Among the most highly anticipated events on the African Development Bank Annual Meetings agenda was the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Forum hosted by the Bank on May 28 in Marrakech, to strengthen its partnerships with civil society.
The Forum was opened by AfDB Vice-President in charge of governance, agriculture and human development, AlyAbou-Sabaa, who highlighted the Bank's deep engagement with CSOs, to reduce poverty and accelerate inclusive growth. "As CSOs are calling for greater transparency, accountability and public participation at national and regional levels, the Bank is striving to engage it in a legitimate and representative manner providing for effective participation," he said.
Ginette-Ursule Yoman, AfDB's Gender and Social Development Division Manager, recalled the Bank's new Strategy as well as the key dimensions of actions and said the institution would need a stronger partnership with CSOs to promote the new mechanisms of implementation. "The effective role of CSOs will be needed to meet these challenges," she said.
Emmanuel Akwetey from the Institute for Democratic Governance in Accra made an important contribution, expressing satisfaction with the Bank's role and its idea to reinforce partnership with CSOs. Recalling the Busan partnership spirit, he said the Bank is a powerful institution in calling for good governance and transparency, as well inclusive growth and development effectiveness. He highlighted that there is a conversion of interests and values under the Busan partnership framework that speaks for strengthening partnership between the Bank and CSOs. "We need partnership that will help us meet development effectiveness and bring large African populations out of poverty," he affirmed.
Akwetey further said corruption is undermining aid and development effectiveness and that only if the Bank partners with civil society to work for the reform of the framework of electoral politics will far-reaching progress be attained. In that regard, structural transformation should not only be about economic growth, but also getting the right values and practices strengthened within our institutions.
The meeting mostly served as a platform for ensuring that important issues to push Africa's development agenda remain top priorities now, and for decades to come, to help the Bank meet the challenges of its Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022).
Echoing Akwetey, the Director of the AfDB's Integrity and Anti-corruption Department (IACD), Anna Bossman, told participants that the Bank needs to work with vibrant civil society organizations in the fight against corruption.
Many other participants reiterated the need to strengthen AfDB-CSO partnerships as a platform for meeting Africa's transformation agenda.
Interactions touched upon the challenges and opportunities of how the Bank and civil society organizations can work together to fight corruption; how relevant the Bank's new Disclosure and Access to Information Policy is in strengthening governance and transparency; and what role the independent inspection mechanisms could play to increase transparency in Bank operations.
For the past decade, the Bank's partnerships with CSOs have been crucial in the successful implementation of its projects. The day-long CSO forum in Marrakech was organized to recognize the relevance of CSOs and underscore the Bank's commitment to further strengthening its collaboration with them through, in particular, three departments - the Secretary General's office (SEGL), the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Department (IACD) and the Unit of Compliance and Mediation (CRMU).
The forum brought together some 30 members from leading CSOs across Africa.
Hundreds of participants from around the world, including government leaders, policymakers, researchers, corporate leaders, NGO representatives and global media outlets, are meeting in Marrakech within the framework of the Bank's largest annual event.