Oxfam at the African Union: How Change Happened in 2015/16

I am pleased to present you, attached, our 2015/16 overview: a summary of the key outcomes and impacts of our work from January 2015 to March 2016. It can also be read online here: https://issuu.com/85991/docs/2016_review_final/1

Last year, our team worked closely with over 100 national and regional NGOs and coalitions OI-AU Annual Review 2015/16 to engage with and contribute in various decision-making processes of the African Union. Our partners and staff participated in more than 20 gatherings of AU policy organs, and met with AU Permanent Representatives and officials of the African Union Commission and other organs. Over 10,000 African citizens regularly received our “AU Weekly” bulletin and other daily alerts on policy issues and activities of the African Union Commission.

In collaboration with the AU’s Directorate of Information and Communication and other partners, we trained over 100 citizens, NGO leaders and media practitioners from the 5 geographical regions of Africa on Understanding and engaging the African Union. Throughout the year, we supported the work of the peace and security organs of the AU, linking policy makers with citizens and affected populations from the 35 African countries where Oxfam operates. Highlights included our work on Central African Republic, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and South Sudan. We worked with the Peace and Security Council to ensure that community voices were heard in the discussions at the PSC. Our experts were invited to serve as resource persons at several PSC sessions.

We were part of the 3rd UN Conference on Financing for Development in July advocating for a truly visionary financing framework to both bolster inclusive growth and tackle poverty across the developing world.

We launched an unprecedented Africa-China Dialogue Platform, a multi-stakeholders forum aiming to encourage and facilitate a permanent and constructive engagement and dialogue of citizens, policy makers, researchers and other stakeholders on the growing partnership between Africa and China.

Looking ahead, we will remain focused on addressing inequality and the injustice of poverty in communities affected by crises, food shortages, lack of educational opportunities, gender inequality, and lack of accessible health care. Our collective power to tackle these issues is remarkable. We are also committed to ensuring that civic space is open and available for citizens and affected populations to make their voices heard.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Oxfam colleagues in Addis Ababa and around the world as well as our volunteers who contributed to these achievements. I also thank the African Union leadership and departments of the African Union Commission, the embassies, and civil society partner organisations for their collaboration and support. Finally, I would like to thank our host, the Government of Ethiopia and in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Immigration for their consistent support.

Warm Regards

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 DÉSIRÉ ASSOGBAVI (Mr) | Resident Representative & Head of Office

 Oxfam International Liaison Office to the African Union

 TK Building 2 – 6th Floor, Bole Airport Area | Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia | GMT+3

 Tel.: +251 11661 1601 | Mobile: +251 911 20 83 32 | Fax: +251 11 661 2795

 E-mail: Desire.Assogbavi@oxfaminternational.org | Alt e-mail: assodesire@yahoo.com

 www.oxfam.org | http://www.twitter.com/oxfam | Skype: assodesir

 l Personal twitter: @assodesire I Personal Blog: assodesire.com

Hot Topics of the African Union Heads of State Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa

The year 2015 has been declared by the Assembly of the African Union as the “Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”. As it has become the practice the theme of the year will be discussed in depth during the mid-year summit, after the symbolic launch of the theme at in January. Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063 will be widely discussed in Johannesburg during a presidential interactive panel discussion – after a presentation on the theme by the Women & Gender Directorate of the African Union Commission. The debate is expected to be open and a decision or a special declaration is expected to be adopted.

The Summit will be, as usual organized in 3 steps:

1/ The Permanent Representatives Committee, PRC (Ambassadors): 7 – 8 June in Pretoria (O.R. Tambo Building)

2/ The Executive Council, EC (Ministers of Foreign Affairs): 10 – 12 June in Johannesburg (Sandton Conf Centre)

3/ The Assembly of the AU (Heads of State and Government) 14 – 15 June in Johannesburg (Sandton Conf Centre)

A number of other parallel/side meetings will also normally be held.

Hot Topics of the Summit

According to information gathered from reliable sources in Addis, the Assembly of Heads of State will hold a closed door debate even before the official opening ceremony of the Summit on 14th June. Discussions will include:

Migration, Continental integration including Free Movements, Xenophobia, Governance, Elections problems in Africa, Streamlining of AU Summit method of work and procedures.

A Ministerial Retreat will also be held on 9 – 10 June in Jo’burg and the Peace and Security Council is expected to meet at Heads of State level on 13 June.

Beside the debates and an eventual decision/declaration on the main them of the Summit “Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”, the following issues are likely to dominate Summit discussions:

Africa Integration with focus on free movement of people and goods (As part of the 10 years implementation plan of the Agenda 2063)

Governance: with Focus on the African Governance Architecture and Elections (As a response to the deficit of democracy and governance in a number of countries)

Illicit Financial Flows: (A follow up on Tabo Mbeki’s report and recommendations)

10 Year Implementation Plan of the Agenda 2063 (see Jan 2015 decisions and documents)

Alternative sources of financing for the African Union (see Jan 2015 decisions and documents)

Conflict, Peace and Security situation in Africa

Climate Change and the Paris Conference: Report by President Abdel Fattah Sissi, Egypt

Issues related to recent developments in the continent: Migration, Xenophobia in South Africa, Counter-Terrorism, and Mediterranean Migration etc.

Structural Reform of the AU Commission etc.

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If you want to receive my regular updates, comments and analysis on these issues during the Summit follow my blog: assodesire.wordpress.com or  and follow me on Twitter @assodesire

How should Africa’s development be financed?

Colleagues & Friends: You are all invited tomorrow to join us physically of virtually on twitter. Please share this advisory widely!

*** Media advisory for Tuesday, May 19 2015***

How should Africa’s development be financed?

Grand Debate will build consensus on African priorities before FfD3

WHAT: Oxfam and the African Union, as part of the Fridays of the AU Commission regular meeting schedule, invite media to a public discussion on what should be African priorities at the UN Third Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) scheduled less than eight weeks from now in Addis Ababa.

Discussants will include diplomatic representatives from AU member states and other continents, AUC, Pan-African institutions such as UNECA, African Development Bank (AfDB), Pan-African Parliament and Regional Economic Communities (RECs), multi-lateral and donor agencies, African civil society organizations (CSOs), international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), academia, and community-based organizations.

The July FfD3 negotiations by member states must define innovative ways of mobilizing resources to drive development while addressing extreme poverty, inequality and underdevelopment – the framework to finance the post-2015 sustainable development goals (SDGs). Proposals may include domestic resource mobilization and tax reform, new commitments to Official Development Assistance (ODA), global changes for debt and macroeconomic policies, climate change financing, the role of private sector finance in development, and monitoring mechanisms to ensure commitments are met.

Oxfam is organizing this event to encourage the mobilization of all constituencies towards FfD3.

WHO: Speakers who will be available to meet with and answer questions from the media are:

  • Mr. Charles Akelyira: Chief Executive Officer, the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority & Commissioner: Ghana National Development Planning CommissionFormer Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign for Africa
  • AUC Representative, presenting the results from the FFD African Regional Consultation 2015
  • Dr. Vanessa Inko-Dokubo, Oxfam Pan Africa Policy Advisor on Extractive Industries
  • Dr. Réné Kouassi, Director of Economic Affairs, African Union Commission
  • Mr. Desire Assogbavi, Head of Office, Oxfam International Liaison Office to the African Union (Moderator)

These speakers may be available at other times for interviews. Please contact us to arrange

WHEN: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 14:00 – 18:00 pm

WHERE: AU Commission Headquarters, New Builing, Addis Ababa http://ea.au.int/en/sites/default/files/announcement%20EN%20final_rev1.pdf

Please ask questions during the Debate online using #FFDdebate and follow @assodesire, @Oxfam_AU, @palabanapalms, @Octavio_diogo

Media Contact: Sue Rooks sue.rooks@oxfaminternational.org +1 917 224 0834

US-Africa Leaders Summit: What is it for?

By Désiré Assogbavi – 30th July 2014

Next week, over 50 African Heads of State and Government of Africa and the African Union Commission will be heading to Washington DC to participate in the US-Africa Summit to be held on 4 – 6 August 2014. Although this summit will be the first of its kind to be hosted by an America President, African People have already seen their Presidents going all together to meet just a President of another country. The French Francois Hollande hosted an Africa Summit in December last year but I have also seen our Presidents invited to China, Turkey, Japan just to mention a few, to discuss African issues. Recently, strategy against the terrorist group Boko Haram’s operations in Nigeria has been discussed in Paris  where Heads of State of the region were summoned to report to. Some of those gatherings have even been institutionalized to happen on a regular basis. I participated in the last Tokyo International Conference for Africa Development (TICAD V) and I was surprised to see that more African Heads of State travelled to Japan than I have seen in Addis Ababa during the Summits of the African Union. In November 2006, 48 African delegations including 44 Heads of State lined-up in front of the Chinese presidential palace to shake hand of the Chinese President, then Turkey, then Paris… Next week, they will be around 50 African Presidents flying 50 airplanes from different African countries – with all what it means cost wise for their country’s budget – with a huge delegation to do the same in Washington DC.

I am preparing to  join other partners to participate in some of the side events of the Summit but I would like to share a few personal thoughts about it.

A Summit for Africa not the African Union?
President Obama has drawn the line by deciding who will come or not to Washington DC. At the time of Africa-EU Summit in Lisbon in 2007, African side made it clear to Europe that under no circumstance the EU could not choose which African leaders will be invited and they threatened to cancel the Summit if Robert Mugabe was not allowed to participate. Similar issue was raised around the recent Brussels Summit with a weaker conviction. However, even though this is a different kind of meeting, the upcoming US-Africa Summit gives no room for such a discussion. President Obama’s Administration invited who they wanted and some African Heads of States such as the Sudanese, the Zimbabwean, and the Eritrean are not invited for obvious reasons. A  4th member of the African Union  – the Western Sahara –  is not invited for a different reason.  As a Human Rights activist, I personally agree on the exclusion of those of African  leaders with terrible Human Rights record. This will send a strong message in favor of democracy, the rule of law and the respect of human dignity. I must however confess that many of those invited are not clean neither… But, I have a problem of seeing such a gathering not being organized in the framework of the African Union.  With all its current challenges, Having represented Oxfam International  at  the African Union  for the last 8 years, I believe that the  Union remains a promising organization, a hope and a driving force then the best framework to discuss key issues on this Summit agenda with American partners. These issues include: Investing in Africa’s Future, Peace and Regional Stability and Governing for the Next Generation. A number of current AU programs and structures fit with and work on those.

Civil Society/Citizens ‘Space
I am glad to note that Civil Society has been invited to join various aspects of the upcoming Obama Summit. In addition, there are many CSOs side events being organized around the Summit and this opens door for engagement with leaders from both side. I have seen the same during the TICAD in Japan where, as a CSO representative I happened to seat just beside two African Heads of State in a discussion on peace and security in Africa. This totally contrasts with the ongoing closing of CSO space in a number of African countries and during the African Union Summits. The last AU Summit held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea end of June 2014 did not allow CSOs participation and this was really disappointing. There have been a lot of discussions and protests around this issue and the African Union Commission was tasked to prepare recommendations for observers’ participation in the AU Summit to be discussed in January 2015.
I must confess that CSOs are more and more invited to a number of important policy debates in the AU framework at various levels but there is no reason to close the actual AU Summit to them as it creates opportunities for important informal interactions with decision makers.
See events during the US-Africa Summit here: http://www.interaction.org/us-africa-leaders-summit-side-events

This week, President Obama met 500 hundreds  African young people invited to the US in the framework of Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) launched in 2010. ( http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/07/28/empowering-africas-next-generation-leaders).  This initiative must be commended, encouraged and duplicated by other leaders. I have a number of friends who are participating in it. It creates important interactions and learning opportunities between talented young people and professionals from different backgrounds.

No Bi-lateral meeting with President Obama in Washington
The white House is not accepting bi-lateral meetings with African Heads of States during the Washington gathering. The reason is that President Obama could not manage all the multiple requests for one on one meetings. There will be 3 thematic presidential sessions and he will attend all.
Bill Clinton will moderate the opening session of the US-Africa Forum and some other prominent personalities such as Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Security Adviser Suzane Rice and the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim are expected to be among those to give welcome remarks.

Issues on the Summit Agenda
The planned three presidential sessions will be on Investing in Africa’s Future, Peace and Regional Stability and Governing for the Next Generation. President Obama will surely find a place to raise issues of unconstitutional change of government, change of constitution for unlimited presidential terms, the growing terrorism, youth employment etc. I also suspect that the issues around homosexuality and the anti-gay laws in Africa will be brought into the remarks.
There will also be a Spousal Program to be hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, Mrs. Laura Bush, and the Bush Institute.

Cost and Political Meaning of the Obama Summit
This Summit will mean a lot for President Obama in terms of foreign policy particularly towards Africa.  It will also create a number of vital opportunities between actors from both continents economically, politically, socially etc… But I seriously have a problem seeing our 50+ African leaders flying to a country to meet a President no matter how powerful that president may be. This is neither politically correct nor economically advantageous for African countries. Let’s imagine 50 Presidents flying 50 airplanes from their countries to Washington with huge members of delegation who will spend money in DC on accommodation leaving cost (and of course shopping !) for 3 to 4 days or more. Meetings are always necessary for diplomatic relations and economic cooperation but wouldn’t it be less expensive to host such a meeting at the African Union in Addis Ababa and have President Obama and his politicians and business men and women to come in? The same Heads of State will be flying back to New York in a month to attend the United Nation General Assembly Meeting. Why couldn’t they ask Obama to host his meeting just before or after the UNGA? African national institutions, citizens and the Media should be challenging leaders on these…

As usual, there will be a signed off join declaration with some more promises and commitments but I am not sure how much the US is ready to pledge for Africa again on those issue but let’s wait and see…

I will be tweeting during the US-Africa Summit @assodesire

Summit Hashtag: #AfricaSummit

 Official Website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/us-africa-leaders-summit