Michael Aboneka reporting from AFRSD 2020
This reportage was written by Michael Aboneka, Project Coordinator at ActionAid Uganda, after attending the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development as a panelist as well as an audience member. In this reportage he tells about the highlights and outcomes of his participation.
AWW presence in spaces of African engagements
The African Regional Forum for Sustainable Development 2020 took place on the 24th-27th of February in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The event gathered over 3,000 people from across Africa and served as a chance for me to show that The Africa We Want alliance is a serious stakeholder in forming the future of the African continent.
The forum makes up a unique space for networking, strategizing, sharing of lessons and ideas and creating stronger synergy. It gathers representatives from all African states in one place: At the forum were UN Agencies, African Union Commissions, Civil Society Organizations, private sector, Regional Bodies, Ministers and technical representatives of various governments participated. The African Governance Architecture (AGA) was represented by the head of the AGA Secretariat, Ambassador Salah Mohammed. The UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed and the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe also graced the forum.
As a representative of the Africa We Want project, I could not miss this event. It is important for me to show, that we are present in every space that brings together African engagements, that we engage in debates on the AU agendas for 2030 and 2063, and that the Africa We Want project is a serious stakeholder in forming the future of the African continent.
Intergenerational Festival of Learning
My participation at the event was very successful, and I had many engaging conversations and experiences throughout the ARFSD 2020. One of the highlights was – of course – the side event Intergenerational Festival of Learning, which was organized by Action Aid, Restless Development and other partners. I, together with Komlan Messie, General Secretary of WACSOF, represented the Africa We Want alliance in the panel discussion. In the panel was also a young activist from Zimbabwe and officials from the Zambia Government and the UNFPA, who shared their insights.
The main issue discussed was how African Governments are including young people in the implementation of the SDGs. We had a lively interaction throughout the panel discussion. It was collectively resolved that there is a need to include young people in governance and decision making because democracy relies on meaningful participation. Komlan Messie pointed out that “young people need to embrace the use of ICT and use it meaningfully to influence Policy change”. All panel participants agreed that society should harness the use of technology and the expertise of the youth and there is a need to ensure that the marginalized community is not left behind.
Reaching out through live session on Facebook
Another highlight was my participation in a Facebook live session organized by Restless Development, Plan International and Action Aid. Big events such as the ARFSD can seem closed off from the outside public, but with live sessions on Social Media we are able to invite people outside to participate in our discussions. This also enables us our messages to reach further. However, there were not many live sessions throughout the ARFSD 2020 and I was therefore happy to participate in one of them, together with other young people from Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The theme of the Facebook live session was “Youth Power and the Global Goals: Driving a Decade of Action in Africa”. We discussed why the Agenda 2030 is off track and what actions young people can take. Some of the key highlights were as follows:
Reasons why the SDG agenda is off-track:
- lack of financing for SDGs
- low scale sensitization of masses on SDGs
- exclusion of marginalized groups
- lack of data
Some of the solutions offered were:
- to sensitize masses at the local, national and regional levels about the Agenda 2030 and 2063
- countries to look for new funding mechanisms to prioritize the Agenda 2030 and 2063
- engage young people
- fix governance deficits and ratify, implement and domesticate AU charters such as the ACDEG to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs.
The session can be viewed here.
Launch of APRM Uganda report
The ARFSD 2020 also gave me the opportunity to get in touch with the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Uganda, who launched their African Governance Report on governance mechanisms on the implementation of Agenda 2063 and SDGs at the Forum. With my presence I showed that the Africa We Want project is monitoring their work and I was able to start strategizing our further collaboration. The session of the launch of the report was organized by the APRM and the African Governance Architecture (AGA) and Ambasaador Salah Mohammed, Head of the AGA secretariat, chaired the session. The major points of discussion were member countries to implement the ACDEG, ensure state reporting is widely participatory by all especially CSOs, governments should create budgets for governance monitoring and the call for collective responsibility and partnerships amongst all stakeholders to ensure states deliver to their promises.
Governance is never isolated
Throughout my participation in the ARFSD 2020 it became again and again clear to me that governance is not an isolated matter but is highly connected to a wide range of other areas that are affecting different parts of the everyday life and opportunities for citizens.
Sessions on a variety of challenges like climate change, poverty, discrimination, youth participation and lack of implementation of the SDGs all pointed towards lack of governance as a main factor. This for me confirmed the reason why the Africa We Want project exists and why our work is important: There is a need for better governance on our continent, not only for the sake of stronger democratic processes but for the sake of improved living standards and safety for all citizens.
Three main lessons
The three main lessons I take with me are:
- It is evident that Governance is still a challenge and thus the AWW project is in the right place to provide support and push for good governance and democracy across states to ensure implantation of the Agenda 2030 and 2063.
- There are several networks shared during the forum that are necessary for implementation of the Africa We Want project, especially APRM Secretariat of Uganda.
- The regional Forum is important to engage in and this should be put on the calendar of the Project.