Junior Business Seminar VIII
ALF convened the 8th edition of the Junior Business Seminar VIII from 29 January – 3 February 1996. The programme sought to prepare young African undergraduates to take advantage of the challenges and opportunities in private enterprises in their environment as part of the economic empowerment and development strategy for the continent. The one-week seminar was attended by 28 final-year students of universities, polytechnic and other higher institutions learning in 8 French and English countries, cutting across the West African sub-region: Nigeria, Senegal, Gambia, Ghana, Togo, Republic of Benin, Sierra Leone and Mali.
Junior Business Seminar IX
Held in March 1996, barely one month after the first edition of the programme for the year, the programme became necessary in view of the large number of applications to participate in the February edition – which had to be returned down. Thus, this edition of the programme was attended by 30 participants from nine countries, viz: Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Senegal, Liberia, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Mali.
Junior Business Alumni Seminar X
To enable an appraisal and review of its strategies and approaches – as recommended by the Evaluation Meeting, a second Alumni meeting of the JBS was held. The intent was to garner experiences and ideas of the alumni which could be used to improve future activities in general and the programmes in particular, and to consolidate gains of the seminars.
One of the outcomes of the Alumni meeting was the formulation of a sub-regional association known as the Junior Business Seminar Alumni Association, to among others, encourage an ongoing exchange of information and contacts among its currently over 190 members. Various committees were constituted and a constitution drawn for the association.
A newsletter known as “The Capitalist” was introduced as part of the one-week programme which supposed to be serialized by major publications.
Junior Business Seminar XI
In light of the popular and growing demand for the expansion and intensification of the JBS, ALF’s partners in the organisation of the seminar have significantly increased their support and contribution to the programme, allowing additional seminars to be organized. The XIth JBS – the fourth in 1996 – was held from 19 – 25 August 1996.
Junior Business Seminar XII
A final JBS edition (XII) was held from 19-23 October, 1996 with participants selected from The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Benin, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Togo.
Parliamentarians & The Sustenance of Political Liberalisation in Africa
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
5 – 7 April 1996
The Africa Leadership Forum (ALF) in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) organised a three day conference tagged African Parliamentarians Meeting with the theme “Parliamentarians and the Sustenance of Political Liberalization in Africa” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 5 –7 April 1996. The workshop was attended by over 60 parliamentarians from 17 African countries, academia, consultants in development, international observers, members of the ECA Secretariat and representatives of international organizations such as the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the Foundation for Democracy in Africa (FDA), Synergie Africa and Transparency International (TI) among others. The meeting involve the sharing of country experiences, the identifications of possible areas of partnerships and a general, programmatic discussion of the role of the parliament, the linkages between democratic governance and development, electoral organisation, the role of the minority parties and the direction of democracy in African continent.
The meeting was essentially part of the follow-up process on the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA) as well as a follow-up on one of the major recommendations that came out of the three sub-regional conferences on Corruption, Democracy and Human Rights in Africa organised by the ALF in Cotonou, Entebbe and Johannesburg in 1994 and 1995.
The proposals for the CSSDCA as contained in the Kampala Document pointed out inter-alia that the process of ensuring peace and sustainable development and the maximization of efforts in this direction in Africa will have to consider in a multi-focal manner, the imperatives of security, stability, cooperation and development as inter-connected first principles. Through this, the growth and progress of institutions in Africa can be ensured and the continent can be more strategically positioned in the geo-political sphere. The CSSDCA was in itself a response to concerns already expressed in that direction by the OAU Summit of African Heads of State and governments. What remained, therefore, was how that concern could be translated into an observable, actionable and measurable form within the context of Africa’s strengths and limitations. By extension, and in a complementary fashion, the sub-regional conferences on Corruption, Democracy and Human Rights had reviewed some of the critical problems capable of disrupting the actualization of the CSSDCA process.
The parliament as an institution is undoubtedly strategically positioned to serve as the arrow ahead in the effectuation of the CSSDCA process. As a primary constituency within the political sphere, the parliament is well placed through its functions and potentials to provide a lead in society in such a manner as to achieve the objectives of transforming African states, of releasing and galvanizing the creative energies of civil society, and also of defining a framework for the political liberalization of the state and its institutions. Give its vantage position as a law-making body, and as a representative of the people, the parliament is perhaps best placed to fulfil these expectations. The regret, however, it was realised, is that parliaments in Africa have not shown initiative in this direction. They have proven to be weak, indecisive and almost eternally afraid of their own capacity. They have in that sense, proven to be a victim of the very limitations, they are, in principle, conceived to manage, and the crisis they are expected to resolve. Thus manacled, the parliament in Africa rather than being part of the solution has been a central part of the problem. This dilemma needs to be investigated within a cross-national framework, and an agenda set for action.
Thus, the conference stemmed from a basic awareness of the strategic importance of the parliament in Africa. In the face of a gradual transition from varying forms of military dictatorship, one party/one man rule and communism to a more liberal and participatory democracy, the parliament in Africa seems destined to have greater responsibilities thrust upon it. For it to cope with the demands of the emerging societies in transition it requires not merely an awareness of its role and function but also of the expectations which constitute the source of its relevance in the public sphere. The task in the interim would be to highlight this aspect, if not nothing else, at least to confront African Parliamentarians with the new reality of their function and the changing imperatives of the present, leading to the future.
Objectives of the Conference:
Given the foregoing background, the conference was designed to encourage discussion among African parliamentarians, create a conducive environment for a frank and mutual exchange of experiences, restate the significance of the parliament as a repository of critical initiatives and on the basis of this arrive at a plan of action which can form the basis for future action in individual countries, and a set of mechanisms that can serve as guide for initiatives.
The conference sought among other things to:
Facilitate exchange of ideas among African parliamentarians, persons interested in development and international observers, with respect to the role of parliament as an agent of good governance, democracy and development;
Examine the role of parliament in Africa, its strengths and limitations and what can be done, in specific terms, to strengthen its capacity and release its potential for action;
Explore the possibility of establishing opportunities for networking and collaboration among African parliaments and parliamentarians, and through that, to push the principles behind the conference onto the agenda of sub-regional organisations and continent wide organisations such as the ECA and the OAU;
Consider the relationship between the minority parties and the majority party in parliament, and to what extent the interactional dynamics between both facilitate and/or impinges upon the function of parliament and the responsibility of government;
Discuss the responsibilities of the parliament vis-à-vis:
the democratisation process in individual countries
the strengthening of the democratic process
define the expected level of leadership in parliament, in terms of how members respond to standards of integrity, transparency and accountability;
outline a plan of action, and an integrity charter to serve as guide for African parliaments responding to the issues of CSSDCA, democracy and governance in Africa.
Meeting of Military and Civil Society Leaders in Africa
September 23 - 25, 1996
To deepen and widen the process of imparting CSSDCA, a three-day conference was held on The Military and Civil Society in Africa in Lilongwe, Malawi, from 23-25 September 1996. Some 40 retired senior military officers, actors civil society, parliamentarians and government representatives participated in the conference which was declared open by the Vice-President of Malawi.
The conference among other things:
1. reviewed the current political situation in Africa and its potential for the emergence of violent conflicts;
2. assessed the possibility and ability of retired senior military personnel in Africa to prevent the outbreak of such conflicts based on their knowledge;
3. Examined the possibility of effective networking among retired military officers and the integration of such a network with other networks in the African civil society framework in Africa.
The meeting also considered the merits of creating a body of knowledgeable, respected African with military experience, political clout and leverage to help mediate, manage and prevent conflicts at local, national, sub-regional levels in Africa.
The conference further discussed the role of military in a democratically structured state and society and sought to identify elements for understanding and compact to discourage the violent overthrow of democratically elected and constituted governments by military officers. The intent would be to stimulate a process of continent-wide military diplomacy and reflection aimed at initiating a process of substituting political solutions for military solutions.
Some of the major conclusions of the meeting include:
1. Additional confidence building mechanisms in the different African sub-regions must be undertaken to serve as golden bridges over the traditional divides of linguistic affinities, boundary allegiance, and other divisive pressures in Africa.
2. An effective modality for the subordination of military to civil authorities in Africa should be operationalized.
3. Mechanisms should be devised to encourage positive interaction between the military and other institutions of civil society as a means of creating the necessary partnership required for future of civil military relations.
4. As a modality for optimizing the efficient allocation and utilization of national resources on defense and security needs, it has become imperative that a compilation of existing studies on defense and security expenditures in select African countries be undertaken. The main thrust of the study would be on ascertaining the actual percentage of the GDP that is expended on security apparatuses in African countries specifically the implication for socio-economic development. The exercise would also involve a comparative analysis as well as a rigorous assessment of the data sources. These countries would be selected on geo-economic basis.
5. An in-depth study on existing sub-regional security protocols in Africa should be conducted with the view to identifying points of commonalities and strengthening of points of weaknesses to facilitate the adoption of security framework in Africa.
6. African governments would be enjoined to re-organize and restructure the military with a view to creating in most countries a small, effective and highly professional military principally as a mean of improving competence, performance and relevance of the military as credible defense mechanisms.
7. As part of national confidence building a mechanism should be devised to facilitate an across the board vertical and horizontal interaction between retired senior military officers with track record of integrity, competence and performance and serving senior military officers.
8. Total de-militarization was seen as an objective that could be incorporated into a redefinition of security and stability concepts in Africa especially in the formulation of a sub-regional defense and security arrangement.
9. Seriousness of the threat of landmines on the personal safety of Africans was noted as requiring urgent collective action within the framework of national and continental security.
Participants at the meeting expressed its solidarity with the founder of ALF, General Olusegun Obasanjo who is currently serving a prison term in Nigeria. The meeting also forwarded a request to the military authorities and in particular, the Nigerian chief of state General Sani Abacha to release General Obasanjo from prison to enable to continue the good work he was doing for Africa as well as humanity in general.