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Botswana civil society organisations had an opportunity to appreciate the central role they play in Africa’s development agenda during a dialogue session facilitated by Civic Commission for Africa (CCfA) President, Maungo Mooki at BIDPA recently.

Ahead of the Tokyo International Conference on Africa’s Development (TICAD) Summit scheduled to be held for the first time ever in Africa – Nairobi, Kenya on August 27-28 - CCfA saw the pressing need to consult Africa’s civil society with a view to canvassing their issues of concern for inputting into what will eventually form the Nairobi Declaration.

The dialogue session was attended by member NGOs of Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO), which in turn is an affiliate of the Kampala, Uganda-based CCfA. Mooki seized the moment to inform NGOs about the evolution of TICAD process, how it was conceptualised as Japan’s official development assistance (ODA) when the entire rubric of development partners deserted Africa at the end of the Cold War in preference of Europe, especially Eastern Europe.

From the first TICAD Summit in 1993 until the last one in 2013 – all of them held in Tokyo, private sector and women involvement in development including assisting African governments to align the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to their national development plans –  have pervaded the thematic areas African governments and their regional economic communities (RECs) embraced. It is no different as Africa prepares for TICAD VI in Nairobi.

The pan African civil society body- CCfA- came into being, according to Mooki, in 2008 at an African Union Summit in Ghana when African civil society organisations were preparing for the 2008 TICAD Summit and the G8 Meeting. This was just a year after the African Union Commission had decided to join Japan’s government, the United Nations Development Programme and World Bank as co-sponsors of TICAD.

Before then TICAD Summits were held every five years but with the coming in of the AUC it was resolved that some other emerging issues needed to be factored in as they happen and so the timeframe was reduced to every three years. CCfA plays the lead role to capture the voice of Africa’s civil society whilst Japan’s Citizen Network for Africa (Afri-Can) does the same for the Japanese counterpart, thereby creating a unique official development assistance programme that is also sensitive to the needs of Africa’s people.

Although there are three main thematic areas for TICAD VI - Industrialisation; Health, Sanitation and Water and Social Security – Mooki said the consultation process was also meant to identify gaps from the Yokohama Declaration (2013 to 2017) as well as to identify country specific issues that will be presented to the Ministerial Meeting slated for June 16 and 17 in Banjul, The Gambia and preceded by the Non State Actors meeting scheduled for Nairobi from June 9 to 10.

The main purpose of the consultative meeting is to reach out to all Africa’s Non State Actors, namely civil society organisations, private sector, media, academia, the Diaspora and development partners. The meeting aims to lobby and advocate for a strategy for the involvement and full participation of Africa’s Non State Actors in the TICAD process as well as to share knowledge and best practices for deeper understanding of the TICAD process on the part of Africa’s Non State Actors, especially for the benefit of the Diaspora and the Private Sector who have not been a part of this process, said Mooki.

The draft Nairobi Declaration was shared with the participating NGOs at the May 23 Gaborone meeting covering the broad spectrum of the thematic areas, to wit, industrialisation; water, health and sanitation and social stability. On the first area, Africa’s civil society commits to economic diversification through value addition to primary commodities through the development of national and regional value chains across sectors, such as extractives and food value chain development.

CCfA also calls for technology and skills transfer through requisite education and vocational training and institutional capacity for economic diversification. On health the declaration commits Africa to strengthen health systems for resilience and preparedness to prevent, detect and respond against epidemic and for enhanced productivity and quality of life to ensure human security. Mooki spoke passionately of the need for Africa to do everything within her means – and spurred by a vigilant civil society- to eradicate poverty and hunger and joblessness, as these were the perfect brewing centres for youth radicalisation, which she called a “time bomb waiting to explode.”

Participants at the dialogue expressed immense appreciation that one of their own is heading the pan African civil society body and appealed for capacity building support in the form of technical assistance; training and even funding to reposition the local civil society thinking from that of entitlement to advocacy for policy change. BOCONGO’s Executive Director, Bagaisi Mabilo said she was pleasantly surprised when the CCfA President called on her office and brought them aboard the process leading to TICAD VI.

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