The Civil Society Forum of the African Development Bank side event, AfDB, which held from the 5th – 6th May 2018 in Abidgan has come and gone. After its deliberations, it observed that a development strategy premised on private sector-led industrialization bears the risk of failing to bring the equitable, inclusive transformation that is responsive to the desires and aspirations of African people. Accordingly the CSO-Joint Strategy Workshop in Abidjan came up with a Five-point white paper released just after their deliberations thus:
COMMUNIQUE FROM THE CSO JOINT STRATEGY WORKSHOP, 5-6 MAY 2018
We, a group of over 40 civil society representatives* from across Africa and worldwide came together in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on the sidelines of the 2018 Civil Society Forum of the African Development Bank (AfDB), and ahead of the 2018 Annual Meetings of the AfDB scheduled for Busan, Republic of Korea May 21 – 25, 2018 to advance our advocacy for people-centred climate-resilient development and industrialization in Africa through the lens of gender, energy, participation and accountability.
After extensive deliberation on the state of development in Africa and in our communities, and in light of the AfDB’s 2018 Annual Meeting theme of Industrialize Africa, we observed the following:
A development strategy premised on private sector-led industrialization bears the risk of failing to bring the equitable, inclusive transformation that is responsive to the desires and aspirations of African people. Instead the industrialization of Africa must reflect the needs and human rights of people, not just the interests of TransNational Corporations (TNCs) and foreign investors, and should evolve from African-owned business and local Small-Medium Enterprises driving sustainable development in rural communities.
African governments have a critical role to play in facilitating an enabling environment for industrialization and also in providing basic social services, protecting the rights of citizens and safeguarding the public good. The current obsession with Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as the only catalyst of industrialisation, ignoring the role of people, will not deliver the African Union 2063 transformative agenda, nor the UN’s Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development Goals.
Civil Society across the continent and especially at the community level faces mounting obstacles to effective participation in development processes. Though progress has been registered over recent times, the AfDB still has a long way to go to implement its commitments to proactively engage civil society. This, unfortunately, is replicated at the country, project, and policy level, where civil society and communities lack access to information, are not meaningfully consulted, and face the threats and intimidation of shrinking civil society space.
Communities who are impacted by AfDB-financed projects too often lack access to remedy. We welcome the recent ruling in favor of the Lamu Community issued on April 30th 2018 by the High Court of Kenya. The landmark decision upholding the right to public participation in the Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Project should encourage other communities and CSOs to amplify calls for community-led development, Free Prior Informed Consent, CSO participation, and respect for human rights in all phases of development.
The Banks’ operations affect some groups of society disproportionately. The Bank recognizes the importance of gender equality as a condition for economic and social development, and we welcome the Bank’s gender policy and Gender Strategy, aimed at enabling the Bank’s staff and clients to address gender equality in all its activities. However, the policy is not strong enough to address all relevant gender issues, and its implementation is lacking.
Acknowledging the AfDB effort in the shift towards energy access in its investment portfolio, we however express our deep concern in the continued financing of fossil fuel-based projects and large hydro which have adverse social and environmental impacts to communities.
We urge the AfDB and its shareholders to:
- Accord priority to African-owned businesses and local SMEs, and ensure that social and environmental protections are not sacrificed in the effort to attract private investment in the implementation of the Industrialise Africa agenda.
- Robustly involve civil society in the update of the CSO Engagement Framework, and ensure rapid implementation of the reforms. Ensure meaningful civil society participation in the review of the Integrated Safeguard System, the independent review mechanism, as well as the preparation of Country Strategy Papers.
- Properly implement the Bank’s gender policies, and consult civil society – both within and outside the AfDB’s CSO Committee – in the drafting of the new Gender Strategy. In addition special attention should be paid to gender during the review of the AfDB’s Integrated Safeguards System – which should also include project level gender risk assessments and gender based violence indicators.
- Match AfDB’s energy access financing ambitious targets expressed under the New Deal on Energy by allocating at least one third towards clean cooking and distributed renewables with an emphasis on productive use, and essential services like health and education. At national level, the Bank should champion integrated energy planning to ensure the optimum mix of both on- and off-grid approaches. Under its commitment on the Climate change Paris agreement, we ask the AfDB to stop financing coal power plants.
- Finally, we urge the AfDB to meaningfully engage with civil society, and we pledge to continue our efforts to support the realization of a human rights-based vision of Africa’s development and industrialization that is sustainable, inclusive, and people-centered.
*The following organizations participated in the Strategy Meeting: Lumière Synergie pour le Développement (Senegal); Forest Peoples Programme (Ivory Coast); BothENDS (Netherlands); Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, (ANEEJ) (Nigeria); Accountability Counsel (Kenya); Centre for African Legal Studies (South Africa); African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (Zimbabwe); The WoMin Alliance Trust (South Africa); Coalition for Human Rights in Development Secretariat; Green Advocates International (Liberia); Friends of the Earth (USA); Hivos (Kenya); Institut de Recherche et le Promotion des Alternatives de Development en Afrique – IRPAD (Mali); Save Lamu (Kenya); Christian Aid (Kenya); Network Movement for Justice and Development – NMJD (Sierra Leone), Africa Development Interchange Network (Cameroun); Foundation for Environmental Management and Campaign against Poverty – FEMAPO (Tanzania); Jamaa Resources Initiative (Kenya); Enda Tiers Monde Lead Afrique (Senegal); Public Interest Law Centre (Chad); Coalition Ivoirienne des Droits Humains – CIDDH (Ivory Coast); Social Justice (Ivory Coast); Bank Information Center (Uganda); International Rivers (South Africa); Amnesty International (Senegal); Oxfam International; Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee – IPACC (Kenya); Vasudha Foundation (India); ACCESS Coalition- Alliance of Civil Society Organizations for Clean Energy Access (Global); Oil Change International (Swaziland); Global Rights (Nigeria); National Union of Disabled Persons in Uganda (Uganda); ONG Mer Bleue (Mauritania); Association des Femmes Juristes du Senegal (Senegal); Centre for Applied Legal Studies (South Africa); Practical Action – East Africa regional Office (Kenya); COFID (Senegal); Women Action Towards Economic Development (Tanzania), Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), African Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access (ACSEA).