The African Development Bank (AfDB or the Bank) held a consultation workshop on 26 September 2019 with civil society actors from across West Africa in Abuja. This workshop sought to enable participants to contribute to the West African region new regional integration strategy paper. This is to ensure that civil society plays a more participatory and effective role in addressing the region’s priorities.
Stakeholders at the workshop discussed the Bank’s new regional integration strategy paper (RISP), which will cover the period of 2019 to 2025. This paper seeks to enhance prospects for cross-border economic linkages and unlock landlocked countries and resource-rich hinterlands for large markets and value addition. It also seeks to facilitate the pooling of resource as well as the free flow of goods, investments, services and people for business development for enhanced competitive economies.
Regina Baiden, Policy Influencing and Advocacy Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) who was present at the workshop said “the bank has been open in terms of its engagement with civil society and done so in different ways. It has created the Civil Society and Community Engagement Division to specifically ensure that the bank is more open for input from civil society”.
The Bank’s engagement with civil society has progressively become an indispensable approach that enhances the participation of civil society and strengthens community resilience in achieving inclusive and sustaining development on the continent.
CSOs act as a bridge between citizens, government, and development actors. Engaging civil society in the work of the Bank in RDGW is a window of opportunity for transforming such untapped CSO expertise into civilian-led socio-economic growth. The Bank recognises that civil society remains a key actor to address specific fragility threats in service delivery across development sectors and countries, filling gaps, connecting, and bringing regional policies and development public services to marginalised non-accessible and affected communities beyond boundaries
Ms Baiden recommended that CSOs should avail themselves to monitor and evaluate projects supported by the Bank.