This year Zambia will have the privilege of hosting the African Development Bank Annual Meetings. The meetings will take place between 23- 27 May 2016 in Lusaka. During this event, there will be a special Civil Society Organisations (CSO) Forum, which will be held between 26-27 May 2016. The aim of the CSO Forum is to engage CSOs and AfDBs senior management on the Bank's strategic focus on three priority areas- energy, agriculture and jobs for youth. We are becoming quite accustomed to hosting these international conferences in Zambia.
CSOs encompass a broad spectrum of organisations, which include community groups, nongovernmental organisations, labour unions, charitable organisations, faith-based organisations, professional associations, and foundations. The question that many might be asking is what exactly does AfDB hope to achieve with this CSO Forum and why should we care? For one, the strong statistical data shows that Africa has challenges regarding energy, agriculture and jobs for youth. Over 645 million Africans have no access to electricity services, and approximately 730 million people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating. Africa is the continent with most of the remaining arable lands of the world (about 65%) and basic conditions for growing crops; Africa should hence be able to feed itself, create jobs for youth and women and enhance incomes from agriculture. Africa has an estimated 60 percent of its population between the ages of 15 and 24, with 10 – 12 million youths entering the job market each year resulting in more than half of them unemployed, underemployed, or inactive.
The continent has many challenges yet at the same time possesses so much potential, which needs to be exploited. AfDB knows that there are a variety of stakeholders required in order to achieve the goals for their three priority areas. CSOs are one of the stakeholders whom AfDB wants to collaborate with in order to achieve their goals. CSOs play important roles within our society. AfDB recognises that CSOs amplify the voices of the poor and marginalised, partner with governments to provide social services, are a hub of technical expertise, increase public accountability among others. During the CSO Forum for each of the thematic areas, the round table groups shall come up with issues to be addressed by each of the players (CSOs, Bank, private sector, and collaboratively) and prepare a road map stipulating specific tasks and outputs.
When the forum is over it is hoped there will be a set of identified general themes and points of agreement on areas of collaboration between the Bank and CSOs. Key issues will have been identified to be taken forward in pursuant of the Bank’s evolving agenda focusing on the three focus areas among the High 5s. Groups or individual CSOs shall have been recognized with their comparative advantages in various ways such as technical and technological know-how, proximity and geographical location and factors that make them an appropriate and cost effective organ for delivering economic development.
Now, what would a forum be without bloggers? Therefore, during the meeting you will be able to follow proceedings and take part through social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr. I look forward to the CSO Forum where I am one of the official bloggers, and I will be updating with all the information you need to know. Of course, I will be letting you know if the outcomes were achieved.