Civil Society Forum Takes Place in Tunis

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 A civil society organizations forum, organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has taken place in the Tunisian capital, Tunis. The event, which was held on the theme: ”Raising the voice of African civil society organizations” brought together prominent personalities such as Canada’s former Prime Minister, Paul Martin; Botswana’s former president, Festus Mogae; the ECA’s Executive Secretary, Abdoulie Janneh; the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Chairperson, Mo Ibrahim; and South Africa’s Former Speaker, Frene Ginwala, and it was attended by representatives of civil society organizations across the continent.  

Opening the event on Monday, March 1, 2010, AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, said the objective of the event was to enable African civil society organizations gain a better understanding of what the continent’s leading development finance institution does. He added that the forum was an opportunity to keep African civil society organizations abreast of AfDB responses to the global financial crisis that affected the continent in many ways.

He emphasized that the AfDB had provided a rapid response to the crisis to help its regional member countries weather the economic storm, stressing that the forum would also help representatives of civil society organizations gain a better understanding of his institution’s strategy.

Mr. Kaberuka also pointed out that the forum would enable participants understand why the AfDB was calling for a general capital increase. He stressed that regional and economic integration was at the heart of the Bank’s strategy, underscoring that the Bank he leads was the leading donor when it comes to regional integration projects.

He however stressed that despite the Bank’s responses and operations on the continent, the institution’s management would still like to know if AfDB actions on the ground were on the right track. He underscored that the institution considered all development areas as being very important, adding however that the Bank was focusing on infrastructure development, stability and governance, private sector development, as well as higher education, science and technology.

The AfDB has a history of engaging the civil society and has a strategy to work with these organizations. Monday’s March 1 2010 meeting was an opportunity for the AfDB to step up its partnership with civil societies on the continent. Through its compliance review and mediation unit (CRMU), the Bank has been raising awareness of the existence and the functioning of the Bank’s Independent Review Mechanism (IRM). It has also been sensitizing communities affected by Bank-funded projects with the knowledge and skills to enable them engage in  constructive dialogue with the Bank and, if necessary, access benefits provided by the IRM.   

In this regard, the AfDB Compliance Review Mechanism Unit has set many goals for itself. The primary goal is to sensitize and equip civil society organizations to enable them pass on information to local communities. The unit therefore provides information to these organizations to enhance their knowledge of accountability issues and it fosters dialogue among them with the aim of building strong networks of civil society organizations that share common goals.