High-level conference on “The Impact of Changes in Eastern
Europe on Africa”
17 and 18 April 1990, OECD headquarters, Paris
The Conference addressed a series of industrialized countries to the separate, yet interrelated sets of issues such as:
- The diversion of aid and capital flows by industrialized countries to the countries of Eastern Europe and possible responses of developing countries, especially from Africa,
to this development;
- The lessons from the collapse of the political, economic and
social systems in Eastern Europe for future governance and
socio-economic policies by African countries;
- The consequences of events in Easter Europe for developments
in Southern Africa and other regions of Africa.
The conference was attended by numerous senior African leaders, among them the Prime Minister of Mozambique, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, the President of IFAD and senior officials of ADB, SADCC etc. and about half a dozen up and coming Africans under age 40. It resulted in a set of detailed recommendations were several suggestions for future activities by the Forum, including the convening of a Conference on Stability, Security and Co-operation in Africa and a conference to foster direct investment in Africa.
International conference on “Population, Environment and Climatic
Change – Their Impact on Development in Africa”
21 to 24 June 1990 – Ota, Nigeria
The keynote speech at this conference was delivered by former World Bank President Robert S. McNamara.
The issue of population had been identified as one of the crucial determinations of the future development at virtually every Forum conference. This conference agreed on a feasible strategic approach and arrived at a comprehensive set of practical measures that will be recommended to governments and national institutions and organizations.
Towards a conference on Security, Stability, Development and
Co-operation in Africa (CSSDCA)
(a) On 17 and 18 November 1990, a brainstorming meeting was arranged in Addis Ababa by the Forum in co-operation with ECA and the OAU Secretariat on the proposal of convening a conference on stability, security and co-operation in Africa.
This idea resulted at the Paris Conference of the Forum. It is expected that some 30 leading Africans will meet at ECA premises to examine the feasibility and practical aspects of convening for Africa a conference patterned along the European experience with the Helsinki Act and subsequent process. The underlying premise of the proposal is that non-African powers may feel a stronger commitment and obligation to support the development of the continent if they can play a certain agreed role in shaping developments.
A Steering committee was set up to advance the work on CSSDCA and it has met twice – in February 1991 in Addis Ababa and in April 1991 in Ota, Nigeria, preceded by a consultation with NGO representatives from throughout Africa.
The CSSDCA proposal was also presented by Gen. Obasanjo to the OAU Council of Ministers in Addis Ababa in February 1991.
(b) In furtherance of the November 1990 brainstorming exercise on the holding of a Conference on Stability, Security and Co-operation in Africa (CSSDCA), the Forum, jointly with the Development Policy Forum of the German Foundation for Development held an international round table on CSSDCA on 20 and 21 March 1991 in Cologne, Germany, to explore lessons that maybe learned from the European Helsinki experience and their potential relevance for the launching of a similar process for Africa.
Follow-up activities to earlier programmes and recommendations
(a) Sensitization Missions
The Forum initiated and undertook several sensitization programmes and missions to African and industrialized countries with a view to increasing awareness and mobilizing support for specific action proposals emanating from Forum meetings.
Following the July 1989 conference on “The Challenge of Agricultural Production and Food Security in Africa”, two sensitization missions were arranged in order to communicate the conclusions and recommendations of the conference to non-governmental organizations, the private sector and government officials and to seek their concurrence and pertinent action. Each mission was composed of experienced individuals drawn from among the conference’s participants. One Mission visited Zimbabwe, while the other visited Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire.
The response to these missions was most encouraging indeed as they helped to initiate a broad-based discussion on agricultural issues which led in Zimbabwe even to the establishment of a cabinet-level committee set up specifically to review the recommendations by the mission following its visit. In the case of Guinea, the Forum was requested to provide further advice on aspects of privatization and foreign investment in the agricultural sector.
Discussions are continuing to arrange for further missions to Zambia, Mozambique, Angola, Kenya and Somalia. Future missions will be organized in such a way that, in addition to aspects of agricultural production, they will also address issues and recommendations from other, more recent conferences, such as that on population, environment and development.
The first sensitization programme in an industrialized country took place in March 1990 in London, in collaboration with the Overseas Development Institute and the Twenty-First Century Trust. Some thirty leading personalities from government, media, the private sector and academia assembled for a brainstorming on how Africa can be better assisted and empowered to address its problems in an effective manner.
Another sensitization programme took place in Moscow from 28 to 30 October 1990. The Forum Chairman visited with a small delegation Moscow to discuss possible areas for future joint programmes between the Institute for African Studies of the USSR Academy of Science and the Forum.
Under the auspices of the Forum, the Chairman and Dr. Francis Deng have continued their peace initiative in the Sudan through several missions to the region in an attempt to bridge existing differences and identifying a viable basis for ending the conflict in this largest country of Africa.
(b) ECOWAS Commission
As a direct result of the April 1989 Forum seminar on “Europe in 1992 and its Impact on West Africa”, a blue ribbon commission of senior West African personalities was set up in co-operation with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the President of Senegal. The Forum Chairman presided over the work of the commission, which held three sessions in 1990. Drawing on the preparatory work carried out by the Forum during 1989, the commission completed its work in time to submit a programme of action on revitalizing ECOWAS to the ECOWAS summit held in May 1990 in Banjul, Gambia. The Government leaders unanimously adopted this action programme.
In Nigeria, the Forum convened during 1989 a regular series of “Farmhouse Dialogues”. Since 1988, seven subjects were covered: Leadership for Development, Education for Development, Youth and Development, Communications and Development, Labor and Development, Health for Development and Women in Development.
Throughout 1990, the development series of the Farmhouse Dialogue continued regularly every six to eight weeks and addressed topics of culture, management, technology, population and environment, security and food.
The discussions and the reports resulting from these dialogues have exercised a discernible influence on national debates on the issues concerned (e.g the recommendation to employ additional criteria, e.g. management experience, in the selection of chief executives of universities – resulting from the second Farmhouse Dialogue; or the adoption of a national policy of nine years of compulsory education – resulting from the second Farmhouse Dialogue) and some of its recommendations have already been implemented at the national level (e.g. the abolition of Ministries of Local Government at the state level- resulting from the first Farmhouse Dialogue). Three national newspaper have serialized the reports of the Farmhouse Dialogues, namely the New Nigerian, the Guardian and the Champion.
The reports were published in more than 200 copies. They are widely distributed within Nigeria and other West African countries. A collection of all development dialogues was published in February 1991 in Nigeria in book form under the title “Elements of Development” edited by olusegun Obasanjo and Akin Mabogunje.
The Farmhouse dialogue series have attracted the interest of African personalities outside Nigeria who intend to take the independent initiative to create a similar mechanism in their respective countries. The Forum has been approached with a view to extending assistance and initial support in establishing similar such dialogues.
Networking and outreach
Until now, the Forum has built up a genuine computerized mailing and contact list containing more than 3000 names of individuals from all walks of life in all African countries and from outside the continent. This list is continuously being expanded and updated, drawing on recommendations from senior personalities, participants in Forum programmes and the evaluation of publications, journals and reports. It utilizes a software programme specifically developed for the Forum’s purposes and needs. All mailings receive considerable feedback reaction from the recipients.
This list serves as an important tool for identifying younger leaders and involving them in the Forum’s activities.
To broaden its outreach, especially to the younger generation, the Forum has engaged in a number of specific programmes:
(a) In conjunction with the Nigeria Jaycee’s (average age 35) It has sponsored a national conference to examine the prospects and desirable policy options for Nigeria by the year 2010. The proceedings will shortly be published for wider circulation. Similar programmes are planned to be initiated for other neighboring countries in the West Africa region.
(b) A joint conference was organized with the Pan-African Institute for Social Studies in Porto Novo, Benin, to explore possibilities for closer and more effective co-operation among the two countries in a variety of sectors, e.g. business, media, NGOs.
( c ) The creation of national chapters of the Forum in other countries supported with modest seed money by the Forum.
- In September 1990, General Obasanjo was selected, together with Esther Ocloo of Ghana, as recipient of the Africa Prize for Leadership for the sustainable End of Hunger. Gen Obasanjo was awarded the prize also in recognition for having founded the Africa Leadership Forum. At the awards ceremony, he announced that he was donating the cash prize associated with the award, in equal shares, towards programmes of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee in Africa and towards the establishment of an African Center for Policy and Strategic Studies.