The African Development Bank paid homage to indigenous peoples in Africa by way of a forum organized on the 11 and 12 February themed « Forum on Indigenous Peoples' Development in Africa ». For two days, experts discussed the development stakes concerning autochthonous populations.
The essence of the discussions was to come forward with realistic solutions to questions concerning their birthright, the preservation of their environment and even more so their inclusion to the global development process in their respective regions.
Who are these local populations? What is the meaning of indigenous? These are the questions brought forward during the preliminary discussions. This concept was one of the stumbling blocks. « We are all natives of our different regions » Kahinde Otafire, Ugandan Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs jokingly said, before stating that wealth creation and distribution are the uppermost development stakes that concern local African communities.
This viewpoint was in part shared by Berinda Kawandami, Zambian Minister in charge of local and tribal affairs. While paying homage to the 73 tribes and 287 traditional chieftains of his country, Kawandami asserted the need to create, for each of these communities, innovating and specific economic opportunities.
The question of economic integration was largely discussed as these populations feel marginalized and insignificant and often dispossessed of their property, their lands of which they are the rightful owners. This problem was by and large shared by the participants at this forum.
According to Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist and Vice-President at the AfDB, indigenous African peoples should not be victims but rather partners and more so development beneficiaries in Africa. He added that the question of indigenous populations is at the center of the concerns of the AfDB and that this Institution has constantly championed « inclusive growth ». The forum was attended by international experts, local community representatives, African Ministers and AfDB staff.