African CSOs call for people-oriented approach for AfDB’s long term strategy

Representatives of African civil society organisations (CSOs) have ended two days of partnership talks with the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Nairobi, after intensive discussions on the institution’s Long Term Strategy (LTS) for 2013 to 2022, currently being formulated.

The participants analysed the strategy both in a plenary session and in groups.  They made suggestions on what the AfDB needs to do to carry the people along in its interventions.

They were guided by Geoffrey Manley from the AfDB’s private sector department, and Ruth Karimi Charo of the East Africa Regional Resource Centre.

According to the CSOs, the AfDB should adopt a “people-oriented approach in the way it does business”, with country-based realities as the guiding principle.

In a statement, AfDB said the CSOs also suggested that the Bank should engage more with civil society, and promote policy dialogue and partnerships between governments, private sector and civil society.

They added that the AfDB should focus on developing Africa’s private sector, and that it should become more open and transparent in its operations and lending policies.

The CSOs cited good governance, political and economic stability, regional economic blocs, and socially conscious citizenry as some of the key drivers with potential opportunities and challenges that the AfDB could capitalize on to achieve more meaningful development.

The other promising areas were climate change and food security, urbanization, gender, Africa’s vast resources, commodities information technology, mainstreaming of informal sector, and the promotion of South-South cooperation.

They suggested that the AfDB could leverage productivity and economic growth by promoting free movement of people within regions and in the continent.

The AfDB was also urged to strengthen unity between regional blocs and stop illicit flow of funds out of Africa.

On policy change, the group added that that the AfDB should include grassroots groups in the design and implementation of its lending strategies and policies. “Inclusive growth should be inclusive at the policy level, they maintained. Loans and grants should be made to small and medium size enterprises above the $10 million minimum, as this does not reflect the prevailing reality of the local African business environment. Lending policy should engage with the wider public,” they said.

On climate change and green economy, the CSOs suggested that the focus should be on adaptation rather than mitigation. More fundamentally, the state should lead the development process in which the private sector would play the crucial role.

Investment in agriculture should not just focus on production but also on human resources, agro-industrial ventures and low end income generating agriculture. The AfDB must also invest in renewable energy, they maintained.

Mr. Manley commended them for the constructive suggestions. He said their “inputs would be documented and forwarded to other high-level groups working on the strategy.”

By Ekow Quandzie

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