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AfDB holds partnership talks with African civil society bodies in Libreville



The African Development Bank (AfDB) opened consultations with African civil society organisations (CSOs) over future partnership relations this week in Libreville, Gabon.

Representatives from the Central North and West Africa sub-regions were at the talks.

The manager of AfDB’s gender and social development division, Ginette-Ursule Yoman, said in her opening remarks that the guiding principles of the new partnership should include recognition of the supporting role that CSOs could play in key AfDB activities, the need for progressive implementation of the partnership and a systematic search for sustainability of interventions and consolidation of the credibility of the actors.

She explained that the essential aims of the consultations were to strengthen and consolidate modalities for how AfDB and CSOs should work together at corporate, country and operational levels.

A well-considered plan focusing on key priorities with clear benchmarks for actions and results would help achieve these goals, but the constraints to success and the risks should also be taken into account, said Mrs Yoman.

She urged participants to ensure that they assign precise missions for AfDB-CSO relations, establish clear criteria for membership and hold regular discussions.

Also, the consultation would define key elements of engagement activities, intervention pillars and areas requiring innovation.

She encouraged participants to define mechanisms for full ownership of the engagement framework, by identifying the axes of consolidation and content of future activities, and by contributing to the enrichment of the AfDB long term strategy.

Principal CSO engagement officer, Zeneb Toure, highlighted the added value that the collaboration could bring to AfDB, components of the new engagement framework, and the mutual benefits to both sides of the collaboration.

The scores of participants at the two-day talks made inputs to the draft designed to enhance broad participation in the conception and implementation of the institution’s policies, projects and programmes as part of continuing reforms aimed at improving development results and ensuring shared growth.

“It is a great pleasure for us to welcome so many brothers and sisters from other African countries  to exchange views on how best to forge mechanisms to accelerate the positive transformation of our economies,”  the secretary-general of Gabon’s economy,  trade, industry and commerce ministry, Jean Frimin Kouamazock , said in a welcome speech.

Speaking on behalf of the Gabonese president, Ali Bongo Odimba, he said the consultations’ agenda emphasised the importance of building grassroots capacity.  This was a key aspect of Gabon’s development strategy which aims at transforming the country into an emerging economy, added Mr Kouamazock

Citing local CSO inputs into road infrastructure projects currently underway in the country, AfDB Gabon field office chief programme officer, Kaningbi  Nyaki-Zangbula,described the growing role that CSOs were playing in AfDB operations.  Their involvement had risen to 78 percent in 2008 form only 19 percent in 1996, he said. He added that the collaboration would provide a reliable development outreach mechanism for people at the grassroots level.

The gathering is the first of two sub-regional consultations designed to bring CSO inputs into the framework document to be approved by the AfDB board of directors before implementation. The second consultations for East and Southern Africa will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, in March.