In the two-day conference conference 'Civil Society and the Joint EU-Africa Strategy', Ben Abdallah Taoufik , from ENDA, has been one of the most vocal participants, advocating for the crucial role of African civil society in the consultation process, and more in general in the development of the African continent. A coffee-break gave us the opportunity to capture some of his ideas.
"The participation of African civil society organizations in the development of the continent needs to be larger and more effective; with this I mean that we need to have on board a higher number of different organizations and actors, able to contribute in a significant way with informed voices. This conference is a good opportunity in this sense. In my view, we can have a stronger voice only if we network. And African civil society has capacities to do so, to organize itself and mobilize its knowledge and ideas: see what happened just a few months ago with the social Forum organized in Nairobi. We can do things. Of course we need support, but we need to choose ourselves what type of support we want. More important, this needs to go along with the guarantee that our demands will be heard and listened to, not only by the EU and the AU, but also, and equally important, by our own governments. Too many times civil society positions have been ignored, it's happening all the time and the EPAs negotiations are a clear example of this. In this sense, how can a new strategy be trustworthy if it doesn't respond to what the people want?"
For more information, see europafrica.org and Euforic dossier on Africa.
Story contributed by Pier Andrea Pirani.