
a clear aspiration to create a self sustaining secretariat and the VP has
recently taken steps to form a ¡° AMCF West African Support Team¡±, it is
likely that the VP will require additional external support to carry out his
role even if the Nigerian MCF, which is one of the strongest in Africa
continue to provide some assistance.
9. It is important that in any consideration of the creation of future
secretariats those lessons are identified from the existing African
secretariats. I have listed a few points below, which are not exhaustive
and merely provide a possible basis for discussion:
a. The purpose and role of the secretariats, bespoke for each region,
needs to be clearly defined and agreed at a pray and plan. Some questions
which should be addressed are as follows:
• Are they to provide limited secretarial help?
• Are they envisaged as growing into stand-alone support organisations?
• Should they be located in one country or have the capability to
move to another country as the VP changes?
b. A realistic budget and agreed operational concept needs to be
agreed between any donor organisation and VPs. If, for example, stand alone
office space and paid staff are envisaged then consideration of how this is
to be sustained and maintained for a long period needs to be considered.
Operating concepts should also include consideration of how the
secretariats will operate if the VP came from a different country in the future.
c. The interface and interactions between a secretariat and the
principal supporting organisations needs to be defined and clear
communication channels established. In most cases this should be
d. Financial accountability needs to be clear from the outset. Will
the secretariat funds and accountability be fully delegated to the VP or
does the donor organisation expect to see accounts for secretarial expenses?
e. A realistic plan, which shows how the VPs secretariat will become
self-sustaining, needs to be made when appropriate. Donor organisations
need to be realistic that in some regions self-sustainment may not be
possible for a very long time, if ever.
f. One off grants to fund secretariats need to be thought through
carefully and it may be considered that on occasion they may be more
appropriately repackaged. For example, travel support grants may be
provided through the existing principal support organisations on occasion.
g. It is clear that the provision of communication and office
equipment to VPs can greatly assist them to carry out their role. African
secretariats have all benefited from this and it is relatively inexpensive
to sustain these facilities. However the ability to fund raise, finance
travel independently and pay for secretarial staff is much more difficult to
plan and sustain.
Are secretariats appropriate for other regions?
10. Every AMCF region is very different in its make up and needs. Clearly
any attempt to create a secretariat must be prayed and planned through on a
case-by-case basis. It is strongly recommended that before a secretariat is
created, its role and task must be clearly defined and the issue of
sustainment must be realistically addressed. In some regions supporting the
VPs to carry out their roles will inevitably continue to be heavily reliant
on the principal support organisations. The provision of communication and
office machinery support is relatively straightforward and inexpensive to
provide and sustain in a limited way but fund raising, travel; training and
conference costs require substantial resources. It may be unrealistic to
expect some regions to help with these for a considerable time.
< Enclosures >
1.East and Horn of Africa Region VP answers
2.Southern African Region VP answers
3.West African VP answers
4. Franco Phone African VP answers