The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has pledged the Bank's support to African Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), noting that its advocacy has become critical in the light of the Bank's accountability and transparency culture.
"Civil society has to hold people to account and empower Africans. We must fast-track Africa's development and CSOs have to advocate on behalf of Africa's needs," Adesina said while opening the CSO Forum at the ongoing AfDB Annual Meetings on Thursday, May 26, 2016 in Lusaka, Zambia.
Noting that the role of the African CSOs is to speak for the 500,000 Africans living on less than a dollar a day who are not attending the meetings and whose voices are never heard, he said, "We have a duty and a responsibility to hear their voices and see their faces through the civil society."
Adesina cited the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) in which the Bank is investing USD 3 billion and the Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative, which is targeting the creation of 25 million jobs for African youths in 10 years, as areas where the civil society can make quality contributions.
Speaking earlier, Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation and former President of Ireland, said that African CSOs were beginning to make their voices heard, citing their role at the UN climate change conference (COP21) in Paris last year as commendable.
They would be required to help Africa governments to build democratic and inclusive societies in the coming years, she said.
For his part, Mamadou Toure, CEO and founder of Africa 2.0, who is involved in promoting, jobs and entrepreneurship among youths in 35 African countries urged CSOs to be more proactive.
The CSOs read a declaration adopted at their meeting on May 24 seeking more engagement with the Bank. It also urged the Bank to support pro-poor policies in their operations.
This year's CSO Forum is aimed at engaging the Bank's management in the High 5 priorities, notably energy, agriculture and jobs for youth.