Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Forum discusses partnership between AfDB and CSOs

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On the second day of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings taking place in Kigali, a Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Forum brought together representatives of CSOs across Africa and representatives of AfDB. The objective of this forum was to reiterate the Bank’s commitment to working together with non-governmental organisations which are the voice of local communities, and see how this 24-year-old partnership can be sustained and developed further through a dialogue and exchange of information on current important socio-economic development issues.

Important topics for discussion during the forum were framed into five sessions. The first session looked at the importance of AfDB’s policy on Disclosure and Access to Information (DAI) as a mechanism to enhance development outcomes in Bank-financed projects and the role of CSOs.

Mike Salawou, Senior Advisor to the Secretary General and DAI Team Coordinator, explained how disclosure of information promotes good governance, transparency and accountability. To that end, a platform to enhance communication has been developed to allow greater access to information and AfDB leads the way among multilateral developmental organizations. The Bank committed to extending its reach through social media.

Recognising the importance of natural resources in the development of communities, the second session looked at the role of the Bank in building the capacity of CSOs for better management of renewable and non-renewable natural resources to support socio-economic growth. In her remarks, the Director of African Natural Resources Centre, Sheila Khama, explained how the survival of Africa’s natural resources lies in the ability to balance the supply and demand sides.

As it was noted, Africa has been operating mostly on the supplier side of the divide and the interventions of the Bank have the objective of addressing the situation through education and information access, stakeholder involvement at national and community levels, and the development of a natural resource management strategy currently underway. Particularly, the Bank’s approach consists in empowering vulnerable groups when addressing social inclusion in natural resources management as well as youth empowerment through education and job creation.

In the third session, Stefan Nalletamby, AfDB Director of Financial Sector Development, shared the Bank’s experience in promoting education and job creation through lending more to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). For the past 10 years, the Bank has invested close to US $ 10billion in the African financial sector. The Bank’s financial sector operations accounts for 13% of the Bank’s current portfolio. In order to avoid a copy-paste approach, the Bank encourages the involvement of CSOs in this reflection on issues relating the financial sector development in Africa.

The fourth session looked at the AfDB’s safeguards in promoting growth that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable and the role of CSOs in their implementation. It emerged from the discussions that the partnership between CSOs and governments is essential in advancing development in Africa so that this development will not be achieved at the expense of vulnerable populations.

The last session looked at investing in gender equality for Africa’s transformation. Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, AfDB’s Special Envoy on Gender, presented the Bank’s four-year gender strategy (2014-2018) to the participants, a strategy which addresses the problem of legal status and property rights particular to African countries as well as economic empowerment and skills development for women and girls, who constitute more than half the continent’s population.

The open session provided an opportunity for CSOs working on gender matters to share their experiences and thoughts on their involvement in implementing the strategy.

From Monday, May 19 to Friday, May 23, more than 3,000 delegates are attending the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank to reflect on issues relevant to the socio-economic development of Africa in the coming decades.

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