AfDB’s High 5s agenda gets backing from African Civil Society Organizations at closure of 2016 Annual Meetings

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African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have announced, in a joint statement, that they will closely work with and support the African Development Bank in delivering the 'High Five' agenda unveiled by President Akinwumi Adesina at the 2016 Annual Meetings in Lusaka.

Fanwell Kenala Bokosi, the Executive Director of African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), read the joint statement delivered during the Civil Society Organization Forum on Friday, May 27, the closing day of the AfDB Annual General Meetings, in Lusaka, Zambia.

The statement that was received on behalf of the AfDB by Sipho Moyo, Director of Cabinet and Chief of Staff in the Office of the Bank President, was, according to Bokosi, in response to President Adesina's speech at the opening of the CSO Forum on Thursday.

Bokosi said that CSOs appreciated the AfDB's strong gesture of their invitation to the Annual Meetings and the Bank's strong desire to engage and work closely with them, in delivering the 'High 5' agenda for Africa.

"We commend the Bank for its initiative to engage CSOs and hope that it is sustained as a new modus operandi, moving forward," he said, adding that with the Bank on one side and the CSOs on the other, the partnership will go a long way in fighting poverty and transforming the Africa.

The CSOs, in their joint statement, also submitted three requests that they want the Bank's President to consider as a way of consolidating the new partnership.

"First, we would like national or regional African Development Bank offices to create space for sustainable debate and engagement with legitimate CSOs in member states where real activities take place, instead of waiting for the Annual Meetings that happen once a year," the joint statement read.

"Secondly, we request that the AfDB-CSO Forum happens before the Annual Meetings in order to allow the CSOs to meaningfully participate in the general program of the Meetings and participate in other sessions where we need to engage."

"Our third request is for the Bank to create a continental to national CSO accountability program that will track progress and create annual CSO accountability reports on the Bank's commitment to the engagement to deliver the High 5s."

In response, Sipho Moyo thanked the CSOs for their participation in the Meetings and commitment to working with the Bank in delivering the High 5s agenda. She pledged on behalf of the Bank to continue with the engagement with the CSOs to build a strong partnership.

The AfDB organized the special CSO Forum at its Annual Meetings in a bid to engage in high-level dialogue between the CSOs and the AfDB's senior management on the Bank's strategic focus on three of the High 5s contained in the Bank's Ten Year Strategy.

The three areas include energy, agriculture and the Jobs for Youth initiative. At the forum's opening on Thursday, President Adesina noted that the initiative is the Bank's way of reaffirming its commitment to working with civil society organizations in pursuing Africa's development.

Engagement through the forum is also said to be in line with the Bank's CSO engagement framework that was developed with full collaboration with the civil society stakeholders.

The outcomes of the forum's deliberations at the Annual Meetings will be used by the Bank to implement "pragmatic actions" on the High 5s with a focus on energy, agriculture and youth employment.

For instance, through the Jobs for Youth, the Bank wants to closely collaborate with CSOs across the continent to create 25 million jobs and positively impact on 50 million Africans over the next decade while injecting an additional US $30 billion into African economies.