… AUC and ACBF start ball rolling by launching African Partnership Coordination Platform
Harare, 21 December 2017 (ACBF) – Multiple stakeholders convened to aninaugural meeting of the African Partnership Coordination Platform which has rounded-off in Harare, Zimbabwe, have started a process to lump together a coherent and coordinated African strategy to enable the continent to reap maximum benefit from its international partnerships. The meeting which was co-hosted by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) was motivated by the reality thatAfrica has not responded in a well-articulated, comprehensive, coherent and strategic manner, towards its global partnerships and this has become the key obstacle to thy continent optimally benefiting from such partnerships. Even worse, the situation is compounded by the lack of coordination and competition between national interest and regional interest, hence weakening Africa’s voice in its partnerships.
Welcoming the delegates, ACBF’s Executive Secretary, Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, said with the growing interest in the development potential of Africa and the expansion and fragmentation of the international field of operators, it was important to ensure that three crucial things happen: (i) the interactions work for the benefit of Africa; (ii) cooperation with partners leads to economic diversification and sustainable development in Africa; and (iii) Africa’s partners support the continent’s integration into the global economy, as espoused in Agenda 2063.
Prof Nnadozie looked back at what has happened in recent years, and was happy to note that there had been a remarkable growth in the interest in Africa by traditional, new, and emerging development partners, and these interests have varied depending on the partner but generally they have ranged from political, social to economical nature.
“The Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), Africa-EU Partnership, the Africa-Arab States, the Tokyo International Conference of Africa's Development (TICAD), Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and the various bilateral investment treaties (BIT) are a witness of the growing interest and willingness to partner with Africa,” the Head of ACBF explained.
“However, it has been observed that the key obstacle to Africa’s partnerships is the lack of a coherent strategy towards partners,” Prof Nnadozie said. As a result, “the growing number of agencies operating in Africa and the multiplicity of coordinating, steering, working committees and groups throughout the African Union system, are increasingly posing serious challenges to the ability of the AU to carry out its overarching international role to ensure effective partnerships for Africa’s development.
“This fragmented approach to international partnerships has in a way also created a leeway for some partners to impose programs and priorities on the AU that do not come properly structured to systematically address Africa’s challenges.”
This, Prof Nnadozie said, should not be the case because “whilst countries may be different, the continent has common development challenges, which are tackled under the auspices of the African Union Strategic Partnerships.”
“All this,” Prof Nnadozie said, “is in the spirit of carefully managing our interactions with our partners, maximize our bargaining power, and develop a strategic focus so that partnerships with the rest of the world benefit Africa.”
He pledged ACBF’s unstinting commitment to support initiatives that ensure that Africa is better capacitated to progress faster into its development – initiatives that work closely with the AUC’s leadership, commissions and departments, especially the Partnership Management and Coordination Division (PMCD), to ensure that the PMCD effectively spearheads strategic partnerships between the AU and its global partners.
Supporting Prof Nnadozie’s concerns, Dr. Levi Madueke, Head of the AUC’s Partnership Management and Coordination Division, said it was critical to accelerate the process of continental development and integration, and as a result, it waspart of the AU’s mandate to drive continental development and integration by building synergies with other parts of the world, especially where maximum mutual benefits were derivable.
“It is in this spirit that the AU, soon after its establishment, began to engage the international community to seek cooperation aimed at advancing the process of achieving its development and integration agenda,” Dr. Madueke explained. “This motivation resulted in the establishment of relationships with various international bodies and groups, countries, and continents.”
Mr Chakurangeyi Mutodza, a Zimbabwean Foreign Ministry official who deputized for the new Foreign Minister, Major-General Sibusiso Moyo, agreed that the proliferation of partnerships over the years called for a unified and coordinated African approach, and therefore there was a critical need, as Prof Nnadozie had earlier submitted, to address the current lack of coordination and synergetic linkages between Africa and its foreign partners.
“What is now needed in order for the African Union to derive maximum benefits from its strategic partnerships,” Mr Mutodza said, “is to develop a clear engagement strategy. In this regard the task of this conference is to establish a platform, which enables all relevant stakeholders to develop a common understanding and a common approach on how Africa can harness the opportunities and address the challenges associated with the strategic partnerships.”
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